Boy did I wake up late.
I was not back on the road until close to 11 a.m.
I showered, packed, and jumped back onto 119.
Later, I turned onto Route 20.
I refueled in the Buckhannon area.
Shortly thereafter, I found the downtown area and a tiny library.
Although I typed up a blog post, I could not upload it. The library was still on Internet Explorer with no upgrades -- no Chrome -- no Firefox.
I headed back on the road.
Route 20 was far more treacherous than 119.
It was twisty, windy, and crooked with many hairpin and switchback turns.
Elevation -- followed by the downhill and the ear pops.
Not many guardrails.
Trees canopied most of the journey: shadows of leaves and branches hid pieces of dangerous gravel.
One tiny scoop -- one wrong catch under the tire -- and off you go like a sack of potatoes.
Down-down-down the mountain.
I was on this mountainous byway for more than four hours when I finally had stop for something to eat.
I found a -- how in the heck are you even here -- Subway and woofed down a six-inch sub.
Nearly an hour later, I made a right on 60 and a left onto 41 towards Babcock State Park.
I did not arrive there until around 6 p.m.
Five deer were on camp spot #38, so I chose that one.
I setup camp, checked out the restroom, and started a fire.
Dehydration and the elevation got to me, so I filled up on water.
It was nearly 8 p.m. when I began to hear coyotes hollering over a kill they had made.
I proceeded to sit by my fire; then, I heard the coyotes again -- this time from a different direction.
Moments later, two women approached.
They suggested I move my tent to their camping spot.
With little stirring, I abandoned #38 to be closer to humans.
I dragged my tent and belongings over to a new spot.
I thanked the two women (and now a man) for thinking about me.
They asked me to join them by their large fire, and I did.
We began talking while around the flames, and I learned all three of them were retired West Virginia school teachers, so we chatted about education, retirement, and wild animals.
The coyotes howled again.
Hazel, Shelby, and Elias had rescued me, for when we retired, more pack howls could be heard throughout the night.
Still, I was undisturbed by animals.
I must have slept because I remembered some of my dreams the following morning.
On Thursday, I was supposed to leave; however, the skies were so gray and cloudy that I considered staying.
Elias built up a fire that morning; Hazel made me a cup of coffee while Shelby offered me Krispy Kreme donuts.
What was the rush?
When Shelby suggested we take a three-mile walk (six-miles total) to the grist mill, I decided to stay.
We gathered some water and Gatorade and headed out.
I tell you, it was great to enjoy nature with the three of them.
Not only was I in community, I also heard story after story after story; plus, we witnessed some spectacular scenery together.
Lines and lines of maples and oaks and rhododendrons and moss and cabins and mountains.
(They shared a murder story that took place in one of those state park cabins. Husband killed his wife. Cue dueling banjos here.)
As the day wore on, we revealed more and more about ourselves.
When we reached the grist mill, we took several photos of it and its surroundings.
Later, we walked into the park's gift shop where I purchased some postcards and sent those off right away.
Our way back to the campsite seemed shorter; we did not get back until close to 3 p.m.
Sprinkles of rain had begun, and the wind made the trees rustle violently.
Still, the weather did not deter this trio from immediately beginning supper arrangements -- they also included me as if I were one of the group.
Grilled pork chops and potatoes.
I offered to pay for food, but they wouldn't take it.
Instead, I helped by washing the baked potatoes.
Hazel took a short nap while Elias grilled the chops while Shelby worked on the potatoes.
Meal was served, and Elias offered a prayer.
A short rain passed through, but it stopped 20-minutes later.
Following supper, Elias built a larger fire, and we sat around it.
This time, everyone did their own respective thing.
Hazel made phone calls.
Shelby played solitaire.
Elias reviewed movie selections.
It started out as a clear evening; however, the wind would not let up.
Elias suspected more rain, but it never surfaced while we were up in the evening.
The coyotes began to howl again.
Hazel, Shelby, and I opted to shower that evening because it was so warm outside.
After our showers, we returned to the fire some more.
Elias gave me a Virginia map, and I planned my route.
It was not until we retired to our respective homes that the rain began, and it came down hard.
So hard that Hazel came to check on me to see if any water was leaking in my tent.
I couldn't feel any.
The trio again watched out for me by offering floor space in their camper in case I needed it.
Although I never had to invade their sleeping quarters, I was thankful to have the offer.
I snuggled into my sleeping bag fully dressed for tomorrow's ride.
Despite the incessant rain, I fell into a deep asleep.
No coyotes could be heard.
Until we meet again, my friend.