NPR newscaster and former West Virginia Public Broadcasting staffer Giles Snyder and his teenage daughter Kendall are going on a road trip through the Mountain State from their home in Martinsburg—for extra credit. They’ve got a lot of ground to cover in just a few days, and they’re giving WV Living a firsthand account from the road. Here is the first installment:

Martinsburg to Blackwater Falls State Park and beyond

At the end of this past school year, my daughter, Kendall, came home with a summer assignment from her AP English teacher—have an “Adventure in Appalachia.”

The assignment is aimed at fostering a sense of place, at broadening what students know about West Virginia, and at deepening their relationship to the state as the class prepares to study its stereotypes, the language used to talk about it, and our region’s literature.

Kendall’s teacher left it up to each student to decide what their “adventure” might involve. But then she offered a list of nine places to visit that would earn “mad respect.”

My daughter knew what would happen when she showed me that list. After all, she’s put up with me—a self-proclaimed West Virginia partisan—for the past 15 years. And when you throw in the chance to earn “mad respect,” I was all in. I immediately opened Google and created a map for our road trip.

We are finally leaving from our home in Martinsburg today, July 31, our first stop being Blackwater Falls State Park. We’ll be posting pictures from there as well as from Dolly Sods and Seneca Rocks before bedding down tonight in a bed and breakfast in the small Swiss village of Helvetia.

Other points of interest on our trip will include the New River Gorge Bridge, the Appalachian South Folklife Center, the Devil Anse Hatfield Memorial, the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, and the Northern Panhandle’s Palace of Gold.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip since school let out for the summer in early June, but there is one hitch. My daughter is preparing to get her driver’s license. You see where I’m going with this?

Kendall has her learner’s permit. Before you point out there’s no better crucible in which to sharpen your driving skills than on West Virginia’s country roads, know this: I’ve yet to bring myself to get in the car when her older brother is behind the wheel. And he’s had his license for several years!

Buckle up, Dad. It’s going to be an interesting trip.

Click here to see Giles’s dispatch from day two.

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