I slept well in the Hennessey Hammock over the evening. The low temp was around 50F which was cool but not uncomfortable on account of my UnderArmor Cold Layers, knit cap and down mummy bag. I began to stir around 7:00 (later than my usual but we were chit-chatting until well past midnight) The pleasant view south in the burning light of morning foreshadowed the heat to come, forecasts well into the 90's
LD has a variety of fruit trees around the farm dating from its history as an orchard and contributions of wayward seeds dropped by the plethora of native feathered creatures.
I graciously accepted a breakfast of eggs, coffee, homemade whole grain toast
and soy-bacon. I didn't think it was too bad but HB compared it to the paper towel used to soak up the fat on thick cut bacon typical in most Saturday morning frying pans.
During breakfast, I received word from bmwew1 who had a flat on 64 outside Covington and was in the process of getting it plugged, refilled and underway. We were in cell contact during the AM as he rerouted toward Bluefield to keep on more major routes in case of further emergency. Fortunately, he was able to ride on the plug all weekend despite his early apprehension.
Meanwhile (back on the farm
), LD showed me their collection of Valks
After fart'n around some more, I decided I would take off for a ride in the direction of Breaks Interstate Park, leaving LD and HB to welcome guests and prepare for the festivities.
I continued down 61 into Tazewell where I picked up 16N into WV. The heat of the sun on my back reminded me why I usually take off in the summer at 6AM. No matter, any homemade breakfast with good company and conversation is well worth the delay
16 was a blast: twisty, well paved, and some traffic toward the end. I approached a sign that read "You are now entering War"...that gave me a chuckle.
If you get in War you go STRAIGHT TO JAIL - DO NOT PASS GO!
Seemed to be pretty quiet for the city at War
Past war, the road continues to snake through the low mountains filled with coal, sandstone, natural gas and many other resources sure to be extracted; the people exploited
For many, it is their only way.
Let me start by admitting I got sidetracked. As I approached the intersection with 83 (toward Grundy and Breaks), I saw a sign for Coalwood. I had read the wonderful Coalwood ride report "October Quest for the Original Cape Coalwood"
and finished Homer Hickam's The Coalwood Way
just last week. It was sealed...I HAD to go check it out for myself.
Onward down 16, this is the Coretta Mine with conveyor belts to transport coal over passing cars, motorcycles and coal trucks along. I recall mentions of the Coretta mine in Hickam's book.
Over the mountain, I descended the twisty two-lane road into town. Just before Six Hollow, I encountered this sign.
Here is an example of some of the houses typical in this early 20th century factory town. Notice the original roofs on most homes. Some where in rough shape...
Down I traveled till the abandoned Coalwood High School loomed on my left. I took a fair number of photos here since I have always been enamored with abandoned buildings, broken windows and the natural reclamation of man's once-shining achievements.
I spotted this old football play book on the front steps.
To think of the time and effort put into these plays and the sport. I wonder if the author still lives within shouting distance? Maybe...maybe not...maybe underground...
I jumped back on the bike and cruised toward the "downtown" where the Olga Coal Company once operated.
This home was prominent in the book but I cannot immediately recall who it belonged to. Certainly a lead member of the mining company. It is situated directly up the hill from the old mine area.
The Old Clubhouse
Windows shut to the light since the closing of the mine in the 1980's
Can you spy the ninja at the back door
The former site of the tipple and mine buildings demolished in recent years.
The Clubhouse and Doctor's Office circa 1937
The Coalwood Apartment House
As it appeared in 1937
Then rode over to the machine shop where Homer Hickam's rocket nozzles were covertly constructed by mine workers.
The paper doesn't come as often anymore.
Thats one intriguing telephone pole....
They built a pool on one wall of the former mine building office
Hell of a place for a pool but whatever floats your boat
There was still more to see of Coalwood, I continued past the gas station, Homer Hickam's house and Substation row to Mudhole Branch.
In this holler lived many African American workers. Most attended the church of a wise minister named Richard. The road to this church is actually named "Richard Ln"
Hickam's book describes the process and effort which went into designing and installing these circular stained glass windows. They were designed to represent the "potters wheel", with which God shapes the clay of human lives in circular patterns.
