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.
We're soon to be en route for our annual pilgrimage to the lake in the Wisconsin Northwoods, 28 May 2022, and as usual we'll be stopping somewhere for a few days to put the travel nightmare on pause.
But first, a last few moments gazing upon the recent alterations in the Yulee Trail in the Montgomery Hall Park, gratefully . . .
. . . acknowledging that the crew has already cleared the path.
And we've just time for a last forage round Staunton's Saturday Farmers' Market, thronging with our fellow citizens committed to healthy eating and Buying Local.
There on the far side is the Apple Cider Doughnuts tent, committed to providing 'Fresh Apple Cider in Every Doughnut'.
Make your own caption.
(Another good reason for living in Staunton.)
Now we're off, transiting an elaborate scenic backwoods route north, to avoid risking the Interstates of Death for a good part of the trip.
So now we're here, in downtown Baker WV, acquiring a little deli lunch in the deep heart of rural West Virginia. Our clever route tugs us briefly up into western Maryland, just inches short of western Pennsylvania, and bang down into Morgantown, West Virginia.
Travel collars off! More accurately, we're in Cheat Lake, a wary 10 miles short of downtown Morgantown. Booked for three nights into the very satisfactory 'The Cranberry, Ascend Hotel Collection' (no kidding), with a thriving restaurant next door (called 'Tropics') with a labored tropical theme, and live music, though we showed up early and evaded all but the raucous warm-ups and amps checks.
It was never entirely clear what recommended Morgantown to us for a three-day stopover, but a perhaps unfairly hasty cruise along the downtown waterfront beside the Monongehela River failed to inspire.
So a pleasant Subway's takeout along the riverside biking path, observing the baby geese, led us to Plan B.
This is Plan B -- the Coopers Rock State Forest just a few miles back to the east, with some campgrounds (not required in this case), a gift shop (in the background), and enough hiking trails to suit even our discriminating tastes.
We can never let pass an opportunity to celebrate FDR's wonderful Civilian Conservation Corps. Seriously.
Today we're just down for the overlook trail, and after that, who knows? Perhaps the Rattlesnake Trail.
The classic CCC architecture
An upstream look at the Cheat River (tomorrow we'll be inspecting that powerline clearcut in the distance)
-- Wait up.
That's apparently Pennsylvania in the distance.
We proceed northwest along the cliff top . . .
. . . peeking over from time to time.
What a mess.
Eventually to join the Rattlesnake Trail.
Nature's wonders all about us
We emerge at the trailhead (unsnakebit), with the main parking lot and the gift shop
A little faded background info
Time for an early dinner at the sort-of-Italian restaurant, the Lake House, at the Sunset Beach Marina.
We've been warned that when the boats start coming back in, in the late afternoon, extremely jovial boaters will be lining up at the front door, and that they will be loudly welcomed by 'live music'.
So we chow down and clear out in good time.
An experiment in synechdoche -- a single goose feather (fetched from our downtown riverwalk) stands in for a whole goose. Choupette reverts to predatory instincts and wrestles the feather into submission, then moves on.
Especially for the birds in the tree next door
The next day, we're off for a cheerful walk down the Raven Rock Trail, also in the Coopers Rock State Forest. A hiking trail that requires an automobile barrier at the trailhead may not be quite what we'd had in mind.
Due south it goes, apparently to a noteworthy scenic viewpoint
Grateful for the car barrier
All downhill so far (hence uphill in due course)
Our trail appears to be a former utility road, put opportunistically to good use.
We're carefully following the red markers along the way, lest we wander off the path and become lost.
Oh, yuck. My new dress shoes.
Happily, there's a convenient detour round the muck.
Northern West Virginia countryside
Here's a more attractive path for walking on, but with no indication of where it's headed. We'll try it.
Predictably, it's a dead end.
Back up to the main path, with a longish uphill, and now we're bursting out into the sunlight.
Sunlight! Big rocks! A power line!
And a decent view -- that's presumably Cheat Lake, right about where our Cranberry Hotel ought to be. The Cheat flows northerly and joins the Monongahela just across the state line at Point Marion, PA.
Some fellow Scenic Overviewists
Don't look down.
Power lines crossing the Cheat River
The mighty Cheat, upriver, with some noteworthy rapids
Back down a ways, then up to the Raven Rock carpark along the access road
And next on our agenda, from another carpark along the road, we're on the Reservoir Loop Trail. This one has frequent little signs identifying the vegetation (e.g., Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)), but most of them are weathered out and nearly illegible.
That's the reservoir.
And one of the local residents
Lots and lots of little fish scooting back and forth under the walkway, all invisible to the camera in the sun glare.
Enough for one day. Back to the Cranberry, and a look-in at the Tropics restaurant, specifically to use . . .
. . . its theme-oriented photo opportunity. (Photos by the gracious manager of the Cranberry)
Melvin was cool about it all, of course, but Choupette was panic-stricken, could not be got back out, and had to be hauled out the front.