Category Archives: West Virginia

Christmas Fluff

Today, we have a guest post. Justin is a friend of mine from way back – almost 20 years. Facebook is what keeps us connected today. I trust you find his message as appropriate for the season as I did.


“Set aside all the “fluff” on Christmas, get to real thing”
Justin Holloway

For the past several years I have not enjoyed holidays much. Last year, even putting up a tree and decorations was only in my hopes of “feeling” some type of Christmas spirit within me. I could give you a list of all the reasons I have felt this way for so very long, but I have come to the conclusion it is because of the simple word “expectations”. I could easily add the phrase “current circumstances”.

And, this day as I pen these words, the same feelings resonate within me. Last year and the year prior, I told myself “Next year will be better; just you wait and see!” NOPE. This year “circumstantially” has by far been worse. And, my expectations have been reduced to “zero”.

It begs the question I must ask myself – “What is the real purpose for celebrating Christmas?”

Is it the time spent with family aiming to replicate a Norman Rockwell painting version of yesteryear? Is it the expectant spirit of hoping to celebrate days gone by with an even bigger boom than ever before? Is it the hope of celebrating the blessings of the year that have far exceeded any other?

Well, if the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, the reality for most of is “How is that working for you?” Most likely, it is not.

So I am left to conclude for me, if not all of us, it is time to refocus! And, for me, specifically, to remember Christmas has nothing to do with me or even the ones I love on this planet. It truly is a Holy Day. The time spent with family and friends in harmonious relationships is merely an added bonus. And what about your current circumstances? For most of us there are always reasons for rejoicing and times of trial running concurrently . It is called “living in the real world”.

So, what about Jesus; the Christ child? Well, first I can clearly say the Bible does not command we celebrate the birth of Christ on this given day we call Christmas. Yet, I can also tell you it should be a reason for celebration for all Christians every day of the year. I do like the special emphasis placed on Christmas Day based on its original intent.

Obviously, commercialism and the Old Saint Nick mentality has made this day a dual celebration as secular and Christian beliefs are fused together. Santa Claus is fun and I enjoy gift giving more than anything, especially when my children were young and after the arrival of six perfect grandchildren. I find nothing wrong with this merging of tradition for, symbolically, Christ was the greatest gift we have ever received.

Often times, the expectations, especially for young married couples with children to share this holiday with in laws and outlaws has added to this “repurposing”of what a Christmas holiday should be. There is always the easily offended mother or mother-in-law who wants their kids and grandkids with them for this significant day. The stress added to the holiday is enough to drive anyone crazy. I find it comical that most Dads merely care about the football games and good grub instead.

So, you see, the purpose of holidays, especially Christmas, gets so convoluted. Watered down. Made less than intended.

I would suggest to any and all out there, including myself. “Forget about your circumstances. Forget about your personal heartaches for a moment. Forget about where your married children are spending Christmas and all the reasons you are entitled to have them. Focus on the miracle of the birth of Jesus! Focus on the eternal love of our Heavenly Daddy. “

Thanks be to God for the gift of the Savior who has made a way for each of us to be in right relationship with a Holy, merciful God. Thanks be to God for His sustaining presence through each and every circumstance we face in this life. Exalt our heavenly Father for the expectancy of hope that causes us to walk in peace each moment as we face the trials and suffering of this life. Praise be to God for the joy that is ours in Him alone!

All the rest is “fluff”. Let us join around the Christmas table this year, whether with family or friends, or even if you happen to be alone, and mediate on the beauty of Christmas. Emmanuel; God with us. This, my friends, is THE reason for celebration!

Sacred Lives Foundation is a non-profit organization  founded by Justin after his grandson Brady was born in 2008 at 22 1/2 weeks weighing 18 ounces. They distribute coffee table size books to hospitals and other places where there message of hope and encouragement will help others. Please take a moment to look at their website.


Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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The Visitor

There is a knock at the door. I wonder who that could be. Perhaps my family is here to visit for a spell. Maybe it is a delivery service bringing that package I ordered. Or perhaps it is a neighbor or a stranger in distress needing my help.  I may peer through the side window to catch a glimpse of this visitor, but until I open the door and greet the visitor, I have no idea why someone is visiting me.

I love the Christmas story that has been told in many households through the year. The story about the birth of Jesus. The children gather around to hear this story. Soon they will be telling the story to their children and grandchildren.

