Random (but not really)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls State Park

Not finding a lot of flowers at Canaan, we went to Blackwater Falls, in hopes some drier trails might have more wildflowers.

They didn’t, but it was a gorgeous day for a hike, so it’s still a win.

Location: Blackwater Falls
Trails: Elakala and Shay Trace Trails
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation: 3082-3228 feet (212 feet rise)
Temperature: 68F

Trails: Dobbins House and Pace Point Trails
Distance: 2.9 miles
Elevation: 2993-3160 feet (274 feet gain)
Temperature: 72F

We went out to Pace Point, in the hopes we’d see lots of flowers. Not many flowers, but still a lovely hike. Then we spent a bit of time at the top of Pendleton run.



And since we were on Elakala Trail, we of course scrambled down.



It was such a lovely day!

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

One of the reason I wanted to go hiking was because I finally replaced my GPS.

I’ve had the Oregon 550t since 2013, and it remains a workhorse. However, it’s accuracy was getting problematic. If we’re hiking a loop, our starting and ending elevations should be approximately the same.

The last loop we hiked our starting elevation was 1592 and the ending elevation was 1637. And our peak elevation was 1774 feet going out, and 1850 feet coming back. Those elevations should have been the same, not 45-76 feet different.

So after a lot of back and forth and a month of thinking about it I got a Garmin Oregon 700.

There have been a lot of improvements in the past six years, and although I liked the Orgeon 550t, I LOVE the 700.

The point of all this is what I wanted to use the new GPS.

So our first use was one of my favorite trails.

Location: Canaan Valley SP
Trail: Blackwater River Trail
Distance: 0.8 miles
Elevation: 3202-3261 (78 feet gain)



GPS was perfect, and the hike was lovely; Win win!

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, April 15, 2019

It’s Tax Day! HOORAY!

That’s right, I like taxes! I like the benefits of living in a society that cares for all members, not forcing the indigent and needy to struggle and do terrible things if they don’t want to die on the streets.

So what are some of the benefits?

Public roads!

Made about the potholes? Of course you are! Justifiably! You know what those potholes are there! Because of people who try to avoid paying state and local taxes! (Yes, I AM judging you!)

But it’s more than that. We’ve traveled much of WV, and I can tell you precisely why the economy is so bad in so many areas: because no manufacturer in the right mind is going to build a plant where there are two lane roads with 9-11% grades and hairpin turns. They just aren’t. And it takes state and federal tax money to build those roads that might–just might–bring in businesses.

Without those roads? It’s just not going to happen.

Public schools!

Even if you don’t have kids, public education is necessary for a an informed citizenry. The number of complete idiots who refuse to vaccinate their kids because they don’t understand how herd immunity works is in many ways a failure of our education system.

We’ve failed not just to teach people about basic science, we’ve also failed to instill critical thinking skills, which is possibly more important than basic science. (Possibly.)

Public Sanitation!

Read much about London during any number of historical periods?

Here’s something I read earlier this month. The woman is interview a night-soil man.

“The worst is them cesspits what’s hooked up to them newfangled water-flushing contraptions.”


“’ Cause a cesspit, it ain’t designed t’ take all that water, that’s why. So them things is always overflowin’. If ye ask me, what they oughta do is let them nobs who wants them danged patented washdown pedestals connect ’em to the sewer system.”

London had long possessed an elaborate sewer system, but the sewers were intended only for stormwater and underground rivers. It was illegal to use them for the disposal of waste.

Hero said, “The sewers empty into the Thames.”


“We get our water from the Thames.”

William Bell laughed, showing a mouthful of surprisingly even, healthy teeth. “Aye. So?”

Harris, C. S.. Who Slays the Wicked (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery) (p. 341). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

You think dog poop on the sidewalks is annoying? Without public sanitation, human waste was just thrown out into the streets.

Public Safety!

