Thinking about some weekend adventures

I realize it’s still winter, and there is still the possibility we will see our share of snow in the next couple of months, but recent weather has got me thinking about the possibility of taking a few excursions once the seasons begin to turn.

The sun has been shining the last couple of days, but the air is still cool. Spring hasn’t quite sprung, but it is fast approaching.

With that in mind, it might not be a bad idea to start looking around for a few spots to check out whenever a few weekend might actually present itself.

It doesn’t have to be anything long and drawn out. It could even just be something as simple as hopping in the car and going for a drive.

That’s one of the many nice things about living in West Virginia. Even being from the top of the state, we have the opportunity to visit just about every point in our “Almost Heaven,” and still make it home in the same day. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking an extended weekend and really exploring what the Mountain State has to offer, either.

A co-worker and I were recently discussing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. He’s never been there, and I haven’t visited since the seventh grade. It’s one of the hidden treasures we have here, in addition to so much natural beauty, the food and our people.

West Virginia has more than 50 state parks and forests, and there is actually a program that encourages people to visit them.

The Very Important Parks Person program requires a visit to 15 pre-selected state parks, and five elective parks. Once complete, you get a patch to showcase your accomplishment.

I went ahead and registered for the program a few weeks ago, and hope to be able to find an opportunity every once in a while this year to take a few drives out into the highways and byways of the Wild and Wonderful.

Tomlinson Run, the closest state park to us, is on the “elective” list, but there is such a selection of locales to visit, including Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley, North Bend, Pipestem, Hawks Nest, Prickett’s Fort and the Droop Mountain Battlefield.

It’s a variety of scenic outlooks, hiking, history and relaxation.

I’ve also learned of another program that encourages participants to hike through some of our state’s vast network of trails. That’s a challenge unto itself.

But there is more to it than just getting out into nature. Making a few general plans gives you a chance to experience something new. West Virginia is home to some unique restaurants, tourist attractions, breweries, and much more.

There’s minor league baseball, Hillbilly Hot Dogs, Seneca Caverns or a ziplining course.

To really explore, you have to talk to the locals, do your own research and not just rely on the travel guides or visit the popular places.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is just pack a bag, get in the car and take off with the window down and the radio playing.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)