Okay, let's get started then. The plan for this holiday weekend was to not have a plan. As you can see, I have acquired lots of new toys and my aim was to test out the new gear in a realistic setting. It took a hell of a lot of planning not to have a plan, needless to say.
On Saturday morning I had to wait around for the delivery of my new sofa. I must say, it looks spectacular. Then I had to reattach my door frame, which had to be removed to get the sofa in the house. So I got started with my adventure late. Since I had no plan I headed west toward what is becoming one of my favorite states West Virginia. Unfortunately, in order to get to West Virginia you have to travel through Northern Virginia, a place I dislike and think is ugly. I stopped at one of those trendy upscale Mexican fast food places where the help was annoyingly perky and the customers looked like technical geeks married to SAHMs who own obscenely highpriced townhomes on the periphery of suburbia. This put a negative damper on my mood. Yuck. I left in a hurry, these folks are my worst nightmare. If I had bothered to marry and replicate this would have been my life.
After a 4 hour drive I found myself at Seneca Rocks. The GPS worked very well, I didn't really have to think about where I was going, I could see that I was headed into the heart of WV. Since it was Christmas Eve I did something I don't normally do, I spent the night on private property. The cement transportation company over at Judy Gap was very quiet so I parked the minivan on the back lot between two trailers and fell asleep at 6PM. The sun goes down early so there isn't much else to do. I slipped into my new 15 degree sleeping bag and felt very cozy, I thought it was okay because the temp wasn't supposed to be less than 25 degrees. I woke up at 4AM feeling very frosty, so I slipped the new bag in the old sleeping bag and warmed right up. Problem solved.
I got up Christmas morning to a hard rain. This pissed me off because I had absolutely failed to look at the weather report before I left. I got out of my car and nearly fell on the snowy ground that was frozen solid. This meant only one thing....hiking was going to be a no-go. Bummer. So I changed my no-plan vacation into a drive-around vacation where I take pictures with my new camera. Flexibility is the key to life. You may not have had a white Christmas, but I did.
I drove to Elkins and tried to get my boss's Verizon Wireless Card to work, but I was unsuccessful even though I tested it out before I left home. Basically, this multi-gadget programming thing turns into a nightmare if you have GPS,wireless and a few other weird applications on your laptop. But I was thrilled with the GPS, I took a few wrong turns and knew immediately that I was on the wrong road. At Elkins, it really started to rain, I headed north to Philippi. I learned quickly that Central West Virginians from yesteryear were architectual magicians with lots of time on their hands. Here is a picture of a beautiful covered bridge along my route and the courthouse.
It was raining cats and dogs at this point and I was getting tired. By the way, these West Virginians take their Christmas inflatables very seriously. By the time I got to Grafton I wanted to get off the road. The only place that was open were the churches. So I stopped in to the First Baptist Church, I figured the service was already half over so I would stay for the end of it. But in this church sermons last a long long time, the pastor was trying to convince the congregation that all their problems would be solved if they just accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior(and tithing probably wouldn't hurt either) I wanted to tell the congregation that it didn't quite work that way, their credit card debt doesn't go away, their husband will still be an alcoholic and their boss will still hate them, Jesus or no Jesus. But I didn't want to start trouble. The rest room was very nice at the church.
Finally the rain started to let up so I drove on to Tygart State Park, which was some type of Army Corp of Engineers project. It had a dam and some hiking trails so I got a couple of miles of soggy hiking in.
Afterward I got to see the sights at Grafton, I really loved Grafton. This is the kind of city where it's industry leaves and it just lays down and dies. This place was one step away from being a ghost town. It is a former railroad hub, but it looks very forlorn. I was ready to move right in. Here is a picture of what was once a very grand railroad station in Grafton, it must have cost a fortune in its time.
This is the kind of apartments and homes that is occupied now in Grafton.
Tudor's Biscuit World
I spent the night in Bridgeport and actually forked over money for a no-tel motel. I finally was going to visit Tudor's Biscuit World. About a year ago on some message board I started talking to a West Virginian about fast food. He mentioned that the worst fast food ever was at a set of outlets found almost exclusively in West Virginia called Tudor's Biscuit World. Only in WV could they come up with a fast food restaurant that is centered around biscuits. WV being one of the fattest states, I just had to experience this place. Since I knew Bridgeport had one of these restaurant jewels I just had to visit. I spent 3 hours doing aerobics with FitTV the night before to work off the necessary calories that were going to be replaced by the biscuits.
I approached the counter where I met Stewie. I asked Stewie what was good here a Tudor's, she said everything was good and from the looks of Stewie it looked like she had been indulging in the biscuits quite often. Although Stewie was very nice and didn't mind getting her picture taken, the food was worse than imagined. The biscuit was one of the worst I have ever tasted (how can you ruin a biscuit?), the sausage was sort of a gray hockey puck which was a cross between actual sausage and scrapple, and the eggs had such a coating of grease I could see myself in my reflection. Needless to say I am still constipated.
Once I left the Biscuit World it started to snow. I headed over to Clarksburg to see what was there. I tell you, some of this old architecture is out of this world. How would you like to live in one of these places?
I headed to Morgantown next. The city is very nice, very vibrant, all sorts of restaurants and a pretty decent outfitter right downtown. You get the feeling these folks know their way around a kayak. Morgantown also had a dam, and what looked like some sort of lock system.
I noticed the West Virginia towns that were off the highway were much better off economically, but had almost been ruined by the Big Box retailers and chain food outlets that had sprung up in the midst. I vote Grafton as my favorite West Virginia city so far.