So we spent the last week on vacation. We got a cabin in West Virginia, not far from Seneca Rocks. We had no tv reception, no telephone, no cell phone service, no blackberry, and of course, no internet. But that didn't stop me from taking pictures or writing my blog entries.. So the following are my entries...
Saturday, August 9, 2008
We arrived at the cabin around dinner time. We took our time getting ourselves packed. And we stopped along the way to busy some groceries. We actually drove by the entrance to the property initially. It came so quick and the view was magnificent. It didn't look like a turn because we were very near the overlook on VA-33. Our cabin was down the hill quite a ways and is definitely secluded.
We're surrounded by cow pastures and we can hear and see the sheep in the distance. The weather is clear and pleasantly cool. We opted to eat dinner on the back deck. The view of the valley is magnificent. I took pictures of the cabin and off of the deck. The view is so nice -- I'm sure I'll end up with lots of pictures of these mountains. After dinner, my husband and I walked up the hill a ways. It was quite a climb and I was huffing. I was regretting that I had brought the tripod as it seemed heavy. As we were working our way up there were some lovely flowers (weeds) in bloom. I captured a black swallowtail and some bees. We climbed further up and took pictures of the surroundings and some more of the weeds. As we were leaving, I caught a nice one of some queen anne's lace. It was reminiscent of snowflakes.
I watched the sun go down. Unfortunately there weren't enough clouds to make the sky light up so I focused in the small group on the horizon. Not too bad, but still now what I was looking for. Finally, I tested my 300mm lens with a 1.4 teleconverter with the moon. It was okay but not as spectacular as what my husband and older son were seeing with the telescope. Like me with the camera, they were having to learn how to handle it to get the best image.
Sunday, August 10, 2008 - Morning
I woke up around 5:30 this morning and decided to brave the outdoors. It was about 42 degrees out and breezy. I was not sure I had enough clothes to keep me warm. I wanted to wanted to watch the sun come up so I could understand the light better. I took pictures of course, but learned a few things. I think will try watch another day (tomorrow?) from further up the hill.
I'm still very curious about the weeds that are in bloom. When the wind calms down, I will take my micro lens and 'pod and get close. :)
Monday, August 11, 2008
I got up early, before dawn today. It was very cloudy and I didn't expect to see much sky color. I did walk up the hill further than yesterday. I saw lots of deer and got a few interesting shots of flowers and scenery. I think it will be better if the light improves. It was sprinkling as I headed back to the cabin. I eventually went back to bed for a short nap.
After breakfast, we headed out to Seneca Rock. We started at the lower parking lot and found the trail to the observation deck. It was only 1.3 miles, but it was quite a climb. It was worth it though as the view was spectacular. You could see for miles.
As we were leaving the observation deck, I went around the back of the rock as I wanted a picture of the actual rock. Well, I noticed some climbers and then realized they were our friends from Church. We hung out with them a little -- took some photos, etc.
We left them to climb and headed down towards Yokum's for lunch. We ordered pizza a the Front Porch Restaurant. The view of the rock was spectacular. As the light improved, I took pictures.
After making a store run to Franklin, I went outside to try my new 70-180mm micro lens. I love it. There is a breeze so it is a challenge to get some decent shots of the flowers. I can't wait until the breeze dies down.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Today was a wonderful day -- this will be a long entry as a result. I was extremely tired last night so I went to bed early and got up late. I actually slept until after 6:15 and decided it was clear and sunrise wasn't worth getting up for. Instead, we all got up around 7 so we could meet our friends from Church at nine. They are running a camp this week based on climbing and caving. We ran into them yesterday at Seneca Rock and they invited to meet them this morning to join them caving.
So we met them at the corner for Spruce Nob and drove up the mountain. It was a long drive up the mountain. We got ourselves all geared up with rain coats or ponchos. Thankfully, our friends had extra gloves and a few extra head lamps. (I opted was the only one without). My husband and I wore our cheap raincoats (Family Dollar specials) and our keen sandals. The water was cold. The first part of walk was down a passageway -- it got narrow and the water was deep (definitely over my waist). We hit a deadend and turned around as expected. The rest of the walk was somewhat easier as we followed the creek to get to the otherside of the hill. I let some others get ahead, so at times, I wasn't sure the best path through the water. (My cheap flashlight was a bit dim). At other times, the ceiling was quite low and I had to walk on all fours. Near the end, I had toactually crawl through the mud. I was surprised, after I got used to the water, it didn't seem so cold, and at times, I felt quite warm.
