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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

West "By God" Virginia

(Craig/Karin) We left Ohio on Tuesday, knowing that we only had three more nights until we arrived at our workamping job in West Virginia. Since our motto is “frugal”, we decided to stop at a Cracker Barrel in Mt Sterling, Kentucky. Most Cracker Barrels have RV and bus parking…..and some will even let you stay overnight. When we arrived and sat down for dinner, Craig asked for the manager. As soon as he mentioned that we were pulling a camper, the manager invited us to stay overnight. She even offered tips on various places in town that may be of some interest to us. So we stayed the night and got a good night’s sleep.

Some of you have asked the question “where do you guys find the free places to stay”? We use two sites: and These two sites alone have saved us hundreds of dollars! We also joined Passport America offers 50% discounts at many participating campgrounds across the country. Sometimes there are stipulations to the discount (i.e discount good only mon-thurs, discount good for up to three nights, etc). We’ve used this several times, and it has already paid for itself. We also use This is a great tool to read about the campgrounds before you decide to go there.

Our next stop was in St Albans, West Virginia. We found a free site at the city park. It was right along the Kanawha River, near Charleston. The city park had three RV sites with electric, access to water and a dump station. Nice! Now this little park was squeezed in between highway 60 and the river, so it was a bit noisy. There’s always pros and cons when something is free :) We stayed two nights there. We enjoyed watching the barges head up and down the river. After our two night stay, we threw a few bucks in the “donation” box, and off we were to our final destination. Well, not so fast. Craig noticed a transmission leak under the truck. It looked like a gasket leak. So we traveled around town to attempt to get it fixed. Everyone said that they couldn’t look at it until Monday. At least one fellow was honest. His response was “most places ‘round here close early on Fridays”. So on to plan “B”……load up with some tranny fluid and leak stopper and move on. That’s what we did.

Summersville, West Virginia was a little over 100 miles from where we were. There were some steep climbs along the way. Our truck’s temperature gauge was rising as we motored up these steep inclines. The extra fan to help with the cooling system kicked on several times. Thank goodness for that! The temperature stayed in range as we got closer to our summer home. We did stop at a rest area, where we saw a travel trailer about the size of ours, sitting at the rest area with a blown tire. Craig asked them if they were ok, and the gentleman responded that they had a tire on the way. We told him where we were heading, and he quickly warned us about the Summersville police. He said that Summersville was a big speed trap. Karin asked him if they would mess with someone pulling a trailer. His response was “Ma’am, you gotta be careful on a bicycle there”!

We pulled into Summersville, strongly heeding the 50 mph signs posted every half mile or so. Craig waved at the Summersville police cruiser sitting in the center median. And then we saw the sign to Summersville Lake. We turned right and drove a few miles. A Mountain Lake Campground sign pointed us straight ahead. We arrived at the general store. The store is the heartbeat of the campground. You call to reserve your site there. You check-in there. You can buy gifts, food, snacks, wood, ice and many other things there. So we entered the store. Craig went up to the counter and announced “Craig N Karin, workampers, reporting for duty”.

Susan James, the owner of Mountain Lake Campground, came out to greet us. We also met several other workampers that happened to be there when we arrived. Everyone was very friendly and were happy to see us. The store itself was very nice. It is open, but there are still many things to stock to get it completely up and running. We jumped onto the back of a golf cart while Susan took us to inspect our campsite.
This place is huge! There are four separate camping areas, each one with 50 to 70 sites within it. Three of the areas offer water and electric hookups. One area is considered the “primitive” camping area, mainly for tents. The general store is on the main street that connects all four areas. There is a pavilion next to the store for various activities and functions. Behind the store is a pool, another kids pool and a huge jumping pillow. Across the street from the store is an amphitheater mainly for movies. Next to that is a small BBQ restaurant and also a miniature golf course. Throughout the campground there are playgrounds, volleyball nets, basketball courts and horseshoe pits. There is a shower house with laundry and vending machines within each area. There are no sewer connections, but there is a dump site within each area. The campground also has what they call a “honey wagon” (why, we don’t know). The honey wagon is a tank pulled by a truck that can be dispatched to your site to empty your sewage for you. This allows you to stay put and not have to pull your trailer or RV to a dump site every few days.

The area that Susan has placed us in is not open yet. It won’t open until Memorial Day weekend. So we have the place to ourselves for about three weeks! It is beautiful. The sites are large. Even if this place filled up, our closest neighbor would be at least 50 feet away. There was a brief moment that our eyes met as we looked around at the beauty of this place. We later spoke and realized that we both had the same thought at that moment. The thought was that all of our hard work and research had paid off! This was exactly the kind of setting that we both had imagined being in.

Our first day at work will be on Monday, so we had the whole weekend to set up camp and explore. Karin worked on the inside of the trailer as Craig worked outside. It’s different when you know that you’ll be in the same place for four months. You can now go through all of the “junk” that you’ve dragged along and revisit why you did bring it. We want to keep the outdoors tidy, so we were very precise as to where to store things outside.

So we took our first hike to the store. It’s probably about a half mile hike. We saw many trails leading into various points of the forest. Several deer were seen along the way. Susan did tell us that they had five or six black bears sighted last year. We hiked past the store and down to the lake. Wow, the lake is gorgeous! Clear mountain water with the green forest surrounding it. This is not your typical round lake. Craig said that it reminded him somewhat of Lake Powell in Arizona. But this lake is surrounded by forest right up to the shoreline. We read somewhere that there are about 60 miles of shoreline, so that makes for a pretty big lake.
We then hiked up to Long Point. The point is nearly two miles from our campsite. The trail starts out wide, but narrows as we get closer to the point. There were several steep inclines along the way. At the end of the trail, there is a sign that reads “End of Trail”. We kinda chuckled about that until we saw why the sign was there. Maybe twenty feet past the sign, you find yourself standing on a rock, overlooking the lake. If you decided to go and extra foot or two, then you would plunge about two hundred feet straight down!
Well it's Monday....time to start earning our keep! We’ll get another update out soon :)

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