Random (but not really)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rebuilding the State I Love

I’ve been–like everyone else in the state I suppose–thinking about the flooding that devastated so many lives on Friday.

As you know, Michael and I have been trying to visit all the state parks and forests, and in doing so we’ve driven through so many of these areas in the past two years.

Last week we were in Richwood. We drove past houses that seemed hadn’t seen better days for a couple decades. Shop front after closed shop front. Roads that were in need to repair–like all the roads in the state.

These small towns were already struggling to survive, what will this horrible destruction do to them now?

While the Cherry River has receded and the streams of water coming off the hillsides have resided Friday, many in Richwood were concerned that it was only the beginning of their problems.

Both of the towns remaining stores where people could shop for food had been destroyed. The Rite Aid and Dollar General stores, next to the Richwood Fire Hall, had been submerged in more than three feet of water.

(from the Charleston Gazette Mail)

That’s correct. The only local place for people to get groceries was a dollar general and a Rite Aid. It’s not uncommon in this state for people to have to drive 30 to 60 minutes to get to an actual grocery store. (See: Food Deserts)

Go here and here and here and here.

Look closely at the pictures of the cars and homes destroyed. So many of the people whose homes and vehicles were destroyed were already living on the edge, how many will be pushed right over the edge after this? How much do you think insurance gives you for a 10 or 15 year old vehicle–the only way you had to get a job? Enough for a new car? Certainly not. If your house was already in need to repair, how much do you think the insurance is going to give you, for a home in an area with already low property values?

With so many businesses destroyed, what will these people do for employment?

So many roads that were already in bad shape were destroyed. And I do mean destroyed.

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In so many of these towns, if a road is destroyed, you can’t just go a couple blocks around to get to your location. You have to go miles and miles down roads–some gravel–to get to where you are going. And if you’ve never driven down a lot of gravel roads, five miles can take you half an hour or longer–probably longer with likely flood damage.

We’ve got all this damage in already struggling areas, in a state where we were barely able to pass a budget because there simply is no money.

So, just how is all this going to be fixed? How can you rebuild businesses when roads are destroyed? How can you rebuild homes when jobs are few and far between? How can you even move when your insurance settlement is unlikely to be enough to get you a good start somewhere else?

I love my state, but I worry how much more we can take.

Doesn’t mean we won’t keep on trying, but all of this breaks my heart as I worry about all those who lost their homes and jobs and vehicles–and family members.

We’ll go on, because we’re a proud and stubborn people and we love our state more than you can imagine, but it’d be nice if someone would cut us a break.

Written by Michelle at 8:32 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: West Virginia  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Mountain Laurel Edition

I was sort of obsessed with the Mountain Laurel on our hike.

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Blackberry flowers

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Written by Michelle at 12:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

Every time we go to Cranberry Glades, I say, “we really need to come back here and hike more” so Saturday we finally did.

It was a gorgeous hike, and we ARE going to go back and hike more. We actually had a hike where we didn’t see anyone else the whole hike (although there were other people in the area, mostly visiting the Nature Center and driving along the Highland Scenic Highway).

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Forks of Cranberry Trail
Distance: 6.1 miles
Elevation: 4190-4684 feet (0.2% grade)

Looking out over the Cranberry Wilderness.

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A section of the Forks of the Cranberry Trail.

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Elephant Rocks

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One of today's views

If you’re looking for some solitude that you can’t always find at other state and national parks/forests, I highly recommend visiting the Cranberry Wilderness.

—-

I’m going to start adding another bit here, which is where we stopped to eat (if we enjoyed our meal). This is both for anyone visiting the area looking for a place to eat, AND for us, so we stop having the discussion, “What was that place we stopped to eat around here? I really liked it.”

Dinner:
Mumsey’s Iron Skillet
761 Richwood Rd
Richwood, WV 26261
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

I had the Southern Fried Chicken and it was very delicious.

Written by Michelle at 10:54 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hiking WV: New River Gorge: Glade Creek

To escape the cicadas, we headed south to the New River Gorge area, which is free of this brood. It was hot, but it was good to be outdoors, and to not be bombarded by cicadas.

