West Virginia -the 49th state!


Oct 28th, 2016, 07:01 PM
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West Virginia -the 49th state!

A few years back I realized I only had 8 states to go before I had visited all 50 US states. It was as good a reason as any to make those states destinations.

Last weekend I visited my 49th state--West Virginia!

A friend and I spent a long weekend in Harpers Ferry. You can read elberko's much shorter version on the weekend if you like

It was a long, dark, drive, followed by a long, dark, staircase

I flew into BWI on Wednesday night, while my friend drove up on Thursday. I managed to get a direct flight and the most notable thing about the journey was how smoothly and how nice everyone was.

These days we see a lot of cranky people, and cranky travelers. Not on this trip. People were friendly and helpful to each other the whole trip. Crying baby on the flight? Nobody grinched. Long wait for baggage? No one whined. Long wait on the rental car shuttle? People joked around. Seemed like a good sign for the trip.

The drive really wasn't that long, just a little over an hour. But, it is mostly through the country, and boy was it dark! I arrived in Harpers Ferry a little after 10. HF is pretty dead at night. And did I mention it was dark? There is construction on the road behind the bnb and so parking for the bnb was in reserved spots at the train station.

I found the spot, and fired up google maps to take me to the bnb. It wasn't far, but I had to get there. GM pointed me up some stairs. The Potomac Steps. Gulp.

It's 65 steps in case you are wondering. Carrying a suitcase. There was a strategically placed bench at the top and I sat there and caught my breath.

I made my way (downhill, yay) to the Stonehouse BnB (www.hfstonehouse.com) where instructions were taped to the door. It was a combo lock entry, and it was nice that I could arrive after hours and not have to arrange to meet anyone. I had another fight of stairs to ascend, and I gamely carried my suitcase to my room and settled in.

I finished a bottle of water I had been carrying since Kansas City and went to sleep. I hadn't eaten since 2:30 and was hungry, so sleep followed by the breakfast part of bnb seemed like the best course of action.
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Oct 28th, 2016, 07:04 PM
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The concise and yet complete version may be found here

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Oct 29th, 2016, 03:20 AM
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Great! I like reading words more than typing them.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 09:31 AM
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If you ever go back to WV, check to see if you can afford a night at the Greenbrier.
In June I visited my 49th state (Alaska). It'll be a couple years until we visit Hawaii.
Next May, I'm taking my DW to a couple of the states she has not visited.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 12:55 PM
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I know you do elberko

Tomfuller, greenbrier was under consideration but didn't work this time for a variety of reasons. Hopefully the opportunity will present itself in the future

You left a fabulous state for last!

Okay, I better get to work on Thursday in Harpers Ferry.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 01:40 PM
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When I was looking for the number of steps for the Potomac Steps, I came across this site:


We climbed all but two of the staircases pictured, I think.

Stonehouse Bed and Breakfast

We stayed at Stonehouse, right on Main Street. For our purposes, it worked out perfectly. We could walk right out the door to our daily activities, and easily pop in and out throughout the day. There are only 4 rooms. E and I had two rooms that shares a bathroom. I had the New Room, which was once an outside porch.

The interior wall was the old exterior wall of the house, made of stacked stone. This two foot thick wall seemed to be the reason I could not get wifi in the room. By the last night, Chris (the owner) had fiddled with the router and I got decent service.

There was an outside covered porch off this room. Initially I thought I could not go out there (the instructions left for me said it was not accessible because it was under construction). When I said something to Chris at breakfast that morning,he explained that he was waiting on a door latch and just didn't want me to get locked out. He showed me how to block it, and I was good to go.

There is a living room just as you enter that is common use space. We made use of this several times. The kitchen is at the back of the house and everyone eats at the same table in the kitchen.

