I asked an Asian West Virginia transplant through the internet about the locals to prepare myself. She messaged back saying the people, though politically incorrect sometimes, are generally pretty nice and mean well.
The guy outside the Welcome Center asking about my Fiat was awkward, but also nice. And the people who let me wander through the Capitol were nice and not awkward. The lady who was getting ready to jog by the Kanahwa River and gave me a smile and hello was nice. And the portrait and statue of Abraham Lincoln was leading me to believe West Virginia isn’t all that racist.
I started easing up a bit and becoming embarrassed on my unfounded paranoia.
Even my host was nice enough to dig through his mail to find me a coupon to Bob Evans.
I told Joey, my host, to his surprise that I never heard of Bob Evans.
"Really?" He asked. "It’s all over the area."
Joey’s never left the area.
He wants to, but can’t. When I asked him more questions about West Virginia, he didn’t give too many positive answers. He isn’t a big fan, which explains why when I asked him about West Virginia-defining restaurants in the area, he pointed me towards a mall food court.
I thanked him and went downtown to a FourSquare-recommended restaurant instead.
The bartender, originally from Arizona, was really nice but getting anxious because of the looming storm clouds. He wasn’t a big fan of the state either, and I began to think perhaps no one actually really liked West Virginia. They’re just here.
Though, he told me all about Tucson, the saguaros and the way the desert landscape changes as you head north into the Grand Canyon. But don’t worry about Phoenix, he told me, Tuscon’s so much better. Phoenix is just a sprawling city with no character.
Joey already left for the night shift so when I got back to his double-wide, so I decided to map out my route for Part Two of the project from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and back, taking cues from Joey’s Roomba meandering up and down highways for two months with an added stop in Tuscon before heading to the Grand Canyon.