Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Leaving Tennessee and Heading into West Virginia (Mountain Mama)

Our journey carried us further across Tennessee to the town of Bristol which is right on the Tennessee/Virginia state line with beautiful scenery along the way.

The town's claim to fame is the Bristol Speedway which has NASCAR racing and other types of auto events.

One of the places to visit is the downtown area of Bristol where you can stand with one foot in Tennessee and the other in Virginia.  We had to check that out!

The town calls itself the "Birthplace of Country Music".

June Carter Cash came from Bristol and a street is named after her family.

The shops were old and had a 50's theme.

This display showed Maw doing the laundry with a sign nearby that said you should be humble and pleasant in all you do.  She looked happy in her work......

In the back of the shop was Paw in his new truck taking it easy.  

We didn't get to the state line for a photo so we came back the next day to check it out.  There is an arch across the street I wanted to get a picture of and the Captain wanted to get a photo with his foot in each state.

As we neared the arch on Main street a train pulled across the road and stopped.

We killed some time and drove back down the street and there was another train sitting on the track blocking the road and the arch.

We saw traffic moving down to another road to get around the train so we followed.  Once beyond the train we expected to see the other side of Bristol on the Virginia side but there was little there except for some homes leading off into the country.  That's when the Captain decided we were doing something wrong.  We drove back onto Main Street  and started looking at the town more closely.  Duh!  After two days in Bristol one would have thought that we might have noticed some telling signs.

Like the traffic signs on Main Street.

Or the block after block of flags, Tennessee flags on one side and Virginia flags on the other, that lined Main Street.

I finally got a picture of the arch and by this time the Captain didn't care about a photo with one foot in each state.  We had been up and down Main Street for several days never realizing that each side of the street was a different state.  Even the sign had arrows pointing that out!

After several days in Bristol we headed northeast towards West Virginia. One of the things on my bucket list was to ride on a West Virginia bike trail into a local town and stop for lunch

Heading into West Virginia the interstate became more mountainous with tunnels cut through for access.

Going under the East River Mountain on the Tennessee side. 

Coming out in West Virginia.

We saw some vintage cars on the interstate.

But this beauty was definitely the best.

Are we there yet?

In West Virginia we stayed at a lovely state park called Camp Creek which is  in the Camp Creek State Forest.

Rumor has it that the campground name came from one of the many illegal stills that were prevalent in the area.

The park was lovely and very well maintained.
There were many different trails leading out from our campsite so one could hike for as long as they liked.

The pups enjoyed the long hikes and being off-leash to explore the area.

We saw many small pools of water in sections of the creek bed with little fish swimming around.  I was concerned the fish would not survive because the creek was low and dried out in places so the fish didn't have anywhere to go.

There were a few waterfalls but they were also becoming dried up.

In one of the pools we saw a large fish swimming around.  A man near us said it was a golden trout and that the state every year releases small fish into the river pools where the fish live and grow. The next year when the streams are full the fish swim out to larger bodies of water.  

We stopped at a local winery not too far from where we were staying.

The grounds were nicely maintained and the winery is a venue for many local weddings.
During the wine tasting we spoke with a young man who was from West Virginia and I mentioned there were few wineries in the state compared with other bordering states.  He told us West Virginia does not support the wine industry and wineries are heavily taxed so few people invest in this type of operation. 
We had several quiet days here and then continued on our adventure to Watoga State Park higher up in the mountains of West Virginia.  The park was very nice, the trip to get to it was unbelievable.  After leaving the interstate we drove onto a 29-mile long scenic two lane highway heading up the mountains.  The lanes were very narrow, there were no shoulders or any type of guard rail, and the twists and curves were fearsome.  Did I mention we were at 3,000 foot elevation....  I was a basket case which didn't help the Captain but there were curves that were barely wide enough for one vehicle to make and you couldn't see what was up ahead of the curve.  

