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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Take Me Home, West Virginia...

~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~

Ever now and the old folks used to say...I get a chance to go to Mom and Daddy's Webster County, WV cabin. Such was the case last week except at the twelfth hour, my farm sitter didn't work out so Sam and Sadie were my willing companions. I'm of two minds about my dogs traveling with me...on one hand, I love their companionship (after all, we spend virtually 24/7/365 together) but on the other hand, I'm terrified some nut will cause a wreck and the dogs will be thrown from the car, lost, etc. Thank God that wasn't the case this trip; we made it to the cabin, and back, safe and sound with hundreds of photos taken. That's rather amazing, especially as we didn't get a chance to visit the Woodchopping Festival. Pets are prohibited so after we got to the cabin, we didn't leave until time to return home. 

BTW, the dogs don't have their heads out the window all the time but when we're going through the mountains, slow speed, they like to see and smell and that's all right with me. The back seats of the 
4-Runner are put down with several dog beds and packing quilts laid down so they have a comfortable ride. In case of emergency, it's cozy and comfortable enough we could all three sleep and a small ammo box contains things to help with safety. Things like a wax brick and matches to start a fire, a flare, a space blanket and the front passenger seat held food for all of us. 

~ Goshen Pass, VA Rt 39 ~

Part of the drive goes through Goshen Pass, a wild, natural preserve in Virginia's Allegheny/Appalachian Mountains. It's beautiful but if one isn't used to the drive (which is mild compared to what's to come!), it can be more than a trifle daunting. In the above photo, the white line is inches, not feet, away from the shoulder which is soft from spring rains. Those pitiful lil' upright yellow sticks are there to say stay away and not to prevent a tumble into the turbulent Maury River rushing by.

Of course you shouldn't try this at home! This photo (as were a lot of them), taken on the fly, shows how close the road is to the river and how high the river is due to spring flooding. At some places, the road is a good 60-75 feet (perhaps more) above the river and a tumble is not advised! In decades gone past, friends and I have camped on the Maury River, somewhere in Goshen Pass, and had a fine ole time. We fished for our supper (brook trout fried over a camp fire), slept under the stars and absolutely, totally lived in that moment.

~ lovely stone work to shore up the encroaching mountain side ~

Last photo of Goshen Pass, promise!, but can you see the piddly lil' ole yellow sticks in the lower right standing between the road and the stone wall? Now notice the Maury River over the edge, photo center, about 60 to 75 feet below...seriously, folks, this calls for some steady, focused driving! I did not see even one person talking, much less texting, on their mobile phone. (Of course, the fact there's no cell tower service might have something to do with that! lol) Oh, and remember what I said...the worst road is yet to come...

To continue...

In the Go Soak Your Head post, here, I write of the Jefferson Pools, Bath County, VA which are well worth a special visit. The Pools were frequented by Thomas Jefferson and are amazing! Folks with joint, ligament, arthritis, rhematiz and the like find their body is free, for a while, of aches and least, that was my experience. The Pools are owned by the Omni Homestead Resort and are now closed due to structural damage. (I wonder if the Omni will ever do the necessary repair work? After all, if the Pools are closed, folks will be forced to visit the much greater expense!)  Friends of the Warm Springs Jefferson Pools continue to plead with owners to re-open.

~ Garth Newel entrance ~

Also in Bath County is Garth Newel Music Center, here and Minnehaha Springs, an unincorporated community.

~ Sharp's Country Store ~

Further on, Sharp's Country Store in Slaty Fork, WV abounds with eye candy galore and the Kissing Bridge; click on the link to read more, especially about the 1,000 year flood. Slaty Fork is an unincorporated community in Pocahontas County which is home to Snowshoe Ski Resort.

