Sunday, September 17, 2017

2017-26 Lewisburg West Virginia (continued)

A winding road inside of the WV State Fairgrounds
Hurricane Irma has gone through the state as you know, if you've watched any TV. Our little Rv community, Shelter Cove in St Cloud Fl, has fared quite well. The lake filled to overflowing and a few streets were flooded. A large live oak tree fell down in the front of the park, which will make the front entrance rather bare as two healthy pine trees were removed last winter and have yet to be replaced with anything. Leaving large islands between the pavement empty and barren.

Picture taken by a resident in Shelter Cove,
showing the canal overflowing 

boat ramp on left is completely flooded
onto Pine Island Drive, one of my RV lots
is on this road

The entire state had major damage, especially the Florida Keys.  It will take many years to recover.

Water heater has an aluminum tank
which can corrode,mine had two pinhole leaks
I really was debating whether I would have anything to write about this week. I've extended my stay for another week mainly due to Rv repairs that will be completed later this week. The fairgrounds where I'm staying were very kind to give me a discount, knowing that I am from Florida.

The water heater was replaced a few days later, we are now waiting on the shipment of the new Awning which will delay my exit until next Wednesday. Fortunately, the Fairgrounds has once again given me a discount for the four additional days.
Chris installing the new water heater

My two Rv lots which are currently being rented out, were vacated during the hurricane and sustained no damage. Both aluminum sheds are still standing and the palms trees weathered the 65-85 mile an hour winds. Both tenants are waiting for the electric to be turned back on before returning to the park.

Back here in West Virginia, I've been under the weather for a few days with a bad back. Muscle tension causing much pain, but it has finally subsided. So yesterday, I took a drive over to Lost World Caverns. It's only a few miles outside of Lewisburg, down a narrow winding country road, past farms cut out of the hillsides, rolling hills and valleys. A few grand homes sit behind fences and then I turn off onto a dirt road, feeling more and more like I'm entering a lost world. At the end of the dirt road, I arrive at Lost World Caverns. Two horses stand next to the fence watching as I drive into the parking area. Two black lamas are in a small fenced off area next to the building complex.

entrance to Lost World Caverns
A large water wheel turns next to one of the buildings near the entrance. It serves no purpose except as a decorative water feature. A friendly greeting as I'm one of the first guests of the day. I pay my $11.45 entrance fee and start down the long concrete tunnel. It's a self guided tour of the caverns, which I've never experienced before. The lighting in this cavern remains on throughout the half mile length. Spotlights glare out pointing in every which way to highlight the walls and stalagmites and stalactites. It's silent, except for the occasional sound of dripping water. Wooden steps lead up and down and around the various gray rock formations. These formations are not colorful and the lighting doesn't help the stark look of the place.

poor lighting, first cave I've gone into where it
was a self guided tour which made it quite interesting
Still it has a unique feeling being on a self guided tour. The silence, time to look and reflect while experiencing an underground cave. No tour guides giving each formation a cute name and then turning all the lights off to give one that “special” experience of total darkness. Eventually other tourists arrive and the dynamics of the experience change a bit.

raw formations

millions of years of water formed this


much like entering an old mining operation

West Virginia is covered with thousands of natural caves. One in this area is 50 miles long. While in the town of Lewisburg, which is pretty much built on the side of a hill, I was talking to one of the shop owners about not having to worry about flooding in this town. She told me not so. Just a year or so ago, with heavy rains in the area, the caverns under the city filled to overflowing and flooded her store with a couple of inches of water before exiting the front door. The floor did seem a bit off level as I walked around the shop.

just a few things that caught
my interest this week

thrift store images

called chalk figurines

vintage finds

RV Caution:

 I'm having repairs done on my rv by Loudermilk Trailer and Rv sales here in Lewisburg WV. I would not recommend the services of Chris Harvey. As it has turned out, he is attempting to rip me off.  Told me this evening that the retail cost of the water heater is $1,300, but he is only going to charge me $700 plus labor.  more info in next report. Online, the highest price is $365 with free shipping.

