If you’re joining us in the middle of the story please read I Dare You part 1 and I Dare You part 2.
The shadow disappeared into a thicket of hemlock trees. Did you see that? I whisper. It’s way too big to be the cat. Not taking our eyes away from the spot where we saw the shadow we move slowly away this part of the trail until we reach a point where we turn to run. Just as we make a break for it we can hear something large crashing through the forest. The sound of twigs snapping and branches breaking is accompanied by heavy footfalls on the bare earth on the trail behind us. I scream “He’s gaining on us!” You glance back up the trail to see a large humanoid shape. His long stride gives him a great advantage in the chase but our adrenaline is making up the difference. With the pounding of our hearts beating in time with our pace we run to a point where the trail goes downhill. My toe catches a exposed tree root. As I try to regain balance I crash into you and we both go down. We land just off the trail and come to a stop in the high weeds. The light goes out from the impact but in the moonlight we see the shape of our pursuer rush past us. He’s still on the chase. He didn’t see us fall. You observe. We continue the hide in the weeds until we can no longer hear the footfalls. “You and your dares” you mutter as we pick ourselves up from where we landed. The light is broken but we can see that trail ends just ahead. In the distance we can see the old derelict mansion in the moonlight.
You can now jump to part 4 to see how the story ends 🎃
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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Echoes In The Mists” and is available for purchase by contacting me on Facebook or by using the Contact Form on my website.
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Gently gliding on the warm breeze she sails through my field of vision and softly lights on the sweet clover. She is something special. Her distinct stripes and long “tail” identify her as the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. While she feeds on the nectar of flowers her young feed exclusively on the pawpaw tree. Once a favored fruit in the Appalachian Mountains the pawpaw (AKA pond Apple or custard apple ) is almost found only in the wild. Because the fruit has almost no shelf life commercial growers found no use for it. As a result it was not cultivated and is not nearly as abundant as it was even just fifty years ago. Because the the tree is so important to the butterfly their numbers have also declined. But on the old homesteads found on edge of civilization the pawpaw still grows and even thrives in a few places and so does the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. If you see one during the breeding season then you can be sure that a pawpaw patch is nearby. If you’re an adventurous connoisseur of natural foods or vantage crops then it’s worth trying to find the pawpaw in season and give it a try.
Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page! If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook.
Prints of the Feature Image are available for purchase by contacting me either through Facebook or via the Contact Form on my website. Simply mention the title of the post and let me know what size print that you would like.
Tonight’s Feature Image is Virginia’s Chapel in Cedar Grove West Virginia. The link will take you to the Wikipedia article. The article is short but states that the Church (also known as the Little Brick Church) was built in 1853 and used by both sides of the Civil War And that’s in the national registry of historic places. But, is that all that history is? A few facts and dates can’t tell the whole story. I often pass through when a wedding is taking place and the Little Brick Church is all decorated. I see friends and family gathering on the walkway and occasionally see someone taking care of the cemetery on the other side of the chain link fences. I have to wonder about the memories that were made here when the lot was more open and cemetery less full. Back in days when the roads were not paved. I imagine that the fields were open and picturesque. The church was full of live music and joyful noise. I imagine that a few sour notes were sung as the rest of congregation gave each other “that look” and continued to worship God in earnest.
The church wasn’t fully completed until 1912. A full generation after the Civil War. I don’t think that was a coincidence. It could only be completed those who had put away their harsh feelings about the past and fully committed themselves to becoming one family. And that brings me to main thought for tonight. If we want to complete the work set before us then we have to put aside the outside world and come together as one people. I’m speaking mostly to my brothers and sisters in Christ but this concept goes for secular organizations as well. Time on this earth is finite. Effective time is in even shorter supply. Don’t waste a second of it. Find some middle ground and complete the tasks at hand.
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Out of all the jobs I’ve worked I think “Rancher’s Assistant” was my favorite. My Grandfather McClung made it seem easy. As a pre teen my responsibility was to count the cattle a couple of times a day and check the fencing for any slack in the barbed wire. Even though I haven’t been involved with cattle for many years I still have an urge to take a head count anytime I see cows.
I miss the long walks out to repair a hole in the fence line. It was the conversations and time with my Grandfather that made it special to share work. And then there was O’l Count. My grandfather’s cattle dog. When it was time to rotate the pastures (moving the cattle from one paddock to the next) we would open up a gate and tell O’l Count to bring the cattle. Without fail he would gather the herd and drive them through.
