Checking out the Big Stone Gap visitors center was another wise choice. We chatted with a very knowledgeable gentleman there that told us about the movie Big Stone Gap and the author of the book who is from Big Stone Gap – Adriana Trigiani. The visitor’s center is in a vintage gas station. You can sit in the booths where the diner scenes were filmed. It is a very pretty area- a place we want to go back and visit. We did see the movie when we got home and enjoyed it!
On we went up route 160 around winding curves and little towns we drove through Appalachia, Virginia. A little further up we wanted to stop at Portal 31 for a coal mine tour, but they were having equipment issues, so some cool images were about all we got from that spot. It looked like it would have been a very interesting tour.
Kingdom Come State Park was another interesting park with some trails, huge rocks and pretty views. The weather was a little rainy and no one else was there. Creepy or cool? Either way it was nice having the area to ourselves.
After about an hour and a half more of driving we were both hungry we saw a Dairy Queen, nothing fancy but we got to eat and move on down more winding and curving roads, in and out of GPS signal we had discovered something that was going to be up ahead-good thing we used the download map option on our phones. Before we knew it, there it was Webb Grocery in Van Lear, Kentucky.
Webb Grocery was built in 1918 for consolidated coal company. Originally company store number 5, it is now on the National register of historic places. Herman Webb (Loretta Lynn’s brother) bought the store and ran it for many years, giving tours of their home down the road where Herman and his siblings were born. Sadly, Herman passed away in 2018. Rodney Turner was working in the store the day we stopped, and we chatted for a bit then made arrangements to get a tour of the birth home of Loretta Lynn. Sadly, Rodney passed earlier this year.
I can’t tell you how fortunate we were to have the history and tour delivered to us by Herman’s daughter Hermalee Webb. The tour was priceless-to experience such well preserved pieces of history by local people who were vested in it. I get emotional thinking of the short amount of time we spent in butcher holler and the impact it made on us. If you are in the area and you can visit either of these-DO IT!
We clearly manage to cram a lot of adventure in our days while on vacation. The next half hour of driving seemed to be suspended in time we got to the US 23 Country Music Highway museum and they were closed but there was a private event going on so they let us in to check it out, pretty nice of them we enjoyed our quick visit and pulled into the Falls Campground in Louisa ky about 6PM. They too were having a private event but let us plug into a space up in the corner. We walked across the street to a convenience store to get a few things and cooked some hot dogs. It was raining some and pretty muddy. The nice thing about sleeping in a van is all the sounds you hear like rain or leaves and sometimes acorns falling on the roof, it is kind of soothing.
Well, we woke up to the bittersweet realization this is the last day of our trip and we would be home later tonight. Normally I would be really anxious to get home and see my sweet dog Mya but she passed over the rainbow bridge on July 5th of 2022. For almost 18 years we would arrive home and be greeted by a fluffy tail wag and kisses. With not much appetite and feeling very melancholy. We started on our way. I was in my head, of course I still missed my daughters and my grandson.
About 10 am I desperately needed a bathroom break which led us conveniently to a parking lot of the Huntington Museum of Art which had some great nature trails to walk on. The trail is set up with some art installations along the way. We stretched our legs and recharged.
After some discussion we decided to go up Route 2 along the Ohio River, and all of a sudden there it was-Hillbilly Hotdogs. Stop? YES! Conveniently it was lunch time and where else would one eat in West Virginia along the Ohio River.
Now one might ask- How can you top Hillbilly Hotdogs on this last day of your journey? Well, I will tell you how-by stopping in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. As you may be aware, Point Pleasant is known for a very eventful year- the home of the Mothman from November 15, 1966 until December 15th 1967 ending with Silver Bridge collapse. The official name is the Point Pleasant Bridge.
I found Point Pleasant very interesting, it sits on the Ohio River across from Gallipolis. The accounts of the Mothman were fascinating. The Mothman Museum is great, it has history of the sightings and well documented history of the bridge collapse. Admission is only $4.99 per adult. The day we went it was a little cool and overcast. We did not get to explore the TNT area -due to hunting. I will take a few risks to get a great image, but trudging around with hunters is not one of them.
Well, this brought our adventure toward its end. We left the area tired and ready to get home and sleep in our own beds. The rest of the trip was filled with conversation over all the things we had seen and done. We thought of so many plans for weekend trips over the past year to go back to things we visited for the weekend, sadly we did not do that. I am trying to make a conscious effort to enjoy all the adventures we can for as long as we can! Happy Travels!