We chose the southern terminus for our hike which we shan’t do again, as we had trouble getting out, since the road was steep and narrow, with loose gravel in the steepest parts. (We’ll head to the north terminus next time.)

The hike itself was very easy, as it is an abandoned railroad bed, and beautiful, since it is along Glade Creek.

Location: New River Gorge
Trails: Glade Creek, Kates Falls Trails
Distance: 5.3 miles (partial)
Elevation: 1853 – 2145 feet (1% grade)

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Here is the I64 bridge that goes over Glade Creek near the start of the trail.

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Written by Michelle at 9:15 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday Flower Pr0n: New River Gorge

Here’s a little of what we saw hiking the Glade Creek Trail at the New River Gorge.

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Written by Michelle at 8:55 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dr. Phil Memorial scholarship

On April 12th, my friend Dr Philip Edward Kaldon? passed away.

Those who knew him, wanted to do something to remember him, and so it was decided to fund a scholarship for Clarion SFF Writers Workshop in his name.

If you would like to help sponsor a future SFF writer, in the name of a man whose writing days were too short, please consider a donation to our Dr. Phil Memorial scholarship.

Written by Michelle at 6:56 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,UCF  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Books of May

Between the seemingly never-ending rain, and a bout of anxiety/depression, I read a LOT of books in May. 18 books in fact, my second highest month so far this year.

The best book of the month was Witches of Lychford a novella by Paul Cornell (10/10). Main characters were female, one of the women was elderly, the others were middle aged, and there was great dialogue. I also really enjoyed London Gambit by Tracy Grant (8/10), which is the latest book in the Malcolm & Suzanne Rannoch series.

Here are the books.

Supernatural Fantasy Novella

Witches of Lychford (2015) Paul Cornell (10/10)

Historical Mystery

Malcolm & Suzanne Rannoch
London Gambit (2016) Tracy Grant (8/10)
Lady Darby
A Pressing Engagement (2016) Anna Lee Huber (6/10)
A Talent for Trickery (2015) Alissa Johnson (7/10)

Supernatural Fantasy

Jane Yellowrock
Shadow Rites (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Mercy Thompson
Moon Called (2006) Patricia Briggs (8.5/10)
Blood Bound (2007) Patricia Briggs (8/10)
Iron Kissed (2008) Patricia Briggs (8/10)
Bone Crossed (2009) Patricia Briggs
Silver Borne (2010) Patricia Briggs
River Marked (2011) Patricia Briggs
Frost Burned (2013) Patricia Briggs
Night Broken (2014) Patricia Briggs
Fire Touched (2016) Patricia Briggs
Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (2014) Patricia Briggs

Alpha & Omega
Hunting Ground (2009) Patricia Briggs
Fair Game (2012) Patricia Briggs
Dead Heat (2015) Patricia Briggs

All of the books I read this book were ebooks.

Because of the bout of anxiety, there were a lot of re-reads this month. 13 re-reads in fact, and about half of those are books I first bought as trade paperbacks and then purchased again as ebooks.

Genre-wise, it was mostly fantasy, since I re-read the entire Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series.

Fantasy : 15
Mystery : 3
Romance : 2

17 of the books were written by female authors, making it 88% female authors this year. (Making this, so far, the opposite of the year I read every single published Spenser mystery when I had the flu.)

Written by Michelle at 8:33 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

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Ben Klishis WWII

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Written by Michelle at 8:05 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: History  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Something Amusing

If you’re a teenager, I imagine your favorite activity is to sit with your parents on a quiet river bank, drink your glass of lemonade, and ponder the complexities of life. Probably the first question you ask is “How much water is flowing in this river?” You’ve come to the right place for an answer. The U.S. Geological Survey has been measuring streamflow on thousands of rivers and streams for many decades

from the The USGS Water Science School

Written by Michelle at 1:31 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Saturday we hiked Coopers Rock, which we hadn’t done since March (because of traveling and rain).

It was hot, and we could hear the cicadas, but interestingly they weren’t at the lower elevations, just the higher elevations.

