~ Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent ~
Ever now and agin...as 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...
In the Go Soak Your Head post, here, I write of the Jefferson Pools, Bath County, VA
~ Garth Newel entrance ~
Also in Bath County is Garth Newel Music Center, here and Minnehaha Springs, an unincorporated community.
~ Sharp's Country Store ~
~ Kissing Bridge ~
~ Beckwith Lumber Co. ~
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 out...lol. It's also a mighty fine place to stop and take a
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 ~