Saturday, July 17, 2010

End of an Adventure

The fourth day of our West Virginia adventure started unlike the rest of them. This time we got a phone call that informed us that Little Brother had had some sort of fainting episode in the night which left him with a gash on his forehead and in the hospital hooked up to a bunch of machines. They said he seemed to be okay though and we asked for updates and headed out on the road for another ride along the twists and turns of country roads. Routes 60, 13, 90, 62, 87 - we did some winding on this one.
Of course all that winding road looked a lot like the rest of it.
We stopped in Ripley at a flea market and a Farm Supply store. Unfortunately we found more treasures at the store than the flea market.
As we got done shopping we got a call that informed us of Little Brother's new situation, which included a trip to Charleston for a stress test and possibly surgery to insert a stent. Seems they thought he had a heart attack and the situation had gotten a lot worse.
So we ended our trip at that point and drove down to the hospital. We were a lot closer to it than they were at this point but it was a wild wet drive.
We have been waiting for rain for a few weeks, it finally started and it got wet fast on the interstate.
We met the other family members at the hospital and began waiting. LB was in the emergency room for a long time and then they decided to keep him over night so we got him settled in a room and then left until the next day so he could get some rest.

On our way out of Charleston with Mrs LB we wandered past the capitol building and got a nice picture of the Stonewall Jackson and capitol dome.

Well it would be if I could get the raindrops out of it anyway.

We dropped Mrs LB off at home and headed home.
Of all the WV roads that we drove on this trip, this particular one was the worst. It is partial gravel, dirt, roots, and rock.

It is what we call the shortcut to LB's house, but we will be going the long way for a while until the county gets it fixed up again. Besides, if you look real close on the right hand side there seem to be some red glowing eyes looking at us. The previous picture shows them at a different angle, like something had turned it's head. But that can't be right. What has eyes that glow red in headlights? Mothman has a cousin? Possum Man?
Anyway, the end of the story of LB is that he came home the next night - we were there until 7pm again. His stress test showed that he is extremely fit. His heart rate never got to 150 under their testing. The doctors kept asking about pains, he had never had any. In the end it was determined that he had what they call vasovagol syncope or Vagus Nerve Stimulation. The vagus nerve slows down the heart when pain, fear, or other distress cause it to react. The doctor said it happens all the time. If someone at the first hospital had listened to his symptoms (nausea, clammy skin, sweating, and some other things that the text book identify) he wouldn't have been sent to the second. Instead they created their own symptoms and caused a lot of stress. He did get 11 stitches from the crack on his head though, and a week of vacation that wasn't expected. AND lots of jokes about keeping a football helmet in the bathroom have followed him around ever since.
That is the end of our West Virginia adventure.
Next year - Seattle? Maine? Germany? Maybe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

You Are Here

Ever been driving around and wonder where you are? We were doing that the other day and all of a sudden this appeared on the side of the road.

A giant red push pin marking our location on the map.

Ok, not really and we have no idea what it or why it is. And we weren't really lost. TomTom has served us well. Our travel mantra is "Believe in the TomTom." We really have a lot of fun finding new places and the road maps are very good. It would be nice if there were more Points of Interest maps available. Some of the ones out there are user created and some are business creations, but the reliability is somewhat suspect at times.
Back to the trip.
We spent most of Monday driving down the west side of WV on route 2.

We saw a lot of water and rails and we were sort of surprised at the number of ghost factories along the way.

They seem to be operational plants, but when you look close there are no people there, no cars in the lots, and rusty gate locks. Really seems like a lost opportunity.
When we were in Wheeling we tried to do some shopping at Center Market antique shops, we were too early and didn't want to wait around so we pretty much missed one of the very few opportunities to buy something old and odd. Treasure hunting is all about timing.
While finding our way around the market area we found the Wheeling Suspension Bridge which was opened in 1849 and connects WV with OH as part of the National Road. It looks pretty dramatic with signs reading that no buses and trucks can use the bridge and all traffic should maintain 50 foot intervals.

It might have been a nice drive, but we were putting a lot of effort into staying in West Virginia so crossing into Ohio was out of the question. I say effort because TomTom really wanted us to cross the river. We were headed toward Parkersburg and the shortest route seemed to be on the other side, but we didn't want to do that so I had to keep an eye on it and make adjustments.
Somewhere along the way we found this Mail Pouch sign on a building.

