New Hope Free Will Baptist Church

New Hope Free Will Baptist Church can be found on Route 50 just outside Chillicothe, Ohio. There’s a lot of visual clutter in the vicinity but nothing can take away from the beauty of this house of worship.

Look at the details.

And, of course, we all know how much I love a good door.

These doors and the trim around them are amazing. The church dates to 1893, a period when we still built things to last and that are special.

They do still have services here, according to the sign out front. If you’re in the area I’m sure they would love a guest.

Mt Zion Church In Black And White

Saturday’s adventure was hampered by the clouds which moved in and settled over the area for much of the day.

I used the gloom to my advantage for some black and white photos at this old church.

It is no longer used and there’s a window broken out. White curtains flutter in the breeze.

This is how they protected the glass on most windows. I like it.

It has a well maintained cemetery and I recognized many names as I wandered through. Here’s another view.

You can see here that the sky was a bit moody – not great for happy adventures but nice for some dark photography!

Madison Church

a madison

Saturday is supposed to be Adventure Day but with everything on lock down, it’s hard to rustle up things to do. Even my favorite local trail system is closed because the tourists simply wouldn’t stop coming and the trails were too crowded to be safe.

So I got up early and headed to another state park with a nice bike path. It’s been crowded too but was nice and quiet early in the day. With my camera on the seat next to me I went in search of an old Baptist Church that’s been on my radar for a while. It’s on a country road, narrow and wooded. The church was established in 1870 and has a tidy cemetery.

There are some extremely old graves here as well as many new ones including my own cousin – an infant I never knew who died about a year before I was born.

It is one of the most peaceful places you’ll ever go. In fact, you hear nothing but birds and wind in the treetops. A plane went over at one point. Otherwise, it was completely silent so I lingered a bit, just soaking in the cool morning air and bird chatter. 

It wasn’t an exciting adventure but it was a satisfying morning, driving familiar roads and finding new places. This is probably the new normal at least until we make it through these hard times. Luckily I live in an area with lots of roads and things to see if you go looking.

How are you entertaining yourself these days?


The Best Kind of Vacation


The best kind of vacation is the one that stretches your horizons. It teaches you something about a place and its people.  You come home feeling like your world view has shifted, if only just a bit.

It’s a huge world out there and I haven’t seen most of it so when my pal Johnna suggested that I visit her in Wyoming and we journey over to South Dakota for some adventure, I was ready to go.

We spent a couple of days exploring her neck of the woods and then road tripped over to South Dakota’s Black Hills. The vacation was amazing, even if everything didn’t go as planned.

Truth be told, we only hit a few of the highlights and didn’t do everything we had hoped. There’s a lot to see and never enough hours in the day to do it. But we had a great time – partly because we did fun stuff and partly because the company was great.

As I sift through pictures and souvenirs, it becomes increasingly clear that there are many, many stories to tell from this trip. The plan is to begin sharing these tales, one at a time for as long as you’re willing to keep reading.

This trip taught me about the Lakota people and some of their traditions. I learned about how our government prohibited by law many aspects of religions and sacred ceremonies of native peoples. This impacted Native Americans, Eskimos and Hawaiians and it was within my lifetime that our government passed an act granting them the religious freedoms they deserve.

This is something that I want to revisit another day and there is nice imagery to go with it.

It taught me that sometimes a tourist trap is just a tourist trap but also gave me hope that there could be a breathtaking rainbow around the next bend.

I also learned about the rural nature of Wyoming and some of the challenges that come with living here. The western landscape is about as foreign as the surface of the moon compared to my wooded southern Ohio. The big skies, various shades of browns and the sparseness of the landscape lend a unique beauty that you won’t find most places.

Plus there were some good restaurants, interesting people and beautiful sights along the way that made each day of this adventure seem a more rewarding than the one before.

It was a great vacation so stay tuned! There’s more to come!

Which Do You Prefer?

I went on a little excursion yesterday morning. Just rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth and grabbed a hat before hitting the road. I wanted to take some pictures of barns and churches and streams down in the valley. It was a short trip through familiar territory.

There was a time that I wanted to make perfect pictures. I tried so hard but it seemed  there was always a utility pole or traffic light in the way. There were always people or a car or my skills simply fell short of capturing the scene that I wanted.

Frustrating doesn’t begin to explain it.

For a lot of years, I focused on the details – a single flower instead of the bouquet, a window instead of the building. And I still do that a lot. I love the details, the simple things in the world around us. Doors as well as details on cars like tail fins and headlights are among my favorites.

But somewhere along the way, I began looking at the big picture and even including those imperfections that I previously found annoying. I think it’s partly a response to the changes I see in the world around me and an odd desire to capture some scenes before they go away. Abandoned buildings like homes, churches and barns often appear on my camera roll. Vintage signage has long been a favorite but now I’m even including old style traffic lights and utility poles. Sometimes this works to my advantage because these extra details add interest to the picture at the same time the picture is preserving the world exactly as it looked on that day and not as a contortion of reality.

Time marches on and the landscape cannot remain unchanged. Brush closes in on unused barns and old style wooden electric poles are replaced with new technology. Trees are cut down and farms become housing developments.

The site where I live was once woodland. Then it was pasture. Now it’s my yard. Who knows? Maybe someday Mother Nature will reclaim this spot as forest.

But I digress.

We’ve reached the interactive portion of today’s post. Here are two pictures I took during my little adventure through the neighborhood yesterday morning.

Tell me in the comments – which do you prefer? The great old barn with the electric pole or the great old barn without it?

barn with no power lines

barn with power lines

Someday I’ll take a photography class and work at getting better. Meanwhile, I’m happy playing and learning as I go!



This One Will Haunt Me

aa.JPGI like to use this space to tell happy stories. There’s so much negativity in the world that I prefer to spend my energy sharing good vibes. Today is an exception to the rule.

Unexpected free time yesterday led me out on a hike and a little drive down a country road where I found a church that will haunt me for a long time.  It’s abandoned. Falling in. Broken and probably beyond repair. To add insult to injury, I suspect there’s no one interested in stabilizing the place, much less fixing it up.

Located on a ridge top with a well tended cemetery in back, the church was once beautiful. Today there’s a padlock on the doors and plywood on the windows.



I walked through the cemetery and then the perimeter of the church and was able to see inside a broken window from the cemetery yard. There is a beautiful old piano that I’m guessing was too heavy to move when they cleared out everything else. They left the light fixtures but took the cross – you can still see the impression on the wall.


There are a couple of old chairs and, through the window, I could tell it still smells like church. You know what I mean? Churches always have a unique smell.

It was the saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

dd.JPGChurches are the heartbeat of any community, especially rural communities where there’s little else to bring people together. The sign out front says 1848 so you have to wonder what this little country church has seen, the comfort it has given and the joy that once reverberated throughout.

Children were baptized here. They grew up in the pews and maybe knelt in prayer at the altar. Couples cried tears of joy as they celebrated their nuptials on that altar. And families gathered in sorrow at the funerals of people who grew old within these walls.

A lot of living and growing and praying and dying went on here.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not criticizing whoever owns this church or whoever contributed to it ending up in this state. It is a very old building. Plus, I don’t know the circumstances and I’m not in a position to to help so criticism is inappropriate.

I’m just sad.

It makes me wonder about the fate of so many other quaint community churches that are suffering from an aging congregation and dwindling attendance. I see a lot of them in my travels. Many of them are being closed and sold so they can be reinvented as homes and businesses. Others are just abandoned.

I’ve been on the fence about repurposing churches but I have picked a side. I would much rather see a church building given a second chance at life as someone’s home than see it slowly deteriorate and suffer a fate like this.