Apparently, West Virginia is far from almost heaven. That's how some folks from WalletHub, a company that offers various types of financial advice, feel.
WalletHub has released a list of the best states for summer road trips. West Virginia is the third worst state in the country, they say.
Mountaineers understand many of those state-by-state rankings are based as much on prejudice as fact. This one is particularly ridiculous.
According to WalletHub, in "number of attractions," we rank 47th in the United States. In "number of scenic byways," we're 22nd.
Bear in mind lots of folks who judge West?Virginia do so from an urban perspective. If there aren't "X" number of sushi bars in a place, it must not be worth visiting.
It reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with an editor from Pocahontas County. No offense to two very good businesses, but here's what she said:?"We don't have any Wal-Marts in Pocahontas County, and we don't have any McDonalds - and we like it that way."
It doesn't seem to have occurred to some of the travel places that the absence of certain things is attractive to many people. Does peace and quiet ring any bells?
As far as number of attractions, we have plenty of what I'll call "labeled" ones. West Virginia Independence Hall, Oglebay Park, the old prison in Moundsville and some of the special events in the Ohio Valley come to mind.
Then there are the unlabeled attractions. A day on Dolly Sods or in a canoe cruising down one of our many non-commercial whitewater rivers qualify. Relaxing in the sun on top of Spruce Knob or watching skunks and raccoons in a state park campground are on the list. So are hundreds of other very real attractions the WalletHub folks missed.
As far as scenic byways go, there certainly are states with far more highways designated as such. But West Virginia has hundreds of miles of beautiful drives we Mountain State residents take for granted. For example, the West Virginia Turnpike south of Charleston exposes drivers to some of the most ruggedly beautiful country in the nation.
WalletHub and others who rate tourist destinations ought to stop and smell the wood smoke. They're wrong, but that's fine.
It just means the wrong sort of people won't be tempted to visit wild, wonderful West?Virginia.
Myer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.