Parkersburg Carnegie Library

For the second time in less than a month I found myself standing before a Carnegie Library that is empty and unused. This one is in downtown Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Built in 1905 with some funds from Andrew Carnegie, this classical style building is imposing on its corner lot. Sadly, it hasn’t been a library since 1975.

For several years though it was the Trans Allegheny Book Store. I read once that it was the largest used bookstore in West Virginia.

It had a good run in this capacity from 1985 through 2010. It’s closed now and I couldn’t tell what’s going on. There’s a chain link fence that wouldn’t keep anyone out on one side of the building and a gate in front of the entrance. Some lower windows have been boarded up. It looks like someone is preparing to do something but I couldn’t tell what.

There’s a new Marriott Hotel next door and I couldn’t help but think about this building’s possibilities while worrying for its future. It would make a magnificent restaurant, bookstore, boutique hotel, fancy store – any of number of businesses could find it a perfect home. It sure is a shame to see it sitting empty given all that potential.

If you’re in downtown Parkersburg, swing by 725 Green St. and have a look. If you have a bundle of cash sitting in the way, maybe buy it and and breathe new life into the place!

Big Sky

I braked for some pictures on the way home yesterday. The sky seemed enormous and the colors more vivid than a box of Crayola Crayons.

The top picture is the Ohio Bicentennial Barn in Vinton County and the photo below is a nearby octagon barn, my favorite barn anywhere.

Isn’t it the very vision of spring? Enjoy this day, friends. Here’s hoping for big skies, vibrant color and adventures wherever you may be.

Chapel In The Hills

The best things in life when out adventuring are often the things you really didn’t expect. This can come in many forms – a great meal from a greasy spoon, a meaningful conversation with a shop owner, a stunning sunset or a building that is so interesting you have to stop and explore.

Before any trip, I always do some reconnaissance work looking for off the beaten path stuff and prioritizing how to spend my time. In the process of preparing for our South Dakota adventure, I read about the Chapel in the Hills in Rapid City.

Even though I planned for it, this turned out to be one of those unexpected places, one of those special places that defy convention and become a defining memory of the trip.

It looks like someone transported an ancient Norwegian church through the ages and across the sea to the Black Hills.

Truth is, Lutherans built this incredibly ornate wooden church in 1969. It’s a replica of a stave church in Norway that dates to around the year 1200.

It’s in town but on some acreage so it feels peaceful, isolated, rustic and other worldly. It looks and feels like it doesn’t belong and yet being there is so calming it seems perfectly natural.

It’s built almost entirely with wood, including wooden dowels rather than nails to hold it together. Intricate wood carvings were created by local artists and a Norwegian expert brought in to make sure it recreates the themes found on the original Norwegian church.

The floor and foundation are stone. The sanctuary is simple. The benches look uncomfortable.

There’s a covered passageway known as an ambulatory that covers the entire exterior. This provides shelter to the foundation which is especially helpful in harsh climates and causes the sanctuary to feel somehow more isolated from the outside world.

As a person who spends much time studying churches from the outside, it was not lost on me this symbolism of providing shelter to those who don’t quite make it inside.

My adventure pal isn’t as oddly enamored with churches as I am. So she wandered off to give me a few minutes to absorb my surroundings and I was grateful for these stolen moments.

There’s a meditation trail and visitors are welcome to dwell. They host weddings and have evening services during the warm season – the casual dress of a vacationer is perfectly fine.

There’s a log cabin museum and a visitors center complete with gift shop on the property. The log cabin was built in the nineteenth century by a Norwegian prospector who came to the Black Hills during the gold rush. The visitor center is a grass roofed structure known as a Stabbur, another interesting Norwegian architectural style.

If you are ever in Rapid City, I hope you will make time to go and dwell. Stop and smell the lavender and find some inner peace. You can read more about the history and architecture at their website by clicking here.

Time For Some Fun

One of my favorite solo road trips took me meandering around southern Indiana a few years ago. It was one of those incredible, freeing weekends when I just sort of wandered into all the right places.

A Pokey Lafarge concert at the Astra Theater in Jasper, pictured here, was my destination but I found so many wonderful things to see and do along the way. There were nice people, roadside oddities, museums and so much more that I can’t even begin to describe what fun it was. One cool morning I spent wandering around photographing architecture and chasing the incredible green roof of a church in the distance. Not to mention the sweet lady who ran an one of Indiana’s oldest hardware stores.

These memory, while sweet, are making me discontent. I’m ready to get out and do something soon.

Even when the world stopped last year I managed to get out for hikes and socially distanced fun. I took a couple of short, calculated trips in the fall but neither of them worked out as planned thanks to weather, Covid and other issues. It was satisfying hibernating this winter but my spring allergies have been merciless, making it hard to even leave the house. A mere walk to the mailbox steals my voice and leaves me with fluid on the ears the next day.

There’s not been much fun this spring beyond reading and dreaming of days when the pollen gets washed away by the rain. I just reread that line and realized how sad it sounds.

I’m ready to hit the road and see something new. It would be difficult to take a trip right now that compares with that Great Indiana Adventure of 2018, as I like to think of it, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

I’m hoping to hit the road soon. I’m vaccinated and have some ideas about how to have fun that will be low risk and new to me. My escape is so close I can almost taste it.

For now though, I’ll keep my head down and my windows closed while I wrap up a work project and avoid the pollen so that running away from home is an option in the (hopefully) near future.

Fresh, With No Mistakes

One of the few things I miss about driving to work is seeing the dawn of a new day. This was the view going to the dentist yesterday.

There’s something hopeful and even promising about a new day. Anne of Green Gables told us that “tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it yet.”

When a morning is so nice as this you can almost believe that.

Somewhere In Indiana

I snapped this somewhere in Indiana between Jasper and Danville a few years ago. These towns are 115 miles apart via the route I traveled. In other words, it could be anywhere.

The handy thing about documenting a road trip with an iPhone is that it records the location as well as the image. My fancy DSLR doesn’t do that. This picture came from the camera, not the phone and I failed to keep good notes.

Luckily, I don’t need to go back. However, it makes a good case for my current road trip technique which is to take wide angle shots with my phone and details with the zoom lens on my camera. The camera quality is better but the phone provides documentation without my stopping to change lenses or write things down.

In other words, it’s the lazy girl’s guide to remembering things. I’m not sure if I should be proud of my ingenuity or embarrassed at my poor organization while out running around.

Either way, it works.