a day in West Virginia

It’s kind of absurd that for as close as we live to West Virginia, we rarely visit. It’s true – often it takes me longer to get to work than it does to get to West Virginia. But we spent last Saturday there and it lives up to its motto – Wild and Wonderful.

We have a Stone tradition of taking our birthdays off of work and spending the day just the two of us, doing whatever activities the birthday person wants to do. But because we were just on vacation, we opted to celebrate Mark’s birthday with our outing on a weekend. And he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do, so he asked me to surprise him.

Our first stop was Cabela’s in Tridelphia/Wheeling. 

Mark’s wanted to visit this hunting and fishing paradise store for ages, and we’ve passed it a few times on the way to Oglebay or to Lake Cumberland and he’s looked longingly out the window. So we finally went. Hoo boy.

Behold, Taxidermy Mountain.


Oh wait, there’s more.


Yeah, it was a veritable museum. I’ll admit, there was definitely some cool merchandise and plenty that would interest Mark as someone who likes to hunt and fish and be outdoors.

Though this was taking it a bit too far. Under Armour pink camo running tank? Yeah, no.

From Cabela’s it was on to Moundsville to tour the former West Virginia Penitentiary. 


This place looked like a fortress, and that’s basically what it was until it closed in 1995. Our tour guide was a former guard and he wasn’t too convinced about the stories of it being haunted. For me, there wasn’t anything more creepy than the fact that this place actually housed human beings less than 20 years ago.


It’s a tour worth taking for the interesting (and creepy) history of the place, though I wouldn’t go so far as to do what the ghost hunter shows do and stay overnight in the place (which apparently the general public can do too). I’ll spare you more photos of rusty toilets and peeling paint, but let’s just say it was easy to see where WV tax dollars did NOT go.

We followed up the tour with a picnic in the shade at Grand Vue Park nearby.


Mark and I had never actually had a picnic before in all the years we’ve been together, so this was a nice change of pace. But man was it hot. After the picnic we tried geocaching for awhile but mostly managed to traipse through a lot of weeds and get frustrated. Good thing we’ll get to learn more about geocaching at the Venture Outdoors membership event on Sunday.

Due to the heat making us wilt, we skipped the zip line and mini golf they have at the park and headed back home to watch the original Planet of the Apes and eat pizza.

We’ll definitely be making more day trips to West Virginia – and can’t wait to go back to Grand Vue Park in the fall, with proper hiking gear and another picnic lunch!