State Park activities

A National Quiet Zone and a National Radio Telescope.

I maybe the last remaining member of my family to not have a smartphone. But when traveling to Green Bank, W.V.  and the National Radio Telescope Science Center, I am not alone. This 13,000 acres of land inside the Monongahela National  forest is designated as A National Quiet Zone. Residents in the area are not allowed to use cell phones, WIFI is strictly prohibited,and families are not even allowed to use microwave ovens. I am thinking, I should move to Green Bank and go back in time to a place where things were different and people actually talked to each other. A time when life was slower and communication took hours not seconds.

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Green Bank,West Virginia and the world’s largest steerable radio telescope.

Many people who live in the Green Bank area either love the reason for the Quiet Zone or they hate it. Green Bank, West Virginia is home to the largest  steerable radio telescope in the world. The technology is so sensitive that they could pick up a cell phone signal on Mars and when researchers received that information back on earth, they would think that your phone was the loudest radio signal in outer space.It is hard to wrap my brain around that but, that means cell phones are the “Devil” to these researchers and their work. So I feel like I may have found my “People”. These families, researchers, farmers and public employees all live in a world that is more reminiscent to the 1940’s and 1950’s then 2016. Maintenance workers at the research center are not even allowed to have gas powered engines on the astronomy property. The researchers all drive diesel vehicles so they do not have spark plugs firing near the telescope. The spark sends out  a signal to the telescopes sensitive receivers.

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Green Bank Science Center National Radio Astronomy Observatory

So this holiday weekend my family decided to explore the Green Bank Science Center and finally see the huge radio telescope for ourselves. I have just enough of a nerd in me to find the study of astronomy very fascinating and  always jump to the chance to learn more. This research center is only about two hours from our house and is hidden in a rural mountain community so the trip was not only to see the telescope but spend the rest of the weekend in a small community called Cass.Cass State Park is home to  a scenic Railroad with several passenger trains that run year around. We spent the following day riding the trains up into the beautiful forests of Pocahontas  County for a restful day of sight seeing.How could we beat two great locations to visit about 15 minutes apart.

When you arrive at the Green Bank Science Center you are able to spend several hours exploring the building and grounds before actually taking a bus ride out to see the telescope up close. They have a nice interactive exhibit hall with activities for people of every age to explore. Tom, Christopher and I played with all kinds of fun devices that explained different things that they study at the science center. We took inferred photos of each other, played with mirrors and light reflections, put together huge puzzle pieces and got to see a scale model of the telescope that was beautiful.We walked around the grounds looking at some of the historic telescopes  and checked out a scale solar system display.

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JoLynn Powers at the Green Bank,West Virginia Science Center Exhibit Hall

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Green Bank,West Virginia Tom and Christopher are my favorite Aliens!

 

After our lunch and time in the exhibit hall we were allowed to photograph the telescope outside on a wooden landing area just out back of the main building. This would be the last location that digital photos would be allowed.Even the smallest click from a digital camera can disturb the radio waves near the telescope, so we packed away our cameras as we boarded a small tour bus to see the megalith up close. In a matter of minutes we were within a couple hundred yards of the huge structure. Watching the huge dish move into position for recording the data that a scientist needed that day was hypnotic. It is hard to explain how quite the telescope is when it moves. We stood only 50 yards from the large base of the telescope yet you could not hear a sound of any movement. How lonely it feels to be in the dishes huge shadow and how little I feel when I think about the fact that this telescope is looking not just at our solar system but ones hundreds of millions of miles away.

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photo from last safe point before entering the restricted camera area

After we returned to the bus and traveled back to the main building it was time to spend a few dollars on a nerdy telescope t-shirt and cool toys for Christopher at the gift shop. I also got the schedule of coming events. The science center hosts many child friendly events throughout the year and we hope to try to come back for some of them so ….. Christopher ( not his mom ) can learn more about space, the planets and the world we live in.  This very inexpensive trip  has to be the coolest thing I have done all summer.

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Roof and view from visitors center of the Green Bank Science Center.

Just as a side note, I love metal structures of all kinds, bridges, towers, old piles of rusted junk, cranes, old ships, radar dishes and now radio telescopes.This man made aluminum dish is the most fascinating object I think I have ever seen. Its sheer size,the dish is larger than a football field across and around 2 acres is surface space, the height is taller than the statue of liberty and makes me want to take hundreds of photos. I love its maze of bright white structural supports with so much open spaces to look through. I could have spent most of my day just watching it slowly move on its 6 legs with 12 feet tall steel wheels that support the 8,500 tons or 170,000,000 pounds. I will one day return to spend more time with a film camera so that I can take photos really close up and enjoy sitting it the shadow of a giant.

For more information about the Green Bank Radio Telescope please check out their Website at NRAO and plan to visit one of West Virginia’s most undiscovered treasures.

 

 

 

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Categories: Green Bank NRAO, historic locations, Monongahela National Forest, Pocahontas County, rural life, Science Center, State Park activities, trains, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day trip to Parkersburg, WV and Blennerhassett Island State Park

West Virginia is bound by the Ohio River along its western border. Rising from the deep green water of the river is a 500 tree covered acre island. Blennerhassett Island is now a historical West Virginia State Park that is accessible only by ferry or personal boat. The island is home to a 200-year-old mansion, 17 horses,several old buildings,a refreshment stand and a gift shop. It is one of the most beautiful of West Virginia’s State Parks and we took a weekend trip to see its homes and woods.

We started our day trip in Buckhannon and  drove north and arrived at the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia early in the morning near the Blennerhassett  museum and the river side park. A  wonderful four story building with displays from early stone tools and arrowheads found in the area to Victorian home furnishings and early cars. Tickets for the ferry ride to the island are purchased on the bottom floor of the re-purposed building.

Blennerhassett Museum front Wikimedia

Blennerhassett Museum from Wikimedia

My favorite portion of the museum was the collection of nautical items on the 4th floor. The miniature hand-made river boats and this ship steering wheel made me smile when Christopher had to stand on tippy toes just to see over its frame.

Tom and Christopher with antique ship steering wheel Blennerhassett Island Museum. Parkersburg, West Virginia

Tom and Christopher with antique ship steering wheel Blennerhassett Island Museum. Parkersburg, West Virginia.

After about an hour in the museum it was time to head to the dock to board our paddle driven ferry. This day the boat was full but under normal trips there are open seats either in the cabin below and on the deck above. We rode over to the island on the top deck, enjoying the view, sun, and spray off the paddle wheel.

Island Bell ferry to Blennerhassett Island

Island Bell ferry to Blennerhassett Island

Once on the island visitors are welcome to take the tour of the Blennerhassett mansion, rent bicycles to ride around the island, take a  horse-drawn wagon ride and do some shopping at a gift shop.

