Category: Sights from the Road

Adjusting Expectations With a West Virginia Big Boy

Adjusting Expectations With a West Virginia Big Boy

Everything doesn’t always come up sunshine and roses when you’re road tripping and looking for something you read about or might’ve heard of in passing.

Sometimes a pin on my map for a Mail Pouch barn will turn up a pile of collapsed wood where a barn used to be. Or maybe I can’t actually find what I’d saved or it’s missing. And sometimes a thing sounds much cooler than the reality of it. When you turn up for a visit… sad trombone. It’s a roll of the dice.

Luckily the journey almost always has some value to it so there’s that. You might happen upon something else in the area that makes up for the letdown. Sometimes you’ve gotta make lemonade.

Recently, I had my hopes up for the Shoney’s Big Boy Museum in Charleston, West Virginia. I hadn’t read anything about it, I only had the name and address. Based on the name, I imagined a restaurant with memorabilia-covered walls and statues and nicknacks. I envisioned a place where I could grab a bite to eat and use the restroom and I was excited by that. So when I turned up and found…

Well, let’s just say my fantasy was a bit aggressive. Instead of a tchotchke covered restaurant, I pulled up to Big Boy on a stick, a couple of yellowing newspaper articles, and some pushpins on a corkboard marking the spot where something used to be. ::womp:womp::

I suppose if I had known it was solely a memorial marker of the Big Boy genesis, the Parkette Drive-in, maybe my imagination wouldn’t have gotten away from me. If I had known what was waiting for me, would I have felt disappointed? Maybe not. Them’s the breaks.

The silver lining in this situation was that I serendipitously saw a Mail Pouch barn on the way, so I’d traded one good thing for another. Lemonade.

A Yeti, an Art Gallery, a Kickass Road – This must be Ranchita, California

A Yeti, an Art Gallery, a Kickass Road – This must be Ranchita, California

In December of 2016, I was in California taking a week-long riding trip. I flew to LA, rented a bike and wandered about. While heading towards Borrego Spring on Montezuma-Borrego Highway, I passed a Yeti in Ranchita. Often people will ask me how I find such things. In this case, it was pure serendipity.

So was this little roadside art gallery. You just never know what you’re going to find out there in the world, do ya?

One of the patronages of St. Maurice is to the Brotherhood of Blackheads. I myself have not-so-great skin, but damned if I’m joining a club about it.

Saint Maurice

A place of subtle old fashioned
virtues an escape from …
present into a softer more
gentle way of life and opening
up to light and the weather
a sense of real luxury
the kind that cannot be
measured by monetary standards
a level of tranquility
a sweethnes[sic] of tone
an uncomplicated
round for the ongoing

See Rock City Barn – Grainger County, Tennessee

See Rock City Barn – Grainger County, Tennessee

While my love for Mail Pouch Tobacco barns and murals is well documented, I do find other olde tyme advertising campaigns appealing, too.

Even though I find smoking and tobacco use totally gross, the nostalgic feelings that are stirred within me when I look at Mail Pouch ads is deep. And though their origin is long before my time, the lettering, imagery and language speaks to and feels familiar to me. I often find myself thinking – people don’t print letters like that anymore.

Though not as old as Mail Pouch barns, the See Rock City barns are beautiful and charming in their own right. They too tickle the nostalgia spot.

During my October trip, I was able to see three Rock City barns, this one not too far from the Underwood & Petty service station was most vibrant and beautiful.

It’s a looker, huh?

Location:
Grainger County, TN

The Old Underwood & Petty Service Station – Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

The Old Underwood & Petty Service Station – Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

One of the stars on my Google Map that was close to where I stayed one night in Tennessee, was the old Underwood & Petty service station in Strawberry Plains. I’m not sure where I first saw a picture of the old station. It may have been something in my Instagram feed. Shunpikers, roadtrippers and backroad ramblers are great sources for this sort of thing. But I suppose the where I saw it is immaterial when the why I saved it is obvious.

But there is the other why. Why would I ride with a purpose to lay eyes on a crumbling old facade? I can’t buy it, fix it, save it. I can’t stop time. What is the purpose of going to see it or any of the other ghost stations I might visit?

That I do not know.

What is it that I’m hoping to see when I peer through their old windows? Some type of magic or a secret; treasure, maybe?

The decrepit old pump standing sentry. It’s pump handle in everlasting salute.

Underwood & Petty

I see you, old girl. You’re still beautiful to me.

On Google Maps

Love is Just ‘Round the Corner from Hope in Culpeper, Virginia

Love is Just ‘Round the Corner from Hope in Culpeper, Virginia

When I rolled into Culpeper, Virginia I was charmed by the small town America vibe. At the heart of things is a lovely main street lined with well-manicured restaurants and shops.

What pulled me to Culpeper was my worst addiction, the drug I crave most: Love. But before I could even get to the love, something else beckoned.

I’d come looking for love but found something else I needed first. It was only once I’d found hope, that love was just ’round the corner.

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