Sackville-West Clan Wiki/ nlvt2007/ ablog/ on the road again

On the Road Again...

After a harrowing night in the mountains of West Virginia, we are on the road and in Kentucky. Harrowing is an exaggeration... it was merely a bit of a stressful drive brought about by lingering with friends.

Sorry no pictures at this point but you're welcome to read more.

We started the day doing final packing in an incredibly humid Virginia. It wasn't exactly raining, but water just coalesced out of the air. We had just spent the previous two days rounding up stuff to load in our trailer -- furniture, rugs, knick-knacks, and box after box of china -- mostly from Muffy's grandmother's estate. It was kind of sad to see her house (a beautiful sight in itself) being picked over, but by the same token, we are grateful for, and truly appreciate, the beautiful and sentimental things.

With trailer loaded and kids packed and goodbyes said, we set off a little late for lunch in the hills around Amissville, VA. Our good friends the Kelly-Grahams have retreated to a beautiful piece of solitude in the Virginia hills complete with their own cemetery (!). We had a wonderful time visiting and ooh-ing and aah-ing their peaceful seclusion. We are jealous. So, in retrospect, we probably lingered too long in their company but would do it again in a heartbeat.

If you have never ventured through the mountains of western Virginia and into West Virginia, you are truly missing out on an incredible piece of this country. If you can afford the luxury of getting off the super slab, nothing beats a couple hours on an old US highway, preferably one with a three digit number (211, 522 etc). A lot of these US highways, especially in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania are Old roads. 522, for example, was a military road cut through the forests of Pennsylvania by the British during the Revolutionary War (at least that's the story I remember). Similarly, 211 up and over the Shenandoah has been a road for a long time. I don't know its history, but the town at the far (western) end of 211 is New Market and by "New" they mean 1796. I wonder what happened to the old market.

Anyway, these roads inevitably wander up into the hills connecting all those old little villages and settlements. Truly old houses are everywhere. Many are hidden under centuries of improvements and expansions, but you can still pick them out easily: the proportions are different than we'd build today; there's a symmetry to the construction that we don't use today; they don't have extraneous protrusions and random gables like modern McMansions. Occasionally you'll even see a still occupied shack or log cabin that is clearly pushing 300 years old. I just love it.

Into West Virginia, the mountains become really impressive climbing higher and higher. They are not as high as those of the West, but because of their scale and the way the road winds right into them you get a much more distinct impression of the height. And the greenery is amazing... mile after mile of lush green mountain is just incredible. I have spent time in West Virginia before, but I've never driven across it. I think it may be more desolate than many parts of the West. Especially considering how the shadow of development looms just a couple short hours in all directions. Somehow West Virginia has remained largely empty; or at least sparsely settled and there is enough tree cover that it looks empty from the freeway.

Our drive took us into and out of rain several times -- once it dumped quite heavily. It must be the same storms that pounded Ohio. We got off easy, I think. Our day ended in Charleston after a couple hours of driving in the dark, surrounded by trucks with rain coming down and the road really winding tightly through the hills. It was tough driving and I pretty much crashed out once we hit the hotel. The girls wanted to swim, but the pool had literally just closed at our arrival.

Today we drive through the last piece of WV, all the way across Kentucky, a little piece of Indiana (our first repeat state on this journey) and diagonaly through southern Illinois to spend the night in Edwardsville. We'll be staying at the Comfort Inn which used to be the Holiday Inn -- the very one where all the prom parties and homecoming parties were always held. I imagine that practice has been banished. We'll try to get in dinner at Alfonso's Pizza in Marysville and hopefully a quick driving tour through E'ville. Tomorrow its the Gateway Arch and waterfront in the morning followed by lunch somewhere with dessert at Fritz's Frozen Custard in Florisant (sp?), MO and on to Topeka, Kansas and our trek across the southern end of the Great Plains.