Blennerhassett Island Mansion Father's Day 2016

Blennerhassett Island Mansion Father’s Day 2016

My family really enjoyed the covered wagon ride. Christopher liked the horses and the wind in his hair when the driver let the horses pick up speed along the 2 mile path around the black walnut grove. The island is known for its trees and they cover over 2/3 of the island’s land that is actually owned by the DuPont Company. The only open spaces visible are the yards at the mansion and two pastures that are kept cleared for the horses that live on the island all summer. The  hundreds of trees shade keeps visitors cool even on a hot 86 degree day like ours.

Horse drawn wagon ride Blennerhassett Island

Horse Drawn wagon ride Blennerhassett Island

The tour of the Blennerhassett house is a delight and costumed members of the staff show off the lavish life the family lived. The family lived only 6 years in the finished house. Construction of the house began in the late 1790 and was complete in 1800 with the family fleeing the island 1806 leaving almost everything they owned behind. Harmon and Margaret’s family history is filled with scandal and strange political dealings that made their lives turbulent. Harmon and his young wife ran away from their native Ireland due to his Irish political dealings and his scandalous marriage, to his niece who was decades younger than him. Harmon Blennerhassett later again becomes involved in secret political dealings here in the United States. Being connected with Aaron Burr (Vise President under Thomas Jefferson) and his military plans eventually caused Harmon to be charged with treason by the President. As troops invade the island,the family flees trying to keep Harmon from being captured. Harmon is later found and arrested spends time in prison before the government drops their charges and he is released. The family suffers more tragedy with the death of children, loss of their inherited wealth and the return to Ireland. Yet, their love survives all of this and house remained abandoned on the island until 1811 when it burned to the ground in an accidental fire.

During the tour you  are only allowed to take photos without a flash so I chose to take very few of the inside of the main house and study which was very dark. But the kitchen wing of the house(which is the wing on the left in the photo) is bright and filled with windows without coverings I took a few of the large fireplace that was said to never grow cold. The island had a large amount of workers, slaves, family and guests to feed. Margaret is said to have fed everyone on the island from this single hearth.The fire was kept up around the clock to serve the 3 meals a day to the workers and sometimes seven coarse dinners to the family and guests.

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Fireplace hearth of the Blennerhassett mansion

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Tour guide Blennerhassett Island State Park

The rest of our afternoon was spent eating at the island snack bar that serves hamburgers, hot dog and a variety of other easy to prepare foods. But one of the highlights of our day was getting a slice of birthday cake and a scoop of ice cream to celebrate the 153rd birthday of the creation of the state of West Virginia. It was a wonderful way to remind us of the power of the people of this state.They choose to become a state that was different and separate from the state of Virginia during some of the most turbulent times in our countries history.

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West Virginia birthday cake 2016

The return trip back to the shore in Parkersburg was a great time to reflect on some of the famous people who also loved and visited this very unique island. I find it interesting that the list includes, people like Davy Crockett, Walt Whitman, Johnny Appleseed, Vise President Aaron Burr and even King Charles the X of France.The beauty of the Blennerhassett home and island was known throughout the large cities of the east coast.

As our ferry paddled its way back to the dock and I watched the barges move freight up and down The Ohio River, I finally understood Margret’s love for the island. It only took a few hours of our time to forget everything the did not happen on the island. We were lost in the beauty of her home and forest for hours. All three of us enjoyed a day along the Ohio River and would have enjoyed a much longer stay.

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Tug boat with barge on the Ohio River at Parkersburg WV 2016

Categories: Birthday, Blennerhassett Island, boats, family fun, Horses, State Park activities, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Haunting of The Lee Family Cabin at Lost River State Park, WV

The weekend was full, we had plans for fishing, hiking, seeing the Lee family cabin and sulfur springs at Lost River State Park and camp ground near Mathias West Virginia. The drive is several hours of mountain Highways. Up one mountain and down again until you reach the valley of Hardy county. In a matter of minutes you drop from the rocky cliffs and steep grades of the Appalachian Mountains into a valley that is several miles wide and fallows an ancient river bed. The valley is full of dried corn at this time of year ready to harvest for the cattle feed and chickens that are the main source of income in this river basin. Farm after farm leads you from Baker West Virginia to the entrance road to Lost River State Park at Mathias West Virginia. The park is a favorite for those looking for wilderness and a peaceful get away from the big city of Washington D.C. The capital city is only about 1 1/2 hours  from the border of the park. Once inside the grounds you have stepped away from the world of barns and farms into a place of hard woods and mossy rocks. The park has over 3,700 acres for exploration and a haunted cabin owned by the famous Henry Lee family of Virginia ( Robert E. Lee’s father).There are 15 lovely  cabins built by the Conservation Core during the great depression and 12 modern cabins. Making this wooded rustic park a perfect setting for a ghost story and tails of murder and destructive fires

Cabin at lost River State Park in the rain.

Cabin at lost River State Park in the rain.

Rainy day at Lost River State Park

Rainy day at Lost River State Park

Lost River State Park was once a land grant estate starting with several owners from England including Lord Thomas Fairfax slowly changing hands over the years to the Revolutionary war hero General Henry ( Light Horse Harry) Lee. Henry received the  Granted property for superior service in 1796 and the family soon built on the land. First was a cabin that they used as a summer retreat from the hot,humid summers of their Virginia home. Henry had 7 children one of the youngest was Robert E Lee the famous Civil War General. Over the years Henry and his boys continued to build in the shallow valley, he build a resort hotel and had visitors come from D.C  and Maryland to bathe in the sulfur spring water that pours from a historic spring, relaxing in Victorian style. The resort caught fire and burnt to the ground in 1923 and after years of financial trouble for the family the property sold to West Virginia in 1933. In 1934 the park was open and ready for visitors.

Only the cabin and sulfur spring remain on the property and are open to the public. The cabin is a two-story frame and hewn log house with a large stone fireplace and large porch with 4 rooms two on the main floor and two rooms upstairs. There is no drop ceilings in the upper rooms making for a tall vaulted roof that reaches a steep peak. The stair case is in the middle of the house as a room divider with two bedrooms up stairs and living room and kitchen below.

front view of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

Front view of Henry Lee cabin  with Fire Place at Lost River State Park

We toured the home and were able to see that the rooms in the top story of the house are white washed and the kitchen below also. This seemed rather strange to me although I did not ask right away why a cabin of this age was white washed if it had not been used for anything more than a museum for the last 70 years and a retreat before that. Most cabins would have never been treated in this way if they were not a primary residence. Then I found out the story of why the upstairs rooms and kitchen needed paint.

White Kitchen fire place at the Henry ( light horse Harry) Lee cabin

White Kitchen fireplace at the Henry ( light horse Harry) Lee cabin.

