Random (but not really)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock State Forest: Raven Rock

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock State Forest: Raven Rock

The weather was too nice not to go hiking, so we went to Coopers Rock, which is the park I visited so many times as a child, but weirdly, rarely hiked. We’d wander beneath the overlook and climb rocks, but didn’t much hike any of the trails.

Raven Rock is a nice climb to look out down the mountain, however, there are a couple reasons it’s far less popular than the main overlook. 1) It’s a relatively steep walk up unpleasantly rocky terrain. 2) Power transmission lines. 3) To the north you can see power plant stacks and steam. The latter two are the bigger irritation to me, not that my ankle was well-pleased with the rocky terrain.

Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Raven Rock Trail & McCollum Trail
Distance: 2.9 miles
Elevation: 743 feet

This is what the Raven Rock trail looks like pretty much the entire way.


My ankle is displeased with me, because walking on ground like this is a lot more uncomfortable and difficult than you’d think–you have to watch the ground, and even so, smaller rocks slide out from under your feet.

All of which is why we took the McCollum trail back as soon as it branched off.

And the reason it looks like an old road, is because that’s what it is. This is how they got all the equipment for the power lines up the hill. So perhaps this is Mother Nature’s revenge.

Looking east, over the Cheat Canyon.


Looking west:


Looking North. You can see the overlook to the right, and in the background the Longview and Fort Martin power plants.


The power lines and towers kinda ruin the view to the south. (Looking south west here.)


Ferns are quite tenacious.


We were trying to remember where this rock fell from. No place obvious.


GPS Map of Raven Rock hike

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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Flower Pr0n: The End of the Hydrangea

My hydrangea took a significant amount of damage last winter, so although it survived, I got no flowers. So I decided to snap a couple pictures of the last hurrah of this hydrangea outside the Purple Fiddle in Thomas.




And just because I adore it so, my favorite building in Thomas.



Written by Michelle at 8:28 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls State Park

After discovering the WV Dept of Forestry Fall Foliage Map, WV State Parks Fall Foliage Map, we decided that a trip to Blackwater Falls was in order.

I wanted to visit my favorite overlooks and falls, so we went to lots of different places. (This would have been more energy efficient if we’d had bicycles, however, we only had a couple hours, so we were in and out of the car instead.) The last time we hiked most of these trails, it was early spring and had also been raining for two weeks straight, so there was a LOT of water. This time we were able to hike along creeks that were flooded last time.

It was a gorgeous fall day, temperatures in the upper 60s to 70–perfect for hiking–and the skies were clear. It was a perfect day.

Location: Blackwater Falls State Park
Trails: Pendleton Trace Trail, Dobbin House Trail; Pase Point Trail; Lindy Point Trail
Falls: Elekata Falls (off Elekata Trail); Blackwater Falls
Distance: Pendleton Trace to Dobbins House to Pase Point and Back: 2.9 miles; Lindy Point: .8 mile
Total Distance (including going off trail): 4.9 miles
Elevation: Pendleton Trace to Dobbins House to Pase Point: 261 feet; Lindy Point: 66 feet
Total Elevation (including going off trail): 911 feet

Elekata Falls (here it was in the spring)


Blackwater Falls (here it was in the spring)


Oh look! A turkey vulture!


This sighting was followed by a discussion of the difference between a vulture and a buzzard. Answer: in the US–the terms are interchangeable.

Pendleton Lake


Wait… what’s that?


A heron!


Lindy Point. This is an easy hike for a spectacular view.



Pendleton Point



Pase Point


The river below Dobbin House Trail (here’s how things looked in the spring)



This area was completely inaccessible in the spring.


On the Dobbin House Trail someone had set up a silent walk. About a quarter of the signs were botany and nature related, the others were exceedingly touchy-feel. (Look around at the colors. How do they make you feel?) But THIS sign made my day.

Uses of Hemlock

Will no one rid me of the troublesome philosopher?

I am easily amused.

Dobbins House Trail + Pase Point Trail GPS map (with bonus Pendleton overlook and going off trail)

Lindy Point Trail GPS map

Written by Michelle at 10:37 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hiking WV: Watoga State Park

Go ahead. Say it: WA-TOGA! WA-TOGA! WA-TOGA!

You’re welcome.

Location: Watoga State Park
Trails: Honeybee Trail, Buckhorn Trail, Dragon Draft Trail
Distance: 2.4 miles
Elevation: 920 feet

At Watoga there’s a lake:


As you can see, the leaves are just starting to change:


There’s also an arboretum:


This is a tree (still alive) that has been attacked by some kind of insect, which was then rooted out by woodpeckers.


We hiked the outside of the trail, then cut into the center, where the arboretum trail crosses back and forth across the creek:


It’s fascinating, the amount of stone and rock in the creek bed, that has been uncovered over time, and shifted around every time there’s a hard rain.

There’s also access to the Greenbrier river:




It was a lovely park, and as it’s the end of the season, it was quite empty and quiet (which I always enjoy).

GPS map of hike

Written by Michelle at 11:54 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

15 Question SFF Book Meme!

From SF Signal: A 15 Question Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Book Meme – SF/F/H Reading/Buying Habits

What was the last sf/f/h book you finished reading?
Midnight Riot (audio version) by Ben Aaronovitch

What was the last sf/f/h book you did not finish reading and why?
This is harder, as I read multiple books at once, and frequently start books that I never get back to, simply because there are too many other books to read one that doesn’t hold my interest.

What was the last sf/f/h book you read that you liked but most people didn’t?
I honestly I have no idea. I frequently re-read David Eddings Belgariad, but I don’t think that’s what the question is asking.

