Random (but not really)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Traveling WV: Thurmond

Thurmond, WV used to be a coal town and rail hub, and trains still run regularly through the area.

The population of Thurman at the last census was five, and most of the land in the area belongs to either CSX or the National Park Service, the latter of which has been attempting to preserve the remaining buildings.

Former National Bank of Thurmond


Thurmond Post Office, closed in 1995



Coaling Tower




Ruins being taken back by the woods.



Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Since it’d been awhile, we headed to New River Gorge, and went to one of the (many) areas we hadn’t hiked before: the Thurmond area.

We first went to see the town of Thurmond (separate post) which has been all but a ghost town for decades (the post office closed in 1995). Then we took our hike. We chose the Stone Cliff Trail, when runs beside the New River for its length.

What was particularly nice was that aside from the day-use area and the very start of the trail, we didn’t see anyone and had the trail to ourselves. We hiked 2 1/4 miles out–close to the end–but then I noticed that it was already 3, and we still had to stop at the brewery and eat dinner and then drive home, so we turned around and headed back.

Location: New River Gorge, Thurmond
Trail: Stone Cliff Trail (partial)
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 980-1253 feet
Temperature: 83-85 F

Because the trail runs beside the river it is quite flat, and thus an easy hike.

Stream tumbling down the mountainside


Stream crossing


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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday Flower Pr0n: New River Gorge

It may have been raining in Morgantown, but New River Gorge was beautiful.

Here are some flowers we found on our hike.







Written by Michelle at 10:20 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Books of April

Here we are! The books of April!

One of my favorite books last month was actually a new release! Why Kill the Innocent by C.S. Harris is the latest entry in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, and like the last several books, it’s dark in places. But it’s also good–and the darkness is very much a part of that time.  There were two audible books I really enjoyed, the first was The Rook, Audible Version by Daniel O’Malley which is just as good as an audible book as it was to read, and Cat o’ Nine Tales, Audible Version by Faith Hunter and narrated by Khristine Hvam. I really love her narration of Faith Hunter’s books, and since I’d finished listening all the Jane Yellowrock books, all I had left were this short-story collection.

I also very much enjoyed the K.J. Charles books I read, although they are definitely not for everyone.

Fantasy, Historical

Swordspoint (1987) Ellen Kushner (10/10)

Fantasy, Romantic

Dirk & Steele
Tiger Eye (2005) Marjorie Liu (6/10)
Shadow Touch (2006) Marjorie Liu (7/10)
The Red Heart of Jade (2006) Marjorie Liu (6/10)

Mystery, Historical

Why Kill the Innocent (2018) C.S. Harris (8.5/10) (Sebastian St Cyr)


Death of a Hollow Man (1989) Caroline Graham (7/10) (Inspector Barnaby)

Romance, Historical

After the Wedding (2018) Courtney Milan (7/10) (Worth Saga)
Sins of the City
An Unnatural Vice (2017) K.J. Charles (8/10)
An Unsuitable Heir (2017) K.J. Charles (8/10)
Magpie Lord
The Magpie Lord (2013) K.J. Charles (8/10)
A Case of Possession (2014) K.J. Charles (7.5/10)
A Queer Trade (2015) K.J. Charles (7/10) (Rag & Bone)


Rivers of London: Cry Fox (2017-2018) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, Luis Guerrero, Steve White (5/10)


The Rook, Audible Version (2012) Daniel O’Malley narrated by Susan Duerden (9/10)
Cat o’ Nine Tales, Audible Version (2013) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam (9/10)
The Snack Thief, Audible Version (1996/2003/2007) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli narrated by Grover Gardner (8.5/10)

Now, the stats!

Trade Paperback : 1
eBook : 12
Audio : 3

EBooks and audiobooks this month, with a single paperbook (the comic). Seven re-reads, which is also seven books I have in multiple formats (either paper and ebook or ebook and audio).

Fantasy : 10
Mystery : 8
Romance : 10
Comic : 1

Genre-wise, there was lots of overlap of genres, but still mostly fantasy and mystery, which are my primary favorite genres.

Male : 3
Female : 8
Initials : 5

And author-wise three male authors, and thirteen female authors, five books of which were written by women published under initials instead of a female name.

And those are the books of April! Yay reading!

Written by Michelle at 5:58 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Baltimore: National Aquarium

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to the National Aquarium for years, because many of the tanks used to be bare, and I really disliked that.

They have remedied that, which makes me very happy. Rocks and other items make the tanks look natural, and the octopus even had multiple toys.

Even better, they had a huge jellyfish exhibit, although to my sadness, they didn’t have benches where you could just sit and watch.

Poison dart frogs!