Living area of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

Living area of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park.

Bed Room of Henry (light horse Harry)Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

Bed Room of Henry (light horse Harry)Lee cabin at Lost River State Park.

vintage clothing hung on back wall of cabin

Vintage clothing hung on back wall of cabin Lost River State Park.

During the late 1840’s a stock trader returning from Virginia to his home in Moorefield, West Virginia came up on an ambush close to the location to the entrance of the park. The trader Charles Sager dismounted and with in minutes the two robbers dragged him the 1/4 of a mile up the hollow between the tree covered hills, through a small creek into the yard of the Henry Lee cabin. All the while the Lee family was away in Virginia not knowing a thing about what was happening. The struggle continued up the steps of the porch to the cabin door… To not attract attention Charles’s robbers pushed him into the cabin that they had already broken into. Then wrestling for his life, Charles climbed up the steep stairs where he was found with no money from the sale of his live stock in Virginia. Being stabbed not once but several times Charles was left to die in a upper bedroom. His remains were found later resting in a huge pool of blood. The blood smeared down one wall and pooled on to the floor where it flowed down the baseboard into the ceiling of the first floor and dripped and pooled again staining the floors of both rooms. The stains from the murder were never removed. That even with scrubbing the blood stains remained and the family could not return to the cabin in such a state. So the walls were white washed and rugs made to hide the stains and allow the family to continue to use the cabin.

So as the Park Naturalist tells the story he suggests that the cabin is still haunted. Maybe it is Charles whose life was take violently that causes the many disturbances in the cabin. On our visit the naturalist did not seem to dislike spending his days talking with guests and making sure we stopped at the Lee Sulfur Spring in the front yard of the cabin. Yet, when I finally did process the photos from our trip the very first photo of the cabin  seems to have some thing wrong with it.  That untreated photo is below for your consideration:

Henry (light horse Harry) Lee cabin Lost River State Park... untouched photo of house with Transparent blob in right hand corner under porch

Henry ( light Horse Harry) Lee cabin Lost River State Park… untouched photo of house with transparent blob in right hand corner of photo.

The next photo I took from the very same location does not show the blob and the rest of the photos are fine. I am not sure what to think. I have had other photos with orbs and rain drops but this is the first that I have ever taken one that just does not make seem like it is the light source. It is interesting to think that this cabin and park have such a long rich history… From Lords, to war heroes, to murder and destructive fires and even healing water spring.

As my family walked down to the sulfur spring in cabins yard we began to talk about how strange it would be to stay the night in the cabin and take a bath in the springs often thought of as Healing Waters. The Resort Hotel that Lee built had used the spring to bring people from all over the south. Many drank coffee made from the spring and bathed in the pink water. It is still believed that even General Robert E Lee returned to the park for a cup of Sulfur coffee or tea after his campaigns during the civil war.  This is all that remains of the spring.  A shallow bath sized pooling area with a Plexiglas cover and this spout for water collection. The spring has never run dry in the 250 years after discovery and people still  gather water for home spa treatments.( we did not collect any of the water due to its overwhelming smell)

Tom getting a handful of water from the Lee Sulfur Spring , Lost River State Park, WV

Tom getting a handful of water from the Lee Sulfur Spring , Lost River State Park, WV

Above view of sulfur water at Lee Sulfur Spring, Lost River State Park, Mathias, WV

Above view of sulfur water at Lee Sulfur Spring, Lost River State Park, Mathias, WV.

On our walk back through the cabins yard I stopped to take more photos and Tom found what he thought was horse shoe tracks at the foot bridge. That same bridge that poor old Charles Sager had been dragged across when he was murdered. My mind sparked at the hoof prints in the mud. Those are the same marks that would have been here 200 years ago when two unknown mounted men attacked and drug Charles through the meadows and gaps behind the Hotel. Where they dismounted at the bridge, pushed and shoved Charles Sager across the wooden bridge and across the yard in front of the spring where the Lee’s house sat. The scuffle that took place outside had to have been the reason that if you believe in ghosts  that my camera picked up the smoky images floating in front of the house. It was the last place the Mr Sager saw before his murder and maybe it is the remnant of his ghost. Who will forever remain part of the Lost River State Park, WV.

I love  ghost stories and will be sharing more over the next month or two as I get time. Happy early Halloween from Mountain Mama!

View of back of Lee cabin Lost River State Park, WV

View of back of Lee cabin Lost River State Park, WV

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Camping, Folk tails, ghost stories, Halloween, rural life, State Park activities, Travel, WV | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Spring Time in West Virginia means Trout and a trip to Seneca Rocks

Spring is here and our family always tries to head out doors as soon as April arrives. The flowers begin to bloom  and the trout are ready to bite.  We took a break from work on the remodel of our family room because the tile I ordered came in a week late. Yea, Tom and I are thrilled that the three-day Easter weekend that we planed to put the tile in was delayed again. So instead of working on the house Tom, Christopher and I spent the day in the mountains. It was a nice break and the weather was perfect… I am so glad we worked this day into our Easter weekend plans.

Easter blooms at Seneca Rocks State Park

Easter blooms at Seneca Rocks State Park

The trip Tom planed was to hit a new  trout fishing stream in Seneca Rocks area of Pendleton County, West Virginia. The drive was about an 1 hour and 40 minutes from where live and is close to Seneca Rock State Park where we would spend part of the afternoon.The trout fishing in this area of the state is excellent and fishing is good in side the state park but the area is catch and release only. Tom was able to catch 6 nice fish in this rural stream in a matter of about 2 hours. The air was still cold when we arrived and the temp on the dash of my car said 28 degrees so Christopher and I would fish a while and then move out of the shadow of the mountain and play in the sun to warm up.

Sign showing the Eastern Continental divide at the boarder of Randolph and Pendleton Counties

Sign showing the Eastern Continental divide at the border of Randolph and Pendleton Counties

Snow on hill side on Easter near Onego WV

Snow on hill side on Easter near Onego WV

Christopher fishing along a trout stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

Christopher fishing along a trout stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

Tom fishing in a stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

Tom fishing in a stream in Pendleton County West Virginia

 

The sun finally crested over the mountain tops around noon. The sky was cloudless and we headed into town for lunch and to the state park for an afternoon of  hiking through some of the most beautiful rock formations in the state.

 

Advertisement on barn on the way to Seneca Rock... and Lunch

Advertisement on barn on the way to Seneca Rock… and Lunch

Seneca rocks is of our favorite places to just spend the day. They have fun shops that remind you of the 1800’s,  they have camping, horse back riding,and a few restaurants. The place is a lazy country town with out a formal plan and no rush hour and no stop light. It very much reminds me of the small mountains towns I grow up with in Colorado. You can fish, hike and watch the rock climbers in the sun. As you walk from one shop to another you relax as the sheep in the fields graze around you.

