I took the back roads to Davis last weekend, and so many things along the way begged to be photographed. But often the roads are narrow or someone’s house is right next to the thing I want to capture, and I didn’t want to stop. Lucky for me, this amazing junk shop had a pull off directly across the road. Who can resist a man in a roof canoe peddling Damn Good Junk? Not me.
I also liked the look of these gas pumps, leftover from another time but still regally standing guard over the toilet on the porch just behind.
I have a very poor memory for routes, but I realized as I wound my way down old Route 50 through turns so tight you almost feel dizzy in the driver’s seat, that I’d driven that road many times before. Just beyond those tightest of turns is Cool Springs, which is the most entertaining (and long-standing) of destinations. My mom used to stop there every year on her way to Ocean City, Maryland, and the windy roads never failed to make her sick.
Hot dogs, milk shakes, fresh produce, and a coonskin cap are all available for a price in the store that still has an old school lunch counter, and so much more. The walls are lined with taxidermy, and local handmade soaps and jewelry are mixed in with the most amazing collection of kitsch and the tackiest of West Virginia paraphernalia. It’s a real treat for the eyes. The shake was pretty good too.
The grounds include these stone figurines, an array of barnyard animals, and an impressive collection of tractors and train parts that has clearly taken years to assemble.
The closer you get to the mountains, the more beautiful the landscape. I’ve never managed to get a satisfactory photo, but I get excited every single time I come across the giant row of windmills on Backbone Mountain. They’re just so huge and dramatic.
My ultimate destination was the Billy Motel, where I’ve wanted to stay for years. I must say, I was not disappointed.
When I walked into the office/bar to check in, a man in the corner said to his friends around the fireplace, “Well, shall we bash Trump some more?” And I knew I was in the right place.
The rooms have a fresh, modern look, and the tile in the bathrooms is clearly old but revitalized (through lots of elbow grease I learned). On the rough-hewn wooden shelf were two drink tokens to use at the bar, and beside the bed was a collection of stories by Breece D’J Pancake. I love this attention to detail.
Not only is the bar full service and the bartender a friendly source of local knowledge, but the room is filled with midcentury modern gems.
Outside is a quaint little courtyard with a buddha in the corner. Naturally.
Everything was just so well done. AND, it’s in West Virginia. It’s no wonder the New York Times has taken notice.
The next morning I stopped on my way to breakfast at Tip Top to photograph this amazing mural created by Nellie Rose, a local textile artist, who I met for the first time on the dance floor at the Fiddle the night before. She was sweet and friendly, and I couldn’t help but tell her in what I hope was not too much of a fan voice: “I follow you on Instagram!”
Seriously, friends. Thomas and Davis: They’ve got a good thing going right now, and you should totally check it out.