Random (but not really)

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  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hiking WV: Calvin Price State Forest

And the fifth place we checked off our list: Calvin Price State Forest.

For those who are familiar with Coopers Rock–Calvin Price is completely different. Aside from the Allegheny, there are no maintained trails in the forest.

It also is adjacent to Watoga State Park (WATOGA! WATOGA! WATOGA!), so although there aren’t trails, you can access some parts from Watoga.

Because we’d had a long hike the day before, and because we were heading home, we only hiked about a mile into the forest, along the Allegheny Trail.

This is as far as we hiked in.

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And as proof, the forest sign!

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Written by Michelle at 7:15 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Greenbrier State Forest

Our main hike for the trip was at Greenbrier State Forest, where we did the Kates Mountain Trail.

Location: Greenbrier State Forest
Trails: Old Road, Rocky Ridge, Holsapple, Youngs Nature, Mable Dowdy Nature Trails, and Kates Mountain Road
Distance: 10.2 miles
Elevation: 1689 – 3370 feet (1680 feet elevation gain)

Our hike started with two miles trail, that felt like it went straight up the mountain.

Pictures do not come close to showing precisely how steep this trail was, and I didn’t take many, because I was too tired to even pull out my cell phone for a quick snapshot.

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Does this help? Probably not. Just take my word that it was REALLY steep, and I was very glad to be going UP that slope rather than down. (1)

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Here is the view looking down towards the valley.

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Look! Holsapple Trail!

Lookie!

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Sadly, I can’t recommend hiking Holsapple trail, because it is being actively logged, which is not attractive, or pleasant to hike.

We found lots of random bits of wall, in the middle of the woods.

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(1) Because of my ankle, I am very uncomfortable going down extremely steep slopes. It puts extra strain on my ankle and both hurts and makes me feel like I’m more likely to plummet down the hill.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lewisburg WV Cemeteries

I wander through cemeteries when I get a chance. I don’t quite know why, but they fascinate me, these markers of the dead, often fading quickly into illegibility.

This cemetery was particularly interesting, because Lewisburg is close to the VA border, and so families here might have been far more conflicted about the Civil War than those further north (or west).

I took a lot of pictures of the gravestones, but there were some that interested me the most.

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This couple died within days of each other.

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Thomas Creich Sr
Born in Another Country
Ireland
January 1766
Died December 2nd 1847

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Born at Lexington VA
April 23, 1800
Died at Greenbrier Bridge
West Va.
April 22, 1888

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These were taken in the “black” cemetery, where there were a LOT fewer headstones, but at least the cemetery was maintained.

Charlot Robeson (?)
Died
May 1, 1899
Aged 85 Yrs
At Rest

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This one made me especially sad.

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I took a lot more pictures, some of which I posted at Flickr (which you can see if you click through).

Written by Michelle at 2:43 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Greenbrier River Trail

For the sake of completeness, I’ll mention that we also stopped and walked (about a mile and a half) on the Greenbrier Rail Trail at its southern terminus.

We plan to go back at a later point in time and bike–I especially would like to visit the Droop Mountain Tunnel–but for now, here’s another crossed off our list!

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Written by Michelle at 2:05 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Moncove Lake State Park

The second location we checked off our list was Moncove Lake State Park.

The skies cleared on our way there, so no dramatic fog on the water pictures. But it was still pretty. (But not much in the way of hiking.)

Location: Moncove Lake State Park
Trails: Devil’s Creek Trail
Distance: 1.72 miles
Elevation: 2470 – 2550 feet

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Written by Michelle at 2:01 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Plum Orchard WMA

Another checked off the list!

Plum Orchard Lake Wildlife Management Area is a lake, and so didn’t have much in the way of hiking.

Although it didn’t feel so on the drive, we were lucky to go when it was overcast and foggy. There might not have been any hiking, but it was gorgeous.

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Written by Michelle at 1:55 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Flower Pr0n

Busy day!

We went to the WV Botanic Garden this morning, and then this afternoon, we biked along the Mon River Rail Trail

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Written by Michelle at 7:52 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Kumbrabow State Park

Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather, we went back to Kumbrabow State Forest. It was a lovely day for a hike, and (for the most part) a lovely location for a hike.

Location: Kumbrabow State Park
Trails: Mill Creek Falls, Potato Hole Trail, Clay Run
Distance: 0.5, 3.3, 2.0 miles
Elevation: 2287-2795, 3187-3881, 3273-3621 feet

We hiked to the top of the mountain, up Potato Hole trail (which follows Potato Hole creek). The trail was interesting, going through several types of land, ending with a disconcertingly barren mountaintop.

