Posts Tagged ‘driving’

West Virginia Barns

As you can tell by my lack of  blog posts lately, I have become preoccupied with photography. I should be working on my third book or writing here more often, but it seems to have taken a back seat to what has become my passion: pretending to be a photographer.

My father was a photographer when he wasn’t working as owner and broker of his real estate company. He used a press camera which I wish to God I had in my possession. He loved taking pictures and vacationing through West Virginia meant getting out of the station wagon at each hairpin turn so he could get a photo of the “beautiful view.” There were at least 150 “beautiful views” per vacation. I didn’t mind because I was little and a ham for the camera. He has since passed, but I honestly feel him beside me when I frame a shot.

I love photography more than writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy receiving a royalty check each month from Amazon for my 2 ebooks.  It’s not much, but it still pays a bill or two, so that is nice. But, I’ve decided to concentrate on writing after I retire in a few years. My summer writing time has been replaced by day tripping and photography.

When you focus your camera, it is interesting to find out what your interests are. I had no idea when I started taking pictures that my eye would find old barns appealing. Old stuff. Maybe that’s why I like to haunt antique shops.

But, I credit my love of old barns to my grandfather.  He didn’t actually live on a farm, but purchased one to house his prized palomino horses. He named it Cherry Farm and I loved going there.  I believe he rented the house  to a family who took care of the horses. There was an old barn full of pigs. And I was sold. A couple of years later that barn and the pigs inside burned to the ground, but my love of barns lived on.

So, the first time I decided to take a drive, I was surprised what caught my eye. I seem to like old bridges, barns, and abandoned buildings. Who knew I would take back roads in hope of finding a wonderful farm to photograph. Here are just a few of the barns I have photographed in the past few weeks.

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Old Route 250 on the Marion/Taylor County line. It’s a goat farm and I love driving by it.

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Dean Drive. This is on the road behind my former home. I’ve driven by it hundreds of times…funny how it is now a

focus.IMG_2972Near Seneca Rocks, WV

The rest are from my little jaunt yesterday.

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I took about ten photos of this “truck graveyard.” Of course, that’s not really what it is.

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Near Watter Smith State Park

Near Watter Smith State Park

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Had to put the dead tree in this shot.

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This is the best I could do. It was on a winding road with no place to pull off. I rolled down my window, and aimed.

This is what happens when we finally get a break from the snow and the sun is shining on a Saturday afternoon. For those readers who are barn lovers, I drove from Fairmont south on I-79 and took the Lost Creek Exit. I drove on Route 270 from Lost Creek to West Milford and took Duck Creek Road (love the name) to Watters Smith State Park, which was CLOSED…bummer. I doubled back to get some photos I missed on the way and then took I-79 to the Jane Lew Exit in Lewis County and took Route 19 to Clarksburg. I had never been on either road before, so I had fun.

When I was young I told my grandma I had been on every road in West Virginia. She laughed at me and I got mad at her. In my defense, it seemed like I had. My dad couldn’t be away from his real estate business for too long (although I know now he really didn’t want to be in the car with my mom for very long), so our vacations were traveling around West Virginia.

I still love traveling around this state. The barns are becoming old and decrepit. Pretty soon a  new Walmart  or housing development will spring up on old farmland and  yet another barn will be just a memory. I hope to photograph a lot of them before time, or perhaps another derecho takes one down.

Driving Through Manhattan

My daughter usually takes the Megabus or Greyhound from New York City when she comes home to West Virginia for a visit. I don’t know what got into me this last visit, but I offered to drive her back to her upper East Side apartment so she wouldn’t have to take the bus back. Why did I do that?

I never wanted to drive in New York City. I have been there now about seven times to visit my daughter, and the traffic is a nightmare. I have either taken a plane or Amtrak, but knew I would never drive into Manhattan. Oh, I don’t mind sitting in traffic. That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me about New York City traffic is how other drivers don’t seem to mind cutting people off.  It should be called Sideswipe City.

But, I prepared myself. I had my trusting  GPS system, which I named Maggie, and I marked the route I wanted to take to avoid most of downtown Manhattan. She lives in Yorkville, which is in the upper east side. I was ready.

