What is it about us and driving through West Virginia? We have lived in North Carolina for five years now and have traveled back and forth at least twice a year. It seems that any travel problems that occur only happen in West Virginia. A couple years ago, we survived "deliverance" on the trip up at Christmas, thanks mainly to my dad who drove down and came to our rescue. This trip, we survived "gas-pocolypse."
After making this trip at least 10 times in the past five years, we have a routine of stops we make. Where to eat, where to stretch, where to gas up. One of the best place to do so in West Virginia is in Beckley, at the Tamarack. We can gas-up, grab a bite to eat, and stretch our legs and do a little shopping. As we are north bound on 77 this trip, we were ready for our gas fill-up and stretch at the Tamarack. Brad pulls off the exit and we notice a line to gas up that is backed up onto the south bound side of the highway. We decided not to wait and to move on. We had woken up early, packed the car and headed out. Our expected arrival time in Ohio, was 3:30, leaving us lost of time to visit. We didn't want to waste it, so we decided to find another gas station.
Problem number one: there are long stretches of 77 in WV that do not have gas stations. We found one about 5 miles up the road from the Tamarack, pulled in to the gas station.
Problem number two: this gas station had no electricity. After talking to some locals, we decided that we need to back track to the Tamarack and wait in line and gas up. Our car was showing we had about 42 miles left.
Problem number three: as we pull back up to the Tamarack exit, the Department of Transportation is out on the highway blocking off the exit to the Tamarack. Needless to say, we can't go there. So we kept driving south to the next exit and pulled off at a BP.
Problem number four: electricity is out here as well. Hmmm. We found some fellow North Carolinians who were also traveling and they said every station they have gone to has no power, the Tamarack is running out of gas, and a big storm blew threw last night and knocked out power all the way from southern Ohio to parts of northern Virginia.
I should have known better from past experiences with AAA West Virginia, but I decided to call and see if they could tell us the closest open gas station and if they could bring some gas to us to get us there. They tell me they have no gas, they expect the power to be back on in 10 days, they can offer us a safe house to stay for 10 days and I should call a 511 number (which was nothing but a computer generated voice detailing traffic information). We heard by word of mouth of a gas station open just over the Virginia border.
At this point, we are on empty and we have 32 miles left to go and this "open" gas station is 34 miles away. With no help from AAA, we decided to drive south and get as close as we could. Luckily, much of south bound 77 is down hill, so we were able to coast. We kept the air off and held our breath. It quickly became obvious that this station was open, as the highway was backed up with traffic well beyond the exit for the gas station. We decided that this is what the end of the world would look like. People were panicking, driving crazily, rude, and even a few who were crying hysterically.
As slowly inched our way with the traffic to the gas station, we could see news stations pulled up and filming.
At least the gas was priced very reasonably. This picture gives you a view of some of the traffic. This is when we were waiting in line to get to a pump. At this point we are feeling pretty good, because even if we run out of gas, we can probably push it to the pump from here.
This picture shows the traffic backed up to the gas station and the traffic backed up off of the exit ramp. There are many more cars behind this!
Finally, we made it to the gas pump!!!!
Now that we had gas, it was time for bathroom breaks for all people and dogs too! Then a stop at the Starbucks for some frozen drinks and then it was time to hit the road again, with air conditioning!!
We were all feeling much better. What should have been a 9 and 1/2 hour trip had turned into a 13 hour trip! We were lucky to find gas, I can't imagine the people who were stranded in there. Although, the whole ordeal made this sight so much sweeter!!