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WV VIPP Watoga State Park,
Twin Falls Resort
& Greenbrier State Forest, WV

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OK, this was it: The Final Trip. For the last 5.5 years I have been visiting West Virginia State Parks, getting my WV VIPP card stamped and taking some images. The goal was to visit 20 WV State Parks. But after this trip, I was done. I would be an official West Virginia Very Important parks person.

I left Manassas, VA headed for Watoga State Park near Marlinton, WV on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. As on previous trips I was worried. Worried that I would get lost, that my vehicle wouldn't make it, that I wouldn't make it, etc. You get the picture.

So I left at 7:00 AM. I took I66 to I81. When I got to Staunton, VA I opted to take backroads to Watoga SP because it was shorter. I could have taken I81 to I64 to WV219. But it would have taken longer. So I took a

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chance. I succeeded. However, in order to get to Watoga SP I had to utilize a combination of cell based apps such as Waze or Google maps as well as my GPS based Garmin device. I had to use two of these products for most of my trip. And at one point, I had to go on pure gut feeling.

I got to the back or north entrance of Watoga SP around 11:30 AM. This is a big park. In fact, it is West Virginia's biggest state park at just over 10,000 acres. It took me close to a half an hour to drive from the back of this park to the park headquarters, which was roughly in the middle of the park. I was glad that I made it but was tired from the four plus hours on the road. The familiar VIPP box was on the wall near the entrance to Park Headquarters. I'm mad at myself for not taking a picture of one of these boxes. They simply say VIPP on the front and are hinged. When you open the box you see a stamp pad and a rubber stamp. You just press the rubber stamp to the pad and then stamp your card. I did that but used too much force and you could hardly make out the the word "Watoga" was stamped there. I tried it again and this time the result was too light.

To further confuse me there was a second rubber stamp in this box. It did not say what was on it and I could not read the stamp in the dim light. So I tried stamping it on the bottom of my card. The name "Cal Price" appeared. Who the heck is Cal Price? Anyway, I went inside and talked to the very nice ladies in the HQ building. They gave me directions to get back on I64 west so that I could get to my next location, which was also the next to the last location that I had to travel to on this trip. It took me close to an hour to get out of the park and get to I64 west. I was headed towards Beckley, WV. I had booked a room in the Microtel Suites in Beckley. The reason I wanted to stay here instead of Twin Falls State Park Resort, my next stop, was price. The lodge at this resort was $150 a night, a cabin was $100 a night. an electric only campsite was $50. The Microtel was $56. This was a no brainer. And it was only about 20 miles from the resort.

It was around 1:00 PM when I drove into Beckley to look for the motel. I couldn't find it. So I decided to set out for Twin Falls and get my card stamped there. On the way I saw an Arbys. I had a coupons so I got a Reuben and a Jamoka shake. Very good. Then I set out for Twin Falls State Park Resort. This park is literally at the end of the world, within the bowels of West Virginia. You know what I mean. I lost my cell signal and the GPS stopped working on the way to this location. But somehow, I made it.

They were doing some construction work within this park. There was a partially torn down structure as well as construction debris in the parking lot of this resort. It did not present a good impression. When I got to the lobby a nice young man behind the counter said that he would stamp my card. However, he stamped the wrong line! In his defense he was using a preinked stamp that has a built in stamp pad. So it is hard to aim. He stamped "Twin Falls Resort" right over the place that said Pipestem, another resort that I had previously visited. He applogized profusely, said that they should accept this card since both resort stamps were showing. I then left. I hope that the WV Parks accepts this.

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So I drove to Beckley and my place to stay for the evening. I had to pass it three times before I found it. The reason was that they had a sign on the I64/I77 spur into town but not on US19 where I was coming from. I checked into the motel around 4:00 PM. This place looked new, all of the amenities were first rate and the staff was friendly. I had a Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza and Mountain Dew, half for dinner and half for breakfast the next morning.

On Wednesday, June 2, 2021 I got up at 5:00 AM, checked out of the Microtel and hit the road by 6:30 AM. I got to Greenbrier State Forest by 7:30 AM. I noticed that all of the traffic was headed northbound off of exit 175 to go to either the Greenbrier River, Seneca Rocks or other popular recreation areas further north. No one was heading southbound.

So I did and got to the Greenbrier State Forest Gift Shop at around 7:45 AM. I was the only person around. I got the stamp pad and rubber stamp out of the box on the gift shop wall, sat down on the steps and stamped the last entry on my WV VIPP card. I felt very emotional doing this. I had spent the last five and a half years and somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 miles driving around West Virginia getting my card stamped. And it was all over now. So I just sat on the steps of the gift shop by myself and took it all in. People told me that I was crazy, that it was a waste of time to do this and that the reward was not worth the effort. However, I felt that I was exposed to some of the most beautiful sights that I have ever experienced, that I met some really nice people, that I learned something new and that I accomplished something. So yes, I think that it was worth it.

After about 15 minutes, I hit the road and headed home. I will be sending my WV VIPP card out to WV Parks tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get my $25 gift card and patch soon. I'm sorry that it's over. But I'm glad that I was able to become a West Virginia Very Important Parks Person.

Mike C

P.S.- I forgot that I drove past Pearl Buck's birthplace in Hillsboro, WV as well as Bill Withers' birthplace in Slab Fork, WV on the first day of this trip.

Click/Tap on the Previous link below to read past WV VIPP trip logs that led to this final one.
Completed WV VIPP Card
  Completed WV VIPP Card.
  By Mike Calabrese
Watoga Lake, WV
  Watoga Lake, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese

Watoga SP HQ, WV
  Watoga SP HQ, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese
Twin Falls Resort SP, WV
  Twin Falls Resort SP, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese
Sign at Watoga SP, WV
  Sign at Watoga SP, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese
Sign at Greebrier SF, WV
  Sign at Greebrier SF, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese
Greebrier SF Gift Shop
  Greebrier SF Gift Shop.
  By Mike Calabrese
Map of my 600 mile journey
  Map of my 600 mile journey.
  By Mike Calabrese

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