This short series is for Mishima666, who has waited longer than I promised he would.
June 24, 2005 Day Planner entry, after the fact: "Hit deer - totaled bike - ended at Trauma Unit, UVA Hosp, Charlottsville, 2 1/2 days - bad scene all around."
What you may have missed:
Part One: http://open.salon.com/blog/monte_canfield/2010/02/19/motorcycling_memories_oh_deer_part_one
Part Two: http://open.salon.com/blog/monte_canfield/2010/02/20/motorcycle_memories_oh_deer_part_two
Part Three: http://open.salon.com/blog/monte_canfield/2010/02/21/motorcycle_memories_oh_deer_part_three
Thursday, June 23, 2005
We arose late, which is my habit, and ate a leisurely breakfast at our B&B, packed our bikes with a few cool weather clothes, water bottles, and prepared to ride out. The temperature by 9:30 a.m. was already in the 70s at Marlinton, so we were starting out wearing wicking t-shirts and summer weight perforated textile safety jackets.
Sue anticipated the mountain ride we were about to take and put in her jacket liner and added a sweat shirt. I reluctantly put in my liner, but take the cold better (lots more fat cells!) and nixed the sweat shirt. The skys were overcast but the clouds were already starting to break up with peeks of sun here and there. In the valleys it was going to be a warm one.
We backtracked on US219 some thirty miles, climbing up and over two tall mountains to come back into the valley just west of the Greenbriar Valley from which we started. Mountain roads increase distances to about twice what a crow has to travel to get to the same place.
We stopped at a gas station/general store at the foot of what is now called Snowshoe Mountain, filled up the bikes, grabbed a couple of sodas and some cheese and peanut butter cracker snacks to take with us. We headed a couple of miles east on a side road that led to the entrance on Snowshoe Resort.
I am going to take a little detour here and share a bit of one of my prejudices. It is not rational, but it will give you an idea of how I approached Snowshoe.
Snowshoe Resort is very upscale. The complex at the top of the mountain, one of three complexes on the property which includes an entire mountain, is a village in itself.
There are huge fancy condos, villas, cabins, hotel, upscale stores, restaurants, smaller cafes, all kinds of personal care service shops: hair, massage, nails, body treatments, and a full service spa. You could live on the top of the mountain, provided you had access to big bucks, all of your life and never have to come down. Snowshoe is money, and lots of it.
Ironically, because of the money, every July they also host the largest motorcycle rally in the state for three days of fun. Although this is open to riders of all brands of bikes it caters to the yuppie Harley Davidson crowd. Those are the doctors, lawyers, accountants, and executives who have seen too many Hollywood movies and have become riders as the result of advertising enticements and middle age crises.
These are the same guys and gals who buy the millions of dollars worth of Harley riding gear each year, think nothing of plunking down $30K for a motorcycle, and another $10K for accessories, and $5K for clothes, to look like pale imitations of Marlon Brando. (Incidentally, Marlon didn't ride a Harley; he rode a Triumph Thunderbird.)
But we don't want to let the facts get in the way of the fantasy which propelled Harley Davidson from an essentially bankrupt corporation in the mid-80s to one of the biggest US manufacturing success stories through 2006. Since then the bottom has started falling out of the dream bubble.
Before Harley realized that they were running out of yuppies who wanted to look like the Wild Bunch, there was a waiting list up to two years for top of the line Harleys. People were paying dealers up to $10K over sticker price just to own one. By the time the recession hit Harley had already seen its peak, prices were down to sticker level, and inventories were starting to build on dealer floors.
Now, with the recession just hitting bottom, Harley is once more in bad shape, and has reported the first losing quarters in 20 plus years. What goes around comes around. It will be interesting to see if Snowshoe continues to host the annual rally much longer, with fewer riders able to cough up the $150 and up nightly hotel bills and unable or unwilling to fork out over $100 a couple a meal in the pricy restaurants of Snowshoe.
But, hey, that is just the take on it from the bottom looking up. Both my bike and Sue's when bought new together did not cost as much as a low priced full sized Harley. I am sure that riders with money would give you another entirely different opinion on Snowshoe, Harley and late blooming riders. Just sayin'.
So, as you can imagine, I did not start up Snowshoe Mountain with a glowing feeling of anticipation. But, truth is, the ride up and back was beautiful. It starts out at the base of the mountain in a valley meadow complete with cattle grazing on the lush grass. The road is smooth and wide asphalt. The speed limit is 25 mph, which, of course, is insane on most parts of the road so I got some pleasure out of speeding now and then. The switchbacks are nonexistent and the curves are easily manageable. The road is long because that is the only way to keep the grade easy. No 8% grades on Snowshoe roads. That steepness is confined to the ski slopes.
You ride through the lower mountain hardwoods into mostly evergreen trees, predominately pines, and then into stunted scrub trees and bushes as you reach the top, with isolated pine trees scattered here and there. The top of the mountain has been leveled out for the development of the village, with the condos tightly packed at the top and additional condos setting below the top on the sides of the mountain.
As development dictates, level notches are created along the sides of the mountain to build the next condo units. There is not much "conservation" to be found. The green glow comes not from flora but from greenbacks.
That is not to say that it isn't an attractive development. It is. But for me it is in the wrong place and is a mistake, just as the clear cutting of the Cass lumbering area was a mistake. Neither cared one iota about the environment. Both exist and existed because of money.