Awning arrived and was damaged. Obvious from cardboard tube it came in that it would was damaged.  Did not get installed.  Chris not sure he will be able to get a refund on it.

RV news:

Chris, my mobile rv service guy, told me the other day that more and more Rv manufacturers are requiring the customer to pay up front for warranty work. After the work is completed, a copy of the repair bill must be sent into the manufacturer for reimbursement. Which of course could take months to get your money back.

a book store in Lewisburg,
barely the width of the the double doors

the book store does open up a bit in the back

this is the narrow entrance to the store.
To a book lover, the size of the store
doesn't really matter
more photos:

Lost World Caverns, West Virginia

Misc Lewisburg WV shots

Saturday, September 9, 2017

2017-25 Lewisburg and Greenbrier West Virginia


traveling through West Virginia Allegheny mountains

Lewisburg West Virginia
White Sulfur Springs West Viginia
Greenbrier Resort

WV State Fairground, parking area
behind the Rv campsites

Campground: West Virginia State Fairgrounds. Full hookups 30 and 50 amp. $30 regular rate. $3 discount with Good Sam or AARP etc. Grassy sites, electric, water and sewer connections are spread apart for most of the sites but mostly usable.

from Burnsville to Lewisburg WV

Lewisburg, a vibrant small town

Distance traveled: 110 miles

I've arrived in Lewisburg, the closest destination I could find at a fair price for camping here at the state fairgrounds. The small town of only 3,500 still has a surprisingly active and fun downtown area to explore. Having a Carnegie Hall, one of only 4 in the world, an active local theater group and is a hot spot for retirees. But my main interest is about 12 miles down the road in the even smaller town of White Sulfur Springs.

This is a high priced area for shopping and dining.  Lunch average price paid in downtown restaurants:  $25.  Antique shops and do-dad shops have high prices on most all of their offerings. I did find a nice coffee shop with reasonable prices and on the outskirts of town are a few of the basic commercial restaurants (Rudy Tuesdays) and your Walmarts, Lowes, Dollar Tree etc.

The Greenbrier, one more bucket list item checked off.

The Greenbrier Resort

I quickly made reservations to join the “bunker tour, $38.38” at the Greenbrier Resort. What an awesome place, having it's beginnings as far back as 1778, when folks would come here to drink the sulfur waters to ease their rheumatoid arthritis and cure upset stomachs. The first hotel was built in 1858 and the current one that replaced it got it's start in 1910 when the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad purchase the property. Expanding the place and building the Greenbrier Hotel expansion. Over the years it has gone back and forth between the railroad owning it, the Government using it during WWII including housing over 2,000 wounded soldiers in a makeshift hospital.

Original entrance to the Greenbrier

One of the many grand public rooms

lounge looking down main corridor

all original designs by Draper

the writing room

a side chat perhaps

bold exciting designs 

bold design required due to large scale of each room, hallway

latest updates to lower level restaurants, casino, shops

private casino open to hotel guests only
only saw a few people at the poker table

It has always catered to the well-to-do crowd of business men, political statesmen, tycoons, world leaders and has even hosted 26 Presidents and continues to do so today. Vice President Mike Pence was here just a few days ago. With a first rate golf course which the average person can not see as it is hidden behind green painted fencing, trees and shrubs all along the main road leading to the resort. It even has a private casino on the lower floors but is only accessible to guests staying at the resort, or if you purchase a membership. I did neither, but I did enjoy a great lunch at one of the restaurants in the hotel. High end boutique shops line one level, along with a bowling alley and indoor and outdoor infinity pool.

high end shops on lower level concourse 

large ball room on main floor

lower level leading to indoor swimming pool, bowling alley

There is even an AMTRAC train station across from the hotel which goes between New York, Washington D.C. And Chicago. Providing easy access and would make for a fun trip. The railroad has been in operation since the mid 1800's.

