West Virginia-The Mountain State
In the end of August, we squeezed a ton of sightseeing and activities into 5 nights in West Virginia. Dave and I flew into a tiny airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania which is roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive to Davis, West Virginia, our home base. We stopped for breakfast/lunch at a wonderful restaurant in the quaint town of Ligonier, PA called The Kitchen on Main.
Dave had the crab benedict and I had one of their specials: grilled cheese with homemade pickles. Both were delicious as was their coffee specials which we both also enjoyed. The weather was absolutely beautiful so we decided to sit outside. The town only had metered parking on the street and the meters oddly only took coins. The cost was 25 cents for a half hour, but we had no coins at all on us. Fortunately, our waitress had an apron full of change to trade for our dollar. After we filled our bellies it was off to Davis. We ended up driving from Pennsylvania to Maryland and then finally into West Virginia. Our hotel was only 10 miles from the state line.
Like always, if we can find the "Welcome to..." sign we pull over and snap a selfie. For the next 5 nights we stayed at an awesome motel called The Billy Motel , short for "Hillbilly". On the outside it looked like a regular old school motel but when you walked inside it was decorated in a 1960's retro theme. There was a bar/lounge and restaurant attached to it. My aunt and cousins drove down from New York to meet us at The Billy for the first 2 nights and we all decided to eat at the restaurant since it was closed Sundays-Tuesdays. A theme we discovered throughout the area.
The main reason for traveling to Davis, WV was to run in the Moonlight on the Falls Half Marathon at Blackwater Falls State Park. It was our 49th half marathon in 48 states. We were able to tour around the town of Davis and it's neighboring town of Thomas, only 2 miles away and the state park but most of the sightseeing took place after our race.
Davis and Thomas are rated one of the top small towns to visit in West Virginia. They provided plenty of local shops and restaurants and the state park is only a little over a mile off the main road. The morning after the race we all drove 15 minutes away to Timberline Mountain for their brunch. My sister, Jackie drove over for from the D.C. area and spent the next 2 nights with us. The brunch was informal and we sat outside on the deck to once again enjoy the beautiful weather. Afterwards, we purchased a ski lift ticket for $10 a piece and drank our mimosa out of a straw as we all rode the scenic lift for the next 25 mins or so.
For the rest of the day my sister and I did some shopping back in town and Dave went over to the park to look for a scenic outlook named Lindy Point, which is the first picture on this blog. The town had plenty of small local shops my favorite being WVHighlands Artisan Gallery . We all purchased numerous items from this store.
We also visited the area's two breweries: Mountain State Brewing Co. and Stumptown Ales. While at Stumptown Ales, Jackie and I sat at the bar next to a very interesting Marine Korean War veteran. He was a fighter pilot who lives in Annapolis. We pulled up pictures of the plane he used to fly and listened to some interesting stories.
The next day Dave, Jackie and I drove about an hour over to Smoke Hole Caverns in the town of Cabins, WV. We took a tour and learned all about the different stalactite and stalagmite formations. Smoke Hole caverns is also home to the largest recorded stalactite ribbon formation in the world.
We then drove over to Seneca Rock, got something to drink at the small and only convenience store before embarking on the 2.6-mile (round trip) hike 700 feet up to the observation deck. It was another beautiful day and the dense
tree coverage helped shade us from the sun.
The drive back to town was scenic and we even passed over the Eastern Continental Divide.
Once back in town it was a little difficult to find an open restaurant to eat, it was Monday after all. We were very lucky to make it to Farm Up Table in Thomas about an hour before it closed. The food there was absolutely delicious! After dinner we headed back to The Billy for some complimentary drinks before hitting the hay.
First thing the next morning we drove over to Weston, WV. We decided to eat breakfast over there since Davis only had one breakfast restaurant and we had already eaten there twice. I found a small casual restaurant called Flying Dogs. On the breakfast menu was: a biscuit egg sandwich, biscuits and gravy and fries and gravy. It was perfect!!! After ordering we sat down in the dining room and mingled with some of the local patrons. This is where Dave got the name "The Man With Two Ladies".
Next, it was off to MannCave Distillery about 7 miles up the road, and off the grid. We had no cell phone reception and got slightly lost on our way back since we were unable to use the gps. We sampled all of their liquor which included of course, some moonshine. And, we did so all while holding a tiny chicken named "Peeps". Yes, a real live chicken.
Finally, the tour I've been waiting the whole trip for: The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA). It was a raining day, perfect conditions for this type of tour. The original building was built during the Civil War and began housing patients in 1864. The asylum stayed active until 1994 when it was forced to close its doors due to deteriorating conditions as well as changes in mental health practices. The tour was a little over 90 minutes and our tour guide was very informative since he grew up in Weston, WV and was able to provide some local incite and lesser-known stories. For example, in the 1970's the local high school had their senior prom in the asylum's gymnasium.
Our plane was scheduled to leave the next day around noon out of Latrobe, PA. So, Dave and I decided to leave a little early and stopped by Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church, "the smallest church in 48 states" measuring 12ft X 24ft.
Located behind the church is the smallest post office at 64 square feet. It had some PO boxes and outgoing mail service however, after looking into it I discovered that there is window service only one day a year and parcel post service on another.
Our plan was to drive back to The Kitchen on Main for a late breakfast however, we accidently discovered that the Flight 93 Memorial was only about 20 minutes off course. We decided that visiting the memorial was more important than breakfast especially since we were going into the month of September. So off we went to Shanksville, PA. As we entered the grounds which spanned a couple of miles long, we first stopped at The Tower of Voices, a 93 ft wind chime.
Inside the Tower of Voices there are 40 different chimes to signify the 40 lives lost on Flight 93. We then made our way to the Visitor's Center where we were the first visitors of the day at 9am. We carefully went through the displays before heading down to the memorial field. If we had more time we could have walked around any one of the three memorial trails however, instead we walked straight over to the Wall of Names where we were able to see the crash site and pay our respects.
Before visiting West Virginia I really didn't know much about the state. I think we were all surprised in how beautiful it is and how much is has to offer. It is truly "Almost Heaven".