An Inspiring Day in Appalachia

It was during our drive across the horse country of Kentucky, a probable domain of Conservative Republicans, that I listened to President Obama's speech regarding the expansion of gun purchase background checks and the implementation of gun safety measures; his comments and actions were inspiring if only a few years late.

I was also inspired by the clear, cold air, the blue, cloudless sky and the scenery of Appalachia.  Just east of the Licking River, we climbed onto the Appalachian Plateau, a landscape of wooded ridges, deep valleys and secluded hamlets.  Always a bit claustrophobic for me, the province offered few wildlife sightings, the most remarkable of which was a fair number of pileated woodpeckers.  Nearing Charleston, West Virginia, we dropped into the Kanawha River Valley; this river is a remnant of the Teays, a massive river system that drained the west flank of the Appalachians before Pleistocene Glaciers blocked its flow and molded the Ohio River channel (see From Teays to Ohio).

As we approached Bluefield, at the southern border of West Virginia, we reached the crest of the Allegheny Front (3200 feet), descended from the Appalachian Plateau and entered the Ridge and Valley Province of Virginia, which, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful landscapes in America.  As the setting sun ignited the ridgetops, we pulled into Wytheville for the night, ending the second day of our journey.