Road Tripping Through West Virginia
By Hope S. Philbrick
On Saturday, June 4, 2016, after a quick but delicious lunch at South Main Kitchen in Alpharetta, Ga., I starting driving toward Nemacolin. To break up the drive, I’d scheduled an overnight at Country Road Cabins in Hico, West Virginia.
I prefer road trips over flying, and here’s one example why: Rising up out of the greenery along U.S. Route 19 is a wooden shack with a sign towering over it: “Oasis. Greek Italian Diner.” Because Mediterranean is hard to spell? It also says “XXX Adult.” Instead of wrought iron grates over the windows this place had wooden lattice that’s painted hot pink. Had I flown, I’d never have seen this American roadside treasure. It’s not the sort of place I’d set foot in, but it made me laugh since it’s a very unexpected business model. Who needs to get a gyro and porn in one stop in the middle of seemingly nowhere? I only regret that I didn’t get a picture of the place. I posted a note about this discovery on Facebook and learned that two friends had dealt with the place. One shared this story: “They may be tacky, but some of the most generous folk in the world!!! I had a friend who broke down near there once and not only did they fix it for like $50, they also took her in for three days, fed her and sheltered her until the bank holiday was over, then got the part, fixed it and sent her on her way! I also once ran out of gas near the area and while I was looking for a Western Union (dated) to get money wired to me, a lady I came across gave me $20 for enough gas and food (also dated) to get all the way back to NC!” Seriously, wow. This is West Virginia.
A couple of hours from my destination, it started to rain so hard that it was impossible to see more than a foot in front of the car. The steep mountain roads made the risky situation even scarier. But an amazing thing happened that restored my faith in humanity: Though we could not speak or even signal to one another, all the drivers merged into the middle of the three traffic lanes, flicked on their hazard lights, and slowed down to about 10 mph. We all inched along like one big mechanical caterpillar, determined to make it through the storm and up/down the Appalachians together. It was an amazing, heartwarming experience.
I arrived at my destination just as the sun was setting. West Virginia is beautiful and deserves further exploration. Until then, if your travels take you through West Virginia, expect to see some unusual things* and meet some amazing folks—even if you only share the road.
*On the return trip, I saw a lone goat with sizable horns munching on grass alongside the highway.
Stock up on Fiestaware at Everything Fiesta at the Flatwoods Factory Outlets in Sutton, WV. Take Exit 67 off I-79.
When it’s not raining, pull over at the designated scenic views to stretch your legs and appreciate the vistas.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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