Random (but not really)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuppence a Bag

We really do get a lot of visitors to our feeders.








Written by Michelle at 6:54 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden,Photos  

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

This may well have been our last hike in snow of the season, so I was glad we were able to enjoy it–and that it was such a beautiful day.

I love the Cranberry Wilderness and am glad we got to hike it in the snow.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Charles Creek, Cowpasture Trails
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation: 3422-3564 feet
Temperature: 31 F

There used to be a prison in this area–a prison that didn’t bother with walls and barbed wire, since it was so far away from civilization that there was nowhere for escaped prisoners to go.

Although this prison was open during the Korean war (conscientious objectors were typically sent here) there are very few signs of civilization left: some spots of asphalt, the occasional chimney, and some stairs.



Charles Creek



Written by Michelle at 8:55 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Cranberry Glades

Since it’s only a half mile, we always walk the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk when we are in the area. Because it’s the end of the winter, the boardwalk is in need of repair–if you need an accessible route, wait until spring when the forest service has been out to repair sections of the boardwalk.

The start of the trail follows the edge of the glade.


I was surprised to see the pitcher plants coming up through the snow all along the boardwalk.



Normally the underbrush is so thick you can’t see the bog, but at the end of the winter all the grasses are eaten are have died down and you can clearly see the boggy areas.



Written by Michelle at 8:38 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Falls of Hills Creek

The Falls of Hills Creek is one of the places where there is a very small window of time if you want light for taking pictures.

We managed to nail that window Saturday.

Lower Falls


Hills Creek



Middle Falls



Written by Michelle at 8:27 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hiking WV: Solly Sods

Our original plan was the get to Canaan Thursday night and spend Friday and the weekend hiking, but when the forecast changed to rain on Saturday and overcast all Friday, we shifted things a bit so I could take pictures Thursday afternoon, and then Friday would be hiking.

We got very lucky, because instead of overcast, the weather was partially cloudy, and our hike at Dolly Sods ended up being absolutely stunning.

Location: Dolly Sods
Trails: Rocky Ridge, Blackbird Knob, Harman Trails
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 3746-4190 feet (684 ft)
Temperature: 30-41F

We’ve had a lot of odd weather this winter. For the second time this month, we had rain immediately followed by freezing temperatures and snow. When the rain fell on ground that was already freezing, it meant a lot of ice.

This was the trail we took up to Dolly Sods. It was a little more exciting than I generally prefer.


Luckily, that was the worst portion of anything we hiked, and the view was well-worth the care we had to take reaching the ridge.


Until temperatures warmed up to the mid 30s, all the trees were covered with snow and frost, and we walked through an amazing winter wonderland.



We hiked down to the Left Branch of Red Creek and then turned around. It wasn’t one of our longest hike, but stepping into the occasional drift made the hike a little more work than usual.


It once again reminded me how very lucky I am to both live in such an amazing place, and be able to get out and enjoy it.


Written by Michelle at 8:53 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley

Of course we hiked the Blackwater Trail at Canaan Valley, because it’s one of my favorite trails, and since it’s short and easy, there’s never a reason not to hike it.


I’ve been trying for as long as I’ve been hiking this trail to get a picture I liked of these stones (they are in several places). Finally, with the light coming through the winter trees and the snow lightening everything, I finally got a couple pictures I liked.


Ice sandwich!




Written by Michelle at 8:06 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls

Since the forecast for the weekend was rain rain rain rain rain, we decided to do our hiking Thursday and Friday.

Our first stop was Blackwater Falls (since its the first place we go past on our way from Morgantown).

It was beautiful. The trees were all rimmed with snow and frost and we had a lovely time wandering around enjoying the scenery.

No ice, but there was a LOT of water going over the main falls.


As well as Elekala Falls.


It took many shots and a lot of contortions to get a decent shot of this ice. But it was fascinating and beautiful.


From Pendleton point, you can see the falls below Elekala falls, which we scrambled down to last summer.


See! Gorgeous!


Written by Michelle at 6:27 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

It had warmed up by the time we made it to New River Gorge, but there was still snow, and it was still beautiful.

We hadn’t been to endless wall in the winter before, so I was surprised to see 1) how close we actually were to the ground and 2) the shape of the underlying mountains.


With the leaf fall, you can see across the river to the Kaymoor Miners Trail and old Kaymoor Mine site.

If you zoom in on this picture, you can more clearly see the 821 steps down to the railroad tracks.


Here is the bottom of the site and you can see the decayed buildings and ghosts of the railroad tracks.


The trail itself is a relatively easy and has an amazing payoff.


