Red Skies At Night

The rains have fallen steadily all day today. The grey skies are offset only by the occasional hint of yellow and orange in the turning leaves. The drive across Sewell Mountain took a little longer than I had hoped. Unloading a truck in the rain is just an accepted part of the arts and crafts shows in Appalachia. Once the truck is unloaded the rest of the day is spent assembling the displays and trading warm greetings with the other vendors. As I place the last piece in its place I can tell that something special is taking place in the sky by the light spilling into the building. The grey is ending and the rain is nearly over. It’s time to climb back up into the big blue truck and head home to rest. I stepped out of the door and looked up. I was rewarded by the beauty of the last rays of the sun pushing back the clouds. A sense of peace washed over me. The grey has ended with a mix of the deep reds and purples. Red skies at night are the joy of artists and sailors alike.

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If you’re local to Lewisburg West Virginia or passing through and love art of handmade gifts please stop by the West Virginia State Fairgrounds and say hello! 😊

The Children Of The Falls

The evening light spills ever so softly into the landscape at Cathedral Falls. The tall cascade of water flows from the mountain and over the stones. The cascade is the star of the show that draws the spectators but the dozens of tiny falls that dance and play on their way to the river are just as pleasing. I have to imagine that they are the children of the Cascade above. Born out of the sense of peace and serene beauty of Cathedral Falls she sends her offspring into the river to spread out and share the mountains with the rest of the world.

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A Refreshing Stop At Cathedral Falls.

The clean smell of the rain hangs in the air as I pull into the little parking lot. Just crossing the threshold of foot bridge transports me to another world. A primal place with gigantic trees and a thick mat of ferns where the small things live. A tree frog drones out it’s high pitched song calling for his love.

Tread carefully on the muddy pathway to the base of the falls. The trail shows that someone who passed through earlier left their mark on the pathway. A mark that leads to an unexpected bath in the knee deep stream below. Near the base of the falls large flat rocks catch only a fraction of an inch of the water flowing through the mountains. Butterflies play in the air as the cascade fills this natural cathedral with a light mist. Small fish dart around in the highly oxygenated water. Most of the small stones are blown out by the force of the water but the ones caught in crevices are smooth and clean. I could really spend all day here just breathing in the charged air.

But there’s a set of sad eyes and wagging tail who needs to be walked soon. As so, fully refreshed from the rich environment beneath Cathedral Falls I began to pick my path back to my big blue truck and head home.

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The Battle Of Carnifex Ferry

The long awaited pictures from the reenactment of the Battle Of Carnifex Ferry are finally done! Tonight’s post is going to be more about the pictures themselves than the history. However, I do want to encourage you to Read more the battle here. I also want to encourage everyone to get involved with keeping history alive. If we forget the history then we are in danger of forgetting the hard lessons learned. Too much blood has been shed for us to forget so soon. This goes for my international friends as well. You have your own history that you should be proud of and that should not be allowed to be forgotten.

With that said, let’s get started on the pictures. The turnout was very small. Only fourteen reenactors came out to memorialize the history. When I was a kid you couldn’t find a place to stand and watch the living history.

Above is the Southern camp. The reenactment group has went to great lengths to keep everything period accurate. Canvas tents and breakfast being made on an open fire.

The lady in the picture has to be one of the hardest working people on the face of this earth. She chopped firewood for hours on end. Her clothes are wool. The temperature was in the 80s ( Fahrenheit) and the humidity is very high. I never really saw her take a break.

I imagine that the commanding officer wouldn’t be to happy to have an unmanned weapon in his camp. But, I really liked the Aesthetics of the musket and pistol belt on the wooden table. I began to think about the calm before the storm.

If it weren’t for modern truck in the background I would have thought that I had fallen into a time slip and been transported back to 1861. With the bayonet fixed the musket is a very intimidating weapon indeed.

Another view of the Southern camp and their hard working camp caretaker.

