MGA Mid-Atlantic Chapter

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Wild and Wonderful
West Virginia Weekend

August 20-22, 2010

Submitted by Bill Marshall

We have not enjoyed an extended weekend event for the Chapter since our visit to Len & Ruth Renkenberger’s home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 2008. With this in mind, Butch and Judy Smith organized a Chapter overnight outing to Elkins, W. Va., the weekend of August 20- 22. To say this outing was wild and wonderful is an understatement. Well, not so much on the wild part but certainly wonderful accurately describes the weekend. In all, 26 Chapter members made the trip with seven MGAs, one Jaguar, one Miata as an MGA in drag – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and a smattering of American Iron.

We met in Winchester at the home of Martha Ludtke as this was a central location for the MGAs of Liz Ten Eyck, Bill & Kathy Wemhoff and Larry & Diana Newman reaching Winchester from the Route 7 side, while the MGAs of Butch & Judy, along with overnight guests Ben & Cyndi Nolan of New Jersey, and Charlie & Alana Adams with Terry & Martha Anne providing SUV security made tracks via Interstate 66. A small caravan was formed when Bill & Karen Marshall, followed by John Padgett and Keith Kallapos in John’s Miata, caught the group before reaching Route 50.

After reaching Martha’s, we enjoyed too many donuts, made our pit stops and formed a large caravan of 11 cars now joined by Bob & Chris Vitrikas and Ken & Joyce Lawrence who would provide rear support for the remainder of our outing.

With Martha providing the navigation, we followed Liz out of Winchester where Butch and Judy took over the caravan as we headed towards our planned stop at Doodle’s Place in Augusta West Virginia for lunch.

After lunch we reformed our caravan and proceeded towards our planned stop at Blackwater Falls State Park to relax for awhile, stretch our legs and witness the cascade of water rushing over the 63-foot fall. This was not Ben & Cyndi’s first visit to the park, as they had stopped there on our journey back from GT-34. This time however, the Nolans did not experience any unexpected release of air and all four tires remained round on the bottom as desired!

After seeing the sights at Blackwater Falls, we once again fell in line and made our way to Elkins and our waiting rooms at the Holiday Inn Express. Judy had made special dinner arrangements at the 1893-era manor house Graceland Inn – which is now a part of the Davis & Elkins College campus. Our group, now expanded to include Carl & Jean Josefson sans their MGA which was still undergoing head replacement, and former Chapter members Dick & Pat Newman, joining us from Hillsboro, Ohio, enjoyed the entire dining room as our visit was a bit off-season.

After a particularly satisfying meal, we were able to tour much of the Queen Anne style Inn and marvel at the architectural detail of the woodwork featuring quartered oak, bird’s eye maple, cherry and walnut.

Saturday morning we walked the few blocks to the Elkins Depot and awaited our boarding of the New Tygart Flyer passenger train for our planned four-hour train ride to the High Falls on the Cheat River. Our journey took us through spectacular West Virginia mountain scenery – featuring two mountain grades, an “S” curve tunnel, deep canyon and high bridge over the rushing Shavers Fork of Cheat River – rushing a little less in the current drought conditions.

Lunch was served on the train and we spent some time at High Falls, intrigued by the fools jumping off the 18-foot high falls into the shallow, rock-strewn waters below.

After returning to Elkins, we had a few hours of leisure before dinner at the Rail Yard Restaurant within walking distance from our hotel. After dinner, the highlight of the weekend was the entertainment at the American Mountain Theater. The show is two hours of pure entertainment featuring comedy, gospel and country music and some of the most energetic skits, parodies and um, deep thoughtful readings. If you want to see Dolly Parton, Mick Jagger, Johnny Cash, Sonny & Cher, the Blues Brothers, Ray Charles, and Loretta Lynn all at one time – the American Mountain Theater is your place.

Sunday morning dawned with rain showers and our group dwindled as many departed for home on their own schedules. With Butch & Judy still leading our now smaller convoy, we headed for home with plans to stop at the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rock National Recreation Area to view the highest mountain peak in West Virginia. In the 1943 and 1944 timeframe, the U.S. Army used these rocks to train mountain troops in assault climbing in preparation for action in the Apennines of Italy. The rain had cleared by this time and we enjoyed a clear view of the mountain peaks with climbers clearly visible on the face of the cliffs.

With work calling for most on Monday morning, we loaded up and headed for home.

Butch and Judy did a wonderful job putting the Elkins trip together and a heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes out to them from all that attended our trip to West Virginia.

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