In my exile to see my son, we are limited (by court order and Honey’s hardness of heart) to Wyoming County, West Virginia, one of the poorest counties in an already poor state, where the main industry is probably the service industry (Dollar Store or Dairy Queen, take your pick), with remnants of mining and railways, and some logging–but they don’t need the personnel they used to–and the meth industry, of course. Mullens (a misspelling that stuck) is the largest town (~1,000) but (to their eternal resentment), Pineville (~500) is the county seat, and where the courthouse is, and there are rumors of another town called Oceana (~500) somewhere in the hills. The rest is tiny unincorporated towns shallowly clawed out of the hills next to the main roads.
Education is seen as a curse and viewed with suspicion (even by Honey’s family, although she has an uncle with a Ph.D–civil engineering–and her grandfather has his Bachelor’s from Emmaus Bible College, and had traveled to the Mediterranean).
(I took the title from a Ladybird book I loved as a child, Nature’s Roundabout. As far as I know there are no roundabouts of the other sort, also called “traffic circles.” in the county.)
Practically, with the limited time we have together, I am limited to areas near Mullens itself (e.g., Pineville is about 30 minutes away, maybe more with current construction). There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of navigable water in the county, although a shallow river runs through town; I would love to take David out in a canoe or kayak. So the spots we usually frequent are of course the Highwater Inn I stay at most of the time (see Travel and lodging in West Virginia), Twin Falls park, for the playgrounds, lodge (and pool!) when I stay there, a local playground (swings, slide, climbing tower, and there’s an old iron bridge over the creek there that we walk over and he walks on a low stone wall as far as we go on the other side), a couple places to eat (Second Street Station in town, the Rebel Smokehouse–not bad, but I don’t go there with David since he wouldn’t eat most of the menu, and Dairy Queen down the road a bit). There’s also a gas station and IGA, where I usually fill up and get groceries coming in on Sundays, near the DQ.
In contrast, when David gets to come home to Indiana, while I live on several quiet acres (despite being close to the highway, it is just one lane and goes up to farms and small towns to the north), there are a number of well-kept parks nearby in Noblesville, and good shopping within 10 minutes’ drive, and all the usual amenities – including pediatric dentists (which will become important later). Hamilton County is the second-wealthiest in the state (Boone, the wealthiest, is nearby) and has great options for schools (and people who don’t despise education), on-site autism therapy (rather than having to be remote as now, since there seems to be no local options in WV), and healthcare (including dentists).