The bunker tour, hidden in plane sight
behind movable wall

The Bunker

Greenbrier Resort,   the Hotel

But enough of that, I was there to tour the bunker which was originally built in the Eisenhower era as a safe place to members of congress to go in the event of a nuclear attack. This being after WWII and our dropping the first atomic bomb. After the war and the start of the Cold War, with Russia gaining power and nuclear capabilities congress needed a safe place close to the capital in case of nuclear attack. The Greenbrier would become that safe haven.

It was all secret of course. Congress appropriating the funds and having the Greenbrier “expand” the hotel and at the same time build an underground convention center as it was called. The bunker was built in 1958 into the side of a hill with the West Virginia Wing being built over the top of it. The locals being told that it would be an underground conference facility and part of the space was actually used as such with the public being totally unaware that it was in actuality a part of the secret bunker.
the original secret bunker dining room, seating for 400 at a time

the end of the tour, what secrets remain behind the
walls and doors we didn't get to go through

an innocent hallway, but lies behind it
was a secret bunker, hidden in plane site
as part of it was used for convention exhibits etc.

The tour covers a good portion of the underground bunker with it's massive 20 ton steel and concrete doors, two auditoriums designed to house the House of Representatives and the Senate. Dormitory bunk-bed style sleeping arrangements for the house and single beds for the senators including over 500 staff members. For 30 years, each of the 1,100 beds were assigned to a member of congress. Note: none were reserved for their families though space was later available on another level. Dining hall, work rooms, extensive power plant, water storage etc. Currently much of the underground space is leased out to corporations for storing digital data. So not all of the rooms were available to view and due to the sensitive data being stored in the old bunker spaces, no photography was permitted in much of the tour areas.

Ultimately the facility was never used during it's 30 years of activation. An article in the Washington Post, May 31st 1992 revealed it's secret location and purpose making it instantly obsolete, though by then it had already become somewhat known. Congress would decommission it in 1995. So of course the question is: where is the new secret bunker?

the room VP Mike Pence spoke in
just a few days before I arrived... obviously to a
"select" group 

Roku Update:

Pluto TV channels 600+

As a full time Rv-er we don't always have good “over the air Tv” connections. I'm not a fan of paying $$ for satellite tv and the headaches setting it up at each campsite. The alternative is a device like Roku. Since getting Roku, a small device that attaches to the back of my tv set and connects to the internet via my Verizon tablet hotspot which I have an unlimited plan making it all possible.

One of the programming choices is called “Pluto” and is set up much like satellite tv channels. I've explored up to the 600's and have discovered lots of channels I'll be watching including travel, learning, documentaries, home improvement, live news feeds etc. A second link shows all the movies available. A few other channels I like include “popcorn flix”, “youtube”, CBS and VUDU a movie channel.

Although one can pay for the movies and shows without commercials, I don't pay any fees and basically turn off the sound when a commercial comes on.

many free movies supported by adds

RV Update:

While staying here at the Lewisburg State Fairgrounds, I found an Rv service that will come to my camper for repairs. It appears I have a pinhole leak in my hot water tank and will have it replaced. While at it, I'll also have a new Awning installed as the one that came with my camper has a cheap plastic fabric that has begun to peal and separate. I've ordered a better fabric with a cover for the awning when closed up.

All this while watching the news and keeping a close eye on hurricanes advancing on Florida.

More photos:

Monday, September 4, 2017

2017-24 Confluence to Burnsville West Virginia


Rifle Run, the camphosts have been at work decorating the place

Confluence Pennsylvania
Burnsville West Virginia

Campground: Outflow COE. $10 senior rate. 50 amp electric. Water near site. Dump-station on exit.
Odd little park, two camp loops with each site facing into the loop, grassy sites/gravel parking area.
My site faces a parking area, providing lots of space to use for backing into site.

Image result for camping cartoons funny

Distance traveled: 89 miles.

