We got up about 5:15 am on the morning of Monday, August 29.
We ate a complimentary breakfast in the hotel. Breakfast was set up the same as it was in February, when we stayed at this hotel en route Surfside Beach SC. An attendant got the food that we desired. The man serving breakfast was friendly. Perhaps he will remember us, when we stay again in February on our way to Surfside Beach.
We departed the hotel at 7:26 am. There was a little fog, as we began our drive home.
We made a brief stop in Fayetteville WV at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, where I obtained a National Park Service passport stamp cancellation for the New River Gorge National Park.
A short boardwalk descends into the gorge for a view of the New River Gorge Bridge.
It was a good travel day, until …
We left I-79 at Exit 99 onto Rt. 422 East to get out of the storm. We exited onto Rt. 528 North to Route 8. The storm is chasing us, but we would rather encounter it on slower-speed roads than on the interstate. We caught up to the storm again, as we turned onto Route 8 from Route 528.
There was a several minute delay from road construction, during the storm. I don’t see how they can be working in this downpour.
We stopped at Eat n Park in Franklin for an early lunch / late dinner and to wait out the storm. We hoped the time spent eating would allow the storm to pass through and out of the Warren area.
We returned home at 5:00 pm. The storm and the short construction delay were our only hindrances to today’s drive. It was an easy drive home from Franklin, as we allowed the storm to get ahead us. We did see evidence of the storm, along the way…small tree limbs, leaves, and pine cones scattered all over the road. That debris is what we saw on our street, in our yard, and on our driveway. It appears tree branches snapped off a tree in a neighbor’s back yard, across the street from us, and scattered debris all over the neighborhood.
Bob was able to unpack the car, without rain falling down.
Wickett was happy to see us. She meowed and meowed her pleasure, rubbed up against us, and asked that we pet her over and over again.
On Wednesday, February 16th, We “checked out” of Airbnb ”Seaside Cottage” around 6:30 am and drove to the beach, where we watched the sun rise.
This was the first sunrise on the beach that I saw in the week we were in Surfside Beach. I wasn’t able to get to the beach in time for sunrise the other mornings. A prescription drug that I take with dinner rarely allows me to leave the house before 9:00 am, unless I have the availability of a close by bathroom. Bob saw a beach sunrise the first and last day.
After seeing the sunrise, we began our drive back to Pennsylvania.
We arrived at the Quality Inn New River Gorge (Fayetteville, WV) around 2:00 pm. We checked in and carried our baggage into our room. Soon afterward we walked to Elliott’s Whitewater Bar & Grill, located on the hotel grounds. There was a flurry of excitement, as we entered, I thought there was going to be a bar brawl. The guy cussing was told to “just go”. He did, after a few minutes and more cussing. Someone walked out with him to make sure that he left and didn’t hit anyone’s car! The bar quieted down after that man left. Later we learned that the unruly man had been there for several hours drinking Jägermeister and was saying things he shouldn’t be saying to the underage waitress. The waitress felt so uncomfortable that she asked the manager to come sit in the bar. A couple of the men at the bar, who had been there for only a short while, kicked out the unruly man. By the way, the food and service were excellent. Bob ordered a pork chop with onion rings. I ordered fish sticks with a loaded baked potato. Both meals included a side salad.
Soon after dinner we drove to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, where we viewed the New River Gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge. The Canyon Rim Visitor center is about a mile north of our hotel. We had planned to stop at the visitor center the next morning, but it likely will be raining. So we visited this afternoon.
We have stopped often at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, but we had never seen this particular view of the bridge. As we were crossing the bridge I noticed a man and a woman standing at an overlook. When we arrived at the visitor center, the first thing we did was look for that overlook. The trail shown in the photograph displayed above leads under the bridge. Bob walked down and back up that trail (steep climb!), but was not able to walk under the bridge. The passageway was locked.
We walked down a boardwalk to an overlook of the bridge. We could have walked farther, but neither of us felt like doing steps.
We walked behind the Visitor Center, where we saw the New River Gorge.
Around 6:00 pm we lost power at the hotel. We had no electricity until 8:11 pm. We never did find out what caused the outage. The power outage did not affect the hotel only. Nearby businesses lost their power as well. By the way, soon after the power went out, we lied down and fell asleep. The power coming back on awakened me. That is how I knew the time the power came back on.
We departed Quality Inn New River on Thursday, February 17th, shortly before 7:15 am. Before leaving, we enjoyed a complementary breakfast of scrambled egg patties, sausage and biscuits; orange juice and tea/coffee; and muffin/danish. The hot food was served to us. The remaining foods we were free to pick up ourselves. The server told us the way they do breakfast is not COVID related. They do breakfast this way year round.
