Random (but not really)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Traveling WV: Spruce Knob

Spruce Knob is the highest point in WV. We generally wander up here after visiting Seneca Rocks. Sometimes there is snow, but yesterday it was just windy and chilly.

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

Hiking WV: Seneca Creek Backcountry

Since I had two different maps, we decided to tempt fate (and ignore the murderous GPS) and take a different way down from Spruce Knob.

We did NOT get lost, and we found a gorgeous trail to hike.

Location: Seneca Creek Backcountry
Trail: Elza Trail
Distance: 2.9 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3169-3982 feet (813 feet)
Uphill Grade: 10.6%

We didn’t hike the whole trail, because I decided I was done with uphill for the day. So we reached the point of being tired (and hungry) and then turned around and hiked back down.

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It was one of the nicest hikes we’ve taken in months, despite being all uphill. We crossed one creek, and then hiked up the mountain beside another. Despite being the Friday for memorial day (and seeing zillions of tents and campers setting up for the weekend) we didn’t pass anyone along the trail, and all we heard was the wind and the creek.

It was a restful, lovely, hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Sites Homestead below Seneca Rocks

This is the first time I have ever gone to Seneca Rocks and found the Sites Homestead house open.

The home is very (very) slowly being restored, and most of the upstairs is unsafe to walk on, but that didn’t stop me from being fascinated.

It was fascinating.

First thing you notice is that there is only natural light–exactly how it would have been at the time (they most likely would not have wasted candles during the day).

This is the only non-flash picture I took that turned out well.

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Pie safe against the wall.

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This is where I became really interested. I (of course) looked more closely at the walls, and the scraps and remains left on the walls.

Wallpaper!

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Here is the kitchen.

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Then I went up stairs and looked closely at the wallpaper up there.

The walls and ceiling had been covered in newspaper and then painted, creating their own wallpaper (I can only imagine what a splurge the actual wallpaper downstairs must have been) that would have helped insulate in the winter, and probably lightened the rooms.

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I could have stared for ages and taken as many pictures as I could, but Michael is not nearly as fascinated by these things as I am, so I left after snapping a few pictures. Hopefully it’ll be open again in the future.

Of course being an historical building, they had furniture, and upstairs, small tableaus of how the rooms would have looked. I loved this.

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Written by Michelle at 8:03 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV (and Maintaining the Light): Seneca Rocks

As we have done for the past four years, we again hiked up Seneca Rocks to remember my cousin Ben on his birthday. And because we’re remembering Ben, we do the hike up without stopping, going as fast as we are able. Because that is how Ben would do it.

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 2484-1582 feet (902)
Temperature: 58 F

Hike up (starting from the sign @ bridge)
Distance: 1.4 miles
Elevation: 1587-2446 feet (859 feet)
Grade: 11.7 %
Time: 35 minutes

Last year, starting from Roy Gap Road (which was impassible this year) we took 40 minutes.

At the top, wearing my Maintain the Light shirt. (Which I took off right after, because it is heavy 100% cotton and HOT to hike in. I am only willing to suffer so much.) The crag is up and behind me. Because of the rain, we were more cautious than normal scrambling up there.

Happy Birthday Ben.   Once again we hiked straight up without stopping in your memory.

I do mean impassible. We have had a lot of rain this year, and a lot of rain leading up to our hike yesterday. (It even drizzled a bit on us at the top.)

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Seneca Rocks was used by the 13th Corps Mountaineers for Combat Assault training during WWII. I wonder if this is left from that time? (The rest of the WWII combat training done in the area was less benign, leaving UXO in many areas that eventually became Wilderness areas.)

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The view across the top of the crag looking south. The weather had cleared just a bit while we were up there.

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The rocks at the top of the crag.

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Looking SSW past some of the rhododendron growing along the wider edge of the crag.

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Here is part of the view, looking SSW, from as far up the crag as I was willing to scramble. (I’m not proud. I mostly butt-scootch up there. I know myself.)

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Written by Michelle at 7:36 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hiking WV: Lost River State Park

The forecast was for rain throughout most of the state, but I found that the Eastern panhandle was just supposed to be overcast, so off to the Eastern Panhandle we went! Since we visit Berkeley Springs/Cacapon relatively frequently, we decided to go back to Lost River State Park, since that is one of the first state parks we traveled to.

Location: Lost River State Park
Trails: White Oak, Millers Rock Trails
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 2956-1940 feet (1016 feet)
Average Grade: 6% (lower portion of the trail to first shelter ~11% grade)
Temperature: 72-75 F

Here is a panorama shot from Cranny Crow overlook. It’s a beautiful view, looking over into VA and WV.

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FUTURE SNACKS!

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Switchbacks! You can see two portions of the trail below.

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It was a gorgeous view.

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Map of the hike.

Elevation Graph

Written by Michelle at 8:10 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

The GPS Really Is Trying to Kill Us

I’ve joked repeatedly that the GPS hates us and is trying to kill us. (“Here! Take this turn down a dark alley filled with vampires! Best route!”)

