Wandering Around America One State at a Time – West Virginia

State 43:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

West Virginia

West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863. The Capital is Charleston.

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

– from “Country Roads, Take Me Home” by John Denver

West Virginia is in my blood. My father grew up in a farm house high up in the southern part of the West Virginia Appalachian Mountains during the depression. Way back in the 1700’s my ancestors settled in the part of Virginia that later became West Virginia. Every year of my childhood my brothers and I climbed in the back seat of our family station wagon to travel up the narrow, winding roads up the mountain to spend a week at my grandparent’s house where my father grew up.

I’ve only traveled to West Virginia a few times in my adult life. Over 20 years ago Henry and I traveled to Pence Springs to attend a family reunion. The beautiful old Pence Springs Grand Hotel was our home for the reunion. Through the years the building has been a girl’s school, a resort, and a women’s prison. Since our stay there it has reverted back to a girl’s school.

1993Pence-Springs-Hotel
Pence Springs Grand Hotel
1993Pence-Springs-Hotel2
Pence Springs Grand Hotel

The campground at Pipestem Resort State Park was our home for several days of exploring southern West Virginia. Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge, this scenic park was perfectly located for day trips all around the area.

20080603Bluestone-Hinton-Pipes-22
An aerial tramway takes visitors to the bottom of the 1,200 foot Bluestone Gorge in Pipestem State Park
20080603Bluestone-Hinton-Pipes-23
It’s a long way down to the Bluestone River

One of my ancestors,  Col. James Graham built this home in 1772. One of the oldest and most historic homes in West Virginia, The Graham House Preservation Society maintains the house and tours are available.

20080602Country-Roads-Take-Me-Home-(5)
Graham House, Summers County
20080602Country-Roads-Take-Me-Home-(9)
Graham House, Summers County

The New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent and is one of the few that flows north. Biking trails, hiking trails, and white water rafting are popular activities in The New River Gorge National River. The New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world. We stopped at a few of the overlooks in the park for spectacular views of the river.

20080604New-River-Gorge-(45)
The New River flows north
20080604New-River-Gorge-(52)
Bridges over the New River
20080604New-River-Gorge-(17)
Sandstone Falls on the New River
20080604New-River-Gorge-(61)
New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world

We enjoyed walking around historic Hinton and took a drive to the Bluestone Dam.

20080603Bluestone-Hinton-Pipes-2
Bluestone Dam
20080603Bluestone-Hinton-Pipes-12
Bluestone Dam
20080603Bluestone-Hinton-Pipes-9
Hinton, WV Courthouse
20080602Country-Roads-Take-Me-Home-(1)
John Henry Statue, Talcott, West Virginia

After leaving Pipestem State Park our travels took us through Charleston where we passed by the state capitol on the way through the city.

20080606Pips-house-and-Ohio-(2)
State capital in Charleston, West Virginia

In another part of West Virginia we toured parts of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. We were camped at the Harpers Ferry / Civil War Battlefields KOA and took a ranger guided tour of the battlefield at Murphy Farm where Confederate Soldiers captured over 12,000 Union soldiers in September, 1862.

20080622Harpers-Ferry-(9)
Confederate soldiers climbed up this bank with cannons of the Shenandoah River at the Murphy Farm

Next we strolled around the historic buildings in the town of Harpers Ferry. John Brown’s raid took place here in 1859 and the town changed hands about 8 times during the Civil War. The town is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.  These days it is a popular place for tubing, kayaking and fishing.

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia
John Brown’s Fort at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia
20080622Harpers-Ferry-(37)
Harpers Ferry
20080622Harpers-Ferry-(30)
The Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry is a popular place for tubing an kayaking
20080622Harpers-Ferry-(49)
Harpers Ferry

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia   Washington

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Virginia

State 41:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. We have not visited Vermont so the next state in my series is

Virginia

Virginia became the 10th state on June 25, 1788. The Capital is Richmond.

Scenic mountain drives, a Sunday jam session at Floyd Country Store, Claytor Lake State Park, Natural Bridge, and a movie location are a few of the places we have visited in Virginia in recent years.

There are many spectacular views along the Skyline Drive which runs through the entire length of Shenandoah National Park.

