Notes from the Road – The Gas Hog Tour 2008 – Diary Day 14, July 23, to Oops – my post for yesterday left out the name of the falls we went to since I was having a senior moment – It was Blackwater Falls. Sorry for the gap in the info. Spent the day looking at property around Parsons, West Virginia which is halfway between Elkins and Thomas (where the Purple Fiddle is) – 14 mountain miles either direction. At Parsons, the Cheat River joins with the Shaver Fork and the Blackwater rivers. The water is crystal clear and flows quickly in white water riffles over, around and between the rocky bottom and shores. In places the river is about more than 50 and in most areas is similar in the width to the Suwannee at White Springs when it is up to normal levels (not low like it has been for the past couple of years). The water is cold mountain spring water. It looks like trout and small mouth heaven. It’s popular with kayakers and canoes. Parsons itself is a small, quaint little town, only about 1,600 residents. It is the home of Kingsford charcoal and sits below the great ridge of wind turbines north of town just before you reach Thomas – owned by Florida Power by the way. It’s the kind of place with one decent grocery store, a Rite-Aid pharmacy, a couple of gas stations and an assortment of small local businesses huddled around the late 19th or early 20th century style red brick courthouse, city hall, etc. There is one motel and it’s for sale. I’ve been told there’s not a single bar in town. A lot of churches however, mostly Methodist or other conservative protestant sects. While it might not sound like my kind of place there is an irresistible charm about it. Judy had found a couple of listings in this area that interested her. We located one yesterday on our way up to Thomas. It was three acres on a small stream with a worn looking little box house and some outbuildings. Not bad and the price was pretty good, so it had possibilities. However, I wasn’t chomping at the bit to make an offer. The other listing we needed a realtor to actually find. It is two acres fronting on the Cheat River (192’ of river front) just on the outskirts of Parsons and we headed there today just before lunch time. As we rounded the corner on the road to the property the realtor pointed and said “there it is.” Ahead, between two attractive houses on similar large lots was the two acre parcel with tall lush trees along the river and starring back at us from the lot were five deer, four bucks with horns still in velvet, who were grazing peacefully in the drizzling rain. We watched the deer for a while (and I snapped some pictures I hope to share at some point) until they decided we were too curious and moved on away. Then we walked down to the river bank through the trees. This is it!! The river here is wide, 50 yards +, with lots of white water giving you the gentle sounds of the swift current wherever you are. There are beautiful trees and a sloping bank down to the water’s edge which is speckled with the smooth river stones of varying sizes that you prized so much as a kid. Though we looked at a couple more pieces of property today, we were smitten with this piece and went back to the realtor to make an offer. By the time I return to Florida I hope I’ll be under contract for this terrific piece of land which, even at the asking price, is cheaper than any subdivision 1/6 acre lot you’d find anywhere in Florida – amazing. The trip back to our campground was an adventure. The realty office was in a little town called Belington and I asked my trusty, sexy voiced GPS to guide us home. Yeah, the same GPS that took me to the one car ferry in Virginia – OK, I’m a slow learner. We were soon turning up “roads” (i.e. two rut trails with some marginal gravel on them) until we were impeded from further progress by a locked iron gate and a no trespassing sign – apparently the blessed lady of the GPS knows no such obstacles and as I turned and headed back out the way I came she tersely advised “recalculating.” I was tired and really wanted to get back to the camper and relax, but we went one way and the next trying to get back out of the middle of nowhere and I began to think we’d be spending the evening huddled in the Expedition. Suddenly we crossed a narrow passing over a small creek that I recognized! We turned around and went back – I was right! We had passed the entrance to our campground from the other direction (no sign facing the National Forest, because who in his right mind would come that way)! Somehow we had passed over the ridgeline and down through the National Forest arriving at our campground from the well protected rear. I could swear I could faintly hear the GPS smirking derisively. Speaking of National Forests, I learned today that West Virginia is owned 70% by the government as protected lands. Interesting. Finally back to our campsite and the comforts