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Sexy or Not My Family Has a Southern Accent

As many of you know I am not a native to West Virginia and grew up in Boulder Colorado. A place of almost no accent when speaking and a trait that is valued by the media. One of the things I treasure most about my family is their accent and choice of speech. I found my mother in laws accent endearing when she told stories about “putting up” the green beans from the garden or that her car was hit by a “buggy “at the IGA . She would tell us that she never enjoyed “beer joints” because of the drunks and “fightin”.  My husband likes to say “YOU ARE FIXIN TO GET A ASS WHIPPEN”when the kids have bugged him to losing his temper. Yet, while working with some of the Americorps members from farther south, I learned that having an accent is not always a thing people are proud of and that they have worked to lose it.  I have mixed feelings about people who train themselves to speak without an accent and who give up local language traditions. I wonder if we are losing something along the way?

I am not the only person who has wondered about this loss of accent. I had a nice conversation with a former English As a Second Language teacher recently who said that many her students also wondered why america is always trying make everyone look and sound the same. They wondered why in such a large place that we worked so hard to make even our towns and shopping centers look the same. We discussed how stereotyping works against southern kids and how West Virginia accents are viewed negatively outside the state. ” That southern accent makes you sound stupid” is still a very prevalent stereotype.

So when a person has an accent from the southern US, and they work extremely hard to lose that accent,what are we teaching them? Are we trying to say the place where you were raised has less value then someone who is from a place that has less of an accent less? Are the residents of the south less intelligent or less wise? Here is my point, some of our countries most intelligent and inspirational  and innovative people have come from the south and brought their accent with them, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, William Faulkner, Harper Lee,Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Would we want Dr. King to lose his southern accent?… Does he sound dumb or uneducated when he speaks?  If  you have never heard Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” here is a very short sound bite of that speech from 1968. I am guessing that there is not a single person who hears this speech that thinks this man is lacking in education and should lose his manner of speech.

Often,  it is our differences that make us stand out and make a deeper impression on others. An accent can be used in the same way that our personal appearance and dress can be. An attractive, well-educated, warm person is always going to leave a great impression with or without a southern accent. I just happen to like my friends and family wrapped up in the slow southern drawl of the hills and hollows of my home. I prefer to hear an honest story-teller who uses the local langue of their home. I find  a person’s home-grown style of speaking more interesting and pleasant over something  filtered through the expectation of others.  So take it from Chad Prather who explains to everyone all about having a southern accent and how to be proud of it.

Even Conan O’Brien knows that truth about the sexy southern accent and how he is just out of luck in the sexy accent department. So just remember there is always someone out their who loves the way you sound and does not want you to change who you are!

 

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Chad Prather comedian, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Southern Accent, Southern Speech, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

An Open letter on Not Funding AmeriCorps in West Virginia.

As I write this my future as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Elkins, West Virginia is in question. As part of the National Corporation for National and  Community Service my funding is in jeopardy under the new proposed national budget. So I just wanted to share what the future of West Virginia will look like with out programs like AmeriCorps. How we contribute to communities and are a value to the State and Country.

With Appalachian Forest Heritage Area being my supervising program, I have greater knowledge of the services that we supply. Yet, I have information and direct experience with the impact that other programs  have within my the state and it is for all the members of AmeriCorps  across the country that I write this.

AmeriCorps members do not choose to be a service members  for wealth, social statues or fame. We choose to live and work under the hardest of conditions, in places of poverty, economic distress and devastation. With little more than minimum wage we choose to take our education ( most have at least a 4 year college degree and some more then that) and use it for the good of a community . We work in places far from our homes and often times in rural locations where most would not want to work. We take on projects that are for the betterment of everyone from the preservation of a historic site, to removing evasiveness species of plants from our public lands to providing summer reading programs to communities who have the highest drop out rates and drug addiction issues in our country.

