WV Road Trip: Final Stops

Sorry for the delay of this post; I’ve been a bit swamped between work and home, and then I caught the plague that has been going around which knocked me out for a while, but I’m excited now to finish telling you about our WV road trip!

After Hillbilly Hotdogs, we continued on our way to Charleston. I’ve always wanted to see the Capitol building!

Mama, however, still had some classic Americana roadside attractions on her list to see, and they were our only real plan for this leg of the drive. We crisscrossed Huntington until we were able to check off the giant pink elephant as well as a pink and green giraffe from her list. We were going to skip the giant rotating root beer mug but stumbled upon it anyway while looking for the others. And boy, were we glad that we did!

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Frostop is an old-fashioned drive-in. I don’t think I’ve ever actually experienced a true drive-in outside of a Sonic which I don’t feel quite counts. Now, we didn’t know that this place was a drive-in when we pulled in to snap a picture of the root beer mug. Daddy got out of the truck to go in and get a drink and the poor kid came out to take our order, and they met about halfway. The waiter was so baffled as to what to do! We all ordered one of their homemade root beers, and they were delicious!

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We hit the road again and after catching a few county line signs were starting to get a little road weary and began looking forward to the hotel. We decided that we’d find a hotel, check-in early and get situated since we didn’t have a reservation, and then we’d wander around Nitro and Cross Lanes and find someplace to get dinner.

No haunted hotels for this girl that night – I wanted some solid shut eye! We checked into a Comfort Inn, dropped our bags, relaxed for a moment, and then headed back to the truck.

Now, my family has been a hard-core Cabela’s family for years. We even get a hardback copy of their catalog. I’ve been to at least two of the Cabela’s stores, and they really are a sight to see. There is usually a giant mountain display in the heart of the store; some even have a water fall! The food in their deli is also amazing. It’s usually a bit of a hike for us to get to a Cabela’s store, so when we saw a billboard for one we decided to go since we were tired and knew the food would be good.

After driving for entirely too long, we realized that we were in the wrong area. If you know my father, he never gets lost, so this is practically unheard of!

Once we finally made it there, we got our food (I usually get Elk on Marbled Rye which is my favorite and sooo yummy!) and then did a little shopping.

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After Cabela’s, we went back to the hotel for the night, and I got a pretty good night’s rest.

We slept in a little, grabbed breakfast at the hotel, then checked out and headed straight for Charleston. The only thing on our list for the day was viewing the Capitol building, so it was a pretty straight shot there except for a brief detour to see Paul Bunyan and Babe his blue ox.

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Since it was Sunday, we learned that the Capitol building wouldn’t open until noon. I was tired, and we decided rather than wait then spend an hour or so touring the building still with a long drive home, we would just wander the grounds a bit then head home.

The campus was beautiful. On a Sunday morning, it was basically deserted and peaceful. We walked around and looked at the Veteran’s Memorial, the Coal Miner’s Statue, and sat for a while on a park bench with a view of the shining golden dome and some friendly squirrels.

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It was such an amazing weekend. I loved every moment of it, but I was still happy to get back to my own part of the Mountain State and my own comfy bed. I can’t wait for our next trip!

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WV Road Trip: Hillbilly Hotdogs

Hillbilly Hot Dogs was one of Mama’s picks for this trip. I’d only heard from some 4-H friends that I should check it out, but hadn’t done any research (I tend to do a lot of things without research – it’s more of an adventure that way.), but Mama had and was very excited.

Our directions had been reliable so far, but for some reason they overestimated the amount of time it would take for us to get to Hillbilly Hot Dogs from Point Pleasant. We were trucking along when we came upon the restaurant faster than anticipated; Daddy slammed on the breaks and pulled off.

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Now, if you’ve been reading this blog you know that I’m full of state pride. I love my state and all she has to offer. I’m not one for redneck or hillbilly jokes as I feel they perpetuate a damaging stereotype. That being said, sometimes you’ve got to laugh at yourself and Hillbilly Hotdogs does just that.

The restaurant is built around a few old school buses. License plates hang from the walls and there are thousands of signatures everywhere. The experience continues from one out building to the next. Adjacent to the main restaurant is a sweet shoppe and next to that is the Hillbilly Wedding Chapel!

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There are additional fun spots set up: an outdoor dining area with picnic tables under some trees, a deck on top of the school buses, a silo, an outdoor bathtub, a two-seater outhouse, and some photo props.

While waiting in line, my mother made a new friend. (I should note to get there early; we got there 20 minutes after opening and there was a line.) Ms. Becky was sitting in the picnic area, pretty in pink, wearing a straw hat with the tag still on it Minnie Pearl style. They struck up a conversation, and she learned that Ms. Becky and her husband Mr. Tom had just renewed their wedding vows at the Hillbilly Wedding Chapel for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. 50 years! Their son was also in line with us, and we chatted together until we made it to the order counter.

