June 7, 2014 : Clarksburg, West Virginia : [ Day 11 ]
The start of this ride, the first week or so, was as stressful as it was invigorating. That all changed in southeastern Ohio. I spent a few days with my cousin and her awesome husband in McConnelsville – the seat of Morgan County, otherwise known as “The front porch to the great outdoors.”
I’m lucky to have such a great extended family, but we are all spread around the country, so I don’t often get to see them. Taking a couple of days to relax and catch up in my dad’s hometown was just what the doctor ordered. I also paid a visit to the local chiropractor, a bonafide magic man. He sorted out the back pain that I’ve been having since New Year’s Eve. It’s not cured, but at least now I know what it is and how to deal with it – something that a costly visit to an orthopedic clinic and a physical therapist back in January did not produce.
Southeastern Ohio is a beautiful place. Endless miles of rolling hills, winding rivers, old-growth forests, and family farms. There is also a lot of American history here, going back to the days of frontier expansion. The Morgan County Raiders are named for John Morgan, who led a famous Confederate raid into Ohio during the Civil War. We didn’t go see it, but I’m told there is a Confederate gravesite near my aunt’s farm that can only be reached on foot.
But after a few days, I packed up the bike again and made my way to West by God Virginia. I followed Highway 78 out of McConnlsville to Ringold, where I hooked up with the “triple nickel,” or state route 555, which I followed south all the way to the Ohio River. This road is a local favorite – tons of twisties and not a lot of traffic. But, it is narrow, the turns are sharp, and there are a lot of blind crests in the hills with said turns just on the other side. It’s not hard to imagine that road being a killer if one loses their focus.
I followed the river up to Marietta, then hit some more twisty roads through Wayne National Forest before finally entering West Virginia at New Martinsville. The sight of Halliburton and Schlumberger trucks was a bit unsettling, they brought me some bad vibes. But, they also made me think about why I took this ride, and what I left behind in North Dakota. After I left those oil trucks in the dust by following the curves of Highway 18, along a clear stream nicely shaded by cliffs and trees, I couldn’t help but crack a smile.
I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures in Ohio, which is unfortunate. You can expect better from me in West Virginia.
Ride safe out there.