Good morning, my friends. I've been patiently spending approximately the past five years uploading pictures this morning. Some cretins moved into the campground yesterday, and they've been hogging all the bandwidth. And, honestly, would I do that? Well...maybe. We'll just pretend I didn't ask that question, because we all know the answer.
We had a day planned for ourselves yesterday. We had a national park and a state park to explore. We reasoned that we came to West Virginia to see America's newest national park, New River Gorge National Park. Babcock State Park, where we are camped, is just a bonus. We decided to head for the national park first. It turned out to be the first of so many things yesterday. As we drove out of the campground, we spotted this doe and her two fawns. If you look closely, you can see the fawn still has some of his spots. The other one was outside the frame. When photographing animals, one cannot get greedy or one risks missing the shot altogether.
It was about 16 miles to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, backtracking over the winding road from the day before.
As we approached the building, I caught the bees crawling all over these purple jobs.
This park is about the gorge cut by the New River. I can only imagine what these hillsides will look like in a few more weeks. That is a forest made up almost exclusively of deciduous trees.
There were some whitewater rafters in the river below.
After checking in with the ranger and getting some help planning our day, we walked out to some marked "scenic view" trails. There was a very large rock with this plaque. And, while the park is about the gorge, it's really about the bridge, which is an engineering marvel. Just you wait until you see the pictures.
Here's some information about the park and the bridge. Mike and I got a kick out of the inset labeled "hydrology." I suppose white water rafting could fit under that heading.
Here are some pictures and information about the building of the bridge.
The insets were a little small, and so I've cropped them out to make them larger in the next two images.
To reach the scenic view, we took a winding stairway down, down, down. We paid attention to just how far we were going because eventually we would have to climb up, up, up. And you know how it is...up is always farther than down.
And, whoa. Breathtaking. Pictures really do not do it justice.
Here's another view of the river, looking in the other direction.
There was another bridge across the river, down below. We'll get down there in just a minute.
But first, let's take a few more shots of the bridge from different angles.
Here's my "stonehenge" shot.
Walking back to the truck, I spotted these little guys.
We thought we were going to do some hiking, but the ranger told us about the Fayette Station Scenic Drive
, which sounded like a much better idea. In the map below, the drive is the brown line. Check out those hairpin turns.
There wasn't a lot to see until we reached the bridge down below. And this was one narrow mo-fo. The "floor" of the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge
(built in 1889) was all wooden planking, and so we found ourselves hoping the planks were in good repair.
There, we were able to scramble over a rocky path to get out to the river.
There was a small tributary draining into the river there. Here is a video so you can see and hear what we saw. (If you can't see the video, then click on the title of this post to be taken to the actual blog. You'll find it there.)
From there, we had another spectacular view of the bridge.
There were also some informational signs about working in coal mines. There was a trail along our way that might have taken us to a coal mine, but it was closed for repairs. That was okay with us. We were happy to let the truck do the hiking for us while we just rode along in comfort.
This might be the first picture I've ever seen of Mother Jones.
Here was another sign explaining life in pre-bridge days.
Driving on, we came to where we might have hiked out to see the coal mine. We could only get as far as the bridge crossing the tributary we'd seen earlier.
It hardly seemed worth it, but our shadow selves were whining and carrying on. Okay, so we went.
Continuing along the drive, we passed under the bridge one more time.
And then, we'd planned to head back to the RV for lunch, but we saw this:
We've been seeing these "Biscuit World" restaurants ever since we came east of the Mississippi. It seemed like a perfect time to give them a try. They had me at the word "biscuit." They serve breakfast all day. Mike had biscuits and gravy with a side of bacon.
I had a biscuit sandwich known as a "Mickey." It was really just an Egg McMuffin with a biscuit instead of an English muffin. And tater tots!!!
We both enjoyed our lunches, and they held us to well past dinnertime. While we sat there, I inquired of my friend, The Google, "Find a quilt shop near me." And this one was right on the way back to the campground.
From there, we drove back across the big New River bridge. Here's how it looks up top. It's not nearly as impressive from there.
Until we came to this place. I'd seen it when we passed by on the day we arrived.
