The Journey to Florida, day 3! ~ By Tom ~
Hello everyone. Well it’s Monday December 19th and day 3 of our journey south to spend Christmas with family. As you know last night, Sunday, we left Punxsutawney PA travelling on as many back roads as we could find some of which I think time forgot. We drove through Mt. Braddock, Oliver and Haydentown before reaching Morgantown, WV where we planned to spend the night at the Sand Springs Campground. This was only one of a few that claimed to be open year round. It was nicely located near Cheat Lake and on the edge of Coopers Rock State Park. It was late when we pulled in and the thoughts of a warm shower were on both our minds. So it came as quite a shock when the owner added that the bath and shower rooms were closed for the season. I think the owner could see the shock on our faces and calmly noted, “oh, I take it my wife forgot to mention that to you.” Duh, yeah, we were thinking, but didn’t say it. Oh well, it was a bit of a bummer but “Daisy” our motor home had a toilet and we figured it never hurts to go a day without a shower so we stayed anyway.
The next afternoon we left Morgantown, WV around 1 p.m., traveling south through the Allegany and Cumberland mountain regions. This encompassed multiple hamlets like Rowlesburg (named for Thomas Rowle, a railroad engineer), Fifth, Hannahville, Parsons, Whyte, Elkins, VA. and on into Clifton Forge, VA. Our drive time was a six-hour continuation of spectacular winding roadways. We stopped often to drink in the sights that one usually sees only in magazines. There was such an interesting blend of poor and rich communities. Audrey was very aware of the highs and lows of this region having grown up in the state of VA. But you know how that goes? You may grow up in a region all your life but never really get out and explore it do you? I had driven past these areas myself on those speed trips from point A to point D always making the remark that someday I’ll stop and see what goes on in points B and C. Well, this time we made the conscious decision to slow down and drink in the beauty of the area. As we drove our heads pivoted every which way trying to see all the sights. Stopping was next to impossible due to the roads being so narrow and without shoulders to pull off on. There was one spot however, we were able to and as we were pulling we noticed a huge, beautiful American Bald Eagle circling in front of us just above the river bed. It was awesome. Then we noticed on the other side of the road a beautiful waterfall cascading down from several hundred feet above. What a sight. We were able to walk to the foot of the falls area and spent time exploring. We came across a cave which must have been the entrance to one of the many coal mines in the area. This entire region is well known for mining of coal and limestone the latter of which is used for concrete, cement and agricultural applications.
From here we continued along the roadways basking in the beauty of this region. We didn’t travel far before noticing a person standing on a little via duct in the middle of a rushing creek pulling on a rope. We quickly pulled over to check it out and learned that he was trying to clear debris so his drive way wouldn’t flood from the Buffalo Creek which was at flood level. He said every year it would flood due to the run off from the mountains into the creek which flowed into the Cheat River. After talking awhile we were off again. As we were driving away we were so impressed with this man who had to be in his 80’s and refusing to let mother nature beat him. We can only hope to be so spry when we reached his age, lol.
The roadways from here were even more up, down and winding than the ones before, some of which we could only drive 10 miles per hour on. Back home in Rochester these roads would be considered deer trails but not in VA where they were considered highways and you’re supposed to drive 55 mph. It was now dusk as we kept driving, looking and talking when a comment was made how strange it was that we hadn’t seen any deer or bear wandering about both of which VA is well known for. Moments later while slowly descending a mountain road a huge black bear came charging out from the side of the road right in front of our van. We both looked in surprise at what just happened and kept on going. The next thing you know we make it around the next bend and don’t you know we come face to face with a beautiful white tail deer standing in the middle of the road. We stopped, looked at each other and burst out laughing knowing God was showing His humor again, lol.
Night was now fully upon us so we looked at our handy little camping app and discovered Buckhorne Country Store and Campground was just ahead in Clifton Forge, VA. We called and told the guy we were about an hour away and to please save us a spot. Well, the hour turned into 3 because in VA the speed limit may say 55 but in reality we were lucky to reach 35 so consequently we didn’t arrive until after 8:30 p.m. As we drove in, the place looked empty and we figured they all went home. We no sooner spoke when a car pulled in behind us and a silver haired gentleman by the name of Ray stepped out commenting that we must be the one that called earlier. He cheerfully noted seeing our van drive up the road and suspected it was us so he put his shoes on to come greet us. Isn’t that incredible? What a man of his word. He opened the office and before long we were registered and he led us to our site. It was a beautiful star lit night so we took a nice long walk and settled down to some dinner before bed.