We went to West Virginia for our vacation. We rented a cabin (see Germany Overlook Cabins) where there was no phone nor television signal which also meant no internet. Of course, with all this spare time, I took lots of pictures and I did write blog entries for most of our days there. So I'm finally getting around to posting all those entries written without internet.
Sunday, August 23
We arrived at our cabin late Sat evening, thanks to some horrific traffic out of the DC area. We arrived in time to make dinner and get unpacked. We have no tv reception so after all was cleaned up, I slipped a movie in the dvd player and promptly fell asleep.
So the first time with my camera was this morning and the first picture I took was of a rainbow reaching down into the valley behind our cabin. It was early morning so it was not very bright. It must have been reflecting (refracting) off of the mist in the valley.
In the morning, as we were waiting for the kids to finish up a few things, my husband and I went for a walk in the adjacent cow pastures. We walked amid the thistle, wild daisies, and queen anne's lace. At one point, we noticed a monarch butterfly enjoying the flowers. I was able to get close enough to get a couple of really nice shots.
The remainder of the day was spent over by Seneca Rock. we climbed the trail to the observation deck. It was only 1.5 miles each way, but it was steep in places. The view from on top was superb.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I'm sitting here with my feet up feeling rather exhausted. It was not really a busy day for the family, but somehow I got out no less than three times to walk.
The first was into the nearby pasture with my camera and monopod. I was out for approximately an hour with my macro lens taking pictures of thistle, queen anne's lace, daisies, and whatever else I could. Seeing how many thistle and queen anne's lace plants there are, the real trick is finding the right background. I also enjoyed walking along the fenceline and exploring the property.
The boys seemed content to stay close to the cabin for most of the day. They discovered the game of yard darts. Joe and I decided to explore the property here after the owner had dropped by and suggested a couple of places. We discovered how large 176 acres is as we went to the far side and walked and walked. Some of it was along a creek, while other times we were on old logging roads. We were gone a good hour and a half and I worked up a good sweat before lunch. I finally decided, that even though we were going to go hiking again, I needed to change clothes.
After lunch and a short nap, we decided to head up to Spruce Knob and the observation tower. It has wonderful view. We didn't walk far, but I took lots of pictures of the scenery as well as some of my family. We considered staying until sunset, but it was beginning to sprinkle and going home to a warm dinner sounded better. Maybe next time.
Tuesday, Aug 25, 2009
Today was a superb day. We got a later start than I would have liked, but it was very foggy and cool in the morning and no one felt like moving (except for me, of course). We had decided to go to Dolly Sods Wilderness, which is a plain on the allegehny front. It is at a high elevation so that the flora is more like that of areas further north. Last year, we visited it and got caught in a terrible thunderstom (complete with hail). We were even lost for a bit and slogged through some very wet trails.
This year, upon the advice of a park ranger, we went to the north end. The road was apparently easier on the car. Five miles of gravel was probably enough for the kids. We came out by the Bear Rock, a lovely set of boulders and cliffs. We ate lunch. Afterwards, Joe and Daniel went to find the trailhead and Eric and I did pictures and huckleberry picking.
The sky was somewhat cloudy and it could easily have gotten cloudier. Instead, the skies improved and turned partially sunny. The trails were mostly dry and passible. I took lots and lots of pictures as with my last visit, my goal was to keep the camera dry and to get out of there. The land is beautiful and there are few words to describe it. I'm not even sure I began to capture its beauty with my camera. The nature photographer in me hopes I can continue returning to keep trying.
We finished up our 6 miles or 7 miles around dinner. We drove back down to Seneca Rocks to get some minor groceries and enjoy some ice cream. The light around Seneca Rocks was super so of course I got a few more pictures.
We ended the day with leftover food (still delicious) and a campfire. The sky was clear and the stars were amazing. We made s'mores and to cap it off, my sons played fiddle and mandolin. As I said before, it was a superb day. Vacation doesn't get much better than this.
Wednesday, August 26
After Tuesday, we needed a bit of a rest. We wanted to check out a place called the Purple Fiddle, located up past Davis in Thomas, WV. It was a good hour plus drive. This place has concerts several times a week and serves sandwiches for lunch. In addition, they say they have internet service (which I neededn to synch my son's computer-based therapy). I had a lot of problems getting on the internet and eventually gave up. The sandwiches and ice cream were wonderful. We tried to find the trail was described in our handy-dandy Monagahela trail guide, but could not. It was late enough that we gave up and went back down to Black Water Creek Falls. Being later in the afternoon in the middle of the week (and since school has already started in WV), there were very few people around the falls and I was able to take lots of good shots. The lighting wasn't too bad and I got to experiment with several angles. While I was doing that, I noticed a doe and her fawn crossing the top of the falls. We finally ended with some closeups of jewel weed flowers. (I think they go by the name touch-me-nots as well, but I will always remember them as jewel weed, the anti poison ivy, plant).
Thursday, August 27-
After having a day of little hiking (and lots of driving), we decided to hike the Huckleberry Trail up on Spruce Knob. The trail looked to be gentle and well marked. It goes through some very lovely spruce forest and stays high up so the cool breeze kept the temperature comfortable. This trail has lots of wonderful campsites along the way. If we were doing some tent camping, we would certainly pick one of these. The only caveat is there isn't a lot of water up there. We did lunch at one of these sites, and afterwards I wandered around to take pictures of the many different mushrooms. The boys entertained themselves by trying to push each other off of a log. We returned to the Seneca Rock visitors center and I bought a book on mushrooms as I found them very interesting.
It sprinkled briefly when on the trail, but other than that the weather held. The only 'bad' thing was my favorite lens, the same one which had the accident a couple weeks ago, has come apart. I'm not sure if it is fixable, but now I have to figure out what to do as this was my 18-200mm. <sigh> I suppose a new lens is in order as it is a really super range that I've become quite accustomed to.
Friday, August 28
Even though there was a chance of rain in the forecast, we thought we might be able to sneak in a hike today. It had sprinkled earlier in the morning but looked like it might clear. Good thing we were slow in moving as by the time we were ready, it started pouring. So plan B was to visit one of the many caverns in the area. We drove past Seneca Rocks to Smoke Hole Caverns. It was a nice tour with some interesting formations.
We had a late lunch in Seneca Rock at the Front Porch restaurant. (They have good pizza). We ended up back at the cabin relatively early and spent the rest of the afternoon playing several games including Scrabble and Blokus.
Saturday, August 29
On our final morning, I got up early. I thought I might try to capture sunrise, but the weather was not cooperative. I took a nice walk in the pasture and captured some of the fog in the valley. I watched as the clouds rolled in over Spruce Knob, Dolly Sods, and the Allegheny Moutains and eventually brought us more rain.