It began with Zechariah receiving a visit from Gabriel (Luke 1:5-22). God was about to change the world in a dramatic way. Zechariah and Elizabeth along with Mary and Joseph would be a part of this transformation.

Then Gabriel visited Mary (Luke 1:26-38) announcing that she would soon receive a special gift from God – a gift that would change the world in a way that no one could imagine.

I am sure the inn keeper was not thrilled to hear a strong knock on his door after he had closed for the evening. Most likely, he also wondered who would be visiting at such a late hour, especially since there was no room at the inn. Visitors from all over have taken all available rooms. When he opened the door, his heart was filled with compassion and told the young couple, they could spend the night out back where the animals slept. And that is where Jesus began His visit. A visit that changed the world indeed.

So why did Jesus visit?

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). And Jesus came to give believers an abundant life. (John 10:10). The Apostle John provides a simple explanation:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:16-21, NIV)

God had been silent for 400 years. I am sure many felt God just gave up on His people and the world. Sin came into the world at the very beginning. The Old Testament is rich in history describing how God moved through out the land working to restore mankind’s the relationship between Him. Nothing worked. It almost seemed as if God failed. No, God did not fail; sin had such deep roots that the people were not willing to receive salvation and restoration from God.

All that changed when Jesus was born on the starry night.  The heavenly angels announced the beginning of a visitation from God Himself (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus came to deliver freedom to all and to teach the world how to be free from the bondage of sin.

To be continued…

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Go West, Young Man!

Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.  —  Fictitiously attributed to Horace Greeley’s July 13, 1865 editorial in the New York Tribune

So, West we went. Friday’s journey was less strenuous than our first day on the road. Thursday, we dove 300+ miles up and over the low mountains of West Virginia. Friday was a much easier 232 miles due West through the rolling hills of Kentucky. As we continued our westerly trek, the grass became greener and the land began to open up a bit with less dense forest areas and more openness. I can see how many settlers following the “Go West” dream made the decision to stop in Kentucky.

We got on the road earlier on Friday than Thursday so we knew we would have time to rest a little before grabbing a bit of dinner in Shepherdsville, KY. We did take a lunch break at a truck stop along I-64 at Mt. Sterling which just happened to be close to the mid-point between Charleston, WV and Louisville, KY. While we were temped to go into the truck stop and grab a Subway sandwich, we opted to stick with the plan and fix our own lunch, thus saving a little $$.

While Carol gathered the lunch stuff, I walked the fur babies. They were ready for their potty break just as we were. One advantage of traveling in an RV is not having to wonder what surprises may lurk in the facilities found along the highway. Friday’s lunch spot was also off the highway so we were not rocked with each passing truck.

After cleaning up from lunch, we took off. I quickly realized the direction I chose to exit the truck stop led to a dead-end. Because we were in a truck stop, I was able to get turned around quiet easily and negotiated Cramalot Inn back to I-64.

Between Lexington and Louisville, I noticed the traffic began to increase and that we were apparently in the middle of horse country. While the roads were crowded, the surrounding country opened up with sprawling estates configured with horse pastures and buildings looking more like horse stables than typical cattle barns.

GPS routed us around loop I-265 bypassing central Louisville. That was fine with me since we will get back into Louisville with our car on Saturday. We made the connection to I-65 south and made the exit at Shepherdsville on KY-44. As we crossed over I-65 heading east to our spot for the weekend, we encounter a school zone. Kids, cars and school buses everywhere; looked like someone stirred ant mound. It was obvious, the students knew it was Friday.

We pulled into our spot at the Louisville South KOA and anchored just fine. This park is much larger than where we were Thursday evening and there are more people buzzing about.

IMG_3455No one has commented about the ‘band-aid’ on the windshield just yet. This is one reason why we are making a stop in Nashville as we head south Sunday afternoon. We picked up a stress crack in the windshield in 2013 as we left Mark Twain Landing in Missouri. It was a small crack and really nothing to worry about. While we were parked in Virginia, we heard a rather loud pop sound. A lawnmower was in the area so I suspected we were hit by a flying object. We look around the RV on the outside and could see no evidence of a ding or any thing that looked like damage from a flying object. A few days later we noticed the crack had grown significantly and the top corner of the windshield had some small, loose shards of glass. We called around various glass shops in the area and found none that had mobile glass service and none that had any experience working on RV windshields. Closest spot would be Washington DC, Richmond or Roanoke. After going a few rounds with various glass companies and our insurance, we did find a mobile service that could accommodate us in Nashville, which just happened to be along our route. The band-aid is a piece of fiberglass reinforced panel similar to what is found in commercial bathrooms. I cut a piece to cover the crack and secured it with duck tape. The panel distributes the wind pressure to other areas of the windshield. So far it has held just fine. Monday we have an appointment in Nashville with a mobile glass service to replace that windshield. I’ll let you know how that goes then.

