Randolph County Courthouse

This is the Randolph County Courthouse in Elkins, West Virginia. That tower is 150 feet high and is an impressive sight to behold.

Here’s another view.

This building and an adjacent county jail were built between 1902 and 1904. It is a prominent anchor in the town and one of my favorite courthouses that I’ve seen in person. It’s also just down the street from that gorgeous church I told you about yesterday. Click here if you missed it!

Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church

I went to West Virginia on a little hiking trip with friends last month. We spent the night in Elkins, arriving in time for dinner, a little exploring around town and an early bedtime.

There are stories waiting to be told here but I’m starting in an unorthodox place with this old church.

You see, I have several great memories from the trip but one of my favorites is of the way the light hit the roof of this church.

Silly, I know.

Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church seemed to sparkle in the late September sun and was positively captivating. Near magical, in fact.

It is also sprawling and impossible to capture in one photo.

Check out the roof tile. Pictures don’t do it justice but, in that moment, I had never seen a roof so dazzling.

These are side doors.

And the front door.

Yes, I’m still fascinated with doors even though I don’t publish as many pictures of them here as I once did.

This was one of those experiences that I likely couldn’t replicate if I tried. I can’t recommend that you drive to Elkins, West Virginia and look at the sparkly roof because you might go on a cloudy day or at noon instead of the exact moment 35 minutes before sunset or whenever it was we stood there.

Again, this is one of the things I hope you take away from my daily ramblings. Adventuring isn’t about the destination. It’s about the unexpected moments and places and people and sights you find along the way. It’s about the perfect timing that gets you to these things. It’s about keeping your eyes peeled and your mind open so you are ready to see, hear and feel what’s waiting.

You see what you’re looking for and you receive what you’re ready for. Keep yourself open and ready. You won’t regret it.

Durango

Of all the places we visited in Colorado this summer, Durango is the one I truly hated to leave.

The climate was pleasant and the town is the rare combination of charming AND prepared for guests. There’s a ton of opportunity to get outside and plenty of places to be entertained and engaged.

This southwest Colorado town was founded in 1880. It has a rich railroad history and is near Mesa Verde National Park which I enjoyed immensely (aside from the snake).

The Animas River cuts through town and there’s a River Walk that gives you a beautiful place to view the water while getting some exercise.

The historic downtown district has a host of restaurants and cute shops including some great used bookstores. We had a few delicious meals here too.

My friend was especially thrilled to find that the local humane society runs a thrift store. It was a nice one too, arranged more like a boutique than a traditional thrift store which always seem a little too messy.

This area is blessed with charm, beauty and so much opportunity for exploration I regretted not scheduling more time to enjoy it.

I’m already plotting a return trip next year. This time, I’ll be with two friends and I’m hoping to find a good Airbnb in Durango to use as home base while we adventure.

Isn’t it wonderful having a place to look forward to exploring?

Black Bear Diner

I complained about a breakfast joint in Colorado last week and promised to tell you about one that I actually enjoyed.

Then I got distracted by a katydid and forgot all about it. So, here we are, circling back to a smallish chain that impressed me with tasty food and service that wasn’t so chain-like.

We visited the Black Bear Diner in Colorado Springs for a hearty breakfast before setting out on that day’s adventure through the Garden of the Gods.

Founded in Mt. Shasta, California in 1995, the restaurant serves comfort food at a moderate price. The place was immaculate and the employees were all clean cut folks who made guests feel welcome even while they were hustling to get their work done.

It didn’t feel like a chain even though they’re up to 143 locations in 14 states.

Best of all, the food arrived quickly and was delicious. My veggie omelette came with a side of potatoes and bread – I chose a pancake because I rarely eat them and it was a treat. The maple syrup was especially good.

Comfy booths, a quiet atmosphere and spotless restrooms were a bonus too. Our waitress was friendly without being pushy and took great care of us.

I enjoyed the full experience and would absolutely go back if given the opportunity. Here’s their website if you wish to look for a location near you.

