Thomas, WV

It’s the little surprises along the way that often make road trips truly memorable.

Such was the case with a recent trip to Elakala Falls. As we drove through field and mountain, Deep Creek Lake fading in the distance behind us, we happened upon a small town called Thomas.  The rural countryside suddenly opened up to reveal a charming small town: brick storefronts on our left faced a river-fronted forest to the right.  

One of many beautiful buildings

One of many beautiful buildings

We stopped in on the way home from the falls, with only a limited time before the shops began to close.  First on the list was Thomasyard, a unique florist & gift shop with a great variety of pottery and knick-knacks.  From there, we passed a few antique stores and art galleries that had already closed for the day, but included enough enticing objects in their window display to ensure an affirmative decision to return.

Flowers, mugs, and more!

Flowers, mugs, and more!

Next was TipTop, a beautiful coffeehouse and bar.  They had interesting art and edibles for sale, as well as a great selection of beverages and desserts.  Certainly a watering hole worth another visit!  Unfortunately, we had to run, so it was back into the car for us.  As we drove away, it was clear we only had scratched the surface - many more storefronts beckoned!

Some of the items available in Tip Top

Some of the items available in Tip Top

There is much to see in this small town.  Just under an hour from Deep Creek Lake, and only ten minutes from Blackwater Falls, it’s an unquestionably good choice to add Thomas to your adventure itinerary.

Have a seat on this delightful bench!

Have a seat on this delightful bench!

Elakala Falls

Not far from Blackwater Falls, a famous West Virginia destination, hides a series of cascades along Shay’s Run.  These are the Elakala Falls, nestled amongst pine trees and dense mountain laurel.

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The falls are easily accessed from Blackwater Lodge; the trailhead is at the edge of the parking lot, on the west side of the Lodge.  From there, it is a short walk to the first cascade.  Take the bridge over the falls and follow the well-worn, but unofficial, trail to the base of the falls.
Experienced hikers can continue along a bushwhacked path to more cascades further down the canyon, each with its own unique ambiance: the second cascade is tranquil, while the third is a much grander experience, as the 40-foot cascade offers impressive views of the Blackwater Canyon.

The first of the cascades at Elakala Falls.

The first of the cascades at Elakala Falls.

Be wary of slippery conditions, whether on muddy ground or mossy rocks.  The terrain is rough and not without dangers.  Nevertheless, it’s an exciting adventure, with stunning views of beautiful waterfalls.

The second cascade.

The second cascade.

Typewriter Poetry

Especially in the non-stop world of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, it seems like everyone is always rushing around.  There's little time for connection, rest, or play, as we pass by hundreds if not thousands of other lives each day.  Lives which tell glorious and difficult stories, all unfolding all at once.

Through a curious series of events, I've joined my good friend Mark in the art of on-the-spot typewritten poetry.  What a surprise it has continually been to connect with strangers, hear a bit about their story or their sense of humor, and then to write them a poem celebrating, as best I can, whatever it is that's on their minds.

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There's something strangely beautiful and wonderfully human about connecting with another over a typewritten poem.  To get a glimpse of their story - perhaps their marriage, their cat, their uncertainty, their hobbies, their dreams - and then capture it in a poetic from is a humbling and joyful experience; sometimes hilarious, sometimes healing.

Even when writing poems about a topic of which I know very little, such as baseball or eastern mysticism, there's an interesting challenge in discovering common ground, in connecting with and honoring someone with a very different background or belief or worldview.  What happens when we ask questions that lead us to affirm the human longings about which we all can sing?  Perhaps differences and disagreements can be set aside for a minute, for all of us need the gifts of encouragement and kindness.

Slow down and see the stories being written all around you.  Search out the goodness and the glory amidst the struggles and the triumphs.