Saturday, October 31, 2015


It's Halloween!

My son, the Medieval plague victim.
The wood stove at Carole's mom's house.

Another bit of Carole's decorations on our last camping trip that I forgot to post.

Friday, October 30, 2015

No-No Song

Ol' Hoyt Axton wrote his No-No song many years ago. And sometimes it makes me think not of things that I have done and sworn off, but things that I never did and never will do.

Some of my pals are into technical climbing. That is, the types of mountain climbs that require ropes, carabiners, harnesses. helmets, cams, and other such nonsense. I can see where they get a thrill out of it, and sometimes I look with envy at the photos they take from summits that I will never reach. ain't for me. I have a healthy respect for Mr. Gravity and sketchy slopes. I'm not quite afraid of heights, but I realize what's at the end of a long plummet. Death. Bloody,  gory, maybe painful death. No, thanks.

The closest I have ever come to this kind of climbing is what's known as "Class III". You could, perhaps, get hurt doing Class III scrambles, but you'd almost have to try to do that. I have engaged in this kind of traveling in Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Tennessee. It's not dangerous,but it is the at the limits of what I am willing to do to reach a mountain peak. Some people consider Class III to still be "hiking" instead of scrambling. I don't argue such points. If I'm on all fours and it's almost as if I'm climbing a ladder...that's enough for me.

The end of the walking trail at Seneca Rock. From here scramble.

The top of Seneca Rock. Fall off either side...and you're squished.

Yours truly, on the summit of Seneca Rock.
And here's what it looks like from the bottom.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The West

Carole and I have taken several trips out west. And I took one without her to go backpacking. And when I look at some of the photos I took and recall the places I saw, I still find it hard to believe that I got to go and see those sights and experience those moments.

Two Medicine, Glacier NP.

Devils Tower.

Iceberg Lake, Glacier NP,

Bison, Black Hills.

The Needles, Black Hills.

Blue Lakes, Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park.

Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado.

Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado.

Absaroka Mountains, Yellowstone National Park.

Geyser, Yellowstone.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Sleeping Grizzly bear. Lamar River, Yellowstone NP.

Bull Moose, Grand Tetons National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Outside Joshua Tree NP.

Carole, in Joshua Tree NP.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


The area where we were camping has a lot of waterfalls. Quite a few. I'm surprised that more people aren't aware of the wealth of waterfalls in West Virginia. Parts of the state have as many (or more) waterfalls per square mile as North Carolina's Highlands area which is far more well known.

Because my hip was acting up, I couldn't hike to out of the way waterfalls as I normally do. But there were plenty of falls that were accessible roadside or down short trails and boardwalks. Here, then are some of the waterfalls we observed on our trip to Camp Creek State Park.

Mash Fork Falls. This one was a short stroll from our campsite.

Sandstone Falls. The entire New River plunges over a sandstone cliff. For volume, the most impressive waterfall I have seen in West Virginia, as it encompasses the width of the very wide New River.

One cannot capture the falls in its entirety.

There is much power in this waterfall.

Some sections of Sandstone Falls are more spectacular than others.

The upper section of Pipestem Falls. The flow here was anemic.

I don't know the name of this falls. It's roadside on the way to Thurmond. It was easily the prettiest waterfall that we observed.

And part of the little Mash Fork Falls again.

And, the unnamed fall heading to Thurmond.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Camp Creek State Park

Carole and I had visited Camp Creek State Park, but we had never stayed there overnight. The park is convenient to I-77 and so it's popular with people who travel in large RVs. They can hop off the Interstate, drive two miles into the forest, and find the easily accessible campsite providing water and electric hookups for a nominal fee (and a dump station when they pull out).

We drove in on a Wednesday afternoon and got the campsite that we wanted beside Mash Fork Creek (the park's namesake, Camp Creek, is on the access road). All of the campsites are on asphalt spurs and ours was very level. So spot on that I didn't need to tweak the trailer to level it. Most of the sites have electric and water, but the few closest to the creek only have electric. That is okay with us, and I filled the onboard water tank and started up the water heater.

We found the campground to be very quiet. The weather cooperated with us and we mainly had clear skies, mild days, and cool nights. Some of the Fall colors had faded, but other trees seemed to be reaching their peak while we were there, so the views were spectacular. There are also many other parks and wild areas nearby, so day trips are easy and relaxing.

One thing that was disappointing for me was an almost complete lack of wildlife. I get spoiled when we take vacations to Florida or out west where big animals seem to be everywhere. But in the southern Appalachians wildlife is rarer and generally shy; especially during hunting season. Even the white-tailed deer were in hiding while we were in the park, so we didn't see those generally numerous animals. No birds of note showed up, and we only saw one squirrel and one chipmunk. 

I have to say that I was impressed with the park. It has a wealth of waterfalls and hiking trails. I didn't hike as I normally do because of hip pain from my work injury. But there was enough natural beauty close to the camp so that I did not feel robbed of experiencing it. The campground also has a very nice bathroom, and my only complaint there is that they kept the heat on far too high. I probably shouldn't complain, having used bathhouses that are too cold. Unlike some parks, they keep the hot water really hot instead of just lukewarm. Which is great for a hot shower, but be careful! The water is so hot that you can scald yourself if you're not careful!

There is a park office at the campground that offers firewood, ice, and a few convenience items. But if you need anything like groceries or camping supplies you have to drive ten miles south to Princeton where there are lots of stores and shops.

In all, Camp Creek is a great park. We intend to go back for another stay!

Pulled in and all set up.

Our campsite (#15).

This was taken at the nearby Pipestem State Park.

Fall color, in spades.

This is actually my favorite campsite in the park: #14. It's a pull-through with water and electric. It's not on the creek, but what I like about it is that it's screened by large trees and offers a lot of privacy.

Mash Creek Falls, just a short stroll from our campsite (about 1/10 mile).

Carole had our Casita decorated for Halloween.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thurmond, West Virginia

Carole and I took a short day-trip from Camp Creek to see the ghost town of Thurmond, West Virginia. Thurmond is technically a ghost town. These days there are only six inhabitants remaining in the town, down from a high of almost 800 back in its heyday as a coal center and banking powerhouse. At one time, the richest bank in the state of West Virginia was located there.

A portion of the business district still stands, and the whole remaining town is now part of the National Park Service which runs a visitors center in the restored train depot from Memorial Day through the end of October. For history buffs, I highly recommend a trip to see this place. While there are some downtown buildings renovated and preserved, a lot of the business district burned at various points between the late 40s with the last major fire being in 1963. It's unfortunate that so many of the structures were lost to fire and vandalism.

The area is also a good one for hiking and kayaking. There is even a primitive campground upstream from Thurmond (tents only).

It had been a very long time since we had been down into the Gorge to visit the abandoned town, so it was nice to head down there and shoot some new photos and videos. As I say, if you like American history and the story of the rise and fall of boom towns, then this should be high on your list of places to see and visit.

A gorgeous waterfall on the road down to Thurmond.
The one-lane bridge leading across the New River to Thurmond.

The stinking Post Office.

The best part of the old business district, including the Thurmond National Bank which was once the richest bank in the state of West Virginia.

A good place to hide the bodies.

A stroll down the main street.

Concrete tower.

The Thurmond Depot and visitors center.

Part of the existing residential area above the business district.

Toward the far end of the town.

The beautiful New River Gorge.
Old maintenance building in downtown Thurmond.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


We're back. I couldn't hike because of my hip. But we had a great, relaxing time. I was impressed with Camp Creek State Park. I hope to head back there for a longer stay some time.

A waterfall on the way down to Thurmond in the New River Gorge National Wild and Scenic River.