Heading Back East.

On Friday morning we decided that we would drive south into Kentucky via Cincinnati and then follow the Ohio River east through northern KY on Rt-8, which AAA claims to be a “scenic roadway”. This proved not to be the case, however, as the dense trees blocked our view of the river. Lazy, impatient tourists that we are, we could not abide this.

So, after an hour of non-sightseeing, we re-crossed the Ohio at Maysville on a beautiful suspension bridge (a cable-stayed bridge, I believe) and drove back into Ohio to Rt52.

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Being older gentlemen, we (once again) needed to pee, so we sought out facilities in the little town of Manchester, Ohio.

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We found the loo in a park overlooking the river.

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The rest of the town was a bit rundown and deserted, however. Much of this area along the Ohio seems down at the heels, still mired in the recession. Most of the storefronts on the main street were boarded up and deserted.

It was kind of jarring to see the contrasts between the haves and the have nots, often within just a mile or two of each other. Obviously prosperous small towns, with their flags and busy shops are frequently juxtaposed with less fortunate spots like Manchester.

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Continuing on Rt-52, we asked some local folks in Portsmouth, OH where we could find a decent, inexpensive lunch and they recommended Hickey’s Hamburger Inn, just up the road in New Boston. “Tell ’em you’re from out of town,” we were suspiciously told by a helpful, grinning citizen. This should have alerted me, but somehow it didn’t.

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We drove about a half hour to Hickey’s and, no, the sign does not represent current prices. But the food was cheap and good, and like everywhere in the mid-west, people were really friendly and chatty.

As we were paying, the cashier asked me where we were from and if we had ever been in Hickey’s before. Without thinking, I answered truthfully. Then this friendly, middle aged matron began waving her arms and  shouted out to the 40 or so locals eating lunch “Hey, everyone! We’ve got two virgins from Massachusetts!” and proceeded to ostentatiously hug us both while people laughed and applauded from the tables.

Everyone enjoyed our mortified expressions I guess, as we smiled and waved and quickly fled the restaurant and got back on the road.

We had decided during lunch to jump on to I-64E and head into West Virginia toward Beckley to find a motel.

Now I’ve been using Hotels.com and Bookings.com all along to ID local motels and their approximate cost, but there was little or no cell reception on the run from Charleston to Beckley, so we had to “manually” find the Travelodge like a couple of Luddites. Nice spot, though.

We awoke on Saturday and decided to continue east into Virginia and pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway heading north and then wander toward New England..

Enroute to Virginia, we stopped for lunch in Lewisburg WV, where they were setting up for the annual T.O.O.T. Festival. That acronym stands for “Taste Of Our Town”, we were told and this was a food festival.

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A really nice small town with several schools located nearby, Lewisburg was a fun stop, even though we were too early for the food!

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They have a Carnegie Hall here in Lewisburg. Evidently, the great man built several nice concert halls in small towns around coal mining country. The TOOT Festival helps to support the local Hall.

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The festival would have been set to go in a couple of hours, but we didn’t want to wait, so we grabbed a sandwich and kept driving east into Virginia.

Getting off I-64 and on to RT-60, we tried to stop at a military museum in Lexington, VA but evidently VMI had a football game with Samford that afternoon and tailgating was in progress. Every parking space in town was filled with either a car or an orange cone. I’ve since read that VMI got blown out by Samford, so if we had stayed around everyone would have been really sad, anyway.

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We continued east on Rt-60, heading for the much anticipated Blue Ridge Parkway.

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There was lots of fall colors to see as we wound our way through the mountains along the two lane blacktop road.

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It was pleasant. It was charming. It was colorful. But it was drizzling. And it was slow moving, with elderly tourists (damn old people!) bombing along at about 7 MPH. It began to closely resemble a rainy fall afternoon in the Mt. Washington Valley when the “leaf peepers” are on the road.

For example:

Having seen lots of damp foliage, we decided to jump back on I-81N and we drove to Chambersburg, PA where we had dinner and spent the night.

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