December 2018, when we decided to sell our motorhome and “get off the road” Bill asked only one thing. He wanted to take at least 3-4 road trips a year. I agreed but I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Long story short, it hasn’t. We did manager a few fabulous hiking excursions while we traveled to see family. Otherwise, the travel/hiking bug began to bite us big time. BUT we just didn’t know how to make it work. Finally, it looked like buying and traveling in a self-contained Class B would make it possible. We wrote two blog posts, Is it Time to Hit the Road and Van Life – Pros and Cons, as we began to seriously consider it. This blog post will explain why we decided against it. We figured it out when we took a side trip in West Virginia on our way from Pennsylvania where we attended the funeral of a precious relative, Bill’s second cousin, to attend my mom’s Celebration of Life service in Virginia.
Bill and I believe in Jesus, we do our best to follow His ways, pray regularly and trust He is guiding our steps. And He did!
The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 NLT
We needed a few days of hiking between Pennsylvania and Virginia. It is such good mental health therapy for us, but we also needed to find something out. The main reason we wanted a Class B was so we could travel to go hiking and sightseeing. Could I still hike? I tore the meniscus in my left knee April 2020. It was a bad tear so I had to have surgery to repair it. It was repaired on May 7, 2020. It healed up nicely and within months, I was back to taking long walks. For about six months. Then it began to act up so I took a series of injections. But it was still not as cooperative as it had been.Then on September 30, 2021, I simply turned the wrong way and something went snap in my right knee. I tore the meniscus in this knee in 1999. Oh my poor knees! Anyway, long story short, if I can’t hike, why buy a Class B?
Beckley, West Virginia was about half way between our two destinations. We have friends from there so they said, yes, there is a lot of hiking around that area. We arrived on August 22, 2021. It was hard to decide where to stay as there was so much in the area. We settled on Oak Hill. That location actually had what we decided was the best hotel option. It was pretty much dead center to where all we planned to go. It was a good choice.
Day 1, August 22, 2021, our arrival
The New River Gorge National Park Visitor Center was our first stop. We learned the river ‘lies at the core of the Appalachian Mountain Range and is one of the largest expanses of relatively unbroken forests in the world.” Let’s just say, it was ABSOLUTELY beautiful and is the most botanically diverse river system in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. We had no idea what a treat we were in for over the next three days.
Oh my, so many places to see! I think we hit most of these. What a whirlwind four days. But first, we had to see the Bridge and Gorge Overlooks. This was a must stop and see location – and we sort of stumbled on it….Or was our Lord guiding our path?
This certainly got our hearts pumping! Off to the hotel, stop at a grocery store and then hit a trail. We only had four days!
We use the All-Trails app. It makes it so easy to find trails nearby. We are always up for Rails to Trails so when this one popped up, the Thurmond-Southside Trail, it was a no-brainer. Plus it was getting late, we don’t like to drive in the dark. It was such a great trail, we went out two miles so it was a four mile round trip. We had hoped to talk with the owner of the Class B. He was actually returning with his dog from the trail. But he clearly didn’t want to talk. So we just looked around a bit and asked ourselves, is this a location we could drive to and then park overnight? The Class B we wanted was self contained. Operated by solar and you carry the water you need….
Day 2, August 23, 2021 Ready to hike!
The Endless Wall Trail was an amazing hike with the most glorious reward in the Diamond Point Overlook. We only went about three miles, but it had good elevation gain. It actually was a workout! Best news, my knees were doing fine. YAY!
Next stop, we decided we wanted to go down to the river, below the New River Gorge Bridge. This bridge was completed on October 22, 1977. We met a man who recalls life before this bridge and then after it. It solved a travel challenge that caused his mom to have to drive an extra 40 minutes each way to take him to and from school! This is the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and is the third highest in the United States. It is also one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. We could see why! It is fascinating.
We went out to dinner and looked for something else to day as there was still so much daylight. We decided to take a walking tour around historic Fayetteville. There, we discovered a nature trail. It was a combination of the Fayetteville Park Loop, to Wolf Creek and through a Cemetary. It looked like it would be a walk in the park but we actually got a bit lost and saw daylight flittering away! This only happened one time before. The app just wasn’t working properly…
Day 3: City of Beckley’s Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum; Sandstone Falls; dinner in a diner; then The Grand View!
Day 4: Hiking on the Head House Trail which led us to Nuttallburg Mine and our last stop, Thurman. Then we head to Virginia for special times with our daughter, grandsons and then my mom’s Celebration of Life.
For we walk by faith, not sight.”2 Corinthians 5:7