Occasionally a mother cow or the bull would resist but the dog was way to quick and agile for what seemed like a slow motion attack. He would dodge to the side and circle back around to nip at their heels. Most of the time this wasn’t a requirement. We always fed the cows something special when we moved them and when they saw the gate open they would come running like pets.
The cattle my Grandfather raised didn’t look like the one in the feature image. They looked like the one below. They were Hereford cattle.
I believe that it’s a Lakenvelder bull in the feature image. The Lakenvelder is a dairy cow and it seem that the milk would be perfect for dipping Oreo cookies. 😉
Needless to say that when I pass by this herd on my way to my day job I have a nostalgic reaction to seeing them even though they’re not the breed I’m used to. Believe or not this breed is an endangered species. According to Wikipedia there are less than 300 of these cows in the United States and less than 1000 worldwide. Which of course makes it an extra special sight in the Appalachian Mountains.
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Rising up from the New River Gorge is in my opinion one of greatest feats of engineering in the modern world. The New River Gorge Bridge. To give the outside world an idea of scale there’s a four lane highway at the top. The height of the bridge allows for base jumping. And in just a few short weeks that’s what will happen here. A crowd will be gathered at the top and tourists will hike across. I have not been able to make it out for Bridge Day for several years now but I’m hoping to get a chance to photograph something special. I was there several years ago when a parachute malfunctioned and the jumper executed a successful cutaway and redeployment of her spare chute close enough to the bottom that she said she could see her own face in the water. ( and the high dive at the swimming pool gives the rest of us the willies). I think that the experience of jumping into the canyon has to be the closest thing to living flight that human could feel. I can imagine the wind pressure on my face as I descend into the river and then touching down gracefully on the flat rocks at bottom. I was able to find a short video of the human catapult launching the jumpers off of the bridge Here. (The video is not mine) The spectacle itself is a full fledged carnival. There are vendors set up offering everything from trinkets to Gourmet Foods. This happens to coincide with the peak color of Fall most years which makes it one of the most beautiful occurrences in my mountains. The competition for a premium spot to shoot from will be pretty fierce and I expect that those who are already connected have a claim staked out. But I’m crossing my fingers.
If you’re a person who likes the outdoors, festivals or extreme sports and if you think that you might want to attend then here’s a official Bridge Day Website. The Event is Saturday, October 20, 2018!
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Driving cautiously down the winding road to the tail waters of Gauley River I think about my Grandfather. He was one of the many men who built Summerville Dam. In the days before the dam, the raging Gauley River destroyed small towns downstream. Near my home is Brown’s Service Station. The Owner once pointed out to me a watermark on the wall of his office from one of the pre-dam floods. I’m guessing that the water had to be 12 feet high in order to make the stain. When it was finally decided that something had to be done a monumental effort was made. There’s a great Video of the men building the Summerville Dam on YouTube. I know that my grandfather was one of the heavy equipment operators but I’ve not been able to recognize him in the video.
Today, the dam not only helps us to control flooding but it’s become a wealth generator to the local economy. The campers and boaters who spend summer on the lake also spend money in town. At the time of this writing, Gauley season is fully open and whitewater enthusiasts are enjoying the rapids as the Corps Of Engineers drain the lake to winter pool levels.
Rafters taking a break on pillow rock below Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. Image was taken at the extreme range of my 300 mm lens.
The highly oxygenated water below the dam is popular among fisherman too. On any given morning the banks full of lines cast into the eddies in hopes that a trout will come to dinner.
As I stand at the foot of dam and look up I’m in awe of the accomplishment. The tunnel on the left is large enough for a train to pass through and a highway is on top of the dam. Just on the other side of this massive earthen dam is the sunken community of Gad,West Virginia. There is of course the local story of how close Government came to naming this are Gad Dam Lake which would have been a gold mine for memes and internet trolls.
I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s post but nothing beats coming to West Virginia for whitewater sports or just relaxing by the water. It’s all made possible by the flood control of Summersville Dam.
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I stood there by the water’s edge as the morning sun smiled down on the Kanawha River. The fog rose sleepily from its bed just below the falls and continued upwards to become clouds. The cool mists are something to be enjoyed before the heat of the day becomes unbearable.
As I sip my morning coffee and watch the awakening of nature the last echo of a night bird calling from it’s roost falls on my ears. I don’t really know if it was bidding me good morning or if it was finally saying good night after being on the third shift. I listened for a few minutes. There was no second call. My friend was bedded down for the day. I took another drink of coffee and whispered “sleep well my friend. Day shift has you covered”.
By now the fog was cleared from the river and from my head. It was time to make good on my promise to the night bird and climb back up into the big blue truck and head to my day job.