WV Loop to Spruce Knob - Beckley : Sep 21-22, 2012
Sept 21 : to Lewisburg | Sept 22 : to Mullens, back home
I get started around 10:30am on Friday, first decending down to US50 via US250, onto Grafton, first stop is Loftis Lanes.
No, I wasn't planning on bowling, rather the manager of the company I transferred to under the new contract at work has a brother who bought these lanes as a bank repossession. They plan to have a company bowling night in the future so I just wanted to see where they are - on US 50 a few miles east of Grafton.
Continuing east on US 50, I notice these paratroopers in the distance, in the part of US 50 that is in Maryland before going back into WV. About 3 of them had already landed by the time I parked my bike and got out the camera.
Soon after getting that photo, a large military helicopter lands in the area (my photo of that didn't turn out). I was told that this area serves as the first stage of that kind of training for our military troops.
The brief part of US 50 in Maryland also has the highest point in the state on a highway, Backbone Mountain, elevation 3095 ft.
A monument, erected in 1928, informs me of that fact.
Soon after this, I cross back into WV and then take WV 42 which will take me into Petersburg. This is a very nice windy road but heavily used by dump trucks, and I'm lucky that I don't get stuck behind one or other traffic, for most of the way downhill.
No pictures here, but I did cover that same road a couple years ago on a trip to Mt. Airy MD
Once I get to Petersburg, I have three objectives. Some banking, some lunch, and a roadside flea market.
Might as well get the business out of the way first.
Next the flea market, which doesn't look too inspiring. I tend to be very picky on what I buy, when I'm on this mode of transportation.
This pre 9/11 mirror scene of NYC looks cool, but out of the question to take home on my motorcycle!
One thing sure about how I travel - I end up with less clutter coming into the house at the end of the trip.
Now for some lunch. Stromboli at Fox's Pizza. My favorite, I always get green peppers, onions, bacon and pepperoni.
Now I head south on WV 28/55 which takes me to Seneca Rocks, a mecca for rock climbers.
Seneca Rocks is where WV 28/55 and US 33 come together. Here's a logging truck passing thru.
Yokum's Campground and the General Store are the focal point of many a motorcycle rally, you will always see a number of bikes parked here on a sunny day.
I parked my Baghira next to a nice vintage smoke grey BMW R90S.
A guy in full-leathers rode up on this ultra Fast by Ferracci looking Ducati 848.
Now you see why Ducatis have an unmatched sweet and sexy reputation. Eye candy at its best - some of Italia's finest machinery.
Two adventure riders, weighted down with gear, parked next to the General Store. Restaurant above, so popular among bikers.
While I can appreciate their steeds, I much rather travel light on my MZ.
Speaking of light, looks like a couple guys trailered in some fun.
A sick carbon-fiber accented DRZ Supermoto. That's the way to go.
The owners of these black and white motards are on the balcony above, and we get talking about Spruce Knob, highest point in West Virginia. It wasn't on my plans originally, but last time I was up there was ten years ago. They told me the road is now paved all the way to the top, so I had to check it out.
The road leading up is narrow and windy to be sure. And a lot of fun.
Passing through some forest.
Which gives way to coniferous trees just before you reach the summit. Looks barren by comparison, view looking east.
Now we are looking west. Interesting that it isn't much cooler at the top than down below on this day. Last I remember it, there was a noticeable difference.
At the top, there's a path to an observation tower as I remembered it.
Here we go, as high as you can possibly get in the Mountain State.
Plenty of spruce, where Spruce Knob gets its name.
Time to descend, taking note of a campground in the Monongahela Forest National Park.
Next I check out the route to Spruce Knob Lake. This one isn't paved.
Though it is paved around the lake itself, all the way up to the edge.
Nice late afternoon reflection off the lake.
Time to head back down, but a different way than how I came up. I follow the gravel road that will eventually take me back to WV 28.
Some twisty parts, which are dicey on my street tires. This is where having a deeper tread would be handy.
Eventually as I descend, the route becomes paved again, and at last I see the directional marker for WV 28, making it clear which way to go.
By this point, there is farm land once again.
Back on WV 28, I head south and soon find myself intersecting with US 250. I am thrown for a loop. I want to stay on WV 28 South and these signs don't look right. After I head the other way for a bit (it's not obvious at first that I need to take US 250 north here), I conclude they are backwards.
This small part of US250 I'm on takes me to the intersection of US250, WV 28 and 92.
I want WV 28/92 that will take me in the direction of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank.
WV 28/92 opens out to relatively flat land, for West Virginia.
Day's getting pretty long in the tooth as my MZ Baghira shadow now stetches fully across the highway.
I love these man vs. machine shots I can get at this time of the day.
Soon after this point, two buses with Maryland apportioned plates whiz by in the opposite direction, probably tour groups returning from the Greenbank Radio Astronomy Observatory, where I'm headed next.
I get to the front entrance, featuring a scaled down version of the giant radio telescope used to detect stuff in our universe that emits radio waves (notably dense neutron stars, which are the remnants of stellar supernovae).
If you look closely, you will note two opposing parabolic dishes. These are set up to demonstrate that if you talk at one end, you can easily be heard someone at the other, a few hundred feet away. Think of it as those tin-can telephones without the string.
The blue checker cab is used for transportation inside the grounds past a certain point. Diesel engines are required because spark plugs emit EMI noise that messes up scientific data from the radio telescopes.
Of course they use modern buses to conduct tour groups. I took this tour a few years ago, and besides everything was closed for the day.
I take WV 92 after it splits from WV 28, then stop to make note of this haunted house.
You see a lot of houses like this in rural W.Va. As you can see, my MZ Baghira shadow now shoots well across the road.
Where WV 92 meets WV 39, I note the distance sign showing two famous 'Springs', both well known spa resort areas, frequented by many past Presidents.
I want White Sulphur Springs, so I continue south on WV92 and by now it is dusk.
By the time I get to White Sulphur Springs at US 60, it is pretty much dark, so my timing is good. I ran out of daylight just when I'm wanting to call it a night anyway. Well, it turns out all the motels in White Sulphur Springs are booked up - they are occupied by construction workers rennovating the famous Greenbrier Resort (it was recently sold).
This means I had to continue, in the dark, along US60 to Lewisburg where I do find a place to stay at the Fort Savannah Inn.
The decor looks unchanged from the 60s, but it will do.
There's a good Chinese restaurant just up the road, north on US 219, where I take advantage to satisfy my tiger sized hunger at this point.
After a good night's sleep, onto day 2 of my adventure.