August 31, 2019

Sky Meadows Birds and More

Much of Sky Meadows State Park was farm land and several barns still stand on the property. The land was purchased by philanthropist Paul Mellon in 1975 and donated to the state of Virginia for development as a park. 

The park maintains a lovely old home and a number of farm buildings. Visitors can see farm equipment, gardens, and chickens. There are trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

I recently wrote about a new trail that is wheelchair accessible and has special features for people with other physical disabilities.

Always drive slowly on park roads. Wildlife may suddenly appear, and they think they own the road!
See also:
Mount Bleak Farm at Sky Meadows 
Saturday's Critters
I'd Rather Be Birdin' 

August 30, 2019

August is Ending.

 Will there ever be another one as colorful?

It's Willy Nilly Friday and only one day of August remains. It was a hot month, but not as stifling as July. The climate has changed, although not everyone agrees. I have lived in Virginia for seven decades and I can tell you, it has changed here. Summers are hotter. Odd events like tornados are more common. Autumn leaves change color later than they did in my youth. I cannot say for sure that winter is different because it was always changeable here.

Let us appreciate what we have. I have colors of nature to show today but let's start with a black and white image.

I was looking up a stairwell in a historic mansion and took that with my cell phone.

The roses are another cell picture, seen in a restaurant parking lot.

Friday Bliss and Floral Friday.
Next are a couple of flower close-ups, taken with my Sony camera. It helps to have a setting for macro, or close-up shots. I was going after contrasting colors. 

Weekend Reflection: Yesterday I drove by the boat landing near Eastham Park and noticed this view of the Shenandoah River.

Earlier this month I shared pictures of this fence. Later I found out that not only was jazz musician John Kirby from this area, but long before that, Heyward Shepherd lived here. His home is gone but it is described as being on land now owned by Stephens Jazz Club. Oh, perhaps you don't recognize his name. He was the first man shot by John Brown's raiders in Harpers Ferry.

Mr. Shepherd was a free black man working for the railroad when he was killed in 1859. 

Fences: Here's another fence, a rail fence with an open gate.

Skywatch: Today's closing picture is a sunset, looking west from Skyline Drive.

Have a good weekend!

August 29, 2019

Rough Road, Cacapon Overlook

We've been to Cacapon State Park before. In fact, I've been going there all my life. My parents would stop there when we were traveling westward. Mom would bring milk and cereal and we'd get up early and make it to Cacapon for a picnic breakfast!

Well, there's an overlook that you can drive to but I've hesitated because signs warn of a rough road. Our low-slung sedan could lose a muffler in a pothole! So when Frank came home with high-clearance SUV, I knew where to try it out.
Frank with his [new to him] 2011 Dodge.
You can see the warning "Extremely Rough Road Ahead." The sign behind it says "Mtn Overlook 4 miles. Unimproved Road Ahead."

The road did have lots of potholes. But we've been on worse roads, and for a West Virginia mountain road, this really wasn't too bad. And I noticed several small sedans made it up there.

The road is closed in winter though, so check with the park if you plan to go there later this year.

The view at the top is beautiful.

Overlook at Cacapon State Park
"Cacapon Mountain, where you are standing, is the westernmost of the pair of north/south mountains that mark the region as belonging to the ridge and valley section of the Appalachians. Looking out from the overlook, you see its eastern partner –Sleepy Creek Mountain. To the south is Morgan County’s highest elevation, 2320 feet, near where Cacapon Mountain crosses into Hampshire County, WV and Frederick County, VA. To the north, the view extends to the Potomac and beyond to Maryland and Pennsylvania making it one of the rare locations where four states can be viewed.

The valley between two mountains is the most populated area of the county and leads to the historic town of Berkeley Springs before ending at the Potomac River. Slightly northeast of your location, Warm Springs Ridge rises and parallels the mountain as both continue to the Potomac. The famed warm mineral springs arise in a very small area of the ridge and emerge in the town center which is now Berkeley Springs State Park.

Formed in 1933, the boundaries of the 6000-acre Cacapon State Park were set along the top of this mountain with the park spreading down the Eastern slope. The 12-mile, mostly flat, fire road Prospect Trail Is easily accessible from horseback and for hikers. The trail ends at Prospect Rock with its spectacular views of the Potomac and Cacapon rivers, a popular spot for countless visitors and locals. Riding to the rock and view was one of George Washington's favorite activities."

The trail was tempting, surrounded by greenery. Frank still cannot walk very far, though, and honestly, neither can I.

When the park was first built, there was a plan to build a nice ridge-top road similar to Skyline Drive. The idea was abandoned when World War II broke out, and the CCC boys left to serve their country's more urgent needs.

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped briefly at the lane leading to the communications towers. They are guarded by signs, fences, and cameras, so you can't get very close. There was also a sign telling who to contact if you want to rent space on the tower.
The Signs Linkup is now hosted at Backroads Traveller. 

August 27, 2019

New Sensory Trail at Sky Meadows

The new trail at Sky Meadows State Park is designed to be accessible, plus a little more as far as accommodating physical challenges. There are features to appeal to different abilities, plus there are the usual interpretive signs that you find on a nature trail. 

Although it is only a third of a mile around the loop, I was glad I had shoes that provide some ankle support. These Skechers have some stiffness added around the heel. This helps keep my wobbly ankles stabilized.

There are wooden benches to sit on. They have plaques saying who contributed them. In one case I read a quote from John Burroughs that I relate to: "I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more."

I combined this with a scene using Photoshop.

There are boardwalks and bridges to make the going easy. An observation deck at the vernal pool has models of small amphibians that you can touch.


A Couple of Bright Blossoms

August 26, 2019

Dogs and Folk Art Random-osity

The Good: Today is National Dog Day so I made a little collage of my past dogs: Spotsy (with Marie), Guppy (enjoying a river), Flash (pensive), and Ben (running). We don't have a dog now, and it is probably a good thing because Frank was pretty much off his feet for three months following achilles tendon surgery in April. I don't think I could have kept up with a pet while looking after his needs.

Mosaic Monday.
 The Random: There's a new mural at Lost River Artisans Co-op. It depicts many of the local landmarks, although definitely not to scale. That leaning silo is a real thing; I've seen it.

Monday Murals.
The Fun: This giant chicken stands in Wardensville, WV, which is a fun little town to visit.

August 25, 2019

Summer in "The Fort."

"The Fort" is a local name for Fort Valley. This 23-mile long valley is nestled in the Massanutten Mountains. It is rural, a mixture of farmland and forest.

The brick building is Faith Lutheran Church. It was constructed in 1975 but has roots going back to 1816.

After another view of the church building, let's look at one more barn.

I wasn't able to get close to this interesting barn so I cropped a version of the picture in order to show you the barn quilt.

Those things in front? My guess is that they were cupolas saved from the roof of a dairy barn. If you have a better idea, let me know in the comments.

The nearby house looks very neat. Note the rugged rocks on the mountain in the distance.

Passage Creek runs through Fort Valley. There are some good swimming holes and places to fish.