of “home.” A little dinner (ham, corn roasted on the grill and asparagus) and a little dvd on the computer. See you tomorrow. Day 15, Thursday, July 24th Getting a slow start. The camper has developed a plumbing leak in the bathroom that I can’t identify yet and all of our towels have been used soaking up the water. I guess there’ll be no showers this morning. I need to get into town today to get the brakes on the Expedition looked at – there’s a vibration I don’t like particularly when I’m having to haul the camper up and down mountain roads. We also need to get to phone reception so we can check on our offer on the property. And, I have some MySpace work to do promoting my shows this weekend and next. Lots to so – coffee up! What a beautiful day – clear skies and the temperature has dropped into the 70’s. Eat your heart out Florida folks! Headed out to Elkins and on the way Judy negotiated via cell phone for the river acreage – and struck the deal!! All we have to do now is go sign the papers. But, first things first. That brake thing is really wearing on me – don’t want to put that off. We got into Elkins and found a repair shop that could look at it right away. No big problem, just as front brake job. We went and found some WiFi while they did the work so I could send emails to promote my Jonson City, TN show Saturday night. An hour and a half later and we’re on the road again. We headed on to Parsons and decided to go by the property first to confirm this is what we wanted. One of our deer was waiting on us – a six point velvet buck – as if to confirm the decision. We walked the property again and talked about how we would orient the house. The sun rises over the river which will be the rear of the house and sets behind the mountains which will be the front. We got down in the river, not as cold as we’d expected though cool aplenty, and soaked in the beauty of the place. It really is everything we’d hoped to find. So, on to sign the papers at the real estate office and WE’RE UNDER CONTRACT – WOOHOO!! What a great bonus for this trip! We went on back to Elkins in search of WiFi (I had more promo to do) and to pick up a couple of things we needed. What a terrific day. Back at our campsite I got cooked dinner (grilled chicken with yellow rice smothered in tomatoes and okra and steamed asparagus, yum!!) then took a walk while Judy cleaned up. Down at the fishing pond a couple that lives close by were doing pretty good – six catfish (one a 22 incher) and a few bluegills. I was informed upon inquiry that last week the Misuses hooked at bass over six pounds. I was further instructed that the bass in question was not consumed as table fare, but was in the freezer awaiting proper display in a place of honor. I concur. Tomorrow we get back underway by 9:30 a.m. so that I can get Judy to the airport in Charleston and then head on to Bristol, TN where I have a show tomorrow night. Judy’s already sawing Z’s as I type – think I’ll join her. Night! Day 16, Friday, July 25, 2008 Up and at ‘em – gotta load up / hitch up the camper and get on down the road. Tonight I play in Bristol, TN (a KOA gig). But first I have to swing down through Charleston, WV and drop Judy at the airport. She’s had enough of me and is plying home while I finish out the tour. I had to fill up with $4.09 gas in Buckhannon before heading towards Charleston – Ouch!! If I can just get across the state line into Va. I’ll be back in the lower prices. We hit the road at 9:30 and, with a couple of personal stops, made it to the airport by noon. Again, folks just look in consternation at this big rig rolling through the departing flights aisle – kissed Judy goodbye and kept on going. Going to miss her for the last 10 days of the trip here. The drive to Bristol was quiet and uneventful. I-77 going out of WV is a toll road and the worst maintained one I’ve ever seen, very rough! $4.50 in tolls before I hit the Va. Line and I can’t imagine what they’re using the money for. Somebody’s stickin it in their pocket I guess. As soon as I hit Virginia the gas prices plummeted. I was able to run the tank down to almost empty before filling up with my record low price for the trip - $3.69! On into Tn. Prices seem to hover around the $3.85 mark, still not so bad given the current situation. I’m already at the KOA and have set up my gear, had a bite to eat and am chillin’ before show time. This is a medium sized, very nice facility and, the good news is its jam packed. It even looks like the management has been talking up the show too. The pavilion is small, but will still seat 40 or so under cover and many more in the surrounding grass area. It is right in the middle of the campground so I could have a lot of that “sitting at the camper and listening without coming over” stuff going on. We’ll see – wish me luck! So, now you are back up to date and I’ll pick up again tomorrow from here.