September 10 – 13, 2019
Gone are the Great Lakes, but back are the rolling hills and forests we love. We drove through lots of farmland in Ohio with our sights on the northernmost tippy tip of West Virginia. There’s a skinny little peninsula sandwiched in between Ohio and Pennsylvania and I picked it on purpose to get a camping stop for the new state. West Virginia makes 39 and it’ll be our last new one until late 2020.
Tomlinson Run State Park
This hardly counts as staying in West Virginia, but as you can see, we did cross under the official welcome sign.
We spent my birthday relaxing in the forest in Tomlinson Run State Park, and not doing much of anything but dog walks and reading. It’s the double nickel for me this year and my friend Barbara tells me I can officially get senior discounts at some places. Well that’s something.
Oh, and we also discovered pepperoni rolls and jo-jos at the local drive-up pizza joint. Technically jo-jos are a thing in Ohio, but we didn’t discover them until here. They’re scrumptious giant potato wedges that I’m going to try my best to duplicate.
On our second day, we took Jackson for his morning constitutional and made it to the dumpster when we heard frantic scratching coming from inside. This is the kind of dumpster you see at construction sites. Long and deep, but open on the top. Well from what we can see peering over the side, there are two raccoons in there looking frantic and trying to dig their way out. The dumpster was full the day before, but got emptied and we guess these two trash pandas went dumpster diving and could’t get back out. We felt sorry for them, so Pat found a long tree limb and stuck it down in the corner. Lo and behold, six raccoons quickly scurried up the branch and scattered. Not the end of the story though. There’s always one in every crowd and this one raccoon kept up the “digging”. We thought maybe it’s paw was stuck somehow. Pat had to poke it with a stick through the small opening at the bottom to break it’s concentration. Whoa, where did everybody go? Finally smart guy exited the dumpster, too.
And the next morning? There are no less than 11 raccoons trapped in the dumpster. They apparently knocked over the escape stick on their way in. Lee, a fellow camper, took this adorable shot of the poor dears stuck in the bottom.
I found a big branch and dragged it over so Pat could make another rescue.
Out they come!
Homer Laughlin China Company
Did you know that the Homer Laughlin China Company makes Fiesta ware? And did you also know that they hail from Newell, West Virginia? We didn’t either. They have free factory tours and it’s one of our favorite things to do. I was happy to get a last minute reservation and the place was only 15 minutes from the state park. Of course they also have a very colorful factory store and that’s dangerous.
No photos are allowed in the factory, so I just amused myself with all the finished goods in the store. Aren’t those the cutest cat treat jars?
Stacks of Homer Laughlin china in the original factory alongside new Fiesta ware bowls.
Our guide explained the whole process from mixing to cutting the clay, making each piece, glazing them and finally firing them in the 2000 degree kiln that runs the length of the almost mile-long building. I even got to attach a handle to one of the mugs. All the pieces with handles have them individually attached by hand. Ardis gave patient instruction, but I couldn’t match her experience and expertise. My handle did stay on, but I deformed it she says.
I got to keep my mug, too. We also got four place settings for our apartment-to-be in Springfield, turning that into a not-so-free tour.
On our last night in WV, there was a country fair at the state park. We had pulled pork and fry bread along with fresh lemonade and roasted corn for dinner. Pat had a bowl of ice cream as big as his head and we got more lovely fresh produce. And that’s it for our short stay in West Virginia, but it still counts!
Next Up: Pennsylvania and a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. See you on the way!