But the skiing is among the best in the East, although since West Virginia is much milder in climate than in the Northeast, they have to "make" a lot of snow and the season is usually short. This year, however, with all of the snow coming through the upper South the season has been extended into early April.
[A winter view from the top of one of the ski runs at Snowshoe. This was an early winter picture. Notice there is little snow yet on the run.]
[Monte and the bikes with another condo complex in the background, at the top of Snowshoe Resort. Notice both the short hair and the not so happy look. Monte does not do "money" very well.]
We found a place at the top where we could drink our sodas, eat a package of cheese crackers and look at the vista from the top. I had no interest in walking around in the shopping area, or visiting a restaurant, and we didn't want manicures, so we sat a while, took a few pictures and got back on the bikes and rode back down.
The trip up and down was very pretty and we stopped a couple of times to just look at the mountains and the valleys below. That was worth going up to the top. I guess for me it was a good place to ride to but I wouldn't want to stick around at that destination very long.
We rode back to Marlinton the way we came. Once in town we went to the one grocery store, walking two blocks to get to it, bought some milk, sodas, cheese, salami and Triscuits and came back to the Old Clark and made our lunch out of that. We were not very hungry, but it was still better than what we could have gotten down at the diner on the corner.
We lounged around a bit. Sue took a nap. I read some more in the mystery that I was determined to finish before we left. I hate to not finish a mystery and didn't want to ask if I could buy it when we left. Has anyone noticed yet that I am cheap? Sue is too, but she is less obvious about it.
After an hour break we were ready to go again, but it was mid afternoon and we didn't want to go too far so we headed for the Watoga State Park only 14 miles south of Marlinton. http://www.watoga.com/index.htm It is 10,000 acres of forest, meadows, trails, cabins, camping, swimming pool, store, headquarters, restaurant and a 11 acre lake. All of this makes this park a nice family destination.
You enter the park at the village of Siebert and that road is delightful, winding through old growth timber for miles that forms an entire canopy over the road much of the way. At the end of the well maintained asphalt road you come around a corner and the headquarters lodge greets you on the right and the lake on the left.
The building is log cabin base with wooden siding and sits on a rise above the road and lake. There is a statue near the parking area dedicated to the members of the Civilian Conservation Corps who built all of the buildings of the park, including the log cabins that can be rented in season, as well as laying out the camping area.
[The statue honoring the workers of the depression era Civilian Conservation Corps who built the park.]
After wandering around the area for a while, checking out the nice swimming pool with a children's wading pool, and the pretty lake where canoes, paddle boats and row boats can be rented, we went to the headquarters lodge and read the information boards about the CCC and the building of the Park, and looked at the CCC pictures. We had an ice cream in the adjoining restaurant, made a pit stop, and hopped back on the bikes.
The day was getting almost hot, well above 80, so it was good to get on the bikes and feel a little breeze. We rode out of the park through the back entrance. This took us on county road 27 north which wound through the Greenbriar Valley past farms and woodlands, with a few wetlands thrown in for good measure. We ended up at US39 again and hung a left back into Marlinton.
Once back at the Old Clark we cleaned up a bit and were wondering where we could have another mediocre meal when I remembered a bar across from the street from the main restaurant where we had a poor meal. The sign, I recalled, said it was a "bar and grill." There had been a number of motorcycles parked out front on its gravel parking lot but it did not seem particularly busy otherwise. It was called "The Road House" and it looked like one. Gray, seedy and a bit run down with small windows and a Bud sign. Actually, it looked like a lot of the bars at home.
I told Sue we could not have any worse luck at the Road House than we had already experienced so why not try it? She agreed and we rode together on my bike to the bar. There were booths along one side and two pool tables on the other, a bar one end and a door into the kitchen at the other. There were maybe a half dozen people at the bar, two playing pool and one couple eating in one of the booths. As we walked in the food smelled good.
A waitress came out of the kitchen, handed us menus and welcomed us. Sue ordered something that was hard to screw up, but not impossible, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, white gravy, and green beans. A salad came with the meal. I ordered liver and onions because I won't let myself eat it except when on vacation due to its high cholesterol. I wanted lots of onions cooked in the liver drippings. I settled for french fries and the ubiquitous green beans.
To make a long story short, the entire meal was wonderful. The salad was excellent; the home made blue cheese dressing had large chunks of cheese in it. The chicken fry came with a thin crispy crust. The gravy was smooth and tasty. The liver was thinly sliced, fried just right - which is almost not at all over a high setting, and there was a mound of golden onions on top. We finally had a good meal! And while it was common grub it had to be cooked just so; and it was.
We complimented the waitress and asked her to tell the cook how good everything was. She said, "That would be me." Well. That made it even better. I told her that we had been hoping to find a place where we could have a good steak and asked did she know of any place. Steak was not listed on the menu. She said, "Oh. Friday night is steak night here. I can do you up a great big T-bone or a ribeye. So come back tomorrow."
Tomorrow was Sue's birthday and we decided that while the place lacked in the ambiance department, a nice steak would make a good end to the week since we planned on packing up Saturday morning and working our way home via some new to us back roads.
We told her to expect us tomorrow night. We were looking forward to it. It never happened.
END OF PART FOUR
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