Tag: West Virginia

Will Ride for Donuts

Will Ride for Donuts

My love of donuts is known far and wide amongst my friends. Perhaps you’ve even noticed the pink donut sticker on the BonBon.

I don’t know when the love affair began, really. But I do have many childhood memories of sitting at the counter on a swivel stool with my dad at our local Dunkin Donuts. Spin, spin, spin.

Nearly every time I pass Maple Donuts on Route 30 in York, Pa. I find my wheels turning in to the parking lot automatically. Perhaps donuts have a particularly strong gravitational pull. After all, some people believe Earth is shaped like a donut.

Sometimes I even bring some home to share. Topboxes are great for this.

Have you ever seen a more glorious mailbox than this sprinkley dough hoop? I’ll save you the trouble – you haven’t.

Donuts for dayyyyyys.

One for now, one for later. Even after being squished in a tankbag, the mighty donut delivers.

After pulling in to Huntington, West Virginia this October, I opened my hotel app and found a place to stay. For some, the view from my room window might seem a little lackluster. But to a donut lover? Well… you know.

My holy grail donut stop was definitely Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, California. Deliciousness and roadside royalty wrapped up in one neat package.

What could possibly surpass the scrumdiddlyumptiousness of eating a donut in a filthy parking lot, under the watchful gaze of that giant rooftop beast? Nothin’, that’s what.


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.

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: West Virginia

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: West Virginia

Season 11 Episode 1 of Anthony Bourdain’s show Parts Unknown features West Virginia. The show moves through McDowell County and the towns of Welch and War, both of which I passed through in the spring of 2017.

In my post about the day in Welch, I said:

Secrets you could never know just by passing through.

For me, this episode was particularly interesting because it was like someone pulled back the curtain just a smidge, and I was able to get some insight into people’s lives. I really enjoyed and recommend the show.

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown is on CNN.
West Virginia Field Notes

 

 

Photos: 2017 Post Office Pit Stops

Photos: 2017 Post Office Pit Stops

Stopping and snapping photos of post offices while traveling has become something of a habit. A post office seems to give clues about what a place is like. These snaps are some of the post offices I stopped at in 2017.

Rhodell, WV 25915

Helvetia, WV 26224

Vesuvius, VA 24483

North Matewan, WV 25688

Josephine, WV 25857

Onego, WV 26886

Rockfish, VA 22966 (former)

Fanrock, WV 24834

Cucumber, WV 24826

Odd, WV 25902

Rebersberg, PA 16872

Burke’s Garden, VA (former)

Panther, WV 24872

East Smethport, PA 16730

War, WV 24892

 

Road Food Perfection – Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia

Road Food Perfection – Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia

While cruising along the Ohio River on my way to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, I made a pit stop at the glorious Hillbilly Hotdogs. If you’re ever in the area, don’t miss it!

Previously, I posted about a postcard from my friend Chris after his visit to Hillbilly Hotdogs. Seeing the place with my own eyes and enjoying the experience first hand was somethin’ else. I’ll tell you what, this place is a trip!

At first, I couldn’t quite figure out where and how to actually order something. The place is so jampacked full of stuff, it takes a minute to get your bearings.

I dined next at the picnic table next to the toilet seat. How many times in your life can you say you’ve done that? Since it looked like a horseshoe, I thought it might bring me luck.

I recall Chris saying that he waited online for something like an hour to get his food when he was there on a weekend. As you can see from the photo below – lunchtime on a random Tuesday in September is the time to stop in. There was only 1 couple in front of me.

This weddin’ chapel seems perfect to me. Perhaps because Kenny and I got married in a bar by an ordained minister named Catfish.

And this… this was my lunch. The Strictly Business dog, hold the onions. Coleslaw, jalapenos, fried spam, shredded cheese, mustard, and a deep-fried weenie. The good luck toilet seat must’ve worked since I didn’t get heartburn or any other stomach distress from eating it. A Christmas miracle.

Yup.

Hillbilly Hot Dogs
6951 Ohio River Rd.
Lesage, WV

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…

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