We’re not terribly far from a number of major metropolitan areas. B-more, DC and Pittsburgh are all approximately equidistant (125 miles or 200 k). We’re relatively close to several of the serious transportation throughways: about a half hour’s driving for East-West, a little longer for North-South.
All of which is to say our life here isn’t profoundly isolated. It isn’t one hundred miles to the nearest gas station. If (heaven forfend) we needed an ambulance, it would be here in fewer than twenty minutes. Yet our adopted county is definitely ‘country’ by nature.
Bedford County found itself the object of the weekenders’ attentions when neighboring Fulton County (on the leading eastern edge of the scenic Alleghenies) became expensive. This began about 25 years ago. I deduce this from looking at properties for sale in the area. Bedford has many nice homes built in the eighties on about eleven acres.
Flatlanders brought some prosperity into a county where much of the local employment was tied to its transportation hub tradition, farming, and mining. They built custom homes and had them serviced. They bought expensive foodstuffs and ate out frequently. They had disposable income for furnishings and fixtures. They provided their kids with every sort of great-outdoors experience the area afforded. Bedford County has long fretted about balancing the demands of tourism and the incomes it creates against preserving the quiet, indigenous beauty of this rural region.
As the Boomers got older, so did their families. The kids are at college or matriculated. Those offspring aren’t coming home to ride horses on the weekends anymore. Their parents aren’t as enthusiastic about long hikes or bike rides in the low, rolling mountains now that knees and backs and blood pressures are all active concerns.
It isn’t just the recession contributing to the closure of tchotchke shops in town and eateries along the highways. The Boomers are shifting their focus to retirement and the last third of their long lives. And the focus is more away from than toward these hills.
The farm manager and I got here at just the right time. The old ways haven’t died out quite yet. The last names of people in the venerable daily paper all match the names of townships, roads and villages hereabouts. And folks still lift a couple fingers off the steering wheel in salute as their car passes ours along the little windy roads in every quadrant of the county.
We get eggs from a gentleman who leaves the garage door up and an old margarine cup in the mini-fridge for the dollar fifty he wants for his farm-fresh, organic product. We buy our bacon from the corner store. It costs two-ninety a pound. The pig it came from lived and died in this zip code. Folks at city hall know where we live by looking at the exchange on our phone number. And transplants like us are getting to be the exception and not the rule.
We love it here. And we’re learning to lift our fingers when a pick-up drives past us as we run up the road for this and that.