The windows are well worn 50 years after their installation but I was the only one appreciating them today.
And some of the views up Mudhole Branch
Fire had consumed many of the small homes. The area did not seem to have as many African Amercain inhabitants anymore.
I reached the end of the holler quickly arriving at a yellow gate. I retraced my route, dual exhausts burbling alarm bells to the residents...an outsider was amidst. I wondered if word had already spread that a "tourist" was roaming about...I'll just leave my helmet on thanks.
Rode the dirt road down to the old coal slack dump which was home to the Rocket Boy's Launch Site
I believe these are the original launch shacks built by the Rocket Boys. I may be wrong.
This comforter is testament to their current function as teen-hangout-escapism location dujour
Enjoyed a granola bar, some water and back up the road I went. Even their playground has rocket items.
Continuing back toward town, I turned left onto Snakeroot Branch. This hollow was also known for its desperate families, hard drinking fathers and thread-bare children. Unfortunately, not much has changed or times have gotten worse. This is true Appalachia and I was satisfied to lack the embarrassment a string of technicolor dual sports would have drawn had I lead a ride here.
Can you spot the dog in the creek?
Back up the road, this is Homer Hickam's childhood home. It was in this basement he mixed his moonshine alcohol rocket fuel, diligently designed his rockets and studiously completed homework assignments.
Substation Row along 16 on the road out to Welch
The road to Welch is a blast
Here is the view looking down on Welch
I enjoyed riding around Welch and took some back road out of town following the railroad up a valley. The road twisted along the hillside, hugging the many hairpin turns and hollows, I wound up in the small town of Davey. From here, I continued along a road which became more narrow and switched back and froth from paved to dirt. The reaction of children on bicycles in their mountain summer celebration, mouths agape at this large unique motorcycle and vivid suit was priceless. I continued on, passing gas wells and pipelines, the road crested a mountain ridge then, slowly, more homes began to appear and I eventually reached a more major roadway. Judging this was 52, I turned right on the signless two-lane road. The yellow line in the center was a welcome sight from the past route of discovery which led me here. After continuing for 15-20 miles, I arrived here in Pineville.
The route I found was not 52 but in fact 10. I had traveled north a good ways distant now from Breaks Interstate Park. It was around 3:00 and I knew I should return by 6 to the campout to gorge myself with barbeque and beer. Did I mention I was getting hungry
The scenery was satiating however.
An old Tipple down the tracks
This old rail bridge looked inviting so I rode onto it a ways. Only after a while did I notice the couple feet of missing sections in the middle open to the river below
Then after taking this shot, some quads rolled by and I had to back out to let them pass. This may have been a section of the Hatfield McCoy Trail Network
I picked some blackberries here for LD
I crossed back through Welch...AGAIN...and chose 103 to 161 for the route back to Tazewell. I passed through the town of Gary, home to Homer Hickam's Mother and a vivacious woebegone character in his book.
Stark views of human devastation abound along 161. These mountains will never be the same in our lifetime...or many more for that matter. The soil and trees planted lack the soil horizons, water tables and complex ecosystem so carelessly destroyed to supply our nation's strength and power. Illusory.
Back down 16, I rode through downtown Tazewell.
After arriving at camp, I greeted my ADV friends and watched at TurkeyMan101 humorously laid waist to LD's front lawn with his roaring coffee fire
The hostess with the mostest.
Where we be?
Chips were served in the light of the golden hour
Flutesong and Muffynmonster went down to pet the horses.
Then my delicious meal was ready. LD, HB and FluteSong put forth a bit of effort while I was out goofing off and taking pictures. Their efforts were savored slowly and completely and washed down with my new light summertime refreshment: Bud Light Lime (its not so bad
bmwew1 and 257bob
We had a little visitor
HB giving me his best "what the hell are you staring at" snarl
Then another "just right" fire. Coffee was drank, lies were swapped, friendship was lit.
As the fire faded, the adventurers retired to their sleeping spots around the home and inside. In the morning...we be riding. Goofing off and riding. It's the Cat Herder Way
Hammock time again