Our Tortie, Mika, crossed over to the other side and left a big ol’ empty spot in our hearts.
Not only was she a damn pretty cat, she was the perfect blend of spunk and love.
Her battle with cancer was quick but it was painful to watch her soldier through it.
She was the first animal that The Hotness and I rescued and in her ten years on the Earth she witnessed every major event of our life together.
At baseline I am a lover of animals but I never knew I could love a cat as much as I love Mika. She was something special. She deserved more than cancer. She deserved going out while fighting a grizzly bear to defend her catnip.
We brought her home after she went to sleep and I buried her beneath an oak tree I planted this fall. It was hard to say goodbye but at least we have all of the memories…
Recently I met my buddy from The North in the middle ground of West Virginia for a weekend of camping with the little ones. He brought his tribe of three and Lil’ Man and I headed North to meet them at Holly River State Park. The women folk weren’t invited. Bam. I said it. Might as well have been a new meeting of the He-Man Women Haters Club.
We had never stayed at this park before but we recognized the entrance since we had ridden our motorcycles past it this spring when we met for our annual motorcycle camping trip. This particular park is perfectly in the middle of nowhere (just like the rest of West Virginia) with no cell service and a cool breeze.
It is nestled against a river (by name) but I think it is more of a creek due to the fact that there wasn’t much moving water. All of the sites were surrounded by mature trees so that made even the hottest of late summer days tolerable…or maybe it was the tasty beverages?
Thankfully I was able to pick a spot across the road from a playground and the kids definitely tore that beast up! My buddy and I were able to keep an eye on three out of the four from our camp chairs while the fourth one worked on burning every limb and log in the place. I taught them how to build a fire from nothing but true to most new generations they thought it wasn’t as cool as just tossing some lighter fluid on and going from there.
Lil’ Man got to find toads, deer poo, centipedes, and salamanders so that was most definitely a win for him. He had never spent time with the other three before but everyone got along really well and occupied their time in good fashion. Of course at times it felt a little bit like Dumb and Dumber…
My buddy and I like to cook over the campfire but with four kids on hand we found it nice to be able to hit up with camp restaurant on the morning of departure. Nothing spells success like a couple eggs, hash browns, and sausage!
Wildlife is abundant in the campground and I was able to show the Lil’ Man the difference between and male and female deer; plus we spotted one of my favorite birds, the white-breasted nuthatch. You do have to mind your manners as you are camping in bear country but we didn’t have any angry visitors this trip, thankfully.
All in all I would recommend this park/campground to anyone. The staff is beyond friendly and we basically had the entire place to ourselves so it was nice and quiet. Of course, if you go whenever school isn’t in session I would expect to find more of a crowd.
Lil’ Man had a great time camping for a few days with his old man and The Hotness had an exercise in anxiety control since we were out of cell service. Everyone pulled through the weekend and I would go back tomorrow! Go out and check this park out or at the very least go camping somewhere else. Turn your celly off and shut your mind down. Spend some quality time with those that you love and make some new friends. Grill some food and make S’mores! Wrestle a black bear.
I know what you’re thinking, West Virginia?! Fret not, Skippy, for I will spend my next couple minutes explaining why it is a good place to spend a weekend riding motorcycles and camping.
Let’s get the pain out of the way. I trailered my bike to West Virginia over the weekend. Ugh. Now that the band-aid has been ripped off I can continue. It is the first time I have trailered a bike to an annual dude motorcycle week/weekend and I felt guilty about it at first but at this point who in the hell cares? I’ve earned my stripes already and for this particular weekend it was the right call for my buddy and me.
At any rate, Bulltown Camp near Flatwoods, WV, is the first experience I have had camping in a park run by the Army Corp of Engineers and it was a damn good time. The price was right ($95 for 4 nights) and it had a bath house so what else more do you need? This campground was picked because we planned the trip late this year and it was the only place that had a spot for those four nights in the entire state, seemingly, and it was perfectly halfway for Rick James and myself.
Fate? I do believe, sir.
Our group is usually about 5-6 riders strong but this year it just so happened to be Rick James and myself for the weekend. As per usual I was the first one on scene and that afforded me the time to set up camp and prep the coffee percolator for Rick James’ arrival. Somehow it was a high of 55 at the end of May this year and if I could I would register a formal grievance against the Earth Mother as that is complete bull. Regardless, Thursday night was all about some coffee, a quick run for some grill items, and a nip o’ whisky before calling it in.
