When I tell my friends that I stayed in a Motel 6 most of them ask, “Well, did you at least get breakfast?” Um, even if they offered it, no thank you. Instead we went with the familiar, Panera.
Fortified by croissant sandwiches and a few cups of joe we hop back on the interstate, just long enough to get us to the next winding back road through cute little burgs.
We exit a few miles from the town New Market. I’m told by my mother that I have visited this town before. More than likely I was trapped in the car with my family, stopping against my will, a surly teenager, long before cell phones; hopelessly and dramatically bored. I don’t recall it.
Now, with a couple decades behind me, I love it!
And bonus, there’s some sort of artsy craftsy thing happening along Main Street – the only street, really. Larry darts in and out of antique stores while I saunter from booth to booth. I encounter a rather serious fellow who is creating baby rattles out of wood the old fashioned way. He has built a lathe that he pumps with his foot while holding the wood he is cutting in his hands. I am fascinated by the process and he is all too eager to share it with me.
It appears as if he may make his own clothes and shoes as well. Indeed he admits he doesn’t have much use for modern conveniences. He appears to be living in the right place, wrong era perhaps. I do wish I needed a baby rattle for someone though.
Behind him there is a very serious man wearing period clothing as well – Viriginia loves its colonial roots – weaving baskets. He’s somewhere in his fifties, if I’m being generous, and has no time for idle chit chat.
This little town could very well be the model of all small town back lots in Hollywood. There is a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge mountains to one side of Main Street and rolling foot hills on the other. We are somewhere in between altitude-wise. The hills below us are dotted with roof tops and a few steeples. Small neighborhoods are clustered together while farm land and forest share the rest. The mountains that rise above us seem largely unsullied.
The stores on this charming street are all decorated for fall. Orange pumpkins, gourds, silk leaves in every warm color and twisted grapevine seemed to be used most frequently. Flags announcing autumn or Halloween or love of country fly above many doorways. There must be warm apple pie somewhere.
But this is an unscheduled stop – as most are – so we must be on our way.
We are headed to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia before landing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at my cousin’s home for the night.
We opt to stay on the back roads to West Virginia, slipping through towns so small they don’t even warrant a stop light. We recognize their differences only by the map and the gaps between them. I want to meander down every street and see what we can see. Some other time maybe, like when I move back to Virginia.
Near the border of West Virginia we make one more stop in a small town called Berryville. I try to place myself here. I like it mostly because, A. There is a yoga studio (or was) and B. It is on a road that is a straight shot into Northern Virginia and less than 60 miles to DC. So really it qualifies as a bedroom community of the metropolitan Washington area. Close enough.
This cute little town has two main streets, sort of. At least there’s a main intersection. The shops, with what seem like apartments above them, and the backdrop of the mountains behind them has captured my imagination. In this town I would own a yoga studio with a large retail store in front. There I would sell my handmade jewelry, photographs and greeting cards. I would support the local artists by carrying their wares as well. I would have a donation only coffee bar set up and a few tables for lingerers after yoga class. Once a week I would host a book club. Maybe a writers club too. I would live close by in a cute two story house – within walking distance. It would have a sun-filled studio upstairs with a breathtaking view and beautiful gardens in the back yard: ornamental and edible. There would be a cat curled up in a window somewhere and birds would sing year round.
Actually this little fantasy is somewhat plug and play in any downtown area from Berryville to New York City. And the yoga studio is optional. The coffee and local crafters are a must, however.
We are here long enough to walk the length of the main street, duck into a convenience store to grab a water and use the facilities, then walk back to our car.
Not 10 minutes later we are in West Virginia.
I make Larry pull over and back up so I can take a photo of the Welcome to West Virginia sign. It has become a thing.
As we cruise along, I have been actively texting with my cousin about our arrival. Her grand-daughter is being christened today and they are having a gathering afterward at her house. We are welcome to be there. Her brother and his ex-wife cannot be in the same place at the same time comfortably so she is trying to negotiate that with the christening and my arrival. Ah, families. We will likely be there closer to dinner so we can hike around Harpers Ferry for a respectable amount of time.
Once we pass the Shenandoah River and park at the welcome center, I realize whatever time we allot here will probably not be enough.