Tuesday, August 23, 2016

West Virginia State Fairgrounds - Lewisburg, WV

The West Virginia State Fairgrounds in Lewisburg was the site of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International 59th International Rally. We attended our first International Rally last year in Farmington, New Mexico. The thought of having this rally closer to home was very appealing to us. We signed up, and similar to last year, joined the Region Three Caravan to Lewisburg.

Our caravan to Lewisburg turned out to be very eventful. You can read about our narrow escape from the terrible flooding in West Virginia in several earlier postings. Several members of our group wondered if we should even head into Lewisburg because of the relief efforts centered there. That was when our caravan leader said we could help the community more by going in, contributing to the relief efforts and by shopping in the community.

Our first evidence that something was going on was the traffic as we entered Lewisburg. There were around 100 power company trucks from multiple states there to help restore electrical power to the area.

Next, we saw vehicles with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief on them converging in the K-Mart parking lot. We saw many other church related disaster teams working in the area while in Lewisburg and a group of students from Liberty University took time out of their summer recess to help the community. It was reassuring to see so many groups showing up to help the community.

Our caravan finally made it to the fairgrounds and we were parked by the WBCCI volunteers. We were warned before arriving that the city had issued a "boil water" alert so we arrived with a full fresh water tank plus four gallons of spring water for drinking. We lost electrical power twice while camping in the fairgrounds. The longest power interruption lasted a little more than five hours.

Rosie at the WBCCI International Rally, Lewisburg, WV

We had a problem one morning as I was opening Rosie's awning. (Rosie is our 25 foot Airstream trailer.) The strap used to unroll it broke off. I learned last year that the people in the vintage trailer area seem to be able to answer any maintenance questions about Airstream trailers. As expected, one guy I was talking to had a similar problem and he told me to buy a specific type of fishing wire to sew the strap back on. About an hour later, the strap was reattached to the awning.

Rosie's awning strap reattached

We signed up for three excursions while in West Virginia. One was cancelled because it was a cave tour and was flooded out. We were able to ride the Cass Railroad up to Bald Knob in an old coal-powered train. The view from Bald Knob was spectacular. We wished we had sat in the center of our open-air car instead of the end because less of the coal soot and cinders fell there. We sat in the last row of our car and ended up being covered with soot when we left the train.

Coal-fired train heading up the mountain

View from the top of the mountain

the Cass Scenic Railroad

Our excursion on the next day turned out to be very exciting. We signed up for something called the bridge walk. There is a narrow two-foot wide catwalk under the longest arch-supported bridge in the Western Hemisphere. The walk is more than 3,300 feet long and you are more than 860 feet above the river at the bridge's highest point. You are strapped in with a safety strap, but the views were unforgettable.

The bridge from a distance

Selfie with the bridge behind us

Walking the bridge

All strapped in

People rafting on the river

Our feet hanging over the edge

The river below us

View of the catwalk

Success! We reached the other end

We noticed at the International Rally last year in Farmington, New Mexico, that there was an art exhibition and contest. One of the categories was watercolors. We brought one of Becky's original watercolor paintings to Lewisburg and entered it into the competition. There were six watercolor paintings entered and they were all very good. We were thrilled to learn that Becky's painting was judged to be the second place winner at this competition.

Becky earns second place in the WBCCI
watercolor painting competition

An award winning watercolor artist!
The award-winning watercolor painting

We ended up being glad our WBCCI Region Three caravan continued on into Lewisburg because some participants had talked about going home after the flood. I think the town's residents were also glad the 600+ Airstream trailers and motorhomes arrived in Lewisburg after the flood. I overheard a store owner talking to someone about his business. He said that local business dried up and it was the Airstreamers that kept his doors open that week. Without the business generated by the Airstreamers, he said he would have closed the doors and sent his employees home for the week. In addition, the Airstreamers donated more than $30,000 and pitched in and helped with the recovery efforts. Was it good to participate in this Rally? The most logical answer is a strong "Yes."

Eating out in Lewisburg

At a Lewisburg restaurant

Here are some specifics about this park:
  • Our site had only 50 amp electrical service. I'm glad we were warned to bring a 50-to-30 converter cable or we would not have been able to connect to their power.
  • Our site had both water and sewer connections. After the "boil water" advisory was lifted, we thankfully connected the water.
  • Our parking area was on grass. Some of the Airstream trailers were parked on gravel.
  • I'm of the opinion that there isn't a level patch of ground in West Virginia. We used every leveling tool we had and we still had a pronounced right-to-left lean.
  • We had enough room between us and our neighbor's trailer to extend our awning and to park our truck. Not all of the sections in this park were that lucky.
  • We could only pick up two TV stations using Rosie's antenna. These were CBS and FOX affiliates.
  • AT&T provided terrible service over the fairgrounds. To be fair, they probably lost a tower or two in the flood and their system was overloaded with flood related traffic.
  • The park provided Wi-Fi service. It was overwhelmed by having to serve 600+ trailers. Since the fairground's camping area can support more than 750 trailers, I would have expected their Wi-Fi to easily accommodate a measly 600. It didn't.
We were supposed to stay in this campground until July 5th. The weather forced us out a couple days early. The forecast called for two days of rain and we didn't want to chance leaving on the wet grass that was going to be in our section of the park. We left early, but we signed up for the WBCCI International Rally next year, which will be in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Flying our flags from Rosie

Sunset in Lewisburg

The officers of the Amateur Radio Club of the WBCCI

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