Here is pictorial evidence of it. Lost Creek State Park Road is a little wider than a lane and a half, full of switch backs, and much of the road is cut into the side of the mountain, so if you miss, you’re doing down the side of the hill.

You can see clearly here, the GPS believes the speed limit for this road is 55 MPH. Michael is driving 25 MPH.

The GPS really is trying to kill us. This is NOT a 55 mph road.

Michael has edged up to 30 MPH, but that’s really the limit for this road.

The GPS really is trying to kill us. This is NOT a 55 mph road.

Also: potholes and uneven road!

The GPS really is trying to kill us. This is NOT a 55 mph road.

But really, why would you want to drive super fast? The view is beautiful and well-worth admiring.

We had an excellent dinner and dessert at O’Neills in Moorefield. We’d stopped here the first time we went to Lost River, and then spent the intervening years trying to figure out WHAT that restaurant was.

The GPS really is trying to kill us. his is NOT a 55 mph road.

Written by Michelle at 7:19 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Flower Pr0n: WV Botanic Garden

ANOTHER DAY OF NOT RAIN!!!!!

Columbine

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Dutch Iris

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Bluet

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I wasn’t scoping out future snacks. (I totally was.)

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Peony

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Written by Michelle at 6:09 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Traveling WV: Watters Smith State Park

We stopped at Watters Smith State Park on our way home, on the off chance that just this once the museum would be open.

It wasn’t.

They are, however, repairing and reconstructing the oldest and most damaged of the wood structures, which is fascinating.

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Written by Michelle at 9:00 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Cedar Creek State Park

FINALLY! A Saturday without rain! And we even had some SUN! So we headed south, west of I79 where the weather looked most promising, and although the ground was soggy, the park hasn’t been hiked much this spring, so it wasn’t muddy. Which after a winter hiking Coopers Rock, was a very pleasant surprise.

Because there were so few people, we saw lots of wildlife and heard even more birds.

Location: Cedar Creek State Park
Trails: Park View, Fishermen’s Trails
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 731-1256 feet (525)
Temperature: 58-64 F

Seriously, this is the trail along the ridge line. You can just see the blazes in the distance.

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Scarlet Tanager

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(ahem) Turtles

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We also saw a baby snake AND Michael didn’t scream! (It was moving to fast for me to get a picture.)

Vending machine. Note it takes only quarters. Maybe from the 60s or 70s?

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Written by Michelle at 8:48 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Flower Pr0n: WV Botanic Garden

The weather threatened storms most of the day, so when it cleared in the later afternoon, we made a quick, late trip to the WV Botanic Garden.

Not as many flowers blooming as I was expecting, and the humidity was vile, but it was still a nice walk. Also, the spring peppers were going crazy. I thought about grabbing a video clip of how loud they were, but I’d left my phone in the car.

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Dogwood (Cornus florida)

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Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)

Various Rhododendron:

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Violets

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Allium

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probably an apple

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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock State Forest

Friday afternoon was gorgeous, so we of course went out to Coopers Rock.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Unofficial, Clay Run, Mont Chateau, Rhododendron, Ridge, Rock City, Eagle Trails
Distance: 5.6 miles
Elevation: 1517-2256 feet (739 ft change)
Temperature: 74-71 F

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Happy Friday!

Map of the hike

Written by Michelle at 8:55 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Sunday was a gorgeous day for a hike!

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Rhododendron, Mont Chateau, Clay Run, Unofficial Trails
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 1538-2096 feet
Temperature: 54-64 F

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This is a nice loop to do. Here’s what it looked like:

Written by Michelle at 5:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lovely Evening at Coopers Rock

The weather threatened rain and storms all weekend, so instead of hiking we just wandered around Coopers Rock yesterday evening, and sat at the Overlook for sunset.

Then we bugged out, as it started raining as we drove home.

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Written by Michelle at 11:12 am      Comments (4)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock State Forest

Two beautiful days in a row, so of course we went hiking at Coopers Rock.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Clay Run, Mont Chateau, Rhododendron, Roadside Trails
Distance: 7.0 miles
Elevation: 1491-2329 feet
Temperature: 49-58 F

Busy beavers have been too busy to finish taking down that tree.

Or, they’ve been moved?

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Future tadpoles!

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Aside from parts of some of the trails that were super muddy, it was a wonderful hike.

Written by Michelle at 6:35 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hiking WV: Audra State Park

It may have snowed Friday, but Saturday was beautiful. We saw a bit of snow, but except for the very sheltered areas, it was gone by the time we headed home.

Location: Audra State Park
Trail: Alum Cave Trail
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation: 1674-1820 feet
Temperature: 49-59 F

The only trail is the Alum Cave Trail that runs along the Middle Fork River, but the river is in sight for pretty much the entire hike, so who cares if it’s out and back?

Goodbye snow.

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We saw the kayakers unloading. They caught up as we were sitting on a rock listening to the water.

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There are many little trails heading off the Alum Cave Trail to take you down to the water.

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There are a few deep areas like this, where the river looks calm, but with the river as high as it was, much of it was white water.

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It was a lovely day.

