Fall 2023 Roadtrip Day 3
This is a multi page adventure. To read from the start please visit the Day 1 post! Otherwise, enjoy! And feel free to comment.
What an amazing day. Woke up after a lovely night staying at the Tunnel Inn to multipul trains rolling by one after the other. Was able to get showered and dressed quickly enough to bring my son out there to watch them!
Bob at Tunnel Inn was a great host. Met Terry and Nick? maybe.. Fellow guests at the Tunnel Inn who were on a Railfanning Roadtrip. He is a fellow railfan who will eventually start up a youtube channel called TNTRailroadadventures. We watched a unit oil train and 2 unit coal train empties pass by the hotel in the morning.
Also saw Bobs HO Scale model railroad layout which was super inspiring. Despite him downplaying it, it was very well done, and the detail level was amazing.
It was quite inspiring to me, to get my butt working on my own layout. I would of loved to spend a few hours operating on it. We may have to return to visit Bob again, and spend more time there!
We were sad to leave, but had to move on. So we traveled to WV via 220, which took us through many small mountain towns. The final leg took us down a small rural road for about 15 miles or so, winding along the side of a mountain and beside farms and forests.
The soundtrack of Deliverance seemed to be faintly playing in the wind as we traveled along some of the secondary routes into West Virginia. But we eventually came out to a main road, and were able to see the North Fork mountain and the Chimney Top peak. It was up there!
We got to the Smoke Hole Caverns Motel and settled into the room. It was a very cozy stay in a motel cabin at the base of the mountain, right beside the Smoke Hole Caverns.
The caverns were amazing. I of course have been in a few underground features, but none quite like this.
After the cavern tour and a journey around the gift shop, we headed over to the trailhead and did a test hike at North Fork - did about 3/4ths of a mile and gained about 500 ft. So I'd say we did almost a quarter of the way up.
We went into Petersburg, and had dinner at Sues which was decent enough. Very hillbilly / rural diner. Also stopped for Dairy Queen treats before heading back to the cabin. The sunset was amazing, illuminating the sky behind the mountain ranges.
I had a cigar outside the Cabin that night, and saw the milky way extend across the whole sky! It was a wonderful evening, and so quiet in that valley. There were only a few other guests. I read a sign outside the motel which was an old historical marker. It read:
"SMOKE HOLE - The Smoke Hole, a rugged canyon of 1421 feet elevation, made by the South Branch of the Potomac River, extends eighteen miles to the junction with the North Fork. In Coeymans Limestone of Devonian Age, the river has carved out various formations and caves. Big Cave ad Old Mines Cave, where saltpeter was made during the War Between the States, are the most noted. Smoke Hole is one of State's natural wondrs."
Exquisite stay at the Tunnel Inn. Felt sad to leave. Our host, Bob was great and friendly. Met another couple - doing a train sightseeing adventure. We saw trains! Lots of trains on the track going in and out of the one track tunnel. Freight trains and people trains. Comfy stay. Beautiful. Bob had an HO scale train set in his basement. It was the best I've seen. Very well done and fun to look at. Pristine stay - everything was clean. Even the elevated deck had no leaves or spider webs on it. Freshly cleaned. His blue truck outside was old looking but also spotless. His truck was an indicator of the inside of the building. Not a speck of dirt and well painted/ beautiful looking. The quilt was gorgeous.
We had Vito's food for dinner. It was a pizza shop. Scott had the best ever (he had) veal parm sandwhich. They make all their bread there. I had an italian sandwich. All so tasty. The city was very cute too. Hilly, with little houses all looking cute and close to each other. Scott said it was a rustbelt railroad town. It looked like the one in New Jersey my family stayed at for my Pop Pop's funeral. Sheets were clean and comfy. He prepared cinnamon rolls for breakfast! Coffee, bananas, grapes, little oranges (cuties), and cereal. Fun, fun stay. I didn't want to leave the inn. Bob said he likes to make it feel like home. People that come regularly, walk in the door and say "I'm home."
On the road around 10 am. It was a sunny beautiful day. We drove down to West Virginia. Beautiful mountain country of WV.
We saw the caverns at the Hotel. Neat and natural. Only one spot where a small part was hand dug - took them 3 months. The first part had hand dug parts too I think (for hanging/storing raw meat), which was then "smoked" = smokehole.
The gift shop here was very big, supposedly the biggest gift shop in WV. High of 65 or 64 degrees here. Tomorrow will be a little warmer.
Checked out the mountain path. Walked half hour up the mountain - very hard (slow). Back down was more slippery and tripping hazards. I had some muscle pain after this trip. Beautiful sky at night at the cabin. Saw Milky Way very well and for a looong way. Stars. The mountain was almost black, with the sky in the background, with stars, both lighter than the mountain. Roadwolf smoked a cigar at night.
Roadwolf wants me to hike up the mountain for my birthday. He emptied the travel bag for hiking the best he could because he plans to carry our little one and the bag tomorrow to help me out from the pain I was having. It was hurting a lot.