Friday, June 28, 2013

Drive Day 2: OMG! and Cowan Lake State Park

Somewhere I got the notion that driving 1700 miles across the country by myself was going to be boring.  Today proved that wrong. 

It was all fine until I drove off site 13 at Rocky Gap!  (at 7:15 am I might note…)

My 1st task of the day was to add fresh water.  Normally I do this at home, however I thought the campground had water and electric hookups and since I was paying $30 I’d just get water there rather than pay extra on my water bill.  Well, the campground had water, just not at the sites.  The spigots were threaded though so you could attach your hose.  I found a spot where I could get Roxy close enough to the spigot and the parking area was even out of the road! I backed down what looked like an old campsite and my back tires hit the railroad tie with a little more force than I’d intended.  When I went to inspect I saw that two of the train ties has nails sticking out of them!  The nails I saw weren’t in danger of damaging my tires, but were there others I couldn’t see?  I put water on and then went to pull Roxy out so I could inspect the train ties to see if I needed to worry about the back tires.  I really thought she wasn’t going to move.  See the back tires had gotten into a groove, I was asking her to go up a decent hill and she’s fully loaded…I held the fuel pedal for what seemed like a long time and I was expecting the tires to start spinning when she finally moved forward!  Phew!  Not sure what I would have done if she’d gotten stuck!  I inspected the railroad ties and there were no nails so we were good to go.

My next stop was the dump station.  The black tank was looking full again and I suspected that it didn’t get fully dumped on Monday, and now that I’d filled up with water I wanted the holding tanks empty so it was all in sync.  This went without incident, other than me noting that the was potable water available in the dump station – this isn’t always the case but I should have checked first! Soon I was headed back to I-68 to continue heading west! It was only 7:45 too, I was 15 minutes ahead of schedule, on track to arrive at Caesar Creek by early afternoon, in time for a swim!

It was a cloudy drizzly morning, which was nice, until the mountains became totally ensconced in fog and visibility was reduced to zero! We were headed up a hill when the fog got dense and I thought there was a truck in the right “slow” lane, I was in the middle.   The slow lane was about to end so I backed off to let him in, if he was there – which he was.  I decided I liked having him in front of me as we navigated the fog because that way I knew what was up there! So I hung back a bit from him and gave him room, but hung close.  We were going about 35-40 with flashers on, not able to see 5 feet from the vehicle. 

Soon though the fog started to lift, the clouds got higher and the sky got a little lighter.  This was about the time the thunderstorm started.  It was a doozy!  It was so close the thunder and the lightening were hitting at the same time, right over me!  The lightening was blinding! The thunder shook the ground.  It was dark as night!  I stuck behind my “Werner" truck and held on for dear life.  Soon we drove out of it and the sky got lighter, the rain let up a bit and life was better!

The drive was uneventful though the Morgantown WV area, the little section of PA, the Wheeling WV area (crossed into WV for the 4th and final time!), across the Ohio river and into St. Clairsville, OH!  Ohio was a new state for Roxy!

In St. Clairsville I stopped for lunch, Smiley Cookies at Eat-n-Park and to see if I could locate a Starbucks Regional mug for one of my parents friends.  After I’d gotten the cookies I was eating lunch and checking the weather.  There was another big storm coming! Headed right for me!  I decided to go to Starbucks, get the mug, and wait out the weather with free wifi.  Good plan, except the weather didn’t do anything.  Just a little rain. I could see big storms on the radar, but in real life there was nothing happening.  So I headed out.

10 miles down the road, the sun was out! :-)  10 more miles down the road, traffic was at a total standstill.  I used my Waze App to see what was up – 10 miles ahead there was a bad accident.  I began plotting an alternate route.  There weren’t many options.  This was rural Ohio!  The next exit was 3 miles from the end of the backup so it didn’t seem worth it.  Until it took me an hour to go the 3 miles leading up to the exit.  I can walk faster!  So I bailed out and took off down some country roads.  I was the only one who took this option too…  I have no idea where I was, I just followed google maps!  At one point I missed a turn and had to turn around.  I turned into a cemetery thinking the road would loop around, it did, but it was kinda scary for a second while I got out on a narrow one lane road on a hill! 

About 20 minutes after I’d left I-70  I was back on past the accident and moving along!  This continued for about 80 maybe 90 miles.  Got through Columbus, at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon, with no real traffic issues and hit 71 S!  This is one section of highway that I’ve traveled many times so everything was familiar to me!  I’d forgotten how flat it is though!

I was getting quite nervous about being able to secure a site at Caesar Creek – I couldn’t make a reservation and I was afraid they’d fill up.  The other options around here are quite limited. 

As I was gazing at the flatness I was also noticing some storm clouds building to the west.  I watched them, but they were in the distance.  It had been windy the whole way from Columbus but around Washington Courthouse – North of Wilmington area the wind really picked up! I could see the trees bending over on the side of the road!  I was being blown all over the highway, it was all I could do to stay in the lane!  I had visions of the RV flying off the road and didn’t know how to prevent it!  It was insane! And just when the wind wasn’t enough, it started to rain.  Pouring rain! I was watching the truckers to see what they did, did they pull over?  Did they keep driving?  They all seemed to keep driving so I did too.  Before the next exit the winds died down a bit but I got off anyway.  I don’t think I packed enough underwear.

I wasn’t sure where I was going when I pulled off…should I take shelter in McDonalds?  Wait it out?  The storm was moving away and the winds weren’t as bad.  I stayed in the van and checked the weather – they said there was a severe storm in the area where I’d been with winds in excess of 50 mph!  OMG!  My exit for Caesar Creek Campground was the next exit so I drove on.  I followed the signs to the park and drove out about 6-7 miles, around an accident, through cornfields.  I saw lots of parts of the park – the picnic area, the boat launch, the beach, but no campground.  I stopped at the park office to ask, luckily there was a county sheriff there answering a call and he told me that to get to the campground you had to go back to 71, cross over and get on another road.  ugh.  So, back I went, past the accident, over 71 and went to turn left and the road is closed!!!!!  WTF!!!!!  I don’t have an alternate plan here so I kept driving towards Wilmington. 

I found another way to get to Caesar Creek Campground – if I’d stayed at the exit I got off at to re-group after the wind I would have been there! ugh.  I decided I didn’t want to go back that way, that storm looked like it was still lingering, so I headed to option #2 – Cowan Lake State Park. 

Cowan lake is out in the middle of nowhere Ohio.  I only know about it because we took the kids from Camp Joy swimming here, before they built the pool at camp.  I managed to take the correct road out of Wilmington to get to the campground easily!  I pulled and found that they were doing self registration – all I had to do was find an available “walk in” site and it was mine.  There weren’t many “walk in” sites, but most seemed available!  I found one that looked level and pulled in.  It had electricity and it was level!  I was happy!  I then needed to register.  It took me awhile to find where to go to register and it started to rain again, but eventually I found it and didn’t get too wet! After dinner and a walk things seemed a lot better!  This is a nice campground – it’s very big, over 200 sites!  Most are occupied tonight!  Seems like a lot of local folks – most of the cars/trailer/RVs have Ohio plates – myself and someone from FL are the only out of staters I saw! There’s a swimming beach, places to fish and boat launches!  Seems like folks get together out here with friends and the kids all play!  Kinda like Rollins Pond, but not as nice!

Looking forward to going to bed!

1 comment:

  1. After you left Rocky Gap and headed toward Morgantown you passed the exit where my parents live and where I grew up: I-68 in WV Exit 23 Bruceton Mills. :) In fact, just past the exit, if you look off to the left (driving to Morgantown) you can see down into the woods where Mom and Dad live! :)