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Rhododendron, Mont Chateau, Ridge, Rock City Trails
Distance: 4.1 miles
Elevation: 1459-2069 feet

Rhododendron Trail: 6.7% grade
Mont Chateau Trail: 1.4 % grade
Ridge Trail: 7.1% grade
Rock City Trail: 2.8% grade

New trees down up the creek from Mont Chateau trail

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Written by Michelle at 11:40 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday Flower Pr0n

Lots of different flowers blooming in different areas: at Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods we saw trillium, which bloomed here a month ago.

Flax

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Blueberries

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Chokeberries

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Irises with hot butterfly on flower action

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Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

We did two hikes at Dolly Sods: a short evening hike around sunset and then a longer hike the next morning. Both were along the Rocky Ridge Trail, but in opposite directions.

Location: Dolly Sods
Date: 2016-05-26
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 3940-4175 feet
Grade: 0.2%

Date: 2016-05-27
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail
Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation: 3965-4184 feet
Average Grade: 0.5%

Here is our sunset hike, and yes it WAS that gorgeous.

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And here was our hike the next morning. Very different, but even more beautiful.

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Written by Michelle at 5:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Spruce Knob

This wasn’t much of a hike, but it was beautiful.

Spruce Knob is the highest peak in WV, and as it’s in a rural area (what you see when you look out is forests and the occasional farm.

Location: Spruce Knob
Distance: .85 miles
Elevation: 4,827-4,859 ft
Grade: 0.2% (included two-story observation tower)

Location: Spruce Knob Lake
Distance: 1.19 miles
Elevation: 3,838-3,870 ft

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We also stopped at Spruce Knob Lake.

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Written by Michelle at 9:21 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Maintain the Light: Up Seneca Rocks in Memory of Ben

To remember my cousin Ben, on his birthday we hike up to the top of Seneca Rocks. And because we’re doing it in memory of Ben, we go up without stopping. (Stopping is allowed on the way back down, as is resting once the summit has been reached.)

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation: 1393-2468 feet (11% grade)
Average Speed Hiking Up: 2.3 mph

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From the top of Seneca Rocks

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Written by Michelle at 9:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Family,Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Something Happy

Today as we were driving past the VFD, we saw they had all their hoses laid out in their driveway, and a little girl in a sun dress was leaping over the hoses, one at a time, all the way across the lot.

Written by Michelle at 8:45 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Something Lovely

Last night at Sirriani’s Cafe (in Canaan Valley) we were seated near an elderly couple. (OK, we were seated near everyone–it’s a small place.)

When the couple went to pay, the waitress told them that a woman at another table had already paid for their meal. Just because.

And when they went to leave, since a pouring rain had started, the other employee got out a big umbrella and walked them to their car.

Written by Michelle at 8:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods Wilderness

Dolly Sods is a fascinating place with a fascinating history. Despite the high elevation, it was initially farmed, until a fire wiped everything out. Then, during WWII, it was used as a test bombing range (nearby Seneca Rocks was used to train soldiers who might be fighting in the Alps).

Then it was allowed to go wild, and was eventually designated a national wilderness area.

And yes, there are signs about possible UXO at Dolly Sods.

When you hike there, you’d never know it was ever anything except a wilderness.

It’s an amazing and beautiful place.

Location: Dolly Sods Wilderness
Trail: Rocky Ridge Trail
Distance: 3.7 miles
Elevation: 3987-4192 feet

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Written by Michelle at 8:07 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls to Canaan Valley

Saturday we did the “Walk Between the Parks” which is an 8+ mile hike between Blackwater Falls State Park and Canaan Valley State Park.

It’s not advertised well enough, so you should look into it yourself. There are two more over the summer, and one October 1st, that I think we may do ourselves. They drive you from one park to the other, and provide a picnic lunch halfway

We’d been keeping an eye on the weather all week, and the forecast not only remained suspect, but it rained every day prior to Saturday.

But we were GOING to do this hike, rain or not, so we went down the night before, and packed for rain and mud.

