Friday, April 19, 2013

Vas Ist Blog-Zug? (Is This a Travel Blog?)

What is Blog-Zug and how did this blog get linked to it? I had to go home and look up a few words to find out what this site was trying to tell us. Zug is a train, or more metaphorically a trend, of blogs--a site that indexes a selection of blogs for readers' convenience--only of course the indexing is in German. The blogs are, however, multilingual, and somebody's added this site to a list of Reisende blogs.

Some German words sound like their English equivalents. Rising blogs? I wish. Raising blogs, perhaps as in uplifting? I wish. So I looked it up. Reisen = travel. Is this a travel blog? My own travelling days are over but I do write about living in a town that likes visitors. For European readers this probably counts as a travel blog...sorry about all the distractions.

However, since Blog-Zug has generated a substantial new readership in Germany, I'll say this much to prospective travellers. Gate City does like visitors--the more exotic the better.

Years ago, when Associated Content was paying ten dollars per Top Ten List, I had a bright idea about posting lists of the Top Ten Attractions of each of the small towns here in the point of Virginia. "Do all of them have ten attractions?" Well, Gate City has, but I know this only because I'm from Gate City. I figured other people could help with the Top Ten Lists for their towns. Lists for Bristol and Appalachia followed.

Then Oogesti, not to be outdone, wanted to share his list of attractions from which I could pick out a Top Ten List of Reasons to Visit Jonesville. Er. Um. I did try. It was easy enough to write in a snarky patronizing tone, attribute the snarkiness to my loyalty to a rival high school, and thus suggest (although I'm not at all sure it's true) that someone else might be more favorably impressed by Jonesville's attractions. Actually Jonesville was not a rival school when I was in high school, but I did the best I could with a list that, I am not making this up, included a convenience store with a microwave oven as a "Restaurant" and a Wal-Mart as a "Shopping Attraction." Anyway, the AC editor offered payment for the article I wrote; Jonesville contacts thought it was too snarky and wanted three or four wisecracks cut out of it; without the wisecracks it wasn't funny any more, so AC never published it.

I've not asked anyone else to be my native guide to the attractions of a small town. But I have to say this much on behalf of the towns that probably have more attractions than I would've thought of. I go back to e.g. Pennington Gap, Duffield, or Norton, whether any special attraction is going on, or just to shop or visit people. If you didn't know those people, and if you lived in a city that offered more shopping opportunities, would you go back to these towns, just to shop? Probably not. There are people who drive to Jonesville in order to shop at a Wal-Mart. These people live on farms and do not have a lot of shopping options.

What we have here that's unique is: the Natural Tunnel. Also, for serious naturalists, there are a few obscure wildlife species lurking in local nature parks and preserves. Apart from that...the high Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful, but I'm not sure that people who think in terms of the Alps or the Pyrenees would even call them mountains. They are steep enough that sometimes you can be standing in the sunshine, close to a peak, and look down through a wisp of mist and realize you're looking down at a cloud from which rain or snow is falling on the valley at your feet. They don't have snow-capped peaks or even timber lines.

Nevertheless, once in a while someone from another country does come to southwestern Virginia, and there's plenty to do here, whether it's truly world-class or just good cheap family fun. It's just that most of what we have to offer is just good cheap family fun. Or, depending on whom you're visiting, adults-only fun...but this web site is family-friendly.

So, for travellers who want to visit Gate City, a few quick links...

Can you rent a room in town? Check the Estillville Bed & Breakfast: http://www.gatecityinn.com/

Or would you rather sleep closer to the Natural Tunnel? http://www.travelinnvatn.com/

Although the name of Weber City isn't German, the town does have a highly rated German-style restaurant, the Gasthaus Edelweiss: https://plus.google.com/113839597087050114485/about?gl=us&hl=en#113839597087050114485/about?gl=us&hl=en

Gate City's all-American, mid-twentieth-century-style "diner": http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hob-Nob-Drive-In/187448171282258

The Pal's restaurant chain is based in Kingsport, but the restaurant on Kane Street is managed by a relative of mine: http://www.palsweb.com/

Find out more about the complex of public parks around the Natural Tunnel: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/nat.shtml

Enter the Jefferson National Forest from Gate City: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/little-stony-national-recreation-trail

Web page for the major outdoor music festival (there are others): http://www.clinchfest.net/

Web page for the Bristol Motor Speedway: http://www.bristolmotorspeedway.com/