We reached the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border around 9:30 am. We still had a 3 1/2-hour drive until we would be back home. Up to this point we had avoided the forecasted rain! Ten minutes later, at Masontown exit (exit 14 on I-79), we caught up with the rain. The rain was with us the rest of the way home.
We got off I-79 at the Slippery Rock exit. We were getting tired of interstate travel. The slower pace was welcome.
We stopped for lunch at Eat’n Park in Franklin. Bob ordered a chicken sandwich with cheesy fries. I ordered a turkey club sandwich with a fruit cup. We each ordered pie for dessert.
We were back on the road at 12:35 pm and returned home at 2:00 pm. We drove a total of 1,750.40 miles, since our departure on February 8th.
This was the first time that Bob and I had ever been to the South Carolina coast. We enjoyed our visit very much — so much, in fact, that we are already talking about going back next year.
We returned home from vacation the afternoon of February 17th. This blog post and several that follow provide written and photographic details of our South Carolina vacation.
We were on our way out of Warren at 6:30 am on Tuesday, February 8th. When we left home, snow was falling, possibly mixed with sleet or freezing rain. The temperature was 19 degrees.
We ate breakfast at Station 61 Family Restaurant in Youngsville PA. At 7:20 am, after a hearty breakfast, we were back on the road.
It was still snowing when we hopped onto I-80 in Barkeyville PA. It was still snowing when we hopped onto I-79. Thankfully each road surface was good, clear of snow and ice.
The snow essentially stopped falling near Pittsburgh PA, although there were short bursts of snow flurries and spitting snow for several miles afterward.
We had snow flurries in Morgantown WV, with very little snow on the ground. There was a little bit of snow on the ground, mostly wooded areas, as we drove through the WV mountains.
At 1:00 pm we stopped briefly at Young’s Monument Scenic Overlook. The overlook is on the northbound side of Route 19, a few miles north of Summersville, WV. The overlook is located on Powell Mountain, south of Birch River, with a view of the Powell Creek Valley to the east and further north, the Birch River Valley can be seen.
Look at that blue sky! It was still chilly here (37 degrees), but was nice to feel the sunshine.
There is an official West Virginia Historical Marker that stands near the entrance to a rest area at the overlook. The marker reads: “Off Young’s Monument Rd. (.3M) is grave site of Henry & Lucinda Young. A Confed. militiaman or sympathizer, he was killed by Union troops nearby on 8 Sept. 1861. Details of Young’s life and death are scant and confused, symbolizing divided loyalties, tragic times and enduring saga of Civil War in WV, when state was pitted against state and brother against brother. New road in 1970 required reburial.”
We stopped at the Northside Drive Car Wash in Summersville, WV. Bob says it was the best self serve car wash he has ever used. The water pressure was strong; the soap suds were plentiful; and he had enough time to do a spotless rinse, spending less money than he does at home.
We arrived at Comfort Suites in Wytheville, VA around 4:00 pm in the afternoon. We will spend the night here and continue our drive to Surfside Beach, SC tomorrow.
We checked into our room. Bob set up the Internet. Then we went out to dinner.
We ate dinner at Cracker Barrel, which was located about 2 miles from the hotel and easy to drive to.
Bob ordered grilled catfish with hash brown casserole, broccoli and biscuits. I ordered meatloaf with hash brown casserole, fried apples and corn bread muffins. Both meals were delicious. After dinner we returned to our hotel, where we stayed for rest of the evening.
The next day we ate a complimentary hot breakfast at our hotel. Because of COVID precautions implemented by the hotel we were not free to get desired foods ourselves. An attendant got the food we desired. Bob had eggs, bacon and a muffin with coffee and OJ. I got a waffle with diced peaches with tea and OJ.
We departed Comfort Suites Wytheville at 8:15 am, en route Surfside Beach, SC. The temperature was 27 degrees.
I saw a few snow patches near Wytheville.
Approaching the VA/NC state line, we lost a lot of elevation and saw the last of snow patches.
We ate lunch at Magnolia on Main Cafe in Bennettsville, SC. Bob ordered homemade chicken salad on a bed of lettuce served with pita chips, pasta salad and a frozen fruit cup. I ordered turkey, lettuce and tomato in flat bread … like a turkey wrap but toasted … with pasta salad. We shared a slice of pineapple cake. Our meals were delicious.
After lunch, we wandered around the Marlboro County Court House grounds.
