Almost Heaven, whatever.

I'm having this love affair with West Virginia. I just love driving through the state. In fact, the Appalacians, in general, make for a great drive. Just recently, I had a wonderful drive from North Carolina up through the western end of Virginia into West Virginia and then into Ohio.

At Ravenswood, WV, I left the Interstate, a rare treat, and headed to Columbus on US33. I went across this cool steel bridge as a lazy tug nudged a half dozen coal barges downstream. With its wake on a funky angle, I watched the tug work the barges around a curve. Southeast Ohio is just more West Virginia that happens to be north of the river. The drive through the Hocking River Valley is one of my new favorites. Along the way, I saw a sign for the Fur Peace Ranch. Fur Peace is a play on "a fur piece down the road." The ranch was started by Jorma Kaukonen and his wife as a "ranch that grows guitar players." Jorma and his famous friends put on guitar camps throughout the summer. Jorma was a founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. He is a Piedmont fingerstyle acoustic blues guitar master. One day, I'm going to go to camp there.

I went up into Ohio for a delivery past Columbus. from there I picked up and headed right back down through the Virginias to North Carolina. This time I couldn't avoid the Interstate. Crossing the river north of where I did before, it was getting late and I needed to stop for the night.

I got off the hishway at the romantically named Mineral Wells, WV. Sometimes, coming off that solitary black ribbon of highway onto an exit can be information overload. There was two hotels, a McDonalds, two convenience stores, a four wheeler gas station, a Federal Express terminal, two truckstops, a strip bar, a BBQ joint, an adult bookstore, and a bar. Somehow, I drove past the poorly marked service road and missed both truckstops. Now, I was on a narrow WV State Highway. Ever the optimist, I just knew there would soon be a place to turn around.

Around the curve, I saw a large crane shovel. I slowed to turn around, but the lot it sat in was lumpy loose gravel. Not wanting to get stuck, I kept rolling.

There were a couple small businesses. Perhaps, I could swing into the edge of their parking areas and do a "U" turn. The Five O'Clock traffic was all around me. I didn't want to tie them up. Drivers can get a ticket for too much of a traffic delay.

Now there's a sign telling me the bridge ahead can only handle trucks and buses one at a time! Just across the bridge, a stop sign and another strip bar. At the stop sign, two WV highways split. One looks narrow and residential. I took the other one. Leaving the stop sign, there is a tight curve. Shifting gears and watching my tailer come around and trying to decide if I can get behind the bar to go back the other way I came. And I'm watching the four wheelers buzz around me like gnats. I might have made it behind the bar, but I'd rolled too far before deciding. I'm on a hill that curves off to the right. There is barely any shoulder here for the rock outcroppings but I stop to assess my options. Cars are going into the other lane to get around me. Where did all this traffic come from? When a Harley Dude and his wife go into opposing traffic and around me, I know I've just got to move.

::This has been a special preview version of the Sailorbum Blog. ::

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