Now that porch-sitting is possible, the month of June affords us time to get outside, visit our favorite swimming holes, share some picnics and catch up on neighborhood news. It is a bit of a celebration, not unlike June 20th, when we will remember West Virginia's l5lst birthday.
While most natives have a special place they like to swim, I will offer some suggestions to those who are passing through or who just want to see new scenery. Outside Elkins on Rt. 92/250, just shy of Pocahontas County's Cheat River Bridge, is a very fine stretch of river that can cool one off in a hurry. A nearby Scenic Area, noted by a roadside sign saying Gaudineer, can serve as a destination for plentiful picnic spots.
Should one take the Rt. 219 track through Pocahontas County, a half hour past Marlinton will put one close to Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park. Not only can a fine picnic spot be found here, but a perfect setting for discussing the last land battle of the Civil War in West Virginia, as well. Our state flower, Rhododendron, has a major presence here, so children can learn what it looks like.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell
Summertime in Elkins finds families enjoying City Park picnics where many giant oak trees provide shade and cool breezes to refresh adults after playground supervision.
Families take advantage of all the water sports available at Stonewall Jackson State Park near Weston where swimming, boating, fishing and waterskiing are popular.
The Monongahela National Forest near Elkins boasts Stuart Park, that has a great wading water pool flowing down the river. Picnic tables are also a park feature. If desiring a pavilion-type area with fireplace, reservations with the park are necessary. Call 304-478-2000 for information.
Other Randolph County favorites can be found at the Bemis Bridge (when water levels permit), Shaver's Fork of the Cheat near the Bowden Post Office on Rt. 33 East and small streams flowing near Harman and at Tygart River areas through Elkins onto Belington and Philippi.
While Audra, Holly River, Canaan Valley and Stonewall Jackson State Parks boast very good swimming facilities, the closest recreation area near here with a state-of-the-art pool and water-slide for public use is in Lewis County at Weston where a county-wide bond was passed in recent years and a beautiful complex now sits on the edge of town. Believe it or not, from Elkins one can get to this pool quicker than the one at Canaan Valley.
An easy drive on Corridor H brings one to Weston's pool on Smith Run Road just behind Wendy's on Rt. 33 West. Tennis, basketball, volleyball, putt-putt- golf and picnic tables await travelers.
And, what about some gatherings in our neighborhoods? Covered-dish dinners are delightful, as well as burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Someone can surely make some mean potato salad, and cakes and pies with homemade flair are possible in most mountain kitchens. Find out what has been happening through the winter on your stretch of pavement. Keep up with the news that has been missed.
As we entertain in our beautifully maintained city parks, can we leave the cell phones behind us long enough to learn something about the people we depend on every day? What may be among the best features of our state is its neighborliness, and this surely needs preservation. Information that can be used to promote the area and groups who continue to support civic pride are essential for clearer communication and positive growth.
As former President Dwight D. Eisenhour once described in "The Role of Each Citizen," "No person, no home, no community can be beyond the reach of this call. We are summoned to act in wisdom and in conscience, to work with industry, to teach with persuasion, to preach with conviction, to weigh our every deed with care and with compassion. For this truth must be dear before us: whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America."
Being a good citizen is something achievable for all of us - it is simply doing our best for the place we call home. It is thinking both of self and beyond self. Our actions can be measured in how they affect us and what effect they have on others, and, being West Virginians, only "Win-Win" counts.