We wandered off trail a bit to explore the creek.



Written by Michelle at 9:37 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Babcock State Park

We were originally heading to Cranberry Glades when I realized how beautiful the morning was, and that Babcock State Park would most likely be beautiful, so we stayed on 19 and were well-rewarded.

We didn’t hike much, just walked around finding the places I thought would be most beautiful.






Written by Michelle at 9:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley & Blackwater Falls

Since we’d had a cold snap after the rains, and since temps were supposed to start rising, we took Friday to travel to Blackwater Falls in hopes that the falls were frozen.

It hadn’t bee cold enough to freeze the falls completely, but there was still a fair amount of ice.


Why yes, I did ignore the “Closed” sign and went down the stairs.

For this view? It was worth it. (Plus, I was very careful.)




We also went down to Elakala Falls.


Let me be clear, the scramble down is never especially easy, but in the winter, especially after a lot of rain and then a snap freeze, the path is treacherous.


We wore Yaktrax, because I know very well how clumsy I am.

But it was well worth it.


Because it was already warming up, water was starting to trickle down the icicles.


We also went to Canaan Valley SP.


I mentioned that earlier we’d had rain and then a quick freeze earlier. I hadn’t quite thought about how that would affect this boggy, marshy area.

What happened is that the low areas flooded, and then froze. So any low-lying ground ended up covered in ice.


Normally we’ll walk out to the end of this bit of land, but the path was solid ice–and slippery. So we just looked (it wasn’t worth the view to pull out and put on the Yaktrax). It was pretty amazing.

If you look closely at this picture, you’ll see that a layer of ice formed on the grass, several inches above the ground.


It was a wonderful day, and I’m glad we were able to get away to enjoy it.


Written by Michelle at 11:18 am      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hiking WV: End of 2017 Start of 2018

We ended 2017 with a hike and Coopers Rock, and began 2018 in the same way.

It was cold, but the days were beautiful so we had wonderful hikes!

Date: 2017-12-31
Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Headwaters, Roadside Trails
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation: 1874-2412 feet
Temperature: 11-14 F





Date: 2018-01-01
Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Hemlock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 1620-1866 feet
Temperature: 8-10 F




Written by Michelle at 7:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Baking 2017


First, a whine. Who decided that slice-and-bake cookie are easy?


I mean, they act like it’s easy to create a perfectly round log of the desired thickness, refrigerate it, and then cut off perfectly circular rounds.


I’ve tried refrigerating the dough in empty paper towel tubes, rotating the dough with every slice–doesn’t matter. They always turn out misshapen and I have to neaten them up before baking.

If I’m going to go to that much work, it’s much easier to just roll the dough out and use cookie cutters. Or even cut the cookies with a knife.

This? Bah humbug.

Now, onto the good (and the yummy)!


The Essential Baker by Carol Bloom:

Lemon Shortbread Coins


Fine Cooking Cookies:

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies



The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle:

Rum-Raisin Sandwich Cookies


Brandied Eggnog Cookies



Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett:

Praline-Pecan Coconut Bars


Chocolate Brandy Balls


The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett:

Iced Lemon Shortbread Cookies



Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich:


Chocolate Wafers


Vanilla Sugar Cookies



Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever:

Vanilla Frosting



The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion:



Bread Illustrated:

Cranberry Walnut Bread


Coconut Rum Balls

Bourbon Balls

Pumpkin Bread


Apple Cider

Written by Michelle at 11:43 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food,Photos  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of my favorite hikes. It’s very short, so it’s good for small kids, but you walk through different habitats and it’s just gorgeous.


This is the first time the Blackwater river has been frozen when we’ve hiked here.


This is the point at which someone went through the ice–and that someone was NOT me.


Picture taking had been curtailed after someone (NOT ME) got their lower leg wet. But I still got a couple shots I really liked.

Written by Michelle at 10:21 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

Friday was overcast and snowing, which was beautiful in its own way, but not very photogenic.

By Saturday afternoon, skies were clear and the sun was out. It was beautiful.



It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day with lovely company.

Written by Michelle at 10:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

We went hiking on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, that Sunday, and Sunday the 3rd. I forgot my camera for the first two hikes, and only pulled it out once when I did remember it.

The thing about the woods in fall is that it’s beautiful, but I can’t say it’s especially photogenic.

At Coopers Rock, unless you’re hiking Ravens Rock, pretty much every trail is down hill on your way out, and then uphill on your way out.

Here you’re at the bottom of the Rhododendron trail. Mont Chateau is off to your right. Henry Clay Iron Furnace, Clay Furnace Trail, Clay Run Trail, and Advanced Ski Trail are all behind you. Several of those trails have trails branching off of them, so you can make a variety of loops.