Seneca Motors, Seneca. West Virginia

Seneca Motors, Seneca. West Virginia

 

Harper's Old County store

Harper’s Old County store

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

Country Roads take me home Hwy 55 Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

After lunch and buying some fresh made maple syrup from a county store, we headed to the park where we spent a few minutes at the visitor center and observation deck. The view was fantastic.

Seneca Rocks State Park Easter 2015

Seneca Rocks State Park Easter 2015

Tom and I wanted to get a closer look and spent the remaining part of our afternoon walking the grounds and finally  hiking about half way to the summit of the rocks. There is an observation landing on the far left of the first rise of the rocks. The trip is about a mile and half from the base and about 2 miles from the observation deck

Seneca rocks from the parks visitor center

Seneca rocks from the parks visitor center

Time was too short to reach the observation this time, so this up hill hike will remain on my “to do” list for another year. The trail was also crowded with people. The park had just reopened for the season and the weather was good.

Tom and Christopher on the bridge trail at the base of Seneca Rocks

Tom and Christopher on the bridge trail at the base of Seneca Rocks

We then spent some time looking at the home stead cabin that is part of the park grounds. We visited here back two years ago on our camping trip and I wished that it had been open for visitors this time. Here is what you may find at the home stead during summer hours.

 

Home Stead at Seneca Rocks state Park

Home Stead at Seneca Rocks state Park

Bee Balm outside of cabin

Bee Balm outside of cabin

Wagon wheel at the Home Stead House at Seneca Rocks State Park WV

Wagon wheel at the Home Stead House at Seneca Rocks State Park WV

Porch table at Home Stead Cabin Seneca Rocks State Park

Porch table at Home Stead Cabin Seneca Rocks State Park

The drive home was quite, Tom and Christopher both took naps in the warm sun that shone through the windows.  I was so happy that we were able to take some time and get back in the woods after such a long and cold winter. We will eat the trout for dinner and hope to find some Ramps along the way back home. At this time of year people sell them off the hoods of trucks and cars, 10$ for 5 pounds….. yummy fresh spring foods. I could not wait to get home to my kitchen.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Easter, family fun, fishing, hiking, Seneca Rocks, State Park activities, trout, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy unbirthday party at Moundsville State Penitentiary, Moundsville West Virginia

prisoner art work inside family meeting area of Moundsvill state Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

prisoner art work inside family meeting area of Moundsville state Penitentiary, Moundsville, West Virginia

The un-birthday has been a family tradition of ours for at least 18 years although I did not know that was the term until recently. A fellow blogger Lori at www.waldorfmoms.com  had written about her sons lack of birthday party due to his allergies to glueton and dairy. The traditional american birthday includes cake and ice cream both things he can’t have in the traditional form so they went on a trip instead and eat fruit, vegetables, rice and fish.

veiw of Moundsville State Penitentuary, Moundsville, West Virginia

veiw of Moundsville State Penitentuary, Moundsville, West Virginia

In my case I just hate birthday parties, I am not a hostess at heart. So my children and husband  have learned to do other things instead of renting a hall, buying cake that no one really likes anyway and eating pizza.The whole processes is just UN-FUN for me. So when Cody was little we just started to doing other things for his birthday. Tom didn’t seem to care so the tradition started to travel, explore and seek new things on the one day in the world that is truly yours. I picked the Moundsville Prison Tour as our UN-Party location this year. I love a good murder mystery and ghost story so this is the perfect place to hang out for the afternoon of my birthday.

custom made front entry door for Moundsvill state prison

custom-made front entry door for Moundsville state prison

We took the tour and learned a lot about the huge Gothic structure and about inmates that lived in the prison. The Prison opened in 1876 with 251 inmates who actually help build the buildings and reached a max capacity of almost 2000 in the late 7o’s. Riots and federal laws changed and by 1996 at the closing of the institution their were around 600 to 700 inside the 5 foot thick walls. The history of the penitentiary is a mix of executions, murders and Charles Manson stories.

Cell in high security area of Moundsville state Penitentiary, site of worst murder in thier history

Cell in high security area of Moundsville state Penitentiary, site of worst murder in their history

94 inmates lost their lives to executions inside the grounds of  the prison 85 hung and 9 died by electrocutions. The hangings were frist thought to take place inside the frist building on the property The Wagon Gate and later moved to an outdoor gallows that later became the recreation yard for some of the most violent criminals. The gallows disturbed inmates who spent hours every day looking at them and were eventually removed.

frist structure at Moundsvill state penitentiary.. used as housing and sight of hangings

first structure at Moundsville state penitentiary.. used as housing and sight of hangings

trap door in the wagon gates ceiling moundsville prison

The prison boasts 36 recorded Homicides inside the prisons walls. Most being prisoners against prisoner but some assaults were against state employees who were over taken while performing their duties.  The prison has its own cemetery with simple markers for the bodies of those whom no one came to clam.The highest death tolls taking place during the 3 riots that occurred at the prison. The one in 1986, last 5 days, resolved only after the governor of West Virginia ( Arch Moore) came in person to  the prison grounds.

door into the location of the worst prison riot location at Moundsville

door into the location of the worst prison riot location at Moundsville

It was also this prison that the most notorious prisoner of all, Charles Manson wanted to call home in the late 80’s. The prison displays the original letter that Manson wrote to the then Warden. The letter explains that Manson would like to return home to West Virginia to serve his remaining time in jail. Yea, he and most of his family were from an area near Wheeling and close to Moundsville. The website  Charlie. com  http://www.charliemanson.com/places/lb-moundsville.htm

has a wonderful photo spread of the letter on their website and more information about his past. While our tour group spend time in the “Yard” our tour guide also informed us that Charles Manson lived with his aunt and uncle from about age of 5 to 15, as his mother was also incarcerated most of his youth. Really, are any of us surprised over this information. The tour guide informed us that Charles’ mom had arm robbed a gas station in the Charleston area of West Virginia and was in a prison in the southern part of the state for 10 years.  How crazy is that; puts a new spin on the words”criminal family”.

Christopher and I hanging out in a padded cell at Moundsville state Penitentiary

Christopher and I hanging out in a padded cell at Moundsville state Penitentiary

After spending time inside this chain linked high security area of the prison, I now know that most criminals were generally housed like animals early in the 20th century.  I am not sure how I feel about it really, creeped out yes, but deep inside I wonder if you act like an animal, people generally just see you as one also. Making it very hard for the justice system to “want” to improve things. The cells are very small measuring 5′ by 7′ with three inmates in each one. Looking very similar to the dog kennels that we all see at the local ASPCA or pound. The most violent inmates eat in their cells, used the toilet in their cells and slept in them. Two hours a day these violent criminals gained accesses to exercise in caged area within the high walled yard.

