Things I Love

Time for another edition of Things I Love...

1. Dogs- If there aren't dogs in Heaven, I don't want to go. I honestly cannot imagine a world without our four legged friends. They bring such joy to life and make the world a much better place. I love them all, especially the ones I've had and the ones I currently have.

2. Animals of all kinds- I've been long on record of saying that we humans have had our chance and that it's time for us to go away for good. The animals of this world didn't ask to share this world with us and it's time to let some other creature have a go at things. We've screwed up enough, lets go before it's too late for the rest of life.

3. Mom- My Mom is the rock I need and if she should go before me, I honestly don't know how I'll survive.

4. Dad- Though he's far away and I don't get to see him nearly enough, I think about him everyday and keep him in my prayers.

5. Warm beds on cold nights- One of the great joys of winter is snuggling up in a warm bed with 2 or 3 dogs.

6. Rainy nights- I've always loved the rain and everything that it symbolizes. When I was younger, we used to go up to Ashland, Kentucky to visit my Aunt Maggie. She lived way back in a holler and one of the charms of her house was the tin roof she had. I always hoped that it would rain when we were up there so I could hear it patter on the roof.

7. Darkness- I love the night, always have. One of the things I miss most about living in West Virginia is the dark nighttime sky. I lived an hour away from the closest town of any size and on a clear, moon free night, you could see millions of stars dancing across the black sky. On those kind of nights, I would turn off every light in the house, go sit out on the deck take in a sight that most people never get to see. I've seen the Milky Way in all it's glory and it is a sight to behold.

8. Camping- When I lived in West Virginia, I made a point of doing lots of camping. There were so many great places to go that it was often times hard to choose. I lived right on the doorsteps of a one million acre national forest. I've climbed mountains that I didn't know the names of, crossed streams that probably didn't have a name and heard the howl of coyotes, the rustling of deer and the snorts of black bears. Curling up in a sleeping bag in the cool mountain air is one of my favorite things.

9. West Virginia- I know it's often the butt of jokes and in some cases it deserves to be, but of all the places I've been and lived, it's by far my favorite. Get away from the ugliness of Charleston and the stark moonscape of the coalfields and West Virginia is one of the most beautiful places. I love the mountains that seem to go on forever. I love the winding roads, the quaint small towns, the fun filled resorts and the warmth of the people. I love charming little mountain towns that places like Breckinridge and Telluride wish they could be like. I love the snow that piles up deep in the winter and the warm days and cool nights of summer.

10. Legendary snowstorms- We don't get many big snowstorms in this part of the country, though we did have a nice 15 inch dump last winter. But when I lived up in the mountains of West Virginia, anything less than a foot was considered nothing more than a a little snow. My first winter at Snowshoe, we only ended up with about 120 inches of snow for the winter, not much to talk about. My third winter however more than made up for it. It started snowing that year around Halloween and it wasn't till Memorial Day that the last of the snow began to melt. To say that it snowed a lot would be an understatement of epic proportions. Like clockwork, each week brought at least one major snowstorm, often dumping up to 2 feet or more. By February of that season, we had probably received somewhere around 200 inches of snow, but when it was all said and done, it was really just starting.

The forecast called for a storm that would be measured in feet, not inches. With over 3 feet of snow already on the ground, the snow began falling late in the afternoon and would continue for the next 20 hours or so. By the time I got off work that night, a foot had already fallen and much more was on the way. We were able to dig my car out but Valarie's was another story. Before going home that night, I set about digging her car out as much as I could and felt confident that by morning I would be able to get it out. We made it home okay that night and as we laid in bed, we could hear the wind roaring and felt the chill of winter. When we awoke the next morning, what I saw simply stunned me. Dumbfounded is really the only way to describe, so surreal was what I was seeing.

In about 18 hours, we had received 58 inches of snow, with what would end up being another 12 to go. It took me hours to shovel a path down the driveway and another to dig my car out. When I finally finished our path down the driveway, the snow was above my head. I had never seen before and have never seen since, so much snow. By the time March rolled around, I swore that if I never saw snow again it would be too soon. I remember that it was still possible to ski in May that year, so deep was the snow on Cheat Mountain.