Nicholas County, West Virginia:
06:20am. Breakfast at the C&S Restaurant in Richwood, a town bisected by the flood prone Cherry River which runs downstream to the Gauley and onward to Summersville Lake. All fed by the spectacular highlands of the Monongahela National Forest.
This is also coal country, or was. Abandoned coal country. Richwood along with hundreds of towns large and small in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia, show us what happens when the coal runs out. Booming communities with downtowns, restaurants, hotels, and the familiar trappings of a prosperous economy are boarded up and left wanting with poverty nipping relentlessly at the heels of a dwindling community. Those that could left ages ago.
Each year, I pay sincere respects to these hardened areas as I roam thru in search of the sublime. My feelings about this are mixed and awkward at best - a sightseer, amongst other's hard times, cherry picking pretty pictures. Indifferent to my psycho angst, the good folks gathered at C&S are very friendly and helpful encouraging me to fetch my own coffee for a great stack of pancakes with a side of scrambles and bacon. Better still, they seemed much more interested in breakfast than any motive conflicts that might be swimming in my sweet syrup.
07:10 am. I bid a reluctant goodbye to all and drift out the backside of Richwood picking my way north on County Road 39/12. Along the way white campions radiate in the morning light. Doves scatter. The sky is beautiful. It's cool and clear.
Monongahela National Forest
Nicholas County, West Virginia
Saturday 26 May 2007