We're continually surprised at how much we see and do on the road without intention, at the errors and pitfalls that make any particular state feel - in retrospect - packed with activity. I could have written about West Virginia from 30 different angles, but in the end, I focused on two state treasures: pepperoni rolls, and West Virginia short story writer Breece D'J Pancake. Here's a short excerpt:
We aren’t lost — we’re in West Virginia. We’re hauling a vintage travel trailer up a one-lane dirt road through a wrinkle of the Alleghenies called — what else — Devil’s Hollow. The road is steep, full of shadows and switchbacks, beautiful and perilous at once. I’ve cracked the window to listen for problems, not that I could fix them, not here anyway. Not now. We lost cell service miles ago. AAA is no longer an option. The engine whines. I max out at 10 mph, which feels like a standstill, or worse, like we’re slipping. The air smells like earthworms and wet leaves. Every noise we make carries through the forest: the chains dangling from the hitch, the various tinny pings under the hood, the trailer rocking back and forth, up and down, as if the mountain itself were bouncing it on her knee. My hands leave sweaty imprints on the wheel. The seat is hot and my boxers are clinging to my thighs and my fiancée is crouched forward, gripping the dashboard like she’s climbing the summit of a roller coaster. She damns Google maps. Then I damn Google maps.
“Nobody knows we’re out here,” Mel says. “What if something ...”
“It won't,” I snap. “We’re fine.”