It’s time to inspect and drill the troops. I don’t think that the commanding officer is to easily impressed.

This young man is obviously the camp sniper. All of people involved with the reenactment were very accommodating and ready to give me a great pose.

More close order drill in the Southern camp.

It was about that time I noticed the Yankee spies on the road. Those sneaky devils!

While on my way to check out the Northern camp I encountered a ghost on patrol. I hope my paperwork is order otherwise my accent is going to land me in hot water.

I had actually asked him if I could get view looking down the weapon. He quickly explained that even though the group takes all precautions that it was strictly taboo to point a weapon at an observer. The musket is real and on days when there’s a battle the actors do fire powder charges at each other. (No projectiles ). He did agree to pose as if he was ready to level the weapon.

I was also fortunate enough to encourage a person that I believe is the Yankee General.

On approach to the Northern camp I discovered that they have their own sniper. He’s a dead-eye for sure!

I imagine that in real life the soldiers had this look often. I’m not sure what the actor had on his mind but the image made me think of a young man contemplating his role in previous battles. God be with the “men of conscious”.

The young man here also seems to have that “one thousand meter stare”. I was so pleased with the way the image turned out. He looks like he just stepped out of a tin type.

This is the wall. In the days before tanks these barricades were a mainstay of trench warfare. The logs did a pretty good job of catching bullets.

The cannon seen here is actually part of the park.

I found out a day too late that they wouldn’t be demonstrating the large brass cannon that they brought until the next day. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend due obligations with my day job. As I said before in years past it was standing room only and the reenactment had hundreds of actors and a full scale battle. This year only fourteen soldiers turned out. If you’re a person in the United States and care at all about the history that brought us this far please consider becoming involved with keeping history alive.

September 22nd 2018. The First Day Of Fall

As I stepped out of the house today the signs of Fall were everywhere. The Box Elder tree in the yard is really dropping it’s leaves. The air is cooler and less humid than yesterday. Soon the green leaves will turn golden yellow, red and orange. Early Fall is a great time to be outdoors. The oppressive heat of mid to late summer gives way to the cool dry winds from the North. This the time of year that we would start putting up firewood for the winter. The smell of the fresh cut oak mixed with coffee from a thermos during a work break will forever be one of my most cherished memories. I can remember sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck and watching the squirrels play as I ate my lunch. The mottled light pours in from the broken forest canopy and in the distance the sound of footfalls in the dry leaves let’s me know that I’m not alone. I hop off the tailgate and peek through the bushes to see a buck looking back at me. His antlers are still in velvet. His nostrils flare as he tries to catch my scent. I make one move forward and he snorts fiercely then disappears into the shadows of the closest thicket.

Another thing that I look forward to in fall is homemade stew. Often the firewood collected in fall would soon be put to good use just a few short weeks later. We heated the house with a Fisher wood burning stove. A large stock pot and a low flame kept the stew simmering for hours. The smell of cooked tomatoes and carrots and a beef roast filled the house. The stew was always thick and rich. We would come in from the crisp air and the aroma alone was enough to renew my vigor after a hard day’s work.

Fall has so much to look forward to that instead of mourning the loss of Summer I want to welcome Fall with open arms and my favorite denim jacket. I look forward to being able to share with you the bright colors of Fall and some the activities in my mountains as we move ever forward in the river of time.

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A Few thoughts On Summersville Dam

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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Holding The Moment

To sit quietly by the water and allow the rush of the falls to carry away the cares of the outside world is one of the finest experiences on Earth.

The cool mists produced by the cascading water drifts gently by caressing my skin. The air is rich with the scent of wet stone driftwood. Small birds skim the pool beneath the falls as I just sit quietly and exist as a part of creation. Life should always be more of an experience than an existence. As often as I have written about how time flows without any pause there are exceptions. If you can just push away the outside world for a moment and fully absorb the peace that comes then you can freeze time in your memories.