Epilogue, Of Sorts

Many Americans woke up this morning to the news of our triumphant, albeit short-handed, return home to Virginia but in our normal fashion we thought it worthy to comment about yesterday’s travels on our last leg home.

You may recall we departed Bridgeport, WV and headed east on Route 50 through the mountains, but needing to eventually work our way a little bit further south than what Route 50 had to offer.  However, Route 48, also known as Corridor H, is not a friend to Model T touring as it’s meant to be a high-speed throughway so we needed an alternate route through the mountains east of Mt. Storm.

Fortunately, we could pick up Old West Virginia 55 in Moorefield and follow along the general path of 48, but with much less traffic with the bonus of having plenty to see along the way.

How travelers see West Virginia from Route 48 / Corridor H.
How we saw Route 48 / Corridor H from West Virginia.

West Virginia has plenty to offer in terms of scenic roads and vistas, but even though the we peaked at an elevation of about 3,095′ we did find ourselves passing several, if not many, 10% grade road signs.  The Ruckstell made easy work of them going up, and the Rocky Mountain brakes gave comfort to us coming back down and we would certainly recommend those brakes on any car doing West Virginia mountain touring.

10% grades, uphill and downhill, plus lots of turns.
A farmstead near Maysville, WV.

Even on the highways there are nice overlooks, but not like the ones you may stumble upon on the back roads.  And in the northern section of West Virginia you can look across a single vista and see the mountains in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

High mountain vistas near Backbone Mountain.
Crossing the Cheat River, still one of the most undeveloped rivers in the country.

Once we made it to Wardensville, WV, it was safe to rejoin Route 48, where it necked back down to a single-lane road in both directions (although there is still a lot of traffic) and we climbed the final ridge where the Tuscarora hiking trailhead marks the boundary between West Virginia and Virginia.  Then we gradually descended down into Virginia, working our way through the increasingly built up areas until we were finally back in the heart of Northern Virginia sprawl, a bittersweet ending to our cross country trip.

But before we finished the journey, we had one more appointment…to meet and pick up two of our original travelers who had to depart early after the ’11’s sudden onset of metal fatigue.  There were smiles all around as we drove the final 10 miles home together, and, with that, it’s back to rat race.

Picking up the rest of the crew for the final miles home.

But we’re not done yet.  The ’11 is due back home this week, along with a “new” engine that will be installed after the broken one is removed.  We have lots of post-maintenance work to be done on both cars but without a doubt they’ll be on the road again before long.  Plus, there’s already discussion among the youngest of our group which year Model Ts they’d like to own one day.

Thank you to everyone who followed along and encouraged us to continue, and especially to all of you who made it possible to continue.  We cannot call out everyone by name as we’ll be sure to forget someone, but a special shout-out belongs to Scott Conger who allowed us to add another 700 miles together before the 11’s crankshaft failed, and, of course, to all our families who allowed us to go outside and play for awhile.

Until then, we’ll see you all on the road again soon!

Don, Jon, Matt, Nico and Jonathan

The Home Stretch

We’ve decided that we should at least make the effort to get home this evening rather than pulling up 30-60 miles short, but acknowledge that decision will be made for us based on what time we exit the West Virginia mountains and start working our way across the upper plains of Virginia. To be sure, Virginia is also mountainous in the west, but in the north they become more like big hills than mountains and the area along the I-66 corridor isn’t too bad. Also to be sure, we don’t plan on taking I-66 or even being too close to it, as there are better things to see in Virginia than its highways.

We’ll set out from Bridgeport on the dreaded route 50, but we discovered last night, looking at the map, that route 50 necks down to a single-lane, more country-style road right here in Bridgeport after crossing I-79. But we’re also going to navigate ourselves around route 48 later on, which is also listed as Corridor H and looks remarkably like the part of route 50 we didn’t like. One thing we’ve noticed in the past, and recently, is that there are many nice, wide, open double-lane highways running through West Virginia, many honoring a guy named Robert Byrd, but never really going anywhere in particular. We understand the desire and intent of the roads, but we’ve yet to see the growth along them they were designed to bring.

Otherwise, we think we’ve found a nice, quiet route through the mountains and will let you know how that goes.

So we’re off, after changing our oil one more time and will keep you all posted on our progress.

Bridgeport, WV

Earlier today we suggested we’d be spending the night, tonight, in Clarksburg, WV. Instead, we’ll be in Bridgeport, which is about 4 miles closer to home than Clarksburg.

The ride today was pleasant enough through Ohio and western West Virginia but to get to the Clarksburg-Bridgeport area from Athens, OH, required us to spend many of the 100+ miles driving along highway 50, the same highway 50 we drove a bit on in Nevada although in West Virginia, if you can believe it, highway 50 is nowhere near as lonely as in Nevada. In fact, our necks are sore from frequently looking behind us to make sure a distracted driver didn’t close the distance between us too quickly as they approached with a 35-40 mph closure rate.

Circleville, OH. We’ve watched enough Road Runner cartoons not to fall for this trap.

Circleville, OH is an interesting place as the Pickaway County court house, located in Circleville, was, in 1810, placed in the exact center of an 1,100 foot diameter earthwork circle created by Native Americans more than 1,500 years ago, while the rest of the town was laid out within the circle, thus giving the ville its name. But residents there quickly got tired of running around in circles and by the 1850’s had changed the city’s layout to a grid and today there are no remaining traces of the original circle.

And once again we crossed a river boundary, with the Ohio River marking the boundary between Ohio and West Virginia, which causes us to reflect that the Missouri River is the entire eastern border of Nebraska and the Illinois River isn’t a boundary at all.

The Ohio River, with West Virginia on the right.

In Clarksburg we passed a marker celebrating their native son, Tom Jackson, who died in Chancellorsville, VA after being shot by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, which was unfortunate for Tom since he had been such a stalwart advocate of the Confederate cause people had started calling him “Stonewall”.

We also spent some of our day today trying to get over the loss of the ’11’s crankshaft by locating and purchasing a new old engine for it, but the stories that engine has to tell, and one day will have to tell, must wait until we can put it in the ’11.

And now we’re having dinner (an excellent steak and an excellent brisket sandwich), discussing our plans for tomorrow, or at least intending to discuss them while we determine how well West Virginian brewers could compete against Iowan brewers if there were a competition, and our thoughts are “very well”. Our big decision is whether we try to knock out the last 213 or so miles home in one day, through the mountains, or whether we savor our last day(s) on the road with the ’10 and arrive Saturday mid-day. We suppose it depends on our mood in the morning and whether there’s a chance the two youngest of our group, who had to depart in South Dakota, could come join us again for the last few miles home.

Almost Kanawha, West Virginia

We’re off from Springfield, OH, headed towards the Ohio River and West Virginia beyond.

Springfield, OH

We’ve visited West Virginia many times in the past, so we’re really starting to feel like we’re getting close to our goal, plus just having the word “Virginia” in its name probably has something to do with it. Incidentally, the original name selected for West Virginia was Kanawha, named after the river and then county in the area which was, until then, part of Virginia itself but there was concern it would be confusing to have a county and a state called Kanawha, plus the western Virginians who were seceding from Virginia during the Civil War still wanted a name to reflect their Virginian heritage, so here we are.

London, OH

We’ll make plans to pass through Athens, OH, and cross the Ohio River into West Virginia at Parkersburg, where once the longest railroad bridge in the world was built, before pressing on towards Clarksburg, WV if we are making okay time. Our last few days will be back in the mountains, albeit the eastern kind, but they can still make for slow going.