A Growing Trend

As I continued south and west on day one of my journey, I was continually surprised to see more and more barn quilts. The trend certainly seems to have caught on.

I’d seen several of the barn quilts in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, and know that county has an established quilt trail — map and guide/listing of quilts to draw people to the area — but there were some barn quilts I hadn’t seen. I also had not noticed barn quilts in Greenbrier and Monroe counties the last time I’d ridden through.

Pocahontas County, West Virginia
Pocahontas County, West Virginia #1

That barn quilt in Pocahontas County, along WV-92 north of Green Bank, is one of the first I’d ever seen up close. That was several years ago, but it is still one of my favorites.

Speaking of Green Bank, I did stop for a quick look at the biggest telescope. It’s hard not to marvel at the size. How big? It supposedly could hold two football fields.

Green Bank
Green Bank Telescope

As an aside… I did NOT know that Green Bank Observatory is no longer part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. You’ll have to read the linked article to find out more.

Pocahontas County, West Virginia
Pocahontas County, West Virginia #2

I do remember having seen this one, which is on US-250 near the intersection with WV-92, but it was raining pretty hard when I saw it the first time, so I hadn’t stopped.

And here’s one I had not seen before. I love the pattern in the paint. (Click on image for a larger view.)

Pocahontas County, West Virginia #3
Pocahontas County, West Virginia #3

As I was contemplating my trip, I’d thought about making Princeton, West Virginia my first overnight stop, but as I rode on, I was getting tired. I knew I’d be passing through Marlinton to get to US-219, and considered spending the night there, but it was still pretty early in the day. Once in Marlinton, there didn’t seem to be enough for me to do if I did stop. My fear was that I’d book a room, stop and rest, then get bored and kick myself for not moving further along.

So I just stopped for a snack and a drink, which seemed to be all the refreshment I needed, and continued on.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, US-219 through West Virginia really IS a nice road. It is both scenic and fun, with lots of long, smooth sweeping turns interspersed by hills and twisties (think zig-zags). And not much traffic. Of course, I hadn’t encountered much traffic all day.

The next couple images were captured along US-219 north of Hillsboro, West Virginia. I think the barn is on the property of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Museum. Check out that unique fence. It’s hard to tell if the cross-wise pickets were meant to be decorative elements, or added as an afterthought to close-in the larger openings.

Interesting Fence
Interesting Fence

Here’s a closer look at the barn quilt.

Barn Quilt north of Hillsboro, WV
Barn Quilt north of Hillsboro, WV

Still further south (Monroe County), I was surprised to see barn quilts on some of the businesses in the town of Union, West Virginia.

Monroe County, West Virginia
Monroe County, West Virginia

And then there was this barn, which I just HAD to stop and photograph.

Not a barn quilt.
Not a barn quilt. Sort of an anti-Mail Pouch barn.

It was starting to get cloudy and windy, and I could smell rain. I thought for sure I was going to get caught in a thunderstorm, but I didn’t.

Who can resist a giant chicken?
Who can resist a giant chicken?

The chicken was actually outside of Narrows, Virginia, a little, tiny piece of the state I had to ride through to reach Princeton, West Virginia. I may have just ridden past, but I wanted to check my phone for lodging options in Princeton.

Unfortunately, the signal wasn’t strong enough. So I just rode on into Princeon, figuring I’d take my chances. I’d stayed in Princeton a couple of time previously. It’s off of I-77, so there are lots of hotels, motels, chain restaurants, gas stations, etc. Even a pretty big beef jerky outlet (at least the third one I’d seen that day).

I was headed for a Bojangle’s — I was hungry AND they usually have free wifi — when I turned off the highway and saw this cute little Turnpike Motel. Places like that are great for motorcycle trips because you can park right outside your door, which means you don’t need to make multiple trips to/from your room for purposes of unpacking/packing and readying the bike for a new day of travel.

It was recently refurbished, had a vacancy, and was cheap. It was within walking distance of Bojangle’s, too. Even better, I got to park under a roof (at the suggestion of the lady at the front desk).

