Then the towering thickly wooded mountains give way to a succession of dreary little towns that seem suspended in time except for the never-ending succession of MacDonald’s, Pizza Huts, Burger Kings, Dunkin Donuts, local diners and second-hand furniture stores. As I drive north the mountainsides are increasingly scarred by barren swathes of black, littered with coal, where only small sickly scrubby trees survive - the victims of strip mining. When there is a major storm, these shallow-rooted trees topple over. For me it all culminates north of the mining town of St Claire at the Coal Creek Mall where a Wal Mart superstore sits in side of a scarred mountain that is has been mined down so far that the top is gone.
That’s the first 90 miles of my trip north.