Seneca Rocks

After roaming through Blackwater Falls State Park last month, we drove down to Seneca Rocks in the Monongahela National Forest.

In an alternate universe, there’s a fitter, braver adventuring Brandi who would go there to rock climb (that Brandi also flies an airplane and rides an ostrich). Alas, I’m not at all brave so I kept both feet planted firmly on the ground.

Instead, we nosed around the visitors center and an old homestead.

The garden was mostly spent but there were still some interesting vegetables and pretty flowers and things to enjoy.

In fact, the colors were striking!

We also admired the 900 foot tall rock formation from afar while seeking out climbers as they inched toward the top.

Someday, I’ll go back and do the hike but, for that day, it was a low key and relaxing stop before climbing back in the truck to head north toward home.

Not all adventures require bravery and excitement. Sometimes it’s just a quiet moment among friends, admiring the scenery and respecting someone else’s courage.

Change Of Plans

My friend invited me to go hiking with her at Dolly Sods in West Virginia. We set a date, gathered a third friend and anticipated a fun hike that is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in West Virginia.

That was the plan anyway. Then life got in the way.

We never actually made it to Dolly Sods. Technically, we made it to the road to Dolly Sods before being turned away by a road closed sign. Before you stop reading to tell me that we should have done our research, my friend had been there two weeks before and the road was open.

In Ohio, we post detours. On the backroads to a wilderness area, they evidently assume you can fend for yourself and simply tell you to take an alternate route.

The alternate route we found would have meant a lot of extra driving and none of us were thrilled with that idea. After all, we came to be outside and we were surrounded by lots of nearby opportunities to do just that.

Plus, we all subscribe to the belief that things happen for a reason and that this detour may have prevented us from having an accident or getting eaten by bears.

Instead of forcing the matter, we agreed to return another time when either the road is open or we can plan better. We spent our day exploring Blackwater Falls State Park and Seneca Rocks.

Neither provided the long hikes that we all had anticipated but both provided much beauty and opportunity for short bits of exploration.

We ate outside twice that day – a sure sign of a good day. Plus, I got to show my friends what is probably my favorite covered bridge in the world.

The fresh air, gorgeous surroundings and camaraderie more than made up for the road closure and the change of plans. We’ll do that another time.

Best of all, we chose to live in the moment and be happy. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Phillipi Covered Bridge

Phillipi, West Virginia is home to one of our nation’s most unique covered bridges. It’s the oldest and longest covered bridge in West Virginia but what makes it special is that it’s a double barrel bridge. In plain talk, it’s a two lane bridge and it’s one of few remaining in the nation.

The original bridge was 312 feet long and built for a price tag just over $12,000. The Long Burr Arch Truss bridge was built by well known Appalachian bridge builder Lemuel Chenoworh.

This bridge was commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1852. Remember, West Virginia was once part of Virginia but counties succeeded and formed a new state that was admitted to the union in 1863.

Today, at 285.5 feet in length, it is still an impressive sight to behold as you approach town. It is open to traffic and the location on US Route 250 means that it’s quite busy.

The bridge has been damaged several times over the years including severe damage caused by flooding in 1985. It was nearly destroyed by fire in 1989 when a gasoline tanker filling underground tanks at a nearby filling station spilled gasoline on the ground. The gas ran to the bridge and a passing car sparked flame when it backfired.

The tragic accident led to a $1.4 million reconstruction project which was led by bridge historian and West Virginia University professor Emory Kemp. I read that they took great care in rebuilding the bridge and in honoring the integrity of the original design.

If you look closely, you’ll still see some burn marks on trusses and supports when you drive through.

I always make a few passes through when I’m in town. I even took a stroll across the pedestrian bridge my last trip there.

There’s parking on either end of the bridge, providing a nice view from the car and a place to leave your vehicle while you explore. There are some restaurants in town but I needed quick food and wasn’t excited about eating in a restaurant given that the pandemic was still going strong.

There’s a Sheetz gas station within walking distance with sparkling clean restrooms and quick made to order sandwiches and sides. I had a picnic while admiring the view and watching the world pass by from one of those parking lots.

It was a perfect way to get in a break and enjoy the view.

Stop back this week to read about the role this bridge played in a Civil War battle.

Thomas Stairs

I want to climb them just to see where they lead. This is one of many colorful, offbeat things you’ll see in Thomas, West Virginia if you park the car and go looking.

Thomas is a special town with a lot of history and heart that celebrates diversity. I was there last fall when the pandemic was hampering what should have been a busy fall weekend. The colors were glorious and, according to the locals I met, the best they had seen in years.

This area is on my list of places to return to another day. That list has become stunningly long.

What’s on your post pandemic to visit list? Because I need more ideas, you know…..

What We Need

This Mail Pouch advertising piece can be found in the historic downtown district of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. I was there yesterday and happily took a quick stroll through the neighborhood with my phone in one hand and camera in the other.

It wasn’t much of an adventure but the good it did for my soul was like the first soaking rain shower after a drought.

I have been there but not with my camera which means I looked at it through completely different eyes. It was also nice to just move about and see some things I haven’t looked at in a while.

After I got home and kicked up my feet, I found this quote while scrolling through Facebook and found it quite true.

“No, we don’t need more sleep. It’s our souls that are tired, not our bodies. We need nature. We need magic. We need adventure. We need freedom. We need truth. We need stillness. We don’t need more sleep, we need to wake up and live.”

Brooke Hampton

After losing an hour overnight, we really might need more sleep but I hope you will wake up and find some magic or adventure today.

Adventure Weekend!

There is no better food for my soul than a good road trip. That’s why I took a long weekend and went down to the Shenandoah Valley for some history, hiking, sightseeing and airplanes.

I’m sad to say the weather didn’t cooperate and actually interfered with most of what I had planned but created opportunity to do some other stuff. The thing I most looked forward to was the Flying Circus Air Show and a biplane ride over the Virginia countryside.

It was rained out.

The day I wanted to hike turned wicked cold with wind so strong it threatened to blow me off the mountain. Even when it was not raining, the sky was a flat white, making poor conditions for landscape photography most of the time.

Luckily, I’m good at improvising and was so happy to be away from home that I was thrilled to embrace the unplanned in the name of adventure.

Boring skies make for great black and white landscapes and rainy days are perfect for roaming museums and bookshops. And again, at least it was a change of scenery.

It wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for but it was better in some ways….. except for the plane ride, of course. I’m still stinging over that loss but there’s always next year.

Stay tuned as I start sorting through pictures and begin telling some of the stories from the weekend which featured a lot of interesting sights and history themes.

Meanwhile, the top photo is from a drive through rural West Virginia where the foliage was gorgeous as well as the second photo from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.