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Author Topic: Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia  (Read 370 times)

noelbotevera

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Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia
« on: February 14, 2019, 09:55:04 PM »

I'm planning a small day trip to swoop down to West Virginia or Virginia and get some good barbecue or maybe even seafood. There's no real set plan, but the farthest south we're going is to the first 20 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Essentially, we're going no further south than Staunton, and no further west than Moorefield, though with some convincing I could convince my dad to check out Seneca Rocks.

Essentially, I can't go farther than two hours from home, but this is pretty loose. So I think I could convince my dad to accept 2.5 hours, since we're in no real rush to get back home. After all, all of us want to be far from home.

To provide clarification, this map shows my southern and western boundaries based on Chambersburg, PA.

This map shows my eastern boundaries, hopefully.

I don't plan on going north because we've explored that territory (lots of trips up to State College and back) and since I like scenery, I don't really like the flatness of Central Virginia.

I'd appreciate restaurant suggestions, but some meandering route suggestions with nice stops work fine as well.
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Re: Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2019, 10:55:10 PM »

Elk Run Road in Fauquier County is a nice drive, close to your eastern boundary.
https://goo.gl/maps/Ga38C9T3GV72

As for restaurant suggestions, pretty much everything I’ve experienced is well south of where you’ll be going.
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Re: Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2019, 10:39:53 AM »

I can recommend the below for seafood, which is pretty close to your eastern boundary:

http://captbillys.com/directions.html

For seafood, in general, the closer you get to the Bay, the better.

Now that I think about it, I don't think I've never had BBQ in Virginia.

Any road trip that's going to involve going near DC needs to be carefully planned so that you don't end up there during rush hour.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2019, 07:47:22 PM »

I'm planning a small day trip to swoop down to West Virginia or Virginia and get some good barbecue or maybe even seafood. There's no real set plan, but the farthest south we're going is to the first 20 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Essentially, we're going no further south than Staunton, and no further west than Moorefield, though with some convincing I could convince my dad to check out Seneca Rocks.

Essentially, I can't go farther than two hours from home, but this is pretty loose. So I think I could convince my dad to accept 2.5 hours, since we're in no real rush to get back home. After all, all of us want to be far from home.

To provide clarification, this map shows my southern and western boundaries based on Chambersburg, PA.

This map shows my eastern boundaries, hopefully.

I don't plan on going north because we've explored that territory (lots of trips up to State College and back) and since I like scenery, I don't really like the flatness of Central Virginia.

I'd appreciate restaurant suggestions, but some meandering route suggestions with nice stops work fine as well.

With such a broad potential range, recommending places to eat in your path would be a guessing game but here are a couple:

Hank's Smokehouse, US 33 a little east of VA 276 - https://goo.gl/maps/FwwvHuxixFK2 - really good BBQ products
Mrs. Rowes - US 250 just of I-81 - https://goo.gl/maps/C7bBeV3mJEo - homestyle cooking and lots of baked goods (especially cookies) to take with you
I have eaten at the restaurant (Yokum's) across the street from Seneca Rocks which I remember to be fine but it was 15 years ago

Scenic rides include - US 250 from Staunton to Hightown (just past US 220) is really nice; SR 678 and SR 675 from VA 55 to Luray (zero services whatsoever); VA/WV 259 is nice; US 11 is pretty nice especially Strasburg to Harrisonburg; VA 42 from Woodstock to Harrisonburg is nice; there's no shortage of scenic driving in the greater Winchester area or throughout the Shenandoah Valley; the entirety of VA 231
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noelbotevera

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Re: Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 06:15:31 PM »

If you're wondering why it's the next day, my daytrip turned into a 2 long day trip. Perhaps I should go into more detail, where I'll list some notable events.

First, my route, with some things fudged because privacy. The correct order in what I visited is listed on the left, also including all the roads I traveled, all the places I ate at, and even the hotel I stayed in. Heck, there's even a mistake I made on route.

Notable events/commentary, starting in chronological (aka the correct order on the map) order:

-Prior to the trip, I chose to go to West Virginia because I convinced my parents that I couldn't find anything interesting near the beginning of the Blue Ridge, and that it would be a boring drive down I-81. Instead, West Virginia would be more scenic and we'd see more stuff (I was right).

-WHY DID I TAKE OLDTOWN-ORLEANS ROAD!!!! I never knew this until it was too late, but it's essentially an extension of Orleans Road off exit 68 of I-68. It actually leads down to MD 51, allowing for a straight shot to West Virginia. Except, it turns into a neglected logging road through a state forest about three miles in, with insane washboarding, potholes, SNOW, and mud. Essentially, whatever asphalt was there was ripped away, turning the road into a dirt road. Probably not even that. To make things worse, it's also in the mountains, so snow was present, and the melted snow combined with the dirt to form mud. It felt like my family would die up there, the car (a sedan) hated the road, and it was a giant slip and slide overall.

-Good news however, we got saved by some loggers who plowed the road clear down to MD 51. If we didn't meet those loggers, we would've probably not made it out of there.

-Schoolhouse Kitchen is literally a restaurant inside an abandoned school. There's also (some neglected) '50s cars parked around the parking lot. Other than that, it's your typical diner, with lots of old country folk and food made from scratch (hallelujah).

-The toll (yes, toll - it's $1.50) bridge from Oldtown, MD to Green Springs, WV surprised me, because it's a low water crossing over the Potomac. The deck is made of wood, and the tollkeeper collects your cash (no credit) in a soup ladle.

