Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I was sitting by the door reading my book today (the only place to just sit) and when the wind would gust snowflakes came in through the crack between the door and the door frame.
hmmmm...so much for the one plus of the room! :) *
*The rooms aren't that bad - they are definitly dated, and worn, and small and not reflective of a "resort", but they are definitly what one would expect at a West Virginia State Park - even the snow blowing in through a closed door is very West Virginia!
Here's the view from my room this morning:
The lodge is built "motel" style with each room having a door to the outside. This is very poor design on a day like today. You can't go anywhere in the lodge without going outside. Also the rest of the lodge is very poorly designed. There are no common areas where one can go to read or hang out and see outside. The main dining room does offer a view, however they were closed for lunch today in prep for the big New Years Eve bash tonight.
The picture above was taken at the same place where I took the sunset picture last night. It looked this way most of the day. It would clear up a bit as the snow showers moved through, but just as quickly it would look like this again. The building on the left is the ice skating pavilion - it's basically a pole barn.
Just beyond where I took the picture is a trail head - I'd looked at a trail map and saw that there were a number of shortish trails in this area and decided the plan for today was to explore all these trails, after all there's no such thing as bad weather, only insufficient gear right? I had all that one needed for winter hiking - pink Helly Hansen polypropylene long underwear, mismatched REI synthetic long underwear, fleece pants, fleece vest, fleece jacket, gore-tex outer wear, synthetic sock lines, synthetic sock and gore-tex lined boots, polypropylene glove liners, thick fleece lined waterproof ski gloves - I was more than prepared!
I hiked out the Deer Run Trail and came back the Abe Run Trail - it took about 2 hours and when I got back I was wiped - my cheeks were windburned, I was hot (I'd even had to unzip a few layers to cool off), and hungry. I figured I'd walked at least 4 miles. Turns out it was only maybe 3 - I think the snow/cold adds a mile! :) The wind was bearable in the woods - I hardly felt it, however once I got out in the open the wind was brutal!
Here are few pictures from my walk.....
I think the mountain in the distance, the one on the right, is where the ski area is. Apparently there were folks skiing today - the shuttle bus was going and there were people walking around in ski boots - I can't imagine! In this picture you can also see the road - there were lots of cars going in and out - the road was covered with packed snow.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I left this morning about 10 am - it was a stunning day, mild temps, not a cloud in the sky! Before I left I double checked the weather forecast - the rest of the week was slated to be clear and mildish (highs in the upper 30s/40s) both at home and in Canaan Valley.
I headed out 66 to 81 and on to Rt 55 - a nice road mostly - 2 lane but in places 4 - passing through mountains and small towns in WV. Canaan Valley's website directed me to take Rt 55 west to Harmon, WV and then go north on 32. I'd looked at the map and saw that there was another road - 72 it appeared, although the section I wanted to go on wasn't numbered - that seemed to cut off a significant chunk of the road and passed through the Dolly Sods Wilderness area - I have read a lot about this area, it's a BIG backpacker destination and I have heard that it's magnificent. I wasn't sure why that wasn't the preferred route, but I thought I'd check it out.
The turn off to the road through Dolly Sods was just past "Smoke Hole Cabins" - you know you are West Virginia! Turns out Smoke Hole Cabins is "the" tourist attraction of the area - more signs for it than South of the Border!
I quickly see why this road isn't the preferred route, and why it's not numbered on my map.....it's not WV 72 the whole way, part of the road is actually:
That would be "Forest Road 19". Unpaved. Rocky. Narrow. Hairpin turns. No guardrail. And it came complete with dire warnings:
We all know that the beginning of an adventure includes turning off the paved road so off I went! It was sunny and mild and there was no sign of snow whatsoever! Since I was "car hiking" I opened the sun roof and put the windows down - it was a bit chilly, temps in the high 30s, but I cranked the heater up!
This is the road - I was actually heading down at this point.
The scenery on the road did not disappoint! There were some spectacular views! I didn't capture as many as I would have liked - driving required my full attention and I was anxious about stopping and encountering another car, also I has no idea how long this little excursion was going to take and I didn't want to end up trying to find the resort in the dark.
