#80 Paint Bank

June 11, 2007
406 miles

Paint Bank
Day 4

The next morning at about 8am I headed west on I77 into West Virginia. The Bluestone Scenic River - Sandstone Visitor Center will open at 9am. I should get there about right...That's what I thought up until I started looking at Jill's screen and thinking, "That there road through Athens, WV sure looks more appealing than this Interstate...Ummm...I've never been to Athens, WV."

(As you recall - July of last summer I decided to visit every Athens I could find between Athens, Texas to Athens, Georgia = Fleeter Log #29. FYI: I found six, including my start and stop locations--TX, LA, MS, AL, TN, & GA. Since then, I've been to at least one this year in Ohio.)

So I take the exit to hwy 44 which takes me to hwy 20 and right through Athens, WV.

I find it amazing how little people know about the area they live in. For example, I stopped in Lenora to top off with gas, since I didn't know what this back road had in the way of fuel stops. I've learned that when you get on the back roads anywhere - especially in the mountains of West Virginia - you shouldn't count on finding fuel, or food, at the towns represented by little dots on the GPS. So I go in to pay, because this is one of those little places with the old style gas pumps...no pay at the pump in this town. While paying, I ask the clerk if there's much between here and the Sandstone Visitor Center. She looked at me as if I were asking her for information about Yellowstone National Park. I added that it was up about where hwy 20 meets I64. The clerk still looks at me as if I'm asking her about some faraway land. (By my calculations, with Jill's help, the Visitor Center would be about 25 miles away.) She offers that she does know that Hinton is up the road that way...she's been there. As if her personal verification of Hinton's existence would put me at ease...? Other than knowing about Hinton's place on the map, she apologized that she didn't get out of town much so she couldn't be much help. I thanked her, swung into the saddle and continued my ride. Sure enough about 15 miles up the road was a small/medium size town -- Hinton. I guess these are the people that look at me with the most disbelief when they find out where I'm from, where I'm going, and how I'm getting there. It truly is hard for them to comprehend.

I crossed this bridge between Lenora and Hinton.
Hwy 20 runs along side the Bluestone River most of the way to I64. This most certainly is a better road for fleetering than the Interstate.
There's no tunnels though the mountains along here. You just have to go around them.
Here's the Bluestone Lake Dam that took the place of Lilly, WV.In Hinton, I crossed over the Bluestone River and continued north on hwy 20.This is hwy 20 through Hinton... The main road though town. Not even a painted stripe on the road.
But it was a very nice road the rest of the way to I64. I recommend it. And to think, if I'd stayed on the Interstate, I would have had to have paid a toll -- Hwy 20 was free! Got three stamps here at Sandstone.
Come on, lets get on down the road to the next destination...a VA Tour stop.
So did you have an opinion on what a Paint Bank would be?
A place to safely store your paint?
No, just a small Virginia town.

Here are the photos...Paint Bank, Virginia 24131 Paint Bank seems a small and idyllic community nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of the Jefferson National Forest...but you never know when a super hero may need a phone booth. They aren't easy to find now days. But here in Paint Bank, if the need ever arises, the super hero is in luck. I'm not sure if it's a threat to Paint Bank or not...I'm not even sure what it is. The sign doesn't help me much... But sitting back near the old mill, overlooking the General Store is this...Udderly Chic Cow?!The old Paint Bank Train Depot has been transformed into a small lodge. The Depot Lodge.
Next is another VA Tour stop...Blue Grass, Virginia.
Riding north along US220, I see something that may be interesting... I pull over and walk back a ways.

What do I see? Could it be...?
Why... yes, it is... It's a nice size water fall! This is near the small town of Falling Spring, Virginia.
These hills hold all sorts of little gems. Just here for the re-discovery.
Gems you will never find from the Interstate!Here's another gem...
Who is "Mad Ann" Bailey? Wonder how she got the nickname "Mad Ann"? Was she a bit looney or always angry? It is definitely hay baling time. I don't think one tractor was left idle today.
This field had been cut and waiting to be baled. Arrived in Blue Grass, Virginia with rain threatening from the west. I rode into to town, shot some photos and turned back east where the skies were much less threatening.
This is the town library. It is called the Blue Grass Book Bank. Riding back northeast, I ride across the Virginia / West Virginia state line several times as I wind my way from the Allegheny to the Shenandoah Mountains.
There's one of the local tractors putting in a day's work. US220 follows along the Jackson River in a valley carved many years ago between the Allegheny to the Shenandoah Mountains. In this valley, the grass is "fence-top high" before the mower cuts it down for hay. No sign of a drought in this valley. This was on US33 coming back into Virginia. Nice big sweepers through the Shenandoah Mountains. Some of them got pretty tight for sweepers. I think here Jill said our elevation was over 3,400 feet here in the Shenandoah Mountains.
There were some nice pullouts along US33, even if they were all gravel... Riding US33 down into the Shenandoah Valley, the road begins to straighten, but was still a nice road.
Here I am riding east into Harrisonburg, Virginia. From Harrisonburg, I rode up I81 to New Market, then over to Luray and across the Blueridge Mountains on US211 and on back home.
A great little ride. This is what it looked like in Streets & Trips.
Total trip: 1,210 miles

States fleetered in this trip: 4

#79 The Snake in Shady Valley, TN

June 10, 2007
193 miles
Asheville RTE
Day 3

Sunday morning Barb and I were in the hotel's parking lot loading up to head our separate ways when I received a phone call. I said bye to Barb then chatted on the phone for a while as I programmed the day's planned route into the GPS.

