Saturday, October 31, 2015

3 highpoints, 1 day

I may be pushing the limits on how many photos to include in one post, but it seems like this whole day should be grouped together.  After all, three highpoints in one day is a record for us that quite likely will not be repeated (at least, by us).

The day actually starts the night before, with an adventure in driving back roads of West Virginia trying to find a campground in the dark.  As we turned off the main road, I actually said "this could be an adventure."  With zero cell reception (possibly related to the radio silence for the large telescope?) and confusingly incorrect written directions (my fault, I suspect) and only a high level map to guess off of, we wandered through the darkness trying to figure it out.

We eventually came across better signage (we had come in a back way, apparently) and located the campground.  Which was closed for the season, as of that day.  I had called to specifically ask this question, but the person on the other end of the line didn't have the right info.  Oh well, we found a boat ramp parking area and pulled in there instead.  Luckily we're pretty flexible when sleeping in the back of the truck.

Next morning, we were finally on our way to Spruce Knob, equipped with a picture of the local road map posted at the boat ramp sign board.  The highpoint itself was the easiest part of the whole deal.  Except for being inside a windy cloud.

Starting along the nice trail from the parking lot to the top of West Virginia:

Fun cairn pile:

I present to you - the West Virginia highpoint tower:

Don't give up, John, we have 2 more highpoints to go today!

Yeah, we're groovin', sorta:

Not easy to see our truck in the fog.  At least the cloud was covering only the very top of the mountain and the driving wasn't difficult.

Highpoint #33 in our quest:

Now that it was light out, we could see that the foliage was spectacular.  I took a bunch of pictures as we started down the hill.

Gorgeous scenery!

Even while moving, it's really pretty:

And then... there's this:

We had come up a different way the night before, so no telling how recently the tree fell across the road.  We maybe got really lucky to be at that highpoint this morning!

John jumped out to try to clear it off, but quickly determined that the tools at his disposal were inadequate:

So... more adventure!  I pulled out the photo of the road map again, and we went back up the mountain and over to find another road down.  Not as direct as we would have liked, but more direct than going all the way back to where we had started the previous evening.  Most importantly, it worked!  We were saved!  :)

Finally back to civilization.  We celebrated with egg sandwiches at a small deli near Seneca Rocks.  Which are a pretty neat rock formation (would be worth coming back with a rope and climbing gear):

Back to the main story of the day.  The rest of it is pretty tame in comparison.  We parked at the edge of West Virginia and hiked up to the ridge of Backbone Mountain.  Another location with great foliage:

John runs so fast it's like taking a picture from a moving car:

Love the colorful leaves!

Good signage to the top of the mountain:

They really don't want you to get lost:

John runs so fast he has time for a nap before I arrive (yep, John could sleep here):

There's a nice camera holder stand there, always have to make use of those when available:

Hang on John, we have one more highpoint to get to today!

A certificate just for me!

A little sunshine, a little yoga:

A more "traditional" selfie:

I assumed this was a view down into Maryland, but later realized we could be looking straight across Maryland back into West Virginia.  It can be rather confusing around here.

Highpoint #34!

Back down to West Virginia to find the truck.  A short ways later we came across a church billed as the "smallest church in 48 states," which apparently isn't nearly the case, but still adorable:

Continuing north into Maryland, we soon reached an intersection with one arrow pointing left and the other pointing right.  Both pointed to places in West Virginia.  How can that be??  Well, it can.

We did manage to figure out how to get through Maryland to Pennsylvania without backtracking to West Virginia.  Eventually we drove up another mountain and located this lovely tower in the woods on Mount Davis:

Yes Marcy, that tower:

More stunning foliage, our timing this fall was excellent.  Also a lonely single padlock, waiting for others to make this lock-fence "a thing":

A little chilly, let's get some highpoint photos going:

We like the relief map at the top of the tower.  John getting a closer look:

Yay for 3 highpoints today!

Checking out the marker on a rock nearby, one of these must be the official spot:

#35 and still having fun:

Friday, October 30, 2015

Kentucky and mostly Lincoln

We start this next post at the end of one of our driving days.  In looking for camping spots, I happened upon a place renting "wigwams," which in truth aren't really that but still a fun idea.  It's a solid, teepee-shaped room with a bed and bath, and the inside wasn't much to write home about, but the outside is quite entertaining:

From there we continued our tour of Roadside America with "Stonehenge Kentucky" - apparently this is someone's yard:

The "battleground" across the street, an excellent stone cannon:

We just happened upon this connection with our summer out west, so we had to stop and read how John Muir walked through Kentucky on his way to the Gulf of Mexico:

Another highlight of the morning was touring Abraham Lincoln's birthplace:

Perhaps we should have created something with the Lincoln logs before taking a photo...

A replica of where baby Lincoln first lived:

Two Lincoln life masks:

Checking out the spring the Lincoln family used on the property (still dripping clean water):

The building housing a replica of Lincoln's first cabin:

And the replica itself, quite a nice tiny house:

Statue of Lincoln in nearby Hodgenville:

Lincoln as a boy, reading a book:

The Gettysburg address in the pavement:

Trying to decide if John's beard makes him resemble Abe?  What about with this hat on?  Maybe a leprechaun then...

The rest of the day was spent driving across most of Kentucky and West Virginia, trying to get to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank before it closed.  Miscalculating the timing (basically, forgetting about the shift into the Eastern time zone) meant we would miss the last tour, but perhaps we could still get in the visitor center.

Starting to see pretty foliage along the way:

There is it!  Pretty dramatic.  Makes me want to see the movie Contact again sometime.  If we're ever back in that part of West Virginia we will have to return for an up-close tour:

Visitor Center displays explaining what a radio telescope does and all the discoveries that have been made here:

Love some of the interactive displays, especially the chance to take a "FLIR selfie" of ourselves in infrared:

I believe this one was created by a young scientist to prove how useful radio telescopes can be:

Another fun day on the road!