West Virginia is my home and I work with 883 other West Virginia  AmeriCorps to support small non-profits and state-run programs that help families know their children are safe in after school programs, so they can finish their days work. We work day in and day out with out rest to help victims of  floods, fires, and other natural disasters. Making the job that FEMA and other federal government programs run smoother. We save our culture and history for another generation to learn from with hours of cataloging, researching and displaying our states rich past.  We develop programs to bring more jobs and more economic opportunities to areas where finding a job at a living wage job can be difficult. We work to help the poorest of our communities get health care in areas where they may have to travel over an hour to just get a prescription refilled let alone emergency care. We work with veterans in the tough transition from service to civilian work.  We work to bring more tourist to our beautiful locations and historical places.We replant forests, maintain trails and fight forest fires to protect our communities.We motivate thousands of other volunteers to do the same in all of our locations, towns, and cities.

If we remove the 883 volunteer members that serve my state we are removing 1,836,640.00 work hours from our states economy.That is a million hours of services that we are not going to be provided to all the counties of this state. It is going to take away compassionate educated people who work for the lowest of wages away from our children, our poor, our sick and our suffering.My calculation is based on a 40 hour work week over a year and many AmeriCorps are working more than 40 hours a week to expand the services that they provide for no extra money every week.

Volunteers get no over time, they cost no extra benefits to state or federal governments. We collect no  retirement,sick or vacation time. We as Americorps ask for very little to work for you. We ask that you fund us enough to feed ourselves and house ourselves for the year that we sign up to work for you the people of  this country and the great state of West Virginia.

Yet, some how my work is not seem as a profitable, worth while or important to the well-being of my state or country. How is that possible, how is it that we do not need all of us working together to bring our country forward to be the best place for all of us.

I have not resigned my future to a place of darkness yet, I have not tossed in the towel on all of the projects that I work on. I have only begun to see that if I do not speak out for the thousands of AmeriCorps that I represent that my state and my county  will lose a valuable service that is given to our people. Let the work that I do change the state that I live in for the better and may it change the world that I liven for a better future for all of us. “I am Americorps and I get things done.”

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JoLynn Powers AmeriCorps Member with community volunteer Velma Ragsdale working a booth for Elkins Main Street at the Ramps to Rail Festival 2016

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Making a Minion Welding Hood

Forgive me for being so lax about writing these last few weeks. I finally did what my Dr. advised me to do, I rested . I am not good at resting and even while recovering from my surgery I found things to do that kept the mind active but the body safely still. One of those projects was a to make my 26-year-old son a Minion welding helmet. He had seen them on-line and wanted one but was not able to afford the 175 dollar price tag. So he asked me if I could make something close to this.minion with Banana

I knew it would only take a couple of days and would look wonderful when finished. So while the weather was nice I took the old welding hood and washed any oil and dirt off. I ruffed up the old paint with a scratch pad and sprayed on a  couple of coats of bright yellow spray paint.spray paint to welding hood

.old welding Hood

The details were painted with artist quality acrylic paint. The hood lens frame was painted after removing the making tape. Then I let the whole thing dry over night. The following day I masked off the black strap lines and added hair.I used a Sharpy black marker to block out the areas for the teeth and tong. Then painted in the details on the face. color blocking on Minion hood

 

the eye-ball is actually painted onto a clear hood lens that can be removed at any time and replaces the blue/green lens that my son actually uses when working with his welding torches. The eye can be reversed so that it appears to be looking upwards. finished welding hood Then I applied two coats of acrylic top coat to the paint. Let everything dry a couple of days and gave it to my son for his 26th birthday. He seems to really like it and I think the other guys at work will no longer mix his hood up with theirs!

Cody in Minion welding hood

Categories: Birthday, Cody, DIY projects, family fun, Personal art work, Uncategorized, welding Hood | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Apple Hand Pie or Fried Apple Pies

I love everything apple and will eat apples just about any way that you find them. I love to use wild and free apples when ever I can to make treats for the family but one treat I love more than most is hand pies. Some southern families make these small fried pies with biscuit dough others with smashed Wonder Bread and mine are made with frozen white bread dough. All of them have a freshly made filling, some sweet some savory, and all are fried to a deep golden brown on the stove top while the little ones watch. Hand pies have been made in the South for generations and no one ever turns one down. The pies are eaten hot and served as dessert, breakfast or as an after school snack. Often the fillings for the pies are whatever a southern mother had left over from a family dinner. Apple sauce, peaches, raisins, even savory pies would have left over roast and veggies.

