Country Roads

“Jumping Jahosaphine! Quick! Find me a place to pull over!” I screamed as panic struck me. My TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) monitor blasted to life. Not good. I have a trailer tire losing air. Normally at 60 lbs, it was at 40. Quickly deb and I search for a place to pull over. It couldn’t have happened at a worse spot. We’re on i85, traveling 60 mph, bumper to bumper traffic and …the road is under major construction for miles. We are down to two lanes boxed in by jersey barriers on both sides. After a minute my tire is down to 36 lbs …still no place to pull off. 2 more miles and 2 more minutes (which feels like an eternity when you’re in panic mode) and down to 20 lbs, still jersey barriers and no exit! Finally, an exit sign in one mile. Pressure is down to 12 when I get to the exit. I find an adequate spot to pull on the shoulder as my tire pressure now reads 7 lbs.

We were in Cowpens, South Carolina about 10 miles from the North Carolina border when the flat incident happened. This is the fourth time my TPMS system has saved me. And as luck would have it, we were parked there just about 5 minutes when a local tire repairman drove by. He was quite familiar with Good Sam Roadside service (GS). We got authorization from GS and he changed the flat out for my spare. Thanks Eddie (Ed’s Tire Service). Within the hour, we were back on the road (and Eddie was $200 richer)!

So, a little history about Cowpens, SC; A crucial battle happened here during the Revolutionary War which was the fledgling United States first major victory. Also, the historical fiction movie, The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, was based on the incidents that happened in this vicinity and that battle. And there was a Civil War incident with General Lee in this area as well. The neighboring town was named after his horse. Interesting, the things you find out about when you break down. Thanks Eddie for the history lesson.

♪ Country Roads ♪ (think “John Denver”)

After an overnight at a Walmart in North Caroline, we are off to West Virginia and the New River Gorge National Park. We arrived at Army Camp Campground in the early afternoon of April 21 and were fortunate enough to find a camp spot. The National Park campgrounds in this park are all first come-first serve sites and out of the 6 campgrounds, Army Camp was the only one that had sites big enough for my camper. We were driving “blind” in hopes of getting one of them. Our back-up plan was not a good one. Luck was with us as there were two sites left.

The next morning we met up with an old Ranger friend, Sheila, who spent the day with us. And what a day it was! I felt like we had our own interpretive tour guide. The New River Gorge Bridge is the third largest of its kind in the United States and offers spectacular vies of the river. This is in the northern part of the park and there is a lot to see. The first stop is at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. There we read and view pictures and a movie on the park; places like Fayette Station Road scenic drive, Nuttallburg Mining site, Thurmond Station, rock climbing, and hiking trails. The history and recreation in this area is just unbelievable!

The 2nd day, we met Sheila at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. What a treat! We did the 45 minute tour and then explored the surrounding displays. Our tour guide was a retired coal miner which gave a lot of authenticity to the experience and Sheila enjoyed being a spectator. The “Coal Towns” and the life of a coal miner was hard, back-braking, and dangerous work.

Thurmond Station, Sandstone Falls, and railroad trussell

After being underground and exploring, we spent the afternoon at the Tamarrack Culture Center. Here, we had lunch in their food court and explored the local artisan’s display of art and crafts. Having excellent, free Wi-Fi was an added bonus.

Collage of Beckley coal mine

Is it a gorge …or a canyon? New River extends for many miles and is referred to as a gorge. Our campsite is at 1100 feet above sea level. Driving the road up to the town of Beckley about 3 miles and you are at 2300 feet above sea level. And at Beckley you have rolling hills. As it turns out, this whole place is on the Appalachian plateau and the river cuts through it. Interesting geography and topography.

Our campsite was basic but very nice and right on New River. Currently, all the campsites are free and first-come first serve. It’s primitive camping (boondocking) but the sites are well marked, fire pits, and pit toilets are available. And you can’t put a price on the scenery, river noise, and the wildlife. In a lot of ways, it reminds us of Baxter State Park or Katahdin Woods & Water Monument (KWW).

Happy camping!!!

Coming soon, more tales from the Campah!

Next adventure; “Maine”

STAY TUNED! More “tales from the campah”!

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