Mud and water we go, rain, we did NOT. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful hike.

There were 28 of us, and two guides–one to lead and one at the back of the line, to look for stragglers and anyone in need (other than blisters, there were no problems).

The hike is supposedly 8 miles, by my GPS said 9.0 (and my cell phone GPS said 9.3) but we did avoid a super muddy area, which may well have added an extra mile.

Location: Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Valley State Park, and Canaan Mountain Backcountry
Trails: Davis, Plantation, Fire Trail #6 (Allegheny Trail), Allegheny Trail, Middle Grade Trails
Distance: 9.0 miles
Elevation: 3135- 3694 feet

No pictures, because as nice as a hike as it was, there weren’t breath-taking views. Just the beauty of being in the wilderness.

Written by Michelle at 9:10 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Books of April

It’s been a rainy weekend, so I took a break from organizing and gardening (since it was only sprinkling, it seemed silly not to garden) and decided to write up the books of April.

Unfortunately, Bad Things (too much death this year) have continued to happen, so I’ve been drowning my sorrows in books. Which is definitely healthier than drowning my sorrows in alcohol.

The best books of the month were Half-Resurrection Blues, Audible version by Daniel José Older, read by Daniel José Older (8.5/10) and Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs (8/10). I do enjoy the Mercy Thompson series very much, and since was another good addition to the series. I’d already read Half-Resurrection Blues, but we needed something to listen to while in the car, and we devoured the story in just a few listens. Which is pretty good for us.

I read a couple of new mystery series, once of which is fine, since it’s inexpensive, the other I definitely recommend, because it’s a time period I haven’t much read, and that’s the Susanna Horenbout and John Parker. In retrospect, I should have rated them higher than I did, but I’ll probably re-read them some time in the future, and will amend that then.

I read 15 books this month, which is pretty good considering that we went hiking most weekends.

Supernatural Fantasy

Alpha & Omega
Alpha & Omega (2007) Patricia Briggs (8/10)
Cry Wolf (2008) Patricia Briggs (8/10)

Mercy Thompson
Fire Touched (2016) Patricia Briggs (8/10)

Baba Yaga
Wickedly Ever After (2016) Deborah Blake (7/10)

Jane Yellowrock
Blood in Her Veins (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)

Jinn and Juice (2014) Nicole Peeler (5/10)

Historical Fantasy

The Far West (2012) Patricia C. Wrede (8.5/10)

Audio Book (Supernatural Fantasy)

Bone Street Rumba
Half-Resurrection Blues, Audible version (2015) Daniel José Older, read by Daniel José Older (8.5/10)

Historical Mystery

Akitada
Three Tales of Love and Murder (2012) I.J. Parker (7/10)

Susanna Horenbout and John Parker
Dangerous Sanctuary (2012) Michelle Diener (7/10)
Keeper of the King’s Secrets (2012) Michelle Diener (7.5/10)

Captain Lacey
A Regimental Murder (2004/2001) Ashley Gardner (7/10)
The Glass House (2004/2011) Ashley Gardner (7/10)
The Sudbury School Murders(2005/2011) Ashley Gardner (7/10)
A Body in Berkeley Square(2005/2011) Ashley Gardner (7/10)

Here’s how the stats came out:

I read 15 ebooks and listened to one audio books–no paper books at all this month.

Genre-wise it broke down into a split between fantasy and mystery. It’s possible I’m shifting out of the historical kick I’ve been on for months.

Fantasy: 8
Mystery: 7
Romance: 1
YA: 1

Gender-wise, I only read one male author, Daniel Jose Older. That’s 86% female authors for the year so far. I’m sure that percentage will eventually drop, but not any time soon if I continue this Patricia Briggs re-reading binge.

And that’s the books of April.

Written by Michelle at 4:47 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hiking WV: Cranberry Glades

Since it was on the way, we stopped at Cranberry Glades on our way home.

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In addition to the boardwalk, we took a short hike along Charles Creek Trail.

I now need to go back and follow the entire trail, because there were random interpretive signs about a prison there prior to and during WWII.

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Written by Michelle at 7:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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