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West Virginia and North Carolina Vacation – Day 3 of 9: New River Gorge Revisited

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.

First Waterfall

Second Waterfall

Third Waterfall

 

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.

 

 

West Virginia and North Carolina Vacation – Day 2 of 9: New River Gorge

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!

North Carolina Vacation – Day 1 of 9

Our 9-day North Carolina vacation began on Sunday, May 11.  We traveled in separate vehicles. Bob rode the motorcycle, and I traveled by car. The amount of traveling planned for our vacation was  more than I could do on the back of a motorcycle.

Our first day of vacation was a traveling day.  We left home (Warren, PA) around 7:00 am. We were not sure how far we would get, so we didn’t make a hotel reservation for our first night’s lodging.   It was a good traveling day. It started out chilly but warmed up the farther south we traveled. Bob shed his leather chaps in Waynesburg PA, after about 3 ½ hours of travel. When we left Warren, it was sunny. It clouded up around Tidioute PA and stayed cloudy into the Pittsburgh PA area. It looked like rain might have been on the way, but it didn’t rain on us. The sun did come out again soon after leaving behind the Pittsburgh area; the sun stayed with us for rest of the day.

We made several stops along the way.  We made three fuel stops: one in Franklin PA, where Bob filled up; one in Waynesburg PA, where we both fueled up; and a third stop in Sutton WV, where Bob filled up. I wrote that we “both fueled up” in Waynesburg. I filled up; Bob didn’t.  The gas pump that I used ran normally, whereas the gas pump that Bob chose ran slowly.  In the amount of time it took me to fill up my car, Bob didn’t even get 3 gallons into his motorcycle gas tank.   The third fuel stop was because Bob didn’t fill up his gas tank in Waynesburg. In addition to fuel stops, we stopped for lunch at a rest area in West Virginia along Interstate 79 and made two photo stops.

Bob took this “selfie” at the rest area, after we had eaten lunch.

Our picnic lunch included Bumble Bee tuna salad with crackers (ready to eat), no-sugar added diced peaches and a sugar free chocolate chip cookie.  We brought the makings for this picnic lunch for FIVE picnics!

The two photo stops were made in West Virginia along Route 19.  The first photo stop was at a scenic overlook just north of Summerville WV.

A group of young men and one young lady asked Bob if they could have their picture taken on his motorcycle. He agreed, but cautioned each person to not touch the hot exhaust!

After the bystanders had their turn having their picture taken on the motorcycle, I had Bob ride to a different location at the overlook where I took his picture on the motorcycle.  I left my car at the first location and rode the motorcycle to my car.  It was the first time I had ever ridden the motorcycle without a helmet.  It was a very short ride, but it felt really odd not wearing a helmet!

 

The second photo stop was at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.

A wooden boardwalk and a series of steps descend into the gorge. The boardwalk has two observation decks. We hiked down to the lower observation deck, which offered an unobstructed view of New River Bridge and the mile wide gorge it spans.

New River Gorge

New River Bridge is the longest steel arch span bridge in the western hemisphere.

We made it as far as Oak Hill WV, arriving there around 3:00 pm. We stayed overnight at the Comfort Inn, about 5 miles south of the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.  We would stay at this hotel again.  The hotel was reasonably priced; our room a bit cramped but comfortable and clean.  Our hotel room was on the second floor and faced the front.  Our view was Route 19.  We hoped that the traffic noise would not disturb our sleep; it didn’t.  I would, however, ask for a room in the back if the opportunity presents itself that we stay there again.  The complimentary breakfast included the basics: coffee, juice, milk, Danishes, and cold cereal but didn’t stop with those selection.  A hot breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits, sausage gravy, make-your-own waffles, milk, fresh fruits, and yogurts was provided as well.  When we left the next morning, we did not have to stop for breakfast somewhere else because this Comfort Inn provided a complete breakfast.

Here is a map of our first day travels.

We could have traveled a greater distance, but there was really no need to go further. Why hurry? We were on vacation!

Our “Get out of the Cold” Vacation – Days 1 and 2

On Monday, January 11th, we left home en route Florida.  We drove 480 miles, from our home in Warren, Pennsylvania, to Hillsville, Virginia. We departed Warren at 9:15 AM and arrived at our hotel around 6:20 PM. Our drive was uneventful. It was a good travel day. There was no precipitation, and the roads were clear of snow and ice. It would have been nice had there been sunshine and blue skies; however, a cloudy day was better. A cloudy day is easy on the eyes, as you drive. Besides fuel stops and potty breaks we made one stop for brunch and two photo stops. Our two photo stops were along West Virginia’s Route 19 (Mountaineer Expressway).

Scenic Overlook on Route 19
located north of the Summersville/Beckley, WV area

New River Gorge
View from inside Canyon Rim Visitor Center
located near Fayetteville, WV along Route 19

New River Bridge – the longest steel arch span
in the western hemisphere
View from inside Canyon Rim Visitor Center
located near Fayetteville, WV along Route 19

We spent the night at Comfort Inn in Hillsville, Virginia. We ate dinner at Shoney’s Restaurant, which was across the street from our hotel. We are generally pleased with our accommodations whenever we stay at any Comfort Inn. The Hillsville hotel was no exception. Our room was tastefully decorated, comfortable and quiet. We were pleasantly surprised to be handed a small paper sack upon check in. Inside the paper sack was a bag of chips, cookies, a bottle of water and a newspaper. By the way, snow was still on the ground 480 miles from home.

Our second day of vacation was also a travel day. We drove from Hillsville, Virginia to Kissimmee, Florida — a distance of approximately 650 miles. We left Hillsville around 7:00 AM and pulled into the Clarion Hotel in Kissimmee at approximately 6:00 PM. We made stops only for fuel, potty breaks and lunch. After checking into our hotel, we ate dinner at Denny’s Restaurant. Denny’s was only a short walk away from our hotel. We lost the snow somewhere in North Carolina. It was cool when we arrived in Florida, but much warmer than at home. The temperature when we went to dinner was in the low 50s. Before leaving home I had made a hotel reservation for 4 nights at the Clarion Hotel. We ended up spending only 3 nights at this hotel, as our vacation was cut short.

Stay tuned; Day 3 of our “Get out of the Cold” vacation will be covered in tomorrow’s blog post.

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