September 2, 2005

Start: Winchester, Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia
Mileage: 340 miles
Route taken: Route 50 west to Highway 522 north to Interstate 68 to Highway 219 south to Highway 33 west to Interstate 79 south exit at


        It was the first wrong turn I have made on this trip and I was surprised it didn’t come sooner.

        Not that it mattered, it was only a momentary delay and actually proved to provide some interesting scenery.

        Instead of continuing west, I was unintentionally headed north and realized it until I was nearly at the West Virginia/Maryland border.

        No problem, I stopped for gas at Berkeley Springs, West Virginia and then took Interstate 68 for about an hour through Cumberland, Maryland until I reached Highway 219.

        It skirted to the west of the Appalachian Mountains and provided tremendous views, like the scene below.

        When I reached Elkins, West Virginia I had a bit of a self indulgent destination that I wanted to stop at, but needed a little assistance in finding it.

        The town of Reger, West Virginia is listed on the internet as a town, but not on any map that I had. I narrowed it down to somewhere between Elkins and Buckhannon. There was 25 miles between the cities and when I reached Elkins I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions.

        Of the three people working at the station, no one had even heard of the town, much less knew where it was. They were as helpful as possible, one guy even called a friend who worked for the post office, but to no avail. I thanked them and went on down the street.

        A West Virginia State Police Office was on my right, so I pulled in figuring someone there could help.

        Two troopers and a dispatcher later, the town was found, but getting me there took a bit of work. The one trooper, who had lived there his whole life found the vicinity after two attempts and gave me directions.

        Off I went and the second set of directions were correct, but with no sign for the town of Reger, I never exactly was certain where it was. I had a pretty good guess, so I know I was in the neighborhood, but couldn’t exactly stop and proclaim this was it.

        I don’t blame the officers, it was not exactly a bustling town, but it did point to a disturbing trend I have seen as I go across the country.

        No one seems to know anything about outside of their town. This wasn’t the first time I have asked for directions, but getting people to tell me even basic information, has proven difficult.

        When I was in Vermont, I asked a guy at a gas station where a business was and he had no idea. I went two blocks down the street from the station and there was a big, bright sign illuminating the name of the business I had asked about.

        It isn’t just directions, but basic travel questions. If someone asked me how far it was to San Diego from my house, I would be able to give them an estimate.

        When I query about distances between towns, the reply is usually one of uncertainty.

        I don’t want exact mileage, and have said as much, but even giving me rough estimates proves to be a challenge.

        It puzzles me and makes wonder why I am getting so many blank stares when I ask these questions. If I was getting erroneous information, I wouldn’t care, but it is the ignorance that is frustrating.

        Do people not care about the area they live in? Are they not able to travel around where the live? Has their world not expanded beyond their town? Am I asking the wrong people?

        It gave me something to ponder as I headed towards Charleston. When I reached the small town of Weston, a town that straddles Insterstate 79, I stopped for gas and asked the clerk how far I was to Charleston.

        He told me he thought it was about an hour. It was getting close to dark, but if I only had sixty miles, especially on an interstate, I could make it with some daylight remaining.

        I could have gone north to Clarksburg. I knew it was only about 30 minutes and would have had no problem getting there before sunset.

        But I wanted to head south, so that is the direction I pointed Libertad.

        The first mileage sign I came across was about five miles down the highway and knew I was in trouble. I was 92 miles from Charleston.

        Here is where retreating would have been the prudent, not to mention, intelligent decision to make.

        Of course my stubbornness overruled logic and I pressed on southward.

        The light disappeared quickly, even though I was speeding to try and keep it in the sky as long as possible. The sunglasses were starting to become a problem, but taking them off meant no eye protection and the wind at 80 mph makes riding without them impossible.

        I rode for another 20 miles in semi darkness and when I saw a rest stop, pulled in to switch eyewear. I have amber colored glasses that are used for night, so I put those on. It is the first time I have needed them in a month of riding.

        I don’t like riding at dark. There are way too many variables I can’t control. Objects in the road I can’t see, a pothole that I can fall into, drivers can’t see me even more at night, and then there is the deer.

        Deer is the ultimate danger at night. They come out and jump in front of cars for no logical reason. The terrify me.

        So for the remaining 53 miles I drove with my head on a swivel and gripping the handlebars with clenched fists. The woods were on both sides, the possibility of deer was there.

        The later you stay out on the road the better the chance of seeing them. I had a sliver of light, and I wanted to take advantage of it as long as I could.

        Traffic was light and I straddled the center line, giving me better chance of avoiding animals and potholes. The road was relatively smooth and speeding wasn’t as dangerous as it could have been.

        I knew if I could get to about 20 miles from the city the woods would disappear and my anxiety level would drop substantially.

        Nothing jumped out at me and I saw the exit for Charleston. I found the first motel and pulled in for the night, vowing not to get caught in the dark again.