After the FR ended the road improved....well by WV standards. It was paved and had a guardrail.
About 3:00 I headed out from Blackwater Falls and back up 32 toward Canaan Valley. I stopped at the Canaan Valley Wildlife refuge to get a map of more little trails I could walk tomorrow, and found one that was just a 1/4 mile so explored it.....
I then went over to the ski area. I found a little bar & grill and had a ridiculously over priced chicken sandwich and read my book until it was time for tubing!
On the left of the picture you can see the tow rope - you get your tube and it had a "leash" on it with a ring, the tow operator hooks your ring on to a little bar and you sit down on the tube (lazy river style) and ride up the hill. At the top they have carved out a little hill so the tube slides right down off the tow rope and you get to go for a little ride. You then pick your run - there are 4 and each have their own personality - and lay down on your tube and go flying head first down the hill. That's right, head first. The guy in charge said! I can't believe that it's safer that way! You go fast. Really really really fast.
When you get going really fast you slam into the mat at a very high rate of speed, such as the person in the picture below.....(he's on the right, the tube is upside down...). This does not feel good.
On my 2nd run down the hill I went careening into the mat and after that quickly learned how to better control my tube. If I drug my feet I went a little slower. If I slid off the tub just as it was going up the run away ramp I slowed down a bit. If I raised my head up on my elbows it was even better. I'm not sure this is an entirely "adult" sport. The ironic thing is that it's all about weight - the heavier you are the faster you go. I was actively trying to avoid slamming into the mat, yet there were a number of lightweight kids who would have done anything to get that far, they just weren't heavy enough. There were a number of guys who were slamming in every time, on purpose - they were all entirely too old for that and I bet they won't be able to move in the morning!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Here are the rules:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write 6 random things about yourself.
Tag 6-ish people at the end of your post.
Let each person know he/she has been tagged.
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Six random things about me:
1. I have decided that I need to learn to crochet. I mostly know how to crochet, but I have taught myself so I don't really know how. My great-grandmother used to crochet afgans and as much as no one I know needs a crocheted afgan, I'd like to make some! I love cross stitching, but it's getting old and it's time for something new!
2. I'm almost done with my Educational Specialist degree (it's basically a master's degree, but I already have a master's degree so they made up this new category for folks like me....supposedly it's a "terminal" degree, but I think that's just because it's going to kill me trying to get it!). I have just one more class left - human development. I took my comps back in Nov, but I recently found out that I did not pass one of the questions (which was especially shocking because I have gotten As on everything so far - every assignment, every class, everything so this was a huge shock!), I can re-take just that question in the Spring, but I'm not happy about it. I just want to be done and move on to something new.
3. I'm taking a winter getaway over New Years. I'm just going out to Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia, and it's only 2 nights, but I'm really looking forward to it! I took grad classes all summer and I think I had about 4 days of actual summer vacation - I need to get away! I'm looking forward to being able to play and not have classes or school or other responsibilities hanging over my head! They have skiing, snowtubing, snowshoeing, ice skating, hiking, all sorts of fun stuff!
4. I'm quite grumpy with the Grinchy superintendent of my school system, he's making us go to school tomorrow (12/22) AND Tuesday (12/23). Every other school system in the area got out on Friday and has 2 full weeks for break. We only get a week and a half. And we go 1 day longer in June than other districts. WTF? I was hoping for snow, however we had freezing rain LAST night all of which promptly melted before the temps plunge to 15 tonight. What a waste. Oh and there's more freezing rain predicted. For Tuesday night. Then rain all day Wed. Wed when I have to drive down 95 to get to Williamsburg. grrrrrr.......
5. My favorite state (and I have been to 38!) is Alaska. I went there last summer with my parents and fell head over heels in love. I want to go back. When I was there I rented a motorhome and I loved having my own space with me all the time! As much as there are other things I'd like to see, I'd love to spend every summer in Alaska from now on!
