IT'S time to hit the road. Or at least to start coming up with some excuses for doing so.
Fall officially began this week, and West Virginians shouldn't pass up the opportunity to renew their souls.
That's what a road trip in this state can do for you.
If you can escape the rut of everyday life and take to the state's highways, you may be struck by the thought, as I always am, that you should do this more often.
The stress of daily responsibilities drains away, and a sense of peace and well being takes its place.
Whether it's an interstate or a back road, you don't have to drive far to realize you are surrounded by splendor. This state is charming in any season, but its autumn displays are downright dazzling.
When I'm headed to points northeast, such as Washington, D.C., I like to ditch the interstate at Weston and follow the route of the long-awaited Corridor H through some of the gorgeous eastern mountains.
Actually, several segments of the corridor, which eventually will be four lanes from Weston to the Virginia border, are finished.
It takes about the same amount of time to follow this route to Washington, D.C., as it does to travel all the way by interstate. The speed limit is lower, but that's offset by lower mileage.
And good news about Corridor H was reported this week.
A 16-mile segment from Davis in Tucker County to Bismarck in Grant County will be built over the next two years - five years ahead of schedule.
I will appreciate the convenience as more four-lane segments open, but I am not unhappy with the route the way it is right now.
The old two-lane stretches of road take me right through quaint little towns like Moorefield in Hardy County and Petersburg in Grant County. As a lifelong city girl, I like to imagine what dwelling in such towns must be like.
The tidy homes and pristine churches framed by massive old trees and yards full of colorful leaves are especially charming this time of year.
Or I drive W.Va. 55 along the gurgling South Branch of the Potomac River and see the rustic cabins and riverside campgrounds. I promise myself that someday I'll return to stay for a few days.
Too soon comes the Virginia border, two major interstates and the high-speed traffic headed into the congested metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Darn, I feel sorry for folks who don't live in West Virginia.
Another favorite fall experience comes after a drive further up Interstate 79 to Morgantown on a football Saturday.