My mother in law would often make then with white bread in a pie maker with home canned pie fillings. The neighbor  kids could smell then 1/2 mile away and knew what she was making and pray she would make them one!

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I personally have not invested in a pie maker of any kind although they seem to make great pies and bind the edges together very well… less of the filling leaking out is always a good thing.I just use my fingers to roll the bread dough together. The edges are a little more individual but they rarely leak.

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Filled Apple Hand Pies

So to make my version of an Apple Hand Pie, I start with a frozen bread dough for dinner rolls and place them out to thaw. I also peal, core and dice two or three snake size apples. The apples in these photos are Gala but you can use just about any apple that will not turn to mush when cooked.

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Frozen dinner roll dough 

 

 

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Fried diced apples with butter and brown sugar

I dice the apples into a skillet with two teaspoons of butter and cook over med heat for 3 or 4 minutes.Adding brown sugar, cinnamon , and a little water to the hot apples. I let the water cook down until the sauce is thick and sticky. With some apples no water is needed to soften the apples,they provide enough juice to cook down the apples with out scorching.I had to add water to cook them until they were soft around the edges. I let the filling cool while rolling out the dough. Each dinner roll makes about a 5 inch circle with a little tugging and rolling. I put about two table spoons filling on half the pie crust and fold over the warm apple filling. I squeeze the edges together then roll them upward and roll up the edge with a pinch at the end of the pie.

I then fry the pies in hot oil about 325 to 350 degrees just long enough for the pie to float and turn brown on both sides. The dough is thin and gets crispy fast. I make two pies at a time.

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Cooling Apple Hand Pies with cinnamon sugar 

Draining them on paper towels and topping with a dollop of butter and a pinch of cinnamon sugar. Let cool slightly before eating or cutting open to share.

 

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Fried Apple Hand Pies with homemade filling

Recipe for Apple Hand Pies:

One bag of frozen dinner rolls.. I make two per person.

3 small snack size apples per 3 people Gala, Winesap, Red Delicious work well.

3 Tablespoons salted butter.One used to add to cinnoman topping.

2 Tablespoons brown sugar.

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.

1/4 cup or less water

Cooking oil for frying

a mixture of cinnamon and sugar for dusting tops of pies

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Apples, country cooking, Hand Pies, Pie, Uncategorized, wild food | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Pick a Peck of Late Season Peppers

I hope all of your gardens have produced well this year. As I finally close up ours today ( the 4th of Nov.) It seems that I again have learned so much and have had so little time to write about it. We even won some unexpected prizes from the garden this year and that always makes a person feel good when the children are the winners.

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Grand Champion and First Place Winner Black Beauty Green Beans grown by Christopher Powers with help from his brother Cody Powers.

So I learned my first lesson of the season if you like what you grew last year and it did well don’t change seeds just for the sake of change. I have written about my testing seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange before and was really impressed with the green beans we grew and actually saved a few seeds to replant. I replanted the Black Beauty  green bean seeds again this spring and was overjoyed at the results but I was short a row of seeds and just picked up any old bush green beans at the store…. Big Mistake! By the time the local 4-H and county fairs were happening  I had 3/4 of a row of the most beautiful green beans next to a row of the most bug eaten, wilted and stringy beans you have ever seen. So Christopher and I picked the heirloom beans from The Seed Saver Exchange  and took them to the fair. Not expecting much, Christopher surprised us all when his green beans ended up Grand Champion over all the vegetable entries at the fair and First Place in horticulture this year.Lesson learned and I will be ordering more Black Beauty green bean seeds next year.

