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After 12 years in Colorado, the time has come for a change. The only problem is...I don't know where I want to live! Come with me (virtually, of course) across the country as I travel along all the rural roads, small towns, coastal regions, scrub-filled deserts, and damp, dark forests in Anywhere Else, America in search of a new home.

Covid-Closed, Cold-Closed, or Closed-Closed?

Because I'm not trying to catch COVID-19, I don't spend a ton of time indoors around strangers. Events are not happening, if I'm dining alone I'll generally do takeout, and I'm not the kind of person who enjoys shopping anyway. But when it's cold outside, indoors has a lot of appeal and around Christmas, shopping must be done. And this year more than ever, I didn't want to give my money to Bezos

In Lewisburg, West Virginia, the shops, like shops everywhere, are hurting. But this is different from shops in the little ski towns of Colorado, for example. There, skiing is open, so shops have a customer base. Lewisburg is known for theater, and the performances draw people to the restaurants and shops. With live theater stopped for the pandemic, the other businesses suffer greatly. (Side note - you might not expect it, but there are many historic theaters in West Virginia, often linked to the prosperous eras of old coal mining towns when entertainment options for well-paid company men were plenty. They alone are worth travelling this part of the country for. I'd love to go back after the pandemic and watch some performances.)

Lewisburg isn't a quick, quaint day trip from another city and it isn't on the way to other places. It's hours from any major city, which means people aren't stumbling across it and discovering how lovely it is, stopping to enjoy, and spending a little money. My only friends to come visit were ones who were within driving distance because all the plane transfers and rental car plans were too much for everyone else. So without the theater crowds, there isn't much hope for everything else.

It appeared to me that many shopkeepers gave up for the year. Places weren't open during their posted hours, like Alderson's General Store, which had decorated picture windows perfect for displaying a Red Ryder BB gun. Or the Corn + Flour bakery whose menu made my mouth water whenever I walked by. I tried to go to several times but never found it open. On December 31, I saw they finally put a sign up saying they were closed until January 5. So someone was in there at some point, but never when I was there. 

The idea that these places gave up because of COVID-19 was extra depressing considering how many empty storefronts there already are in West Virginia towns. But I felt a little better when one nice restauranteur said many places are owned by snowbirds who only operate three seasons out of the year anyway, even pre-pandemic. Other shops are owned by retirees as a hobby, and they open when they feel like it, especially during the winter. That's less depressing, and maybe they have online storefronts too, although most places I Googled in Lewisburg had no online presence, or at most, a Facebook business page that hadn't been posted to in three or four months.

Well, whatever the case is for all those shops, I'm glad I could spend some time and money there. And of course I bought some books from A New Chapter in Lewisburg, even though I'm supposed to be reading the books I brought and shedding cargo as I travel, not acquiring more. But as a writer, I'll happily make a microscopic, symbolic stand against Bezos. 

two women in front of old mill wheel

unusual looking museum

log cabin style bar

spa styled like a hobbit hole

old general store

strange old bicycle

old brick building

sports bar with payphone

bulk candy bins



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