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September 22nd

I spent the weekend going rafting in the Upper Gauley in southern West Virginia. Here’s what I thought

If I am not the driver, I am freaking out. I was not driving during the 6 1/2 hour trip. Going down the highway at 90 mph, passing every single car and 18 wheeler in sight, and topping out at 128 mph at some points is not fun unless I am the one doing it.

Every stereotype about West Virginians, except for one, is wrong. I am living proof of a post-racial American, but I cannot help but wonder what it is like to be the only Chinese guy in West Virginia not working in a Chinese restaurant.

Even though I was there for only two days, everyone was very friendly and no one gave a hoot about my ethnicity. The most offensive things I’ve heard was city-slickers like us joking about it. Even though West Virginia is as small-town America as it comes, it is really not much different than, for instance, Sussex county in New Jersey.

One thing that is true, though, is being in the most rural part of a southern state, West Virginians do have a funny accent. To be honest, I can make the case that the southern accent is a lot closer to the Queen’s English than the Jersey accent.

Everything is faaaar away. I am used to everything next to each to other. The concept of going “in and out” of town seems foreign. Whereas in West Virginia 30 miles gets you to the next small town, 30 miles in Jersey get me into half the state. One good thing about that is that highways rule the state and it is actually quite enjoyable to drive up and down its hills (ie no traffic). If you like driving, you will love rural states.

Rafting is fun and deadly The primary reason I went to West Virginia was to go rafting. Rafting in West Virginia showed me how much rafting in Pennsylvania sucks. I guess having a guide tell me how certain people died in certain class five rapids made it even more fun. I made it through the Upper Gauley relatively unscathed (I did get smacked in the jaw by a paddle, though).

It is not a rafting trip until you make it through a class five rapid. There’s five of them in the Upper Gauley. I highly recommend everyone to take this trip.

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