#3 – Malden, West Virginia

By admin | September 28, 2009 at 6:48 pm

This is a very small hamlet a few miles from downtown Charleston, West Virginia and is notable for the birthplace of Booker T. Washington. The best way to get there is to get back on the highway I-64 if you are in downtown Charleston and go east and get off exit 96 and then follow the signs.

Once you are in Malden, look for the FastChek convenience store. The African Zion Methodist church is right next door and the slave cabin that Washington was born in is immediately behind it in a tiny backyard. If you blink twice while driving down the road in front of the church you could miss it.

I was there about 5PM on a Thursday afternoon and the gate to the back church yard where the slave cabin is was locked and there was no office or attendant that I could find. So, I took a picture of the church and peered through the weathered boards to get a glimpse of the cabin and then left.

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#2 – Charleston, West Virginia

By admin | September 27, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I decided to take a day off today and made the drive down I-79. The scenery was beautiful with short, choppy mountains. It is about 150 miles from the Pennsylvania border and in mid-afternoon on a Thursday there was very little traffic.

My first destination was the state capitol building. It is exit 99 off I-64 and it clearly marked as you drive south on I-79. The complex is hard to miss due to the large gold-covered dome. I parked half a block away in a metered spot and walked to the capitol building. I stopped several state workers on the way in to inquire about the building and without exception people were friendly and helpful.

There was absolutely no security to get in the building. I walked down a long marbled corridor until I reached the large marbled chamber under the dome. There are supposed to be tours running throughout the day, but a sign was posted at the desk apologizing that there were no tours that day.

I wandered around the building some until I found the House of Delegates chamber on the 3rd Floor. There was a hearing underway concerning the adoption of a uniformed sales tax, which I listened to without being bothered by anybody.

The governor’s mansion is right next door the capitol and I walked over to take some pictures. It was too late for a tour, but the grounds are pretty and you can get a nice view of the University of Charleston across the Kanawha River (pronounced ka-NAW by locals).

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#1 – Luray, Virginia

By admin | September 16, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I did only the caverns. I drove down Interstate 81 and turned off the highway for the 15 mile drive to Luray. The signs are clearly marked and the entrance to the caverns is covered by a rather ugly spanish style pavilion. It was a Sunday and the parking lot was crowded – lots of Japanese tour buses.

The admission fee is $19 for adults. You assemble in the waiting area and they let groups in every 5 minutes or so. There are no guided tours really. You walk along the pathways and every little bit there is a “guide” but they don’t really give a spiel.

The walking tour takes about an hour and the vertical descent is 165 feet so it is a fairly easy walk for caverns. There has been quite a bit of “development” in the cave so the walkways are wide and there are handrails. Unfortunately, to do this it looks as if there has been some damage down in terms of knocking down formations.

About 15 minutes into walk there is a reflecting pool that is interesting, there is the requisite wishing well, and then towards the end there is a small formation called the fried eggs that you should look for. You exit the cave into the gift shop, but the clerk mentioned that there is nothing for sale that is actually from the cavern itself.

Restrooms: B-

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