Confluence Pennsylvania would be a great location to venture over to Frank Lloyd Wrights “Falling Water” as it's only about 8 miles from here. But having been there twice in recent travels, I'll see if anything else might be in the area as well.
Good trout fishing year round in the river below the dam. This was a short stop and not much to explore in this area other than Falling Waters.

Distance traveled:  114 miles

Campground: Rifle Run COE. Burnsville West Virginia. $15 senior rate, full hookups 50 amp electric, deep in a valley/hollow behind the lake and dam. Three deer pranced around on the pavement near the entrance to the campground, unafraid of the vehicles passing by.

I've arrived at Rifle Run and was able to get a site before the Labor Day weekend. Being that most campgrounds fill up or are booked way in advance, it was nice to still find an Army Corp campgrounds that's still set up as a “first come first served” no reservations site. On top of that, it has full hookups which I haven't had all summer. Unfortunately, it is missing the modern day Rv-ers requirements, they have no over the air Tv stations, no cellphone coverage, no wi-fi, in other words no internet until one drives back to the Interstate.

With rain in the forecast for 3+ days, I'm scrambling to find access to the internet so I can plan my next leg of my journey. This is more or less a stop over at a site I've been to previously, so I'm not anticipating much in the way of touring the area.

Rifle Run COE Burnsville WV

large campsites but no tv/internet/phone

After reviewing my maps and stopping at the local library in Burnsville I was able to check on a few things. The next day, I drove down to Flatwoods where there are a few shops, a small Walmart and a Fiesta Ware outlet. Boy, I figured out quickly why we all purchase cheap stuff from China and overseas. The prices they were asking for each piece of Fiesta Ware were outrageous. $28 for a bowl, a single dinner plate $19, really.... After having lunch a drove a few miles further south to a small derelict town called Sutton where I would check out their library and spend more time planning my upcoming travels.

First off, I do understand that many times libraries have kids programs and it can get a bit noisy. Though many places have a separate room for such functions. The Sutton library did not use their extra room since the children's section basically in the main library area. I was able to enjoy along with the kids, a program on animals given by a park ranger. It was excellent, as I was able to hear it all the way across the library where I was sitting with my computer.

The noise level kept getting louder and louder as the kids got involved, the adults raised their voices to maximum volume and apparently no one had been taught how to use their “indoor voice”. One of the library staff was especially animated with describing a system of “tickets” the children would be receiving for reading books, getting prizes, etc. I assure you, all the the patrons in the library were able to hear the announcements that seemed to go on for 20 minutes or longer.

A short trip to the town of Buckhannon to get an oil change and tire rotation at the local Walmart, I stopped in the community art building.... the "painted shoes" belong to a gregarious gal who painted those shoes a couple of years back and they've held up quite well.  Telling me about the little town and the improvements going on. Some of the largest display of summer flowers I've ever seen in a small town.  My sister Ann would love it here. 

though the town doesn't have too much to offer except a
few antique shops, it's trying hard to reinvent itself

colleges, hope for the future....

one of the many flower displays throughout town
and leading into town

what a stunning summer display

Through all of this I was able to get some information on campgrounds at my next destination, The Greenbrier Resort, where a secret underground bunker was built to house Washington's elite in case of war. It is now open to the public for tours and I've always thought it would be of interest to see it. It should be a most interesting tour and I can't wait to get there.

I walked around the depressing remains of the town of Sutton with it's empty buildings and vacant store fronts lined up along a forgotten main street. Walking past one store front, I was surprised to see a set of sculptures done obviously a local artist and obviously an expert at his craft. The display covered in a light layer of dust having been placed here how many years ago. No information in the window as to who the artist is. A flea market and indoor garage sale were also going on in the area, but nothing of interest.

Sutton WV, a small town between rivers, mountains and hollers

among the many empty store fronts, I found this display

artist, unknown

artist surely lives in the bldg/apt

strange building along the main street

I head back to the campground knowing I have a plan for my next exciting adventure in a few more days. And the sun has finally come back out. Love those blue skies and the warmth of the sun.