Written by Michelle at 7:48 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

The gate is open! We don’t have to hike the Roadside/Advanced Ski trails! Huzzah!

They’re not bad trails–after all, the Roadside trail is relatively flat and easy. The problem is that after a warm wet winter, the trails are a muddy disaster. That doesn’t mean the trails inside aren’t wet, just that most of them aren’t torn up from constant biking and hiking.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Rhododendron, Mont Chateau, Ridge, Eagle Trails
Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation: 1503-2232 feet
Temperature: 45-55 F

Because we’ve had a fair amount of rain, the creeks were running high, which meant, as I said, wet trails, but only the ridge trail was especially muddy, probably because it gets more bikers.

Here’s the creek at the bridge on the Mont Chateau trail. There was a lot of water running through.

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Just past the bridge, as the trail starts uphill, we saw this.

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Don’t think that’s what’s meant by “Leave Only Footprints”

Written by Michelle at 8:35 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, March 27, 2017

WV Botanic Garden

Since the early flowers are blooming (those that didn’t die because of the early warm spell) we went to the Botanic Garden.

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Tibbs Run

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First rhododendron of the year!

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Grape hyacinth

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These tiny daffodils are adorable.

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Written by Michelle at 3:23 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Morgantown,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Saturday it rained off and on, so although Sunday was overcast, we took advantage of the minimal precipitation and headed out to Coopers Rock.

Location: Coopers Rock
Distance: ~6 miles
Elevation: 1920-2421 feet
Temperature: 35-41 F

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We went a bit earlier than usual, so it was quiet and we saw very few people, which was nice.

It was still muddy on the roadside trail, however, so we ended up walking the road part of the way back, just to avoid the mud.

Written by Michelle at 9:01 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

It was a gorgeous day for a hike.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Advanced Ski, Resoivoir Ski, Scott Run Trails
Distance: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 1857-2289 feet
Temperature: 28-34 C

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Written by Michelle at 5:45 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why the Consumption Tax Is a Terrible Idea

The governor wants to switch from an income tax to a consumption tax. Since I am pretty sure this is, if not the dumbest thing a WV politician has suggested, it’s certainly close, I decided to take a look at the census data and see what that told me.

A tiny bit of background.

West Virginia is surrounded by five other states: PA, MD, VA, KY, OH. [A]

West Virginia has four Interstates running through it: I64, I68, I77, I79. For towns along those interstates, it should be no more than two hours to a bordering state. [B]

West Virginia has 14 counties that contain major food deserts [C]–cities are were more than 20 miles from “grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.” The entire county of Gilmer is a food desert. Nine (9) of those counties with food deserts are NOT along the state border, and nine (9) of those counties also have a mean yearly income less than $50,000.

WV has seven (7) counties with a mean household income over $60,000. With the exception of Kanawha, all those are border counties, meaning residents can easily drive to another state to make purchases. There are 16 counties with a mean income over $55,000, [D] 12 of those counties are border counties. Of those remaining four, only Nicholas and Taylor counties do not have an Interstate running through them.

There are 18 counties with a population over 30,000. [E] 13 of those counties are border counties. Of the remaining five, only Logan county does not have an Interstate running through it.

With me so far?

When you step back and look at the big picture, you see that the wealthiest and most populated counties tend to be border counties, where people can easily drive to another state to shop.

Of those interior counties, nine (9) have areas that are food deserts, four (4) have unemployment rates over 5.5%, ten (10) of those counties have a mean income of less than $50,000, and eleven counties have populations of less than 20,000 people.

Those who will be contributing most to the taxes to keep the state afloat are predominantly going to be those who can least afford the extra burden, while the wealthy will be able to avoid paying the consumption tax by easily driving over the border to another state. [F]

This idea could only have been come up by someone either profoundly ignorant of the population of the state, or profoundly ignorant of human nature.

Either way, it is the poor who will get screwed.

This is the Excel file I used to collate the data downloaded from the Census bureau and USDA.

[A] OH is somewhat problematic, since there the Ohio river is the border between WV and OH, and thus you can only cross at bridges, which are predominantly in the wealthier counties.

[B] There are other major roads that criss-cross the state, but most are good roads for only a portion. FREX, Most Rt 50 from Clarksburg to Parkersburg is a relatively flat and straight divide four lane divided highway. From Bridgeport East to the border, it’s two lanes, windy, and with several 7-9% grades. So I only counted Interstates with consider ease of access to other states.

[C] Food Deserts: Barbour, Fayette, Gilmer, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Mingo, Monroe, Roane, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel

[D] Income over $55k: Berkeley, Brooke, Cabell, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pleasants, Putnam, Taylor, Wood

[E] Population over 30k: Berkeley, Cabell, Fayette, Greenbrier, Harrison, Jefferson, Kanawha, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Wayne, Wood

[F] And I do mean driving. Public transportation is abysmal in much of the state, and in rural areas, you are trapped without a car; you cannot get a job, go to the doctor, get groceries, etc.

All data from:
US Census Bureau – WV
USDA – Food Deserts

Written by Michelle at 2:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  
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