The breakfast is at 8:30. Well, in theory. He's definitely not ready before then, and I think we waited pretty much every morning as he finished preparing breakfast. He does ask about any food allergies or restrictions before you arrive, but other than that you get what is served. You can request an earlier breakfast, but only after 7:30. Coffee was only okay, and no decaf offered (not that I wanted it, but other visitors asked for it)

The breakfasts were quite good.


Cool building
Outdoor space
Common space
Good breakfast
Comfortable bed
Good shower
Reasonable costs
Friendly, but not overly familiar


Rooms are not quite finished. Little things that did not bother me, but might bother others. E.g, no cover on bathroom vent
No place to hang clothes in my room. Even a few hooks would be good
Only one hook and towel rack in bathroom, so when sharing there aren't enough places for towels
If you need a little alone time at breakfast, you won't get it
Some kind of beverage service available in the common area would be good. Even something like a keurig.

Overall, I really enjoyed the stay and would stay again if I return.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 02:14 PM
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Interesting to read a different point of view and supports ek"s tr Thanks for posting.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 02:28 PM
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That website with the stair photos is pretty interesting--and most of them do look familiar.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 05:10 PM
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I thought so too elberko.

Thanks emalloy

Thursday in Harpers Ferry


I woke up early, hungry and ready for my breakfast. I could smell it cooking as I was getting ready, but I waited until 8:15 before going down.

Chris took pity on me and poured a cup of coffee. Soon the other guests arrived. One couple had ridden their bikes from Washington, D.C. The day before and the other couple drove in from Cleveland. Breakfast was Chris' grandmother's griddle cakes with yogurt, berries and granola, with two sausage patties.

DH saw my picture of it on Facebook and thought it was a dessert. It was actually not sweet, and was very very good.

E was not arriving until 11:30 or 12 so I took advantage of the spectacular weather (it was to get into the 80s that day) to sit out on the porch and read. The porch faces out over the railway station, the Potomac River, and the Maryland Heights beyond. It was a lovely way to start the morning.

A Walk Around Town

Eventually I decided to walk around town a bit. At the base of Main Street there were stone outlines of where the outlines of the arsenals were. Just to the right was the visitors center for Harpers Ferry National Park. I stopped in for a moment, then went into the dry goods store and boarding houses next to it. There are lots of volunteers manning the spaces.

I walked over to the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. And looked over at the pedestrian bridge crossing the Potomac to Maryland. Heck, I said to myself, I should walk over to Maryland! And so I did.

I walked back and thought I should be hearing from E soon, and should get close to the bnb so I could meet her and let her in when she arrived. Walking back up Main Street I poked my nose into a few more exhibits. One was the former home of the town baker:


I stopped in a candy store where the candy was arranged by historical popularity. It was pretty interesting but I didn't buy anything. I did see licorice pipes. I've been riding the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, and Gamache ears licorice pipes. I had never seen any before

E arrives, and lunch

I was starting to get a little worried about E. I made one last stop, drawn by a sign for cold bottled water. I bought two bottles, along with some postcards and a Christmas ornament and then I went back to my room. Shortly after there was a knock at the door and it was Chris with a hot and harried looking E. Her cell phone didn't have any service!

She put her bags in her room and joined me on the porch. I handed her the ice water, and we sat looking at the view and caught up for a bit.

As we got up to head for lunch, I spotted a spectacular Bald Eagle soaring over the Potomac. We watched as it flew down the river and up to Louden Heights across the Shenandoah. Wow.

If lunch was memorable I could tell you where and what we ate. It was fine, but nothing outstanding. I tried a Not Your Father's Root Beer. Didn't love it.

Exploring, Park Ranger Programs, and Murphy Farm Walk

We were ready to explore, and walked down Main Street to Shenandoah, headed for the shuttle to go up to the other national park visitor center. But, we happened on a Ranger Program that was just starting, so we joined in.

I love National Park Ranger Programs. His enthusiasm was infectious. He took us along the Shenandoah, to the point, to what is known as John Brown's Fort, to the site of the original armory. Incredibly interesting and I learned a lot.