The small exerice area for the worst criminals inside the walled yard at Moundsville State Penitentiary

The small exercise area for the worst criminals inside the walled yard at Moundsville State Penitentiary

Christopher and Paige playing in the large "yard" at the prison

Christopher and Paige playing in the large “yard” at the prison

The Capel inside the "yard' at Moundsville state Penitentiary

The Capel inside the “yard’ at Moundsville state Penitentiary

 

For those who were the most unfortunate solitary confinement was actually in the basement of the main building. The “Hole” was really a hole, deep, dark and dank. I did not attempt to explore the area and was not sure if it was even allowed but some looked into the boiler room and holding areas. If it was any worse than what I already shared with my family above ground it must have been one step from hell. Loud boiler fires roaring, the creaking of hot pipes,sounds of men shoveling loads of coal into the hole and into the boiler. Darkness that was unending, no natural light passing through anything like a window. Mice, rats and roaches and who knows what else would slither into the basement for warmth in the winters. A hole in the floor for you bodily functions. Nothing at all like our world of light and freedom.

vistitor looking into basement area / solitary confinment area of administration building at moundsville Penitentiary

visitor looking into basement area / solitary confinement area of administration building at Moundsville Penitentiary

back of main gate, home of wardon and family, administration building. Moundsvill State Penitentiary, Moundsville West Virginia

back of main gate, home of warden and family, administration building. Moundsvill State Penitentiary, Moundsville West Virginia

 

I found the whole experience moving but not in the way I expected. I had come to see the cells of the TV shows and movies I had seen in the past. I came to see what incarceration meant, I left in confusion. I saw where guards lost their lives and others lost dreams because of the violence inside the castles walls. I walked through community shower halls where men got washed down like cattle to the slaughter. I stood on the bottom floor of four stories of cells packed with 600 men looking out on to a wall of nothingness. I viewed works of art and murals that took hours to paint and great skills to make, wasted on the walls of this institution. I knew that prison life was not some thing I ever wanted experience,but grown adults made choices everyday to return to this system of living. They would return over and over to having nothing and being nothing to the outside world. I learned how some families survived this place and how men had visits from their wives and children through walls and windows always watched by an armed guards. I wondered how their conversations went.

Shower "hall" below three stories of overlooking cells. regular inmate cell block moundvills state Penitentuary

Shower “hall” below three stories of overlooking cells. regular inmate cell block Moundsville state Penitentiary

4 stories of cells in regular cell block home to about 600 prisoners. Moundsville prison, Moundsvill, West Virginia

Gaurds gun used in the visitor are of prison

Guards gun used in the visitor are of prison

inmate art work one of several painted inside new caffiteria

Finally the most disturbing thing of all was the view from the front gates of the prison. The homes built not 300 yards from the fence that surrounds the castle. Families lived in rows of 1940 and 1950’s homes, all with in the reach of hundreds of damaged lives.  To my shock there is an elementary school within three blocks of the leaving the penitentiary property. I find that just so strange. Why, in the middle of very rural West Virginia did some city planner think  this was a good idea.  From what I gathered on our tour, inmates escaped at least 4 times and one escape was of 15 men. The escape of the 15 men took place in 1986 during the day and after that elementary school was in use. This to me was the most disturbing part of the entire trip. You drive through a typical residential area, then arrive at the parking area across from the prison. The neighborhood is in good shape,although old and is homey and seems very happy to have the tourists stopping in to get ice cream at a locals ice cream parlor.

community of Moundsville, West Virginia taken across the street from the prison.

community of Moundsville, West Virginia taken across the street from the prison.

Front view of the Big Dipper icecream parlor

Front view of the Big Dipper icecream parlor

 

Christopher eating at the Big Dipper ice cream parlor across from the prison, Moundsville, West Virginia

In the end the beauty of the building alone is worth the trip to see it. The community surrounding the relic is friendly with restaurants and small shops. Yet, after seeing inside the prison a person can not help feeling differently about the majestic structure. It is a prison and  it is nothing more than creepy and sad. Our country still has no better way to remove the most violent from society then the prison system. This tour really shows off where we started in the containment, control and rehabilitation of our criminals. This was one of the most educational and emotionally driven un-birthday trips ever. My family never even thought about doing the haunted tours and paranormal investigations that they also offer at the prison but here is the link to their website for more information about tours and spectacle events. http://www.wvpentours.com/tours_dailytours.htm.

I will try to return to the prison again. I aim for a less busy day next time and maybe I will be without the 3 and 5 year olds. I didn’t get enough time to see the letter from Manson and I wanted better photos of their electric chair but over all it was worth every penny and I highly recommend the trip to anyone.

Categories: Birthday, family fun, Moundsville State Penitentiary, State Park activities, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Bridge Day, New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia 2012-13

  My family traveled to Bridge Day for the frist time last year and I have been wanting to go back all summer.The weekend of Oct. 19 we are all headed back to Fayette County West Virginia for the biggest festival in our state. The things that are so appealing about this festival are the time of year, the low-cost, the experience of being able to walk on the second largest arch bridges in the world and cheering on BASE jumpers who for one day every year have legal rights to jump off the bridge and hope to land safely in the gorge below.

two BASE Jumpers floating in the air at BridgeDay, Fayetteville,WV

two BASE Jumpers floating in the air at Bridge Day, Fayetteville,WV

My family travelled to Fayetteville, West Virginia for the festival and my 43 birthday. The trip took us about 2 hours from my home in the central part of the state. This  is the most beautiful time to travel in West Virginia, as mid Oct is the height of the leaf color. The views along the interstate 79 south and Highway 19 were breath-taking. I made Tom stop the car several times to take photos along the way back.

Fall folage on hwy 19 in Fayette county West Virginia ...Tom holding Christopher

Fall foliage on hwy 19 in Fayette county West Virginia …Tom holding Christopher

When you arrive to the Bridge there are several places that the park uses for parking the cars of the 80,000… spectators they had in 2012. Most are campgrounds or churches. From these make shift parking lots the park service employees load you on school buses and takes you out to the end of the bridge for a reasonable fare of $2 dollars a rider, kids under 6 are free. This 2$ fee is the only fee charged the whole time you are at the festival unless you choose to buy something. 

As you step off the bus the amount of people who are walking the bridge is then visible. Personally have never seen this many people at one place at one time before. I was over whelmed but never really felt closed-in unless you were at the back of the launch stand where the BASE jumpers were diving off the bridge.

crowds at the entrance of the Bridge Day

crowds at the entrance of the Bridge Day

Once we passed under the “Red Bull” arch the crowds thinned out and walking in groups was very easy. Then you start out over the gorge and my heart pounded and I was so excited to finally get the chance to look down over the edge of my favorite bridge.OK, I do have a real soft spot for bridges and this one is my favorite by far. 