What was the last sf/f/h book you read that you disliked but most people did?
I abandoned the Sookie Stackouse series. I loved the initial books, but HATED it when it turned into a giant “everyone loves Sookie” fest. Bletch.

How long do your 1-sitting reading sessions usually last?
As long as I have time. I can spend an entire day reading–if I have an entire day.

What are you currently reading?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
Bonk by Mary Roach
Downfall by Rob Thurman
Thieves’ Quarry by DB Jackson

Do you like it so far?
Of course.
I’m having a hard time getting into this one.
OMG yes.
I’ve put this down several times, because I fear it is going to be the last Cal book.
Wasn’t what I was in the mood for when I picked it up, but keep coming back to it.

How long ago did you buy the book you are currently reading (or the last book you read)?
Some of them in the past two weeks, some of them… months ago? I own the Sherlock Holmes in HB, so I re-bought the eBook.

What was the last physical sf/f/h book you bought?
Fables: Camelot by Bill Willingham et al (that one is ALSO waiting for me to pick it up)

What is the sf/f/h sub-genre you like the most and why?
I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy–like Charles de Lint–and supernatural mysteries–like Simon R Green. I love mysteries, and I adore mysteries with supernatural or fantastic elements. I also like them because they tend to be single books that I can read in a gulp, but am not left with a damned cliff-hanger.

What is the sf/f/h sub-genre you dislike the most and why?
I don’t read SF, because I just plain don’t enjoy it. I dislike dystopias for a similar reason–they make me feel miserable. I’ll feel terrible for hours after finishing a dystopia. Since my brain can do that all on its own, I avoid things that make me feel bad. I also don’t read horror because I don’t like to be scared. (Fantasy with elements of horror is generally find, as long as it’s not scary.)

What is your favorite electronic reading device?
I love my kindle paperwhite so very very very very much. It has a purple cover, and feels so much like reading a book, only it doesn’t hurt my hands to hold.

What was the last sf/f/h eBook you bought?
Three pre-orders arrived at the same time:
Seanan McGuire – Winterlong
Patricia Briggs – Shifting Shadows
Fables: Camelot by Bill Willinghame et al

Do you read books exclusively in 1 format (physical/electronic)?
No. But I am partial to fiction in eBook format, and to comics/graphic novels in Trade Paperback format.

Do you read eBooks exclusively on a single device (eBook reader/ smartphone / tablet)?
Nope. I read on whatever is at hand. If I have a few minutes to wait, I read on my phone. If it’s a cookbook, I read it on the Fire. My bedtime reading is often on my Kindle keyboard (it contains mostly non-fiction, which I prefer to read before bed). Most everything else I read on the paper white.

How about you?

Written by Michelle at 8:57 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Books of August

Lots of historicals this month, both romances (!) and mysteries. Just in the mood for something different I suppose.

Fifteen books in August, bringing me to a total of 120 for the year so far.

The best books of the month:
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan was FABULOUS. Seriously, I can’t say enough good things about this story. You should go read it now.
Kitty’s Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn I always seem to forget how good Carrie Vaughn is with short stories, until I read one, and then I want to read more.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Kitty’s Greatest Hits (2011) Carrie Vaughn (9/10)
Jane Yellowrock
Cat Tales: Four Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock (2011) Faith Hunter (7/10)
Have Stakes Will Travel: Stories From the World of Jane Yellowrock (2012) Faith Hunter (8.5/10)
Jane Yellowrock World Companion (2013) Faith Hunter (7/10)
Black Arts (2014) Faith Hunter (8.5/10)

Mystery, Historical

Flavia deLuce
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (2011) Alan Bradley (7/10)
Lady Emily
A Poisoned Season (2007) Tasha Alexander (7/10)
A Fatal Waltz (2008) Tasha Alexander (7/10)
Lady Julia Grey
Silent on the Moor (2009) Deanna Raybourn (6.5/10)
Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch
The Paris Affair (2013) Teresa Grant (7/10)

Romance, Historical

Lord and Lady Spy (2011) Shana Galen (3/10)
The Brothers Sinister
The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan (7/10)
The Heiress Effect (2013) Courtney Milan (8/10)
The Countess Conspiracy (2013) Courtney Milan (9/10)

Audio Books

Skinwalker (Audio Version) (2009/2010) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam (8/10)

So, now my favorite part! The stats!

8 re-reads this month, three of which I have in multiple formats. So the publishing industry isn’t losing much, even though I try to pay no more than $3 for a book I already own in paper.

Paperback: 1
Trade Paperback: 1
eBook: 13
Audio: 1

Lots of romance this month, and lots of mysteries. Almost all of which were historicals. Sometimes, you just need to put your mind in a different time period.

Fantasy: 6
Mystery: 9
Romance: 8
Anthology: 1

And all those romance novels mean that I read a LOT of female authors this month.

Male: 1
Female: 14

For the year, the percentage of mail authors I’ve read is down to 35%. Of course, the first two books of September were both by male authors, so I’m still getting some variety in my diet.

But really, I can’t recommend The Countess Conspiracy enough. It’s all geeky and marvelous.

Written by Michelle at 6:55 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory



Chimney Sweeps


Textile Mills




Coal Mines


They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there

Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker Mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania, 10 January 1911, from a 1908-1912 series on...

You’ll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair





Upper Big Branch


child labor today 1

child labor today 2

child labor today 3


child labor today 4

And that is why, despite all the disappointments, I remain a Democrat.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: History,Holidays  

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