It was a nice drive for the most part. I really enjoy driving on Route 68 through Maryland. I have driven that route many times. But, I then had to turn north and head on Interstate 81 and then Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania and immediately noticed the heavy volume of long haul trucks. I mean, it was like being in the middle of a truck parade, minus truckers throwing candy out of their windows.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind driving in the least. I love taking road trips, but I had to wonder if this interstate is a main thoroughfare for truckers. Not only where there many many trucks, but there was a huge debris field of rubber tire pieces lying in the road and off to the side. It was a tire graveyard in some respects. Oh, sure, I see tire pieces along our Interstate 79 all the time, but this was different.  And then we got to see one in the making.

A truck had blown a tire and as we passed him we could see the tire shred right before our eyes. He managed to get off to the right side of the road, but not until he left a wake of rubbery debris in the middle of the road. It’s a wonder it didn’t fly up and hit another car.

Well, as I thought about this, a car in front of us ran over another tire shred and it flew up in the air and came right at us. And there was nothing we could do. It hit my front passenger headlight and then went under my car. Thank goodness it didn’t hit the windshield. I looked in my rear view mirror to make sure nothing was punctured and we continued on our semi-merry way.

As we approached New York City, after about 7 hours on the road, my GPS told me to take the next right. I looked up at the road sign that clearly said to stay on this road, as I needed to take the George Washington Bridge, but my daughter told me to follow what Maggie is saying.

Where are you , bridge?

Well, Maggie was banned to the glove compartment after she took us down by some loading docks along the river in New Jersey. This is after she made me go through a toll. I immediately turned around  as I  knew something was very wrong.  Maggie then took me the wrong way on the toll road.

“Dammit, Maggie, I don’t want to go West.”

After paying a toll three different times, I  found myself in front of the Holland Tunnel……..the $13 entrance fee Holland Tunnel. Seriously? It costs that much money to drive through a damn tunnel?  I was mad at Maggie, who made me backtrack three times and pay a toll three times only to drive me to the $13 Holland Tunnel. This is where she went into the glove compartment.

The Holland Tunnel is considered to be one of the most high-risk terrorist target sites in the United States. Is that why I had to pay $13 to travel through it? I didn’t understand.

Did not want to go this way…sigh

This was not good. The George Washington Bridge would have taken me along New Jersey and I would have been able to drop down from north Manhattan right onto the FDR Parkway, avoiding those mean Manhattan streets. But, now, with traveling through the Holland Tunnel, I would be deposited onto South Manhattan, where the street names don’t start with a number yet…..and I had to travel all the way to 95th Street. Great.

My daughter didn’t recognize any of the streets at first, but quickly got her bearings. I began seeing NYU flags on some of the downtown buildings, so I knew she would be able to pin our location. We were on the west side of town and we needed to get over to 1st Avenue, which would take us to her apartment. We passed through Greenwich Village via my daughter’s directions. I hoped she was going to do a better job than Maggie. After all, the glove compartment was too small for my daughter. I put my trust in the fact that this was her city and she was taking me on the right roads.

The traffic wasn’t so bad on the side streets. Oh, it was congested with a mix of cars and people on bikes with no bike lane, but it was manageable. You have to understand that I did not want to do this.  I was adamant in the fact that I was never going to drive through Manhattan. If there was a bucket list for things not to do before one dies, this would be #1 on my list. But, I now had no choice. I was in Manhattan…..in a car.  I’m not Catholic, but felt like doing the sign of the cross as we approached 1st Avenue.

Once we turned left on 1st Avenue, I gripped the steering wheel and charged on.

Drivers in this city are crazy. The best advice I can give is to never hesitate. Once you hesitate, a double decker sight-seeing bus will pull into your lane, even if you are there. I had to honk my horn, which is illegal in many places in Manhattan. We were almost side-swiped  more times than I can count on my fingers. Taxi drivers must have their own laws, bikers zipped in and out of traffic, and buses think they are the only ones on the road.