Here’s the view from the top.

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Here’s the tower you can climb for a better view.

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The rustic cabins (as in, outhouses) are near the Mill Falls creek.

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The Clay Run Trail itself was nice, but it emptied onto the Fire Road Trail, which you took to an overlook.

Which is being–logged? widened? uglified?

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Here’s the view from the overlook. Feel free to skip the fire trail now you’ve seen the view.

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But the trail itself was quite lovely

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And had a marvelous bridge over the creek.

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GPS Maps of the Hike

Written by Michelle at 10:23 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Tyranny of Clothing

I have several bathrobes, which I wear all the time.

This is partially because I like bathrobes (I have three–a heavy terrycloth robe for winter, and two waffle cotton robes for summer) and partially because we shower in the basement, and it’s a trek to make in the winter.

The softest robe has been causing problems for the past couple months–the overlap has been getting smaller and smaller, and it’s a bit to small to contain… me.

This, of course, made me feel badly about myself.

Until I realized that the loops for the tie were no longer at my waist, but are now just underneath my armpits.

The damned thing has been slowly shrinking, but I was convinced that the change was in me.

Nevermind that all my other clothes fit fine, and I’m still wearing the smaller jeans (I have jeans in two sizes; 10 and 12. I’ve been wearing the 10s) but I was somehow convinced that I was getting bigger.

Brains are stupid.

Also, I’m totally getting another robe to replace this one.

Written by Michelle at 9:54 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Depression,Science, Health & Nature  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Berkeley Springs

Berkeley Springs was cool and sunny on Saturday, which is quite nice for our quick stroll.

The root tree of the graft broke through, so this tree and white and pink flowers, both of which were pretty.

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Written by Michelle at 4:11 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

The Books of March

We had a fair amount of yucky weather, and the plant fornication is bothering my sinuses, so I did quite a bit of reading in March.

My favorite book of the month was probably Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. He’s now on my must-buy list. I also very much liked Banquet of Lies by Michelle Dienr, which caused me to make brioche and apple galette after reading about them being made. And I read When Falcons Fall by C.S. Harris within almost days of it being released, which is usual for her, but in generally I tend to get around to new releases.

So here’s what I read:

Historical Fantasy, YA
Thirteenth Child (2009) Patricia C. Wrede (9/10)
Across the Great Barrier (2011) Patricia C. Wrede (8.5/10)

Urban Fantasy, YA
Shadowshaper (2015) Daniel José Older (9.5/10)

Historical Mystery
When Falcons Fall (2016) C.S. Harris (8.5/10)
The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012) Michelle Diener (7/10)
Banquet of Lies (2013) Michelle Diener (9/10)
A Dangerous Madness (2014) Michelle Diener (8.5/10)
A Soupçon of Poison (2015) Ashley Gardener (8.5/10)
In a Treacherous Court (2011) Michelle Diener (8/10)
Dark Angel (1994) Tracy Grant (8.5/10)

Historical Romance
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand (2012) Carla Kelly (7/10)
Unraveled (2011) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
Unclaimed (2011) Courtney Milan (8/10)
Unlocked (2011) Courtney Milan (unrated)
Unveiled (2011) Courtney Milan (8/10)
Talk Sweetly to Me (2014) Courtney Milan (7/10)
Proof by Seduction (2010) Courtney Milan (unrated)

Audible
Blood Trade Audible version (2013) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam (8/10)

Mystery
The Waters of Eternal Youth (2016) Donna Leon (7/10)

And here’s how the stats came out:

Out of 19 books, 18 were ebooks and one was an audible book.I have five re-reads (one of which was, of course, the audible book; I have to read a book the first time–the audio version is too slow. But I love listening because it forces me to slow down, and catch things I missed the first time around).

Genre-wise, I read a lot of historical romances, and almost as many historical mysteries.

Fantasy : 4
Mystery : 8
Romance : 11
YA : 3

And gender-wise, I read 18 female authors and one single male author.

Now that the weather has changed? Don’t expect me to read nearly as much.

Written by Michelle at 3:49 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Hiking WV: Cacapon State Park

Saturday we went to Berkeley Springs to check out the flowers, and then on to Cacapon. The hike we choose is rather strenuous, but it was lovely all the same.

