Journey beginnings and journeys’ end
The dog days of summer are here in the southland and with it come visions of porch sitting with sweet tea and mint juleps in ice cold glasses, shopping in air conditioned shops, and walking under majestic trees by the river. Bomb pops and ice cream are almost daily requirements. The hustle and bustle of 4th of July has come and gone as we spend those last few weeks before school starts again dreamily wishing we could start summer all over again, only this time do it as children.
One of my most favorite things to do this time of year is discover new neighborhoods tucked beneath towering maples and firs in the shadow of a big cities. I spent my college years in small neighborhoods beside both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Neighborhoods with names like Southside and Mount Washington, Fells Point and Highlandtown. Historic row homes found neighbors young and old on front stoops and porches. Residences lie alongside quirky restaurants and small shops. Seemingly every language was spoken, every religion practiced, yet neighbors knew and took care of their own.
Like discovering other worlds, I seek out those places that have taken hold of imaginations of those who wish to create these pockets and add to the energy of a place being reborn. A resurgence of the need for a sense of place has helped these neighborhoods become, once again, the secret gardens of my youth.
The East End in Charleston, West Virginia is one of the most perfect examples of such a place. Tree lined streets lead the explorer blocks and blocks to such places as the Charleston Women’s Club, a gorgeous French Chateau style edifice approaching its first century on Virginia Street. Humble Craftsman style homes mix with such gentility with ease. Restaurants and local shops dot street corners as the East End claims the middle ground between downtown and the Capital Complex.
Bellevue in Richmond, Virginia holds its own delights such as “Story book homes” and grand gardens and a shopper’s delight of eclectic offerings inside delightful windows. Crepe Myrtle hang heavy over with blossoms over sidewalks creating lush tunnels. Again, humble homes live alongside ornate mansions and add to the sense of unity in neighborhoods.
And then there are those small towns across America that have decided to become neighborhoods unto themselves. Take yourself to Buchanan, Virginia to discover Antique Alley then walk across the Swinging Bridge over the James. Leave the present behind in this town that honors its historic past while presenting a shiny new face to the future.
We also take you to cooler climes as On Safari regales us with travels to Crater Lake and the Badlands this past spring and finds snow taller than her 5’5” self.
Lastly, we honor, in a small way this month, the towns and communities of the June floods throughout West Virginia with a memoir of the Greenbrier River Trail in Greenbrier County, one of the hardest hit counties in the state and our home for the last several decades. A very long road to recovery is in store for all the counties and we are honored to be involved in the work that will bring this state back from the brink of this disaster. We are humbled by the outpouring of love and community that stepped up, stepped in and helped our neighborhoods in the very worst of times.
In the months and years ahead small towns like White Sulphur Springs, Caldwell, Richwood, Rainelle, Alderson, Clay, Elkview, Ravenswood, Nallen, Russelville, Clendenin and Ronceverte and so many more will need volunteers and visitors. Rebuilding usually means more than brick and mortar. We will also need places of respite to escape the daily reminders that our towns will never be the same. Places that soothe our soul and help us breathe deep. The Greenbrier River Trail is one such place and is also the site of incredible destruction from the flood.
We urge you to plan a trip to some of these places in the very near future as either a volunteer, a visitor or both.
This month’s issue marks the end of our second solid year since we put out the first Daytripper under our own flag. I say our own, but the paper you hold in your hand wouldn’t exist without hundreds of people supporting us, urging & cheering us on, advertising with us, finding new and unique places for you to visit with us and working long hours into the night some months while we put each issue to bed.
This issue also marks the final issue we put to press. We will continue to feature this amazing region on our website and social media pages, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Please have patience with us while we reorganize.
I thank each of every one of you and hope to day trip with you for many more years to come.