Friday morning showed it’s icy face and we braved that shit like champs…at 10am as we were officially not on “Burt Time” (R.I.P. Burt’s ACL/MCL). One firewood run, two cups of coffee, and some breakfast later we settled on a route and quickly settled into a haze of not being in the zone. Rick James, bitch, and I were a little weirded out by the road conditions and decided to not turn it up to 11 as we rode Route 19S to 15E to 20N to Route 33 in Buckhannon. The goal was to ride 33 West to Weston for lunch but we couldn’t agree on where to eat so Rick James selected the glorious Wendy’s while leaving the lunch option for me on Saturday. Post feast we carved our way on 33 West until we reached Glenville at Route 5 South. At this point the thought of an ice cream cone from the fanciest restaurant in town (McDonald’s) was too much for Rick James to handle and we came to rest for a while. Route 5 was a decently fun route back to 19N/Flatwoods where we tanked up on grill items at the friendly Walmart before heading back to our site for the evening.
Saturday happened to be a better day out of the gate due to a better night’s sleep and a warmer morning. It still wasn’t summer temperatures but what can you do? After a couple cups of coffee, another wood run and some 40% RDA fiber oatmeal we risked everything and headed out for the day of riding. Route 19S to 4S to 16S to 39E to Summersville for lunch was almost what the doctor ordered with the exception of a certain GSX-R1000 tipping over at the intersection of Route 4 and 16S. The moral of the story is that maybe you shouldn’t be overly energetic and wave to a passing motorcyclist while you are mounting your bike on gravel on the side of the road after stopping for a pee break. How the hell did that happen? I don’t know but it was funny as shit and thank goodness for frame sliders. Hallelujah and pass the ammunition!
Post Bob Evans we hopped back on 39E to 20N which led us to 15W. We happened upon a lumber cutting contest/festival along the way and a pack of old ass vehicles that felt the need to operate at twenty miles per hour under the speed limit was the way to go. No matter how hard we tried to channel our inner Burt we couldn’t seem to shake the road clog that was killing us slowly. Why be on the road if you can’t do the speed limit? All it does is hurt those who you refuse to pull over for and honestly it probably kills a couple baby seals in the process.
Sunday, our day to make up for the pain before we head back to life and reality. Over coffee we plan the day’s route and decide to circle back on some roads we rode previously in 2010 near Seneca Rocks. We headed north on 19 to 33E where we had a glorious brunch at Huddle House (seriously fucking go there) before heading toward Elkins. After a quick 92 octane top off we headed south on 219/55 to 250/92. These roads are great if I must say so! We then turned south on 28 and rode to our second visit of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Arbovale.
The large dish in the background is really huge like the one from Goldeneye but the picture doesn’t do it justice. You can take a tour of the facility and I have to admit that I will circle back one day but we were on a mission to ride this particular visit so we didn’t take the time.
Route 66W is sweet and at the town of Cass there is a scenic railroad you can ride and I do plan on heading back to that with the Lil’ Man and his Ma. We headed north on 219/55 and that is a great section of pavement! After stopping for an ice cream treat at a gas station we took 15W back to Flatwoods. What a day! Route 15 was the worst part of the day due to a clog of vehicles towing other vehicles but what can you do? It was a great weekend of riding and we covered 620 miles in the three days we were in town.
A lot of people have bad things to say about West Virginia but at the end of the day there is some great riding to experience if you ever have the chance. On road and off road I have to say that West Virginia has something for everyone!
Good times and good friends with motorcycling to boot…I can think of worse ways to spend a weekend!
Don’t be fooled, I am not the zombie kid all grown up.
While he and I share a love for our turtle friends, I am not nearly as youthful as that guy and he will probably grow up to be better looking than I am.
I can’t explain what it is about our fine reptilian friends that melts my heart (maybe I just like the underdogs?) but I will be damned if a bro gets smooshed on my watch. Over the years I have risked life and limb to hook many a potential ninja up with making it to the other side of the road.
The latest installment of Operation Slowpoke happened this morning when I was taking my son to school. Halfway there I had to stop mid sentence (we were having a great discussion about deer and why we can’t pass cars on a road with double yellow lines) as a couple hundred yards ahead I spotted an all-too-familiar lump with legs trying his/her best to be Usain Bolt, man. There was positively no place to safely stop and help so I sent positive vibes out to the ether in hopes that this one was able to make it safely across the road. Pre-kid days I would’ve pulled off in a safe manner to get the job done but you can’t be risking your kid’s well being, you know? No driveways or berms on this particular road.
Anyhow, after dropping Lil’ Man off at school I retraced my route with high hopes that there wouldn’t be a greasy smear where Raphael once stood. To my surprise, He was in the same damn spot where I passed him twenty minutes prior with his shit all tucked in and, honestly, I presume he was sending up some frantic prayers to the giant Turtle in the sky. About 200 yards past him I was able to pull off in a driveway and I hoofed it back to where he was rooted.
As per usual, my method is to deposit my new acquaintance about four feet past the edge of the road in the direction that he/she is headed. Ain’t nothin’ finer than looking ’em in the eye and having that connection where you realize they now owe you one and will eat all of the spiders that haunt your nightmares.