Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Anchor Point 1” and is available for purchase by following the instructions at the bottom of the page.
The river never stops. Even when it’s cold enough to freeze the ice slides forward on a thin layer of liquid water beneath. There are times when it rages and sweeps away everything in its path and times when it laps gently at the shore delivering life to the landscape. But it never stops.
Time flows like a river. Our perception can give us the impression of time flying as when visiting with an old friend or we can slow time to a crawl as when that cup of coffee is knocked off of the table and seems to hover in mid air for a moment. But it never really stops. Time erodes the world. It carries away the opportunities of the moment and changes our personal landscape. One way that this happens is by living in the past. It’s good to have a sense of nostalgia especially if it gives us a sense of peace but if it blinds us to the present it can be a problem. I’m guilty of this. I think it’s human nature to hold onto things that bring us happiness. But if we miss today’s opportunity we’re going to miss tomorrow’s happiness as we watch yesterday’s joy fade away into the past. I chose tonight’s feature image to represent holding onto yesterday because it is an anchor point. It’s purpose is to hold the boat in one place while the river flows by. It’s that stability that gives us the ability to board the boat and navigate through the river but at some point have to cast off. Casting off requires letting go of the anchor point that is weathered and worn. Here then is the paradox, letting go of the anchor exposes us to the hazards of the current but without letting go we may as well not be in the boat in the first place. What will we do in the river of time? Will we go boldly into current and build the future or will we hold onto the anchor point until the river swells and sweeps it away? Certainly there’s a place for nostalgia in our lives. But it should be more of an aid to navigation than a anchor the prevents travel beyond the starting point. It’s place in our lives should be where we can visit and resupply for the next journey but never the place where we are stuck.
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My West Virginia Mountains are home to some of our nation’s most creative problem solvers. The 3 rivers area of Gauley Bridge is no exception. In 1954 there were two problems. One, an old Greyhound bus that was no longer able to do bus stuff and a rock in the middle of the river with no fishing camp. Enter problem solver Walter “Bruiser” Cole. I have to admit that I never met this person and I have never been to his unique fishing camp which still looked like a Greyhound bus when I was a kid. I have never been able to figure out how he got it out onto the river either. But it’s been an icon of Gauley Bridge my whole life. I do remember talk in the 70s about the State trying to take his little camp away from him in a clean up effort. They called it junk! Such a unique and artful form of recycling and the State wanted it to go away.
In 2016 there was the worst flooding our area had seen in my lifetime. The News reporters call it the one thousand year flood. With all the damage to our entire state I thought for sure that it was the end of the bus on the the rock. But, on my next trip into town there was the little camp right there on the rock just like always. It kinda became a symbol of hope for me. If that camp could withstand the fury of both the State and nature in such an unlikely location then anything is possible as long as you’re anchored in the rock.
Today, the little camp has a new red,white and blue paint job and an extra room built on. From the front it doesn’t look as much like a Greyhound bus as it once did but the bus is still parked in the middle of the river.
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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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The hot summer sun slowly sinks into the West and I can feel the coolness of the night sweep across the Lake. On the other shore near the sunset I can hear the doors of cars shutting as the engines pur to life and the swimmers make their way home. The smell of food cooked over an open flame lingers in the air. Small birds begin to skim across the water catching insects. The bird songs soon give way to the chirping of crickets and the occasional sound of a treefrog close to the shore. Deeper into the woods the hair raising cry of a screech owl rings out as he challenges his rivals for territory. Soon the evening star raises over the mountains signaling an end to the day. The headlights of my big blue truck come to life when I use the remote to unlock the door. It’s time to ease back up the gravel road and go process the images of the day.
Summer should be spent on or around boats. Summerville Lake in West Virginia is a great place to be a teenager with a boat. It was just a little day cruiser with a small cabin but it was an adventure machine. We did the usual stuff with it. Fishing and white I never mastered the art of water skiing we did have a knee board that was a lot of fun. Perhaps the most interesting knee board story would be the time I didn’t quite get my shorts properly secured. The way to start off on a knee board is in the prone position. Dad hit the throttle and the boat was running particularly well that day. Yup, pulled me right out of my swim trunks on a crowded lake! I dove as deep and as fast as I could. I could almost touch them but I was running out of air and had to surface. Head only of course. I spent the rest of the day wearing a brightly coloured towel as a loincloth and in fear of breeze created by a boat at full throttle. Most of the time we just puttered up river (The Gauley River runs underneath the lake.) Into one of coves and when the fishing wasn’t really all that great we’d have a swim. Camping isn’t allowed on the shore except in designated areas but you can anchor off shore and spend the night on your boat. One morning we was cruising out to a quiet spot on the lake and encountered a lady who was totally freaking out. We thought maybe she was in trouble so we pulled along side their boat to offer assistance. She produced a broken fishing rod. A large one similar to the ones used to fish the shore of the ocean. The rod was broken at the base and the hook was pulled out straight. She had experienced one of the monster catfish from the very bottom of the lake. The Department of Natural Resources maintains that these unnaturally large fish do not exist but we have certified Scuba Divers who will not dive Summersville Lake after spotting one. Life on Summersville Lake is an awesome experience. I hope to see you there sometime and be sure to bring good strong fishing tackle. You might be the one who pulls a monster out of one of submerged caves.
I have been told that if you take enough pictures eventually something strange will turn up in one. With that said I absolutely no explanation for the fishing boat shaped hole in the water in this image. The picture was taken just a few days ago at Kanawha Falls West Virginia. I suppose it’s just an odd wave rolling over a submerged object. That is, unless you believe that ghosts like to go fishing. 😉
When I was a kid I was fascinated by petroglyphs. Being of the Indiana Jones generation, I wanted to be the one who cracked the code and uncovered ancient secrets. I just knew that there had to be a golden idol at the bottom of a cave close by. I would study the markings on the cliff and I could even see the hunters stalking some strange dinosaur. (Left side of the image behind the small bush. ) This had to be a map! Right? There’s a pod of dolphins in the center. And strange symbols throughout the whole thing!
The unfortunate thing about gaining knowledge is the loss of the adventure. What we see here is pretty common in my area. Painted Sandstone. The stone was formed when different colored mud ( in laymen terms ) came together and mixed, then turned to stone. The result was these wonderful patterns in the canyon wall of Summersville Lake that resemble some prehistoric record. There’s other spots like this and even some real petroglyphs but I haven’t found one that is as realistic as the one here. If you find yourself in the Summerville Lake area the best way to see them is by boat.