Parking doesn't get any more convenient.
Parking doesn’t get much more convenient.

My door was the one on the left.

After checking in and getting settled, I walked over to grab some dinner. It always feels good to walk a bit after a long day on the bike (it was close to dark by the time I reached Princeton).

That was the end of day one. It was a good day. 🙂

I LOVE Barn Quilts

Surprised Barn
Surprised Barn

When I started my quest to visit and capture pics of all the LOVEworks in Virginia, I wasn’t thinking that more would keep getting added. Back then, there were less than 50. Now, there are over 70 on the list. And I know of at least two that have yet to be listed. So I have no idea how many there actually are.

Monterey, which sits at the intersection of US-250 and US-220 — both fabulous motorcycle roads — is always a pleasant place to visit. (Something I learned recently, which may also interest some of you, is that US-250 is part of what used to be known as the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike.)

I do remember having read about the Monterey LOVEwork in Highland County becoming the 50th LOVE artwork. And I’d vaguely remembered reading about the Highland County LOVEwork and why they’d chosen to use a quilt theme. According to the Virginia.org website:

The LOVE letters in Highland County celebrate the rural landscape and heritage of this scenic community. In recognition of the many barn quilts located throughout the county, the LOVE letters used traditional quilt block patterns to highlight the many special features in Highland. L uses Maple Block to celebrate our maple products and popular festival in March, O uses the Double Wedding Ring to recognize our family heritage and sense of community, V is painted in Flying Geese to show our love of our wildlife and farm animals, and the E uses the Log Cabin block to represent our country style and love of home.

It was only after I saw that first barn quilt on the mountain east of Monterey that I remembered the connection.

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The first barn quilt of the trip.

I didn’t follow the trail during my recent trip, but I did see some very nice barn quilts along the route I eventually chose to take though the county (US-250 west into West Virginia).

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Ugly building, pretty barn quilt.

That one was right in town. I suspect maybe that one was sponsored by the town, since that sort of looks like a public works-type building.

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US-250 is a FUN road.

My camera was not tilted, the road is banked. 🙂

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Scenery along US-250 just west of Monterey.

 

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More barn quilts.

 

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Doesn’t that one look lovely on the white barn?

 

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Intricate Design

Monterey is only about 15 miles west of the VA/WV border. It was taking me a lot longer than anticipated to cover those few miles, what with all the stops. (That’s the sort of thing the would drive my Hubby crazy.)

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Some folks have more than one barn quilt. I thin.

The next one is certainly one of my favorites. I suspect it os owned by the same folks whose house is pictured immediately above, but I don’t know for sure.

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Bee Barn Quilt!

Do you love that one, too?

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The road surface could use a little work, but it’s still awesome.

You have to look a bit harder to find some of the barn quilts.

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Shed tucked away atop a hill.

 

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Closer look at the shed.

That was either the last one I saw before hitting WV, or it was the last one I could safely stop to photograph. US-250 is, after all, a twisty mountain road, and there aren’t always safe spots to pull off for stops.

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Keep moooving, ToadMama!

Those cows were actually near the white barn in the first photo above (the Surprised Barn). I can’t remember if it was in VA or WV, but I do remember that the barn made me laugh. And seeing cows stare at me every time I stop always makes me smile.

I hope you enjoyed the Highland County barn quilts as much as I did. I saw even more in West Virginia. That’ll be in my next post.

The First “First”

The week before I left for my adventure, I worked over 70 hours. Needless to say, my brain was a bit fried on Saturday morning. But, that’s okay. Riding really is the best medicine to relieve stress.

I honestly had no firm plans beyond heading to Monterey, Virginia to see their LOVEwork. When I pulled out of my driveway, I had no idea which route I’d be using to get there. As I headed south on US-29 toward Stanardsville, I initially thought about crossing the mountains on US-33, because my favorite route — Dyke Road — that parallels the mountains on the eastern side would have taken longer. Then I realized I WAS IN NO HURRY, and took my favorite, also longer, route instead.

It was lovely. Such a pretty area.

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VA-810, just North of Boonesville in Albemarle County, Virginia.

