Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Road Trip: Thomas, West Virginia and Blackwater Falls

When you cross the state border, the sign reads "Welcome to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia."  We couldn't agree more.  It's a beautiful state full of lush forests and mountains cut by many rivers and dotted with lakes. For us, Blackwater Falls was just a point on the map as we steamed towards it from Kentucky.  We knew nothing about the campground, surrounding National Recreation Area, or nearby towns, but were pleasantly surprised by them all.

As we passed through the tiny town of Thomas, we spotted another Vanagon camper parked in front of Hannah Lee's Station, a gas station turned restaurant/bar.  We knew the campground wasn't far, and with nothing but rain in our forecast, we stopped to meet the fellow Vanagon owner and have a drink.  Jeff was reallly happy with the $1 PBRs, and we learned that the other Westy enthusiast was an itinerant masseuse. We also discovered that The Purple Fiddle, the venue next door, had live music later that night.

After chatting with the bar owner for a bit, we left to find our campsite, whipped up some sandwiches for dinner,and returned to Thomas for an evening of hip Americana/Bluegrass from the Starline Drive band. The band rotated through stage positions and instruments including the banjo, fiddle, guitar, Dobro, upright bass, and mandolin.  It was a talented, passionate quartet, comprised of two brothers, wife and college friend.  And the space was a great small-town gem.

The next day we rose early to check out the falls that give the area its name.  It was an easy hike down and while the falls were far from remote, we didn't see another soul at that early hour and it felt like a private viewing.

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