American Airlines’ website indicates that lucky me has flown 991,659 miles with them. As a result of more than two thousand take-offs and landings, I often refer to cities by their three letter airport codes. Today’s blog is an update of our last nine whirlwind days on the road including a solo side trip to New England.
First is Charleston, West Virginia…aka CRW…aka Charlie West….aka Charleston (the other one)… The only four states which I’d yet to set foot in were West Virginia, North Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho. (Lynn has ten to go). While summarizing things is not a central part of my DNA…perhaps I shall try to summarize our visit to West Virginia, leaving only three states to visit.
Mediocre craft beer. Steep hills and valleys. The best farmers market we’ve encountered (found Raven’s Brew coffee from Ketchikan, Alaska!) Five miles of insanely narrow roads we did not belong on…Four miles of dirt roads under construction…Three toll booths…Two tunnels through mountains and One MF hair pin turns that nightmares are made of. Oh right….and ZERO Verizon service at the campground. With Undetermined Xanex consumed, the count would be somewhere between narrow roads and toll booths in case you are scoring at home.
Here’s the deal about the roads into the campground. We exited I-64 from Kentucky onto Route 10. Here we encountered four miles of a two lane road which was undergoing significant excavation and construction. As I slowly moved through narrow lanes, we heard a thump on the roof and I figured it was low branches. Later Lynn told me the Good News / Bad News….Good News! It was not branches…..Bad News! It was overhead wires. Nice of the construction crew to allow that to happen! Finally we saw the “End Construction” sign and figured that we were in the clear….although it was far from the correct determination. We progressed down a road….the only road to the campground, mind you…and it became increasingly narrow and twistier by the mile. Finally, as Road To Hana images danced in my head (Look it up) we encountered a 200-degree radius hairpin turn. I called out to Lynn to look ahead and with no cars approaching, I used every inch of both lanes to make this switchback / blind curve. Finally, white knuckled, we entered the campground to people staring at our huge rig, clearly out of place.
We were supposed to remain in this campground through Monday, but the
thought dread of driving that road again caused me to insist that we leave promptly at 9AM on Sunday morning…..figuring that people would either be in church or hung over – either way….off the road. I guessed incorrectly again and we encountered nine oncoming cars. The only conclusion I can surmise is that Barboursville, WV locals are neither pious nor partiers.
This sped-up video was shot while driving the Jeep. In addition to the countless twisty turns, narrow road width, smashed-out guardrails and aforementioned hairpin turn at the 25 second mark….for your viewing pleasure (or horrification), if you watch carefully, you’ll see a local dog devouring roadkill in the middle of the road at the 35 second mark. Enjoy, as it is my gift to you, our loyal blog-followers. Kinda looks fun in the Jeep. Imagine driving a 60 feet long, 9 feet wide, 13 feet tall, 46,000 pound rolling house down this road. Enjoy.
Expounding on the aforementioned tunnels and toll booths, it is serious-enough business to navigate this combined 60 feet of rig and Jeep, let alone entering a tunnel… hoping that your pupils will quickly adjust from bright sunlight to almost total darkness. I just slid a bit to the left, so not to scape the right side against the guts of the mountain. Smartly, no one decided to pass me through either of the tunnels. Also, slipping into toll booth lanes and having to drop two quarters through the air into the toll collectors hand because the toll booth attendant can’t reach up to my window was interesting. (Don’t think we got away with a few quarters….it was $6.50 x three toll stations). And somewhere around hour three, I asked Lynn to get me a sopping wet towel. The combined hours of driving excitement apparently caused either the steering wheel or moi to sweat so profusely that my hands felt like they were in a batting glove. Quite the tactile experience (Hi Lenny).
Our drive from Charlie West to the Carolinas included a stop at Magna Shade in Mocksville, North Carolina to have a solar shade system for Julie’s windshield and drivers’ side windows installed. These high-end shades block 90% of UV rays, significantly reducing interior heat gain and improving privacy. We also purchased windshield wiper arm covers and tire covers, protecting side walls and wiper blades from UV rays. Proceeding the installation, we stayed two nights at nearby Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, NC. Besides sharing its name with the Tanglewood Music Venue in Lenox Mass, where I proposed to Lynn almost twenty years ago…we stayed in site 23, Lynn’s birthdate (January 23). We loved the park, the campsite and wished that we had more time to spend there.
After six plus hours of driving, our first orders of business at Tanglewood Park included a fresh clean shirt, bourbon and then a shower. The next day, we visited Winston-Salem and had many thoughts and memories about Kathy, my wonderful American Airlines / Get Out Of Jail Free leader whose office is there. Then, we proceeded to drink some decent craft beer and mediocre food at Foothills Brewery. The next morning we left Tanglewood, got the Magna Shade gear and set off for our current campground, Lake Norman Motor Coach Resort. Although a one outta three average is great in baseball, arriving at our most expensive campground to date that is neither a resort, nor limited to motor coaches was a surprise. It is however on Lake Norman, so it has that going for itself…if nothing else.
As for the CLT-BOS-BDL-CLT run…..On Thursday, I flew to Boston and promptly picked up a Jeep Grand Cherokee which promptly developed a flat tire 1/4 mile out of the airport in lovely (please, I’m kidding) East Boston, MA.
National Rental Car was kind enough to offer a tow truck in about two hours. Instead, I executed the more sensible solution of leaving the car at a Dunkin Donuts, Ubering back to the airport with the keys and picked up a less than thrilling replacement car. With inflated replacement wheels, I visited my parents on the North Shore of Boston following my mom’s fall and resulting broken hip. She’s home, recovering and doing better. Also, we had an early birthday party for my dad.
On Friday, I travelled to Lake Sunapee to hang out with my sister Liz and her family. What a treat to enjoy a handful of wild blueberries sitting at the lake, courtesy of my niece Jessica.
On Saturday, I attended the 35th class reunion of Hallmark Institute Of Photography’s Class of 1984. It was the first time I had seen my classmates since our June graduation when I was just twenty one years old. Perhaps fodder for another blog, that year at Hallmark was in a way – The Best Of Times…The Worst Of Times for me. It was my first time out and on my own, surrounded by fifty two other students that shared a strong love of photography. Lots of fun, tears, young crushes, cliques of friends etc….Leaving the reunion and with the lyrics of Garth Brooks’ “Unanswered Prayers” in my head, I could not wait to get back to Lynn. The whole weekend was a wonderful whirlwind….
Today, we laid low in the motorhome and tomorrow we are visiting with Lynn’s cousin and getting ready for our next two weeks in the Greenville area.
Lynn’s two cents – Whew! The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Even though our WV campground was at the end of a road we DEFINITELY should not have been on, WV was beautiful! I loved the hills and hope we can go back some day to a more reasonable campground.
In 2 days we arrive back in SC, where this whole crazy journey started. Honestly it feels good to be back in the South. We will spend most of the next 2 months here and I am super excited. Home is home and it feels great!