Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 in the rearview mirror

As each year winds to a close, I like to look back on some of the highlights (click the hotlinks to read stories I wrote about these topics). The year of 2013 started off by running barefoot through the snow in Fayette County to jump into a shallow creek on New Year’s Day (I always wanted to see what that would be like!). Speaking of snow, I also tried cross-country skiing at Canaan Valley for the first time and enjoyed it.

We like kayaking, and had some memorable trips this past summer. The Tour de Coal was a great way to help celebrate the state’s 150th birthday weekend. We also had an excellent trip from Parsons to St. George on the Cheat River, and visited Alpine Lake for the first time. Speaking of Parsons, I had a good time riding my bike on the rail trail (Appalachian Highlands Trail) from there to Elkins and back. Other outdoor adventures included ziplines at the WVU Research Forest, at Burning Rock near Sophia, and at The Wilds in Ohio. I also participated in a few 5K events and got to ride the jet-boat in the New River Gorge.

I spent a lot of time this year in Washington, DC. Much of it was for work, but I still was able to see a few sights, such as the Air & Space Museum at Dulles Airport, Great Falls National Park, and the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. We also went to Baltimore for the WVU game at Ravens Stadium. Although the game wasn’t great, revisiting the Inner Harbor area and the Maryland Renaissance Festival was fun.

Other travels this year included a jaunt through the eastern panhandle, including my first visit to Keyser and Moorefield, as well as a long awaited second visit to Green Bank. We also made a similar road trip to Twin Falls State Park and stopped at Thurmond on the way back. We took an interesting day long excursion train from Elkins to Spruce and back, along the beautiful Cheat River (the same train that was later hit by a logging truck). I arranged a fun whirlwind tour of Fayette County for some college friends this spring. This year we finally tried out Cafe Cimino in Sutton, and loved it. Other day trips included the Albert Gallatin National Historic Site in Pennsylvania, a visit to Wheeling for a hockey game and the toy museum, and a stop in Grafton for the annual Mothers’ Day Observance.

I got to see some great entertainment this year. Before it debuted on Broadway, we caught the new show about Janis Joplin while it was in DC, as well as “The Book of Mormon” at the Kennedy Center. We took some of Anna’s relatives to Columbus to see the outdoor version of “Back to the Garden”—a recreation of the Woodstock festival put on by our friends at Shadowbox (we enjoyed several of their regular shows as well—as we do every year). We saw “Rocket Boys,” the musical version of the book by Homer Hickam. Finally, we watched live performances by comics Whoopi Goldberg and Ron White, and concerts by Kathy Mattea and the Plain White T’s (plus I got to see a fun show at Ohio University by Rain, a Beatles tribute band).

I attended a lot of events related to my alma maters, the University of Charleston and WVU, both of which I dearly love. I even got to participate in WVU’s traditional PRT Cram this year! While in Charleston for an alumni weekend last spring, I got to check out a replica of the C.S.S. Hunley submarine that had always fascinated me.

This year proved to be a memorable one for my interest in motorsports. Perhaps my biggest thrill of the year was driving a race car in the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. I also finally made it to Mid-Ohio raceway for their vintage race weekend. But that was not my only road course this year, because our eastern panhandle trip allowed me to revisit Summit Point raceway for the first time since I lived in DC during the ‘80s. I also was able to catch big races on a dirt oval at Mineral Wells and a paved oval at Columbus, as well as old-fashioned drag races at the Waynesburg airstrip.

All these activities were fun (and there were many others that didn’t make this review), but perhaps my most significant moment this year was when my story about Nelson Rocks was selected for publication in “Wonderful West Virginia” magazine. I had grown up reading that magazine and it was great to see my name in it as an author. Hopefully it won’t be the only time I appear in that venerable publication. I must note, however, that I think this essay on West Virginia history was the best one I wrote this year. It was indeed a very good year!

This story looks back on 2013, just like when I was looking out the back of the excursion train along the beautiful Shavers Fork of the Cheat River earlier this year.

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