It was loads of fun -- quite an adrenaline rush. I would definitely do that again. I had a disposable camera and hopefully some of the pictures will turn out. I also had my point-n-shoot and took bunches of pictures before and after our spelunking experience.
When we got back to the cabin, I headed out to one of the cow pastures to take pictures. The thistles and queen anne's lace are in bloom and are such interesting subjects. The bees love the thistle and was impressed by the overwhelming buzz I could hear when standing next to a large group of plants. I did get lost in shooting and was surprised that I was out for more than an hour and a half.
This morning and this evening, I watched some deer in a nearby pasture. There were some does with fawns and it was interesting to see them reunited and nursing. I got a couple good pictures of them hopping the fence.
Wednesday, August 14, 2008
With yesterday a bit challenging, the men in the house slept in. I was going to do the same, but when I looked out the window in the pre-dawn light, the valley was covered with a low lying clouds and only the peaks stuck up. I decided to walk all the way up to the scenic overlook above our cabin. The skies and the clouds were okay -- I think i got some nice shots. I lost track of the time and didn't come back until nearly 2 hours later. I shot some of plants and flowers.
After breakfast, we decided to drive to Blackwater Falls State Park. The falls were nice but the vegetation in the park was quite nice. It was lush -- with ferns and rhododendrons all over.I got pictures of rhododendrons and jewel weed, and various fungi and ferns. We ate lunch at the lodge there (excellent baked apple pancake for dessert) and after lunch drove over to the campground. I was shocked to see a 4-point buck eating beside the road. He was fearless and we were able to snap quite a few photos of him from the car. We walked down balancing rock trail and came back around rhododendron loop. We're hoping to visit there again sometime, and perhaps stay in their cabins.
Friday, August 16, 2008
I think I forgot to write an entry yesterday. It was a cloudy day and I slept in. With a 50% chance of rain, we decided to go to Greenbank to see the giant radio telescope. Because anything with electronics emits radio noise, I opted to use my father's old film camera (a Nikon F5). I had three lenses -- 28mm, 50mm, and 100mm. I used all three because at some point the largest telescope was HUGE. It was a very nice tour. We ended up doing laundry the rest of the afternoon. My husband and I walked up to the lookout off of 33 around sunset. It was nice to walk and I hauled my favorite lenses (18-200mm VR, 70-180mm micro, 70-300mm, and my 11-18mm Tamron) along with the tripod. It was a very still evening and I took some shots of some flowers and the scenery. On the way back, we saw some deer, one which was whitish. It was funny because I saw it the other evening but was told that it had to be a goat.
Today we slept in again. The mist covered the valley and it was gorgeous. After the mist cleared, we drove the short distance to the trailhead of the North Fork Mountain trail. Its a wonderful trail that goes for 23 miles on the ridge above the valley. We decided to just walk for a while and then turn around (which ended up being 4.5 miles out). We had lunch under some powerlines above the quarry in the valley. We turned around at another wonderful overlook. The sky was blue and the breeze was wonderfully cool. I got some good shots overlooking our cabins and more. Of course, there were pictures of flowers and fungi as well. I hauled my monopod and lenses. (It was great exercise.) It was one of those hikes that I thoroughly enjoyed. I've since sat outside most of the evening reading my novel. I did take a short walk in the cow pasture and am sitting out on our deck watching the sunset. We leave tomorrow and head back to civilization. I hope to carry the memories of the beauty and peacefulness I've enjoyed here.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Its early morning. The sun is just about to come up and I'm sitting out on the back deck. It is peaceful, with the sounds of cows, sheep, a rooster, and various other birds. I occasionally can hear a hawk as well. Two does are walking across the pasture and I can see a fawn with spots on the other side of the fence following the does. Actually a third doe has come into view in the far pasture. Of course, this time I don't have my camera but am content to just sit and watch for now. I'm torn between going for a walk to enjoy this last morning in the mountains or to head back to bed to snuggle with my husband.
We had a lovely campfires last night over which the boys cooked marshmallows so we could have s'mores. Over the course, I did see two shooting stars. I can't remember the last time I saw one so bright and definitive. The moon was full last night and it was very bright. There were shadows in its light and it was not a great night for star gazing although it was very clear. We have a telescope but it seemed a bit too bright to do much stargazing. It was getting cool and I was very tired.