It was my idea after all, to go to West Virginia. I used to backpack there years ago, and I’ve always loved the state. “Let’s pack up the boats and the dogs and scout out the area, it will be fun and next time we can stay longer!” So we headed for Gauley Bridge, West Virginia and the New River Campground.
The skies darkened as we crossed into West Virginia. I checked the radar to see we were headed for an isolated little cell. No big deal, we thought. We were sadly mistaken. It made up for its size with high winds and pelting rain. We would outrun it and then a few minutes later there were black clouds in the rear view mirrors. It chased us all the way to Gauley Bridge when it finally got stuck on a mountain and left us alone. We turned onto Rt 60, romantically named “The Midland Trail.” It should be named the corkscrew trail, and I ain’t talking about wine. It is twisty in an unsettling up and down manner, full of coal and logging trucks and tail-gating locals. Years ago when I backpacked in this state I always marveled at people who were willing to risk it all by passing on blind hills and curves. Today’s generation does the same thing, but I think they are also texting. Finally we arrived at our destination.
The New River Campground was built in the era before big RVs, fifth wheels and tow-behinds so the the entrance and everything else in the park was very narrow. Ben started the turn in, when a badly-placed sign for the boat ramp jumped out and bit our motorhome in one of the cargo doors, leaving a gash. A woman ran out of the office waving her arms. “I’ve been trying to get the city to move that sign for years, someone hits it at least once a week!” She ordered Ben to back out on the road. She strode into the oncoming traffic, thrust her hands out in front of a logging truck and yelled at Ben to “get a move on before I get flattened!” We later learned she was Carol, the park owner. We made it in with a moderate amount of cussing and fussing. Our assigned site was a pad of large chunks of gravel that sloped in interesting angles. The only way to get in the site was to back in. Ben is a pro backer-upper, and I am well experienced at guiding. That being said backing a 40-foot long vehicle into a narrow uneven space takes steely resolve. We jockeyed it into the flattest spot, dropped the jacks and went to work. People like to think that when you have something like a motorhome you get to your destination, turn off the key and start partying. These people do not own motorhomes. Depending on where you are, there is a car to unhitch, utility hookups to set up, three antsy dogs to be walked, picnic tables that need to be relocated to the optimal spot and dozens of other things involving setting up your site. The thunderstorm skipped Gauley Bridge, but there was fierce humidity and the no-see-ums (biting gnats to you city folk) were glad to see us. By the time we were set up we were sweaty and short a pint of blood. As entries go, this one wasn’t our smoothest. We resolved that the next day would be better.
Later under cover of darkness, Ben walked out to the road, grabbed the boat ramp sign and pulled it 180 degrees, to angle away from the driveway. It shall trouble future campers no more.