20080623Walnut-Hills-(24)Skyline-Drive
Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia has some magnificent views and interesting rock formations.

20080623Walnut-Hills-(6)
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
20080623Walnut-Hills-(9)
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
20080624Blue-Ridge-Pky-(19)
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
20080624Blue-Ridge-Pky-(26)
Butterfly and wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway from overlook at Rocky Knob Visiter's Center
Blue Ridge Parkway from overlook at Rocky Knob Visiter’s Center

The movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge.

Mountain Lake Lodge, Virginia
Mountain Lake Lodge, Virginia

Before we had our fifth wheel we drove through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Listening to the Appalachian music and watching the flatfoot dancers at the Sunday oldtime music  jam session at Floyd Country Store was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

The Floyd Country Store
Floyd Country Store in Floyd, VA
Sunday Jam Session at the Floyd Country Store
Sunday Jam Session at the Floyd Country Store
Sunday Jam Session at Floyd Country Store
These guys could really play!

Claytor Lake State Park has been a frequent camping destination since we have been RV’ing and is one of our favorite state parks with a beautiful lake, trails, and wildlife.

Trail at Claytor Lake State Park
Trail at Claytor Lake State Park
Deer visited the campground on our last morning at Claytor Lake
Deer in the campground at Claytor Lake

Seeing the Natural Bridge requires either a walk down many steps to a paved path or taking a shuttle drive down the hill to the beginning of the path. Either way it is worth it to see this amazing natural formation.

20080624Natural-Bridge-(3)
Natural Bridge, Virginia
Small waterfall beside the trail at Natural Bridge, Virginia
Small waterfall beside the trail at Natural Bridge, Virginia

 

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Texas

State 39:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Texas

Texas became the 28th state on December 29, 1845. The Capital is Austin.

Texas is the second largest state by area and unless you’ve driven through Texas it is hard to comprehend the size. Our Texas adventures have taken us through the Texas Panhandle, mesquite and cactus covered plains, the green rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country, and the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast. Along the way we camped by beautiful lakes, near the Gulf Coast, in the second largest canyon in the United States, and a quite a few places in between. As we drove around the back roads we saw canyons and creeks, dance halls and wineries, historic sites and ranches, quaint small towns and old homesteads, toured museums, made a few hikes, attended a fiddle fest and chuck wagon races, met wonderful Texans, and saw more wildflowers than I ever imagined.

The lighthouse trail at Palo Duro Canyon, Enchanted Rock, and the Devil’s Waterhole Trail at Inks Lake were some of our favorite hikes.

The official Texas Longhorn herd is divided between a few state parks. At Copper Breaks State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park we saw them up close.

We planned a spring trip to Texas so we could see the bluebonnets in bloom. Texas is the only place on earth where some of the bluebonnet varieties bloom naturally. There were also many other wildflowers along the way.

We found some wonderful places to camp. We especially enjoyed camping at many Texas State Parks.

Rain and fog couldn’t keep us from enjoying the three state parks and Padre Island National Seashore along the Texas Gulf Coast.

There are many varieties of birds along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Texas Horned Lizards, Cottontail Rabbits, mule deer, white tailed deer, prairie dogs, and wild turkeys are some of the wildlife I was able to capture.

Being serenaded, attending a fiddle fest, listening to music in a dance hall, touring the Buddy Holly museum, going to Luckenback, and seeing signs about Willie Nelson reminded us of how important music is to the Lone Star State.

For us, no trip to Texas would be complete without sampling some of their fantastic steaks and barbecue, especially the brisket.

In Paris, Texas we stopped to see the Eiffel Tower with a red  cowboy hat and attended chuck wagon races.

There were interesting things to see all around the state.

One of the best things about visiting Texas is meeting native Texans. Without fail, every  Texan we met was proud of their state and eager to share their favorite places to visit or where to find the best brisket. One woman I met had so many good suggestions about places to go I had to get a notebook out of the truck to take notes!

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Tennessee

State 38:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Tennessee

Tennessee became the 16th state on June 1, 1796. The Capital is Nashville.

