American Locations 4 – Occoneechee

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Occoneechee State Park, Virginia

 

The next morning we drove out of Babcock State Park heading southwest on Hwy. 41. It was another nice drive through the mountains, until we turned onto I-64, which we took a short ways southwest to I-77. Before getting onto the Interstate we stopped for breakfast at Biscuit World. I had seen this restaurant chain all over West Virginia and was curious to try it. They served strictly breakfast, and true to their name they had many different biscuit meals to choose from.

We drove south on I-77 out of West Virginia into Virginia. We exited east onto Hwy. 58 and had one of the most enjoyable drives of the trip. This two-lane blacktop road winds up and over and around and under rich open countryside of rolling hills and green pastures. A wonderful drive.

Eventually the road straightened as we came out of the hills onto flat plains of rich farmland. Leaving this rural area, we continued east through Danville and across the Roanoke River, where we turned south onto Rte. 364 into Occoneechee State Park. We got a site within view of the river.

0078_Occoneechee SP

 

After resting up from the drive, we walked down for a better look.

0079_Occoneechee SP

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In this photo the Hwy. 58 bridge we’d crossed over the Roanoke River can be seen.

0083_Occoneechee SP

 

That night we had a clear sky over the river to enjoy.

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The next morning we explored the grounds where a small plantation had once been, but there was not much left of it.

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Before leaving, we drove by the marina.

0087_Occoneechee SP

 

Next Location – Merchant’s Millpond

 

American Locations 3 – Babcock 2

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Babcock State Park, West Virginia

 

On the second day I went on a 5-mile hike all over the park. I hiked up from the campground.

0057_Babcock SP

 

I found a pond.

0054_Babcock SP

 

I came across good overlooks such as this.

0056_Babcock SP

 

One part of the trail took me straight down the mountainside on steep stone steps.

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0064_Babcock SP

 

Past an overhang where the trail had collapsed. You can see part of a railing on the ground.

0067_Babcock SP

 

So I had to scramble across on my own. The trail became a goat track across the face of a cliff.

0069_Babcock SP

 

I descended to the creek I had hiked along with my wife the day before, which led back to the campground.

0074_Babcock SP

 

Where I crashed at my site for the rest of the day and relaxed with a camp fire that evening.

 

Next Location – Occoneechee

 

 

 

American Locations 2 – Babcock

The trip is from New River, West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 Babcock State Park, West Virginia

 

Finished at the New River Gorge Bridge, we backtracked northeast on Hwy.19, then drove southeast on Hwy. 60, the route we had taken up into the mountains from Charleston. We turned southwest onto Rte. 41 into Babcock State Park. This is a beautiful park high up in the Appalachian Mountains.

0014_Babcock

 

There is an old grist mill the park has kept in operation that has been much-photographed, and is one of the most iconic images of West Virginia.

0023_Babcock SP

0024_Babcock SP

0025_Babcock SP

 

We hiked several short trails.

0030_Babcock SP

 

Along a mountain stream.

0035_Babcock SP

 

High up on a mountainside.

0041_Babcock SP

 

Across a footbridge.

0047_Babcock SP

 

To a mountain lake.

0050_Babcock SP

 

We liked the place so well we spent 3 nights.

0045_Babcock SP

 Next Location – Babcock 2 in March 2019

American Locations 1 – New River

The trip is from New River,  West Virginia, to Stinking Creek, Tennessee, by way of Long Key, Florida.

 New River Wilderness Area, West Virginia

 

In September of 2017 I and my wife began another road trip. We drove northwest from Cincinnati up I-71 to West Lancaster, then turned south east on Hwy. 35. We passed through rich farmland until we crossed the Ohio River at Point Pleasant into West Virginia. The terrain grew steadily hillier as we continued mostly south to I-64. Then we headed east into Charleston, where we picked up Hwy. 60. This twisting curving two-lane road followed the Kanawah River high up into the Appalachian Mountains. A good scenic drive to begin our trip.

0001_WV river

 

We stopped at a small dam in the river to stretch out legs. This is where the Kanawah River joins the Gauley River to form the New River.

416_West Virginia

 

We didn’t drive very far beyond this point before stopping once again to view a waterfall.

0003_waterfall

0004_waterfall

 

As we continued winding through the mountains we passed the Mystery Spot. This looked like the kind of roadside attraction that were popular in the mid-1900’s. Sadly, we didn’t stop to check it out. We did stop at Hawk’s Nest State Park.

417a_West Virginia

 

We checked out the lodge, which gave a good view out over the New River valley.

419_West Virginia

 

In this photo you can barely see the New River Gorge Bridge.

0009_Hawks Nest

We continued east on Hwy. 60 from Hawk’s Nest State Park to Hwy. 19, where we turned southwest. This led us to the New River Gorge Bridge.

0012_Gauley Bridge

468_West Virginia

 

We took a walkway down to a viewing platform below the bridge.

469a_West Virginia

 

That gave a good view of the valley the bridge spanned.

469_West Virginia

 

It is an impressive structure. Here is an entry about it from the National Park Service site:

When the New River Gorge Bridge was completed on October 22, 1977, a travel challenge was solved. The bridge reduced a 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads and across one of North America’s oldest rivers to less than a minute. When it comes to road construction, mountains do pose a challenge. In the case of the New River Gorge Bridge, challenge was transformed into a work of structural art – the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States.

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. The bridge was chosen to represent the state on the commemorative quarter released by the U.S. Mint in 2006. In 2013, the National Park Service listed the New River Gorge Bridge in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant historic resource.

Bridge Construction

The West Virginia Division of Highways chose the Michael Baker Company as the designer, and the construction contract was awarded to the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel. In June 1974, the first steel was positioned over the gorge by trolleys running on three-inch diameter cables. The cables were strung 3,500 feet between two matching towers. Cor-ten steel, with a rust-like appearance that never needs painting, was used in construction.

Once a year the bridge is closed and the local population has quite a party:

On the third Saturday of October, the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce hosts “Bridge Day.” On this one day a year, the famous New River Gorge Bridge is open to pedestrians and a wide variety of activities—great views, food and crafts vendors, BASE jumping, rappelling, music, and more—draw thousands of people. Bridge Day is West Virginia’s largest one-day festival, and it is the largest extreme sports event in the world.

The first official Bridge Day was celebrated in 1980 when two parachutists jumped from a plane onto the bridge. They were joined by three additional parachutists, and all five then jumped from the bridge into the gorge. Today, the event lures hundreds of BASE jumpers, cheered on by thousands of spectators. “BASE” stands for Building, Antenna (tower), Span (arch or bridge), and Earth (cliff or natural formation), the four categories of objects in which BASE jumpers jump from. For more information, visit the Official Bridgeday website, or call the New River Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 927-0263.

 

I ripped off two images from the Bridge Day site, to give you an idea what the event is like.

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0012b

 

After visiting the New River Gorge Bridge we were ready to proceed to our campground. It had been a full day driving.

 

Next Location – Babcock