Pittsburgh to SW Virginia and Back - Wind Storm and Route 20

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by cakmakli, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    I live in Pittsburgh but I'm originally from the mountains of Virginia in Carroll County. Last year I made a trip home for my brother's birthday party and since no one is in my family could go, due to work schedules, I took my bike and went by myself.


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    At Beckley on Interstate 77 I witness something right out of a movie. As an MP I've been to quite a few vehicle accidents but I have never witnessed one - until then. Going South on 77 I saw an SUV coming down the entrance ramp from Hwy 3. Halfway down, it comes off the ramp, down the embankment, takes out a yellow road sign which flips up in the air, goes across the southbound lane not 20 yards in front of me, into the median, and cross over into the northbound lane where it hits an on coming vehicle head-on and knocks them both off the road. If I had been just a few seconds faster it would have taken me out. I stopped and was going to call 911 but I saw a Deputy Sheriff car go by with his lights and siren on.

    This picture is looking back toward the accident. You can just see the Deputy's car and the accident up near the green road sign.

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    I got off in Bland, VA to ride Hwy 52 South to my hometown of Galax. It was a scoring hot day but I had my camelbak filled with ice so it helped quite a bit.

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    Hwy 52 is a very nice mountain road that goes up to the top of Big Walker Mountain.

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    Big Walker Mountain Overlook and Country Store

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    The Overlook
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    At the top of the mountain
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    There is a national forest road that run to the up to the ridge of the mountain and follows it over the tunnel that the interstate runs through. I rode it about 4 miles back but because of the summer growth couldn't get any good scenery shots. I turned around because I was running out of time. I had a childhood friend of me and my brother waiting at his house. Plus it was hot and I couldn't wait to get a cold beer.

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    Finally made it home to mom and dad...
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    ...and the beer
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    After a few days of spending some relaxing quality time at home it was time to head back to Pittsburgh. I wanted to make it a two day trip, traveling through West Virginia on Highway 20.

    I first stopped in Hillsville which is the county seat where I'm from. It was the scene of a famous shoot out in 1912 which made national headlines. People still take sides to this day and it is still a touchy subject. I remember my grandmother saying that her family helped to hide out Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards while they hide from the law. She also said that she remembered the Baldwin Felts Detectives who were hired to find them, riding their horses through people gardens and searching people's houses without warrants. There wasn't many tears shed for them when they finally got shot up by the miners in Matewan WV.


    The story of the Courthouse shoot out. LINK


    The Hillsville Courthouse

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    Austinville, VA, the birthplace of Stephen Austin who help colonize Texas and is known as the “Father of Texas” LINK


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    I also stopped at the Shot Tower near Pulaski VA. Here is some information about it:

    “Overlooking the New River, Shot Tower was built more than 150 years ago to make ammunition for the firearms of the early settlers. Lead from the nearby Austinville Mines was melted in a kettle atop the 75-foot tower and poured through a sieve, falling through the tower and an additional 75-foot shaft beneath the tower into a kettle of water.” LINK

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    I had the road pretty much to myself. This is VA Route 717 which passes through Jefferson National Forrest.

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    There were a lot of debris in the road due to the recent wind storm.

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    HWY 52 passes through some beautiful farm land as it nears WV.

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    Overlooking I-77. On the other side of that ridge in the background is WV.

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    The best part of the trip is to be continued. It includes one of WV's most scenic highways (Route 20) combined with the results of one of the worst wind storms in history with massive state wide electrical outages. LINK
    #1
  2. BlueSkyGuy

    BlueSkyGuy Been here awhile

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    like that area a whole bunch.
    #2
  3. Sam Bateman

    Sam Bateman Adventurer

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    What is that seat pack you have strapped on the rear there?
    I'm likin the looks (and space) of that thing!
    #3
  4. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

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    Beautiful area. I bought several hand made porch swings from a shop in Wytheville and love going up in that area just to look. Thanks for sharing your trip.
    #4
  5. turkeyman101

    turkeyman101 Navigationally Impaired

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    :ear... Live just off of 20. Looking forward to the rest of the story!
    #5
  6. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    It is a Kuryakyn Tomstone Bag. It is a very nice bag. I've had it 5 years now and it has held up very well. On my Vulcan it also serves as a back rest. On the V-Strom I have it sitting too far back for that.

    LINK
    #6
  7. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    Overlook of Bluefield, WV on Bland Road (Hwy 528)

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    Princeton WV - Start of Hwy 20

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    Hwy 20 - A really well maintained road with not too much traffic

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    I was looking for a place on the side of the road to pull of and have lunch when I found this place.

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    Pipestem Falls is a 30+ foot drop on Pipestem Creek just South of Hinton WV. The creek and falls are named for the Pipestem Plant, aka Spiraea alba, a hollowed stem shrub that was used for making pipestems. The shrub still grows abundantly along the creek. The creek flows down to the Bluestone River, just west of its confluence with the New River. LINK

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    Bluestone Lake, New River near Hinton WV LINK

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    Bluestone Dam - Hinton vicinity on the New River, approximately 65 miles above the river's mouth. LINK


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    Brooks Overlook - Route 20 (WV-20) approximately 5.5 miles north of Hinton, WV, motorists are afforded a vista of the valley of the upper New River and the community of Brooks, WV

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    #7
  8. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    Now I ran into a real problem. Due to recent wind storm there were wide spread electrical outages in SW Virginia and in WV. I knew about it but I didn't know how severe it was but I was about to find out the hard way.

    I could have bought gas in Bluefield and actually thought about it but I wanted to get started on Hwy 20 and figured I would buy gas in Rainelle. Big mistake. I get to Rainelle and the whole town is out of power and all of the gas stations were closed.