Then it was back to getting on the shuttle. We had good timing that afternoon, and we got the shuttle just as it was leaving. At the visitors center we asked about hikes around the area, and one they suggested was Murphys Farm that started right across from the center.

We weren't really planning on a walk, but it looked easy enough, and we had time, so off we went. It started through a wooded area, then there was a slight switchback down a ravine, across a wooden bridge, and up to the farm. The walk then loops around the edge of a field.

First historical marker showed where soldiers dragged cannons up that ravine. We stopped and imagined. On to the next overlook, for which there are no words. High above the Shenandoah River, overlooking Entrance Rapids and Bull Falls. Although there was not as much color as we expected this time of year, there was some, and the River was deep blue with white Rapids, the sky clear. We sat on the well-placed park bench for a bit.

Eventually we headed back, caught the shuttle, and back to the house and the back porch.
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Oct 29th, 2016, 06:37 PM
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Dinner at Mediterranean Cafe

Another Fodorite had given us a list of local restaurants, with this one at the top of her list. And, we concur. I think I could have gone there every night. The menu is broad, with dishes from several Mediterranean countries.

The restaurant is in Charles Town, found and named after George Washington's brother. It was about 20 minutes because of traffic.

I started to order hummus and Shirazi salad as my meal and the server stopped me to let me know that there was a complimentary appetizer that had both hummus and Shirazi. So I changed my order and got the lamb kabobs, as did E.

The appetizer plate had hummus, pita, a portion of feta in Herbed olive oil, and some Shirazi salad. It was delicious, as were the kabobs for dinner. E had a dessert and I'm afraid I can't remember what it was. I joined her with a cup of truly excellent coffee.

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Oct 29th, 2016, 07:01 PM
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I keep saying Main Street. It's High Street.

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Oct 30th, 2016, 05:01 AM
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Dessert was Baklava--2 pieces, one of which I saved for the next day.

I had a little trouble finding the B&B because High St. is a continuation of Washington St. and I missed the sign...and because people think the building is an exhibit, they would walk in if there weren't a key code at the locked door. I didn't notice the doorbell, and T-Mobile service was spotty at best, leaving me at a loss, and carrying luggage (up those stairs!) The porch and cold water were MUCH appreciated.
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Oct 30th, 2016, 11:36 AM
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"North Dakota, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Mississippi"

So which of the others is the last state remaining ??

(I love it when somebody's last state is more random than would beseem Alaska or Hawaii)

My final three were: Iowa, North Dakota and Alaska

I made a special stop on a cross-country flight in Minneapolis to do a small loop and cover the first two there.

LOL - I didn't exactly do Iowa justice, but I drove across the border, and to a tiny town called Sibley... and miraculously happened to pass the highest point in Iowa along the way.

(some spot, in some field... indiscernible from most other spots in the same field)

I'm embarrassed that anybody uses the word "summit" in association with Hawkeye Point.
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Oct 30th, 2016, 03:13 PM
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I was just glad we found you elberko!

My last state is North Dakota. Rhode Island was the 48th state and I got it a year ago June.

I'm originally from Washington so got Hawaii and Alaska years ago. Still have family in Alaska.

re: Hawkeye Point
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Nov 1st, 2016, 06:02 PM
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Friday in Harpers Ferry

We hiked the Appalachian Trail! Oh and Virginius island.

Layers were important in Harpers Ferry. The weather was completely different from day today and Friday dawned gray with a threat of rain.

The day began again with breakfast in the kitchen. If I recall correctly it was scrambled eggs, English muffin, sausage, with fruit cut up on the side. The company was decent until it segued into political talk and it was time to go.

Since rain was predicted later we wanted to get out and walk early. We planned a loop of walking to Virginius island connecting with the Appalachian Trail and back into Harpers Ferry.

We headed back out towards the point where the Potomac and the Shenandoah River meet and then headed along the Shanendoah towards Virginius island.