Ford Tri-Motor Airplane

If you’ve ever wondered what a time machine looks like, I’m pretty sure I rode in one yesterday. This magic ride was in a nearly century old airplane called the Ford Tri-Motor.

Ford designed this plane in 1925, producing just 199 of them before suspending production in 1933.

Think about it. Just 199 of these planes were ever made. Many are museum pieces. Some have been lost to time.

Only a handful remain airworthy today and I got to ride in one!!

This plane is a product of a time when air travel was accessible only to the wealthy. You wouldn’t be allowed to board this plane in casual clothes as people were expected to dress up for travel. People wore their Sunday best when traveling and flying was an expensive, special occasion.

The plane is all metal construction with elegant wood paneling inside the cabin. The seats in this plane have been upgraded from the original wicker seats and were comfortable. There are curtains at the windows and each seat has a light and air conditioning. There’s even a lavatory in the back with an incredibly narrow door.

I have read that passengers back in the day were treated to lavish food and drinks even though I can’t imagine where that might have been stored in this cramped, narrow space.

Before taking off, our pilot demonstrated accessing the luggage hold – in the wings! That was a helpful reminder of how little baggage people carried with them back in the day. My typical carry-on bag would barely fit in there and would leave no room for anyone else’s stuff.

I was on the first flight of the day – there were twelve passengers including one who paid extra to sit in the co-pilot’s seat. I found it surprisingly comfortable given the age of the plane and the fact that three large motors are pretty noisy.

From inside this plane, looking out at a largely rural area below felt like I had slipped back a century to view the world in a whole new way.

You do fly relatively low. In this picture from around landing, it looks like the plane and the shadow are racing!

It was an extraordinary ride.

I also want to give my pilot credit for the most gentle landing I have ever experienced in any plane- big or small. It was smooth, like melted butter.

This plane is based at Port Clinton, Ohio. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) pays to travel with it, giving rides at local airports across the region every year. My friend Darlene is involved with the EAA and was key to bringing it to Chillicothe this weekend.

Want to take a ride? You can do it today at the Ross County, Ohio Airport or check the schedule for another upcoming opportunity. Check that out here. You can find information on other EAA events on their website too. And boy, they do some great events.

If you’re on the fence, it’s worth the drive, the money or whatever else you’re worried about. I seriously considered taking a second ride before we even landed. That’s how much I enjoyed the experience. Instead, I settled for watching it take off and land before heading out on the next part of my Saturday adventure.

If given the opportunity, I will absolutely go again and encourage you to go enjoy it as well. After all, how often do you get to fly in a time machine?

If you follow Make The Journey Fun on Facebook, you’ll find some videos there. Check them out!

Sam’s No. 3

Travel is an opportunity to get a taste of the local culture and the literal taste of local cuisine. I avoid chain restaurants as much as possible when I travel, choosing instead local joints and small businesses when I can.

This strategy works out great sometimes. Others, not so much.

On my last day in Colorado, we wanted to have a good breakfast and go for a hike before heading to the airport mid afternoon.

Diners are my jam so I was excited to find a nearby diner that had been featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives.

It was ok.

I know – how arrogant does that sound?

Hear me out. We had some great meals on this trip including a couple of delicious breakfasts with great service, decent prices and terrific atmosphere. This just wasn’t one of them.

We were there on a Sunday morning and it was understandably busy. We waited about 45 minutes for a table, heightening the anticipation that it would be worth the wait. The menu is huge with plenty of variety so that’s good. The look of the place is cool and I always give restaurants brownie points for atmosphere.

But the food wasn’t that good. Bland potatoes and eggs with some sliced American cheese on top didn’t do much for me. The egg to potato ratio was all wrong as it was a ton of potatoes with two scrambled eggs on top. My friend didn’t love hers either.

However, lots of folks around us seemed pretty happy. So what do I know?

I am always hesitant to tell you about the things I dislike and prefer to focus on the positive. However, this was a valuable lesson that what’s popular isn’t necessarily what’s good for me. What’s not featured on tv may still be pretty awesome.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about a Colorado breakfast joint I did enjoy immensely.