-There was a gas station (a Sunoco) on WV 28 that included a gun store. That's how I knew I entered West Virginia for real. The abundance of gun stores, pawn shops, and flea markets affirmed this.

-I'm surprised at how big and how diverse the Smoke Hole was. Quite a bit of rock formations too, and I think it's worth your time. Of course, like any cave tour, the tour guide turned out all the lights on us and talked about how much it sucks to be under total darkness for more than a few minutes. Tour guide also explained how to make moonshine, the different proofs, and the fact that you can run your car on it if you distill it four times (anyone done that?). In short, it's not pretty. Geology wise, there's just loads of stalactites and humorous rock formations that even I couldn't explain it in detail.

-WHY DID WE GO UP TO SPRUCE KNOB IN FEBRUARY!!! The road up to Spruce Knob was littered with fallen trees the higher you got, blocking half of the road. When we finally arrived at the summit, it was about to rain and the wind was howling like crazy. I'm pretty sure it was below 20 degrees up there. Anyways, it's worth the trip - the view is breathtaking, but don't do it in the winter. I was being an idiot again.

-By this point, my dad was convinced that the 45-55 minute drive to Elkins meant having to stay over another day. It was 4 PM, and he didn't want to drive 3.5 hours back home at night.

-Okay, I forgot to mark this on the map, but the convenience store in Seneca Rocks (where WV 28 meets US 33) has tons of local stuff we bought. It's pretty nice for tourists, because you get to see all the funny knickknacks sold, like "Dumb Ass" hot sauce. There's also a bunch of local stuff in there too, like bourbon flavored chocolate.

-Why is there a random expressway section on US 33 near Elkins? There's no reason for it to be there.

-Smoke on the Water is a pretty solid BBQ joint. They sell the burnt ends of ribs, and their ways of preparing trout and chicharrones was new to us. Later we found it was Cajun-style, with the skins being sweet and spicy. It went great with their spicier BBQ sauces. About the meat, it was top notch, but nothing terribly special. No twists, but boy howdy was the meat terrific. We got one of those humongous sampler plates every BBQ joint has, and not only was it served to us quick, but they weren't lying when they said that it could serve two people. It basically has every meat - ribs, brisket, pulled pork, etc. that you could want in a BBQ joint. Also, the urinals in the bathrooms were converted beer kegs, and the sweet tea was good. Topping it all off, they had raspberry cheesecake, but we were too full to eat it; we had to get it for take out.

-The Hampton Inn in Elkins was solid. We weren't planning the second day, so we only had the clothes on our back and had to buy toothbrushes and toothpaste (until I realized you could get those at the front desk). I decided to stay back in the room while my parents went to shop, then my parents got frustrated about connecting to Wi-Fi, then they gave up and I got a head start on my sleep. Slept at 9 PM, woke up at 7:45 AM the next morning. Got breakfast, waited around for everyone for two hours, then hit the road at 10 AM.

-The second round on US 33 has convinced me that US 33 in WV kinda sucks. The constant 7% grades mean that you get stuck behind trucks, and there's not really any passing lanes for the 20 miles from Elkins to Harman (where it intersects WV 32).

-WV 32 is a beautiful drive south of Canaan Valley.

-Blackwater Falls is no Niagara Falls - the drop is only 57 feet compared to 170 feet, but I was surprised at how popular it was when we went. There was also some water still frozen on the rocks near the observation platform, so those created some stunning displays. Was worth a quick detour on our way home.

-I LOVE GOING EAST ON CORRIDOR H! While I traveled this westbound two years ago, I much prefer the eastern section (Thomas-Wardensville) and going eastbound. It's surprisingly scenic, and the day was perfect to roll down the windows and drive at 75 MPH. Also, basically nobody uses it. There was only four grades to contend with - 6%, two 5%, and an 8% right at the end of the expressway. Kinda sucks the expressway ends with a mile-long 8% grade, but one of these days that'll no longer be the case.

-Non sequitur for a moment: Baby Blue BBQ in Moorefield is no Smoke on the Water, but it's still solid. The dessert isn't terribly impressive, and we got stuck next to a family with three baby children. Other than that, the ribs were outstanding, then the pulled pork, and they had a "brisket burger" with brisket, burnt ends, and ground beef. Made for a good lunch, and might've caused me to lose my gall bladder faster.

-I LOVE WV 259! While we probably drove one of the less spectacular sections (Wardensville to US 50), it was great to go 65 MPH on a two lane road. It's essentially straight as a bullet for 15 miles until you hit the Virginia state line.

-Bojangles was a welcome return, as we haven't had any ever since leaving NC in 2006. I think it's better than Popeyes except for the sweet tea. Also, my mom doesn't eat chicken skins. More for me then...except I was too full.

-Really infuriating that VA 37 ends short of I-81. I-81 is also a real snoozefest, so I took the opportunity to sleep until we got home. Returned home about 90 minutes ago.

edit: added more stuff about Smoke Hole and Seneca Rocks
« Last Edit: February 16, 2019, 06:21:04 PM by noelbotevera »
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hbelkins

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Re: Day trip to West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 02:50:38 PM »


-Why is there a random expressway section on US 33 near Elkins? There's no reason for it to be there.

Corridor H was originally planned to run along US 33 to Harrisonburg. This section got built before the routing was moved. This section has been around since the early 1980s, at least.
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