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Once again, it takes out-of-towners to remind us how good we have it in the Twin Counties.
After last week's "familiarization tour" for tourism officials from all over Virginia, the visitors couldn't find enough good things to say about our underappreciated area. They enjoyed shopping in our unique shops, visiting our attractions, hearing our music and seeing our natural wonders.
The sad thing is that we are the ones who don't appreciate it. Almost every day, you hear a local disparage what we have here — "There's nothing to see," or "What is there to do?"
Well, tourists are finding plenty. Could it be that we are jaded about our local treasures? It's like sitting atop a mountain of gold and griping that you can't find any brass.
It's hard to see what's right in front of your face sometimes, and it takes fresh eyes to make you realize that our simple, rural life and relaxing atmosphere —where there's "nothing" to do — is what others crave.
Galax's visitor center has been open only two weeks, and has welcomed tourists from Australia, Germany, France, England, Ireland and Canada; and from all over the U.S. — Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Vermont, West Virginia, Tennessee, Texas and Maryland.
Why would they come here, you ask?
Our "nothing" includes scenic vistas, fishing, hunting, golf, hiking on miles of trails, biking on a Huffy or a Harley, horseback riding, a thriving traditional music and art community, shopping, dining and so much more.
Some of us long for the busy life of the city or a commercialized vacation destination like Myrtle Beach or Gatlinburg. But urbanites are desperate to escape places like that — to escape to our mountains.
Our treasures are all around us, but some things are so clear, they're invisible — especially to those of us who live here.