As I mentioned in yesterday's short post, we took the shorter but longer way home. That's not a contradiction: although shorter in miles, it was longer in time. And made longer by the fact that we stopped to take photos.
At an intersection along Route 18 Larry noticed a sign that said "winery." Really? I knew of no winery in Doddridge County, so of course I wanted to find it. We turned and drove a short distance, and, unsure of where we were going, stopped to ask a gentleman working by the road if there was indeed a winery in the area.
That led to one of the most enjoyable conversations I've had in some time. Dale, at 83 years old, was busy cleaning out a building for a friend so that he could tear it down and use the poles it contained to build a garage for his granddaughter. His house had already attracted my attention and my camera; he told us that the home had belonged to his wife's parents and when it came up for sale, he returned to West Virginia to buy it.
Dale and his wife ran off to Virginia to get married when they were very young, and over the years he'd worked at several different jobs including a steel mill and a maintenance worker, eventually moving to Warren, Ohio where they stayed for 22 years. When they returned to West Virginia he started a new career as a bus driver and drove until he was in his mid-sixties, finally taking an early retirement.
But retirement for Dale didn't mean that he stopped working. He is constantly busy with projects, as attested to when we saw him. He and his wife will be married for 61 years on Monday.
We spent 30 minutes in conversation. Dale told us "You people made my day." He certainly made ours. People like Dale are what make West Virginia what it is: they're not afraid to talk to strangers, always interested in learning something new, and don't flinch at hard work. What a man. It was an honor to meet him.
The winery? After another 20 minutes drove, we found it: closed.It's only open on the weekends. But if not for their sign by the road, we would not have ventured up that road, and we wouldn't have met Dale. So the winery did us a service, altough they missed us as customers.