I found out quickly not to drive in the far left lane as delivery trucks will just stop there to unload and then you are stuck. People won’t let you back into traffic. Motorists in New York City aren’t courteous. They have places to go and people to see. My license plate clearly stated I was from West Virginia. And I was being eaten alive. I think other drivers smelled my weakness, as they were changing lanes right on top of me. I hope that some day they had to drive through West Virginia and were stuck on the top of Mt. Storm after a heavy snowfall. Yeah, city drivers, take that.

My daughter was nervous, as she was the passenger and on the side where most of the potential side-swiping was taking place. After driving about 45 blocks, with about 50 more long blocks to go, my daughter, who was holding on to something on her side of the car, looked over at me when we stopped at a red light and said:

“You’re sitting there, smiling, you weird-o.”

I was smiling. I couldn’t help it. I was driving in New York City! I guess I was having fun with the realization that I was doing something so brave, so daring, as to actually drive 95+ blocks through Manhattan. I deserved a prize or something. I was not scared at all. In fact, I was kind of enjoying the drive. I have been a guest in a taxi numerous times on these streets, sometimes wondering if I was going to arrive alive, but this time I was in charge of my own fate in my naive West Virginia Subaru.

I arrived on her street with no new dents or scratches. I was just going to drop her off and get the hell out of the city before rush hour.  But, she talked me into staying and I found a place to park on the street just one street over. We had a nice afternoon in Central Park north and we headed to a great Thai restaurant that is a requirement each time I visit.

I left the next morning at 4:15, hoping to beat morning traffic. This city never sleeps.  I followed the FDR right over the George Washington Bridge and back the way I was supposed to travel on my way in. It was so much easier.

But, I would never have had this experience. I can honestly say I drove through New York City.

Thanks Maggie. I may let you out of the glove compartment next trip.

Winding Roads, Feeble Drivers

So, I packed a bag this morning and had grand plans to drive to the gym right after school this afternoon. I was ready. I haven’t been on the elliptical for a month now, and was excited to get back into my exercise regiment. But, alas, it was not to happen.

After school, I changed in the teacher’s bathroom, put my hair back in a ponytail, and I was off to Healthplex. Just the thought of going put a spring in my step. Or I just liked the feel of my ponytail swishing back and forth with each perky step. I know myself, and if I drive home right after school, the chances of me going to the gym are slim. Once I sit down, I’m done. I haven’t even been walking on the Rails to Trails. And it is seriously right outside my apartment. So, I was ready.

I hopped in the car, pulled out onto the main road and looked at my watch. It was 3:45. I should be at Healthplex in 30-35 minutes. I got behind a school bus and about 5 other cars, which is normal every day. No biggie. The bus driver is great and pulls over after about 2 stops and lets the traffic go by. I wave to thank him every day and then I am off. But, wait. Why is this goldish Buick not speeding up? The bus just pulled over for us.

Dear God, I couldn’t see anyone driving. That only meant one thing- Old Lady Driver. And it was. And she had an even older, shorter woman as her passenger. She was driving about 10-20 miles per hour and almost came to a stop every time a car came toward her. Are you kidding me? It was a winding road and too narrow for her liking.

The old lady had her foot on the brake all the way down the hills. I guess she thought there were some icy patches on the road…in October. I am a patient person, but the speed limit is 40, and I think people are obliged to drive the speed limit. I don’t think she saw the 25 cars behind her. Every time there was a place to pass, there was someone coming in the opposite direction.

I started talking  to her. Yes, I realize that she could not hear me, but I needed to start ranting. Some of the things that were coming out of my mouth were-

“I bet you’re going to Walmart to get cat food, right?”

“Oh, Dear God, lady, pull over and adjust your pace maker.”

“Figures….Are you freaking kidding me?…….Do not turn right…Do NOT turn right…..Shit…Figures….Of course you’re turning right.”

“Don’t you see me? I can see right up your nose , I am so close to you. Speed, up, damn you, old lady.”

“Freakin turtle………………..”