The Next lesson I learned this year is  that the Cabbage Moth is hard to stop if you don’t cover you crops soon enough. I lost every darn cabbage this year to the moths and I actually used row covers. I was lazy, I admit it, I just left those little sprouts uncovered for about a week and I got them from a feed store that had them outside before covering them. So what did I find about two weeks later when I was out looking over the plants…a  slimy mess all over my destroyed cabbage… and the Cabbage Worms loved my Brussel Sprouts also. So the rabbits got the remains of what was left in the row of cabbages this year! I will pass on cabbage next year, the corn we tried out preformed our expectations and I will be ready next year to freeze some.

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fresh garden garlic adds a deeper rich flavor.

The other lesson I learned was I love to grow garlic and found a wonderful spot under the roof eve of our house that is dry enough and warm enough for green onions, garlic and many herbs. So I am replanting lots more garlic this fall for the summer crop. I also amended this raised bed with a mixture of bunny droppings and wood shavings and everything went wild. One volunteer Water Mellon seed took root in the garden and I ended up with 5 water melons and a 8 foot long vine that covered everything but the garlic and my Sage. So next year I hope to have a huge herb garden for dry and fresh cooking with my garlic and onions.

The thing I have enjoyed the most this year is the second crop of peppers I just harvested and the second bloom of my Irises. I am not sure what happened to these plants but both seemed to be happy to deliver a double gift of their bounty this fall. So this morning when I heard the weather would bring freezing temperatures I covered the flowers and collected the peppers knowing that this is first sign that winter is here.

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the bloom of a yellow Iris on the 4th of Nov. 2016.

 

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Over flowing peck basket of small but usable green peppers Nov 4th 2016.

I am kind of sad to see the garden finally go. Tom and I have already cleared much of the dead stalks and plants from the garden so cleaning up will be easy.Mulching with more bunny droppings and wood shavings will happen and I will put the garden to sleep.

So do any of you have any great way to serve up small peppers? If you have any interesting ideas on how to use these up let me know if the comments below I am thinking of stuffing them like poppers… cheese, bread crumbs,garlic and baking them… what do you think?

 

Categories: Back yard garden, cheese, container garden, cooking, Fairs and Festivals, flowers, gardening, peppers, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Home Made Turkey Noodle and Greens Soup

One of the things I love about fall is cooking warm soups and stews. Chicken and Turkey noodle soups are one of my favorites and I usually make enough for at least one meal for 4 people and freeze some for a cold no school/no work day in the dark of winter.

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Turkey noodle soup with greens  

 

I make this soup from wild turkey and from store-bought turkey either way it tastes great.In this batch of soup I used the roster chicken stock that I made over the summer and froze.So the flavor is rich and the left overs from several meals come together to make a very nutritious hearty soup.

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leftover roasted turkey breast

I start by thawing out 5 cups of chicken stock adding two cups of water and one bullion cube. I bring the broth to a low boil adding spices carrots, onions adding chunked turkey after a about 10 minutes.I then add one half box of frozen thawed spinach about 2/3 of a cup wilted fresh spinach making sure the soup returns to a low boil before adding 1 1/2 cups wide egg noodles. Simmer everything together until the noodles are tender about 13 minutes. It is a fast 25 mintues that tastes better than anything I have ever tasted from a can and is so good for you.

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getting ready to add egg noodles to soup

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fresh garden garlic adds a deeper rich flavor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe for Turkey Noodle Soup with Greens

5 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Cups of water

1 Bullion cube

1 Bay leaf

1 tsp. pepper

2 Crushed garlic cloves

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 Cup cut carrots

1 Med onion

2 Cups chunked roasted turkey

2/3 Cup wilted spinach fresh or frozen can change to other tender greens

1 1/2 Cups wide egg noodles.

Bring broth to a simmer add spices carrots and onion cook ten minutes. Add cooked chunked turkey breast and spinach raise temp to boiling add egg noodles and let boil for 13 minutes or until tender. remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving. Makes about 6 to 7 servings and freezes well.

Categories: chicken, Chicken stock, soup, turkey breast, Uncategorized, Wild turkey | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Brighter Side of Appalachian Culture

We are beginning to taking back what is ours in Appalachian Culture. We are becoming trendy these days, with television shows,music programming and with the new food fads. Appalachian is on the rise, our culture and our people are influencing the rest of the nation in our small way. Our culture seems authentic to outsiders and our music, art and food are a new fascination to the world.

