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Fall is a time to explore

While we were focused this summer on a pandemic, a sluggish and unstable economy, the will-they-or-won’t-they of everything from public school to live sports, and any number of other things that are making 2020 a year to fill volumes in the history books, fall snuck up on us.

We knew it was coming. After all, you can’t talk about the start of school and high school football without thinking of fall, but somehow, still, it surprised us a bit. Sure it is still hot and humid most days. But some are now crisper … cooler and cleaner feeling.

(Well, unless, like me, you greet the arrival of fall with sniffles. I keep sneezing and then yelling “allergies!”)

I love fall. I love the disappearance of 90-degree temperatures and feeling as though I’ve stepped into a sauna when I walk outside. I love the bright blue skies, the campfires and, soon enough, the changing leaves.

I like the football, too, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not likely I’ll be attending any games in person this year. Most years there is no feeling in the world like sitting at Mountaineer Field on that first game that requires a jacket and maybe even a hat, watching the breeze blow around a few fallen leaves and hearing the Pride of West Virginia perform “Simple Gifts” in a way that never fails to put a lump in my throat.

This year, that’s not really an option.

But we can still get out and enjoy the mind-blowing beauty of this state in its most festively dressed season.

As always, the folks at West Virginia’s Division of Tourism can help you do that. Their website walks visitors through options like fall whitewater, hiking, family time, ATV adventures, fishing and, of course, foliage.

According to the color map, it looks as though the Mid-Ohio Valley won’t hit peak splendor until early October, but if you want to explore in late September, you will find the best foliage over in the mountains near places like Davis, Thomas and Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls state parks.

If you’ve been looking for outside-the-box ways to entertain yourself or your family as so many of our traditional fall activities have been put on hold this year, you could do far worse than exploring the natural beauty of the Mountain State. If hiking is not your cup of tea, there are road trips (some of which are on roads that are not for the faint of heart) that will get you nearly as close to Almost Heaven.

And speaking of our natural wonders, in case you missed it back in May, West Virginia is home again to bobwhite quail, which were reintroduced after a 40-year absence. They are, for now, on the same acreage in the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan and Mingo counties where elk are also now roaming the grasslands. They’ve had a whole summer now to settle in to their new homes.

For the most part, beach weather is gone, and explore the woods weather is upon us. I really love this time of year.

But then again, in a place like West Virginia, who wouldn’t?

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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