We arrived in Surfside Beach around 2:00 pm, with about 2 hours to kill before we could check in to our Airbnb “Seaside Cottage”. We drove to the nearby Walmart to see the location of their curbside pickup. We have a scheduled pickup between 7:00 and 8:00 am on Thursday morning. We, then, took a ride along the ocean to Garden City Beach. We stopped at the Azalea Ave public access to the beach, where there was free parking. We walked out on the beach, where we saw the Garden City Pier.
A few minutes past 4:00 pm we checked in at Airbnb “Seaside Cottage”. Bob carried in the stuff from the car. I organized the kitchen and put away my clothes / toiletries. Around 5:30 pm I made dinner – Campbell’s Chunky New England Clam Chowder, with crackers, and fruit cocktail. Neither of us were very hungry.
We went for a short walk in the neighborhood, after dinner. We walked about 1/3 of a mile. The neighborhood appears well cared for and quiet. In the evening we watched “The Cleaning Lady” on Hulu TV.
As I wrote in my last vacation blog post, when we returned to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center parking lot, after viewing the New River Bridge from two observation decks, it was still early morning. We discussed the possibility of checking out of our hotel a day early, as we had seen all we hoped to see during our stay in the Fayetteville, WV area. We checked the weather report and saw that we would encounter rain en route Maggie Valley, NC (our final destination). Travel on our scheduled departure day, though, looked rain free. We decided to stay the night.
In the early afternoon of May 11th we drove to Beckley, WV to eat lunch at The Outback. I ordered a 6 oz. Sirloin Steak with a loaded baked potato and side salad. Bob ordered a 9 oz Sirloin Steak with a grilled lobster tail, served with broccoli and a side salad. We ordered a Bloomin’ Onion as an appetizer. Lunch was delicious and very filling.
After lunch we stopped at Tamarack, which was located very near to The Outback. Tamarack features a red peaked roof and landscaped grounds that internet sources say draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. This large arts and crafts facility sells West Virginia craft products, such as wood, glass, textiles, pottery, metal, jewelry, as well as specialty food items, fine art, and West Virginia books and recordings. We visited only to see what was inside the building with the red peaked roof that we pass whenever traveling in this direction. The craft products, etc. were all nice, and we oohed and ahhed over a few items. Willpower stopped us from making any purchases.
We stopped in Mount Hope on our way back to the hotel. Mount Hope is located on the Coal Heritage Trail.
New River Smokeless Coal Portal
Ornate fountain and a large block of the once famous New River smokeless coal
The houses along Main Street were lovely.
Mount Hope looks pretty much as it did in the early 1900’s.
A man who was at a business establishment called Peggy Sue’s made a point of coming out of the bar to tell us about the gas station in town at which Hank Williams died. He said the station was blocked in by trucks now. We drove through town but didn’t see the blocked-in station to which this man referred. I did read an account of Hank Williams’ ghostly night ride, and Mount Hope is mentioned in the account.
Upon returning to the Fayetteville area, we stopped at Dairy Queen for a peanut buster parfait (me) and a butterscotch dilly bar (Bob) before returning to the hotel.
I kept seeing Facebook posts from family and friends in Pennsylvania who wrote about rain and thunderstorms. Up to this point we had been experiencing beautiful weather on vacation, not one drop of rain.
Our luck was about to run out.
All was good, though, because we were in for rest of the afternoon and evening. We even ate dinner in our hotel room. Dinner was light, after the hearty lunch we ate earlier in the day. We ate a picnic lunch – chicken salad with crackers, pineapple and cookies. According to the weather report, we will probably travel in rain for a short time on our way to North Carolina.
In my next vacation blog post, we arrive at our final destination — Maggie Valley, NC.
On our third day of vacation (May 11th) we were showered and dressed and had eaten breakfast by 6:30 am, at which time we left for another drive to the bottom of New River Gorge near Fayetteville WV. Yesterday morning, as we crossed over the New River Bridge en route Babcock State Park, there was fog rising up from the bottom of the gorge. I hoped conditions would be the same this morning because it would be quite impressive seeing the bridge rising out of the fog. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any fog this morning.
Still, the view at the bottom was once again worth the trip!
We stopped at three small waterfalls, as we were climbing up the other side.
Our next stop was at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. The views of the gorge and bridge are the main attraction at the visitor center.
A short hiking trail descends into the gorge on a wooden boardwalk.
The boardwalk has two observation decks which offer unobstructed views of the longest steel arch span in the western hemisphere and the mile wide gorge it spans. We walked the trail to the bottom-most observation deck. We have made this hike several times over the years. The view took on new meaning for us, as we saw where we had been when we were at the bottom of the gorge.
