Friday, November 17, 2023

First Birthday and Last National Park

first birthday
Our granddaughter turned one recently, and that is so hard to believe. It seems like yesterday that we were told we were going to be grandparents for the first time. We traveled up to Virginia to celebrate the big day, arriving on a Thursday. We had family photos taken on Friday, and considering that the little gal had her 12 month shots that morning, she did surprisingly well. Unfortunately it rained, so we could not have the pictures taken in a nearby park as had been planned. You know what they say about planning...

Saturday was the party, and again Baby W did really well with so many strangers in her home. Her naps were planned strategically, and she was content during the party. I think it was fun for her to have some other little people visiting. She certainly had no problem enjoying her birthday cupcake! She got a lot of fun as well as practical gifts, so I know she will be entertained for awhile.

Sunday we left the kids' house and drove to Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted, West Virginia. We wanted to visit New River Gorge National Park on Monday, and Hawks Nest is right next door to the national park. It has a lovely 31 room lodge, and that is where we spent the night. In this season between fall colors and Christmas lights, the lodge was pretty empty. We were given a lovely room on the 4th floor, with a balcony overlooking the gorge. We had dinner at the lodge, and our breakfast was included the next morning. We woke up to a lovely sunrise over the mountains.

sunrise at Hawks Nest Lodge
After we checked out of the lodge, we drove a quick 15 minutes to one of the entrances to New River Gorge National Park. Previously known as the New River Gorge National River, Congress in 2021 redesignated the area as the newest United States national park in 2021. Thus we were able to tick off one more national park in 2023.

The park is 70,000 acres, so obviously we did not see it all in one day. But we hit the highlight of seeing the New River Gorge Bridge. It is currently the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the United States and the third highest bridge in the country. We also drove Fayette Station Road, a winding 8-mile one-way stretch of road that takes you to the bottom of the gorge. The park service has an audio tour available for download that describes what you are seeing on the drive as well as the history of the area.

We very much enjoyed our visit, and will plan another trip back to the area. There is a lot more to see, and it is only three and a half hours away from us to boot.
New River Gorge National Park

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