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After two years of “retirement” we’ve still got the American pattern pretty well ingrained. The urge is to push for a few more miles, pass through one more county, and just another hour before we stop for the day. The tendency is to want to get there as quickly as possible.

But suppose “there” is no further than the “here” where one already is? That pace is a wonderful luxury, one that doesn’t come easily yet. But we’re working on it.

For practice we stop at nearly every roadside sign. We walk through small towns that we’d never even see from the Interstate. We read all of the local newspapers from beginning to end and, best of all, we take the time to talk it over while enjoying a second cup of coffee or a slice of the best peach pie this side of Augusta.

I’m pretty sure that we can learn to do this. We’ve sure mastered much more difficult stuff. And most of it wasn’t this much fun.

Today, our fourth day on the road, we made it past the Greenbrier Resort. This is a swank resort for the hoity-toity Eastern Rich and is secreted away in an inaccessible corner of West Virginia. Oddly, right down the street we passed a sign for the Area Council of Workers United, “Organizing for Our Future.” Naturally, I wheeled back for a closer look. Turns out it’s the Laborers, the Carpenters, and the Hotel and Restaurant Employees.

In light of recent events within their particular wedge of the labor movement, I hope they manage to hang on to the optimism implicit in their sign.

Yesterday we stopped where a stream has eroded a good sized hill, exposing an upfolded rift of layered stone. It’s called “The Devil’s Backbone,” for those of you who are familiar with this part of the state.

We got out and walked across the road for a better look and were rewarded with the sight of three West Virginian women in their early twenties who were working the riffles and pools at the foot of the rock. It looked like they were casting worms and I imagined them meeting after work and trying for a pan of trout before supper and a night out. Denise noticed that they were all wearing makeup.

My sense in that the women of West Virginia have had a camaraderie in at least some sports that goes back long before Title IX.

Good on them.

Tomorrow we’ll make in to Ohio, where the roads aren’t in nearly as good shape as they are in West Virginia and the topography is less challenging.


The Devil’s Backbone, West Virginia

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