American Locations 7 – North River 2

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

North River Campground, North Carolina

 

We took other drives while waiting out the hurricane. One was to Elizabeth City, which is on the Pasquotank River, which flows into Albemarle Sound. Notice the overcast skies. The winds were strong here this day, but not destructive.

0127_Arbermarle Sound

0128_Albermarle Sound

0129_Arbermarle Sound

0130_Arbermarle Sound

0131_Arbermarle sound

 

Another day I took a hike for several miles into the North River Game Land. The campground host warned me black bears inhabited the area, but it was unlikely I’d encounter one unless I ventured off the trails deep into the wild land. I had no intention of doing that.

0132_game reserve

0133_game reserve

0135_game reserve

0136_game reserve

0137_game reserve

0139_game reserve

 

There were some large hawks flying around the tall trees, but I never got a good shot of them.

0144_game reserve

0145_game reserve

 

After three days the hurricane passed. Luckily it had stayed out to sea and only grazed the Outer Banks. So when the authorities gave the all clear we packed up and continued our trip.

   Next Location – Corolla, Outer Banks

American Locations 6 – North River

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

 North River Campground, North Carolina

 

We drove east on Hwy. 158. We skirted the southern edge of The Great Dismal Swamp on to the coast, where the road turned south. At the southern tip of the peninsula we crossed from the mainland onto the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk. As we continued south on the barrier island on 158 we noticed traffic was streaming north and we were practically the only vehicle heading south. So we pulled into a store to see if anything was going on. Was it ever. A hurricane was moving inland and people were being advised to evacuate. We never listen to the radio while traveling, I don’t like all the DJ jibber-jabber, so we usually listen to music. We immediately turned around and joined everybody else driving off the barrier island.

We found a private campground not too far away from the coast to wait out the storm. The North River Campground is on the edge of North River Game Land, a wildlife sanctuary.

0113_North River CG

 

We were safely away from the coast here, but the wind still rocked us. We stayed several days, until it was safe to proceed back out onto the Outer Banks. Some of the time it was too windy to even be outside. So we hunkered down. But other days the wind let up enough for us to drive around. We took a drive up to see The Great Dismal Swamp.

0114a_Dismal Swamp SP

0114_Dismal Swamp SP

 

The visitor center had an impressive taxidermy display.

0117_Dismal Swamp SP

0118_Dismal Swamp SP

0121_Dismal Swamp SP

 

There was also a short boardwalk through the swamp. As you can see by all the fallen trees, they have to contend with frequent strong hurricane winds.

0123_Dismal Swamp SP

0125_Dismal Swamp SP

 

The purple berries again. They were all over the state.

0126_Dismal Swamp SP

 

Next Location – North River 2

 

 

 

American Locations 5 – Merchant’s Millpond

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

 Merchant’s Millpond State Park, North Carolina

 

We drove east on Hwy. 58 away from Occoneechee State Park to Hwy. 1, which we took south out of Virginia into North Carolina. We turned east onto Hwy. 158. It was a pleasant sunny drive through more open farmland. There are still a lot of tobacco farms in North Carolina. There are also a lot of solar panel arrays, many more than I’ve seen in most states. This far south with abundant sunshine they must make good sense. East on 158 took us nearly all the way to Merchant’s Millpond State Park. We turned south onto Mill Pond Road into the park.

The park is in a small swamp.

0090_Merchants Millpond SP

 

We walked the trail from the campground to the visitor center.

0111_Merchants Millpond SP

 

We found these distinctive purple berries all over North Carolina, which are called beautyberries.

0112_Merchants Millpond SP

 

When we first arrived there were several people at the campground for the day, but by evening we were the only campers. There weren’t even any rangers. Kind of spooky spending the night alone in the swamp. I sat out by a fire and enjoyed the silence and dark solitude.

Early the next morning I took a 3 mile hike through the swamp.

0091_Merchants Millpond SP

0092_Merchants Millpond SP

0093_Merchants Millpond SP

0095_Merchants Millpond SP

 

Not all the trail was through swampy water.

0096_Merchants Millpond SP

 

Boardwalks were numerous and in good repair.

0098_Merchants Millpond SP

 

This twisted pine caught my eye.

0099_Merchants Millpond SP

 

There were primitive sites for back-country camping.

0101_Merchants Millpond SP

 

There were roads on which you could drive into the swamp.

0103_Merchants Millpond SP

 

The main attraction was the swamp itself.

0106_Merchants Millpond SP

0107_Merchants Millpond SP

0108_Merchants Millpond SP

0109_Merchants Millpond SP

 

Late that morning we packed up and left.

 

Next Location – North River

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

0081_Occoneechee SP

 

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.

0082_Occoneechee SP

 

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

0084_Occoneechee SP

 

0086_Occoneechee SP

 

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.

0065_Babcock SP

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.

0012a

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