Random (but not really)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Tea Creek Wilderness

We hadn’t been back to the Cranberry area but once since last year’s flooding, so it was beyond time we went back.

We now have a new place we need to spend more time hiking.

Location: Tea Creek Wilderness
Trail: Tea Creek Trail (partial)
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 3579-3022 feet (557 feet)
Temperature: 70-72 F

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Remains of the old railbed.

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We are definitely coming back here to hike.

The only downside is that the restaurant we usually stopped back coming back from Cranberry was destroyed in the flooding. Any restaurant recommendations in the Richwood area? (Or between Richwood and Summersville?)

Written by Michelle at 9:24 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Almost One Year Out from the Flooding

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the devastating flooding that his a good portion of WV. One of the areas that was badly hit was Richwood, which was flooded by the Cherry River.

As we drive through yesterday, there are still condemned buildings standing waiting to be torn down. There are still homes that are lived in that remain in serious disrepair (some of that existed before the flooding). I didn’t take any pictures of this, because it felt like gawking, and invading the privacy of an area that has already suffered enough.

That said, there was also obvious evidence of rebuilding, and the road was in good repair, but still it’s heart-rending to see the continued struggle of the people in this area.

We hiked above the Cranberry Wilderness which is upstream of Richwood. Please keep that in mind for these pictures one year out of the flooding.

Here is how part of the trail looked–I took this picture because you can see the old railroad ties–much of this trail is on an old logging track. Other areas were a more narrow path with high vegetation on either side of the trail.

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Here are parts of the trail that were flooded / washed out:

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Take a close look at the debris in the above picture. Notice anything? It wasn’t until we were coming back down the mountain that I realized I saw no human trash–just tumbled trees and stones and branches.

That was the one nice thing I took out of the flood damage. That in the woods, those who hike and use the paths keep the area clean of trash and human debris.

You could hardly tell there had one been a bridge here. And we saw no signs of the bridge or human-hewn boards in the area.

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Another washed out bridge. This is at the head of where several different trails branch out. You had to ford the stream to cross here, which might not be doable after a heavy rain.

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So that’s how things looked in the Richwood / Cranberry Wilderness area just under a year out from the flooding.

Something to consider.

Written by Michelle at 9:06 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We’re Goin’ to the Zoo Zoo Zoo

I was trying to remember the last time I’d been to a zoo, and figured it must have been before my cousin Liz was born. Which is fine, because I find zoos distressing. Not quite as distressing as they used to be, but as someone who doesn’t eat mammals because of cruelty issues, zoos are complicated.

But Jules’ birthday party was at the zoo, and I wasn’t going to miss that for anything, so I went.

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered–the Pittsburgh Zoo has had major renovations since the last time I was there as a kid. In fact, you can actually see some of the old outdoor pens–one of which has been converted to a sort of beer garden, which was amusing.

There were also signs, such as that outside of the polar bears, that seemed to be saying the polar bears had ended up in the zoo because they kept getting into human garbage and other parts of human settlements. I’d much rather an animal be in a zoo than shot because humans have taken over it’s space.

But I still was made very uncomfortable with the primate area. It wasn’t too bad initially–after all, the sloth seemed super happy with his surroundings, and there was a one-armed primate who obviously wouldn’t have survived in the wild. But the large primates? I didn’t see signs insinuating or detailing how they ended up at the zoo, and although their area was large with trees and a stream and plenty of entertainment, it was still disturbing seeing an animal so like us, behind the plexiglass. So I wandered off quickly and looked at other things while everyone else finished with the primates.

I only took one picture of a large mammal, and that was because I was zooming in with my camera to see if there was something wrong with this lion’s eye (there wasn’t) but I ended up liking the picture that came out, so here it is.

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Pittsburgh Zoo has an aquarium, but I found it… unimpressive. Also hot and insanely crowded, which didn’t help.

But there were interesting aquatic creatures, many of which were explicitly rescued (including the sea turtle with the paralyzed rear fins and “bubble butt”. (I didn’t get a picture of him, because that window was insanely crowded.))

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The window of the single tank of jellies was very crowded, so I got almost no decent pictures. But I did enjoy watching them.

