Tal & Sera's Excellent West Virginia Adventure
DAY THREE - Sunday, 17 February.
Agenda: Revisiting two sites from last year - Hawk's Nest Overlook and the "Old" New River Bridge; Mullens, WV; Tri-State Gaming Center, Nitro, WV.
Morning in our little cabin! Beaucoups to do on this Sunday, so let's get started!!
Today was w-i-n-d-y. We went down US-19 to go north on 60 for a short distance through the small village of Ansted, WV (where the Dairy Queen was closed for the winter!). Just past town is what has become one of my favorite spots in West Virginia: the Hawk's Nest Overlook. This is one of two views one gets from its vantage point......
I love this view. We first saw it last March, and since then it's become something of a mental "happy place." I'm sure that railroad bridge makes for a nice challenge for whitewater rafters. Limbo low ..... how low can you go?
And looking to the right, going up New River, here's a good dam view......
For some reason, the music of Bernard Hermann began to fill my mind's ear as we passed this empty flophouse on US-60.
Our next stop was back to the 'original' one-lane New River Bridge, to catch yet another gander of the arch bridge (the one engraved on the West Virginia quarter). I love the view which that bridge offers.
From there, we did our makegood for the Mullens joyride. Last year on our way out from Mount Nebo, we passed through "coal country", including Mullens. It used to be a thriving and bustling coal-mining and railroad town. The view from Highway 16 (or, as they call it up there, Route 16) gives a gorgeous first impression as you enter the city from the east:
Deep inside, it isn't so pretty in many places. When passing through last March, I noticed a very disturbing sight: an abandoned "town diner" -- I knew something was terribly wrong when the proverbial corner diner was boarded up. Some simple Googlistic research showed that Mullens, West Virginia was nearly destroyed by floods in 2001, and many businesses didn't rebuild and instead chose to vacate.
This town once sported its own multi-story hotel. The Hotel Wyoming was built in 1918, and was named for this county:
See the curtain in the window second from the left? It was flapping around in the wind, giving a heartwrenching message of emptiness. I could see into the main lobby -- the floor tiles spelled "HOTEL WYOMING" in mosaic form.
My mind kept morphing this building into its former grandeur, when Mullens served as a hub for southwestern West Virginia, back when coal and the railroads were king. I so wished it were 1955 again, so we could walk in there and get a room with a view -- a panoramic vantage point over the town and the mountains surrounding it.
I'd have to say the most haunting image we took from this visit was found in the window of what used to be a pool hall. Amidst the tiffany-style table lamps piled in the window, my wife spotted a box full of mud-caked billiard balls!
But not all is bleak in Mullens, West Virginia. A tavern and a Dollar General was bringing folks in on this leisurely Sunday afternoon..............
It was depressing, yet offered glimmers of hope. That's West Virginians for you; down but never out.
We made our way out of Mullens and back to Beckley, where we picked up the West Virginia Turnpike for a trip northward to Charleston, where we'd try Lady Luck again. Would one of us make a small jackpot on the nickel slots? The answer after this pleasant visual interlude:
It's a typical image of what one gets on the turnpike between Beckley and Charleston -- much of it winds between two mountainsides. One feels all 'snuggled in' driving this stretch of interstate.
Okay, the answer? Cue the Price is Right "losing horns" -- we busted. We left the Tri-State casino completely devoid of the gambling wampum we allotted ourselves. Oh well. At least half of it was gravy from the scratch-offs Friday afternoon!
Supper was procured at Cracker Barrel south of Charleston, then it was back to the cabin. Tomorrow: A trip to Switzerland. Really. No joke.
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