GOE XVIII- Day Four: Hoping They Don't Keep Someone

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

I have been going to Gathering of Eagles since 2000, and only missed a couple since, but this was the first time we were going on a ride that we genuinely feared some of us might not make it bad. It wasn't that we were going to be hitting some bad roads, or the weather was bad, or that we expected lots of traffic with drivers that weren't paying attention. It was all about the destination - An Insane Asylum. Fortunately for most of us, it had not been open for business for several years.

With the sun looking like it was going to burn off the remaining clouds from yesterday's showers, the group for this ride was considerably larger. The bikes and trikes began getting into position in the mid morning.

We headed south on West Virginia State Road 14 that runs right passed the hotel. At Elizabeth, we turned east on State Road 53. Both of these are pretty regular West Virginia State Roads that go up and down as much as they go right and left, meandering their way across coal country. At Girta, we turned on SR 47.

State Road 47 is the meat of our journey to the Asylum, and it was a great road with a mix of different turns and gorgeous scenery. When the trees opened up you could see off in the distance where the ground rose into the mountains. We had a fuel stop along the way. It was also a chance for all of us to shed some layers since the sun had come out in more force, clearing the skies.

On one of the turns, a couple on a trike, went straight while the rest of us turned. We didn't know where they were going and why? Maybe they knew a better way to get there? We would never know, as I didn't remember seeing them until the rest of the ride, and didn't know who was on the trike to ask when we returned back to the hotel.

That sunlight, and dry pavement may have been what was making this such a great ride, who knows? After the stop, we headed back along SR 47. Near the town of Linn, Highway 47 ends, and we take 119 into Camden, West Virginia. Staying on 119, we pass through Camden, Pricetown, Waldeck, and Sunset Acres before we arrive in Weston, West Virginia. The closer we got to Weston, the more the towns started blending together with little evidence of borders between the communities.

It was easy to know we had arrived, the Asylum was huge and stately in a creep kind of way. We pulled up the long drive, and took our place at the end of the line of all our club's motorcycles parked in front. Remember that saying about never seeing a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist's office?

The Asylum offers a variety of tours, even private ones. Our group was split into two, one group took a shorter tour, while other opted for a longer one. The tour was very interesting, and led by a young man. The town was small, and I doubt that there were many opportunities for work around. In addition to the number of times he mentioned how the institution had to keep the men and women separate, he also showed us a room were one of those ghost hunter shows recorded.

After the tour, our group mounted up and headed out to the lunch stop. We were at the back of the group, led by the gang that mostly had trikes. When made our way a bit through town, and then they went sailing on while we pulled into the designated lunch stop. We dined slowly, not in any hurry, the food was good, and we knew the second group would be showing up shortly. We were in fact, just finishing up when they did. We chatted with them for a bit, let them know about the other group, and then we started on our way back.

We started out following 119 back into Camden, and then veered north to take State Road 9. This road was under heavy construction. In fact, if it had not been on a map, I would have thought it was a new road being made. Compared to Meat House Road, this was a cake walk, but still a road to be reckoned with. As we made our way, we knew this road would be the talk of the trip.

State Road 9 changes to 58 and then to 18 along the way. There was a planned fuel stop in West Union, but with it just being the four of us on two bikes, we pushed on back the hotel by hoping on US 50. Though it is a US Highway, and dual lanes split by a median, it is still an enjoyable road.

US 50 goes right through Parkersburg, but before it does, it crosses Interstate 77, which we take south, and return to the hotel. There, we would wait, and check bikes just to make sure the asylum didn't take in any new patients, or that maybe a few of the couples didn't get any ideas from the tour guides about the happenings. I would imagine there is some kind of Asylum Club, similar to the mile high club.

Nothing was really planned for later that evening, so most of us made our way around saying our good-byes to each other. Doesn't always happen in the morning, as we all get up at different times, and hit the road. What's the harm in saying good-bye twice anyway? Another Gathering of Eagles had happened, and it was time for us to take flight back to our own nests.
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