About a month ago, I got a hotel room on the river in Charleston and asked Ann to clear her schedule, but never let her know where we were going or what we were doing. She was a good sport about it, mostly, though deep down some surprises make her a little uncomfortable: "What if I don't have the right clothes?"
|Finishing Salt from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works|
|Building Sandwiches for our Road Trip to Charleston|
|Focaccia, Pesto, Goat Cheese, Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper, and Salame|
In all my days here in Virginia (and that is most of them), I have never been west of Lexington on what is now I-64/the West Virginia Turnpike. The scenery between the state line at Lewisburg all the way in to Charleston is phenomenal and it amazes me that there is a road at all traversing this rugged mountainous terrain. I have heard stories about people heading out west on old US-60; I imagine that I-64 shaves hours off that trip.
After winding through the mountains on I-77 from Beckley on, with one tight curve after another, it was a relief to hit the relatively flat and straight stretch along the Kanawha river leading the last few miles into Charleston. Driving the city portion of US-60, Kanawha Boulevard, along the river led us past huge mansions and the Capitol building in an almost deserted downtown. The streetscape along the river is well done and quite beautiful as you can see in the photo below.
We almost made it to the hotel without incident; however, we found the street barricaded right at our hotel with no access to the hotel from any direction. I finally drove past the barricades on the west side of the hotel and into the parking lot. The street was blocked for the annual car show, which is apparently a "big deal." You can see a couple of cars still in the street in the photo below, what looks to me like a mint-green T-bird and a candy apple red Chevelle Malibu rag-top, though my grasp of cars is pretty suspect. For most of the way from Beckley to Charleston, we were surrounded by about fifteen or so Virginia-plated new Corvettes. I guess they were coming to see the cars too, but the show was over and most were gone by the time we arrived around 3:45pm.
|View from our Room: The Kanawha River|
|Just Below our Room in the Street|
|We Took Some of Virginia's Finest to WV|
On arriving at the salt works on the grounds of a landscaping company about 10 minutes east of downtown along US-60 on the flats along the Kanawha River, we saw these very neat round stones. I have no idea what forces shaped them this way. By way of history, the Dickinson family started making salt on this property in 1817 and descendants Lewis Payne and Nancy Bruns, brother and sister, have revived the process on the family farm which is also home to another family business, the landscaping company.
|How Cool are These Rocks?|
|Lewis Payne Describes Salt Crystallization to Ann; His Sister Nancy Bruns Looks on|
|Salt Rake; Beautiful Craftsmanship|
|High Tech Salt Drying Apparatus|
|Beautiful Retail Packaging|
|Ricotta and Hazelnut Crostini with Honey and Salt|
|At Dinner Outside the Salt-Works|
|Tomato Salad; Awesome Sweet Potatoes|
|Swiss Chard in Beautiful Pottery Dish|
|Excellent Pulled Pork, Brioche Buns, Smooth Ambler BBQ Sauce|
|Kanawha River and Kanawha Boulevard by Night|