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Also:

NO SWIMMING IN THE GRASS!

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I know, those are daylilies and not grass, but it still amused me.

Another plus was that instead of lawns and such, most of the areas between sections were of wild grasses and wild flowers, which I did like very much.

In the end, I won’t be going back to this or any other zoo, but it was not as bad as I was fearing it would be.

Oh! One last picture–this abandoned stairwell was behind a fence.

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Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Photos  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Flower Pr0n

I came across a few flowers yesterday while we were out for Jules’ birthday party, and today we took a relaxing stroll at the WV Botanic Garden.

No poppies, but it was a nice reflective walk (except for the occasional bursts of gunfire (because there is a gun club less than a mile away (no, I’m not kidding, this IS West-by-God Virginia))).

Despite the name, I’m fond of spiderwort.

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I really do love Mountain Laurel flowers

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Written by Michelle at 7:07 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos,West Virginia  

Memorial Day

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Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
God keep.
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
‘Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
‘Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

Taps, by Gen. Daniel Butterfield

Grandpop_and_Bumpa

Ben Klishis WWII

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: History,Holidays  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Seneca Rocks & Seneca Creek Backcountry

You can see the climate differences between the Canaan Valley area and further north where I am,by the fact there were still violets blooming.

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Mountain Laurel are hardy shrubs that can tenaciously hold on into the cracks of rocks.

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

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 (2)  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 (2)  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 (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Lost River State Park

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Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

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Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Oh my god! Look at all the future snacks!

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Wild blueberries (vaccinium angustifolium)

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Sometimes you have to get close down to the ground to notice some of the tiny, beautiful flowers.

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Written by Michelle at 11:08 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

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  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Books of April

My reading was NOT out of control in April, although I did still read quite a bit–sixteen books. But that’s because I’m me.

This month still had a lot of re-reads, but that’s mostly because I found several series I’d been wanting to re-read available from Overdrive with a WV library card. (SCORE!)

As for new books, I quite liked the newest Brunetti mystery by Donna Leon, Earthly Remains. I don’t think this is a good book for someone not familiar with the series, but for a long-time reader of the series, I really enjoyed this book. I also finally read the fifth book of Sergei Lukyanenko‘s Night Watch series–I still have to read the sixth and final book, but I wanted to mull over the fifth book before reading the last.

I finally got around to reading Ilona Andrews‘s Magic Stars, which is a lovely gift to long-time readers of the Kate Daniels series, but I’m not sure it’d be a good entrance for newbies.

Mystery

Guido Brunetti
Earthly Remains (2017) Donna Leon (Rating: 8/10)

Peter & Rina Drecker by Faye Kellerman
Grievous Sin (1993), Sanctuary (1994), Justice (1995)

Elvis Cole by Robert Crais
Sunset Express (1996), Indigo Slam (1997), L.A. Requiem (1999), The Last Detective (2003)

Fantasy, Urban

Grey Wolf
Magic Stars (2015) Ilona Andrews (Rating: 8/10)

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield
Night Watch (1998/2006), Day Watch (2000/2006), Twilight Watch (2006/2007), The Last Watch (2009)
New Watch (2012/2013) (Rating: 8/10)

Audio Books

Promised Land, Audible Edition (1976/1987) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
The Judas Goat, Audible Version (1978/1987) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard

Now, onto the stats!

14 ebooks & 2 audio books. 10 of those stories were re-reads, and seven of those books I own in multiple formats. (With the death of Shelfie, the number of ebook purchases when I already own the paper format is going to go down pretty solidly.)

Genre had 10 mysteries and 6 fantasies.

Gender sees male authors catching up for the year, with 11 male authors, 4 female authors, and one jointly-written book. That puts men up 44:39 for the year. That trend will probably hold for awhile, while I finish the Elvis Cole series, but I new Jane Yellowrock book did just come out, and that might shift what I want to read.

And those are the books of April!

Written by Michelle at 7:06 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

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

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Coopers Rock Wildflowers

Rainy Saturday, but today was gorgeous and there were lots of wildflowers at Coopers Rock.

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Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

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Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

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Wood Geranium (Geranium maculata)

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?Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia L.)?

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Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica)

Written by Michelle at 6:05 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  
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