But it’s all going to be uphill from here, unless you go down to the lake. Then it’s even more uphill upon your return, unless you have someone to drive you back from the lake up the mountain to where you left your car.


Here is one of the two bridges by Henry Clay Iron furnace. This is the area where multiple streams meet to then run down to the lake. Going up most of the trails you can see the streams turn from running water to run off areas that are flowing only after a rain or when the snow melts.

But down here, there is always water.


And then leaves piled up in the stream.


I can spend, literally, hours wandering around these streams, building rock towers, knocking down leaf dams and moving sticks that are blocking the stream.

My excuse is that I want to keep the streams and run-off areas from backing up onto the trails, which makes them a muddy mess that is exacerbated by all the mountain bikes, but truly, I just like playing in the water.

Written by Michelle at 1:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Traveling WV: Harpers Ferry

We’d hoped to catch the last of the state’s color at Harpers Ferry, but it was past peak, and the weather never cleared, so it was a grey day.

Despite that, I enjoyed walking around Harpers Ferry, especially the old buildings and fieldstone walls.

“May be uneven” is a bit of an understatement.




Just a little uneven.

I took a lot of pictures of the stairs, because I find them beautiful and fascinating. You can click through any picture to get to Flickr.

The tunnels and such from when the town was water powered.



I wish the clouds had cleared for a little bit, because I wanted some better pictures of the old church.

Not that it stopped me from taking a million pictures.




As I said, plenty more pictures if you click through to Flickr.

Written by Michelle at 5:12 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Happy 100th Birthday Grandmom!

It’s been 100 years since Grandmom was born.

Grandmom and the Cherry Blossoms


Grandmom & Aunt Doris in daisy field behind house on Oak Grove.


Grandmom, Aunt Doris, and neighbor kids.


Aunt Sophie, Uncle John, Grandmom, Great-Grandfather Laukaitis.


Grandmom & Aunt Sophie


Albert(?) Grandmom, Popbo, Aunt Sophie.
Also: SPATS!


Aunt Sophie, Grandmom, Aunt Doris


Aunt Sophie, Grandmom, Aunt Doris


Aunt Sophie, Grandmom, Aunt Doris

93rd Birthday!

Grandmom & Aunt Doris



Cousin Pat, Cousin Jimmie, Aunt Chris, Grandmom


Grandmom & Popbo


Grandmom & Popbo




I had to put in one with curlers. :)


I still miss you Grandmom.

Grandmom & Lily

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

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Traveling WV: Shepherdstown

In 2013, I spent some time wandering around the graveyards in Shepherdstown, and I was quite saddened to see that the although the “Reformed Graveyard” was well maintained, directly across the street, the Lutheran graveyard was barely maintained and in terrible shape.

I was delighted to find that someone has stepped up and done a great deal of work cleaning up the Lutheran Graveyard, including putting back up fallen gravestones.


It looks like the fallen headstones that had been moved from their original place are now neatly leaned up against the cemetery wall.



Aged 82 years and 17 days.


Polly was the only thing I could read on this stone.


Written by Michelle at 4:18 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

This was more of a meander than a hike, since I kept stopping to look at everything from the view to individual leaves.






Written by Michelle at 6:07 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

I decided a couple weeks ago that for fall pictures, visiting places during the week would be less crowded and thus much nicer. We still saw people at New River Gorge, because I wanted to hike some of the best views, but it was not crowded, which was lovely.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Long Point
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 1779-2106 ft (539 ft gain)
Temperature: 67-70 F

They spent the summer doing a lot of work on Long Point, and it’s now open again. They replaced the board walk with a causeway, raised the trail in several of the muddy places, and rerouted the trail in other places.

All of which is a sign of how heavily used that trail is, and why you should hike it during the week, rather than the weekend.

Of course, there is good reason the trail is so busy. Because of this view.


And also because of this view.


Even this view:


The other trail we took was Endless Wall out to Diamond Point.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Endless Wall (to Diamond Point and back)
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 1838-1980 ft
Temperature: 70-68 F

One day we’ll hike the entirety of Endless Wall. But since it’s generally the last hike of the day, since Diamond Point is prettiest in late afternoon/early evening, I don’t expect it to be any time soon.

I actually think the view at Diamond Point is nicer than Long Point, but you can’t see the bridge as clearly, so perhaps that’s why it’s less popular with non-climbers.




The sun and clouds were really uncooperative, so this is one of the best pictures I got. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was even prettier than this.


Written by Michelle at 9:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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