We are purely state collecting here. As we worked our way west from Pennsylvania into Ohio, we dipped 48 miles due south to spend a few days in West “By God” Virginia, as the state’s natives are fond of calling it. Since my father was born and raised there (though rather far south in McDowell County) I felt obliged to at least stop in and pay homage to the state, uncertain if we would be coming this route again during our RV travels.
I was unwilling to drive too far out of the way, pushing deep into the state to experience the best she has to offer for instance, but of the campgrounds we researched on All Stays in that northern spike, Tomlinson Run seemed to be the best option for our preferred type of camping. So for only an hour’s drive and $15 in gas each way, we hit our first and only WV campground. It did not disappoint.
The campground has 54 sites, 39 with electric connections, divided in some manner between those that may be reserved and those that are walk up, first come first serve only. Upon arrival we talked with the check in desk about our options, and they recommend we drive around the campground and select one of the dozen or so spots still open, but pointing out that site # whatever might not be available because a couple just went to look at it, so if we liked that spot, make sure and have a back up option in case the took it.
And thus we fell prey to the “you can’t have it”self induced marketing trap. We headed down the loop road with that site (lets call it #17, which might even be right) picking out one or two alternative spots along the way, but upon spotting 17 we wanted it. We didn’t even give it a thorough look, we didn’t even check out the last loop of sites. Someone told us we might not be able to have it, so we decided we must have it. Don’t do this. Resist it. There were several other even better sites, it would turn out.
Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and spacious! We didn’t have any trouble reaching the connections (such a challenge not uncommon problem in state parks,) it was a pull through rather than back in site, had no neighbor to the front, rear or right, and the left neighbor was across the road! But it was laughably unlevel, particularly in the lateral direction. At full extension our right side hydraulic jacks did the trick, but put the right side tires off the ground and the door step, at full extension, about 18 inches from the dirt. Ah well, we put the foot stool there and made do. It really was a beautiful spot, with the hollow dropping down steeply away from our site and the the tree canopy giving us shade.
Though the park had much to offer, two of the best unintended features were the ready made friends that Kalynn found in the neighboring site. There is something about camp that removes traditional boundaries to childhood friendship. School cliques are absent, the various pressures around appearance and class are neutralized, no one knows anyone and thus everyone needs to take that first introductory step. Camp kids know this instinctively. Kalynn found two sweet and spirited girls roughly her own age, and they were pretty inseparable the three day stay.
Of course, the existence of the pool helped keep everyone happy and playful. I don’t mean a regular little pool, I mean a great big honkin’ West Virginia pool complete with a three story twisting water slide. Sure, it had an entry fee not included in our camping payment, but at $5 per adult, $4 for a child, and no charge for veterans, the $9 we spent on each of the second and third days was well worth it for the hours of entertainment it provided.
We took a leisurely drive through the beautiful park, exploring the ponds, boat house, and trail heads. Tomlinson Run is a very well maintained and large state park, definitely worth the time if you are in the vicinity. They should probably rent something more than the unwieldy paddle boats and awkward rowing john boats at the boat house; a canoe rental option likely would have sucked us in, but it was still a lovely location.
We also spent part of an afternoon on a short day hike to find a local geocache, as is mandatory for me in every state. Without expectations we were surprised at how nice a short hike this turned out to be. It lead us down some very nice trails along side the challenging Frisbee golf course before we found the cache across a small brook under some tree roots and rocks.
All in all this was a great stop for us. It had enough activities to keep Kalynn occupied and happy, and the sort of camping in the woods atmosphere we most appreciate.