West Virginia Trip Report, Part 1!

Earlier this year, author Bridgett Nelson asked if Lynne Hansen and I would be willing to travel to Huntington, West Virginia (we’re in Atlanta, Georgia) for the inaugural live event of the newly formed Horror Writers Association: WV chapter. It was going to be a signing at the Haunted Majestic, a haunted house on a moored WWII medical ship. The answer, of course, was “Um, YEAH!!!” The event was Saturday, October 30th, but we decided to turn it into a full vacation and go up a few days early.

WEDNESDAY

We got up bright and early and made the drive with no issues whatsoever. (Spoiler Warning: This was not the case for the return trip.) Much of the drive was through Kentucky, so of course we had lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Due to our precision coordinating, we got to the hotel only a couple of minutes after Bridgett and her family arrived, where I was forced to pretend that I cared as much about seeing the humans as I did about seeing Bridgett’s pug Bodhi. He’s a good boy. Yes, he is! Yes, he is!

Bridgett’s family departed, sadly taking Bodhi with them, and we went to Stuart’s Hot Dogs, where we got the delicious “Six For $6” special. (Don’t worry–we divided the six hot dogs amongst us.) We also went to get ice cream, but the weird-sounding “grape pineapple” flavor was disappointingly lacking in both grape and pineapple flavor.

Then we met author Jason Keene as we ventured into The LOST Escape Room. They had a serial killer themed room, but it was a 4.5/5 difficulty level. Bridgett and Jason had never done an escape room before, while Lynne and I have always failed, so instead we went with the 3/5 “Shine” room, where you’re trying to steal the moonshine recipe from the family you’re feudin’ with.

We did not embarrass ourselves. Progress was made. Did we escape? No. Did we almost escape? No. It definitely didn’t help that I was out of the loop for about twenty minutes (you had an hour) trying to work this $%#@& puzzle requiring manual dexterity, and even when the TV screen that gives you clues played an actual VIDEO of how to do it, I struggled. Ultimately, I succeeded, but I wasn’t there for my teammates during that challenging time, and for that I am sorry.

The faces of failure

We retreated to a bar to drown our sorrows, where I discovered to my shock and amazement that I (who generally loathe all alcoholic beverages) actually liked my tiny sip of an amaretto sour. But I was doing the driving and thus did not chug a dozen of ’em.

THURSDAY

After having burgers for lunch, author Jeremy Megargee arrived and so Bridgett, Lynne, Jeremy and I were off to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum! (Presumably it would have a different name if it were built in 2021.) It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, but when you’re trapped in a car with other creative types the conversation never gets boring.

We stopped at a place called Appalachian Oddities that was indeed jam-packed with oddities. They also had an escape room, but alas our schedule didn’t offer us the opportunity for redemption. We went on the Criminally Insane tour, because of course we did, and learned lots of fun and horrific facts. Then we went through the museum, where one room was screening a vintage How-To film on performing lobotomies. There was a great deal of cringing and going “Aaahhh!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!!”

We left the asylum long enough for some perfectly adequate barbecue, then returned for their Delirium Haunted House, which was outstanding. Most haunted houses tend to be a random mix of scenes, but this one was entirely committed (heh) to the asylum theme, and the actors were fully dedicated to their roles. If they were actors…

FRIDAY

Time to look professional! We were off to WSAZ Channel 3 News to do a live television interview with Taylor Eaton about our Haunted Majestic appearance!

You can watch it right HERE.

With our professional duties completed, it was finally time for the trip I’d so eagerly awaited to…Hillbilly Hot Dogs. This place is everything you could want from an establishment called Hillbilly Hot Dogs and sooooooo very much more. It’s not just a meal. It’s an experience. We ate our dogs in a run-down, graffiti-covered bus.

There was much more fun in store for Friday. To be continued…

Part Two Link: https://jeffstrand.wordpress.com/2021/11/02/west-virginia-trip-report-part-2/

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