Elvis, BBQ, Blues and the Mississippi River in Memphis. Country music, The Grand Ole Opry and camping beside a lake in Nashville. The Tennessee Aquarium and other attractions in Chatanooga. Waterfalls near Crossville. Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Sevierville. Waterfront camping at J. Percy Priest and Normandy Lake. Touring a famous distillery in Lynchville. These are just a few of the things we loved in Tennessee.

Before our RV days, the Opryland Hotel was our home base in  Nashville for a night at the Grand Ole Opry, cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs as they played the Vanderbilt Commodores, and a night at the Wild Horse Saloon.

20031017Grand-Ole-Opry
Grand Ole Opry
20031017Opryland-Hotel-(8)
Atrium at the Opryland Hotel
20031018Wildhorse-(4)
Line Dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville

On our way home from our first RV trip out west we spent a couple of days wandering around Memphis. We toured Elvis’ Graceland, ate our fill of ribs at two different restaurants, listened to blues at B. B. King’s BBQ and Blues on Beale Street, and strolled along the scale model of the Mississippi River at Mud Island River Walk.

20060908Graceland-(47)
Elvis’s grave at Graceland
20060908Graceland-(52)
Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis
20060908Graceland-(70)
Elvis Presley’s Pink Cadillac

 

While wandering near Crossville we discovered two waterfalls.

Tennessee-2003-(82)
Fall Creek Falls
20090810Ozone-Falls,-TN-(1)
Ozone Falls near Crossville

We enjoyed the campground at Old Stone Fort Archeological State Park and have camped there twice. Both times we hiked beside the Big Duck River to see the waterfalls.

20100623Old-Stone-Fort-(2)
Campers cross this bridge to get to the campground at Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park
20070405Old-Stone-Fort-SP-TN-(14)
Waterfalls on the Big Duck River in Old Stone Fort State Park

One November we traveled to Sevierville to take in the beautiful fall colors and scenery of Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A mama bear and her cub were hanging around the picnic area when we stopped for lunch in the park. Mama kept a close eye on her cub as he searched for a bite to eat. When the rangers chased them off the cub scampered up a nearby tree.

20081105Cades-Cove-(63)
Mama bear watching out for her cub at picnic area in Cades Cove
20081105Cades-Cove-(53)
Bear cub at picnic area in Cades Cove
20081105Cades-Cove-(70)
The cub escaped to a tree when the rangers chased them away

Seven Points Corps of Engineers Campground in Nashville is a favorite of ours. Seeing this sunset from our campsite was a great way to end the day.

20090811Seven-Points-Site-23-(11)
Sunset over J. Percy Priest Lake at Seven Points COE Campground

In Chattanooga the Tennessee Aquarium was a highlight of our stay.

We chose a waterfront site at Barton Springs TVA Campground as our home base for taking a tour at the Jack Daniels Distillery in nearby Lynchburg.

Blondie enjoying our site Barton Springs
Blondie enjoying our site Barton Springs
Old time jugs
Old time jugs

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota

Unusual Roadside Attractions

Sometimes we stop to see unusual roadside attractions as we wander around America.

We had to take a tour of the Hammer Museum
Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska
20110526Pikes-Peak-(23)
Bigfoot on the road to Pikes Peak in Colorado
The Bat Tower, Sugarloaf Key
The Bat Tower, Sugarloaf Key, Florida
Smallest Church in America in Ochopee, Florida
Smallest Post Office in America in Ochopee, Florida
Smallest Church in America
Smallest Church in America, Townsend, Georgia
The Iron Horse on Highway 15 in Green County, Georgia
The Iron Horse on Highway 15 in Green County, Georgia
Green Giant Statue in Blue Earth, MN
Green Giant Statue in Blue Earth, MN
20170113South-of-the-Border-(1)
South of the Border, South Carolina
20070414SD-(8)
Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota
20070413SD-(5)
The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota
We visited Superman in Metropolis, Illinois
Superman Statue in Metropolis, Illinois
20070608Amarillo-(28)
Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas
Big Blue Crab in Rockport, Texas
20080602Country-Roads-Take-Me-Home-(1)
John Henry Statue, Talcott, West Virginia

What kind of unusual attractions have you seen in your travels?