Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 28, 2016

Connected Again

We have been without internet connection for the last few days.  Actually we had very good connection one day but nothing of interest to post.  the rest of the time has been pretty remote technology-wise.

First day after leaving West Virginia (Side rant:  It’s official – West Virginia has the worst roads overall of every place we have been which is pretty much the entire country.  The pioneers traveling 2000 miles to Oregon and California in a Conestoga wagon had a far more comfortable trip than driving 10 miles on just about any road in West Virginia in a modern vehicle with excellent suspension and rubber tires.) we stayed in a very nice RV resort in the Shenandoah Valley with an interesting adjunct.  It is built on top of a cave.  Tours are given four or five time a day.  RV camping would give reduced admission to cave.  We opted out as we have seen some of the best this country has to offer.  Instead we did laundry Smile.  The day we were there the park was very quiet and they were making last minute preparations for up coming Memorial Day weekend which was already fully booked (over 100 sites).

Next day off to Shenandoah National Park.  Pretty much THE park and mountain recreation area for Washington D.C. and surrounding areas.  It is less than 80 miles from the Capitol.  We lucked out here and found an open non-reserved camp spot in the major park campground. Starting the next day the park would have been full Smile.  Stayed two nights.  Took in a couple of ranger talks, took a walk, took a hike, did some sightseeing.  That is pretty much what this park offers.  There are no ‘gotcha’ landmarks or structures.  There is a great deal of history about how the park came to be formed and how it was developed and the effects on early inhabitants of the area.  Mostly the park is vistas and trails.  There were many people doing both.  The views west into the Shenandoah Valley are great as are the views east across the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Shenandoah Valley

There are lots of available hikes (The Appalachian Trail runs the length of the park) to points of interest.  One problem – the chief (only) road through the park runs along the ridge of the mountains and all trails start along this road.  Just like Auburn that means that all hikes start off down hill and the return hike is all up hill.  We did one to a falls.  It was about 1 1/2 miles down to falls (not one step was up hill) and between 3 and 4 miles back up, on the same trail Sad smile.  And the falls were not all that great – more of a cascade.

We did see wildlife.  First real contact this trip.

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This is not a telephoto pic.  Doe was just loafing under tree as we walked by about ten feet from her.


Saw these as we headed out of park this morning.  (Know how to spot wildlife in a national park – look for cars parked in middle of road with idiots standing outside cars all staring in same direction, some will have cameras on tripods)  Mom and two cubs strolling through forest.


Today, out of the park and east to north central Virginia (did I mention how nice the roads are in Virginia).  Then north to Maryland (Gas and milk at Sam’s and then oil change for Carbus at a quick lube).  North again through Gettysburg (been there) and then more east to RV park in York.

Updated map of trip:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24, 2016

Sightseeing day

Layover day to tour New River Gorge area.

First a short drive to office of state park we are in.  About 100 yards from the office is the Glade Creek Grist Mill.  This mill is a re-creation of a mill that dates back to 1890.  The present mill was finished in 1976.  It is fully functional.  Unfortunately it only operates on weekends so we missed seeing it grinding.


This is supposed to be the most photographed spot in West Virginia.


South on a decent highway through several small towns to the larger town of Beckley.  There we toured the Tamarack complex.  A retail studio displaying crafts and art produced by West Virginia artisans. 

East and then north to Grandview and an overlook of the New River.



Back east and then south to Hinton and then east again to Talcott.


Along the way we passed Sandstone Falls on the New River.



Does the name of this tunnel ring a bell.  Perhaps the next picture will help.



Everyone has heard the legend of John Henry and the song that tells it.  John Henry was real.  He actually did compete against a steam drill and he did win.  Now you know.

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23, 2016

New River Gorge National Scenic River

South through Charleston, past the capitol building, and south on a scenic highway alternate to an interstate/toll way. P1170190

This road was in much better shape than the interstate and went through a number of coal towns.  Similar to logging towns in the northwest.  Interesting to see.


