Oh boy, single again for a week!! Yeah! Umm, well, guess I'm not that wild a guy. How about a ride, maybe just a fun escape, 29 hours away from the city madhouse. Bride is away at parents, daughter boomaranged after college and WILL watch the dogs . . . . Escape!! Great country, not a whole lot of dirt just 'cause I felt like goin' where I felt like goin' . . . Hell of an excuse. Saddled up the WeeStrom on a June Saturday morning. There's a great way out of the metro area using VA 55 but I wanted to ESCAPE. So, slabbed west on I66, turned south on I81 for a couple of skimpy exits, then right on the self-same VA55. Wee doesn't really like slab, but she knew we were heading in the right--west--direction and she sung happily at 4800rpm as we hummed along. "High ho, high ho, its on the road we go tank of gas, packed our bags, high ho, high ho!!" (Apologies to the seven dwarves, but Wee sings a darn site better than I do). West on VA55, the Wardensville Pike, then a quick left on Rt623 at Mulberry Run. South, south we go! Quiet, rural country road through Shenandoah Valley farm country. Slow, enjoy the view, and pray don't run into any tractors on the road! Mt Olive, a crossroads store, a candy bar. Old barn glows in the soft gray afternoon light. Across the road, the local cemetary guarded by a lone tree. Wonder how many burials this old tree's seen? Then south again on 623 to join VA42 at Columbia Furnace--but no time on 42, quick right turn on Rt675, a mild sweet narrow little bit of tarmac heaven slicing west toward Wolf Gap and West Virginia. I've always wanted to explore more here, so put a hard port rudder on Wee at Rt717--never been to Liberty Furnace. Everything named "furnace" in this neck of the woods really was a furnace back in the good old days--well, colonial times at any rate. Huge rock towers that smelted ore into iron. More on that later (teaser here). Couldn't locate the furnace--dang the luck. Did see this really cool looking small mill with a neat overshot wheel. Too bad it's on private rich man's property. Didn't take photos of the no trespassing signs. Just up the holler, over the hill, a little farming dell on Falls Run called Jerome. Lovely church. Now for some Wee fun, Rt691 up Laurel Run. Beautiful well maintained forest gravel road. Lots of great little gravel forest roads in these Allegeny mountains; DeLorme won't tell you which are paved and which aren't. That's half the fun. Spotted a small pool in the Run, idyllic. Taking pictures, a scowling Forest Service driver crunched by, suspicioning me to be a Hells Angel Thief no doubt--private cabin just up the creek. Ya, I look like a Hells Angel--too durn near 60, faded red Aerostich, shiny red quiet bike--Hells Angel for sure. At any rate, he neither shoots nor arrests me, so I scoot on up the road, back to Rt675 and the georgeous pavement that twists its way up to Wolf Gap. Great campground at the top--right in the Gap (ergo, Wolf Gap. Yep, uster be wolves in these parts. And elk, bison, all kinds of cool critters that have subsequently evaporated). 8 nice campsites in a circle on the hill. I'm in number three. Later I set up an old Outward Bound tarp over the table. Was that a good use of time? We'll find out! Took out the camera book, tried some new tricks. Wee looks stunning in red and gray. Weather reports in the city had sported the chance of thunderbumpers this afternoon, but the fading light in the forest belied the threat. Soft light of evening; appalachian hardwood forest, rocky in the Gaps. Toadstool (I think, sure didn't want to eat) on the forest floor. Daddy Longlegs scootching over the leaves scrounging dinner no doubt. Sun's lower, light's softer, evening's here. Time for the Maker's Mark toddy. Sometime, a few turns of the hourglass past midnight, the forecast comes true. Right through the Gap, tree level, thunder and lightning and slashing rain. Loud, loud, my GOD that was close. Ten feet above the tent!! Crash! Flash! Bang! Splash! Safe, dry, in my snuggery. Crawl out in the morning to a fresh new day--clear blue sky, crisp (well, for June in the Appalachians). Breakfast, pack-up then West-by-God-Virginia. Down the road, now in WV, down Trout Run Valley, when what do I see but a FURNACE, right by the road in the forest. No sign, no labels, just the shrouded remnant of a bygone industry fast falling into rubble and forest. Down the road to Lost River, County Road 12 up past Lost River State Park. A sign to gladden every motorcyclist's heart! Up, up the ridge top. Scrappy pavement, bits of gravel, potholes, country road up the holler. South Branch Mountain from the top. Lovely country. Down now, down the road toward Moorefield. Another happy sign, sign of good things to come. Home by Old 55, not the new Senator-Byrd-Freeway-To-Nowhere that's taken all the character out of the new road. Naw, sneak north to Hanging Rock, Wee takes a quick starboard turn on US 50 followed by tour of downtown Winchester, then sliding along US17 near Skyline State Park. No photos, hot, Wee's enroute the barn with the bit in her teeth. 29 hours door to door. New roads, wonderful camp, fine adventure. Not big, not wild, just fine! And, found that furnace!