Return Drive & Loving West Virginia, redux

Mail Pouch

Recently we drove out to Morgantown, West Virginia to see my doctor (the one who saved my life, making him well worth the drive!). Often I go alone, indulging in the probably foolhardy step of taking back, BACK roads and stopping for photos. A few times a local fellow has stopped what is inevitably a pickup truck to make sure my car and I are not experiencing roadside distress, events I (having lived in that part of the country for quite a few years) find comforting and reassuring.

Southwestern PA

An old barn by my doctor’s office—I can never help admiring it, simple as it is.

At any rate, this time Hubby drove me to my doctor’s and back, lured not only by the opportunity to hit the road with me but the delicious temptation of Carmona’s. He decided we should take a different way home, which I was happy to do—unfortunately, there ended up not being a whole lot to photograph, though there’s no real way to know that. We did make a few stops, most excitingly at an abandoned filling station, but those photos are not ready yet due to other work. Still, I have a handful of pictures to share with you.

Curb Appeal

Another “from the flying car” shot. I do love old barns. Just in case you can’t tell.

Incredibly (to me), the top photo featuring one of many Mail Pouch barns hit Explore and has thousands of hits, proving a photographer rarely knows what will strike a chord with folks. It’s even more incredible to me because it was taken from a flying vehicle—we didn’t even stop because there was someone else already there (of course, on this long stretch of quiet road in the middle of nowhere) and no remaining room to park. A gal has to do the best she can!

Of course, Mail Pouch barns—a nearly ubiquitous sight in this part of the Midwest—are very popular with roadtrippers. Several other companies, such as Beech-Nut, painted barns as advertisements, but Mail Pouch is probably the best known, and more of them remain in existence than the others; having never flagged in popularity, they’re enjoying a revival of attention which includes restoration of their painting! Hurrah!


Finally, I have this interesting little place (again snapped from a moving car—often these roads and towns have nowhere to pull over!). The building attracted my attention because of that narrow front; it almost looks as if at least the porch or even a portion of the house has been shorn off, doesn’t it? I’ve seen a lot of interesting architecture all over the country, but this seemed particularly unusual. Of course, having experienced all sorts of economic upheaval, many grand old homes in Appalachia have been turned into duplexes or otherwise sliced and diced, so to learn half of this home’s front had been chopped off to make room for the road wouldn’t surprise me a bit! What do you think about the place?

Back of the house

Back of a pretty little midcentury-modest home. That sunlight was irresistible!

I have to be honest with you, it’s always a little tough for me to go back to West Virginia because I love it so—if it’s possible to fall passionately in love with a place, then I did the first time we crossed the state line a few months before buying our home there. Leaving was like having my heart ripped out through my ribcage (crazy, isn’t it?), and I love going back


Of course, a large (furry) piece of West Virginia remains with us, because guess where Ben was born? He’s a Mountaineer through and through!

for even a few hours. The painful part is knowing I’ll have to leave (again) soon, and oddly, that makes it harder for me to take photos, even though you’d think I would snap away like a madwoman.

It seems there’s a lot of emotional turmoil within—rubbing salt into a still-raw wound?—and I simultaneously want to capture everything while not knowing what, exactly, to capture. God willing, in a couple more years, that will calm down and I’ll be able to focus. To tell you the truth, I thought we’d live in West Virginia forever, or at least for many years longer than we did. Perhaps that’s why I’m still not over it! Any other photographers or shutterbugs experience that, too?

Unfortunately, regulations mean there are not as many opportunities in my husband’s field in West Virginia, and not many companies in his line of work are on the border either. Darn you, circumstance!

Even if we never move back to the Mountaineer State, I’ll always be able to visit her and her people. It’s a wonderful place; don’t believe anyone who knocks West Virginia, because 98% of the time they have never set foot in it. You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it really is “almost Heaven”!




2 thoughts on “Return Drive & Loving West Virginia, redux

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