A couple of hours and we arrived at Babcock State Park.  Very nice campground.  Removed from major (even minor) roads, very spacy level campsites with electric, dump station and water available if you need it, and WIFI.  Yahoo!  Got set up and then drove toad to visitor center of New River Gorge National Scenic River.

The rivers name is the ‘New River’, it is not a freshly created entity.  Very near the visitor center is the New River Gorge Bridge.  The longest steel span bridge in the western hemisphere and third highest in the United States.  Walked to a viewing platform and then another. 


New River Gorge





Believe me, it is a very long way down.


Drove across bridge and down narrow road to bottom of canyon to view bridge from bottom.


Top of bridge.


Underneath bridge.



Saw this and more along every road



New River Gorge Bridge.  Could stack Washington Monument and two Statues of Liberty on top of each other and still have over 40 feet of space to the bridge.

Back up canyon to town of Fayetteville – old coal town.  Neat old buildings now holding antiques ,etc.  Similar to Old Town Auburn.

From there south to visit the historic site of Thurmond.  Twisty narrow road to the bottom of a canyon to town site on banks of New River.  Road was not primary access to Thurmond.  Town was hub of several railroad lines and spurs that serviced coal industry.  The main street of town was literally three parallel railroad tracks running through town.  There is no road.  All the stores, banks, etc. front the tracks with only walking room between them and the tracks.


Main street.  Road crossing tracks goes to homes on hill.


At its height this was a very busy place.  More than twenty scheduled train stops per day. Town is pretty much gone.  Some stores remain, there are a number of old homes on hill above town site (one or two of which are populated, population is three), and NPS has restored depot as visitor center.  Tracks are still in use both for moving coal and by Amtrak (three stops per week).  

Returned to state park on another scenic road. 

Note on West Virginia:  Very scenic – everywhere you look is green and there are cataracts and falls along most roads, large and small.



Having been on small roads now I can state that pretty much universally, the West Virginia roads SUCK!

Current travel map:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 21-22, 2016


Eastern Kentucky

We left Cumberland Gap and headed northwest on a brief (60 mile) detour.  We were that close to Corbin, Ky so we figured what the heck. 
Corbin ,Ky – birth place of Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Town where Col. Sanders started it all.  First restaurant has been replaced with a more modern combo walk-up and restaurant.  There is a small museum dedicated to the beginnings of the chain.  If you are in the area and passing through Corbin (not likely) you could stop in.  No need to go out of your way.  But, we can say we have been where it all started.



Back east to US 23.  Nice four lane divided highway and national scenic byway that runs up the length of eastern Kentucky.


I could drive through this all day.


Never Know what you’ll find.

This road is called the “Country Music Highway” in honor of the many (well over 50) country music legends who have emerged from the ancient Appalachian hills and hollows the road traverses.


  We spent the night in a state park only a couple of miles from ‘Butcher Hollow’ – birth place and early home of Loretta Lynn.  Had thought to visit her home but Butcher Hollow is REALLY back country and road is not at all suitable for motorhome.

Highway 23 meets Interstate 64.  East and soon we were in West Virginia. 

First impression; granted we still have a few states to visit (7-8) but my vote for the WORST roads in a state goes to West Virginia.  That included Alaska with its frost heaves.  I have literally driven the carbus on washed out dirt roads that were better than what I have seen so far of West Virginia interstates.  Much of the roads are a series of patches and patched patches and those patches are not made to match the level of the road.  Constant bumps and dips.  Not fun at all.  Made especially worse because we had just left Kentucky which has some of the universally best roads we have been on.  Even the dinky back country state and county roads in Kentucky are smooth, well laid out, and easy and comfortable to drive. We still have much to see and do in West Virginia so hopefully the roads will be better.

To night we are camped in a church camp/rv park 2 1/2  miles down a narrow country road from anywhere.  It is an excellent road however.  Narrow, but appears to be newly paved with no flaws. Smile


View from our camp spot.



This is a cicada.    The trees and forest plants are full of them.  They make a low pitched chirping sound that makes for a constant background din that never stops and gets more intense with certain weather conditions (warm and moist which we are starting to see).  We remember them from our years in Kansas.

Trip map to date.