Ever read anything about police services 200 years ago? If you were rich, you could hire people to solve your crimes, and if you were very rich, you’d have to do something really terrible to keep the authorities from looking the other way.

In general, a child who stole food to eat could be thrown into prison or transported. And sometimes the only alternative to thievery was prostitution. Or starving to death.

Fire services were even worse. The first fire services were private ones–you paid them in advance to make sure your house didn’t burn down in there was a fire. You didn’t pay a fire service? They’d protect your neighbors home while watching yours burn to the ground. Which sometimes meant a “protected” home burned as well.

Public Health!

Just 100 years ago, the “Spanish Flu” swept the world, killing more people than WWI, which was happening at the time.

Public health laws required people to wear masks in public, which helped slow the spread of the virulent and dealy illness.

Public health also protects our food supply, as well as regulating those who prepare our food. Everyone has heard the phrase “Typhoid Mary” but do you actually know she was a real person who caused serious illness and death? She was a carrier of Typhoid, but it did not make her ill.

(P)reviously the cook had served in 8 families. Seven of them had experienced cases of typhoid. Twenty-two people presented signs of infection and some died.

That year, about 3,000 New Yorkers had been infected by Salmonella typhi, and probably Mary was the main reason for the outbreak. Immunization against Salmonella typhi was not developed until 1911,

Public health also insures that our water supplies are safe–and if you think this isn’t still a problem, then you have not been paying attention.

Public Parks and Forests!

To end on a more positive note, our national and state parks and forests are a result of state and federal taxes. Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, we have wild and historical places preserved for us and for future generations.

The Grand Canyon, the Giant Redwoods–without our park system, these things would be either destroyed, or available only to the wealthy. Forests and park contribute to our health and well-being, from the air they clean, the plants and animals they preserve, and the green spaces they provide for the physical and mental health of those who use them.

I’d also like to note that here in WV, our state forests are also public hunting grounds. Without our state forests, that land would be in private hands, unavailable either because it had been destroyed, or because it had been restricted by private land-owners.

These–and many other reasons–are why I am always glad to pay taxes. And why I am judging you every time you use ploys to avoid paying taxes while still wanting to government to fix your potholes and fight crime and all the other many services governments provide.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Blackwater Falls & Canaan Edition

I wanted to get out of town this weekend, so we headed to Canaan / Blackwater Falls, because they’re so close.

I also wanted to see wild flowers; I should have suggested New River Gorge. Because there was not much in bloom. But there were some things.

I know the area is a couple weeks behind is, but I expected I might see bloodroot or spring beauties. Nope. I did see leaves for upcoming trout lilies.







Bluets! (I adore bluets)


And OMG! Pixie cup lichens!


So! Adorable!

Written by Michelle at 12:57 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sunday Flower Pr0n: WVU Arboretum


Trout lily Erythronium americanum


Dutchman’s Breeches Dicentra cucullaria


Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis




Bluebells Mertensia virginica

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Books of March

Lots of crappy weather this month, so I read a lot again. (We shall not mention the indoor projects I ignored for reading. Moving right along.)

Although I still haven’t settled on a final rating, I enjoyed Faith Hunter‘s latest Soulwood book, Circle of the Moon.

I read a LOT of LGBT books this month, and I particularly enjoyed Josh Lanyon;s All’s Fair series, which starts with Fair Game (but the last book is my favorite in that series).

I also really liked The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles which is a collection of short stories, and a prequel of sorts to the Green Man series. (Sort of) Plus the series Angel Martinez‘s Offbeat Crimes series, which had ALL the Michelle Catnip: supernatural police procedural. I really liked the world-building in that series.

