Bolar Mountain COE CG, Hot Springs, VA area
Jun 1, 2016
|(Click on thumbnail pictures to enlarge)
Weds., June 1: We left Goose Point Park COE CG by about 9 am to travel to Bolar Mountain Campground (COE). The trip was approximately 150 miles and took us about 6.5 hours including lunch and fuel stop. The route included many two lane roads
with twists and turns, climbs and descents as we went over the Blue Ridge Mountains and into the Alleghany Mountains.
Bolar Mountain is the western of two mountains separated by Moomaw Lake, created by the COE Gathright dam. There are 7 COE campgrounds, with various degrees of ‘comfort’, on and around the lake.
The campground area is 20 miles (as the crow flies) north of Covington, VA (about 40 driving miles) and almost on the VA/W VA border. It is about equidistant between Warm Springs/Hot Springs VA and White Sulphur Springs, W. VA – about a 30 mile trip to either over difficult roads. As isolated as it is, there is no cell service until reaching one of the 3 towns. There is no TV reception and one radio station (NPR). But there's lots of trees and water.
The little marina store has limited groceries (milk, bread, marshmallows, a couple of cans of soup, and some ice cream bars) and other than that, it's a drive to one of the towns. Better check your gas tank levels while in town as well.
We are in the most civilized campground (#1).
The campground is deep in the woods with nice big level sites, electric only.
GPS routings are not to be relied on as the “road” may actually be a “trail”. The driving motto with a motor home is “look before you leap”.
The 17 year locust (cicada) hatch is in full bloom. According to the camp host, it started the day before we came. The ground is full of holes from which they emerged.
Though there are a lot of dead ones on the ground, we actually don’t see too many flying around. The noise, however, is LOUD – from dawn to dusk
(click the video icon -left). Even with all the MH doors and windows shut, it is constantly loud inside. Thankfully, they are quiet at night.
Really enjoyed it and the surrounding areas - Hot Springs, Warm Springs, White Sulphur Springs,the dam, etc. We were told of a ‘short cut’ to Hot Springs which cut off about 10 miles from the trip leaving it about a 20 mile trip. So we went into the small town of Hot Springs daily for supper and to get cell phone reception. We’d have to cross a single lane concrete bridge
and take Richardson Gorge road for 10 miles before hitting paved roads again. Gorge road is a good description.
Besides being a gravel road, it is a tight 1.5 lane track cut in the side of the mountain with uphill cliff on one side and a downhill fall to the river on the other side. Add to that many, many blind curves. Along the way, there a couple of cabins built across the river. Not sure where they parked but I don't think I'll be visiting them soon.
Thankfully, you’d generally only meet one or two vehicles on the road. On meeting a vehicle, cooperation, at very slow speed, of both drivers is definitely required.
The most interesting town was Hot Springs, VA. It is a small old community with much history. The centerpiece of the town is "The Homestead"
, a hotel resort with 3 championship golf courses. Sam Snead was born in a nearby town and as a youngster caddied at The Homestead. The Homestead is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year though after it burned down, it was rebuilt in 1902. Back in the day, it was one of the places to go for the New York City crowd. The chairman of the C&O railroad had a nearby summer place and so the C&O built tracks to run railroad service between NYC and Hot Springs. Today, the rebuilt 100+ yr old facility rises high above the town. It is immense and dominating much in the style of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel. The grounds are meticulously landscaped and vast. Staff is uniformed in starched whites.
We, however, found good eating at tiny Lindseys Roost on Main St with service from the owners or their 10 yr old grandson.
We stopped at the town’s Visitor Center and while in their parking lot, downloaded our email etc. Noticed that in the same old building there was a law office and recognized the name. The lawyer’s a VA State Senator who was in the news a year or so after Sharon’s death was so well assisted by the medical and state regulator community of the Commonwealth. His son was having severe mental problems and he tried to get him committed for treatment but was repeatedly denied because there was “no room”. One day his son attacked the Senator and after stabbing him 13 times, then shot himself to death. Investigation later revealed that in fact there was available facilities but the bureaucracy was just too lazy to even call the facilities. The story, of course, caught our attention as we were in the process of our lawsuit against the very same Commonwealth health agencies. Anyway, while sitting in the car, the Senator came out so I got out of the car and walked up to him, introduced myself with a short version of Sharon’s experience with the VA health system and regulators and ours with the VA government. It actually felt good to speak with someone who had similar catastrophic experience with government failure and believed what he was hearing.
We stayed 5 nights at Bolar Mountain COE CG and left on Monday morning for Robert C. Craig COE CG in the mountains of West Virginia.