“Don’t even turn left!!!!  Shit…….I am going to hit you!….I should hit you….and bump you out of the freakin road and into that cow pasture….How would you like that?”

“Come on!!! It’s 4:00..Why the hell are you out this late anywho?  It’s going to be dark by the time you get to Walmart and drive back home……Shit, it will be midnight…Come onnnnnn!”

I am sure the person who was behind me was highly amused. I didn’t even look in my rear view mirror to see if it was a fellow teacher or anyone I knew. It was probably one of my student’s parents, laughing at my venting. Vickie venting. I had one hand on the wheel and was talking with the other like I was Italian. I thought the old lady would get the hint and pull over. Then it dawned on me. She wouldn’t be able to look in the rear view mirror, because that would make her drive off the road. She never used her mirrors once. Her eyes were above the steering wheel looking straight ahead. She wasn’t even talking to her passenger. Maybe her passenger was dead.

My rant continued for 30 minutes. ” Freaking Blue-Haired Turtle, pull over!!! She went my entire route. I just knew she was going to Walmart. She never went over 20 miles per hour the entire drive. I was thinking that it would be amusing if she flipped me the bird as I passed her, but she didn’t.  I would have flipped me off. I was right on her butt the entire drive. She had to know I was behind her.

Well, I was quite mad  by the time I pulled into the Healthplex parking lot. And the parking lot was about full. So, I just parked and sat there for a second, and then said, “Shit.”  I was spent. I was done. I had no desire to punish myself on the elliptical. I could have taken my frustrations out on the machine, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t even turn off the car. I was pissed.

When you are that mad, there is only one thing you can do….

I went through McDonald’s, ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal and drove home.

And I am too mad to write a blog this evening.

Old Lady Driver

When my kids were little, I ran them all over the place. It seemed like we were always in the car heading somewhere. And most of the time we were in a hurry. I was a stay-at-home-mom until my youngest was a junior in high school, so I chauffeured quite a bit. So, it wasn’t unusual for one of them to ask to stop to grab something to eat right after school, on their way to their sporting practice.

I picked up my son, Adam, after school, one day to drive him straight to football practice. We were running late, but he was hungry and wanted to stop at McDonald’s. I was driving my husband’s work car, a silverish Monte Carlo. It was a piece of junk, and I really don’t know why I had it that day.  Since we were in a hurry, he wanted me to just pull into a spot and he was going to run in and grab some food to go. I pulled into a parking spot and he jumped out.

It was pretty crowded, so I knew that this was going to make my son nervous. They would get in trouble if they were late for football practice. While we were waiting, another car pulled up beside me. My door was beside her driver’s door, so I got a good look at the driver. It was a silver car and I was amused to see a very old woman with purplish hair and she was wearing sun glasses that seemed to wrap around her face. They were black and huge and she barely could see over her steering wheel.

Well, she put her car in park, and was getting ready to get out of the car, when all of a sudden, her passenger door was flung opened, and my son hopped into her car and shut the door. He had his bag of McDonald food and a drink. The lady looked over at him, and didn’t say a word. She just looked at him. This all happened in less than 30 seconds, but I could see my son mouth ,”Let’s go!”  And then he looked over at her.

They just stared at each other.  They were both confused. I am sure he was thinking, “Who the hell are you and why are you in my mom’s car?” And she was probably thinking, “Let’s go? Are you kidnapping me?”  And I cracked up. He saw me through the window so I waved at him. He didn’t say a word to her, and hurriedly got out of the car.

When Adam got in the right car and shut the door, my daughter and I were already laughing so hard, we were crying. He was embarrassed. Then I happened to look at the old lady, thinking she already got out of the car to enter McDonald’s, but..and this is the best part..she was still looking at her passenger seat. She was staring with her purplish hair and her wrap-around sunglasses like he was still there.

I don’t know what it was, but I could not quit laughing. I had to pull over because the tears in my eyes were obscurring my vision while driving. Adam was not amused and was getting aggitated because we were running late. So, I tried to compose myself, and finally made it to the stadium without hitting anyone head on.

I guess I rank my best laughs.

And this was definitely in the Top Ten.

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