This is the view from the top of the bridge to show you what we were seeing. Christopher’s head is in this photo as he LOVED watching the jumpers canapes open with the beautiful colors drifting down. The photo below shows two jumpers almost ready to land.

Veiw from the New River Gorge Bridge to the river below on Bridge Day 2012

View from the New River Gorge Bridge to the river below on Bridge Day 2012

unknown photographer taken from the Bridge day wedsite

unknown photographer taken from the Bridge day website

 The BASE jumping begins at about 11am and we had arrived about 10am so the kids and I  began to explore the venders at each end of the bridge. They have no services on the bridge itself so if you want food or a restroom you end up walking the length of the bridge ( .57 mile long) to get a hot polish sausage or lemonade. Then we headed back on the main body of the bridge to see the jumpers… This was my view most of the remainder of the day.

Bridge Day sectators on the New River Gorge Bridge ...

Bridge Day spectators on the New River Gorge Bridge …

 The 400 BASE Jumpers wrap up their day around 3pm and we watched the very last jumpers go over the bridges edge in a set of three jumpers. It was a beautiful to see and insightful to see who and why people jump. Some of the jumpers are doing the jump in memory of lost loved ones. Some do it for pay…..”RED BULL” …extreme sports team is always their with music and head cameras going as jumpers film them selves flinging off the edge in a human catapult. Others are trying to have a great life and just enjoy the thrill of it. The oldest jumper last year was a man in his 80’s who just charmed the crowd with his presence. The link below is of the Human Catapult at the 2012 Bridge day event the frist time the festival used it.

Below is a photo of the rig used to let the jumpers leap from the bridge.

Base jumpers getting ready to leap of New River Gorge Bridge. Bridge Day 2012

Base jumpers getting ready to leap of New River Gorge Bridge. Bridge Day 2012

 Their at also other activities going on before during and after the main event of Base jumping so it is wise to plan ahead and use the official “Bridge Day” website to get more information on times and hotel information if you want to make it a weekend event. 

http://www.officialbridgeday.com/ 

and for other activities that happen at and around the New River or the Bridge contact adventure travel.Thier web site includes information about white water rafting and rappelling from the bridge.

http://www.adventurewestvirginia.com.

 As our day slowly came to a close I wanted to take a few photos on the bridge with my family as a nice reminder of one of  the best birthdays I have ever had. I was able to get some great family photos that day as it the weather was a cool 53 degrees and over cast. I loved it because everyone looks better with rosy cheeks.

My family at Bridge Day 2012. Tom, Cody, Christopher and Jolynn Powers oct 2012

My family at Bridge Day 2012. Tom, Cody, Christopher and Jolynn Powers Oct 2012

and I got a wonderful photo of my grand-daughter and sons wife that day too!

young family at Bridge day 2012 Cody, Jamie and Paige Powers

young family at Bridge day 2012 Cody, Jamie and Paige Powers

We then walked back across the Bridge the other 3,030 feet (.57 of mileage) to the bus pick up location. We had eaten wonderful hot food and kettle corn, gotten free bead necklaces, herd rock music and talked to people from all over the country and Europe. This is the most widely watched extreme sport in the united states and is the best tank of gas and 2$ I have ever spent. It is well worth the trip to see and share in all the fun and was a great way to celebrate me just getting another year older.

As a side note, none of the jumpers were injured or killed at this years festival but as a warning to anyone who wants to attend. People have been seriously injured or killed at this event and many of the jumpers land in the ice-cold water bellow. So remember that it is possible that you may witness some thing that goes wrong and have to leave the area so that emergency personnel can have access to the bridge or surrounding areas. 

Again  it is a wonderful event and at the perfect time of year so enjoy the 2013 Bridge Day  on Saturday Oct 19 and watch some thing amazing.

New River Gorge Bridge with fall folage 2000 by jolynn powers

New River Gorge Bridge with fall foliage 2000 by jolynn powers

Categories: Bridge Day, New River Gorge, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Big Bend Camp ground, Cabins West Viriginia

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Big Bend camp ground, Camping, Hardwood forest, Monongahela National Forest, Potomac river, Seneca Rocks, Smoke Hole Caverns, State Park activities, West Virginia | 4 Comments

Back Woods Wonders in West Virginia

      Treasures found in the back woods of West Virginia.. photos and notes on the things we have seen and found on our trips into the Appalachian forest.

Snail on river moss, cleveland, WV

Snail on river moss, Cleveland, WV

     My subject is one that is near and dear to my heart. This post allows me to  shows off some of the photos I have taken over the years that we have lived in the Mountain State. West Virginia is abundant with wildlife and the scenery is both  mysterious and enchanting. Many times it has  reminded me of all of those fairytale and fables written about the woods. My personal favorite to use as an example is the story of Hansel and Geritol who get lost in the dark woods. Here in our forgotten state where technology still takes a back seat to wildness I have found my love and my gingerbread house hidden in the woods.

    Growing up in Boulder,Colorado, we saw deer, rabbits, coons, and occasionally a fox. Impressed and fascinated with every thing nature had to offer I read and studied our local wild life.I wanted to know more and see more. This passion to understand wild life, its conservation, and how to live a more natural life became building blocks of who I wanted to be as an adult. Maybe watching to many episodes of “Grizzly Adams” had something  to do with my life choices. I wanted to marry “Adams”, I wanted to be in the forest with him, living off the land, eating wild game, making dinner over a fire. I wanted to have friends who were trappers and miners.  I wanted to save people from the cities from getting lost in the wilderness. I wanted a Buck Skinner life, a Pioneer woman.

Funny how a young persons dreams of life can foreshadow  reality. After years of working towards my dream, I have almost reach this goal. I married a wonderful man who loves the woods as much as I do. Tom is a person who sees the value of all of the things the hard wood forest has to offers. We are a family who supports conversation with an eye towards the sports men who donate millions every year to protect what it is that they love. We live conventionally and not in a rustic cabin with no running water, but we do spend almost every free time we have working with or around animals, wild life, and trying to live off the land. I still dream of a small cabin with a wood stove and a hand pump for water  but that will be a vacation cabin out in the woods someday. 

Mary Conrad cabin Jacksons Mill. Jane Lew West Virigina

Mary Conrad cabin Jackson’s’ Mill. Jane Lew West Virginia

Codys' proud catch of the day

Cody’s proud catch of the day

Tom and I have been lucky over the years.  We  have been able to share our love of the outdoors  with our kids. Cody now 22 and is  an avid outdoors man himself. He often surprises us with his skills with a compound bow and fishing pole. This was a rather good day of fishing at Holly River State Park. The fishing was excellent with many caught and released that morning. I was lucky to get a few put in the freezer for later use.