We made the 29 miles and then had to drive another few miles down another narrow road to reach the park. Our last nightmare was coming down an incline to the small town of Seebert.  The road was a 180 degree switchback curve where the rig had to take the whole road to make the turn and we couldn't see what was coming in front of us.  After we made the curve we saw a pickup truck facing towards us that evidently saw us coming and got off to the side of the road.  As we drove into the town and made our final turn we could see (and hear) the electrical wires for the town sliding over the top of the rig. Yikes!

We got into the park and the lady checking us in commented on how big our rig was and she wasn't sure she could fit us in.  But  they did have one really nice paved spot that is used for handicapped camping so it is longer and wider.  She gave us that spot because she said after Labor Day all sites are first come-first serve.

Our spot was lovely and since we had no cell or Internet or TV reception we had some free time on our hands.  So we bought some wood for the fire pit and sat outside and enjoyed the great outdoors.  

Showing off my new Watoga State Park hat.  The Captain had to buy me something to get back into my good graces. 

Lucy and the Captain taking a snooze.  Notice we were in much warmer clothes up here in the mountains.  Daytime was in the low 70's and at night it was in the 40's.

Two dogs and one Kuranda bed.  Guess who wins....

Watoga State Park is the largest of West Virginia's state parks, covering over 10,100 acres.  It is part of the Appalachian Mountain range and the elevation is almost 3,000 feet.  The park offers hunting, fishing, hiking, swimming, boating and vacation cabins.  

The park was beautiful with the leaves already starting to change.

The terrain was rugged with trees clinging to rock formations.

The river bed was filled with fallen rock and some of it was still in very large sheets.

The section of the park we stayed in was not the main area of the park so we did not have access to any of the trail guides, but the lady who checked us in said the nearest town, Marlinton, was just a few miles away.  Not having biked in awhile we none the less took off in good faith to fulfill my bucket list item.

Right outside Watoga State Park is the Greenbrier River Trail, a biking and hiking trail that once served as a passenger and freight line for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.  When the train route became unviable after the Great Depression the right of way was gifted to the State of West Virginia and the former railbed reopened as a multi-use trail.

Biking alongside the river and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way we felt the town would appear in the distance soon enough.  After many miles of biking we met up with two other bikers coming the other way and the Captain asked them how much farther the town was.  The man said 6-7 miles while his lady said it was 7.2 miles to be exact.  Wow, decision time.  We decided to continue and biked on with new vigor.

The best part about the bike trail was that is was mostly flat.

Along the path we saw rustic cabins back in the woods.

It is easy to tell this bridge we biked over was once part of the railroad lines.  It was built in 1925 by the American Bridge Company.

We finally made it into Marlinton and it was a very old town.

A place called the Dirtbean, a bicycle shop and restaurant combination, was recommended for lunch.

What a neat place.

Everything served was organic and the food was good.

A room in the back was the bike shop.

We had a good lunch and talked with two other couples who were customers and they were also staying at our campground.   And then we began the long ride back.  Everything was going along fine until I fell off my bike.  Not sure what caused it (maybe fatigue) but nothing serious happened.  We biked on and finally made it back to our camp site.  My arms ached, my leg muscles were tight, and other areas were just numb :)  The Captain figured it out and we had gone 23 miles overall.  Doesn't seem like alot but it sure wore us out.

Watoga is a beautiful park but it is just too remote for a large rig.  We drove around looking for another way to get out of the park but found out that the route we took in was considered the easiest.  Wow!  So we came up with a plan to survive. The Captain drove the rig and I drove in front of him in the car with the dogs.  I was able to see traffic conditions and brake if I felt there would be an issue for him.  Since it was Sunday morning we got out early before most people were out and about which made it easier for us.  Needless to say, I was very grateful to finally get back onto the interstate.
The views as we left were beautiful in the early morning hours.

I was driving the car so Lucy snapped this picture.

Our next stop is going to be Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park which is considered a resort area.  Woohoo!  Can't wait.

Saw this sign as we were leaving Bristol, TN.  We can relate.  Peace!