Tuesday was a day I've looked forward to for a while. I was going to Wheeling, West Virginia to spend the day with my son's former girlfriend.
That might sound odd, but the fact is that even though they no longer date, they are still friends. And I have found a daughter--she's as much like a daughter I might have had as I can possibly imagine. Wheeling is 120 miles away so getting together is not so easy but I got it on my schedule, and I was going.
We.Had.A.Blast. Anastasia is a recent college grad and working for a while before returning to college for her Master's degree. I met her at her apartment in one of the older, working-class neighborhoods in Wheeling. I was fascinated by two things: the architecture and the multicultural population (The Croatian Brotherhood Society?). I love old buildings, and in this neighborhood there were so many examples of late 1800's-early 1900's styles. Wheeling was in its heyday then, with steel, glass, coal and steamboats bringing money, people and commerce to the city. I gawked. Stained glass windows, interesting brick, narrow alleys...all a long way from my ridge and endlessly fascinating to me.
Jebbia's Market was an oasis! We stopped there first, and I was astounded by the array of vegetables and fruits available at reasonable prices. Honestly, I wish I could shop here every week! I brought home a load of veggies and fruits. I mean, cauliflower for $1.00?! And mushrooms?! And boxes of cucumbers?! Anastasia lusted after the Greek olives so of course we bought those too. What a place. I almost think it would be worth the 3-hour trip once a month to stock up! (Yes, 3 hours, even though it's 120 miles--that's the mountains for you.)
We explored downtown: the Wheeling Coffee and Spice Company had awesome coffee and a great atmosphere to relax. And do you know, she loves junking as much as I do! She knew the best places and we had so much fun digging around for bargains.
I took the river road home, as I always do. I know that the interstate, or even the four-lane on the Ohio side of the Ohio River are probably faster, but I am in love with the West Virginia side of the river with its small riverside communities and history.
I stopped in Sistersville at the Wells Inn to visit with innkeeper Charles Winslow, and left with a cup of great coffee and the most amazing cookies. The Inn is still in renovation but is open for reservations and I highly recommend it for its great food, comfortable rooms and sense of history...oh, and it's haunted too.
The little town of Friendly had its lights on for the holidays; this barn made me turn around and go back for a photo. (I just learned that there is a Friendly Cemetery too--now there's a comforting thought. I'll have to visit it one day.)
The river had been busy all day; I saw so many barges going up and down the river which was really at a pretty high stage, with all the recent rains. Barge traffic means that the economy is in good shape along the river, so that's a good sign. As I drove into the night on my way home, I could not resist trying to photograph a barge at night.
In St. Mary's, the lights were on too:
Fueled by the cookies and coffee from the Wells Inn (you really must try their cookies-- to die for), I finally arrived home around 9:30pm after a long and interesting day.
I hope to get back to Wheeling soon. I miss Anastasia, and there is so much more to see in this old city that once was the home of the Wheeling Marsh Stogies cigars and the place where every cut nail in the USA was once made. Cabela's is the new economic engine for the area, but it is the old town and its history that attracts me.
As for all those vegetables I bought? In the freezer!