    I had a decision to make. Stay there in the biggest town in the area or continue on and hope to find a station open somewhere else. I decided to continue. I figured if I had to camp out while waiting on gas I would rather do it in a smaller town.

    It almost came to that. I made it to a small town called Quinwood and it was here that I had to stop for ever how long it took for the gas station to open. I was down to fumes and there was nothing else I could do but get in line and park.

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    It wasn't long before I met a couple of nice locals, with refreshments, who helped me pass the time. They also told me some good news. Someone was bringing a generator from home and they were going to hook it up and try to get the gas pumps working. Total $18 and some change. More than happy to give the guy a twenty and say keep the change.

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    They get the generator hooked up and everyone is hoping that it works. It does and they start pumping gas. $20 limit and cash only. I'm just hoping there is enough gas for me or that the generator doesn't go down.

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    The savior.

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    I will say this. The people in Quinwood was extremely friendly and very resourceful. Stopping there was one of the highlights of my trip.

    To be continued...
    #8
  9. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    I was so glad to finally get some gas. At one point I was ready to go Mad Max and see what I could find in an old tanker.

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    With a full tank of gas my destination is Holly River State Park which I hope to get to before dark. I really hate setting up camp in the dark.

    HWY 20 just South of Holly River State Park, WV

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    Made it to Holly River State Park. It is a very beautiful park and a great place to camp. I recommend it to anyone travelling in the area. LINK

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    Entrance Road to Holly River State Park

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    Some of the permanent residents of the park.

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    Riding through the Park to the campsite.

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    Unpacking

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    Sitting up home for the night

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    Supper is served.

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    Campsite

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    After a good night of sleep, two of the three S's (I hate to shave), and breakfast, I headed for home.

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    Laurel Fork Creek, which runs through the park, was a bit dry.

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    Road that runs through the Park

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    Hwy 20 just North of Holly River State Park

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    I saw quite a bit of this.

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    HWY 20 - Just North of Cleveland WV
    http://goo.gl/maps/0SES

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    HWY 20 South of Rock Cave
    http://goo.gl/maps/b0FZ

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    Coffee Break

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    HWY 20 just North of Buckhannon WV
    http://goo.gl/maps/cBHX

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    Looking in the direction of where the Pringle Tree once stood. I remembered reading about this in Allan Eckert's book "That Dark and Bloody River" LINK. One of my favorite books which is about the history and settlement of the Ohio River.

    Is quite a story. LINK

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    As I got closer to the Ohio River I started seeing a lot of trucks hauling West Virginia diamonds.

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    The END of Hwy 20 - 3 miles from New Martinsville, WV. I really enjoyed the ride and it goes through some very beautiful parts of a very beautiful State.
    http://goo.gl/maps/H3AO

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    Heading up the River on Hwy 2 back to Pittsburgh.

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    Historical Markers along Hwy 2 between New Martinsville and Moundsville. I hope I don't bore anyone with them. I'm a huge history guy and these markers interest me a lot.

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    HWY 2 - Along the Ohio River south of Moundsville

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    Hwy 2 passes through Moundsville which is a very interesting place with a lot of history. I did not stop there on this trip as I had been there quite a few times in the past. I'm including some photos from previous visits to Moundsville that I think you may find interesting. Moundsville and the surrounding area is a great place to visit if you are into history.

    Moundsville is home to the old West Virginia Penitentiary which was closed in 1995. LINK

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    A very remarklable story about Rebecca Tomlinson can be read here: LINK

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    Moundsville was named for the huge Indian Mounds which was found here.

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    The mound which can still be seen.

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    HWY 2 - Wheeling WV. The settlement of this town is covered in detail in the book I listed above "That Dark and Bloody River". A lot of frontier history in this town. The Fort here managed to survive at least two major Indian attacks.

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    Hwy 2, Wellsburg WV.

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    Looking down the River

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    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Gass, Patrick. Nominated by the enlisted men to replace SGT Floyd, who died of peritonitis, Gass was elected to be Sergeant on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. A career soldier who had enlisted in 1799, he lost an eye in the War of 1812 and was discharged from the army. He settled in West Virginia and lived until 1870, the Corps of Discovery’s last survivor.[/FONT]

    As a Retired NCO, I enjoy reading about SGT Gass.

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    I left Hwy 2 in Weirton WV, and headed on Hwy 22 back home in Pittsburgh. It was during the last 15 miles on this road that I experienced bad weather. I had to fight high cross winds and rain, so when I pulled into the driveway I was one happy camper. I really enjoyed my journey but it always good to get back home.

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    #9
  10. wvboy

    wvboy Been here awhile

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    Holly River was my favorite campground when I was growing up :clap
    #10
  11. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    It was really nice and peaceful. Definitely on my list of places to return to.
    #11
  12. turkeyman101

    turkeyman101 Navigationally Impaired

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    Great report! Thanks for sharing, and motivating me to get off my butt and get riding... as soon as the snow breaks...:clap
    #12
  13. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    I'm with you on that Turkeyman. I'm getting really tired of getting up, checking the temperature, and then trying to remember the last time the roads were wet.

    I am so looking forward to just getting up, putting on my gear, and then ride into work without worrying about ice and or snow.
    #13
  14. E-man

    E-man 4-4-09, 12-6-09, 1-13-10

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    Great trip and pics Cakmakli.

    If you ever need a local riding buddy for a short day trip or so, I'm willing. I get bored riding the north hills and am looking to venture south of here. Red Strom too.
    #14
  15. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

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    Poncho liner bike cover. I have one too.
    #15
  16. cakmakli

    cakmakli Made It - Army Retired

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    Then you might also recognize the sleeping mat and green wool blanket :D
    #16
  17. disconnected

    disconnected rider

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    Great Ride Report, thanks for sharing!

    greg
    #17