"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, June 6, 2021

A Family Reunion in Virginia and West Virginia

Fayetteville, North Carolina
Elks Lodge 

Now that our time in Florida is over we have changed up our plans and we'll be heading to Indiana to get a checkup on the rig and some work done at Affinity RV Group.  First we will route through Virginia, Steve's home state, where we have organized a family reunion.  We had planned on being on the east coast two years ago but a couple of our kids weddings and a grandbaby sidelined us a bit so it's time for a visit!   We'll be driving straight through Georgia and South Carolina along I95 with plans to arrive 7 1/2 hours later in Fayetteville, NC.  One night at the Elks Lodge to sleep then we're back on the road.
W/50, $20, #4
Since we're leaving early in the morning to get to our next overnight spot before Steve starts work, we won't hook up to water or unhitch.  It's a nice Elks Lodge and very quiet.

Rocky Mount, North Carolina
Moose Lodge

I had a hard time finding lodging for where we needed to be next and found a Moose Lodge that said they'd reciprocate with our Elks membership and let us stay the night.  So nice of them!  We arrived in Rocky Mount 2 hours later and set up.
W/50/Dump, $20
Near our site is the old Stonewall Manor. We really wanted to tour it or at least the grounds.  It was strangely difficult to get any info on this place. Websites and phone numbers were not working.  The inside is supposed to be fully restored and furnished.  It was built around 1830.  In its prime it was a large antebellum plantation.  All we were able to do was take a picture.
Next we drove over to the Mills.  Rocky Mount was built with a lot of slave labor to run the cotton mill.  They are trying to revitalize the area while reconciling with their past. The Rocky Mount Mills used to be the second built cotton mill in 1818 along the Tar River.  It is a multi-use property with breweries, restaurants, office, a hotel and events.  Once again, we struck out as most of it was closed on Mondays.  With craft beer exploding, the local community college offers courses on brewing.  They share use of an incubator and allows brewers to brew, ferment, keg, bottle and distribute.  Many unique start ups are here including, Spaceway Brewing owned by two African American women. 
This nice brewer, Cameron, of Hopfly, who happened to be here working on a brew, opened up his place just so Steve could purchase some of his beer.  Steve really loved it.

We took a little walk in one of the nearby parks to find a geocache hidden in the location of the first US Post Office in Rocky Mount built in 1816.  There are only a few foundations left.

Norfolk, Virginia
Elks Lodge
It was a short 2 hour drive to get settled into the this Elks Lodge. We were very surprised when we pulled up to what we thought was a long closed lodge.  I thought maybe I had the wrong Elks Lodge.  We pulled back around to where we could see where RV parking would be and called the gal back I had made the reservations with weeks ago.  It was in the 90s with very high humidity and we wanted to get plugged in.  The entire blacktopped areas/lots were all broken up and had weeds growing through them.  The building looked like it had seen much better days except the front was more kept up looking.  They had a huge neglected pool with a run down fence around it that was mostly full, but very green.  All the tables, etc around the grounds look liked no one had visited in them for years.  This location surely needs a lot of TLC.  I will say once I heard back from the office gal, she was very nice.  She stopped by to make sure we found the hookups.  She apologized about the lodge grounds and explained the pool never really took off and was too expensive to upkeep.  They are going to remove it at some point.  I told her I get it and that we were just happy to have a place to stay for the next couple of days.  There aren't many spots in this area and we were just a few miles from family in Virginia Beach.  Not sure we'd stay at this location again but we did appreciate the hospitality.
That afternoon we met up with his youngest brother, Jeff, and his wife, Veronica, and did some geocaching in a nearby park.  They have been on the news with their videos. HERE is the one while we were there.
The Hydrangea's were gorgeous and kept my mind off the horrible heat.  I suggested we stop at a nearby Dairy Queen for a Blizzard as soon as we finished!

We made a stop the next day to a brewery Steve liked in previous years.  He was disappointed in them this time around. He found them to be more old style IPAs. He prefers very hop forward.
Amanda, her boyfriend, Jeremy, Charity & Cassidy
Then we had dinner with Jeff, Veronica and their kids at a local Mexican place.  It's been a few years since we've seen them last and they have really grown up.  All are out of high school now except Cassidy.
Veronica and Alex. 
Alex just finished truck driving school and will be on the road soon driving an 18-wheeler around.  Congrats Alex!
The Hampton Roads Coliseum where Steve saw many concerts growing up.
Then it was time to drive across the Chesapeake Bay to stay on the other side where his other brother lives and where we'll be having the Family Reunion. Driving over/through the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge/Tunnel was no problem.  They have you pull over to make sure your propane is turned off and on you go.  There are 3 bridges/tunnels that will take you across the bay.  There was no fee to cross this one.