But most importantly: JELLYFISH







It makes me ridiculously happy that so many of the pictures I took of the jellyfish turned out.

Written by Michelle at 7:00 am      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Maryland,Photos,Travel  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Baltimore: Historical Sites

There are lots of historical areas in Baltimore, but the two we specifically visited this time were Federal Hill and Fort McHenry.

Federal Hill overlooks the inner harbor. This is taken from the public park at the top of the hill.


Fort McHenry is a national park, and the site of the battle which led to the Star Spangled Banner.

The same cannon, three different views.




The cannon fascinate me as much as they horrify me. I’ve read several descriptions of battles involving cannon, and they all describe smoke, terrible noise, complete chaos and underlying that, the knowledge that cannon blew up on a regular basis.

These are truly giant cannon, permanently placed.


The mechanisms for aiming the cannon.



There were multiple cannon from Fort Pitt.


I politely waited to ask the gentleman if I could take a picture of him in his outfit.


Sadly, he had only plain buttons, instead of decorated unit buttons.

And the magazines were also preserved.


Although the outside doors have been removed, you can still the hinges and how they would have fit. (The inside doors remain in place and locked.)


Then there were the walls….


And lastly, we were lucky that it was clear and windy, and they were flying the largest flag.


Oh! And the view!


Written by Michelle at 7:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Maryland,Photos,Travel  

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Traveling Outside WV: Baltimore

We spent a long weekend in Baltimore. We were there for my parents 50th anniversary party, but we also took the opportunity to visit Grandmom and wander around the city.

The harbour area is full of things I love coming together: water, old buildings, and occasionally, decay.

The USS Constellation in the Inner Harbor, in front of the World Trade Center building.


There was, I believe, a student group on the Constellation on Friday night. They were getting to shift the masts but did NOT fire the cannon.


Brickwork and hinge for storm shutter on old warehouse turned into condos.


These buildings are directly on the harbor, but none of them seemed to have functioning shutters anymore.

Looking across a dock at a warehouse that was turned into luxury condos.


Street in Fells Point.


Standing on Federal Hill, looking across the harbor towards the World Trade Center, and to the right, the National Aquarium.


Decaying dock.


Written by Michelle at 10:13 am      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Maryland,Photos,Travel  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Monday Flower Pr0n

Some flowers that were blooming while we were in Baltimore over the weekend.






Written by Michelle at 8:05 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Things That Are Wrong

Let me be clear–most areas of WV in which I travel are pretty litter free. Student areas in Morgantown? Not so much. But I don’t see a ton of litter when I’m out and about. So there is a good possibility that a good deal of the trash is from flooding rather than littering.

And there is a LOT of organic matter there as well, which is of course no ones fault.

But there is still a lot of trash in there–non-biodegradable trash–and that is a problem.



Written by Michelle at 8:30 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Morgantown,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Permanence and Transience

Unlike a lot of other places in the US (or the world I suppose) there are many many areas of WV that have been abandoned.

Mines stopped producing and not only was the equipment left to rust in place, but the camps surrounding the mines slowly crumbled as well.

Mountains were clear-cut of all trees, and the logging towns that had sprung up around them were deserted.


Then after the people left, the forests came back, hiding all but the most massive of structures. But even those structures are slowly being taken back by nature.


Because we have hiked so much of WV, I’ve seen many of these places. You’ll be hiking along and unexpectedly come across a chimney, or a rusted barrel, or the foundation of building, or railroad ties, all but hidden by the soil and moss and trees.


Or a cemetery. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of small cemeteries scattered throughout the state, where homesteaders and pioneers buried their dead, sometimes with carved tombstones.


Sometimes just with stones.

Prickett Fort Cemetery

But the engravings eventually erode away, leaving just a rough stone, the names and dates and verses gone with the snow and the rain.


I try to stop at these hidden and nearly lost cemeteries when I come across them. I think about how it’s been generations since anyone remembered the sound of their voices.

Yet even as the structures crumble and names are washed away, every spring I stumble across the reminder of homes when all that is left is uneven ground.

What I find in the woods are patches of daffodils, thriving and spreading, marking out yards where someone once planted bulbs so they would have flowers at the end of winter. And so I find a tiny bit of beauty in the woods, appearing every spring and then disappearing, like the homes they decorated.

And I like that.

I like that even as buildings and names and dates disappear into time, these spots of yellow appear every spring.

I like the reminder that even if we are completely forgotten, something still remains. Beauty at the end of winter, coming back year after year.


20130406_Antietam _199

(Some of the pictures I’ve taken at the cemeteries I’ve come across and some of the pictures I’ve taken of decaying structures and items.)

Written by Michelle at 6:13 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: West Virginia  
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