It was a little hard to figure out where I was supposed to enter. The back door, visible in the image above, was locked. Walking around to the front porch...sheesh...lots of stuff sitting on the porch, as if someone were moving in or out. I feared I was entering a private residence, and maybe I was...but I was welcome to come in without knocking. A woman was on the other side of the door to greet me. She was the sweetest thing. And, oh my gosh...I could not work in a place this messy, but that's just me. It was a fabric shop, retreat center, classroom, and sewing room all rolled into one. Here's how it looked standing at the front door.
Moving to the other side, it looked like this. The woman (I wish I knew her name) said they were cutting kits for a quilting event coming up, and they were sewing, and they didn't worry about staying tidy...they just dropped stuff and left it where it lay. They didn't worry about the mess. She also told me to let her know if I saw a pattern I liked. "I don't sell patterns. We share here." Meaning, if I saw a pattern I liked, she'd just give it to me. I love finding that kind of generosity in a quilter.
There were four more rooms of fabric, each in as much disarray as the first.
She had a lot of pretty things, and despite the disorder here, I found myself loving her and her shop.
She had some West Virginia fabric, but I didn't know what I'd use it for beyond just putting it in my Shop Hop quilt. Then I found this. I took it to her for cutting...
And then she told me there was a panel that went with it. Sure enough. I'd seen the panel made into a quilt when I came through the door. The panels were so nicely printed, I'd thought they were photos printed onto fabric. These squares are probably about the right size to use in my quilt. So I ended up getting the panel, and two yards of the fabric above.
While it would be easy to be put-off by the disorganization of the shop, the woman was so sweet and charming, I fell in love with the place almost from the get-go.
Okay, so we continued on our way back to the campground. It was Friday afternoon, and I worried the visitor center wouldn't be open on a Saturday. We made our way there first.
And lo and behold, the grist mill was there! Fantastic! This was really the only thing I wanted to see of the state park. It's the most photographed spot in all of West Virginia.
And, of course, it's always important to know how you're going to die when visiting someplace new. So, if you had ideas about kayaking here, you might want to think again. And here's something we haven't seen before...a "restricted" drone fly zone. It was okay to fly a drone here, but only during certain hours, and only in certain places. The restrictions were enough to discourage Mike since he wouldn't really be able to do much except fly around the mill. It wasn't particularly interesting drone-photography-wise.
I've read that this mill is still operational.
The sign said it's only open on Saturdays and Sundays. We talked about going out again today, but we'll probably just stay at the RV. We're due for a day off.
Here's a grinding wheel with a dedication plaque.
Walking back to the car there was an area set up for taking photographs of oneself. There were instructions to set the camera on a ledge, set a timer, run to the swing and Voila!
It was billed as West Virginia's most "Instagrammable" spot. We were told to post our picture to Instagram and tag it #almostheaven. Of course, I complied. But it was a comedy of errors getting this shot. I couldn't figure out how to engage the self-timer on my camera. (I know now.) We kept jumping up and down, changing things on the camera, trying to get it done. Then, Mike used his phone and pressed the shutter remotely using his Apple watch. There's more than one way to skin a cat.
Oh...but please don't skin the cat. By the time we got back to the RV, the campground had filled with a new set of campers, but everyone was MIA. It was a quiet time to get Smitty out for a taste of that West Furginia weed.
We scouted out a good place, and mmm, mmm, mmm. The best grass he's eaten this trip, I think.
There are just woods behind us, and so this is a good place for him to get out and explore.
It would have been, except that when the campers returned to their tents and rigs, they brought a herd of woofies with them. The kitties have never been so offended.
In other documentary news, we added West Virginia to the side of the RV.
That's 43 states down, 7 to go.
I finished up this section of my slow stitching. There's just a little left to do, and so I might finish off this block today.
It's been a good trip for refrigerator magnets. I collected two more yesterday, and here are all the magnets I've collected for this trip so far. I've collected a fair number of shot glasses too, but they aren't always available everywhere we go.
Also, I'm documenting this rare moment of sharing the couch side by side.
Sadie spent a good part of her afternoon giving the stink-eye to the stupid woofie next door.
Okay, so we've accomplished all the sight-seeing we wanted to do at this stop. It means we have a day off to relax and reinvigorate ourselves. We'll be heading home from here, but there's still much to see along the way. A day off with plenty of stitching and napping is sounding divine.