~ Kissing Bridge ~ 

~ Beckwith Lumber Co. ~

As an aside, the largest land owner in West Virginia got his start when Granddaddy loaned him $1,000.00; this was back when $1K might as well been $1M. Ralph Beckwith Lumber owns more than 100,000 acres of WV mountain and timber. This page tells more of the Beckwith story but the date is wrong; the loan was made in the late 1950's but it was made on a handshake. Granddaddy believed, and taught his children same, that a man was only as good as his word and his handshake sealed the deal. To this day, when people talk about E.B., the words honor, integrity, trustworthy and the like are used and the same is true of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchldren.

At some point, after leaving WV State Rt 219, the smaller, but still paved road, leads to Elk River Resort. I've never stayed here but it looks rather grand...cabins for rent and the lodge, above, has rooms for rent and it has a full service restaurant. I've heard wonderful things about Ellie May's Ole Mill Restaurant and fully intend to eat there...some day.

Traveling further up the mighty Elk River, the roads become...more challenging. When it's been a while (like now) since I've traversed this coal and timber road, I become a white knuckle driving. Not only white knuckle driver, I find I'm perched on the edge of my seat, sometimes holding my breath and audibly praying. As an aside, Elk River stories have run through my family history for generations (two of Daddy's siblings drowned in this river and I'm not sure, but it might have claimed a great great great grandmother and her children. They were drowned somewhere and I believe it was the Elk.) and I have my own Elk River story that I've survived to tell (thank You God!). Others have their stories as well; Dave Breitmeier calls the Elk, The Lady.

Going to the cabin isn't as terrifying, dangerous or white knuckle as coming from the cabin. As you can see, going to means I'm on the upper side of the road as opposed to the falling off into the river side of the road. Big, Big, BIG difference!

This stretch of road actually has a couple of pull over places so two vehicles may pass which is made MUCH easier when those two vehicles are cars or passenger trucks. Just imagine a huge truck loaded with coal or timber...I don't mind admitting, my stomach rolls even now, just thinking about it!

Whitaker Falls is the dividing line between Randolph and Webster Counties and where folks fishing for trout may be found, in season and It's also a mighty fine place to stop and take a few lot of deep breaths...the worst is yet to come.

This photo taken out of the driver side window; didn't need to open the door, just held the camera outside and took the photo.

When I was 14 years old, Daddy's mother was in hospital and not expected to live. It was May, typically WV weather was cold and snowing, and Mom didn't want to travel with my younger siblings but I was allowed to go with Daddy. While we were headed up this mighty Elk River road, Daddy said, "Sandra, listen to me. Unlock your door, roll down your window and, very carefully, turn around so you're facing the side of the mountain. If anything happens and the truck starts to slide off the side, you THROW yourself out and away from the truck then go for help. Understand me?" I gulped and asked, "But what about you, Daddy? What will you do?" He replied, "I'll be in the truck and have some protection but I don't know how far down the mountain I'll go. You have to jump out of the truck and go for help, I'm depending on you. It's cold and I'll be all right for a while but you'll need to get help as fast as you can. Now, put on your coat and be ready." So I did and, thank God, we stayed between the ditches.

Just another adventure with Daddy!

This is sort of, more or less, the beginning of Ball Alley and for a bitty piece there's a guard rail. That doesn't last long and this is the part that's most frightening (to me anyway). If the person driving down the mountain meets someone coming up the mountain, the person driving down is supposed to back up and give way. The reasoning being, it's safer (who makes up these stupid rules anyway?!). I hate and despise this stretch of road and on the return trip I swore to myself I was going the long way around. The long way around adds 38 miles and about ninety minutes (driving with the dogs, remember?) but it's on 2 lane road and there's loads of room to pass even the largest truck, coal or timber. Then I remembered I was leaving on Saturday and coal or logging trucks don't work on Saturday; I'd only have to worry about vehicles. YES! But, that's another story for a later post; I'll leave you with this final picture of the cabin Daddy and Mom built. Daddy designed it, it's about 850-900 square feet with 3 bedrooms, bath (indoor plumbing!), utility room and a great room comprising a kitchen, dining area and living room. A wood burning iron stove means heat in cold temps and open windows and fans means cooler temps when needed.