Meanwhile, we are on vacation. Today, we plan to visit Louisville and play tourist. We will hit the Derby and Louisville Slugger museums along with a few other spots.

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I leave you with a sunrise photo from the dining room window. It is going to be a beautiful day.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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On The Road Again

That’s right folks, we are on the move once again. This time, moving from Broadway, VA to Manchester, TN. Our year at Harrisonburg/Shenandoah Valley KOA has closed and we are officially on vacation.

We got a late start from Broadway yesterday, primarily because we are rusty on packing and getting on the road. When we stay in one spot for a long while, we tend to nest. Pulling up roots can be time consuming. And as we pulled out of the park, I realized I did not have my GPS set up and ready to go. So we made our first stop to get that done. That’s when I realized I still had my work radios and keys on board. Carol made a quick 4 mile trip back to the RV park to return those items while I set up my GPS. It was just past 11:00AM when we finally got on the road. Now we just need to follow the blue line.

Trip VA-TN

Trip Map

Our first destination was Huntington, WV which is west of Charleston, WV. Our trip south on I-81 was uneventful; not much traffic and excellent travel weather. We turned west onto I-64 at Lexington, VA. About 10 miles later, things got interesting. The interstate through The George Washington National Forrest was what a friend called a 40-mile roller-coaster ride. Not filled with steep climbs and descents as a roller-coaster but full of twisty turns mixed with long climbs and descents. One thing I’ve learned when making climbs in an RV is to not get stuck behind a slow-moving 18-wheeler. Well, that happened. It took a bit of an effort to get moving around that truck but Cram-A-Lot Inn met the challenge. Her GMC L18 Vortex V-8 coupled with her Allison transmission did just fine. The only thing missing was an exhaust brake system for the long descents.

As we were nearing the top one of the climbs, Carol notified me that her hunger indicator had triggered. We found a safe spot to pull over on the highway and enjoyed lunch while traffic whizzed by. Most of the large trucks were courteous and pulled into the left lane as they passed us. We could tell some did not.

Traffic through Charleston, WV on I-64 started to get a little heavy and there were several spots on the interstate where the turns required reduced speeds. Carol led the way through the toll plazas in Charleston. The route pretty much followed the Kanawha River which looked like a major trade artery through the area. We crossed over this river 4 times driving through Charleston.

Shortly after 5PM, we pulled into our RV site for the night.

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Site 23 – Huntington Fox Fire KOA, Milton, WV

Huntington/Fox Fire KOA is not a fancy place but it is a nice small park. Sites are a little close. Entry into park is a bit trick with a pretty tight switch-back turn off  of US-60.

Fox Fire KOAFor future guests, it would be easier to enter the park by exiting the interstate at Barboursville (exit 20) and turning back towards Milton, WV so the approach to the park entrance is more direct. We made the turn just fine but we did create a small traffic delay as it took a short while for us to get complete off the road.

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Huntington / Fox Fire KOA

We were planning to fix our own pizza for dinner but being road-weary, we opted to find a local spot in town. KOA office staff recommend a local burger spot named Fat Patty’s. WOW, that was one of the best burgers we’ve had in a while.  I selected the Lava Patty (Red hot patty seasoned and spicy. Topped with grilled jalapeños and hot lava cayenne cheddar cheese, lettuce tomato and onion.) while Carol chose their Junior Cheeseburger. We enjoyed chatting with the staff. The fella who brought our food to us was giddy when he found we were headed to Manchester, TN. He is from that area and told us about a few things we need to check out while we are there.

We returned to the RV and enjoyed a FaceTime chat with our eldest daughter and grandson (Gage). Before we said good night, our youngest grandson (Jayson) and son-in -law (Martin) popped in to say hello. It was getting late and we were having trouble our peepers open, so off to bed we went. The RV rocked a slight bit as one of two storm lines passed just south of us.

Next leg of this trip takes us to Louisville, KY where we will spend  a couple of days on vacation.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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