Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Warm Springs and Other Things

Monday, Aug. 20, 2012

We got another late start today but no worries; we drove through some windy back roads for about an hour to Berkeley Springs, WV. Berkeley Springs is of course named for the warm (not hot) springs which bubble up there. George Washington came there to soak, and the place was originally known as Bath. We found a curbside parking spot off the main street and ate lunch, before going to look at the springs and the spa buildings in the State Park which sits on the site. 

The town is cute—a little artsy, and very reminiscent of a smaller version of Hot Springs, Arkansas, which we visited in 2007.  There are two old buildings which contain public bathing facilities. One (built around 1915, if I recall correctly) includes massage facilities and separate pools for men and women. The older one, which has been in continuous use since 1815, has Roman Baths. These are fully tiled rooms with steps down into the water; the description and photo sounds precisely like a mikvah! These rooms are private, but lead to a larger pool which is available to families. Finally, there is a large outdoor pool with changing and shower facilities. The indoor pools were all open, but the pool is now closed except on weekends because schools started today. 

In between the two buildings is a waterway which channels the runoff from the springs past “George Washington’s Bathtub” (two people were soaking their feet in it) and a couple of larger pools, plus the “Gentleman’s Bath” area adjacent to the 1815 building. Upstairs above the Roman Baths is a museum giving a history of the town and the “healing waters”.

Although I had originally planned for us to “take the waters” this morning, our late start and the overcast weather made us decide to skip it, especially since the outside pool was closed. (We did taste it though, since there was a water fountain right by the pools.)  Instead we spent some time in the museum. 

Just as we went outside, it began to rain. We decided to duck into the antique store across the street. The store turned out to be one of those multi-dealer places, with loads and loads of stuff, and we waited out the rainstorm in there. We even found a few things to buy (a couple of gifts, and a Tweety Bird glass for me!)

The rain had let up by the time we finished browsing, so we went back to Mo and headed south to Blackwater Falls State Park. The drive took us through a lot of small towns, and a lot of areas with no phone service. We drove over Saddle Mountain, which turned out to be the birthplace of Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother. At 2840 feet high, it was small by last year’s standards, but it was quite a windy road and Joe enjoyed driving it. (His favorite part of today, however, was when the GPS took us onto a road so small that it wasn’t on my maps, and which twisted and turned for about 20 minutes until we emerged back onto the main road.)

We arrived at Blackwater Falls at about 7pm, and are camped in a mostly empty campground. It is very pretty and we are looking forward to visiting the falls tomorrow before continuing on our way. When I will upload this blog, however, is a question mark, since there’s no wifi here, and I have no idea when we will encounter any. (Added: we found wifi at the Visitor Center in Elkins, WV, where we stopped for lunch on Tuesday.)

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