6. I just got brand new flannel sheets! About 7 maybe 8 years ago I bought a set of LL Bean flannel sheets. I used them constantly in the winter, I'd take them off the bed, wash them and put them back on, for about 6 months out of the year. Last year I noticed that they were going threabare, I could see through the flat sheet in places! At least 7 years of constant use if pretty good I think (especially because I'd gone through a number of sets of "regular sheets" in that time period!). I also wore holes in 2 pair of LLBean fleece socks - I probably had those closer to 10 years though. Last week my package of "warm fuzzy" arrived! I'm heading up right now to crawl into my cozy warm flannel lined bed! :)
Who to tag.....hmmmmm.....I guess if you are reading this and you have a blog and you want to write 6 random things about you, go for it! :)
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Virginia is one of the big battleground states in the election and I have heard it rumored that Prince William County is key to who wins the state, I'm not sure how true that is, but Obama's choice in his location for his last rally seems to support that!
The program was scheduled to start at 9:00pm and the gates opened at 5:00. I had a parent teacher conference at school until 4:15 so my plan was to leave as soon as I could - lucky for me the parents all showed up early, we talked, I ushered them out the door and skedaddled home.
After stopping at home to change clothes, stopping for gas, and stopping to grab some dinner, I made my way over to the fairgrounds. About 2 miles away the traffic started. We were inching along for more than 2 hours and we were a mere 2 miles from the fairgrounds! It was 6:00 when got in line, and it was 8 when I parked!
Now you have to know that the Prince William County Fairgrounds is not a large venue. It is located on a very small 2 lane road. It is not set up for large crowds of people. I don't think there has ever been an event this big there!
I saw lots of people walking so I asked where they had parked, they'd parked in a subdivison just down the road. I knew that I was close enough to walk but I was a bit aprehensive about parking in a subdivison or right on the road, also I didn't want to walk back in the dark - we are out in the country here and it's dark - well I need not have worried, there were so many people that there was no getting lost, or mugged! At the next opportunity, 30 more mins of sitting in traffic, I turned around and found a spot deep in this subdivison and set out on foot. I covered the same ground on foot in 15 mins that had just taken me 30 mins in the car! There were lots of people walking and we were all chatting with each other and having a good time!
Once I got to the fairgrounds (I had to walk about a mile), I first found the ladies room and stood in line. I met a nice gal and her friend who was an exhange student from Australia, we had a nice chat, then I made my way into the rally area it's self.
They had set up the stage at the bottom of a hill and the whole hill was filled with people. I attempted to take some pictures, the big lights made it very hard but hopefully you can get the idea.....
I simply could not believe the number of people there. I'm not sure how many people were actually there, one of the VA congressmen said it was 80,000, Obama said it was 100,000, and the local news story said it was "a massive crowd estimated at 50,000 people." Now lets just hope they aren't counting the election results like this.
Obama spoke for about 45 mins and when he was done all those tens of thousands of people began their exodus from the fairgrounds. It was aa crush of people all cheering, "Ob-a-ma, Ob-a-ma, Ob-a-ma!" and "Yes we can!" Obama had also told a story which let to a new call and response cheer: "Fired up?" "Ready to go" All were heard as we all made our way out of the fairgrounds.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
My back gate doesn't close all the way. No matter what I do it just doesn't close. It needs to be fixed. That however falls in the category of "landscape" which I don't do.
The dog however, can fit through the gap in the fence and get out. I need to fatten her up.
A few weeks ago she'd been out in the yard for a long time so I got up and looked out - of course it's night and the light bulb on the outside light is burned out (I know just replace it....well it's always night when I realize it doesn't work and I can't see to replace it!!!!!) so I use the flashlight that I keep conveniently on my desk for this purpose. I scan the yard with the light. No dog. I figure that she has gotten out. So I get my shoes and traipse out to find her.
I find her in the Yemenese neighbors yard happily munching on what looks to be leftovers of some type in an aluminum baking pan (like you'd cook a large turkey in) that was sitting on the ground next to the trash can. I grabbed her collar and hauled her back into our yard, cursing the neighbors because I knew that when whatever she ate didn't agree with her, I'd be the one cleaning up the mess. To add icing to the cake I stepped in dog poop on my way back into the house.
At the time I'd assumed that whatever was in the pan was there because it was close to their trash can and it was likely going to be disposed of on the next trash day. Luckily for me Daisy digested whatever she ate just fine and didn't make a larger than normal mess in the basement.
