I've spent some of my days the last couple weeks working about an hour-and-a-half north of my home base. One to four other drivers and I have started our day with a transfer from the local limestone mine to that company's stone yard in New Martinsville. Their stone there usually comes in by barge, but deliveries aren't quite keeping up with sales, so we're helping them out a little. We then spend the rest of our day delivering stone to a DOH garage about 20 miles away at Pine Grove, on their behalf. The road there is hilly, crooked and rougher than a cob, and it LITERALLY makes my backside hurt to drive the route. Along the way, I pass through a place called Porter's Falls, which appears to be much on the decline, Reader, which appears to be doing okay and, of course, Pine Grove, location of the DOH garage where we deliver.
Something I've never seen before, that some of you may have, is two traffic lights in the seeming middle of nowhere, but only facing one way, and opposite one another about two miles apart. Mid-ways between them, though, is a gas separation plant with several tanker-type rail cars on multiple tracks and a place for trucks to fill their huge transporting tanks with propane. Obviously, the lights are on the highway to warn folks not to enter the area if there's a fire or such. The smell of leaking propane fills the air as you drive by the truck facility, and the guy who runs the DOH garage says it's been that way ever since he was a little kid. I suppose to help keep the area safer, the easy 30mph bend behind it has a 20mph sign on it. I assume that's to lessen the chance of a wreck, with its sparks and chances of igniting the leaking gas. Ironically, there's a bar across the road from the place, perhaps not the best business to have next to a gas yard with leaks.
Something I noticed up that way is the acres of Japanese Knotweed along the creek paralleling the highway. In many areas, it's completely taken over the entire area between the creek and the road. The plants are currently in bloom, making their clusters of tiny white blossoms look like the objects that earned the plant its nickname, “Lady-Fingers.” The bees used to work them really heavy when there were bees to be had. As I drove the route to New Martinsville and back from the home base, I noticed, though, that knotweed is beginning to take over other places, too. It's a shame people can't, for the most part. Just leave plants in the areas where they originate, rather than dragging them around the globe, where they often become invasives.
On the way up the Ohio River to get there, I pass through a small town called “Sistersville.” There's been a ferry across the Ohio River there almost continuously since 1818. The current one only operates in warm months, though, and shuts down for the winter.
Coming back down the same route, I saw something amusing the other day. I was looking at the old road-bed, lying tight against the hill, where the Wheeling Pike ran in the days before numbered routes. At one point, the pike went across the mouth of a small hollow, where a six-foot square, cast concrete culvert beneath the old route drained the hollow. In that culvert, now in the side yard of a little country home, lay a six-point buck, watching the traffic go by, not 75 feet below him. He could get into the culvert from the little hollow without being seen and spend the day in the damp, cool culvert virtually unknown to everyone but an occasional observant passer-by on the highway. Smart deer!
Another amusing sight in one of the small towns that I passed through was a couple motorcyclists, or ONE actually. At the little mom and pop gas station, an older biker sat on his hawg, talking to a much younger biker who stood beside him. The older biker had all the expected appearances and accouterments of his pastime, as did the younger biker, but you could see a great difference in the budgets of the two. On my next pass through the area, I met the older man coming slowly out of town, his powerful bike sounding like a Kenworth at a fast idle. A minute later, I met his young friend flying out of town to catch his friend. He was astride a skinny, lime-green street or trail bike wound up to where it sounded like a kamikaze bumble-bee. The comparison of a bike going “ringydingydingydingydingy” with the low rumble of the hawg was too much to make without smiling. I hope the kid didn't see me; I wouldn't have wanted to hurt his feelings.
We still have several loads to haul up there this week. I'll be glad when we can move on, my backside needs the rest. I DID learn to return home on the Ohio side of the river, since the road is smoother over there. That helps a LITTLE bit! © 2015