TBT: Point Pleasant, W. Va.

Point Pleasant's mothman is said to have tried to warn townspeople of a looming tragedy.

Point Pleasant’s mothman is said to have tried to warn townspeople of a looming tragedy.

Writing about our old camping adventures got me remembering more about one of those trips. The first camping trip was more than just Babcock State Park; we started in Point Pleasant, W. Va., a small town on the Ohio River.

First of all, I kind of loved this place. I consisted of little more than a Main Street, Bennigan’s and a riverwalk. The town’s claim to fame stems from tragic bridge collapse in 1967. Before the Silver Bridge fell in, some of the locals reported seeing a red-eyed “Mothman” outside town. Some believe this apparition was a warning of a coming disaster. (Side note: I’ve been waiting for Mothman sightings to start around the Brent Spence Bridge. None so far.)

The Mothman, bridge collapse and subsequent movie, “The Mothman Prophecies” are their claims to fame. We visited the Mothman Museum and stayed in the Historic Lowe Hotel, which had a nice, welcoming staff, but a kinda creepy feel. It was awesome. The entire place looked like it was stuck in time, right down to the old, metal room keys.

We arrived mid-afternoon on a weekday and I swear the only person we saw until dinnertime was the hotel concierge – except for this one girl, who almost literally fell at our feet.

We were all walking around before dinner, you know taking in the town, checking out the Mothman exhibits, when we paused to sit on Main Street and discuss dinner plans. A car came to a sudden stop right in front of us and a girl tumbled out, screaming at her boyfriend. Ah, to be young and in love.

So she starts crying and walking up the street and sees me – the nut magnet – sitting there, holding my cell phone.

“Hey,” she calls out, sniffing. “Can I use your phone? I need to call someone to come get me. My boyfriend left me here.”

Oh, is that what happened? And here I thought you were just playing a twisted version of hide-and-seek.

It is impossible for me to tell someone no, even when common sense is telling – no screaming – at me to deny her request. So I handed her my phone, and she started walking down the street with it. It’s also not in me to confront people, so I just watched, with a stupid look on my face, I’m sure, while she walked away with my phone.

Fortunately, her boyfriend was crazy jealous and she came back a minute later, giving me my phone back – so I could tell her boyfriend that I’ve never met her before, I’m just some random stranger who let another random stranger use my phone. Because, yes, I’m that stupid.

I don’t know if he believed me or not, but he got off the phone, I got my phone back and he came back for his girlfriend. We had dinner at the local restaurant, dessert at Benigan’s and continued on our camping adventure at Babcock State Park.

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Camping tips from the Trips of Horrors

Every year I go on a camping trip with some friends from college. And every year, disaster strikes.

Every year I go on a camping trip with some friends from college. And every year, disaster strikes.

If any of you reading this ever worked in college media, then you understand when I say if you come out of working the newsroom with friends, they’re keepers. There are few things that can bond people the way newspapering can, except maybe a combat zone. No disrespect to our soldiers, but that is exactly what I felt like I was in most days. It was a game of intrigue, never knowing who was really telling it true and who was using us to meet an agenda. And it wasn’t that every step was treacherous because I never knew what was going to set off a land mine – I knew every step was a land mine. It was just a matter of managing the explosions. The only people I knew I could count on were my brothers and sisters in arms, but at times even that was a small group.

So when I say that my friends and I have been through a lot together, former college journalists understand. Still, the newsroom did not prepare us for The Annual Camping Trip of Horrors. These camping trips have become the stuff of nightmares, with treacherous raccoons, deadly waterfalls, and hikes of doom.

Through all these shenanigans, we’ve gathered some great stories and learned some hard lessons.

The Glade Creek Grist mill was rebuilt in 1976 in Babcock State Park.

The Glade Creek Grist mill was rebuilt in 1976 in Babcock State Park.

This camping tradition started in 2009, with Lacey, who you’ve met before, and Jesse, a friend beget in the newsroom. He and I used to have all sorts of fun writing news stories that made the administration sweat, and then we’d go tramp through parks and attend concerts in our spare time. I can’t remember which of our trio thought it would be fun to go camping, but we decided to hit up West Virginia for the inaugural trip. Since then, we’ve camped at Red River Gorge, Big South Fork, J. Percy Priest and Cedars of Lebanon State Parks.   Continue reading