Summer 2017 Vacation – July 20 – Day 1

We are off on our journey west!

We don’t have much of a plan other than to drive across the United States without, as much as possible, getting on an major Interstate highway. Our destination is Ruidoso, New Mexico for a Westerman family reunion. This reunion has been in the planning stages for many months, if not a full year.

Our route today took us from home to Lewisburg, Ky. We initially traveled on a route well traveled for us to Front Royal, VA then on 55 to Strasburg, VA where we picked up 48 into the interior of West Virginia not far west of Strasburg.

Route 48 is a southern parallel road to the famous route 50 with the difference being it’s a divided highway through the picturesque mountains littered with wind farm after wind farm. It’s an “easier” drive than route 50 since it is more “meander” and less “switch back”.

Route 48 turns into route 219 at Thomas, WV. Thomas is a place I want to revisit when I have more time. I love the old down feel of this Appalachian area. Thomas is adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest public land area, close to the Canaan Valley State Park and resort where I’ve stayed and also close to Seneca Rocks, WV. All of these places I have ridden my motorcycle on numerous occasions as well as flown a plane in and around many times. It’s such a nice part of the country where, it seems to me, people don’t want to travel. The lightly traveled part of this country makes it appealing to me.

We picked up I-79 near Stonewall Jackson Lake, another place I want to visit. There are not many lakes near where I live. Rivers, yes. Lakes, no. There were lots of people in the area that appeared to be readying to spend a weekend at the lake. Or maybe that’s just the way they dress on any given day.

We picked up I-64 in the city of Charleston, WV and headed on west towards Lexington, KY. It was the only way to get to where we wanted to be. I spent time learning more about Python programming from a set of online courses I’m taking while Gloria worked on her computer when she wasn’t doing this:

Gloria sleeping. Body in overload from poison ivy.

It turned out she did a lot of sleeping. Unfortunately she picked up some poison ivy near home and I’m sure it’s draining her. She has to be uncomfortable and is just not showing it. It’s just aweful to be so allergic to this plant that grows everywhere you look near our home.

What neither of us knew is that it was about to get worse.

Little man.

I don’t pretend to understand why certain creatures come into my life at certain times but it does seem to happen in a way that makes you wonder how everything is connected. Lately I’m working to connect more.

Don’t take my picture!

Mongrel is Olivia’s boy cat. He’s staying at our house for an extended period of time. He’s really a city cat since he was found somewhere in Richmond, Virginia a couple of years ago. But he sure has become accustomed to living in the country lately. To other humans he’s a sweet boy. Other cats, not so much. We are working on the latter.

Since moving here to our home we’ve bonded, so to speak. Pretty much anywhere I go you can find him. He likes to go on long, wandering walks with me at any time of the day as long as it’s not raining, too windy or too hot or cold. Wet paws and wind are not his thing.

He has striking yellow-green eyes in contrast to his completely black fur that stand out in any color photograph of him. If I thought he might have a favorite thing to do it would be climbing trees. All the way to the top of the trees!

Green eyes

If you know me you know I’m a bit reserved and quiet. My relationship with Mongrel is the same. It’s OK to be in each other’s presence and not say a word. Just be. He’s the only animal around me that doesn’t require any kind of communication and still be OK with the silence. We get along that way well.

Worn plumb out.

Pretty much every day we go on 3 walks together. The one in the evening is generally the longest. We often take an hour and just go where nature takes us. Often it’s on a nap, in the driveway. It doesn’t really matter. As long as we are around each other somehow it’s all good. He doesn’t like the night so it’s best to come on back home before it gets too dark where he will catch moths, fireflies and pester the rabbits, frogs and the like until he’s too tired to move.

Then off to bed to sleep all night long. He gets up the next morning, bounds out the door and we do it all over again. I like this part of our life here in the country.

Mongrel has taught me to slow down and enjoy my surroundings. Smell the flowers, grass and dirt. Listen to the sounds in the air, grass and trees.

Life is everywhere. You just have to connect.


