Friday, April 30, 2010

Unlevel in West Virginia - Pipestem Resort State Park

Roger here...  Level has a new meaning in West Virginia, at least from our perspective.  The definition of West Virginia Level is any angle less than 30 degrees.

After an uneventful drive to the beautiful Pipestem Resort State Park in southern WV, we found the campground office closed.  It appeared that we would have our choice of the 31 paved, full hook-up sites, so Dianne and I set out on foot (downhill, of course) to find just the right one.  We were looking for a great view, a level site, and an open southern sky (so our satellite would work).  We found just the right one on an elevated pad that extended out over a peaceful, wooded valley.

  Lots of privacy, as we could not even see our distant neighbors.  AND, it was level, at least when we backed all the way in.  Great spot for a campfire in the woods!  Gorgeous views from our lawn chairs behind the motor home.

At that point, two hours of "fun" began.  With Dianne's direction, I backed without incident into the site.  We put down the jacks, plugged in the electricity and engaged the satellite.  We decided not to do the rest of the setup until we were sure that we had internet and DirectTV connections.  Good thing we waited. We could not get a connection because a tree was partially blocking the sky.  Sometimes this is not an issue; this time it was. 

 After 20 minutes of messing with the automatic dish, we moved to plan B.  (As it turned out, plan B had about 20 time-consuming and aggravating subparts.).  First, we checked to see if any of the other sites would work better - probably not. 

 Then we decided that if we moved forward about five feet, that the offending tree would not be an issue.  We would have to use some of our leveling blocks to compensate for the upward angle, but that should be easy -- yeah, right.

We moved up, reconnected the electricity, made sure that the satellite connected, and we were in business - not really.  We still had to level the motor home.  I did the driving while Dianne placed the plastic leveling ramps behind the four rear tires.  (Visualize when I do this, I'm crawling under the back of the motorhome to reach the inner dual wheels. --  D.)

When I backed up, the motorhome easily rose to the second level of the ramp - perfect.  Dianne placed additional blocks under the rear jacks before I deployed them so that they would not overextend.  I pushed the appropriate buttons to send the rear jacks down.  (There are lights on the automatic control panel to tell me which jacks to deploy to level everything off.  I also had a carpenter's level sitting next to me.)  We were almost level UNTIL everything moved and Dianne screamed.  The rear jacks had lifted one of the rear wheels off the ramp slightly (a no-no), just enough for one of the ramps to shift from center.  We could not leave it that way - bad for the tires.  So, we tried again.

  This time when I backed onto the ramps, one of them shifted right away.  So we tried again, and again, and again, and again.  By this time Dianne and I were both a little testy - to say the least.  (Ready to come to blows is more like it -- D.)  Dianne suggested (insistedwe give up.  

I got out of the motor home and took another look at the other sites - probably wouldn't be any better.  We (Hedecided to try it one more time, and then another, and then another.  Finally, I was able to get all of the rear tires onto the first level of the ramps.  We knew that we would not be perfectly level, but felt we could live with it for our three nights - especially since we would have our TV and internet.  

So, I played with the jacks and the carpenter's level for a while to get it as level as possible.  Then Dianne and I began the long (l-o-n-gprocess of calming down.  Two hours had passed since the ordeal began.

One of our favorite movies is Lucy and Desi's "The Long, Long Trailer."  We even have a poster of it hanging in the motor home.  One of the funniest scenes in the movie shows Desi attempting to level their trailer on a hilly forest road during a thunderstorm.  When Lucy tried to fry eggs, they slid out of the frying pan onto the floor.  When she opened the pantry doors, all the food fell out, covering her in flour.  As she was sleeping in the slanted bed, the jack gave way, the door opened, and she landed outside in the mud.

Our experience was not quite that bad, but it did have some of the same elements:  We could not open any of the doors -- refrigerator included -- without them slamming wide open.  We had to literally use our heads to keep the heavy outside door open when entering and exiting.  The last step out of the motor home was so uneven that we had to hold onto the handle so as not to tumble down the hill.  Inside the motor home, any steps toward the back required great care so as not to pick up momentum and end up flying into the bed.

After completely calming down and beginning to enjoy the beauty (and it was magnificent) of our surroundings, the situation began to be funny.  We started a camp fire and Dianne took a picture of her wine glass, just to illustrate how uneven we were, even on the patio.  What the photo doesn't show is that as soon as she snapped it, she lost her balance, bumped the table, resulting in the entire glass of wine finding a new home on my jeans.  (Oops, my bad....)

Leaving all that behind, we had a great time exploring the state park.  It has two lodges, two golf courses, and a myriad of hiking/biking trails, and lots more.  It even has an aerial tram that descends to one of the lodges.  

We did take the dogs on a couple of hikes.  I suggested that we hike the Canyon Rim Trail to a limestone outcropping at the bottom of one of the canyons.  It was only .7 miles, and the views were amazing.  I pointed out the way.  The problem was that it was straight down (no steps or switchbacks here, just a steep trail).  In all fairness, there was a warning sign.  (How does the song go..."When will they ever learn....")

As we were descending, I asked Dianne several times if she would like to go back, but she declined.  Let me just say that, though the views were worth it and I would do it again, it was pure drudgery climbing back up out of that canyon.  (I recall muttering at one point, "What part of 60-years-old do you not understand?"  Oh well, I needed to burn the calories after the visit to Opies Candy Store.)  What a good aerobic workout :-)

After recovering and some exploring from the car, we opted for another hike near the nature center.  It started at another old homestead (we've encountered a lot of those lately).  It was billed as an easy, mostly-level hike of .6 miles.  The first thing we did was go straight down.  What part of straight down is level?  Oh yes, I forgot the West Virginia rule of 30 degree angles.  Actually the hike wasn't that bad.  Dianne got some great shots of a butterfly, a wild flower, 

and a deer in a tiny cemetery within the park.   Dianne here:  I noticed as we drove past the cemetery while leaving that most of the names on the tombstones were "Hill."  Fitting, somehow....

1 comment:

Laurie and Odel said...

Loved the wine photo! We have found ourselves in this situation from time to time. I hate when the refrigerator door slams itself against the wall when all I wanted was a little white wine! And, we have noticed on several hikes in the east that they don't seem to believe in switchbacks. What's with that?? This straight up/straight down stuff isn't for 60 year olds! A nice switchbacked trail - more steps, less effort. :) Sounds like you are having a good time.

Safe travels,