The schedule called for photographing a tractor pull for The Floyd Press Saturday but the drenching rain storms of Thursday and Friday left too much mud so the cancellation gave me a beautiful day to explore Southwestern Virginia on my motorcycle.
After breakfast at Tuggles Gap, I rode over to Chrisitansburg to check out the classic car and bike show at New River Valley Harley-Davidson and then pointed my bike west on U.S. 460 to Virginia Rte. 42 and a ride over the mountain to New Castle, then west on U.S. 311 over Potts Mountain to Paint Bank, home of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Trout Hatchery and the Paint Bank General Store.
Paint Bank is more of an intersection than a town but on weekends it is an intersection that draws lots of visitors, many of them on motorcycles. Bikes line the parking lot and a narrow gravel parking strip across U.S. 311 where you can also find the Depot Lodge, a converted train station with four rooms for overnight guests.
From Paint Bank you can continue heading west of U.S. 311 to Crows and, eventually, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, or you can head Southwest on Virignia 600 along Potts Creek and then into Monroe County, West Virginia, and Jefferson National Forest.
Monroe County describes itself this way:
Monroe County…with sparse population and without a four-lane highway, traffic light, or fast food restaurant, Monroe County, West Virginia, offers tourists a place to Get Real! This rural, agricultural community has retained and enhanced many of the characteristics of previous times. It is still possible to have an authentic and memorable experience in this scenic country county!
Here grandparents can teach the grandchildren how to drop a line into a sparkling fishing stream.
Here travelers can step back in time and visit restored covered bridges, old grain and blacksmith mills, historic churches and cemeteries, and historic mineral springs resort hotels.
I came home through Monroe County and it was as promised. A farmer on a tractor waved as I passed. So did fisherman along the creeks that line West Virginia County Road 17. I stopped at a roadside store for a bathroom break and cold drink and the lady behind the counter greeted me like a long lost friend. She said her name was Babs and she had lived in Monroe County all her life.
"Come back and see us," she said as I left.
I will. As a pulled into the garage after a 200 mile plus ride on a beautiful Saturday I realized I had visited some areas that have achieved what some want Floyd County to become. In some ways, we already have but we also have a traffic light, two three fast food outlets, a chain grocery store and two dollar stores featuring the latest goods from China.
Maybe we are already too urban for our own good.