It took almost half an hour to upload the pictures (and video) for this post. Probably I won't post from here again. And, yes, I say that all the time, and then I post anyway. So we'll see. Never say never. If I don't post, then just know we'll be moving along and back to Ohio tomorrow. Tomorrow's journey will take us to Hocking Hills State Park for two nights, and then we'll move on again...to Indiana Dunes National Park. I'm hoping my internet access will be better at Hocking Hills, but it could be even worse. If you don't hear from me for a few days, that will be the reason.
In society at large, nerds are law-abiding, caring, fundamentally good folk who keep the wheels of civilization grinding. ~ Alexandra Petri
Holy crow - that bridge is incredible! Talk about a feat of engineering. Of course, having said that, I'd rather view it with my feet firmly on the ground and NOT from upon it.
I would be right at home in that quilt shop because it looks just like my sewing room most of the time.
The grist mill is beautiful - a scene that would be fun to recreate in fabric I think.
That quilt shop looks tidy compared to one we visited a few years ago in Honolulu. She didn’t even have a clear space to lay bolts to cut! But, like your experience, we found the shop owner to be so sweet and kind.
Love the New River Bridge! Stopped there on a trip several years ago. Would love to see that area when the fall colors are at their peak.
Very enjoyable post! Enjoyed all the pictures and got hungry at the biscuit place. The almost heaven picture is so sweet, would be great for Christmas card!
That bridge is amazing and the grist mill would be so much fun to visit when it is open. You chose some great fabric for your regional print. We were in a shop like that in Oregon once,barely enough room to turn around in the aisles but found some lovely background fabrics for the memories of Astoria quilt I made after we moved back to WNY.
Ah, no one has referenced John Denver's "Take me Home, Country Road" "Almost heaven, West Virginia' I heard the song in my head as soon as I saw the sign. I'm glad to see you hitting Indiana on the road home and I presume Illinois, as well.
This is one of the best trips I have taken with you. So much scenery and fun. Thank you.
I live close to the border of West Virginia so many of these places are familiar to me. I enjoyed your photos and narrative! Hocking Hills is a hidden gem. I have lived less than 3 hours from it for 30 years and have only found out about it in the last 5. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us and all the beautiful pictures, as well as the historical information. My mother was born in West Virigina, so it's nice to read about it. That's a wonderful picture of you and your husband :) I love reading about Smitty's outings at each stop too.
That is definitely an impressive bridge! I so enjoyed your post today. I’m guessing the friendly owner of that little shop is what draws here customers back over and over again.
What a glorious day, with such a great place to explore and walk. I must confess I've seen some messy quilt/sewing stores, but this one wins the prize for the messiest I've ever seen. Maybe they should consider a special day where customer volunteers would come help organize and names of all volunteers would go into a drawing to win a prize. But you did find some really lovely fabric, so I guess it can't be all that messy. And, I shouldn't say anything given my sewing room is in a similar mess (probably worse, but I'm in the midst of swapping sewing/guest rooms right now).
I am in love with your description of that quilt shop! I AM a messy worker and would have felt right at home, and in my experience it seems like a truly friendly and generous shop is a rarity. I wish I could have taken you to my favorite quilt shop, which has some of those qualities, but it sounds like you found exactly the kind of place that I am always looking for. I bet they could help me get my mojo back! It looks like such an interesting area and good grief, look at how your map has filled in! Please let her know that I am impressed with how brave Sadie is, staring down that woofie.
The bridge is amazing, as well as the hike to see it. The quilt shop might've given me cause, walking in to something like that, but fun to explore, nonetheless. Smitty should be posting his thoughts on the different grasses he's been tasting - all the nuances and whatnot. Ha!
Yay! You're finally making it to Indiana! The dunes are a great spot- but it looks like it might be rainy the next few days- your shadow selves will probably not make an appearance!
What a wonderful day that was! So many different things in one day. And I learned how to use my watch as a camera remote, too.
I was interested to read that the bridge was made of Corten steel. My mountain cabin has a roof made of Corten steel tiles, which are fireproof, and it's the same rusty color. Dot
I love old bridges too, and that was certainly a fine looking bridge! And the grist mill, such interesting things you've discovered. Love the picture of the deer and fawn too. Great fabric you found at the store.
Trees, deer, quilt shop.. Oh my !!
This armchair tip has been the best so far. Third time I've scrolled and enjoyed this post. Thank you.
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