West Virginia, Blue Ridge mountains, Shenandoah river. Any John Denver fans? I’ve never seen John Denver fans like the ones I saw at a country music festival in Wiesbaden Germany…that was trippy. But that’s a different story.
We were leaving southwestern Pennsylvania and on our way to West Virginia so Country Roads was definitely on my brain. Right after leaving Ohiopyle and getting on the highway we saw several signs warning that dangerous mountains lie ahead. The signs suggested that trucks pull over at the top of the mountain to do a safety check and study the map which showed runaway truck ramps. I asked the Beast if she was ready to show Pennsylvania how Colorado drivers handle a mountain with 14,000 lbs dragging along behind…she purred along as if to say, “bring it on!” It was a steep hill for sure but between that Allison transmission in low gear and the exhaust brakes we did just fine!
Our target for the day was a place called Milton WV but we wanted to make a stop at the New River Gorge bridge to check it out. We also needed to resupply at the grocery store so we located a Kroger along the way and found a spot to park. The kids and I ate lunch while Steph shopped. When Steph was finished shopping she was able to wheel the cart right up to the door of our house! No moving the groceries into, then out of, the car….just straight into the cabinets and fridge…I thought it was pretty slick! Back on the road for another hour and we got to the gorge.
We watched the movie they had about the river and its history, we played with crap at the touch table (check out the pictures), got the kids National Parks passports stamped and then walked out to see the bridge. The longest single-span arch bridge in the US (3rd longest in the world). And it is a really nice looking bridge…from below. Later, when we drove across the bridge we noticed that you cannot tell that it is anything special from the road so I am glad we took the time to check it out from this vantage point. The 3rd Saturday of every October, Bridge Day is celebrated by closing all four lanes of highway to traffic and the bridge becomes the jumping off point for BASE jumpers and rappellers (Bungee jumping is no longer allowed after some accidents)…makes my spine tingle to even think about it.
We continued on our journey going through the state capital of Charleston. I needed to get fuel and my first attempt landed us at a tiny little station where I couldn’t get to the gas pump without blocking the entire road. Later I found a truck stop but I only did a partial fill because the price was high. They charge more at the truck stops a lot of times because (a) truckers don’t have a choice and (b) they are just putting it on the company card (I’m not sure about that one, just guessing). I had plenty to make it to Milton and to Milton we went.
The Milton exit had 3 stations with diesel so I decided to fill up so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning. I pull into the first place and realize that the one diesel pump they have is not going to work for me and the way I came into the station. I could pull on through but needed one of the cars filling up to move. Once they moved I drove on through the station and out the other side but as I pulled out I heard a nasty SCRRRRRRRAAAAAPE. It was the bumper on the bike tray that sticks out the back of the trailer dragging as I went through the dip. I was frustrated and tired and Steph called it and said, “let’s just get set up and you can come back without the trailer”.
It was only about a mile to Jim’s campground where we did not have reservations…they don’t take ’em. As we pulled in to Jim’s, in my mirror I see my sewer hose poking out the bumper. You see, I store the sewer hose inside the bumper of the trailer. There is a rubber cap on the end of the bumper that holds the sewer hose in. Apparently when my bumper got intimate with the road at the filling station the cap popped off. Good news was that I didn’t loose the hose, the bad news was I did lose the cap. After a quick dinner I went to fill up the truck and as I pulled into the station, there in the road was my bumper cap! It looked so sad laying there on the road and as I approached a car drove over it like it didn’t even care (probably didn’t see it). But I rescued the thing from any other abuse and after filling up the truck I went back home and replaced the cap.
We needed propane and the campground had a propane fill station so I got that taken care of. It was sort of sad as that was the last time we’ll need to fill a propane bottle on this trip. I remember the first fill we did in Carlsbad NM, then in Austin TX, then Inglis FL, then Virginia and now West Virginia. Is it weird that a propane bottle can evoke so much emotion in me? The kids and I threw the frisbee a bit while Steph did laundry.
We did not see enough of West Virginia to be able to make a decision as to whether it is “almost heaven” or not. But after ticking off a few hundred more miles on our journey and arriving safely at our destination I’m pretty sure that our rig is almost heaven due to the large quantity of angels that must be escorting us down the road.
Waiting for stamps
Stairs to view
New River Gorge Bridge
Ava and the Beast at Jim's
Bumper cap rescue