Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Where Airstreams Fear to Tread –- Part two : WEST VIRGINIA

No No NO! We do not mean that Airstreams should avoid West Virginia; West Virginia is Gorgeous! Nor do we subscribe to the notion that if you could flatten it out it would be bigger than Texas, and Better for it.  It is just that it is so unrelentingly VERTICAL.  Remember my analogy of the rucked up carpet?  West Virginia is where that train wreck started.  Incredibly steep ridges, a narrow valley, then another and another. 
This morning we set out on a 200 mile transect of the Monongahela NF (and half the state). We just wanted to get AWAY from Pipestem State Resort Park and the most poorly engineered campsite we have ever encountered. We started early and by nine o’clock we had traversed the New River Gorge.  “9% Grade next 2 miles”,  15 MPH double hairpin turns, “Trucks check brakes, Airstreams check liability coverage”…
When we left the beautiful National Park Visitor Center vowing to come back and explore, we thought we were through.  Interstate 64 is a beautiful road, broad vistas, grades we can handle with ease and lots of wildflowers.  So scenic drive US 219 must be a sweetheart. It is, if your sweetheart is into bungee jumping.
Long narrow valleys, pastoral and well tended; we saw some landmark farms we wished we could stop and savor –- Renick Farms in the Renick valley, the little town of Mingo, many more.  Each valley must end, head up and the climbs to the valley head are steep and angular.  The descents …well, we remember a couple that were nothing but a quick series of  15 MPH “S” turns so steeply banked that they looked like a water slide or the “half pipe” in the X Games.  Some, like the descent into the Elk River drainage were long, long glides through gorgeous scenery.  It went on all day and you “Really had to be there.”
But it was worth it. 


Mid afternoon we sighted the Seneca Rocks and we were set up in the cool shade of Seneca Shadows National Forest CG for sunset. These rocks are the most climbed in the Eastern US.  We hope that the tent camping area (where these pictures were taken) will have a cadre of eager “dirt bag climbers” to entertain us tomorrow.  
Editorial Note: There are only these few pictures.  Patty felt that pressing herself deeper into the upholstery took precedence over photography.  She also notes that this vehicle does not offer the variety and number of handholds she requires. 
Some numbers:
  • Number of Airstreams sighted –- One, nearby a classy home on Scenic 219.
  • Number of other recreational vehicles actually using this road –- Zero.
  • Number of transient RVs in our campground –- One.
  • Number of very tired and exhilarated Airstream couples – One.

"We make camp here. In the morrow we climb.” 

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