Ramps and Potatoes

Wild Ramps and Potatoes ready for the soup pot

Unlike the rest of the modern U.S.,we here in the mountains often live in isolation usually by choice but also by situation,making Appalachia one of a very few remaining places in the country to have a historic culture. Our proud people, who often times have endured ridicule for their “folk ways”, are now finding themselves as authorities in traditional living and organic growing, as master craftsmen.

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Finished apple sauce 2013

It is not uncommon for families here to continue to pass on traditions from generation to generation without much change. Time moves more slowly here and family traditions are still highly valued within our communities.Hunting,fishing, foraging and gardening are shared by most everyone know matter the age or sex.These things are family activities that every person takes part in together.Maybe only the men hunt but the woman butcher,can and freeze what is brought home. Maybe only granny forages but the men help make wine, dry or sell the roots and berries that are gathered. Children often help in the garden and in the cleaning and canning process. Everyone is expected to help when the time comes to put up or preserve what the family eats and sells.

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck Nov 2013

Cody Powers with his 8 point buck Lewis County,WV

What is it that the outside world finds so fascinating? I think that they are seeing that our small towns have character unlike the cookie cutter mall style of the big metro cities. I think that people like to see pretty and clean places, but often bore of sterile cement filled cities. People today are not just looking for the glossy fake fun of Las Vegas but are wanting to travel to see art, hear music and eat food that is real and authentic to a people. Our culture is hidden between hills and hallows, it takes time to find, it is not served up fast or easy and you maybe distracted by the lack of cell phone service. Here you have to take the time to get know our people and fall in love with the old buildings.

front porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

Front Porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

One of several ways that people are learning about Appalachia is through our sharing our cultural heritage with outsiders through tourism. Celebrating our past has become one of the most important ways we have developed economic growth. Sharing skills or knowledge about how to make beautiful things like quilts, and music that is not often heard outside the hills is of a draw for many. Even taking a steam engin train ride in the woods is how Appalachia to linking the present to the past.

Christopher playing along with a lap dulcimer

Lap Dulcimer being played at Fort New Salem.

Our communities are not perfect, they don’t fallow any larger drawn out plan. At times they are dingy and rusted and show wear from years of use.Our towns appear simple, quaint or plain but have survived the changes created from the loss of industry and the harsh terrian.  Appalachians are hard-working folk that share a belief in a higher power, in our speech, our homes and in our music. We create images of what we love most often times on quilts, in a paintings and photography.The subjects of our art are often the forest,the wild life and beautiful water ways that surround us.Appalachians are a people of the land and live according to what happens with that land.

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Heritage Quilt Block Trail mural ready to be installed. Created by JoLynn Powers, AmeriCorps members and community volunteers in Elkins WV.

 

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Presbyterian  Church on the Davis and Elkins College Campus, Elkins West Virginia with Christopher

As people rediscover their connection to land and environment they rediscover Appalachia and her heritage and history.It is a good day for my culture when people  begin to see the value of clean food locally grown, wild plants and animals that are free from steroids and antibiotics.

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and home

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and House

West Virginia and all of Appalachia is seeing an appreciation from the outside world that has not happened since settlers first moved west from the cities of the north in 1700 and 1800’s. Let our slow growth, folk ways and home-grown food continue to be a reason for people to find the magic that is Appalachia. She has something to offer all of us and I hope to be part of it.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Iron rails of Cass Scenic Railway

As a lover of smoke, steel and railroads it is hard to resist spending time at Cass, West Virginia.A state park devoted to our state’s logging history. An artist and photographer’s dream location and  my three-day stay was not nearly enough time to explore the logging camp town and her Shay Engines and the beauty of the West Virginia mountains.

