The welcome sign to my birth state used to shout “Wild Wonderful West Virginia!” Now it says “West Virginia: Open for Business.” Yes, the Mountain State’s mountains are now home to corporate centers, the FBI, and the ubiquitous strip-mallization of the country in three shades of beige and a billion billboards. But it ain’t so bad while speeding through green tunnels, a lot of nature left to conquer, and it’s nice to hear Grandpa say “you’ve made my year” over and over, so happy he is with our visit and the chance to get out and drive around Clarksburg.
Grandma is in good spirits too, and we all sit out on rocking chair row in the gorgeous pre-fall weather talking about places we’ve all been and places Tay and I are going.
“I’ve never been to Colorado,” says Grandma, when we tell her our destination.
“Yes you have,” says Grandpa patiently, “on our honeymoon!”
“Oh yeah, by that lake…”
“When were you married?”
Later, we find a world map in the library and give a talk in the lounge for “Reminiscing Hour.” Tay and I answer questions about our experience, and we listen to our audience’s tales from around the world, details pouring forth about trips taken 50, 60, 70 years ago! One gentleman tells us of a trip he took in the 1950s, after the war. He drove by himself through all of Mexico and Central America, he says. He was in Managua during its heyday, before the earthquake of ’72 when it was the most modern capital in the region.
He begins singing the old Guy Lombardo song and I join him: “Managua Nicaragua is a wonderful spot/ There’s coffee and bananas and the temperature’s hot…”
Something about this encounter gives our fresh travel memories a whole new shine, the idea that they might actually last as long as these other stories floating around this room.
Another breakfast at Eat ‘N Park then goodbyes and we’re off, Indiana-bound.