First Observation Deck View
View from Bottom Observation Deck
See that bridge at the bottom of the gorge? I stood on that bridge, when we drove to the bottom of the gorge!
Bob and I on the bottom observation deck
It was not yet 8:30 am, when we walked back up the wooden boardwalk to the visitor center. We discussed the possibility of checking out of our hotel a day early, as we had seen all we hoped to see during our stay in the Fayetteville, WV area. We checked the weather report and saw that we would encounter rain en route Maggie Valley, NC (our final destination). Travel on our scheduled departure day, though, looked rain free. We decided to stay the night. In my next vacation blog post, I will share what we did on the rest of our third day of vacation.
During the afternoon of our second day of vacation (May 10), we drove to the bottom of the New River Gorge (near Fayetteville, WV), via County Road 82 known also as Fayetteville Station Road. The road wasn’t as bad as I had been led to believe from a description that I had read on the Internet. The route is highlighted on the MotorcycleRoads.us website. Two comments had been left from riders.
Comment #1: “Quite twisty road (mostly one way) through the New River Gorge. You travel right under the New River Gorge Bridge. This used to be the only way to travel from one side to the other. Route also has several scenic stops along the way.” – Rick Stewart (6/26/08)
Comment #2: “Also known as Fayetteville Station Road, this is more of a trail than a road in some ways…most of it is one way, so you’ll need to start on the Lansing (north) side. There are extremely tight (walk your bike through tight) switchbacks on the way down, and the road condition is fair at best. Coming up the other side is much easier.” – Rider from Durham, NC (6/23/09)
Both comments are not recent. Perhaps the road is better maintained now than it was when these two individuals rode their motorcycles to the bottom of the gorge.
We drove the car to the bottom of the gorge. We started on the Lansing (north) side, as noted in comment #2 above. Here are some of the views, as we were making our way to the bottom of the gorge.
First Stop as we drove to Bottom of New River Gorge
It is a LONG way up there!
The worse part of the drive was at the bottom, going over the railroad crossing, right before the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge. The railroad crossing has a big dip in it. Bob drove over that crossing very slowly. We didn’t bottom out!
Tunney Hunsaker Bridge
This was the view looking in one direction, while on the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge.
New River Gorge Bridge This was the view looking in the other direction, while on the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge.
Bob said he would have been able to ride the motorcycle on that road. There were a couple switchbacks that would have been a little hairy, but overall it would have been a good ride. He was just as happy driving the car, though. He didn’t want to risk having something happen so early in the trip. The views at the bottom of the gorge were well worth the trip!
After our drive to the bottom of the New River Gorge, we returned to the hotel. We stayed in for rest of the afternoon and evening. We even ate dinner in our hotel room. Dinner was light, after our hearty lunch at Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit. We ate a picnic lunch – tuna salad with crackers, peaches and cookies.
Our second day of vacation was such a great day! It was picture perfect too. We saw the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park, the Gauley River National Recreation Area that includes Summersville Dam and Lake, and the bottom of New River Gorge — places that I have wanted to see for years. We have driven through the New River Gorge area several times over the years, crossing the New River Gorge Bridge each time. It was so nice to have the opportunity to explore the area!
We enjoyed views of the dam from the tail waters of Gauley River, as well as from an overlook on WV Route 129.
The Summersville Dam is 2,280 feet long and 390 feet tall.
The dam was built between 1960 and 1966 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Gauley River Tail Waters
The Summerville Dam is described as a “rock-fill dam” and is the second largest of this type in the eastern United States. It took 12 million cubic yards of dirt and rock to construct it.
The reservoir formed by the dam is called Summersville Lake. It covers 2,700 acres and has 60 miles of shoreline making it the largest lake in West Virginia.
Located on Rt. 129 a short distance from the Summersville Dam is an overlook of Long Point on Summersville Lake.
The overlook provides a beautiful view of Long Point, which is the highest cliff on Summersville Lake.
Long Point juts out of the water to almost 100 feet.
We ate lunch at Dirty Ernie’s Rib Pit in Fayetteville, WV. The restaurant wasn’t much, looking at it from the parking lot. It is true that one should not judge a book by its cover. Even though the restaurant was very busy (it being Mother’s Day), we were seated in a short amount of time and served fairly quickly.
We ordered the smoked brisket entree.
The brisket was very tender and delicious.
By the way, we ate at Dirty Ernie’s per the suggestion of our friend Jim “Skid” Robinson. He is the author of an excellent blog, Skid and Sandy on the Road.
Stay tuned. In my next vacation blog post I will take you to the bottom of New River Gorge!