Throughout our vacation drive I saw 4 or 5 of these murals on the sides of old barns and such though this is the only one I got in a good picture.
Our next stop was Moundsville to look at the old State Penitentiary. We not only missed the tour time, but also the day on this one.
The prison was opened in 1876 and remained in use until 1995.
FabHub was thinking he could visit some relatives, but they would have had to be ghosts and that would be bad if they followed us home.
We found this Civil War statue on a corner. One thing I don't have pictures of is all the cemeteries that we have seen along the way. This same statue is in several of them. People interested in that history can probably find him everywhere.Turns out that Moundsville was named after and actual mound. The Grave Creek Mound is a conical mound right there in town and is the largest of its type in the United States.
The archeologists have determined that the mound was built by the Adena people in stages from 250 -150 BC. It is 62 feet high and measures 295 feet around. Lewis and Clark documented it in their travels through the area.
The next stop on our trip was Williamstown at the Fenton Glass Factory and Museum. We did the free tour and learned about how the glass is made, molded, and finished.
I picked up a couple of pieces.
An opal frog for my unique selection. No I don't collect frogs, thanks for asking. :)
There were a lot of them on display, a person has to be careful picking out the perfect specimen.
I also found a piece of Carnival Glass that fit my Dutch side.

This is titled Windmill Bowl in Marigolds Carnival.

After that stop we headed down to Point Pleasant. The first thing that caught my attention, but not my camera lens, was what looked like a giant sliding gate.
If you have ever seen the Twilight Zone show where you can drive into town, but if they don't want you to leave an invisible barrier goes up. Well, driving through the giant sliding gate at Point Pleasant made me think of that - only the barrier wouldn't be invisible.
When we got down into town we figured out that the gate was actually part of the flood wall that protected the downtown area of the city.
The city of Point Pleasant has done a lot of work to bring tourism to the town. They have maintained Fort Randolph as a historical site, although not exactly in the correct location it is close. They have added a park and done a lot of work to make the flood wall more of an attraction than an obvious protection device. A walk through gate has a wonderful military themed mural.
Once you walk through the gate, there is a beautiful view of the Ohio river.
Further down the river side of the wall Robert Dafford, a famous muralist who has done flood walls and buildings in Covington, KY, Camden, NJ, Paduchah and a lot of other places.
The murals in Point Pleasant are intended to illustrate the city's role in American history.
The statue on the left is Chief Cornstalk and the one on the right is General Andrew Lewis. The General (or Colonel at the time) defeated the Shawnee and Mingo warriors led by Chief Cornstalk who were trying to take back some land. Their battle is sometimes called the first battle of the American Revolutionary War and other times it is part of Lord Dunmore's War. Either way, after some of the Indians had settled their differences with the fort, Chief Cornstalk went to the fort and tried to warn them about a pending raid and ended up as a prisoner. He was later killed in revenge for some other killing.

There are also murals depicting the building of communities and hardships of the day.
The city of Point Pleasant also has a River Museum of which this old paddle is a part.
Of course we can't forget the Legend of Mothman.
The sign reads that on a chilly night in November 1966, two young couples went out to the TNT area of town and had the bejeebeez scared out of them. At least it says something like that.
The Mothman has his own museum in town.

Of course we got there after it closed too.
On our way out of one of those towns we found FabHub's favorite museum.
Of course this one is a lot harder to just drive by. We ended up inside, admission was free, but it wasn't free to depart. It never is.
That night we finished driving to our next stop in Huntington. FabHub wanted to stop by an office at Marshall about his Masters degree. Funny thing is we found out that the office he needed is in South Charleston. So we had driven to Huntington for nothing - OH but I did see Hillbilly Hotdogs - I had no idea it was right there. We didn't stop though.
Next stop was to be back to Elkins via Ripley and Spencer. Change happens.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday Drive

