August 17, 2018
NORTH BEND STATE PARK, W.Va.: We are sitting at our campsite at North Bend State Park, near Cairo, W.Va. Cairo is about 30 miles east of Parkersburg, which is on the Ohio River. When we cross the river into Ohio tomorrow, we’ll be done with West Virginia.
This was the only day we faced pressure to make a destination. Originally we wanted to make it to Parkersburg, finishing one state. Route 50 in the “wild, wonderful” state is mostly a grind, endless sharp turns, climbing and descending through unincorporated places—a gas station, a stop-and-go, boarded-up stores, a few worse-for-the wear mobile homes. It wears on you.
We stopped for a sandwich in Burlington and ice cream at McDonalds’s in Grafton. We didn’t get above 45-50 mph until we got to Clarksburg, which looks from the windshield like a decent-size city. Then you get some relief, with the speed limit going to 65. The park is another 10 or so miles from 50, but the campsite looks OK. About 275 miles and eight hours’ driving from home.
Also a long way from CACI Inc., which laid Sandy off in March, along with 350 others. It was then that we decided to plan this trip. We’ve talked about doing it for years, when we wondered whether we’d ever get to really see the country, with retirement challenges and health worries facing both of us.
So we started budgeting and planning, looking at maps, guide books, talking to people who have done it. Even if we finish the course we’ve planned, U.S. 50 to St. Louis, then old U.S. 66 to Arizona, up to Vegas to see youngest daughter Kathleen, Southern California, up the CA coast to visit my sister Regina and brother-in-law Phil, then more back roads home, we’ll still miss those national parks in Utah, south Texas and, depending on which route we take, either the upper Midwest or parts of the South we’ve never seen.
The idea then is to see those places we’ll fly and rent a car. We’ll see what happens. We talk about lots of things we never do, as all our kids will remind us. But so far, life got in the way, the yard work and miscellaneous home projects, the trail running, the volunteering, the freelance “Naval Systems” columns, the endless budgeting, the figuring out how to shop for a healthy diet, etc.
But here we are, sitting in our folding chairs next to our tent in Cairo, tired, sweaty, but pleased and relieved that we got this far this time.