When the rather lengthy call was over, I went to fire up Fleeter and get on the road, but ...
oops... weak to nearly dead battery. I had switched the key on to make note of my mileage when my phone rang. I got distracted and forgot to switch it off while on the phone call. The Motolights were shining away draining the battery while I chatted away. Darn!

But even though a problem cropped up...all was not lost. I had my Battery Tender, Jr., with me and there was an outside outlet about 20 feet away on the hotel's outside wall...right behind the flower bed. I just let Fleeter roll back and sit beside the curb. I hooked up the Battery Tender and juiced up the battery for about 15-20 minutes. That was plenty to fire up Fleeter and get us on the road. A bit of a delay, but while I waited I pulled out my laptop and revised my schedule to see where this delay would put me timewise. It would be close for me to make it to the Bluestone National Scenic River - Sandstone Visitor Center in West Virginia before they close at 5pm. My route will take me to other places and not the most direct route to Sandstone. I could alter my route, but I chose to stick with my original route and just see where it would get me.

It's a bit after 10am when I finally pull out of the hotel's parking lot. The first interesting sight I saw while leaving north out of Asheville on Hwy 19 was this covered wagon with the modern addition of rubber tires to make for a smoother ride and, in this case, highway speeds.

Technically, I guess they are still pulling that wagon BEHIND those horses...
US19 turns into I26 and is a very nice road as far Interstate super slabs go. I took the exit toward Elizabethton, Tennessee. Last time I was here (October '06), I took this photo of the covered bridge downtown. So this time I bypassed the historic downtown area. I made a quick stop at a State Park in Elizabethton where I thought I might find an Overmountain Trail stamp. Unfortunately, the park wouldn't open for another two hours. I'm not sticking around that long to get inside. Maybe next time I come through...TN91 turned into a road with a nice twist as it got closer to Shady Valley, Tennessee. I had heard that there were some nice roads around Shady Valley, but I had no idea how popular these roads were with motorcyclists.

When I pulled into the 4-way stop that is known as Shady Valley, Tennessee, I got my first clue... The number of motorcycles parked at the Country Store. And this sign could of also been a clue. This popularity has been embraced by the General Store.

Per the sign...
1 valley, 3 mountains, 489 curves
One of the twistier roads has been dubbed The Snake.
While in the parking lot, a fellow motorcyclist offered to take a picture of me and Fleeter. After she took the photo, Sara and I stood around and chatted for a while. I feel fairly certain now that I will not get to Sandstone Visitor Center before 5pm. But that's okay...finding a new friend is always more important than staying on schedule OR getting a stamp.
Apparently Shady Valley is a big enough place to be famous for more than one thing.
Home of the Cranberry Festival...Who knew?
At Shady Valley, TN91 turned into TN133 and continues NE to Damascus, Virginia. This is the route I took. However, US431 running mostly NW/SE through Shady Valley seems to be a road worth coming back and getting to know on a more personal level. It is now on The List.
But the route I chose, TN133, was worthy of a T-shirt. Here it is.You can't miss the Backbone Rock Tunnel.

I entered Virginia at Damascus and make my way toward Austinvile.
Okay you Texans out there... Here's some Texas history for you.
Austinville, Virginia ... the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin -- THE FATHER OF TEXAS.
I pulled over and studied the map, drive times, and available motels. Though this place near Austinville, Virginia was probably a real prize in its day, but I don't think this is where I'll be staying tonight.
There is not enough time to make it to Sandstone before 5pm, but I still want to keep it on the list. So I'll spend the night somewhere and catch it in the morning. Focusing on the coupon booklets, I pick out a few possibilities. Great price ($45) on a Sleep Inn in Beckley / Beaver, West Virginia that's just a few miles away from the Visitor Center. I call them...booked up. It's not even 4pm yet. Glad I called first. Next best deal...Sleep Inn in Wytheville, Virginia ($47.95). This would be an earlier motel stop than what I'm used to, but that's okay. I've told myself that I want to start shifting my road time to earlier hours of the day -- get earlier starts and stopping earlier. Advantages are obvious: Cooler riding in the morning vs. the heat of the day AND easier to get a coupon room earlier in the evening. Just because I got a late start this morning doesn't mean I can't start right now with my new schedule. So by 4pm, I am checked into a $47.95 room at Sleep Inn and ordering a small steak dinner at the Sagebrush Steakhouse across the parking lot. Life is good.
Tomorrow: Is Paint Bank a place to safely store your paints?