Cody with his native and brook trout

Cody with his native and brook trout

Early morning Sun on Stone Coal Lake

Early morning Sun on Stone Coal Lake

     Most of our adventures, we are up long before daylight and we return only after a long day. Fishing, Hunting, Hiking ,Ramp Digging all take lots of daylight hours to accomplish.  While on a long drive to a secret fishing hole I stopped the car and took these photos. The sun had just risen over the trees and began its climb into the sky to burn off the fog that is ever-present in the winding hills of West Virginia.

Morning mist on Stone Coal Lake

Morning mist on Stone Coal Lake

Locus tree nut pod

Locus tree nut pod

Spring Wild flower

Spring Wild flower

    With Christopher being so young we try  to keep things simple and interesting at the same time. We spend many hours looking for hidden treasures and wonders of wild life that he at four years old he can understand. We spend many afternoons looking closely at the ground or at his eye level. He loves hunting nuts, seed pods, berries, and flowers. His education about respect, understanding and love for the mountains begins here… with a snail, flower, and nut. It is in the peace and beauty of a stream that he learns about pollution and how it hurts the environment, how it kills fish and makes the family unhappy. He is able to understand that much at about nature at four, and it is important that he does.

toms favorite trout stream. Webster County West Virigina

toms favorite trout stream. Webster County West Virginia

     While in the woods my family forages and hunts. We eat many of the wild plants and animals that nature provides for our use and we expand the collection every year. This year we have adding the foraging of Mushrooms and Fiddle Head Ferns to our list and will at some point in the future add Wild Hog to our diet.  It is always a delight to find and eat wild plants and animals. Here is one of my favorite edibles and things to photograph…. wild colorful mushrooms. Some of the mushrooms photographed here are very poisonous.

collection of Wild Mushrooms

collection of Wild Mushrooms

  I am not sure what it is about fungus that fascinates me, but I always have time to photograph a new style or color.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 I also wanted to include pictures of the deer and turkeys and other animals that we see and hunt in West Virgina. But many of the photo I have taken are actually after the hunt is over and are trophy shots. Some readers find these offensive and I will refrain from sharing those photos. I now realise that I do not have many good photos of the live animals themselves. I hope to remedy the situation over the next few months, so that a post like this is full of good photos of live animals in their natural surrounds.

   Funny what we take photos of isn’t it ? I never realised that I loved seeing deer in our back yard but never took a photos of  them?  These are  my most current deer photos, they are not overly well shot, but you can get the feel of how friendly they can become over time.

what a group of friends a Boy( Chris) a mule and a calico cat

what a group of friends a Boy( Chris) a mule a calico cat and white tail doe

This deer is comfortable to seeing Mini the Mule in her pasture but when we came to visit, she was curious about Christopher and they looked each other over for a long time.

White tail Doe looking at Christopher

White tail Doe looking at Christopher

Fall Follage in Fayettevill,Wet Virginia

fall foliage in Fayetteville,Wet Virginia

  These are the woods that I  love and depended on for my “dream come true”. It still surprises me that I am able to live a life where I am part of nature on a daily basis. The woods have taught me so much about being true to myself and a strong individual. Yes, I love my computer and internet but they are only tools that I use to share my love of the outdoors with you. It is in the woods that I find my peace and my connection with the universe. These woods nourish my body and my soul. It took  almost 45 years to get here to this place where I was living true to my heart.I now realise that my dream of child hood is coming true, that I am a woodsman’s wife, a Pioneer Woman, a Mother and a Steward of the Woods. I am strong and free and able to rejoice in the mountains and streams of  Wild Wonderful West Virginia.

Sharing with a wordless Wednesday blog hop.

http://www.craftyspices.com/hops/wwhop

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, back woods, deer, Hardwood forest, photo review, Photos, State Park activities, West Virginia, wild food, wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Ramps(wild Leeks) a West Virginia Tradtional Wild Food

Ramp digging  is a foragers delight and every spring we take off to the mountain to see if  we can find some of these smelly delicacies. The whole family usually goes and we share our bounty with friends and family. We spend about half the day collecting the onions and spent the other half trout fishing another wonderful natural food that we love.

Spring ramp digging Chritopher holding a the frist ramp

Spring ramp digging Christopher holding  his frist ramp

I know some of you are wondering what a Ramp is and what we use it for so I will explain that and share a few ideas on how to use them also.  Ramps are a wild leak or onion with a flavor like garlic when cooked and hot like a green onion if eaten raw. They are found all over the eastern united states but few states love and dig them like West Virginians. They grow in the higher elevations of our woods and are a bulb  that tends to grow in clumps of 5 or six. The leaves are broad and have a distinctive red seam down the center to the root bulb. The bulbs are traditionaly dug in early spring and  before the bulbs flower and the leaves grow to large and tough to eat.

Wild ramps under a tree

Wild ramps under a tree

This is what ramps look like after digging and cleaning

Ramps ready to clean look like green onions

Ramps ready to clean look like green onions

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

washed, roots removed and ready to eat

The Ramp does have one draw back its smell. It is extremely strong, turning  many people away from eating it… think fresh-cut garlic but 10x stronger… So when handling, eating or cooking the ramps that we collect we all “STINK”. It is actually joked about and people who do not like the smell have been known to leave a kitchen or home because of the pungent odor.  But, the rest of us who love them know and love that smell, it means that a dinner of fried, steamed, or raw ramps is on the way to the table. In our house, we use some of our collected Ramps for Easter dinner, it is my way of giving thanks for spring and a way to share them with a crowed of friends and family.

Basic preparation of ramps is simple, wash, remove roots and tough outer skin, (it appears brown), chop and cook. Our family likes to eat the leaves as well as the bulbs but this is a personal choice and does not add to the over all flavor of a dish. If the person is not used to eating greens it is not nessicery to force the issue. In certain recipes like soup I do skip using the greens because it does turn soup a bright green color.

Our families traditional preparation is to take whole ramps about  1/2 of a pound or all that will fit in a skillet and about 1 Tablespoon bacon grease and saute them together. Ramp bulbs are hard so I add about 1/4 cup of water to steam the bulbs and keep the greens from burning or getting to brown,watch and stir, adding more water as needed to soften the bulbs until translucent… and serve.

Ramps with bacon grease and water steaming away

Ramps with bacon grease and water steaming away

Most of the families we know serve their ramps with potatoes of some kind.We usually serve them with baked ham and hash browns, brown beans and corn bread.This is our southern style Easter dinner.I personally also like just brown beans, ramps and corn bread and a little ketchup to top it off for an easy dinner.

Their are hundreds of other ways to use the “Ramp” and her are just a few ideas that we use all the time to enjoy these wonderful little treats.

