Nov 032009

After a chilly night in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart in Gallipolis, Ohio, we were up bright and early yesterday morning. There were several things we wanted to see locally, so I went inside the store and obtained permission to leave our motorhome there for a couple of hours while we went exploring in the van.

Gallipolis was settled in the late 1700s by French aristocrats who fled the old country to escape the guillotine. It is the hometown of Bob Evans, founder of the Bob Evans Restaurant chain, and the family farm is now a tourist attraction that includes an RV park offering water and electric hookups and a dump station for $15/night.

While exploring the friendly community, we noticed several back in RV sites with water and electric hookups at a Public Access boat launch on the bank of the Ohio River downtown. I stopped at City Hall to ask about the sites, and learned that RVers passing through the area can stay either for free, for $10 a night, or for $25 a night, depending on which secretary you want to believe. For free or $10 a night, I’d stay a while just to watch the riverboats going by, but for $25 a night, I’d pass.

This trip it didn’t matter, because we had a lot of miles to cover yet. Silver Bridge over Ohio River webWe crossed the river on the Silver Memorial Bridge, and I think I may be getting over my bridge phobia, because I didn’t snivel once. The original Silver Bridge here collapsed in 1967, throwing 70 cars into the river below and claiming 46 lives. Maybe I’m not over my phobia after all, and I just figured lighting wouldn’t strike twice in the same place.

Point Pleasant Battle Monument 2 webOn the West Virginia side of the river, Point Pleasant is a charming little town with enough to see and do to keep visitors busy for several days. In 1774, a force of Virginia militia was ambushed here by Shawnee and Mingo Indians and the fierce battle lasted for hours. In the end, 75 militiamen were killed, along with an estimated 33 Indians. Many consider this to be the first battle of the American Revolution. Today a small park on the riverfront where the battle took place includes an 84 foot high granite obelisk honoring the men who fought and died here.

Point Pleasant also has a place in paranormal history. Here, in 1966, a strange Mothman statue best webwinged man-like creature that became known as Mothman was reportedly sighted. Since then there have been several reported sightings of the creature, usually before disasters. Several people claimed to see Mothman perched high in the girders of the original Silver Bridge before it collapsed. Since then, Mothman has become a worldwide phenomenon, with mention in documentary films, movies and television specials.

Sure, it’s probably just the figment of imaginations gone wild, but the folks in Point Pleasant took it serious enough to erect a state of Mothman on Main Street downtown, and there is a Mothman Museum just across the street.

With our sightseeing over, we returned to Gallipolis, picked up the motorhome, and crossed the river again. On the Ohio side of the river, U.S. Highway 35 had been a very nice divided four lane, but  a couple of miles into West Virginia, it dropped down to a two lane road with no shoulders, and lots of curves for maybe 25 miles, and then it became divided four lane again.

Before long we joined Interstate 64 and followed it east a few miles into Charleston, where we picked up Interstate 77 south past the gold domed State Capitol building. Traffic was pretty heavy in Charleston, but before long we put the city behind us, and Interstate 77 became the West Virginia Turnpike.

For the next hundred miles we climbed up and around one mountain after another, the Winnebago doing just fine. I can’t believe the power this thing has! The constant climbing did affect our fuel mileage, though. The day before, we averaged 8.1 miles per gallon across relatively flat Indiana and Ohio, according to the Silverleaf, and yesterday our average was right at 7 miles per gallon.

It cost $10.50 in tolls to travel from Charleston to the state line, but I don’t think they spend much of that money on highway improvements, because that was one rough road in many places!

We crossed into Virginia, stopped for fuel at the T/A truck stop in Wytheville, and in less than an hour we arrived at Mayberry Campground in Mount Airy, North Carolina.  

Mount Airy is the hometown of television star Andy Griffith, and the picturesque town was the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in the old Andy Griffith show.

Andy and his trusty deputy Barney Fife probably wouldn’t recognize the old town these days. It has a Wal-Mart Super Center, Staples Office Supply, Golden Corral Buffet, Lowes, and other major stores and restaurants.  Unfortunately, crime has come to Mayberry. The day before we arrived, a gunman killed four men in a shooting a few blocks from Main Street.

This is a beautiful area, with a lot to see and do, and we’ll be here a few days before we head on down the road. I’ll have a lot to share with you in tomorrow’s blog, so stay tuned. 

Thought For The Day – Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  8 Responses to “Mothman, Mountains, And Mayberry”

  1. We stayed at Mayberry Campground for several days last spring, it is a really nice campground with a friendly owner. If you have time, check out the museum in downtown Mt Airy, it was a good one.

  2. I sure am glad you two are “on the road again”, you blog is a lot more interesting when your rolling than it is while you are parked. Travel safe.

  3. I have a feeling the GOLDEN CORRAL BUFFET will be one of the first attractions you will see!!

    Travel safe…..

  4. We have plopped down at Mayberry Campground to explore the area. Really a nice campground. Hope you get to see the “wonders” of Mayberry and Pilot Mountaing (Mount Pilot in the show). It is mostly downhill to Florida now!

  5. Gallopolis is our mid-way stop from northern Indiana to Virginia three times a year to see our daughter and family. We always stay at the Gallopolis fairgrounds–full hookups, 50A for $15 a night. They are always open and always sites available except during their fair. Easy access, actually fairly new, up on a hill overlooking the countryside and mostly pull throughs.

  6. So…..when do you think you”ll be driving over the Oakland Bay Bridge??

  7. Good Morning Nick, Great photos and great tour…. I loved your discription of everything and especially Mothman… How eerie is that whole story.

    Have FUN and Travel Safely…

  8. Be sure to eat at Aunt Bea’s or drive down to Dobson and eat at Cody Creek…a unique country “attraction” …great food and FREE ice cream. There’s also a neat story up at Hillsville about a family feud with the Sidna Allen family, culminating in a “shoot out” at the Hillsville courthouse.
    We just missed y’all..left there heading West on Sunday! HUGS!

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