Friday, May 30, 2008

DBKP Road Trip to New River Gorge

DBKP Road Trip #1

Destination: New River Gorge National Park
Fayette County, West Virginia
[Click on images to enlarge.]

New River Gorge, WV

A vacation doesn't have to mean jetting to Acapulco or Thailand.

If you're snowed under with work or other distractions and can't find the time for a proper vacation, there are plenty of 1-2 day road trips to break the monotony of work. With this in mind, a trip was planned to take in the New River Gorge National Park in Fayette County, WV--with some interesting stops along the way thrown in for good measure. Combining business with the adventure of a road trip is one of life's little pleasures.


The road taken...

Starting in Ohio on Interstate 70, the traveler enters West Virginia--all fourteen miles of it, from Ohio to Pennsylvania along i-70--at Wheeling. We jumped on US Route 250, a winding, roller-coaster affair that stretches from Sandusky, OH to Virginia Beach, VA and followed it south to our first stop: Mannington WV.

Mario's Pizza was the stop for a quick lunch and a little chat with Nancy, the server about Smoke Nazis. The local health department was trying to extend the county smoking ban to include bars, fraternal organization--in short, any place people choose to relax. Nancy was well-versed in the nefarious ways of the Smoke Nazis.

"They'll be coming for the over-weight people next."

Amen, Nancy.

Back to driving south on 250 to Fairmont, where we hopped onto Interstate 79 and continued south.

Next stop: Weston and the ancient, spooky Weston Mental Hospital.

One small step for the Smoke Nazis, one giant leap backwards
for freedom of choice and personal liberty

Clarksburg, WV: A stop for gas--maybe the last time gasoline will be under $4 a gallon?--and we noticed the Smoke Nazis had gotten here before us. Temptation comes in many forms: for the smoker, it might be an inviting cigar; for a Smoke Nazi, a chance to rub smokers' faces in their every victory.

It's only a celebration if you choose to be smoke-free--not if you're ordered to do it by an unelected health official. But there miles to go before any sleep, so it was onto Weston.

The Weston State Hospital was a psychiatric hospital operated from 1864 to 1994 by the government of the U.S. state of West Virginia, in the city of Weston. The hospital's main building is one of the largest hand-cut stone masonry buildings in the United States, and was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. In 2008, The group TAPS was called to the hospital to conduct an investigation at the request of Joe Jordan due to purported claims of paranormal activity on the grounds. The owners are now offering haunted tours 7 days a week.

The scene of two recent Ghost Hunter (TAPS) episodes, the locals are convinced that the old Mental Hospital at Weston is haunted. One lady advised to "go at night. That's when the strange things happen."

The place certainly looks spooky enough from the outside, bars still covering the outsides of the rooms. But we had miles to go before we would sleep.

So a decision was made to return one evening soon and see what "strange things" were in the old lunatic asylum. It's all just another excuse for another road trip.

Nest stop: Summersville, WV

Continuing down I-79 south, we exited the interstate onto US Route 19, a grand and glorious highway that stretches across the Eastern USA.

U.S. Route 19 is a north-south U.S. Highway. Despite encroaching Interstate Highways, the route has remained a long-haul route, connecting Lake Erie with the Gulf of Mexico.
The highway's northern terminus is in Erie, Pennsylvania, at an intersection with U.S. Route 20 about a mile from the shores of Lake Erie. Its southern terminus is at Memphis, Florida, just north of Bradenton, Florida at an intersection with U.S. Route 41.

Summersville, WV is about 30 minutes away, through the mountains and never-ending forests of Southern West Virginia. Summersville is known for the scenery and recreation at Summersville Lake--and for ability of its police department to write speeding tickets.

Summersville Lake

Summersville is a town in Nicholas County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 3,194 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Nicholas County[3]. Summersville, especially along U.S. 19, is well-known as a speed trap. In 2001 the police department of Summersville issued 18,133 tickets. Because of this, the city has been seen on several network TV programs including CNN, CBS, CBC, and the BBC.

To put the number of speeding tickets in perspective: that's almost 2 speeding tickets issued every hour--24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The average cost of a speeding ticket in Summersville is $150, including court costs. That's $2.71 million in speeding tickets. Business is good for the Summersville PD.

Summersville, W.Va., is another danger zone for leadfoots. The town, with a population of 3,200, gave out 18,000 speeding tickets last year. Each year, it gets thousands of visitors to Summersville Lake, the largest in the state, as well as tractor-trailers and other traffic heading north or south on Route 19, which slices through town.

Of course, the police chief says, "Move along. Nothing to see here."
"I would rather be labeled a speed trap than a death trap," says Summersville Police Chief Jay Nowak.

Be careful.

Summersville is about 20 minutes north of the New River Gorge bridge, the highest single-span arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. This is where we stop for the night. After a great meal at the local Mexican restaurant and some gambling (WV has video poker and slot machines scattered throughout the state), the attempt was made to post the first part of this story. The internet connection at the motor lodge had other ideas, however.

So we turned in a little earlier than usual.

DAY 2:
Next Stop: New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge bridge

page 2: DBKP Road Trip#1: New River Gorge - Day 2

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