As a birthday present to my son Christopher, we chose to spend a long weekend at a preserved logging camp house at Cass State Park and ride the steam train to Bald Knob. The trip is about a 4 hour train ride through the wilderness,a stop for lunch,and final stop for sightseeing on one of the highest points in the state. Christopher has loved trains for all of his 8-year-old life so what better way to let him experience what life was like in the train age then to stay in a logging camp and ride the trains at Cass.

This post could be about all the history we enjoyed while staying in a preserved logging town or descriptions of all the different engines, equipment and cars. I could try to encourage you to take a ride up the mountain and see 3 three different states from the observation tower at Bald Knob. I could say that we all had a wonderful time and plan to go back and spend 5 days next time,or I could just let the photos of this place vividly explain why Cass, West Virginia is so wonderful. So, here are some of my favorite photos of a couple of sunny days in a logging town.

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Rows of Sate Park logging houses on the main road into Cass State Park.

Driving into Cass along the main road are the logging Camp houses that the state has converted into rental houses for tourists and residential housing for local workers.

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The House we rented while we stayed at Cass State Park.

Each house has a small yard and two porches, one in front and one in back. The house where we stayed had three upstairs bedrooms and living, dining and kitchen fully stocked with everything but food.

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The general store is now a gift shop.

The community of Cass had a general store and a restaurant for residents. The store is now a gift shop and ice cream parlor but the restaurant remains.

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Sign on the restaurant at Cass State Park

The community still has a church, a working Police Station, Jail and a working Barber Shop.A community building still holds events in the fall and winter months. Then below the general store is the train station, where all the trains board and depart for the winding mountains.

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Shay Engine #2 getting ready to depart for the first trip of the day to Whitaker station.

We learned a lot about Shay Engines on the ride to Bald Knob and could not believe that we had used 4 tons of West Virginia Coal to get up the steep mountain grade to Bald Knob.  It takes two engines to push visitors up the mountain and only one to lower us back down.This day the Number# 2 and the Number# 4 engines were pushing (not pulling) the seven passenger cars.

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Loading Coal in the early morning at the Cass Steam Works.

 

This is the kind of smoke we all hope to see when riding steam engines up a mountain.

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Smoke from two Shey Engines pushing our train up the hill to Whitaker Station.

While at Whitaker station everyone is able to leave the train and explore the first of two logging landings. This one has several pieces of logging equipment on display and some of the shanty buildings that people used to stay overnight in the mountains. There’s a snack bar,pick-nick tables for lunch and nice bathrooms here at the first stop up the mountain.

After another short ride you reach the top and see the most wonderful sight of the whole trip the view from Bald Knob and the viewing deck.

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View of the observation deck and West Virginia Skyline at Bald Knob landing, destination of Cass Scenic Railroad

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View from the observation deck at Bald Knob. Three states are seen from the deck,West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.

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Rental caboose at Bald Knob where you can stay for a week or weekend.

When the train rides are over you can explore the remaining portions of Cass State Park. We spent our evening roasting marshmallows near the remains of the burned out saw mill that produced the lumber that kept the town alive. burned-out-sawmill-at-sunset Sunset over old lumber mill.

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Sawmill belt drives left on their mounts to rust away at Cass State Park

The following morning we spent a couple of hours getting to see the inside of several buildings and the machine Shop where the old engines are repaired and kept running. Over the course of several years the State of West Virginia has added to their collection of Shay engines and now has five that they either use for display or work on the rails at the park.

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Christopher in front of a Climax engine in the shop for repairs

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Open boiler of an engine in the Cass work shop

This part of the tour was possibly Christopher’s favorite part of the weekend. He was able to get up close to the engines and touch and learn about how they are made and repaired. We learned why Shay engines are so unique and why there are so few left in the world today. They were an engine made just for climbing the short steep hills and deep valleys of our mountains and were never meant to go fast, so they make perfect train engines for sight-seeing.

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Retired diesel engine in the weeds along the river at Cass WV

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Back end of a wheel milling machine left out in the weeds in Cass WV

Our time at Cass and the logging camp house was just too short. We could have spent a couple of more days exploring and photographing the town and the rusted hulks of metal that the railroad has abandoned over the years. We should have spent more time walking the Greenbrier Trail that runs through Cass along the Greenbrier River.Christopher wanted to eat more marshmallows at the community camp fire and I just wanted to sleep in the antique bed just one more night before going home.