Location: Cacapon State Park
Trails: Ziler Loop, Central, Laurel Trails
Distance: 6.5 miles
Elevation: 975 – 2260 feet

There is no clearing or tower from which you can see the whole valley clearly, but you can often see the trees (perhaps not as well once the trees leaf out).

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The back down was at time quite exciting.

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There were several areas with a lot of downed trees.

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Elevation Chart:

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Written by Michelle at 12:13 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Flower Pr0n

The cherry blossoms are from Thursday, when we walked down to the wharf district. The rest of the flowers are from Sunday, and our visit to the WV Botanic Garden.

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Written by Michelle at 7:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On Showing Weakness

I had a very interesting (and quite lovely) conversation with an faculty member today. He’s older, and he’s not originally from the US (or the West, for that matter), which has bearing upon how the conversation progressed.

I interrupted him on the phone to ask if I could update his computer, and as he finished up, his voice changed and it became quite clear he was talking to a child. (He wasn’t speaking English, and I was able to start on what needed to be done, so I didn’t feel awkward about being there as he ended a private conversation.) (1)

I asked him if he was talking to a grandkid, and his face lit up and said yes, and I asked him how many grandkids he had, their ages, how far away they lived, etc. This brought the conversation quite naturally around to me, and I told him I didn’t have any kids.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I’d make a terrible mother,” I said, giving him my standard reply.

This obviously didn’t make any sense to him, and so as we continued, I decided he really was curious (no need to tell me he was being a jerk, it was none of his business, etc. He really wasn’t–he was honestly curious, and believed that I would make a marvelous mother). (2)

So I told him that I suffer from depression, and there was a distinct possibility that I would have serious problems with postpartum depression if I got pregnant.

He was taken aback. “But you’re always so happy! So cheerful!” (He repeated this several times, he was so shocked.)

“When I feel bad, it makes me feel a little better if I can make people happy,” I told him. (It was a longer and more complicated than that, but you get the gist of it. (We also clarified depression and dementia and Alzheimer’s, just so he was certain about his “D” illnesses.))

After some consideration, he said that perhaps he understood. That he’d often met men who were friendly and outgoing and great guys, but as (I think) an elder of his church, sometimes the wives of these men would ask him for help/advice, because at home these men were not so wonderful.

“The outside doesn’t match the inside.”

“Yes,” I said, “except that the horribleness is turned inward to me.”

We talked a little bit longer about how long I’d dealt with this, and medicines and such, and as I finished what I was working on and got up to leave, he gave me a huge hug (and no, not a creepy hug–I think he was afraid he had upset me, asking about depression (he hadn’t)).

And here’s the thing: There are many things about that conversation that probably shouldn’t have happened (seeing as how it was at work) but it was a good conversation, and more importantly, a useful one, because I got to share with someone that depression happens to everyone–even the people who seem cheerful and happy on the outside.

Could anyone do this? Most likely not.

I’ve discovered over the years that something about me makes people willing to ask questions to which they really want to know the answers (3). Probably because I try to make people comfortable and put them at ease. (4)

But even if this exact scenario isn’t something everyone can do, I believe it helps to remember that anyone can share their weaknesses. That in this age of constant horribleness in the news, it helps to remind people that depression and mental illness aren’t the providence of monsters, but something that anyone can suffer from.

And a reminder to us, that we aren’t monsters, and that what we feel on the inside often has little bearing to what people see on the outside.

——

(1) I actually love listening to conversations in other languages, because usually there is some random English word dropped into a sentence of what is otherwise incomprehensible to me. My favorite was “blah blah blah blah school bus blah blah.”

(2) It would probably also confuse anyone who follows my Flickr feed, in which a variety of kids make regular appearances.

(3) One of my favorites from years ago: “In traffic, this guy waved at me with one finger. What did it mean?”

(4) Let me tell you, this, combined with a sense of humor, is an invaluable asset in face-to-face tech support, and has led to many spontaneous hugs, as I fix what had seemed like an insurmountable problem.

Written by Michelle at 11:06 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Depression  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Our plan for the day had been to go to Cacapon and Berkeley Springs, but I just didn’t feel like spending that much time in the car, so we instead went and hiked the other side of Coopers Rock.

I’ll note that I did NOT get us lost, hiking the Hemlock Trail. :)

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Hemlock Trail, Glade Run Trail
Distance: 2.2 miles, 3.3 miles
Elevation: 1664-1927 feet, 2117-2405 feet

The Hemlock Trail is gorgeous, and I took several pictures. The Glade Run Trail was nice, but not particularly photogenic.