Seriously, did you think I was going to let you go without asking you to click here? Silly you! lol

There's more to this story, stay tuned...

Ponder this ~ Deep down, I'm just a West Virginia hillbilly. ~ Brad Paisley ~


  1. I have driven similar roads in France and Spain and was terrified!

  2. Yikes not a drive I'd willingly take unless I w a s medicated sufficiently and driver was a praying person. What an adventure, Sandra, glad you had canine companions. Beautiful country and fun descriptions.

  3. OOoo - sounds like fun!! And so much like the West Virginia riding/driving I've done over the decades, esp. with my brothers in their trucks. Webster Co. is where my brother's apple orchard is, Ott's Orchard up in Hacker Valley. Not sure where your cabin is located exactly. I hope you had restful time and refreshed yourself after that drive! Glad you took the dogs along. I bet they loved it.

  4. I loved reading this. I am from Roanoke in VA. and back in the day, the passes over the mountains that we had to take on our 600 mile trip going home to and daddy, were quite awful. Now there are interstates. Then, 2 lane roads only and the ones over the Blue Ridge were interesting to say the least. Not as interesting as YOURS but very carefully driven as I recall.

  5. I got somewhat tense as I was reading this post. I don't like the scary parts of mountain driving. Like your first commentor, I too was terrified in France and Spain, especially the one time in Spain when we lost our brakes on the way down the mountains. Once we got on level ground we had brakes again. Sheesh!

    I've also been on scary mountain roads here in the US. Beautiful yes, but make your heart pound harder.

    Thanks for sharing the beauty and adventure that you went through. Glad you made it safely back home with your canine critters.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

  6. Well my heart's racing after reading this, especially as you related the story of going to the hospital with your father by way of the Elk River. Sandra, what a movie scene that would make--even with everything turning out okay. But just knowing that family members had died drowning and 2 definitely in that river, my goodness, what a story!

    I'm a Blue Ridge baby myself, so I know the depth of feeling for those mountains and the rivers that rush along the twisting roads, the incomparable air that makes breathing seem harder and harsher when you get back down in low lands. So this travelogue of yours was like mother's milk to me. I envy you the experience!

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  8. Oh my...that road. I can't imagine meeting a logging truck on a road like that. Looks like a great trip besides and I'm glad you were traveling on Saturday. Beautiful photos along the way! Happy June to you.

  9. ...awww...sweet're making me miss WV...

    ~Have a lovely day!

  10. Adventurous, dear Sandra with the dogs near the strong water on the narrow street! Little Sandra and her father were a good team! Brave girl and her father! Brave ranger Sandra today as ever, and always with a bottle of humour in the rucksack )

  11. Brave you are . . .
    On roads like these I think I might be a better driver than a rider . . .
    Not sure . . . don’t think I will try either.

    Absolutely gorgeous though . . .
    The fragrance must be heavenly . . . and Oh My, the GREEN!

    Looking forward to more of the story . . .
    I am not receiving info of when you post anymore
    so it is hit and miss to find you.
    I just found this by scrolling through . . .
    Be safe my friend . . .

  12. What a rich history! Your daddy is really something! Glory to God for all your treasures of people and memories.

  13. You love your land, it's plain to see! It's gorgeous, Sandra.
    The cabin your dad built is picture perfect.

  14. Thanks for the hair-raising ride! I loved the part where your daddy gave you instructions for exiting the truck if needed. Love me some John Denver! :) Thanks, Sandra!

  15. I really like your site and content so much,thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.


  16. I've done some white knuckle driving or been on roads where it was required while someone else was driving and let me just say there are some places you wonder what the heck were we thinking. That's quite a story of your ride with your dad. My husband went to college in WV and lived there many years so has very fond memories. I've been there many times and have to say that Fall was my favorite. We've got some great pictures of the changing leaves.


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