21. Elkhorn: Bedless Breakfast in a Historic Building

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Elkhorn, WV

While I was taking an ice-cream break up the road late yesterday afternoon, a local truck driver told me the owners of the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre Bed and Breakfast were from New York. He recommended I stop by and visit with them. This turned out to be a good idea.

I made camp early – a little after five – because I wanted to get set up and pack my gear well for the heavy rain everyone’s been talking about. So right after some guy stuck his head out of a pickup and yelled at me, “Get off the goddamn road!” I decided to take his advice, since I was about ready to stop anyway and here I was at a likely – uninhabited – flat stretch, right across Elkhorn Creek from a prominent church.

I was fortunate – there’s been no rain (so far), nor has it been at all cold. I stopped at the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, where I was welcomed with a simple breakfast, including wifi, and where I particularly enjoyed a sumptuous second course of conversation with the owners, Dan and Elisse Clark.

I will hold off on the details of this encounter, my harvest of information, and post a fuller account of the last couple days from someplace farther up the road.  Again, I’ve dallied longer than I intended, with my laptop recharging as it brings me up to date with a few emails and other sources I like to stay abreast of.

  • #8677 – My secluded campsite last night. Loud and lonesome train whistles were blowing rather frequently – as a famous, and very historic rail line runs along this … one of countless… steeply walled valleys, hauling coal, as far as I can tell. The Pocahontas Line is what I just noted, on a scrap of paper, during my lengthy conversation with one of the proprietors. Along with the best trout fishing in the whole country, and superb ATV terrain, this area is a major rail-fanning destination. When I was all fastened down for what I expected to be a stormy night, I stood beside my tent, gazing up at the steep hills all around me, admiring the autumn foliage, feeling a thrill about whatever it was the birds were saying, savoring the freshness and glory of spending one night of my life in such a pretty – and magnificently improbable – location. 
  • #8682 – Where I am right now … through the white door under the green awning, back in behind the double window to the right.  Note my bicycle underneath the black witch’s arch. ¶ There’s quite a story connected with this establishment – how the skill sets of Dan and Elisse mesh so well, how they bought this property after two devastating floods in 2001 and 2002, and how hard they worked to make it what it is today. More is available here: http://www.elkhorninnwv.com/ 
  • #8678 – Here is a cat for Elizabeth, who has been wanting one for such a long time. Elisse is an art specialist who’s run galleries in New York and Germany. She has many paintings on display at the Inn. Almost all of them are for sale. This one, however, is not. (Sorry, Elunia. But this digital image – like the wonderful smell of fresh-baked bread from someone else’s bakery – is freely available for you to enjoy.) 
  • #8690 – More cats. This large painting – note the chair back in the lower left – is by Svetlana Ostrovsky, a Soviet-born Israeli artist and daughter of another famous painter, Mikhail. 

It’s high time I post this note and get moving again.

I am still alive and kicking, here on the last stretch of a challenging highway (52) across the southernmost counties of West Virginia. I hope to camp in Virginia tonight, probably just above Roanoke, then take Highway 11 all the way up the valley into Maryland, to the edge of Pennsylvania. I estimate I’m still on schedule to arrive home sometime during the first week of November.


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