So here’s what I read:

Fantasy, Supernatural

Circle of the Moon (2019) Faith Hunter (Rating: Undecided) (Soulwood)

Mystery, LGBT

All’s Fair
Fair Game (2010) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
Fair Play (2014) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
Fair Chance (2017) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 9/10)
Adrien English
Fatal Shadows (2000/2012) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 6.5/10)
A Dangerous Thing (2002/2012) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
The Hell You Say (2011) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
Death of a Pirate King (2011) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
The Dark Tide (2011) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
So This is Christmas (2016) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks (2011/2016) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (2018) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7.5/10)
Hazard and Somerset
Pretty Pretty Boys (2017) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 6/10)
Transposition (2018) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 6/10)
Paternity Case (2018) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 6/10)
Guilt by Association (2018) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 7.5/10)

Fantasy, Supernatural LGBT

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (2013) K.J. Charles (Rating: 8/10)
Offbeat Crimes
Skim Blood and Savage Verse (2017) Angel Martinez (Rating: 6.5/10)
Feral Dust Bunnies (2017) Angel Martinez (Rating: 8.5/10)
All the World’s an Undead Stage (2018) Angel Martinez (Rating: 8/10)

Audio Books

Salsa Nocturna: Stories, Audio Edition (2012/2014) Daniel José Older, narrated by Daniel José Older (Rating: 9/10)
Stiletto, Audio Edition (2016) Daniel O’Malley narrated by Moira Quirk (Rating: 9.5/10)
Half-Resurrection Blues, Audio Edition (2015) Daniel José Older narrated by Daniel José Older (Rating: 8/10)


Suffer Little Children (1995) Peter Tremayne (Sister Fidelma)
Unto Us a Son Is Given (2019) Donna Leon (Rating: 7/10) (Commissario Guido Brunetti)

Graphic Novel

Rivers of London Vol. 7: Action at a Distance (2018) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Brian Williamson (Rating: Grrrrr)

Romance, LGBT

Short Stories: 2007 – 2013 (2015) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7.5/10)
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure (2019) Courtney Milan (Rating: 7.5/10)

And here’s how the stats came out:

Trade Paperback: 1
eBook: 26
Audio: 3
Multiple Formats: 2
Re-read: 4


OK. It was a comic, but still! Paper!

Fantasy: 10
Mystery: 21
Romance: 21
Comic: 1
Boinking: 18
Anthology: 1

Lots of mysteries this month, and lots of romance. And a fair chunk of fantasy so… pretty much everything. Plus a lot of boinking.

Male: 9
Female: 8
Initials: 1
Male Pseudonym: 12
Anthology: 1

More male authors than in past months, but adding in female pseudonyms, it’s still predominantly female authors.

Male: 24
Female: 4
Ensemble: 1
White: 26
Minority: 6
Minority 2ndary: 6
Straight: 10
LGBTQ 2ndary: 3

So lots of male main characters this month, mostly cuz I read a lot of M/M stories. And lots and lots of white characters, although there was a little bit of diversity with secondary characters. But still, pretty white.

And those are the books of March.

What did you read recently that you loved?

Written by Michelle at 2:26 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Hiking WV: Babcock State Park & NRG

Finally! A Saturday without rain and mud!

After scanning the regional weather, we headed south towardsNew River Gorge, but as always happens, I said, “Oh! Can we stop by Babcock?”

Since there weren’t that many people, and since the day was beautiful, we decided to take the Lake View Trail, which we hadn’t hiked before.

It was gorgeous.

Location: Babcock State Park
Trail: Lake View Trail
Distance: 1.7 miles
Elevation: 2404-2596 ft



Of course I took a picture of the grist mill.


We went onto New River Gorge for a hike there, and decided to take the Bridge View Trail, which… was a view of the underside of the bridge. Which is fine, but not what I was thinking (I was thinking a view like Long Point, but from the other side.)

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Bridge View Trail
Distance: 1.6 miles
Elevation: 1587-1852 feet (519 feet climb)

It was steep (with switchbacks) and rocky, with steps made from the area stones.


Not one of my favorite hikes, but I was outside in the woods, so that made it better than many other things.

Written by Michelle at 9:50 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  
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