I don’t know the full story behind this next place, a little further south along the same road. I wasn’t a fan of The Waltons TV show, so wouldn’t recognize this place even if it were on the show. But the fence says Walton’s Homeplace. A quick Google search didn’t help.

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Sign on the fence.

 

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Cute little old house.

I took my good, sweet time enjoying the scenery. I even stopped at my favorite store for a snack and a drink.

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Dyke Store

 

Dyke Road
Dyke Road

From there, I continued south and west, not paying much attention to anything other than the ride and enjoying the scenery. I was tickled to see a barn quilt atop the mountain just before Monterey.

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Barn quilt.

 

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Stopped along US-250, east of Monterey.

I still wasn’t thinking about much of anything in particular beyond getting to Monterey. I was looking forward to seeing the LOVEwork. So much so, that I almost headed for it first, but I figured I’d better stop in town for gas first.

That’s when it happened. Because I hadn’t been paying attention, for the first time ever, I ran out of gas. As you’ll see in the next pic, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Photo captured while standing at gas pump.
Photo captured while standing at gas pump.

That street sign you see in the above shot is where I ran out of gas. Literally about 25 feet from the gas station. I had to push the bike, but another rider came over to help me (it was slightly uphill).

“Gas?” he asked as he started pushing.

“Yes,” I said.

“That’s cutting it a bit close, isn’t it?” he said.

“Yes,” I said, laughing. I thanked him for the help, he rejoined his group, I filled up, ate some lunch, and then off I went.

Monterey LOVEwork
Monterey LOVEwork

I didnt have to go far to find the LOVE. I think it’s one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen.

After that, I just had to figure out where to go next. Again, I had a direction in mind, but no route plan. It was fun making my way on the fly.

One thing for certain, I kept a closer watch on the gas gauge after that. And I usually filled up well before I got too close to empty. 😎

ToadMama’s Big 50 Adventure

My trip has come to an end. It was a grand adventure. I saw lots of interesting stuff, put check marks next to some list items, rode a lot of amazing roads, captured some more LOVE, experienced some firsts… all in all, it was a damn fine adventure.

I left on Saturday, April 29, with no definite plan beyond making Monterey, Virginia my first destination. And that’s because there’s a LOVEwork in Monterey I hadn’t seen. If you’re not familiar with the whole LOVEwork thing, CLICK HERE. (I need to update my “log” page. I’ve seen well over 50 now.)

In nine days, I covered 1,911 miles. That’s an average of just over 212 miles per day. And most of those miles were on seriously curvy roads.

I keep encountering issues uploading pics for some reason, so I’ll post more later. Since I was so late letting y’all know the trip had started, I figured I should be more prompt announcing the end.  🙂

I have some good stories to share, and lots pf pics, so I’ll post more soon. I promise.

Catch-up and Other Stuff

4_CTDummy

On April 24, I started this post, but never finished. The purpose was mainly to catch up and let y’all know I’d be leaving for my solo adventure on Saturday. As in LAST Saturday, April 29. But then I had the busiest work week ever, leading up to the trip, and never got around to finishing the post. So here it is…

Holy cow. How did it get to be so close to the end of April already?!? So much for me trying to get all of the 2016 vacation catalogued before my 2017 adventure begins.

It has almost been a month since my last post. On one hand, it feels uneventful. On the other hand, a lot has gone on.

Let’s see, there was the visit to my friend Tracey’s farm, which provided a chance for three friends to catch-up with each other AND an opportunity to meet, feed, and love-on four three-week-old baby goats.

That was followed by another brief trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, . where my employer’s headquarters is located. I got to enjoy some face-to-face time with existing co-workers and meet a few new ones.

There were a few weekends of yard work, each followed by five to six days of very sore and achy muscles.

We even managed to squeeze-in a motorcycle ride on Easter Sunday!

