Tag: West Virginia

Seeking LOVE in Monterey, Virginia

Seeking LOVE in Monterey, Virginia

After leaving the town of Buckhannon, West Virginia then stopping at the tiny Randy Brown Memorial Chapel – I wound my way across the mountains down 219, across 250 and into the town of Monterey, Virginia.

I’ve ridden this section of Route 250 quite a few times and it never disappoints. After all, it has big wide valleys, toe-scraping hairpins, and little traffic. But, there was actually a method to my madness.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought that I would stop in to see one the many LOVEworks that Kathy has documented in her travels. There’s always room for a little more love in your day.

Done up in a barn quilt motif, the LOVEWork sits in a park just south of the intersection of 250/220.

After snapping a few photos, I made my way back to the Bonnie in search of twisties. In this corner of the world, they aren’t hard to find.

The Tiny Randy Brown Memorial Chapel

The Tiny Randy Brown Memorial Chapel

When I saw the sign posted on the railing, it caught me off guard. Enter at my own risk? What the hell has been going on in this little chapel that would bring about such a warning?

Maybe it was a result of not having a good sleep or of feeling like I had gotten “must poisoning” from a hotel room the night before  – but that warning sent my overactive imagination reeling with ideas of what terror must’ve existed beyond the door of the little chapel.

Walking up to the closed door, I debated whether I should even open it. My imagination was racing. I just knew that I would turn the knob, gently push it open – only to come face-to-face with a deranged Pappy Yokum-type, stinking of pee and liquor and who was spoilin’ for a fight.

Imagine my surprise when I was instead greeted by little more than four tiny pews, a peaceful light and a portrait of Randy Brown.

Randy Brown Memorial Chapel
Buckhannon, West Virginia
Google Maps

2017 in Review: Photos of Great Ghost Ads Seen in My Travels

2017 in Review: Photos of Great Ghost Ads Seen in My Travels

My love for the ghost ads of yesteryear is strong. While out and about in 2017, I saw some excellent examples: 

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Layton, New Jersey

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Grafton, West Virginia

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Beacon, New York

Battle Ax Plug Tobacco – Pomeroy, Ohio

Cubanola – Radford, Virginia

Bloch Brothers Tobacco | Rohrbaugh & Co. Furniture & Undertaking – Buckhannon, West Virginia

Mail Pouch Tobacco  | Golden Rule Department Store – Belington, West Virginia

Bull Durham – Buena Vista, Virginia

Uneeda Biscuit – Poughkeepsie, New York

Sloan’s Linament for Rheumatism – Grafton, West Virginia

Uneeda Biscuit | Gold Medal Flour – Troy, New York

Coca-Cola – Orange, Virginia

Wine of Cardui & Cubanola – Radford, Virginia

Mail Pouch Tobacco | Coca Cola – Renovo, Pennsylvania

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Mill Hall, Pennsylvania


2017 in Review Round-Ups

Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial – Whitesville, West Virginia

Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial – Whitesville, West Virginia

While riding along Route 3, I passed through the town of Whiteseville, West Virginia. The small town doesn’t stand out much from any of the other small towns nestled in the West Virginia mountains. But it is home to a memorial that is an arresting sight.

“Come to me, all you who labor, and I will give you rest.”

On April 5, 2010, 29 coal miners perished in the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion. Many times during my ride through West Virginia I repeated the phrase “the mines giveth, the mines taketh away” to myself.


Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial
Whitesville, West Virginia

Just a few miles south of the memorial in Whiteseville, is a roadside memorial near the mine. It bears twenty-nine helmets perched atop crosses and photographs of the men who died there. It was moving.

While the granite memorial is important and will withstand the crush of eternity – seeing these more human elements, fragile and temporary, felt poignant. I could imagine the loved ones who replaced wreaths, came around to tidy up and to generally check on things.

And in a particularly sad twist, the absence of one word, just three little letters, said so much…

Cruising Along Route 3 – West Virginia

Cruising Along Route 3 – West Virginia

After passing through Rhodell, I spent the night in Beckley, West Virginia. That evening I sat drinking a beer alone in a restaurant, thinking about everything I’d seen along the way. Spilling my observations and secrets into my little pink notebook was cathartic.

When taking in so much input all day long, it can be hard to keep track of everything. Little vignettes that feel monumental as they pass can be so touching at the time that it is hard to imagine you could ever forget the details. But, you do. Or at least, I do. As a trip goes on the intake-then-forget process compounds as I absorb more new things and more new things and more…

Each evening during this trip after hanging up my keys for the night, I would start writing a basic outline of the places that I passed through for the day. Just a very loose timeline. From there, tracing my steps I found that I was often able to jog my memory and hang on to little snippets that might’ve otherwise been tucked away in my mental filing cabinet.

Doing memory keeping by hand requires a deliberate concentration and a general slowing down in order to make the words happen. That slow savoring is something that I never get when typing. It felt good.

The morning that I left Beckley, my plan was just to follow along route 3 to head towards Ohio. I would let the day unfold on its own while passing through coal country.

There is no telling what will move or disturb me along the road. As I’m traveling, raw nerves that I didn’t know were there become exposed. When the layers of day to day living fall away and I stop being my get up, kid to school, go to work, dinner, bedtime, repeat, robot-self, I rediscover who I am. My me. My private me.

Something about seeing this tiny shuttered library, overgrown with weeds made me feel like weeping. It felt so symbolic of everything I’d seen in the past few days. It felt like cause and effect all rolled into one.

Passing through Whitesville:

You can see the three-story brick building in the photo below. Everything changes, everything stays the same.


Photo source

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