Bath County

So, I never truly understood why people want to leave rural places…until our recent Labor Day trip to Bath County. I don’t think I fully understood the difference between being in the mountains and being by the mountains. Most of my time in the mountains of Virginia has been spent in the gently rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains — never more than a five minute drive from the outer suburbs — or in the Shenandoah or Page Valleys, two narrow valleys framed by modest peaks and separated by Shenandoah National Park. But actually being in the mountains — in small, not necessarily picturesque hollows — felt a little claustrophobic to me. I am sorry if anyone from Bath County is reading this and I’m insulting your county (though considering the population is only about 4,000, this is very unlikely) but I think I now understand why why some rural places are hemorrhaging population. Valleys framed by mountains feel expansive and full of possibilities to me; hollows, on the other hand, make me feel like I’ve been trapped in an elevator for days on end. I felt disoriented and weighed down. I have no immediate plans to return to Bath County any time soon. I am sorry, Bath County.

Bath County Douthat State Park

So this park — Douthat State Park — was actually pretty nice. Small lake, big trees — very summer campy. We decided that for the foreseeable future, we’ll be camping for short family vacations — we can make our tent much more baby proof than a bed and breakfast. 

Bath County Grocery Store

This was the only grocery store I could find that was open before 9 a.m. on Labor Day. I’m not really sure if the gas station is still functioning, and the inside of the grocery made me feel like I might as well give up on life right now. Plus, the cost of groceries was so high! I imagine it’s cumbersome to transport food in the these mountains, and I’m not even sure if large trucks are allowed on the somewhat narrow roads. 

Bath County landscape

One thing I learned over our Labor Day trip is that taking good pictures is a lot harder when you lack a valley or lowland for perspective. We saw lots of cows. 

Bath County Post OFfice

The post office in Warm Springs. 

Bath County Turkeys

My favorite part of the weekend was seeing four turkeys cross the road. That’s something I’d never see in northern Virginia. 

Bath County Warm Springs

Downtown Warm Springs. I mean, it was OK. 

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