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Father and son lesson on how to skip stones on the Greenbrier River at Cass WV

So as we packed to head home both Christopher and I asked Tom, if we really had to go home… it felt like the fun had just begun and we had to leave. So Tom’s advice was to plan to stay longer next time… .and I am betting we will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Return of “Doc” Holiday

Please forgive me for not writing more the last month. It seems as if I have taken on a little more than I should have and the main reason is “Doc”.

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Our new Redbone Coonhound Puppy “Doc” Holiday 8 weeks old

Doc is a 8 week old Redbone Coonhound who has stolen my house and my heart. We have been waiting over two years for his breeder to have another litter of pups. So I was overjoyed to be contacted by our friend that they had puppies again and I could finally get my very own hound.

Ok, so it is true that very best coonhounds are bred in Appalachia and the top two in the nation are from West Virginia or Kentucky. It might be the terrain or the population of raccoons that keeps this breed’s history so closely linked to the mountains. But this breed of dog is such a good reflection of who we are that you often judge the character of the man based on how he treats his dogs. In my part of the world often times a grown man will cry like a baby when a hunting dog dies or is killed. Often the dogs are raised as family and are more trusted than most humans and only surpassed by the trust a man will have in a rifle or shotgun. The love of the Hill Billy is deep, their loyalty is unwavering and their ability to work hard and fight to win is just like their dogs.

Hounds have been scent hunting these hills and hollows for generations and it is not uncommon to hear the bay of hounds ringing out for miles in the night. It is truly not a bark at all, but a cry from way down deep and is instinctual, nothing taught. It is the sound a hunter waits for, the dog is saying to his master “Come running we have something for you.”

Here in West Virginia there are three typical coonhounds, the Redbone, the Treeing Walker, and the Blue Tick. All three have the same typical look of a hound but coloring is different. Each have a voice that is unique and hunters know their dog miles away by the sound of the bay they make. If trained properly the dogs once on a treed coon, will remain at the bottom a tree for hours guarding the coon until help arrives.

The reason I love them is not about hunting really,but about their personality. Hounds like the stereotypes portray, are big, silly, loving, dogs that are tolerant of children who play too rough and of cats who often times get rolled into balls on the floor as the hound forces games of chase.Their love of family and protectiveness make them wonderful alarm systems without the deeper fear of being known as bitters. They have huge hearts and are willing to do most anything asked of them. If you can keep them from being distracted by the powerful noise that God gave them.

sleepy-doc

Sleepy Puppy ready for a nap

The Redbone Coonhound breed is the grandfather breed to the more well known Bloodhound and was first developed by Irish immigrants in the 1700’s. The long floppy ears play a major role in how well the dog can track and the longer the ears the better, fanning scent to the noise with every lunging step. Some would refer to the hound breed as having a one track mind because everything comes second to their sense of smell and many dogs get lost do to the fact that hunters and families forget that they go wherever their noise leads them, sometimes that is right to the local dog pound.

They are social dogs and love to spend time with their owners. They are active and enjoy being outdoors doing physical activities like running and swimming. My Doc’s sire is a grand champion water dog and could out swim almost every person I know. He loves to track through streams and ponds and has webbed toes on all four feet. So does Doc and we will soon learn if he likes to swim.

So as you can see I have been busy…and will be for a few more months as we get through house training and teething, but I will keep you posted on our adventures together. I hope you enjoy the photos and I am sure to take tons more of the silly guy as we train him.

There is nothing in the world better for a boy then the love of a good dog.

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Exploring the National Parks System on it’s 100th Birthday, Aug 25th 2016.

It is in the woods that I find peace and my spirit is rejuvenated. It is in the forest of my beloved West Virginia that I rejoice that we live in a country that values and protects the most unusual of our natural resources. It is in our countries wisdom that they have saved millions of acres of land and miles of waterways for future generations.