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Written by Michelle at 7:48 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Tuesday, since we got home early and it was a beautiful day, we decided to hike some trails we hadn’t before (there aren’t many) and my rule for the day was no backtracking.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Advanced Ski Trail, Reservoir Ski Trail, Roadside Trail, Overlook, McCollum Trail, Unofficial Trails
Distance: 6.8 miles
Elevation: 2153 – 2426 feet

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

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

We went to Canaan Valley State Park Sunday and Monday. As there was snow melt AND rain, it was really really muddy.

Luckily, we have waterproof boots.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail, Distance, Elevation
Blackwater Trail, 0.9 miles, 3262 – 3348 feet
Club Run Trail, 2.1 miles, 3369 – 3481 feet
Deer Run & Mill Run Trails, 2.3 miles, 3273 – 3336

Rocks! I like rocks!

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The Blackwater River, meandering through Canaan Valley

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Oh! Look! Wetlands!

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Decaying machinery on the Mill Run Trail! (I love decaying machinery!)

Canaan Valley State Park

Canaan Valley State Park

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Books of February

Between rain and staying home with His Furriness his final weeks, and some much needed down time at the end of the month, I got a lot of reading done this month.

And some of it was even NEW books!

One of my favorite books this month was a re-read. In fact, I specifically picked it up because I knew it would immediately pull me in.

Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan is one of my favorite books, even though it has boinking. The main character in this historical romance is a scientist. I mean, right there, what is not to love? From the same series was also The Suffragette Scandal. Actually, all the books in the series are very good, they just aren’t as perfect as The Countess Conspiracy. Also excellent is The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin, which is another addition to her SPI files. If you’d like a change from heroines with supernatural ass-kicking powers, here is a heroine who is glad to stay out of the way when going into dangerous situations, because she knows others are better able than her to handle things. Mind you, I like heroines who kick butt, but this is a very nice change of pace.

And as a whole, I also recommend Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series. She is the widow of an anatomist, and what her husband forced her to do gave her a unique set of skills she learns to use to help solve murders. I like the historical setting and the main characters, and although there is a romance brewing between the main characters, they have very real issues to work out (as opposed to manufactured issues, like SOME mysteries (ahem)) and those issues do a very good job of reminding us just how different the past was (and how glad I am to live in the future).

Historical Romance

The Brothers Sinister
The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
A Kiss for Midwinter (2012) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
The Heiress Effect (2013) Courtney Milan (8.5/10)
The Countess Conspiracy (2013) Courtney Milan (10/10)
The Suffragette Scandal (2014) Courtney Milan (9/10)

The Turner Family
Once Upon a Marquess (2015) Courtney Milan (8/10)

Historical Mystery

Lady Darby
The Anatomist’s Wife (2012) Anna Lee Huber (6.5/10)
Mortal Arts (2013) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)
A Grave Matter (2014) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)
A Study in Death (2015) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)

Lady Emily
And Only to Deceive (2005) Tasha Alexander (7.5/10)
A Poisoned Season (2007) Tasha Alexander (7/10)
A Fatal Waltz (2008) Tasha Alexander (7/10)
Tears of Pearl (2009) Tasha Alexander (6/10)
Dangerous to Know (2010) Tasha Alexander (6/10)

Supernatural Fantasy

The SPI Files
The Brimstone Deception (2016) Lisa Shearin (9/10)

This month I read 16 books, with six of those being re-reads. (Although they were mostly earlier books in a series where I wanted to go back before reading new-to-me books.)

Genre-wise, it was 10 mysteries, 6 romances, and one supernatural fantasy.

Gender-wise, no male authors made an appearance this month, so for the year, it’s 77% female authors. I expect this rate to change, but perhaps not until I finish my Courtney Milan kick.

Written by Michelle at 9:26 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Hiking WV: Blackwater River Rail Trail

We went back to the Blackwater River rail trail on Sunday, because I wanted to see both the old coke ovens and the falls along that section of the river (NOT in the park).

Location: Blackwater Canyon Rail Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 2785 – 2971 feet

With most of the brush gone for the winter, we saw precisely how many coke ovens there had been–they stretched for a least half a mile on both sides of the trail

Falls along the Blackwater River (not the main falls)

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Historic Coke Ovens

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Some nature slowly taking back the coke ovens.

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Written by Michelle at 7:38 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,West Virginia  
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