Tag Archives: West Virginia

Rocky Appalachian Spooks

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By angusmack101

Halloween 2.0 was a strange week for sure; it proved to me how valuable it can be to improvise and make an effort to seek out new experiences. Halloween on Wednesday went more-or-less as expected. The costumes and the partying were great fun, but it wasn’t til a late decision to go to the Rocky Horror showing on Thursday that things became genuinely memorable.

People that’ve been doing Rocky for years know what it’s all about, but I was going off hearsay and vague recollections of the movie when I asked some friends to go to the show. The $5 investment was low enough for us not to mind the ambiguity, and it’s a good thing we didn’t—It really is as weird as people say. My roommate Javier thought he was going into some run-of-the-mill amateur theater production, so he was even more surprised than I was when 20 students ran out in lingerie to dance on random members of the audience. I was unlucky enough to get picked out at the start. It’s definitely something worth seeing for yourself: $5 well spent.

Friday was a second Halloween party, relatively similar to the first. I also managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Archives that afternoon, which was more memorable for the number of middle-schoolers wearing MAGA hats than it was for the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Of the 30-ish students in the museum, about 10 had some sort of Trump-brand headwear. One kid had gone the extra mile with a matching MAGA hoodie. If it weren’t for the ban on photography in the Archives or the creepiness of photographing 12-year-olds I’d have snapped a pic to prove it.

01 spinner

Little did I realize I’d be more offended by the gift shop

Before arriving at the the Archives we were held up getting past the White House. The entire north wing of the Mall was closed off and a crowd had formed at the south end. When we asked what was happening we were shown a huge helicopter parked on the lawn outside the White House. Turns out it was Marine One; Trump was flying out that afternoon to rallies in some midterm battleground states. We hung around long enough to see him step inside and fly off from a distance. That’s probably the closest I’ll get to the president while I’m in the US—excluding that time his convoy held up my Uber for 5 minutes.

02 chopper

$10 says he brought golf clubs for the trip

The final big event for the week, and the one that exceeded my expectations the most, has to be the Sunday TRAiLS trip I took to go caving in West Virginia. I’d snagged the last spot in the van when I applied on Tuesday and was hesitant on whether it’d be worth the $45 and the 3-hour drive. It absolutely was.

03 cave

Wholesome GW activities

We were told to pack clothes we didn’t mind losing in the mud, but I had no idea the sheer quantities of it we’d be exposed to. It makes sense when you think about it; caves are formed from water flow, but the way the rocks transitioned from damp to slick to grimey to pure mud was a lot more than I was expecting. Thankfully I’d chosen to go with a Walmart flannel and $15 jeans, anything else would’ve been painful to lose. By the time we got out 3 hours later we were all caked in it. The tiny gaps in the rocks you have to get through down there don’t allow for being precious with your clothes. You either slide along your stomach and brace your ass against muddy walls for support, or you don’t get to go deeper. 

04 tight gap

Not the tightest gap we squeezed through, but the best facial expression

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Into History and Nature

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By audrey

I think one of the best parts of exchange in DC is the access to national parks that are within driving distance whether in Virginia, West Virginia or Maryland. Being located in such a prime location on the east coast meant that hiking the Appalachian Trail is possible for a day trip and without the added cost of camping and plane tickets.

So on Saturday, the 5 of us rented a car and took a day trip to Harper’s Ferry and Shenandoah National Park. Aiming to cover 2 destinations in a day was really ambitious, and to top it off, it rained while we were at out first destination so we could not do much. That being said, we decided to head off to Shenandoah National Park ahead of schedule and it was probably the best decision made that day.

Harper’s Ferry is situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where  Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet. It is the easternmost town in West Virginia. Driving in, you will be greeted with the sight of a quaint historical town that very much resembles colonial days and this is probably because it was an important site of the American Civil War. We took a break there from an hour’s drive and treated ourselves to some food and ice cream.

While I recommend hiking up the Maryland Heights trail, we were simply not blessed with good weather.

Next stop, we drove for another hour to Shenandoah National Park via the Thornton Gap Entrance (There are four entrances but this is the nearest from DC and also intercepts the Skyline Drive halfway). With national parks, cellphone reception is always a problem so I do recommend downloading the park’s map before you enter for ease of navigation (unless you’re an expert at reading analog maps, which we found out that we were inept at a little too late).

Shenandoah Park is filled with many wonderful viewpoints and waterfalls but due to time constraints, we chose to do the Hawksbill Trail, which led us to the highest point in the park. Man, the view was all sorts of spectacular despite the cold and unrelenting weather – I managed to get some pictures but the cloudy backdrop didn’t do it justice.

Kudos to the drivers who survived the nearly 6-hour drive, it was really not easy for them while us non-drivers simply snacked and napped at the back!