Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2020

Finally, we hope, seeing the back of Trump

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

An October round-up

Settling back to normal routines after the annual pilgrimage to the Northwoods

The cats are 'settling back to normal routines' -- we're settling back into sneaking out of the flat at dawn for groceries, with masks on.

We left Wisconsin just in time, because the Republican state legislature, Trump's moronic campaign rallies, and the macho 'rural' culture exploded the state into the nation's number one hotspot for pandemic fatalities.

Choupette can make a refuge out of almost anything.

A bracing walk through eastern Staunton, Virginia, a week before Hallowe'en

Memorializing the people who won't let fear of Trump's Virus prevent them from having fun
[I just politicized these folks' brilliant lawn art without their permission.]

Our walk continues along East Beverley St. (the Cabell House, 1869).

It is not only Choupette who values a convenient refuge.
(Kristin is googling for recent Seth Meyers' 'Closer Look'.)

Augusta Springs Wetland walk

We're back to the Augusta Springs Wetland, our go-to pretty stroll place, just 20 miles or so west of Staunton. 21 October 2020.

It's a lot warmer than it needs to be in late October. What's that about? (We already know.)

But at least the autumn leaves are 'turning', as they say.

The pond in the centre of the wetland

Excellent boardwalks

The whole march round the trail (not counting the 'uplands trail') takes not much more than half an hour, but it's quietly rewarding anyway.

Civic Duties: The Anti-Courthouse Demonstration

Some people in Augusta County have felt the need for a new courthouse, $60 million worth, and would like to place it in the middle of downtown 'Historic Staunton'. Following a virtual electoral coup that put the Republicans [the 'Pugs'] in control of the Staunton City Council, some back-channel meetings without the Democrat minority members are moving forward with a plan to help out. 25 October 2020.

The Historic Preservation Commission will surely refuse to license a plan that would destroy a number of historic centre buildings and replace them with a five-story 'modern' complex that would dwarf the best parts of the town. Unfortunately, the Pugs on the City Council could overrule the Commission.

So there have been very good letters to the outstanding local newspaper, the Staunton News Leader, a petition with many signatures, and this demonstration in front of the existing county courthouse, which drew about 200 concerned citizens (and a photographer, presumably from the News Leader).

And we're here, too, with quite a few other right-thinking citizens. 'Making our voices heard'. We should point out that Staunton is in effect the county seat of rural Augusta County but is jurisdictionally separate and free-standing.

Our 200 concerned citizens may appear to be more or fewer in number because of social distancing, it's hard to tell.

This unmasked creep with a helmet on has been lurking on the fringes taking photos for the past half hour. Maybe the Pugs and their friends in the Sheriff's Office will soon have a participants list. [I don't actually know who he is or what he's doing here.]

Someone has set up a microphone system, but we're all beginning to wonder if anyone's going to start talking on it.

In a meantime, the Sheriff's Office next door has sent a deputy out to make sure that everyone is complying with Governor Norham's instructions about masking up, to prevent spreading Mr Trump's Virus.

This is actually only my second political demonstration (way too busy during the Vietnam War, sorry). The first one was in Minocqua, Wisconsin, when President Trump was locking up the little children in cages to deter somebody about something.

The speakers set to work -- this is a local artist who seems to have been the ringleader.

'Don't overshadow me' refers to the projected construction of a five-story complex adjacent to the existing County Courthouse (where we are now), dwarfing its historical dome and pinnacle-statue of Justice. The Frazier Plan has to do with some earlier unsuccessful proposal that would have been cheaper and more sensible.

All of a sudden, we can't hear a word the speakers are saying. Oh.

Looks like a Trump-style threat of violence, but apparently it refers to the proposed modifications to the unused parts of the existing courthouse.

'Don't Dwarf the Dome.' Staunton depends to a large extent of tourism focused on its historic architecture and what not, and this project would essentially put an end to all of that. The downtown would end up looking like a 'forward-thinking' franchise-restaurants town in Oklahoma or Iowa.

That, in fact, is us, with Kristin half out of the picture on the right, from the local News Leader's digital edition.

A feline standoff

The Farmers' Market

31 October 2020 (my sainted mother's birthday, RIP), the Farmers' Market

The Saturday market is a lot more crowded when it's not freezing out.

A coffee courier

Kristin social-distancing and waiting to get at the good stuff: tubers and what not, and special kinds of bread.

A stall that's been cleverly planted at the sunny end of the carpark

The Masonic Building looming uptown

'Biden/Harris -- Make Lying Wrong Again'

A big mistake on the Blackrock Summit hike

This is theoretically a short walk up on the Skyline Drive along Virginia's Blue Ridge. We visited here once before, just a year ago with Alison and Mark, and it should suit us fine on this late afternoon scenic drive. 31 October 2020.

We remember it well. This is, by the way, a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, but we won't be continuing today to either Georgia or Maine.

We're nearly there already.

We've seen better slag heaps in the Jersey Meadows, but the views from near the top are worth the trip.

We're looking off to the west, towards the Alleghenies in West Virginia.

Circumambulating the summit rocks

So pleased to be here, and briefly unmasked

The summit

We're starting down already, and pointedly ignoring that little trail that leads off to the side.

This is a beautiful trail, soft on the knees, views in both directions from time to time -- the only downside is that it's the wrong trail. As we've begun to suspect after a suspiciously long walk down. We may end up in Georgia after all.

We should not have ignored that little side trail at the top -- it would have taken us down northward, instead of, in the event, about a mile to the south. Popping out onto the Skyline Drive with . . .

. . . about a three mile plod up the road to the Volvo hopefully still awaiting us. In the grand old days, we'd never have made such an idiotic mistake. Oh well.

The drive home on the Skyline Drive. There'd been some discussion about hitchhiking, but really, rural western Virginia is not the place to be climbing into a car with probably unmasked locals and a gunrack on top.

A walk round Sherando Lake

Sherando Lake is another more or less local strolling venue that's become a favorite for us, about 25 miles to the south down the western side of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The light is a little different for every visit as the seasons change.

Canadian geese catching their breath

Now at the far end of the lake, on the earthen dam, looking southward ca. 500m towards the carpark

The trail on the sunnier side of the lake always seems more pleasant.

The photogenic island near the small beach -- no swimmers here today; no one at all here today, in fact.

Next up: A quick visit to Front Royal and Winchester, Shenandoah gems we've been told

Winter 2020-21

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 1 December 2020.

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