Blue Ride Day 3 September 11, 2010Posted by dakotabiker in Rides.
Tags: ABCs of Touring, biker, Harley, motorcycle, Rides, West Virginia
Another poor night’s sleep and another 9:30AM start and I was on the road heading north on US-19 after a gas stop at the little concentration of commerce north of Summersville. The ride was getting a little onerous and I was lacking the enlightenment and peace I had hoped for. I opted to focus on ABC points for a while to give myself the distraction of some objectives. I picked up Braxton and Nicholas counties on the way up US-19, and decided to get my S-city and a cup of coffee in Sutton, WV, where US-19 breaks off from I-79 and merges with WV-4.
Pulling into town, I saw signs for the Cafe Cimino Country Inn and figured that would be a good spot to stop. It was more of a quaint B&B and dinner restaurant than an actual cafe, so I continued to explore the town.
I passed a small flea market which got me thinking about the economy. Here I saw people who have little, selling their used clothing and belongings to more people who have little. It seems that irrespective of the broader economy, people still need to consume at some basic level. But in times of downturn the economic communities get smaller, more localized, and a step closer to a barter system. While it may be depressing to some, I see it as a good sign that irrespective of the financial news, that the core engine of trade will keep chugging along slowly until it can build up a little momentum again.
Since I had already lost mileage momentum anyway, I rode out to Sutton Dam. A nice little recreation area at the base of the dam was hosting some kind of event. But despite the number of milling about people, it just didn’t seem to be a public function so I circled back through town and kept heading north on WV-4. Still without coffee, I stopped at a little convenience store at Laurel Fork and pulled up next to an obese and rustic family eating McDonald’s breakfasts in a rusted-out pickup. I got my coffee, pulled out my atlas and sat on curb to plan my route. A few minutes later, the truck started up with the roar of a challenged muffler and a billow of smoke. As they were leaving, the portly man in the passenger seat started yelling at me quite obviously incensed, though I couldn’t tell why over the din of their failing muffler.
I continued to try to make sense of my location on the atlas, which gets a bit squirrely on minor roads and the GPS on my phone was useless without a data signal for the Google map to download, but figured I was hopefully still on the right track just proceeding up the road I was travelling. I finished my coffee and continued up what I guessed to be WV-4 toward Flatwoods, where I encountered a traffic backup headed up by a yellow-vested flagman that left me motionless for about 20 minutes. The earlier ride had been through cool shaded roads and I was again thankful for having brought chaps, but now I was stopped in the sun on a hot bike and baking. I had already encountered a ridiculous construction stop earlier in the trip where they unnecessarily had traffic down to a single escorted lane that slowly ran past only two small construction activities that were separated by 2 miles. So I kept thinking the road was going to clear “any minute now…”, and continued to bake. Finally as traffic started moving, I found it was not construction, but a parade that had blocked WV-4 just around the curve.And not just a parade… as I am writing this, I found out it was most likely the Flatwoods Monster Festival, commemorating the UFO landing and encounter with a 10-foot tall, green-clad, orange-eyed, spade-headed alien purported to have happened Sept 12, 1952. Needless to say, I am now exceedingly bummed having ridden right by this without stopping to check it out…
The ride was enjoyable from there with plenty of twists and great countryside. I stayed on WV-4 as it split from US-19 heading toward Rock Cave to pick up a U-county point for Upshur County only to miss the sign. I picked up WV-20 toward Buckhannon where I did manage to find an Upshur County Park; my fingers are crossed hoping they accept that as an “official” sign. A bit further up the road I found a local restaurant, The Original T&L Hot Dogs, whose sign was a call to “Remember the good old days…”. I had to stop.
The place is clearly a popular local lunch destination. I was lucky to have gotten in just ahead of the bulk of the line. The place was quaint but generally unexceptional. Service was very friendly but not exceedingly efficient, which didn’t bather me; I was in it for a great hot dog. I ordered a couple of dogs and a chocolate-strawberry milkshake, the latter of which surprised the older woman at the counter to think you could even make such a thing. The dogs were good but not great and far too small for the bun. I could have eaten more, but by the time I saw my food, the line was nearly out the door. Slurping the last of my shake, I reviewed my atlas and decided to get on US-33 to pick up my E-city at Elkins.
In the parking lot, I was duped by the sun and stowed my jacket only to get goosebumps as the road turned to hi-way outside of town. Freezing along US-33 I was looking forward to stopping in Elkins; but US-33 makes a weird split going off in two directions, and I ended up on the one running north of town. Now the town felt to out-of-the-way. I headed south on US-219 going only as far as the Elkins sign to get the ABC-point and slip on my jacket; then I headed back up US-219 and into the Monongahela National Forest.
I was reminded how spectacular US-219 is through that area; it has everything that is wonderful about a mountain riding road. Great sweeps and twist with incredible scenery. I picked up a National Forest point upon leaving the Monongahela and continued on, just missing one of my favorite scenic overlooks of a wind farm just west of Thomas. But unlike past rides, I didn’t miss the access road to the wind-farm and pulled in for a closer look.
I thought about the ongoing windmill controversy. On one hand, proponents see them as “free” clean energy and aesthetically beautiful to look at. The opposition thinks they are ugly, unreliable, expensive bird-killers. I am impressed with the engineering of these enormous structures whose size is deceptive from a distance. As for aesthetics, I have been on both sides of the issue. A solitary wind mill is a unique oddity and minor engineering marvel. A small cluster on a ridge or in a field rhythmically synchronized is kind of charming. But, I have also seen then as eye-sores when they expand into large fields, shifting the scene from green energy sculptures moving in harmony with nature into an industrialized visual assault of the skyline. This one outside of Thomas, however, falls into the cute kinetic cluster category (for me anyway).
Further up, I stopped briefly at the overlook of Backbone Mountain which crosses the westernmost border of Maryland. The mountain is location of both Maryland’s highest point and West Virginia’s first fire tower. I proceeded up US-219 crossing into MD, where I picked up US-50 east, nipping the southwest point of MD crossing back into northern WV. I continued east picking up US-220 via WV-972 heading north just 7 miles from where I had started heading south a couple of days earlier.
Having more or less completed my WV loop, my plan was to take US-220 north into Cumberland, MD and race home on I-68 and I-70. However, passing through Cresaptown I saw Warner’s Bavarian Garden and was compelled to stop in the Wurst way (sorry).However, in the parking lot I paused. Enjoying German beer and sausages could mean a cold dark finish to my ride home, or put me in a motel ridiculously close to the end. The Wurst won out and I entered the restaurant. The place was amply decorated with Bavarian knick-knacks and gew-gaws with a traditional dark wood ambiance. Very charming, but I was inclined toward the beer garden out back. With atlas and journal in hand I sat down, being the only outdoor customer, and waited to be noticed as a patron ohne Bier. Eventually, a young Dirndl-clad waitress appeared and took my order. I ended up having Knockwurst, Weisswurst and Bauernwurst, all of which I enjoyed immensely leaving me a bit more than full.
Looking at the waning elevation of the sun, I half-contemplated spending the night there. Instead, I mounted the bike and continued up US-220 to pick up I-68 eastbound. Riding like a bat out of hell, I picked up I-70 a while later. Night fell and so did the temperatures, and I was not fully equipped for the change. I took the exit off I-70 for the Dogpatch Tavern thinking to warm up there, but rode past opting against it lest I be riding really late. I instead pulled over in Myersville and put on my raingear over my leather for layered warmth. I pressed on down I-70, eventually arriving home tired and shivering, chilled to the core with numb fingers. I opened the garage and rolled the bike in.
Blue’s absence was painfully obvious.