I am way behind on posting, but hang on for this ride.
Our Sunday drive on West Virginia back roads took us from Clarksburg to Chester to Wheeling on routes 19, 250, and 2. On this part of our trip we hoped to find some flea markets or antique stores where we could find some unique items, but no luck there.
We did find a covered bridge near Hundred, WV. I think it is one of the smallest since it spans just 36 feet of Fish Creek, but it was covered and a bridge. It was originally built in 1881 and is a single post truss bridge.
After that bridge all we found were yellow signs and views of far off places.
There was this sign - it was pretty common.
We saw a lot of this right turn sign too.This one made a few appearances.
This was the funniest sign - FabHub even turned around and went back up the road to get the picture.
The diamond portion of this sign was common, the speed limit not so much.
But it was not posted everywhere it could have been even the most of the roads looked a lot more like this
Than this.
Some times we even went around the mountain to the left.
every now and then we came out on top of the ridge and found a scene like this.
Which usually led to a picturesque view like this, which we call the WV Can't Get There From Here view.
You see, no matter how pretty the view is. Unless you know exactly what it is you are looking at, and exactly where it is, you won't be able to get there from where you are. Not without a lot of luck anyway.
A few interesting sights along the way included the Hamilton Round Barn at West Augusta.
It was built in 1912 and used as a dairy barn. It is 62 feet in diameter and 75 feet tall. About 25 cows could be in it at once and seven tons of hay kept in the loft.
In Weirton we found this interesting building. It is the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church. It caught my attention because of the stainless steel roof and bell tower. Definite indication that Weirton is a steel working town.
Our trip took us to the very top of West Virginia, a town called Chester where we searched out the World's Largest Teapot.
To be honest there were a few city blocks further north and probably a short hike along the Ohio river to get to the actual most northern point, but we got close.
One of the odd things we saw in that area was the Newell Toll Bridge spanning the Ohio River.
We didn't notice any indication of how much it would cost to cross over on this toll bridge. but it was kind of funny to think about actually "paying" to go to Ohio. No offense intended, it was just funny.
On our way to Wheeling we saw lots of factories along the road. Most of them had a few lights on, but tall weeds in the parking lots.
So much indication of a history that is now gone.
Another part of the area history is in the bronzed Mingo Indian on the National Road.

The attached sign says "Original inhabitants of this valley extends greetings and peace to all wayfarers."
That was a nice sight at the end of a long days driving.
Next up, is our drive to Huntington.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

East West Virginia

We started out on the second part of our vacation by heading toward Seneca Rocks, WV, which compared to where we live is Eastern West Virginia. We went past White Sulpher Springs and headed up route 92.
This part of the state has a lot of flat land backed up by portions of the Appalachian Mountains.

There is plenty of land and water for farming and hills to make sure the water runs in the right direction.
We didn't find a lot of things to get pictures of along the way, but the Green Bank radio telescope was visible along the way.
The size of this telescope is hard to define from this picture, but according to their website the signal collection area is 2.3 acres or 100 meters by 110 meters. The height of 485 feet would fit in between the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building.
Our first real stop on day one was at Seneca Caverns.Above is the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Below is a Fairy Pool.
Outside the cavern is a nice view of a really deep country home site.
Inside the Seneca Restaurant are some displays of local flora and fauna. There is also a bear who tries to attack unsuspecting tourists.
Look a nice picture of FabHub for once!
Our next stop was at the cross roads where the Seneca Rocks recreational site is located. This is the ridge that climbers like to use for recreation.
I didn't see anybody out there, but it may have been too early. I don't know when they would have been visible. I have a good camera zoom and used it to try and find someone, but no luck.
Our next stop was Smoke Hole Cavern.
It is a LOT more commercialized than Seneca Caverns, but still interesting. They do a lot more tours too I think, which means the lights are on a lot and more people can touch things. That makes it possible for more growth of things that are not natural.
This is rainbow falls, they added the concrete edge to make the water fall more dramatically.

These look like gills to me. Very old and very close to people.
We hoped to stay in Elkins that first night after having dinner at the new German restaurant, Schnitzel Haus Tyrol in Dailey, WV before continuing with our trip, but they were fully booked with 4 of 24 Little League baseball teams. We were so happy that I hadn't made a reservation.
We did make it to dinner and everything from the salad to the coffee was delicious. We will be back as often as possible. They are located quite a distance from our home though.
On our way through Elkins we found this statue of Minnehaha the wife of Hiawatha.
I can't find any reason for her to be there and I don't like how she is getting stabbed by the light pole, but there she is.
In other bad photo sights from our drive through Elkins.
This is a really big base for a really small Eagle statue.
We ended up driving all the way to Bridgeport this first day. Not such a long trip if you do it along the main roads, but we are trying to avoid all interstates and see what is on the less traveled roads of West Virginia for this trip. So between not getting in a hurry and stopping to look at things, it took us all day.
Well that was Saturday the 10th of July. More to come, but not tonight. Catch you later.