I  make a Stromboli with ramps that my husband and I just love for an afternoon lunch.

base for stromboli

base for Stromboli

Using store-bought pizza dough, I fill the bottom of buttered sheet pan and cover it with  ham from the deli, ( I like smoked ham for this), then  shredded Swiss cheese (about 2 cups) then 6 to 8 diced rump bulbs, then a layer of corned beef for the deli, about 1/4 of a pound. Then roll up the dough jelly roll style and bake in the oven at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes until out side of dough is golden brown and cheese looks melted.  We serve ours with a Mariana sauce on the side for dipping.

We also make a potato and ramp casserole that is very good in the fall and uses frozen ramps. They freeze well and store for about a year without any loss of flavor or crispness. Do not precook or blanch the bulbs. They need to retain their texture or they will be mushy when thawed. In most cases ramps can substitute for onions in any recipe the only thing that our family has had any trouble with is meat balls.Ones that are fried, not baked. It appears that the ramp is not able to withstand the temperature needed to cook meatball this way without scorching. It can make a meatball taste terrible to have a scorched ramp all through the meat. Yuck.

Ramp Casserole

4 or 5 diced potatoes

10 to 12 diced ramp bulbs

1/2 lbs pork sausage

3 beaten eggs

1 cup shredded cheese… cheddar works well

8 slices of bacon fried and crumbled

1/2 cup diced ham

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup milk

Peal  and boil diced potatoes until barely tender to a fork,  drain.

Steam chopped ramps in large microwaves safe bowl cover with plastic and steam for 2 min. and then add potatoes to bowl.

Fry sausage drain add to bowl, fry bacon drain crumble and add to bowl.

Then add ham, all eggs beaten, salt, pepper and milk  mix well,

Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish and top with cheese, bake uncovered for 30 minutes  at 350 deg.

Next spring If you are lucky you may find me and my family with ramp hoe in hand standing on a hillside in the spring sun laughing and talking about fish and the smell of ramps. It is a gift that I am able to do so much foraging here in these mountains. Spring is only the beginning and I will looking forward to summer berries and fall fruit.I am blessed with everything  that the earth gives to us freely to enjoy.

Categories: country cooking, family fun, Foraging, Hacker Valley, organic foods, ramps, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 15 Comments

Mud Bog Madness, Races for the Whole Family

WV mud bog truck

WV mud bog truck

 As the spring rains pour down and the sticky clay mud gets thick, one thing pops into my mind, “Mud Bogs”. My son Cody and a  group of his friends shared a new hobby with us old folks. It turned out tobe a lot of fun for the whole family and we will be at some races this year.

  I know that every area of the country has its own version of ways to tear up, show off, and enjoy their trucks. Here in the east it just rains so much that everyday life in the country involves mud. Mud Bog races are a just a natural country way to blow off steam and share an afternoon with your friends. Racers come on many levels, they included the family owned trucks used everyday, to the most high-tech nitro injected speed racers that are on the market today. Some of the teams are just families out for a good time and other racers get sponsors and tour the summer working with companies like Summit Racing. It is unusual in this modern world to see both ends of the money spectrum working in the same open fields under the same conditions laughing and joking together. It is the atmosphere of good clean fun ( or maybe dirty depending on your point of view) that made our first Mud Bog Race so impressive. 

  Fathers day weekend ( 2012) my family  joined my oldest son( Cody) at one of his favorite weekend events. Tom thought it would be a nice way for the families to celebrate Father’s day so we jumped in the pickup and headed out to our first official “Mud Bog Race” at Holly Gray state park near Flatwoods, W.V.

Holly Gray state park and the truck waiting to race and the fans in the sun

Holly Gray state park and the truck waiting to race and the fans in the sun

    As my family got comfortable in the grass and set  up our chairs and coolers, I took off with my daughter-in-law to get photos of the racers trucks. We talked to some of the wonderful people and got up close to some of the most expensive trucks at this event. The noise was deafening on the other side of the pit. The engines roared and smoke-filled the air, the constant rumble of the ground made all of  us excited. We could not wait to see the prize winner at  the end of the day. My two sons,ages 3 and 21 , waited with excitement to see who got stuck in the sticky mud and who was able to power through. Many of the trucks would need help to get back out of the pits. Tractors and Track  Hoes were standing by to drag many of the race trucks back  out this day. The best trucks were able to make several passes through the pit and reach the finals. Ending the day with  the truck with the fastest time claiming the 1500.00 in prize money.

nitro injected race truck

nitro injected race truck

Ford truck stuck in the mudd

Ford truck stuck in the mud

   I  was  happy and relieved to see that their were lots of venders and food carts at the event. The food was great and added that festival feeling.We eat hot Bratwurst and pizza in the sun and drank homemade birch beer and cream soda from huge mugs. The races last all day and at times,the raceing continues into the night, families come and go as time passes. The cost for these events is very afford able for a family. We paid 5.00 per adult and 2.00 for Christopher who was under 6 at the time. A little better price then a local movie and  the food was cheaper than a large popcorn .

  Tom and I eventually picked out some trucks to cheer for and I took pictures of the ones we thought had the best chances of winning their heats. My personal favorite of the day was a truck from Morgain Town, W.V. titled “SunStroke” built on an antique Willies frame painted bright orange. He was not the over all winner this day but the truck did  get through several rounds of races.

SunStroke plowing through the mud

SunStroke plowing through the mud

  Tom on the other hand waited  to see some of the high performance racers hit the pits… their were several that were worth watching and reminded me of drag cars. This one was one of the fastest in the pits this day.

high preformance mud racer Wild 1

high performance mud racer Wild 1

  Tom, Christopher and I ended our day around 6:00pm that afternoon. All three of us were a little sunburned ( I got the worst of it) and learned a lot about the hobby of thousands of West Virginians. We were totally surprised that the roaring engines did not bother either of the young ones we took with us. They loved playing outside in grass and watching the speeding trucks as much as we did. It was great way to share family time in the outdoors in a friendly atmosphere. I can now understand why Cody invited his Dad to advent like this on Father’s Day. It was a very  bonding day for my boys and their Dad. I am sure that if their is another race this Fathers Day we will be ready to play in the mud again.

my family and friends at the Father's Day Mud Bog Race

my family and friends at the Father’s Day Mud Bog Race 2012

Categories: family fun, mud bogs, State Park activities, West Virginia | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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Exploring Appalachia's forgotten, neglected, and sometimes mysterious events.

Enchanted Forests

This Blog is about discovering the magic of forests in every aspect of life from a small plant in a metropolis to the forests themselves

Elkins Depot Welcome Center

The mountains beckon visitors to Elkins, a place where artists gather and history lives.

Media and Truth

The world today

the grizzle grist mill

"All is grist for the mill." - A Proverb

forestmtnhike

Living simple, living life

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