I have been living in West Virginia for a little over a year now. And I feel absolutely starved for contact with people who aren't my students, my coworkers, or my partner. If I can't make that contact with humans, at least I can make it with the land.
So I've been trying an experiment. At least once every couple of weeks, I've been actively trying new things. Getting out of the house. Going. Doing. I've started going to the Sunday morning farmer's market and the public library. Aaron and I went to a 14-course gastronomy dinner. I had spam musubi overlooking the nearby Cheat Lake. I took silly pictures of alpacas at the "West Virginia Fiber Festival".
And you know, it is making me feel better about living here. It's not urbpan's 100 Urban Species project, but if can attempt and document "30 Things To Do Near Morgantown, WV", I'll consider it a win.
In that vein, here is THING #1: Morgantown Arts Walk (October 3, 2013)
While I'm not super-enamored of Morgantown as a place to live, the downtown area is, well, charming. As in a lot of smaller towns, on the first Friday of every month, the local businesses stay open later and many do specials or demonstrations or what-have-you. For this particular first Friday, the downtown association really put together a good show, and Aaron and I went down to check it out. For $15, there was a tasting pavilion set up by some of the local restaurants, including the only Thai place and a brewpub. For me, the standout was the butternut squash soup from Black Bear Burrito. It was savory and creamy, but I must admit that I did not care for the crumbled candy corn used as a garnish. (No. Just no.). The random elderly Italian ladies who shared our table seemed terrified at the concept of crawfish; I was compelled to demonstrate proper mudbug head-sucking and tail extraction technique.
We then walked the streets - each of the participating businesses was marked with a tiki torch, which made it easy to find them. All of them had a featured artist or artists in addition to their usual wares. I didn't really see a lot of art that particularly spoke to me, except for some mixed-media pieces at the Arts Monongahela gallery involving the juxtaposition of trees and society. But even if I didn't care for their particular work, there was a lot of talent on display.
We also met a street musician who improvised a song to the prancing man in the giant breakfast sandwich suit. I wish I'd had video for that, because it was the kind of thing that only happens in the really good fever dreams, or after a good amount of psychedelics.
It was free (save for parking). It was a very pleasant fall night. Many places had free snacks. Really, the only drawback was that some places were so crowded that I couldn't appreciate the art, or attract the attention of a salesperson to buy something.