This morning, we arose in Lexington, and after enjoying our complementary breakfast on Best Western’s nickel, we pointed the TrailBlazer east, and continued our trek toward Richmond. This would be a day that would include the highest (2800 feet) and lowest (130 feet) points in our journey so far.
Eastern Kentucky is beautiful country to drive through, and we had a great time watching the ribbon of road become more hilly as we continued east. This is the first time I’ve driven this route, and it seems to capture the sense of the Old South. There are plantation-looking homes, there are small communities nestled in tiny valleys. It is an exquisite place to drive through. I wish we’d had more time to stop and look!
We made our way to West Virginia, this being our second journey into this state. The last time was the far northern tip, in Wheeling, for the 2002 BMDCA National Speciality. This time, we were going to cut across the girth of the state.
Our first stop was a Welcome Center just outside Huntington. There we found a very helpful civil servant, who was more eager to talk about the coast of North Carolina than his own state. 🙂 We gathered our requisite maps, and headed out again.
We’d seen information about an artisans shop at a mall in downtown Huntington. We stopped at the mall, only to discover that the place was only a store — not a big craft-making facility — and that it was closed, and moving to another location. We did a little more shopping, but our memory of this part of the trip will forever be tied to an interesting she-male we saw in the mall. This was obviously a guy, dressed as a lady, and trying to walk in high heels that he/she wasn’t very comfortable with. Us, and the cops in the mall, got a big chuckle out of that.
As beautiful as the drive is through Kentucky, it is eclipsed by the drive through West Virginia. West Virginia is a tough drive on I-64 — rapid descents, and long grinding hills carry you through the old mountains of the Appalachians. It is beautiful, and there needs to be more scenic pulloffs for photographers.
Once we got on the turnpike, we kept seeing signs for Tamarack. We had no idea what it was, but after 50 miles of these signs, we succumbed to visting this well-advertised spot near Beckley. What it was was exactly what we thought we’d find in Huntington: a showcase of local artisans and their work. This was a great stop, and we had a terrific time, and the best bread pudding Becky has ever had. (I had pecan pie — it was good, but not as good as I remember Aunt Merilyn’s being!)
We continued on, driving toward Virginia, and finally found the Virginia Welcome Center, just inside the state on I-64. We caught them just before they were closing, and grabbed maps and info on the area, while avoiding the large number of hornets that were buzzing around.
We took a look at one of the brochures, and found that one of the longest curved wooden bridges — the Humpback Bridge — was right around the corner from the welcome center. We jogged over to it, and took a look. This is a wonderful structure, no longer in use for traffic, and converted to footpath use. The inside is full of graffiti from its visitors over the years. I’m sure there were older pieces of graffiti, but the oldest I saw was on an overhead span that dated from about thirty years ago.
While there, a strange little couple and child wandered up, loud and obnoxious. The woman was from Chicago, and the man was apparently a local. They bellowed, argued, and yelled at each other, and at the child that was with them. If it wasn’t such an uncomfortable thing to witness, it’d be funny!
Sunset quickly came as we continued east into the heart of Virginia, and we found two pulloffs from which to shoot the clouds underlit by the setting of the sun over the gentle valleys. This beautiful country yielded its colors and quiet tranquility, none of which can really be captured on film.
We continued on through Richmond, and to Quinton, where Morgan lives, and finally found our rest for the night.