When I was blogging regularly, I could look back at a variety of posts as a reminder of what happened, when. I’ve lost that. Now, I have to rely on things like Instagram and Facebook. Of the two, I prefer Instagram. Its only downfall being that images are not dated. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love being able to keep up with friends and loved ones. I hate that there’s so much negativity. I’m torn between wanting to pull the plug on my Facebook account and maybe whittling down my list of “friends” to people I care about, with whom I share at least some sort of valid connection. There are many folks on that list who I rarely, if ever interact with. I suspect many of them probably have just unfollowed me (elected NOT to see any of my posts, often the last step before actually removing oneself from a friend list and/or severing the cord of friendship).

In other news, I learned a fun new word — pareidolia — after receiving an email from Ry (from Two Wheels to There) containing a link to a web page with a funny collection of images. In that case, the word refers to seeing faces in everyday objects, but it’s apparently an all-encompassing term to describe a “psychological phenomenon” wherein one perceives familiar patterns, like faces, where none exists. The image shared below is one of my favorites among a nice collection that made me laugh out loud on more than a few occasions.

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There are lots of great pics on that page. You should check it out.

Finally, I am excited to say that I’ll be leaving on Saturday for my Big 50 Adventure. I figured I deserved to celebrate making it to my fiftieth birthday, and a solo adventure seemed like a great idea.

I’ve told y’all before that Hubby and I enjoy riding together, but we have different riding styles. He likes to cover long distances in short periods of time and I like to meander, stop often, and look at stuff. Oh, and take pictures, too.

Periodic solo trips are good for the soul. I’m not planning ahead either. All I know is that my first stop will be Monterey, Virginia (there’s a new LOVEwork there). I’ll plan the route as I go.


For those who are interested, there’ll be a Spotwalla Tracker Map. That’s how Hubby can keep an eye on me.

Really Weird Stuff

I shared a photo on Instagram and Facebook recently, which featured one of the shops here in town making a face. Not really making a face, looking like a face. (Have you ever seen the Faces in Places collection on Flickr?)

A friend of left a comment saying that she thinks I look at the world differently. Maybe that’s true to a degree. But in the case of faces on things, they just kinda jump out at me. I can’t help it. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it, know what I mean?

I do like roadside oddities, some of which can be weird. And I do look for those. But sometimes, weirdness just happens around me. As was the case on that first day in Vienna. When the four of us saw the weirdest thing I think I have ever seen while traveling. Really. And I have seen some pretty unusual stuff.

Actually, I think it was Annelies who spotted it first. We’d been heading north toward the Prater park, but she and I wanted to see the Danube. Just because. We descended some steps beside a waterway, which we thought was the Danube, but was actually just the Danube Canal. Same water, just not nearly as picturesque as we’d hoped the Danube would be.

We walked for a bit then spotted an outdoor bar/restaurant that we couldn’t pass up.

American-style Restaurant in Vienna
American-style Restaurant in Vienna

While sitting there, enjoying some cool beverages, we noticed this boat on the canal.

Badeschiff Wien
Badeschiff Wien

That’s just one part of the very long Bathing Ship Vienna (Badeschiff Wien), which has apparently been on the canal since 2006. It has a restaurant, bar, and bowling alley as well as the swimming pool and soccer cage (above the pool) you can see in the picture. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy some urban camping on the deck.

Unusual, but not terribly weird, right?

It’s what was going on inside the pool that had us all scratching our heads. And laughing.

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I’m guessing the blonde on the deck was the ringleader.

 

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The three participants.

You can click on the picture for a larger version. In case you cannot clearly see the three people in the pool wearing rubber unicorn masks on their heads.

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Yep, those are definitely unicorn heads.

Three people, dressed as unicorns, engaged in synchronized swimming practice, in a pool, on a boat, docked on a canal in Vienna.

It really was the weirdest thing any of us had ever seen

I have no idea WHY they were doing what they were doing. But I’m pretty sure there is a story behind it.

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Practice makes perfect.

They were clearly practicing for something.

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Fancy Poolwork

Even funnier, they appeared to have done it before.

It was quite entertaining trying to figure out what they were doing and why.

We never did figure it out. I could have asked them, I know. But sometimes it’s more fun leaving things to the imagination.

Day one was pretty eventful. I hope Day Two isn’t too much of a letdown for y’all.