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  • Frank DeArmas

West Virginia

Almost Heaven, West Virginia


As we drove north heading back to Michigan, are route took us through the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. And yes, John Denver was taking up space in my head as the song would play as we drove through the tunnels that took us into the mountains.


The scenery once again took center stage as we gazed out over sweeping mountains and valleys, cut by waters both mighty and small. You’re taken by the lush greens of the forest and the cold hard rocks that make up this part of our country.


We stopped at the Brushcreek Falls RV resort near the town of Princeton, West Virginia. We really did not have a plan for our stop here, only that one of our BucketQuestRV goals was to RV and stay in each State (Well, not Hawaii, BucketQuestRV does not float well).


When I was looking for a place in WV, I saw that Princeton had a railroad museum, and as you may recall, I kind of like trains, grin. We set up camp, unhooked Jeep Jeep, and started to see what else there is to do in the area.


The Princeton Railroad Museum was in the old rail station that has some great history and a really nice collection. One interesting piece of history is that during his train trip to help raise awareness and money to establish schools for African American students, Booker T Washington did a speech from the train here as part of his railroad tour.


We saw that we were close to several state parks which had hiking trails, so we planned to visit them as we explored the area. We also knew that there were several waterfalls in the area, including Brush Creek Falls, so of course we had to go see them.


This little guy was on the trail with us at Pipestem State Park


In fact, our first hike was to Brush Creek Falls, and they were beautiful as these pictures show. We then picked Pinnacle State Park as our next destination because we read they had some nice trails. Now I’m pretty sure we found the park, but it was not easy to get to. Remember we were in the mountains, and I swear these roads had more curves and step grades than Alaska. This led to Jan just freaking out (She may have me take this out lol). My wife has an adventures spirit, but a real fear of heights, those two often clash and it sure did on this stay.


With that in mind she pushed through her fears and we then went to Camp Creek state park to do a hike to yet another fall. We loved this stop. As we often do, we stopped at the ranger’s station to see what they recommended us to see.


This brings us to another thing we have found as we have traveled this land of ours. Everywhere we have gone we have met people from all walks of life. And with few exceptions they were wonderful people to meet and just talk to. This was the case at Camp Creek. Both rangers were vets so that always just establishes them as fellow brothers and sisters, but I think they would have been just as warm and friendly to anyone.


Camp Creek State Park Marsh Fork Falls


One thing to remember is that this part of the country is poor, and you can see that in the abandoned homes and buildings. But it is equally rich in natural beauty and in the spirit of its people. Everyone we met, from the rangers to the ladies volunteering at the railroad museum were just warm and, well, real.

Another park we went to was Pipestem state park. This one is more of a resort and had everything from hiking to put-put, by the way, I beat Jan again. It also had a hike that was listed as easy but was not lol, but we did it and I only hurt for a few days after.


For those keeping track, I now lead by two games for the 2023 trophy in Put-Put


So we packed a lot into our time there, and if Jan forgets how crazy the roads were, I would love to come back one day.

 

Jan’s Take on Things

West Virginia

First, I want to say West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever been to but I’m not a mountain girl. As Frank said, The winding roads going up and down the mountain just freaks me out. I try to stay cool but it’s so very hard. So I guess what I’m saying is what makes West Virginia so beautiful also gives me anxiety attacks. I so wish I could get over this, I think I’m getting better but I have a long way to go. It’s not like I still don’t do everything but I do it at a high level of anxiety. The more I do it, I’m hoping the more I’ll get use to it.


We were staying in Mercer County which I must say has some beautiful state parks. From exploring the area, I noticed signs of poverty. A lot of homes in disrepair. It was really kind of sad to see some of the living conditions. West Virginia ranks 4th in the country for the poorest state at 15.8%. This is due to the coal mines shutting down in the 1960’s and they never recovered.


In 2021 the median household income in Mercer County was $42,923. Even with all that going on, the people here are so down to earth and friendly. They go out of their way to help you. A good example of this is they don’t charge to get into any of the state parks and when we commented on that, one ranger said “it isn’t always about the money”. (so very true.)


West Virginia is known for one of the best places to see the night sky. I was hoping to get some pictures of the Milky Way since we were at a new moon phase but there were too many clouds. The conditions have to be just right. I’m hoping when we go out west I’ll have some opportunities.


We went to 4 state parks and took a hike at each one. Two of them took us to beautiful waterfalls, one took us around a lake and the last one was just a loop in the woods. It was rated easy by WV standards. If that was easy, I can’t even imagine what hard would be. It was only .8 miles but when we were done, it felt like I walked at least 3 miles. It was like the roads in WV, up, down, twisting and turning. At one point I was at the bottom of a hill looking up thinking WTF, I think I’ll just stay here the rest of my life. It was at least a 12% incline. I know that doesn’t sound like much but It was intense. The picture we took we figured is about a 5 or 6 % incline. I know I’m not a hiker in terms of true hikers, but when I do these small hikes, I feel like I really accomplished something. I know all of you that hike all the time are probably laughing at me but that’s how I feel.


Guessing a 6% incline


The state parks we visited

Camp creek state park - the friendliest park rangers ever and two nice waterfalls - easy walk to the falls


Camp Creek Campbell Falls


Brush Creek falls state park trail - beautiful waterfalls easy walk to the falls but if you want to get down close it’s pretty challenging. As we were making our way down I kept thinking this better be worth it. “It was”.



Pinnacle Rock state park - the drive there was nerve wracking and I’m still not convinced we were at the main part of the park. A bit confusing. But the trail around the lake was beautiful. Very easy trail


Pipestem Resort state park - hard trails and putt putt. We did the dogwood trail by the nature center. On the map it said easy but it was one of the hardest I ever done. Frank and I have done moderate before and this was way harder.



 

And with that we say goodbye to West Virginia and head to our next stop in Canton Ohio.

 

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