So, I was headed out to visit family in Washington (washington), PA. Get it, it's like that one song, but it's actually in Washington County too so it's also like... umm never mind.
Anyway, there was this one little blotch of white on my county map that was just MOCKING me!
I just couldn't stand for that. As pointed out over on that other blog, I set out to rectify the situation. I came up with a little route to visit 11 new WV counties (I will visit 2 more on my way home Sunday). So I thought I'd do a little recap out there. I know that nobody probably cares, but I do want to make a record of this. Plus, one thing I was looking for was information about the road conditions in various areas, and there is precious little information of that sort on the Internets (sic). For instance, US 50 in West Virginia. What's it like? Mapquest shows it as a major road, but what does that mean? So this post is to help that one guy out there that wants to visit Calhoun County but doesn't know how! Yeah, him.
So, we started out going north on I-71. Knowing I had to eventually end up on US 35 Eastbound, I had some debate as to whether or not to take 71 to US 35 and follow that through Washington CH and Chillicothe and the like or to take OH 32 out to Jackson and then take 35. It looked to be about the same time, and the debate was settled when Mike pontificated that "if you have the opporuntity to drive through Washington CH, you take it" I couldn't argue with that logic, so up 71 I went.
71 was fine, but 35 was interestsing. The road itself was fine - divided 4 lane highway that on a normal day would be superb for adventures of this sort. However it was snowing (and would remain snowing to various degrees all day). Only the right lane was plowed, so whenever one wanted to pass a truck or other slow-moving vehicle (and thus moving in the left lane) it got interesting. For the record, I have now with even more than 100% certainty been in Gallia County.
After crossing the Ohio into West Virginia (and picking up the first of the 11 - Mason County), we turned right onto WV 2. Passing a school, it was good to know that Avery Daugherty was the county spelling bee champion. A few miles later on WV 2, a church billboard proclaimed just "Congratulations Avery Daugherty" without specifying why she (he?) should be congratulated. And yes, I did just check, and Avery is significantly more popular as a girl's name than a boy's, though it's fairly popular for both (66th for a girl or 215th for a boy). Though I suppose I should have checked the popularity report for 10-14 years ago.
WV 2 was a solid piece of road - 2 lane and speed limit 55 but not very hilly or windy. I continued onto Jackson County and then headed north on I-77 into Wood county. Getting off on WV 21 I was a bit worried about a 2 mile or so out and back into Wirt county but for no need - the road was good and the county sign was well marked. Turning around and getting back on I-77 I continued north and then got off on US 50.
US 50 through West Virginia is also called Corridor D, and was a superb quality of road, at least the section I went on (about 30 miles, into Ritchie and Doddridge counties and then back to WV 16). Carolyn and her family took US 50 from Cincinnati all the way into Washington DC when we got married, and I remember that she told me that it was very windy and not good times. Of course that was 8 1/2 years ago, so perhaps they've upgraded since then. Or maybe more of US 50 is windy and hilly. But this is definitely making me rethink my Cincinnati to Washington DC preferred route of choice. Maybe OH 32 to US 50 to I-79 to I-68 would be the way to go rather than I-71 to I-70 or the AA to I-64 to either I-79 or I-81. Something to think about next time I head out that way.
Then came the interesting section of the journey - Calhoun County. I stopped in the thriving metroplex of Ellenboro to get gas. I asked the attendant how windy WV 16 was. She said it was quite. Then I asked if it was very hilly and she said not that much. And... that's about it. Very windy and slightly hilly. I did make my first (and only) wrong turn in Harrisville. WV 16 turns left and I missed the turn. Then coming back after I had turned around, I turned where I thought I should, but I wasn't completely sure. So I kept going looking for some reasurrance markers, but there were none to be found. I drove 7-8 miles without a single WV 16 shield. I was wondering if this was the right road or if I was going to be stuck wandering the West Virginian wilderness forever. I saw a auto shop with a guy there and I was going to stop but then realized it would be a serious violation of the Man Code to ask for directions so I kept going. No more than 1/4 mile later I saw a nice WV 16 shield. Clearly I was rewarded for my adherence to the Man Code. The trip itself was uneventful and what WVDOT lacked in reassurance markers, they made up for in very nice County welcoming signs. It was about 70 minutes out and back, only to hit Calhoun County. If only I had taken the time to detour to pick it up when I was coming up I-79 last time I was driving to Washington, DC. It looks like it's about a 2 mile out and back from Exit 40 on WV 38.
Then I continued north on WV 16 to WV 2 and came up WV 2 following the east bank of the Ohio River for about 30-40 miles. It was nice except for having to go through all the river towns. Not that the towns weren't interesting, but by this time it was getting late, and although the kids were being good troopers, even I was ready to be done.
We crossed back into Ohio at Moundsville, solely to drive on OH 872, one of the shortest Ohio state highways. Then up on OH 7 (a nice limited access road) and back across the Ohio on I-470 and then continued on I-70 to Washington, PA.