I was nearing the Paw Paw Tunnel when an approaching cyclist yelled out, “Tom, is that you?” It turns out it was Dan, my host for the evening at his bed and breakfast in Paw Paw, West Virginia. He had ridden out to greet me and lead me into town.
I quickly found out that Dan was an extremely outgoing and friendly guy. We rode my last few miles of the day through the tunnel and into the town. He was interested in hearing my story and what I had seen on my travel across the C&O Canal Trail.
Over conversation that evening and at breakfast this morning, I learned he is a canal steward for the National Park Service riding his bike many times a week along the trail. He helps keep the trail clean a litter, looks for hazards such as fallen trees, rocks, or debris, and helps trail users. Dan loves this trail and especially loves what he is doing. Dan exemplifies what volunteers really should be. He is outgoing, friendly, helpful, and has a wealth of wisdom about his little corner of West Virginia and Maryland.
How Dan came to be an innkeeper is also an interesting story. As a cyclist, he knew that many touring cyclists pass through this area on the journey from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. This is a remote area where towns and accommodations are very sparse. There was a need for a bed and breakfast about the midpoint between Cumberland and Hancock. Dan had a spare bedroom and turned it into a bed and breakfast.
Spending an evening at Dan’s Bikepath Bed-and-Breakfast in Paw Paw was an extremely enjoyable experience. Dan and my fellow cycling guests shared our stories of the trail, especially the challenges along the way. Watching Dan, was as clear that being an innkeeper is not about the dollar but about community.
Dan is a retired postal employee who moved from nearby Winchester Virginia. He is an avid outdoorsman with a love fishing, cycling and exploring the outdoors with his dachshund Moxie. Paw Paw was a natural choice for his retirement home.
Dan does his thing and does his thing to help other people. People like Dan are what makes a community. If it was not for him, I and the other cyclists would never have visited Paw Paw. I would not have met this man who shares many of the things I love.
Retirement is about building a post-work community. I have been working on finding my community in my retirement. Listening to Dan’s story, I see the community that he has built making a difference in not just his world but in the world of the people he encounters.
If you want to make a difference in your community, find your niche in this world. Go out and use it to better your community, your life, and the lives of others you will touch.
Happy trails, Dan! I will see you the next time I pass by Paw Paw.