The menu at Hillbilly Hotdogs is the real reason for the trip. There is every different type of hot dog you can imagine. The menu includes a dozen or more hot dog options which include the Pineappalachian Dog (BBQ sauce, country ham, crushed pineapple, and shredded cheese), Thundering Herd Dog (beef weenie, habanero sauce, nacho cheese, hot dog sauce, diced onions, jalapeños, and Cole slaw), West Virginia Dog (hot dog sauce, mustard, onions, and Cole slaw), Mothman Dog (deep-fried weenie, Thousand Island dressing, hot dog sauce, 2 onion rings, and maters) and more! They also have burgers, sandwiches, and “rabbit fixins”’ which is their vegetarian menu.

Their call to fame is the Home Wrecker.

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If you finish the Home Wrecker in less than 12 minutes, you get a free t-shirt. If you finish in 2:34 minutes, you will hold the world record!

Remember my father’s rule? “When you’re at a BBQ joint, you eat BBQ.” Well, when you’re at a hot dog joint, you eat hot dogs. He decided to go for the Homewrecker but minus the jalapeños and habanero sauce. He also just ordered the dog and didn’t try for the “timed” wrecker.

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We got our dogs and sat inside the air-conditioned school bus to eat our meal. As we ate, we heard the kid behind us talking about his experience. He had just tried to eat the Homewrecker and was looking (and feeling) pretty rough. At least 2/3 of the dog was still on his plate. Daddy didn’t go for speed, but in about 20 minutes he ate the entire thing!

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While we were talking and encouraging him, I noticed the fellow behind us kept chuckling, and I understood why when they called his name next for the Homewrecker Challenge. Daddy being Daddy teased him a bit, but soon we got the whole bus chanting his name, “Freddy! Freddy! Go, Freddy!” But alas, he left about half his dog on his plate and didn’t hit the 12-minute goal.

Hillbilly Hotdogs was such an experience; it was probably the most fun I had on this leg of the trip!

 

WV Road Trip: Point Pleasant

Back in high school, my WV Hospitality and Tourism class went to Weston, West Virginia, to tour the old WV state mental hospital (which has been re-branded the Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum or “TALA”). TALA has several awesome options for the paranormal enthusiast or the history buff. After the initial trip with school, I went back to the Asylum a few different times, even staying the night once for a ghost hunt!

Now, my mother was never a fan of me going ghost hunting. For that matter, she never even let me watch Beetle Juice because the thought of people not crossing over freaks her out.

Imagine my surprise when she presented me with our itinerary for the weekend road trip and our first hotel was haunted!

Our stop for the evening was in Point Pleasant in Mason County. Point Pleasant is where the Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet. The story goes that George Washington declared the point where the rivers converged as a “pleasant point.”

The historic Lowe Hotel sits in front of the flood wall on Main Street and is directly across from the world’s only Mothman Museum.

Upon entering the hotel from the street, you walk through two sets of double doors and into the foyer with its green marble pillars. The front desk is adorned with beautiful paintings of the hotel and town and is home to an old-fashioned bell and Tiffany lamp.

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We went to check-in, but the desk concierge (who is also the owner) was out of the building on a break, so we decided to go get dinner. After driving up and down the main drag and discussing our options, we decided to forgo a chain restaurant and eat at a little BBQ shack called Cornfed’s. It was basic but cute. The restaurant was set up inside of a barn with the smoker out in the back. It was packed as it was Friday night, and the kitchen seemed small so we had a bit of a wait before our food was ready.

Since we were in Mason County, I thought it clever that our drinks were served in Mason jars. The menu was simple but had enough choices. My father has a rule which we all tend to stick to – if you go to a BBQ joint, you get BBQ. I usually adhere to that rule, but I opted for chicken tenders and loaded fries and they hit the spot.

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My mother got a cheeseburger, and my father had a brisket sandwich which was served in a large slice on a bun. I’m very particular about my fries, and unfortunately the style/cut of fry offered wasn’t my favorite. They were more like boardwalk fries; I prefer thinner, crispy fries, but everyone else loved them.

After Cornfed’s, we went back to the hotel to check-in. We met the owner and got checked into our rooms. I was hardly surprised when she handed us a skeleton key and pointed towards the rickety elevator. We dropped our bags in our room and then went down to walk the river path and watch the barges before turning in for the night. On our way back to our rooms, we turned the corner and there crossing our path was a black cat!
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I felt that the Lowe Hotel would’ve been better experienced in a trip of its own. I would have had more fun if the hotel was the destination. It’s fun to experience the nervous excitement of a haunted hotel – but not so much when I want a place to lay my head at the end of a long day. The rooms are each decorated in a different time period. Antique furniture adorns each and lines the hallway. There was air conditioning and TV which was nice. I left my TV on the entire night as I ended up with a room of my own and not in with my parents. I didn’t sleep well. (I was a wee bit afraid of the ghosties.)

