TN-VA-WV Plus OH: Stop 5-Day 2, The Wilds

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

We came to Ohio for what happened today.  We visited The Wilds conservation center, not to be confused with the TV show.  The Wilds is a private, non-profit safari park and conservation center located in Muskingum County, Ohio.  It is about 35 minutes from Wolfie’s Campground.  It is the largest wildlife conservation in North America encompassing 9,154 acres of reclaimed coal mine land.  Currently they are only using between 3-4,000 acres for the park and the remainder will be used as they grow.  They are doing a lot of work to preserve a number of endangered species.  We aren’t sure exactly how they got their wildlife but know that some of them came from other zoos.  We began our day with a not-so-safari like experience of ziplining through the park and canopy, over some lakes and in view but never over wildlife.  Since this was our first time to have the opportunity to zipline we took advantage of the opportunity and really enjoyed the experience.  We would definitely do it again.

The afternoon was spent in a safari type vehicle driving around the park.  We saw most of the species in the park (too many to include) but not all and got what we think are some pretty good pictures too.  It was a different and very fun day.  We have enjoyed our short visit in Ohio.  Tomorrow we start a trek back toward Alabama.

TN-VA-WV Plus OH: Stop 5-Day 1, Zanesville, OH

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Gumby strikes again and we added another state to our RVing map!

We said goodbye to Rodney and Tammy yesterday as we headed out in opposite directions on I- 64.  We went west to Ohio and they went east to Maryland.  We backtracked through the gorge area and then continued to Zanesville, OH, about a 4.5 hour drive.  The terrain the entire way was very similar to the area around to gorge – some 9-10% climbs and descents driving along rivers a good part of the day.  Very pretty.  Surprisingly Fred still got a little over 9mpg.  We were expecting about 7.

Today we found a little trail on Alltrails in downtown Zanesville along the river.  The river is muddy and running fast due to the rain but it was a nice little walk and very interesting.  The Muskingum River runs right through downtown Zanesville and we walked out to Historic Lock #10 on the Muskingum.  This was our very first time to see a manually operated lock.  Very interesting.  Unfortunately there was no river traffic today so we didn’t get to see the lockmaster open and close the gates for a boat to lock through.  It is very tempting to return and rent a boat just to lock through.  When we still had a boat, we locked thru on the Black Warrior, and Tennessee rivers many times but all the lockmaster did was press a button to sound the horn and then another to open or close the gates.  We were glad to find a video of the manual operation to share with you.  Hope you enjoy.  We had no idea this type of gates were still in use.  Love new experiences like this.  It’s what RV travel/wandering is all about.  The rest of the day was spent catching up on paperwork and getting a little rest.

TN-VA-WV: Stop 4, Lewisburg, WV

Monday, July 12, 2021

This stop was a work stop but it sure did turn out to be a lot of fun.  Last Thursday we left New River Gorge and drove a whopping 48 miles to our next stop, the State Fair of West Virginia fairgrounds in Lewisburg.  We met Tammy and Rodney there to assist them with planning the 2022 NOMADS annual meeting.  We reviewed the work done to date, met with the fairgrounds staff – all very helpful – and toured the RV sites, and meeting rooms we will be using.  It is certainly easier to make plans when you have seen the facilities.  We also ate well because we were looking for some caterers to use for the meeting. Our NOMADS friends may recall that we had planned to be in WV in 2020, and Harry, working with John and Jill had already secured the venue but then COVID happened. We are attempting to continue their plans.  Saturday we visited the Greenbriar Resort and the Greenbriar Bunker as well the historical district of Lewisburg.  The area is very nice with lots of activities available for those wanting to do some of the touristy things.  And of course they can visit the New River Gorge.

Sunday after church, the four of us biked a section of the Greenbrier River Trail, another activity our NOMADS would enjoy.  The trail was a hard crushed stone trail along the Greenbrier River, mostly shaded.  It was a great trail that we really enjoyed.  Hope we can do some more riding when we return in 2022.

Rodney and Tammy are doing a great job and putting together a wonderful team that will provide our membership with another great meeting and we thank them for all their work.

TN-VA-WV: Stop 3, New River Gorge National Park-Day 3

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Wednesday was our last day at our newest national park so we tried to be sure we had done the most important items on the long list of opportunities in the park.  We began the day heading back to the northern end of the park.  We stopped to get a biscuit for breakfast at a regional chain Tudor’s Biscuit World.  Very good and very large biscuits.  From there we went to our main hike of the day, Long Point.  It’s only about1 ¾ mile hike but the payoff at the end is another great view of the bridge and the gorge.  At the start of the trail there is a crushed stone section but it quickly changes to the all too familiar rocks, roots and rhododendrons.  It’s classified as a moderate hike but we would really call it pretty easy except for the scramble up and down to Long Point at the very end.  The beautiful panoramic views of the gorge and the bridge make this another must do hike.

After a last quick stop at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center, we headed south to the Sandstone area of the park.  We did have to make one quick stop at Dairy Queen because we had just completed a hike. Our visit to the Sandstone Visitor Center meant we visited all four of the New River Gorge visitor centers.  There was another short film to watch and of course we stamped our passport book.  The Sandstone Falls are one of the attractions in this area of the park so we drove toward Hinton to the Overlook to take a look.  Unfortunately with the trees in full leaf, there was not much to see but a few small glimpses of the falls.  So we drove on towards Hinton which is another interesting community at the bottom of the gorge.  On the drive down to the bottom you have the mountain immediately to the left of the road, the railroad track immediately to the right and immediately to the right of the track there is a small sliver of land where the homes are built.  When we finally reached the bottom of the gorge there is a larger than expected although still small quaint little town of Hinton with several interesting shops and restaurants. After a drive back up the other side of the river we finally came to the Sandstone Falls.  At only about 30 feet, they aren’t nearly as high as many we have seen but there still very pretty falls reaching all the way across the river.  There was also another nice little boardwalk hike to reach the viewpoint of the falls.  Rain was on the way and so we headed back to the truck and then back to Fred.

So, how did we feel about our newest national park?  We had a great experience enjoying more of God’s creation.  We arrived midday Monday and spent 2 ½ active days in the there.  For us this was just about the right amount of time to get a really good feel for the park.  We did not have time to some of the longer or more strenuous hikes.  If you are primarily looking to drive to the sights, you could probably see most of the high points in about 1 ½ days.  The gorge is a beautiful area that we are thankful the NPS is working to preserve.  We hope to take a train ride through the gorge on a fall visit in the next year or two.