Every sunset around here is nice. This time of the year they are always very pleasant. Generally the wind is calm and all of the animals are either getting ready to sleep or getting ready to stay up all night. I’m somewhere in between.

Sunset July 10, 2017

Generally every day I can I go out with Mongrel to watch the day turn into dusk. This day it was quiet. The temperature was cool in humid air. There was all kind of activity in the fields.

Intricate bird nest July 10, 2017

The parents of this nest have been very busy lately. They are working on a brood of 4-5 chicks up there. They seem to be relatively smart to build a nest up under a roof on the gazebo where we only frequent once a day. The only down side may be the day the fledglings try to fly. Hopefully Mongrel is distracted in another location that day.

We have a new guest at our home.

It’s quiet out here. Normally.

Until recently when we had this animal show up.

Our newest member of the family: Female red shoulder hawk.

She’s a noisy thing. Flying all around the property screeching as if asking for permission to be out of the nest.

We noticed it’s parent building a nest high in one of the tall trees in the background back in the spring. In the past week her downy feathers on her underside have turned into more stiff feathers. She’s still very noisy which I don’t think is going to change much in the coming weeks.

It’s been fun watching her in the binoculars. She’s quite the hunter. I’ve seen her with my own eyes catch a rabbit with the aid of both of her parents. If you look closely at her talons you will notice there is blood of some small critter there. Hopefully it’s not from one of our cats!

She moves from tower to pole in what appears to be her new favorite vantage point. We are harvesting the hay today which appears to be giving her unique opportunity to see what might be on the ground.

It’s best not to make any sudden moves if you are a small furry critter. As evidenced by this video.

It’s best to be a fairly large mammal with her around. A “furry mammal” as Helen told me when she was little.

She is a very active hunter and fun to watch do her thing.



Quick trip to Shepherdstown, WV

At the end of the day yesterday we decided to go to Shepherdstown. We enjoy going the “back way” through the woods, near the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and on into this quaint college town. Until recently we went mostly there on a motorcycle. Since it was so late in the day we decided to take my car.

Gloria at the “China Kitchen”

We went there to eat at a Thai place that was closed so our second choice wat the “China Kitchen”. It’s a dumpy little place that is a stand-by restaurant for us. Tonight the food was actually pretty good. But the decor has a lot to be desired. That’s OK, we have no problem with dumpy places as long as the service is good. We were served by an elderly gentleman that was quite attentive. We enjoy each other’s company so most of the “noise” around us blends in after a few moments.

Folklore says there are ghosts in this little town. When we went back to our car there was a woman in period clothing talking about the history of the town. I couldn’t hear what she was saying in front of this church but there was an interested crowd in tow.

Shepherdstown was very busy during the civil war. There was a hospital there that tended to the wounded soldiers and others who were fallouts of that conflict. The folklore says the spirits of so many lost during that time are still trying to find their way. I think most of them ended up in the coffee shop we go to from time to time.

We took the road less traveled back home. It was very dark and I got lost a time or two because we took the road backward from what we normally do. As we were coming back through Harpers Ferry I got to see a train slowly traverse the tracks, through a tunnel on it’s way to DC with coal. Normally I’d have video of that. But I forgot to push the record button. 🙂

There is lots to do around Shepherdstown if you are ever in the area. Every time I go back I see something new. There are lots of little shops and tons of history to see there.


I’ve been distracted

It’s Friday.

Although I’ve only worked 3 days this week the week seems very long. It’s always hard to start over after a holiday. Still, it’s nothing like three years ago. I don’t think I’d be walking this rock if the work load was still that high. So I count my blessings.

The weather has been very rainy lately with the system dumping over 3 inches of rain in the last two days (3.2 according to my rain gauge). I’ll never wish it didn’t rain but it’s nice when we get a break in between the rain showers. In the years we’ve lived here we get rain about every other day. Lately it’s rare when we get more than two days in a row without the rain.

Rain over the last two days.