I woke early, took a shower, and went back down to the river where I strolled the trail by the flood wall. The flood wall is painted with murals of historical events and peppered down the path are stainless steel statues depicting historical characters.

An amphitheater generally has music on Friday nights. (It had been canceled when we arrived due to the flooding.) If you’ve never taken the chance to sing in an outdoor space with good acoustics, you should try it; it’s neat to hear your voice as it echoes across the concrete! When we were exploring the night before, the water level was even with the boat tie ups, but by morning the water had reached the bottom step of the amphitheater.

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I followed the path out to the overlook where the rivers meet and watched the barges until my mother called me to let me know they were awake. If you focus hard, you can almost erase the bridge, barges, homes, and powerlines and imagine what George Washington saw as he stood at the same spot. It’s beautiful.

We checked out, threw our bags in the car, and walked over to The Coffee Grinder for breakfast. I love a cute coffee house and the brew was amazing. My father and I both got their “Mothman” blend. We sat out on the sidewalk and sipped our coffee until the Mothman Museum opened.

Every place has its oddities and Point Pleasant’s is the Mothman. The legend goes that in 1966 people started seeing a man with a huge span of birdlike wings and red glowing eyes that would swoop down after them or chase their cars. After several sightings, it became part of the local folklore. Some say that the Mothman is a warning that something bad is going to happen. Most notably, he warned of the collapse of the Silver Bridge in December, 1966, a tragedy which killed 46 people.

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After grabbing some pictures with the Mothman statue and some souvenirs, we picked up some cases of water at the Piggly Wiggly to take to a flood donation drop-off point and headed towards Huntington and our next stop – Hillbilly Hotdogs.

WV Road Trip: Day 1

So far on our WV travels, we’ve been in 51 of the 55 counties. We hit 18 of those counties during this last mini-road trip.

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We started out from the house around seven Friday morning. (I enjoyed sleeping in!) We asked Daddy Thursday night if we needed to eat at the house or if we would eat on the road. He said we’d eat on the road. In the morning, we packed up, grabbed some coffee, and headed out.

An hour or so into the trip, I was anxious for breakfast so we asked Daddy what he had in mind. (My father always has a plan.) He had absolutely no recollection of our conversation, and we were in the middle of nowhere.

We kept driving and stopped at the first gas station we saw for a restroom break and to see if there was any restaurant nearby. The attendant said that Melanie’s up the road was pretty good. We headed in that direction and turned in. It turns out that I had gone to high school with the waitress. When she and I started chatting, my father realized that he had gone to school with her father. She texted her dad and he joined us for our meal. Our breakfast was amazing. Homemade cinnamon toast, need I say more.

After breakfast, we hit the road again. We stopped at a small general store in Cool Springs for some flowers, penny candies, and snacks. They also had a display of antique steam machinery (and a llama) which my father was excited about (the machinery, my mother was excited about the llama).

Our first destination was Grafton and the birthplace of Anna Jarvis. Anna Jarvis is the woman who created Mother’s Day. After getting lost and missing the road a few times, Daddy pulled over at a pizza joint to get directions. While he was in talking to the waitresses, we met the cutest little fellow by the name of Ozzy hanging out in an old Impala in the parking lot. Directions in hand we made it to the homestead. We walked around the homestead and stopped in the gift shop.

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Near Grafton we kept seeing bicyclists involved in the Race Across America. I’ve wanted to do a bike ride with WV State 4-H called Outspoken for a few years, but I am terrified of biking down off of a mountain; these guys were just pedaling along up and down some incredibly steep hills.

Aside from our WV road trip, my parents went on a small day trip for their anniversary earlier this month. When in Unger, WV, they saw the Muffler Men. My mother decided that since there were some other Muffler Men in the parts of WV we were going to this weekend, we’d try to work them in.

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We went to see the Native American Muffler Man in Parkersburg and got a few pictures with him. Daddy thought he was clever for wearing his Indian motorcycle shirt. From there we headed over to JR’s Doughnut Castle for one of the 12 Best Pepperoni Rolls in WV.

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If you donut (I’m sorry, I really am.) know what a pepperoni roll is they are a delicious WV treat! There has been some dilution of true pepperoni rolls to include cheese or “shudder” pizza sauce. But I’m a purist. When we got to the castle, my mother asked what type we should get and I informed her that we came for pepperoni rolls and by golly that’s what we were going to get.

We also loaded up on bear claws, amazing cannolis, doughnuts, scones and muffins for snacks and the next morning’s breakfast.

After Parkersburg it was pretty much a straight shot to Point Pleasant and our first night’s hotel.