It was simply beautiful walking along the river. Bonus, there were lots of historical markers. I rarely met a historical marker that I didn't like. I pretty much stopped and read them all. Lucky E!

The Virginius island area was once basically an industrial complex. I believe there was a cotton mill and of course there was the riflery. There was a sophisticated system of viaducts and channels, increasing the force of water by the time It got to the cotton mill. Unfortunately between wars and floods eventually this area was abandoned and gone to ruin.

This section of the trail ended where you could either go up towards the second visitor center or cross over and join the section with the Appalachian Trail. If we turned left we would've crossed over highway 340 and gone up to Louden Heights.

We crossover and went to the right and started to walk on the trail. There were some pretty steep ascents at this point and the trekking sticks came in handy.

There were lots of opportunities to enjoy the views, the birds, some butterflies, and even a few wildflowers. That is, when we weren't watching our step.

The trail went by steps that lead to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Another set of steps where you could access Harper cemetery. One of the stops everyone makes is Jefferson rock. The rock itself is not impressive. It's more significant because this is where Jefferson is said to have stated that this was the view worth crossing the Atlantic for as he looked out over the Shenandoah to Louden Heights beyond.

The trail started going downward at this point, past the ruins of the Methodist Church and a still active Catholic Church (closed to the public that day).

Straightahead was a set of steep steps leading back down to High Street. Instead we turned left walking along a wall that had several little doorways. Eventually I found, yes, a historical marker that said that these were all cold storage areas for the homes that lined this road.

This is where it's a disadvantage that I didn't write down things as we went. I don't really remember the sequence of events. Whether we had lunch first or drove out to bolivar first , but we did both things. Lunch was a pretty good burger in a place called the coffee mill right in town.

Bolivar Heights was another area with some short loops that we thought we could get in before it would rain. Well, we got halfway though anyway. More fabulous views before the rain came and we could see over to Murphys Farm where we had walked the day before.

With it spitting and cool, we did a little driving around neighborhoods, and stopped at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and poked around. E bought a magnet. We read some of the stories.

I needed some hair clips or something as the wind and rain was doing terrible things with my bangs so woo HOo we drove over to a Walgreens in Charles Town.

Mi Dellagado

After some general hanging around, showering, reading etc, we went back out for dinner that night.

Another recommendation by a Fodorite was a Mexican restaurant back in Charles Town.

It was decent Mexican and hit the spot. We had (what we always call queso fundido) dip
, and I had carnitas. E had a chicken dish with chorizo that looked good (and she said it was good too).

I think E had dessert I think. Flan?

No late night for us, we were going to walk Maryland Heights the next day. To the overlook where we had spotted people the first afternoon and I declared 'just so you know, I'm not going up there'
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Nov 2nd, 2016, 04:48 AM
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Your description of the day has my stamp of approval.
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Nov 2nd, 2016, 06:03 PM
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Whew! I am trying to get it right, so it is good you can check it for me
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Nov 8th, 2016, 06:17 PM
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Maryland Heights Hike, Apple Cider, and a little bit of New Orleans

Maryland Heights Hike

E had told me she liked to save the most strenuous hike for the last day, and today was the day we hiked up to the Maryland Heights Overlook.

On the first day we were sitting out on the porch and spotted people high on the cliffs across the river. Once we realized people were hiking up there, I said with some conviction 'I'm not going up there.'

I was to be proved a liar.

Breakfast today consisted of individual breakfast casseroles, plus fruit. Chris informed us that this was another of his grandmother's recipes, and it was very good. A new couple joined the table, and we were to run into them throughout the day. Harpers Ferry is small y'all.

After breakfast E and I set out. To get there we walked a few blocks to the point of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and crossed the same pedestrian bridge over the Potomac that I had walked across on Thursday. We were in Maryland!

On the other side of the bridge is a trail that is former Chesapeak and Ohio Canal towpath. For a short while it is considered the Appalachian Trail, The Potomoac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and the C&O Canal National Historical Park trail. The trail goes all the way from DC to Pittsburgh, and the couple from the first morning were riding the whole trail.

