We are back from an adventurous weekend in West Virginia and WOW! did we have a rude awakening! When you live in a bustling city like Washington D.C., where certain luxuries are at your fingertips, one tends to take those for granted when immersing oneself in the heart of the wilderness of West Virginia.
On the 5-hour car ride to West Virginia, we made light of the simplistic lives that Southerners enjoy compared to our busy urban ones. As we drove through desolate towns with one main road, a post office, and novelty shops, we speculated about “what do people do for fun here?”,”why are there 3 churches in one town and no CVS?”, and “where the hell is the Starbucks?!” This should have clued us in to our naivety, but sadly, no, and the joke was on us (and our egos) by the end of the weekend.
Thankfully, we learned these few valuable lessons while still in the United States rather than a foreign country where a language barrier would have led to an extended period of misery.
BRING WATER. No brainer, right? We didn’t bring any, not a drop, thinking this necessity would be available at the campground. No can do. Sheepishly, we had to borrow a gallon from our neighbors to quench our thirst during the night. LESSON 1: When planning your trip, make sure you pack a least one jug of water (available for about $1 at the grocery store) along with the vodka and the beer Priorities!
CHARGE YOUR ELECTRIC DEVICES. Sleeping on a hard surface in 30 degree weather is not fun and inevitably leads to a horrific night of shivering, tossing and turning and a wrecked back. LESSON 2: An air mattress does NOT self-inflate simply because you will it to nor does your camera take pictures without a charged battery. Make sure you check that all your electrical devices are at full capacity or you’ll be sore and sorry.
COFFEE LOVERS BEWARE. We couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee to save our lives in West Virginia. Watered-down colored liquid is NOT coffee; it’s a cop-out! LESSON 3: Bring your own java. Make it happen. Instant coffee, Starbucks Via – I don’t care how you do it, just do it! …Or suffer a mean headache for two days straight.
WHITE WATER RAFTING IN COLD WEATHER MAKES YOU WET AND COLD. Distracted by our excitement over white water rafting the Lower New River, we overlooked two very obvious facts. 1) We would be in water. 2) We would be in water in 50 degree weather. LESSON 4: If you don’t like being cold and wet for prolonged periods of time, go rafting in the summer.
BRING LAYERS FOR WARMTH. Don’t ask me why, but I didn’t bring a sweatshirt or any long-sleeved shirts. I brought 3 coats of varying weights, but no underclothes for layering. I’m not sure how I processed that decision when packing, but it apparently made the cut. Not only did I not bring the right clothes or the right amount of clothes, I also froze my fingertips off because I also didn’t bring any gloves. LESSON 5: Even if it’s not cold where you are, it may be cold where you’re going. There is always enough room in your bag for a hat and a pair of gloves.
As my mind and body thaws in the comfort of my own home (the heat is cranked to high!), I reflect on the mistakes we made and the fun we had (it was a BLAST despite the constant discomfort), which I look forward to sharing with you later this week in another post.