Newport News, Virginia
Newport News City Park
We stay at this park when we visit.  It's central to about everything.  It's a huge park, a bit pricey and could use a little TLC.  Very shady area with tall trees.  They have bike/walk trails, water to kayak on, shelters to rent, laundry and a playground.  It's a very convenient park.  Many of the sites are narrow and a bit unlevel.  W/50/30/Dump, $36.  Site #B56.

More brewery visits.  This time with his brother Mickey and nephew Michael.  His wife, Wendy, wasn't feeling well so we didn't get to visit with her this time.  We missed her though!
The brothers.
Every time we're here we have to go to Gus's Hot Dog King.  One of their favorites since they were kids.  It's still there and nothing has changed!
While Steve continued working I drove around with Jeff, Veronica and Cassidy.  We wanted to go back to the neighborhood they grew up in and look at the various houses, schools, etc.  It was a trip down memory lane for Jeff and fun to hear his stories about growing up from a different point of view.  Most were very funny.  All I kept saying was, Where was the supervision?  Who was watching you?  For example he told us how they'd jump on the train that ran behind their house and they would ride it across town to the Shipyard then jump off!  I think we now have them hooked on a DQ Blizzard when it's hot, as it was their idea to find a place to get one and get out of the crazy heat!  We took the above pic and sent it to Steve.  Mean, I know.
We had some old family friends pop in to surprise us one night.  It's probably been about 50 years since Steve saw them last.  We had a nice conversation.  The next day was the big McCormack/Lee Reunion.  We were happy that about 35 people showed up since the weather had changed to rain.  Luckily it stopped that morning and everyone was there except one cousin.  We had so much fun telling stories and sharing family genealogy with the older generation.

One funny thing is people love to bring old pictures with them.  Look at this old one taken with Steve and his brother Mickey back in the early 80s!

It was a great week and now we are driving to West Virginia to visit with a family friend that was more like a sister to his Mom.  The drive is beautiful in any season.  We really want to spend one year visiting more parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lewisburg, West Virginia
State Fairgrounds
This is another place we always stay when visiting family as it's easy to get in/out of in these narrow, small towns.  It's right next to Ronceverte, where many generations of his family grew up.
FHU, $45, #365.  State Parks and fairgrounds are rather expensive in VA & WV.
The State Fair happens here in August.  This is one HUGE fairgrounds.  They have thousands of camping sites.  Many with hookups.  As far as you can see in the above pic are the sites.
It's always a lovely visit with Sally & Bob.  She is a wealth of information on the family history.  We have as much of it as we can get but always learn more stories when we are with her.
Our other reason for coming was to scatter his Dad's ashes.  The crazy rains this part of the country has had these past weeks have all the rivers overflowing.  We spread some in the Greenbrier River that flows right behind his families property and some on the family property.  It's been sold off over the years and the main homestead is down to less than 20 acres.  The old home his great grandparents built burned down several years ago but some of the old outbuildings are there but barely visible as no one has lived on the property for many years.  Nature quickly takes back what was hers.
This is the old gate to the property which is so overgrown you can't walk through it anymore.

On our way east out of West Virginia we pass the pretty gold topped State Capitol building in Charleston.  This is another town we'd like to visit.  500 miles later and we have traveled from the coast of Virginia Beach through Virginia, West Virginia and to the border of our next state never leaving I64.
As we near the border we pass the John Amos coal fired power plant in Nitro, WV.  In case you were wondering, this small town gets its name from nitrocellulose which is the main ingredient in smokeless gunpowder. It was a WWI boomtown built by the US Government to manufacture gunpowder for the war.  It's less than 50 miles to the border.
Guess what we'll be doing in Kentucky?


  1. We had so much fun, hopefully we can see each other again sooner rather than later!!

    1. We always have fun with you guys. Next time we stay longer and meet up for another camping trip!

  2. I'm glad your family reunion was such a big success! Lots of miles driven, lots of family seen and lots of memories :-)

  3. Looks like a good time was had by all. Nothing like catching up and having quality family time.
    Safe travels!

    1. We really needed to stop in to family in VA since we know it'll be 2-3 more years before we can get back again.

  4. I bet it was nice to see your family and visit. Looks like you got some good brewery time in as well. Love the architecture and history in that area!

    1. It's always nice to see Steve's side of the family as we don't get back there that often. Always more to see and do.


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