A few weeks have gone by, Daisy has gone out and come back and not attempted to go over there again. In fact several times I think she has "gotten lost" in the back yard as I would shine the light and she'd be standing in the middle of the yard looking confused and then come right to the door to be let in. I figured that she could no longer find the fence to locate the gate to get out. Good deal.
Well, tonight she escaped. I got my shoes and my flashlight and went after her. Again I find her in the neighbors from Yemen's yard. Again eating out of a large aluminum baking pan (like you'd cook turkey in) right on the ground, right by the trash can, oh and trash day was yesterday no more trash pick-up till Tuesday. I took a pretty good look at the contents this time. The pan was full. I mean full. Not scraps left after cooking. Full, like ready to be served. It had piles of what looked like pulled chicken or maybe pulled pork (oh wait, they are Muslim, no pork). Whatever it was Daisy was eating like a Gillian's Island castaway. I grabbed her collar and hauled her home.
So WTF? Why in the world do these people with 11 children leave a huge pan of meat out in the yard? If they must throw away that much meat, why do they just put it on the ground? Why not in a handy dandy trash bag (They shop at Costco, I have seen them come home with their haul....Costco sells trash bags)? Or in the giant "take to the curb" trash can that was sitting right by it. And why can't they wait until closer to trash day to put it out? It's Saturday trash will be picked up again Tuesday - that's 3 days. If they must simply leave the meat on the ground (maybe it's a Muslim thing?), why can't they at least put it on the deck (which is what the rest of the neighborhood does with our trash cans) so animals can't get to it. Ok that just keeps big animals out....raccoons and squirrels are a different story. If my ancient, blind, can't-find-her-own-food-dish-some-days dog can locate it and get to it through the tiny little opening in the gate, what other pests is this inviting? WHY? WHY? WHY?
I guess it makes my overgrown weeds in the backyard look good.
Monday, October 13, 2008
There are 2 "trails" on this portion of the island, a dunes trail and a forest trail. This was taken on the forest trail that lead to an obersavtion tower over the bay and the marshes. This lone egret was hanging out quite a distance away - Iwasn't sure if it was a bird or a bouy with the naked eye!
This is a different egret. There was a place where you could walk out on the marsh and people could go crabbing and clamming and this egret was sitting all by herself (himself?) in the middle of a piece of land pretty far from the parking area. I walked out there and she/he put on quite a show - I got pretty close (but I still had to use the zoom to get this picture!) and he/she didn't make any moves to fly away.
There are 2 main parking areas for beach access - this is at the north beach area, not close to where the cars can drive on the beach. In the distance you can see the big hotels at Ocean City. Also the beach further north is much more crowded than the beach where I was - there is a Maryland State park on Assateague, I'm guessing that their day use fee is lower than the National Parks which is why more people were there. That's fine with me! :) This was along the road into the park - there are 7 white birds in this picture - I'm guessing they are the same egrets that I'd seen at the marsh.
A very cool butterfly on the plentiful yellow flowers!
There were only a few birds on the shore - mostly gulls - this one is probably a gull, but he/she looks different from the other gulls.
Looking north up the beach from the southern beach acess point. You can see the car on the beach and the fishing gear. The ocean water was warm and just before I left the beach I put my daypack down and waded into the surf. Not exactly swimming but I was throughly wet when I was done! It was fun, until I had to walk all the way back across the beach and I was wet and the sand stuck to me like glue!
On the way back the sun was shining though the clouds and it created this cool rainbow in the cloud!
This shot was taken from the bay bridge as I was zooming across! I was grateful that I'd made it though the trick ruralness of DE/MD before it got dark (from the bridge home is easy -50 to 495 to 95), and now I know the way so next time I go out there I can stay later and drive home in the dark.
I stopped for dinner in Annapolis and got home about 8:30. It was a wonderful day! I spent 5 hours outside and had no allergy symptoms! The beach seems like it's a good "pollen free" day trip location! I think next time I may explore Cape Henlopen and Rehoboth beach area since it's about 20 miles closer!