West Virginia is one of the states that does not have a fully designated National Park. So for this August 25th celebration I want to share a vision of one of my  states protected National Forests, Monongahela National Forest. This unique forest ecosystem is preserved at the national level within the National Park System along with West Virginia’s  National Rivers, The New River,and Blue Stone, Two National Recreation Areas,The Gauley River National Recreation Area and Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, a National Historic Park at Harper’s Ferry and of course a National Scenic Trail the Appalachian Trail. All of these locations are protected for future generations buy the National Parks System of the United States of America.

 

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The Monongahela National forest represents a wide verity of rare and unique ecosystems, natural wonders, beautiful vegetation, and abundant wild life. It is here within the forest that my family and I have spent hundreds of hours exploring, searching for that rare moment when the outside world disappears and  nothing remains but the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

This National Forest comprises roughly a million acres of forest land in West Virginia. An approximate 1.3 million visitors come to the Monongahela National Forest each year.The forest spreads across the Southern portion of the state from the city of  White Sulfur Springs to the Northern border of West Virginia to Maryland state line. With the main body of the forest residing on the Eastern side of the state, along US Highway 219.

Within West Virginia’s largest National Forest there is a long list of natural wonders. Some I have photographed over the years and others are still a mystery to me. Some are easy to access and others are miles from civilization. So with the help of my family I have had the pleasure of seeing much of the forest and can share just a few of the wonderful sights that I have explored over the years.

Stuarts Park campground, picnic area. DSC00023

Stuarts Park has several CCC built covered pavilions with in the Monongahela National Forest. Also located within a mile of the campground/ park pavilions is Bickel Knob Observation Tower where it is possible to see about 1/3 of the National Forest and the surrounding towns.

Bickle Knob observation Tower in the the morning sun randolph county West Virginia 2016

The trip up this tower early in the morning lets us see over six different ridge tops and two small towns.

Christopher and JoLynn on top of Bickles Knob observation tower last days of summer 2016

 

The Bowden Fish Hatchery is where the local brook trout, brown trout and the West Virginia Golden Trout are brooded for release all over the state.

Tom Christopher at the Bowden Fish hatchery 2016

We fish in the many streams and rivers in the forest. My son learns to cast at Shavers Fork of the Cheat River.DSC00172

Exploring Smoke Hole Caverns on a hot summer afternoon is a treat.To spend a couple of hours under ground exploring the caves is one of my families favorite summer time trips.

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Smoke Hole Caverns entrance

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The slow drip of the Smoke Hole Caverns ceiling

All of these amazing locations are within the National Forest but what I am most fond of is the simple quiet beauty that we see as we forage and hike through the woods.

mushrooms on stump Monongahela National Forest

Mushrooms growing on a tree stump near Bear Haven Campground

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Young horse at home on public grazing land at Monongahela National Forest

queenann lace with blue flowers summer 2016

Summer wildflowers along a forest service road in the Monongahela National Forest

wildflowers Monongahela National Forest Elkins WV

Wet wildflowers at Stuarts Park, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

 

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Cheat Mountain Salamander takes visitors on rides through hundreds of miles of the Monongahela National Forest. This is my favorite way to see the sights.

This train ride is headed for Green Bank and the National Radio Observatory where in the middle of the Monongahela Forest is the darkest place in West Virginia. It is the perfect location for star-gazing with professional astronomers. This is where my family and I finally got to see the Milky Way with our bare eyes.

As you can see I love my state, love my Forest and am excited to be included in this centennial  celebration. Thanks to Cotopaxi Company  for inviting me to take part in the festivities in my small way. I am proud to share with all of you the great work that Cotopaxi is doing all around our world and how one company with a mission can change the world one backpack at a time. I am so glad that their company supports and loves the outdoors as much a I do. Thanks for reminding us all about how important our Nation Park System is and what would be lost without our ability to explore and enjoy to great outdoors. Again Thank you Cotopaxi for letting me join in the fun!

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Camping, Cheat Mountain Salamander, family fun, Hardwood forest, hiking, Monongahela National Forest, mushroom hunting, natural resources, Potomac river, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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