Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Highland and Bath Counties (7/11/2015)

Somewhere at home I have a map of the US on which I colored in all the counties that I have set foot in.  There are just a few states that are completely white: I have never been in North Dakota, Nevada, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island.  Boy, how is that for an eclectic mix?  There are very few states where I have filled in all counties: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia.  I miss one county in New Mexico.

The variety is amazing, and that is what makes this country so great.  I really can not tell you what's the best or the worst; really they are all unique in their own way.  I enjoyed Eunice , Louisiana in Acadia Parish  (that's what they call counties there), but is it the best place I've ever been?  Not really, I just remember it since it was a lot of fun.  But so was Summit County Colorado where I climbed Grays Peak a 14,278 foot peak in the Colorado Rockies and stayed overnight in Keystone and watched people getting mountain sickness.  I also really love where we currently live: York County, or McKinley County in New Mexico where we used to live, or even Hamilton County, Ohio.

This weekend we revisited a county we dearly love: Highland County; we stayed at a B&B there, but if you want fine dining, you have to go south, into Bath County, to either Warm Springs or Hot Springs.

The first full day in Highland County was somewhat rainy with temperatures in the low 70s.  What a difference from the mid 90s at home.  I took this photograph around 10 in the morning, and where else can you find highland cattle in the fog (clouds) but in Highland County.
Driving through Bath County, in particular, I am always amazed by the juxtaposition of poor (native) mountain living and (imported) opulence and the contrast it creates.  It is not pervasive, but it is obvious in some places.  In those instances you don't see the signs of what they call trickle down economics.  I'm sure that in some cases it is self imposed, but I figure that in other cases it could also be class warfare.

Both Warm Springs and Hot Springs fit that bill.   I assume that everyone has heard of the Hot Springs Homestead Resort.   It is an amazing place to see.  I am told the green fees for the golf course are just below $400 per person.   The homes around the resort are also amazing (worth at least a half million and up).  Going a few miles out of town, or even to the other side of town you see dilapidated buildings,  double-wide trailers, you name it.  Actually, we were amazed that in the middle of town the town parking area that doubles as farmer's market is full of pot holes filled with water and the sidewalks are bordered by foot high weeds.  There was a shift change at the resort when we were in town and there were a lot of young East-European workers walking down the street to their apartments in what I thought were abandoned or rundown storefronts.

The real estate offices were nicely spruced up, but even here, the public parking lots had weed growing in them and the green isles between the parking spaces were overgrown with weeds.  Really poor for a resort town. 
One wonders, places like the resort and the associated mansions and businesses are major tax payers and you would think that the country or town would have sufficient funds to spruce up the down town and make it attractive to visitors.  I would think that this would feed on each other, a nicer downtown would attract more visitors and sale taxes, and therefore more businesses, employ more people, who pay more taxes.  I know I am over simplifying it, but such a beautiful place could be even so much more beautiful and better.

Just an interesting view taken with my fish-eye lens.
Believe it or not, I really like Hot Springs and Bath County; I just think it could even be better!  We had a great time at the Sam Snead's Tavern.  They have some great food and a nice atmosphere.  A great place to hang out.  We had a wonderful visit.

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