Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The New River Gorge

'Riding on the New River Train; Riding on that New River Train! Something something something I'll be coming back on that New River Train.'

This was the banjo music playing in our ears after visiting the New River Gorge National River (I know, too many 'rivers' in the name.) But I can't get too fussy about the naming because it is an absolutely beautiful spot. 

The New River winds through the Appalachians. The place where the National Park Service has built its glass-paned center is on a hill. From the overlook we can see curling mountains, all tree-covered, and in the valley runs the ribbon of river shining in the sun. 

There's signs at the overlook giving you all sorts of helpful information about the river, like: even though the mountains just look uniformly green to us, in reality there are different types of trees growing in the valleys, on the mountain plateaus, on the ridges, and in the shady alcoves. 

And the signs told us about the geological background: how the New River is actually among the oldest rivers on Earth, and "local legend" has only the Nile River exceeding it in age. And the New River is definitely older than the mountains through which it flows. 

The National Park Service staff at the Center are so friendly. I asked them about the train tracks that run right next to the river. I had looked down at those train tracks and glumly supposed that only freight trains are allowed that close to the New River. But then the lady at the desk said that Amtrak goes through there! It's the Cardinal route that starts off in DC, then dips down to Charlottesville, Virginia. The train leaves Charlottesville at 1:46 pm and then start heading northwest, straight through these lovely mountains. I want to take that train!

And eventually the train will meet up with the New River and "I'll be riding on that New River train!" (banjo music in tow.)

The train passes old coals towns of Kilmaar, and Prince, and some other old settlements. Now that the mountains have been leached of all their coal, the people and work camps have left and the forests have reclaimed their habitats. Though no longer the virgin forests they were. 

The Amtrak only comes through three times a week, and the park ranger encouraged me to think cautiously before I disembark at any of the New River Gorge stops, because they have no people, no stores, and no cell phone signal, seeing as they are historical sites. So before you get there, you need a plan!

Before leaving, we checked out the bookstore, filled with fun books about nature; and there was a short, eleven minute film playing in a small theatre. It was very informative, and very impressively, the shield of the National Park Service kept flashing and rotating on the screen. This film is also the source of the banjo music about 'riding that New River train', so it is a must-see (or I should say, a must-hear!) 

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