The Mountain State

Quick, where is The Mountain State? Hint: its flagship public university is a member of The Big 12 athletic conference (which has but 10 members). You guessed Colorado? No, they’re now in The PAC-12. Wyoming? Nope, they’re in the Mountain West. Second hint: John Denver recorded a hit song about life here.   Third hint: the title was Country Roads.

 

Here’s a link to old John’s ballad.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vrEljMfXYo

 

Clear Skies Over Shenandoah on the Ride Out
Clear Skies Over Shenandoah on the Ride Out

Did you come up with West Virginia? I never thought its mountains could rival those out west, and in terms of size they don’t. The Appalachians are leafy, not as rocky, and they have lots of beautiful streams and small waterfalls. We survived Wyoming’s US Highway 14 and its 12 miles of 10% grade up, then 12 more down. We handled everything Colorado and Utah could throw at us.   But I’ve never pulled our rig over so many miles of 7% to 9% highway grades with so many blind curves and switchbacks. That Ram engine brake helps, but it red-lines at 3,300 rpm without slowing us enough to stay off the brakes. Faced with so many short straight-aways and tight turns you can rarely foresee when you have to brake and when you can safely speed. By the time we arrived in Elkins, the Red Sled needed new brake pads and calipers.

 

What Some Call the Best Food in Elkins, Bob's Hot Dogs
What Some Call the Best Food in Elkins, Bob’s Hot Dogs
Elkins Sunset
Elkins Sunset

Perhaps because we grew up in humid Louisiana, Kat and I love feeling cool in July and August. Last year we wished we could have spent another glorious month in Colorado. In 2013 we craved one more month in Idaho. Federal land rules usually allow no more than a two-week stay per campground; after that you must move on. One of the principles of full-timing is Go where the weather’s good. Another principle: Live within your means (diesel and camp fees are far from cheap). Next year Kat wants to see the Pacific coast all the way to Alaska; now feels like a good time to replenish the old coffers [i]. I haven’t worked for a couple of years, and if one waits too long to go into the Camp Host business, someday he’ll be considered too old to learn it. With all those stars in alignment we signed on to host the Stuart Recreation Area outside Elkins, WV.

 

Our Campsite Seen from the Front Yard
Our Campsite Seen from the Front Yard
Stuart Rec's Swimming Hole on Shavers Fork of the Cheat River
Stuart Rec’s Swimming Hole on Shavers Fork of the Cheat River

Stuart is at a little over 2,200 feet elevation with lots of shade and a cool clear trout stream/swimming hole. Summer highs average 80 degrees with overnight lows in the upper 50s. Elkins has a Kroger and a Wal-Mart seven miles away.   Our campsite is spacious and lovely with a clean crushed limestone base and full hookups. Our 20 acre front yard is maintained by someone else, who is paid by someone else.

 

Our Front Yard with a Storm Movin' In
Our Front Yard with a Storm Movin’ In

Life is good.

Another View of Shavers Fork
Another View of Shavers Fork

[i]   George W. Bush’s reply, very late in his second term, when asked “What will you do next?”

8 thoughts on “The Mountain State

  1. I grew up in the next county, in Philippi. My parents are still there! Enjoy your time there. It’s home sweet home for me!

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    1. We drove through Philippi last week and got some pictures of that divided covered bridge. How is the town’s name pronounced? Fill-a-pie, Fill-a-pea, or Fill-lippy?

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  2. Stuart Recreation Area seems like a great place to be. We live in neighboring Ohio and want to spend more time in West Virginia. We visited Blackwater Falls State Park last fall and the Dolly Sods Wilderness. We all loved that part of the Mountain State. Perhaps we will check out Stuart Recreation Area this year as I have always wanted to fly fish on the Cheat River.

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    1. Douglas the trout fisherman? Bear in mind that within the rec area it’s catch and release with severe restrictions on bait and hooks. But they pull em in, even kids, although their catches are usually gut-hooked and rarely survive.

      Thanks for reading us, and check out Stuart!

      Jackson

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    2. I had a sociology prof named Trout. It was a big class, and there was Jewish kid in it from Brooklyn, Jeff Fisch. First day of class was the only day he read the roll, and after reading the New Yorker’s name he announced, “You and I shall be right in the swim of things, Mr. Fisch.”

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      1. I do not know of anyone related to me that is a professor of Sociology but that is a vintage professorial line. I have certainly heard from professors regarding my last name. Every time a fish case came up in law school, I was the go to student to be called on.

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  3. This was an easy one for me. 🙂

    While it has been many, many moons since my last visit there, I am familiar with the place.

    Some of my time there was spent traversing the entire state as a passenger in a big boat of a car, and often with an Airstream in tow. (I was far too young to drive. :-D)

    One stop we made with the Airstream was here:

    http://www.blackwaterfalls.com

    It’s about an hour northeast of Elkins.

    We got to camp near the falls, and I can recall spending the majority of my time in the water under the falls, or hiking in the surrounding mountains.

    Stuart Recreation Area is lucky you have you all as hosts.

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    1. After our first week of work (subject of tomorrow’s post) I’m beginning to wonder if we’re lucky. Camp hosting is a lot of work.

      Jackson

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