In between and sometimes in the rain showers Mongie and I have been able to get out and take our walks. Not super consistent when it’s so wet for so long. For such a tough little boy cat he sure doesn’t like getting his paws wet. And doesn’t like staying outside after the sun goes down. He’s currently asleep and it’s only 11:15pm.

Mongrel trying to snag my scalp.

In between walks, dinners and work we slow down and take naps together. Generally if I’m around he is not far away either.

Afternoon siesta

On the evening of July 3 Gloria and I thought we’d go out to Skyline Drive to see if we could see any fireworks displays as the sun went down. We had no information on any major firework shows but often they are the day before the 4th holiday since the 4th is reserved for the big cities. Not always, but that is the way it is around our small cities.

Gloria reading at Hogback overlook on Skyline Drive.

We did see fireworks all over the place but we think most of the smaller cities did it on the 2nd or were going to do it on the 4th. We never did find any information on the web about any displays at all which seemed odd.

Nevertheless, there were all kinds of smaller firework displays that evening. We enjoyed our time up there. Lots of people stopped by while we sat there and spent the evening together.

Field day 2017

Field day has come and gone. What a busy time here at the farm. We set up 5 full stations as well as a GOTA (Get on the air) and satellite station. We are still crunching the numbers on how well we did but I think it’ll be a good year. We are still retooling after some of our core members have moved on to places we think they don’t need a radio. Everyone seemed to have a good time. It was well attended by the club, public figures and the public themselves.

Dad’s 80th birthday.

We surprised dad on his 80th birthday. Under the guise that we would spend our weekend together for his birthday every one in our immediate family came to Bryson City and surprised him by showing up at dinner where they were waiting for us to come through the door. Keeping it quiet for so many months was quite a task. The week before the weather report turned bad and dad decided he might not want to go! Well, we went after convincing him that we wouldn’t melt if we got a little wet. It turns out we didn’t get much rain to speak of at all the entire weekend!

The motel we stay at there is called the Fryemont Inn. I love that little place. In addition to your stay each day both breakfast and dinner are included in the cost of the room. When you are on motorcycles it makes it easy to have that covered and you only need to worry about one meal when you are out on the road. It an interesting little town in the smokey mountains. I’ve fallen in love with the area over the years. In particular, Andrews, NC for a number of reasons.

It was great to have everyone in one place and a good time was had by all. The weekend came and went very quickly. Time. It’s really hard to slow down the older one gets. We will see everyone again here soon.

I’m working hard to get caught up on my photography. I’ve taking way more photos and videos that I’ve been able to do post-production work with. Some of what I do is rather time consuming. It’s just the way digital photography works and I have to say is way better than the way it was when I first learned back in the 1980’s.

Thanks for checking in. Be blessed.

To my family: zw+pmaJNskHHBg2VM8VY5732IqZWxpSZoZnNrVTTL054xaJbQwY15xfG4z1wXVU37OogZ3hiLcgb0b+7RFEoDJG3Z7WxggaNEevgLr/3mlQRnaSsNXj5Eiu54nnFHMZ0QF7jptkk+KLf6fxQE/lNSTIoUJZFvHV6PmdfVNpR4hENhMgXWFTARf6hlC0+dt66waGlgzc+/WbiZT8u4ZDxwj4bUm6VXAGOhxR9hIxg85bf4idykdOo06yf9ONnki1tWcQGeD1KjPTQhqqsSI35iwdzoceZ5qlxIwskvWsWuj5xHTUB04Z4HjQZ5agbMRDoALx/rzPEcsH/3cAJuw==

Garden Bounty

Today I worked a bit with Gloria in the garden where I found this very large and spicy radish. She tells me I’m the only person she knows that likes radishes. She never met my grandmother!

I remember spending summers with my grandmother where part of that day was in various parts of the garden. Sometimes it was strawberries. Sometimes watermelon. Sometime cantaloupe.

Then I’d go about my day with my .22 rifle and a box of shells on my own for the day.

Things have changed since then and I miss those days.