On a mountain road that seemed to be going nowhere in the beautiful state of West Virginia, my husband John and I set out to attend the Italian Heritage Festival in Clarksburg, WV. A drive that should only take six hours ended up taking eleven.  

With our vintage Serro Scotty camper in tow, John and I set out on our mini vacation to engorge ourselves with the pizza, stromboli, rigatoni, meatballs, Italian beef hoagies and every Italian pastry the festival had to offer. I will share with you at a future time all the wonderful things and stories we encountered at that festival, but, for now this story is not about the destination. This story is about the journey. 

A normal person would have taken the interstate, but my husband is not a normal person. Every winding side road he could find became our path. Miles of beautiful rolling hills through Appalachia was our view. The scenic drive was so intoxicating that it distracted me from the book I took to read while we traveled.  

I normally want to get to wherever we are going as fast as possible, but this time, on this trip, I was content to just sit back and relax, and let John do what he liked to do best- wander.

What I didn’t realize until half way through the trip was that John had a plan or a goal in mind. One he did not share with me for fear I would complain and nix it. But, he set out to retrace the last road trip he took with his father before his passing.  

They were simple men on a simple journey who were cut from the same cloth. They both loved vintage automobiles and long winding roads that led to nowhere in particular, while classic Country music played on the radio. It didn’t take much to make them happy. Honestly, to date these are the only two men I have ever known that truly knew how to enjoy the journey.  

This brings me back to our trip which now had us traveling on the side road of US19.    John then stopped at an abandon run down old-time grocery store in Spanishburg, West Virginia and explained to me his true intent.  

picture of abandon store by the Hank Williams Memorial Bridge

“You see that bridge down the road? That is the Hank Williams, Sr. Memorial Bridge. Dad and I discovered it by chance when we were up here together,” he said. My initial thought was, “So What?” Who cares about a silly little bridge in the middle of nowhere named after an old Country musician? 

Just then, I looked around and saw my husband was walking toward it taking pictures. As he walked back to me, he recounted the story of how he and his dad stumbled on this old run-down store and memorial bridge, and that is when I realized this was less about Hank Williams’ Bridge and more about the memory of a day with his father.  

This off road pit stop at an abandon grocery store was filling my husband with joy and that alone was enough to make me happy, but, what we discovered next took us by surprise.  

There were two windowed boxes. One on the railing of the abandon store and one a few feet away. They were blessing boxes and in one were books and in the other was food. 

Library blessing box at the abandon store

My husband was there to reminisce and feed his soul, but to some people this stop represents life-giving nourishment and knowledge.  

On a small, curvy back road in West Virginia sits a place that might be overlooked by most people and deemed useless, old and unkempt, but there lies within it‘s ruins a place that can nourish your body, mind and soul.

J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

Food Blessing box at the abandon store

Remember that on this adventure called life, it is not always the destination that matters, but instead, it is the journey. And to think- we were only searching for Hank Williams. Life is Mysterious. 

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