For the brief time you are on that portion of the trail you do get to see a former (lock?) house and locks, but of course it is all dry

Shortly thereafter you cross the road and start up the trail. Portions of it are pretty steep, others more gentle, but not much level ground to be sure. There were a couple of crazy nuts running DOWN the trails. On certain rocky portions we wondered how they possibly kept their balance. And they all had smiles on their faces. Go figure.

We just did the lower loop, as did half of the population in the surrounding states. On a crisp Saturday fall morning, solitude was not happening.

The Overlook itself is stunning and quite windy. We sat (with the aforementioned hordes) for quite some time, just enjoying the views over the the town and rivers.

Hiking back down we passed a boy scout troop heading up. Take note of this fact.

Once we were back on the towpath headed towards the bridge we ran into the DC couple who were headed up. I looked at my vivofit and it said we had only gone 3.7 miles to that point. What?! Felt like 10.

Saturday was considerably cooler and we had been pretty bundled up for the hike, and at the overlook I was thankful that I had thrown a stocking cap and scarf in my bag. That wind really made it chilly. But back down at the bottom I was feeling pretty hot and sweaty. We popped into the Stonehouse and I changed clothes, putting on a short sleeved t-shirt. This was a mistake.
We went back to the Coffee Mill for lunch and sat outside. And I froze. Goosebumps. Seriously. E, on the other hand, had on a jacket. E is smarter than me.

So we went back to the rooms again where I put on long sleeves and got a scarf

Apple Cider

One of the events for that Saturday that the park list was Drink your Apples, Cider Making 1860. I had just been in England, making a gallant effort to drink as much cider as I could. Now, I knew this would not be the hard stuff, but thought it would be fun to stop by.

There was a lovely woman explaining a bit about apples, heirloom apples and the like. Suddenly another woman popped up from behind the counter, startling me. And looked at me like why on earth was I startled? I was suspicious that she had been sneaking the good cider under the counter as her cheeks were quite rosy and she had a wild look in her eyes.

It was fun for the kids who got to turn the wheel on the cider press. Then we walked through the tavern and got a tiny little sample so we went back to the window service of the Coffee Mill to get a cup of hot cider. And waved at the DC couple for encounter number two.

We decided to take our hot drinks back to the Stonehouse and lounge about in the common area for awhile.

A Touch of New Orleans

E had found Bisou Bistro just up the road in Bolivar (indistinguishable really from Harpers Ferry) which features New Orleans Cajun and Creole French Cuisine. The DC guys were headed out just before us, and headed to the same place! We were at adjacent tables.

It's small, and the building has an interesting history: http://thebisoubistro.com/the-building/

The fire was lit, and it was a cozy dining room.

I asked the server if we could take the bottle, corked, with us if we ordered a bottle of wine and didn't finish it. She stated that if she didnt' see it, I could. I emphasized that I did not want to get her in trouble and she said again that if she didn't see it, then it wasn't a problem. So we ordered a bottle.

I had a very good Lobster Bisque that featured smoked paprika, and tried their Shrimp Corn Maque Choux. Apparently he makes his own andouille. The Andouille and Shrimp were good, the rest okay. E had a gigantic Caesar salad and the Chicken and Andoille Gumbo.

After both our glasses were poured, I slipped the bottle on the floor beneath the table. When we got our check, the server slipped me the cap. I then capped the wine and put into my bag, which turned out to be just big enough and threw my jacket over it.

Mission accomplished. We took the wine back to the Stonehouse and sat in the common area (wine glasses are there for your use) drank wine, and relaxed for the remainder of the evening.
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Nov 9th, 2016, 12:15 PM
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Once again, I can't find any details you got wrong, although I'm not sure I'm smarter--it was just a fluke this time.

Hopefully somebody else will find this report useful, too, but anyway I do!
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