Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Coming Home from Kentucky

We had snow in Ashland, KY, which was a surprise even to the locals. (While it's not a snowy photo, you can get a glimpse of downtown Ashland here thanks to Houseofboyd and Flickr.) After visiting our client the Wink and I drove out in a "wintery mix" that thankfully was not sticking to the roads. I-64 takes you quickly into West Virginia, with Ohio visible on the left, just over all the wonderful steel bridges.

We stuck to the highways until we saw the route 52 sign, right after the long tunnel under the mountain that divides West Virginia from the Old Dominion. Knowing it was the same road we have taken countless times to Winston-Salem, and knowing it was actually a short-cut, we had to check it out.

I should have known better. It started out OK, but then got incredibly steep and narrow as it wound its way up to the shoulder of Big Walker Mountain. Still no ice or snow on the road, or I would have turned back, but plenty on the shoulders, where it had obviously been ploughed. I paused at the very top and Winkycat and I checked out the observation deck and strange rope bridge and fire tower at a closed down general store. The photo is the view from the little observation deck.

Once we got back into the valley we came to a tiny park beside a stream in the Jefferson National Forest. A dirt road, a trail through the woods, a narrowing track beside the stream, the muddy edge of the bank as I climbed over fallen trees and dodged greenbriers... Still in suit pants and bowtie, I finally got my fill when it looked like the next devolution of the trail was swamp. With the camera threatening every frame to shut down for lack of juice, I got a few shots. I call this one, "Suited Fool in Woods," or "Have Bowtie, Will Travel." At least my field jacket kept me relatively warm. Poor Kitteywink had to stay parked beyond the closed gate. "Foot traffic welcome," said the sign on the gate - but not her foot.

Winky and I parked in the lot of a country church, and I prowled around in the cold wind to find the best way to capture it against the wintry sky, finally deciding the best view was up the white pine lined driveway.

Just before sundown, and back on I-77 to make some distance, we crossed the New River. An interesting stone tower on the left caught my eye and we got off to investigate. Another closed gate, but this time a sign a ways up the road announced that the grounds were closed from Nov to March. It's a shot tower - used to let molten lead fall through a screen to harden before plunging into a tub of water at the bottom (I read it was a shot tower - the rest I know from books). I wonder if it was used for the Civil War or the Revolutionary War.

Around the bend from the Shot Tower Historical Park was the New River Trail State Park, and the lovely little hamlet of Foster Falls, named for a rapids in the New River. I used up all the remaining batteries getting shots of this beautiful little park. The horse offered her nose for a stroke.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and mostly in the dark. I had music in my head, so I didn't use the tape player or radio at all on the entire drive back. It was a good little voyage. On many business trips there is little time to sight-see - so I was grateful the timing on this one allowed some time to experience the countryside.

I lost my cell phone somewhere in VA. I had used it for several business calls on the way, getting things started for those customers. I had checked it often, though reception was bad in the mountains, as usual. I didn't leave the car once I left Foster Falls, so my best guess is that it came off my belt, clip and all during the 45 minutes I walked about taking photos. It could be just about anywhere, but I like to picture it still on the shore of the New River, where I skimmed a stone before turning back.

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