Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2022-2023

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

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.

Stern cat pix, and Augusta Springs Wetlands again

The whirlwind traveling seems to be taking a restorative break for a while. It's mid-January 2023, there's no snow here yet and may never be, though the rest of the country seems to be leaping from one 'Atmospheric River' to another 'Polar Vortex' -- one can hardly look at national weather reports these days without breaking into tears. But it's only fair that we've been spared, since we've never ever been personally unworthy of our meteorological good luck.

First, the feline members of the family, locked away in the flat, possibly dreaming of the grand outdoors in Wisconsin in the summer.

Whenever dour Choupette sees the baggage cart come out, she falls victim to what the bloggers are calling the 'FOMO Syndrome', the Fear Of Missing Out (apparently a serious national threat these days, worse perhaps than MAGA, the so-called 'Second Amendment', and the strange Supreme Court).

-- If you leave me behind, there will be a great Curse to follow you -- forever.

How did this happen? Can it be untangled?

Even Melvin the Doge is showing some concern.

-- Maybe some of us just want to be left alone for a while.
Until dinnertime.

-- What did I just say?! Left alone!

-- Are you going to let that little winkie talk to me that way?

-- Really, enough is enough. I think she's just being performative.

Off to Augusta Springs Wetlands, 16 January 2023

We're not sure how often we've come out here for a gentle walk in The Nature, since we moved to the USA, but it must be a couple of thousand times, in all seasons. Except for the vegetation and temperatures, it's normally pretty much the same every time. Except that sometimes we discover a new variation of the usual trails.

This is the entry avenue of trees, with some picnic benches -- all of this, in the 19th century, were the grounds of a luxury thermal-springs spa, popular with patrons from everywhere, including Europe, who came out here on a regular coach from the rail station in Staunton. It included (along with fancy hot water) a theatre, a renowned kitchen, literary and musical evenings, massages, maybe tennis, who knows what.

In fact, the facilities -- the hotel, the cabins, whatever -- were so commodious that Gen Stonewall Jackson commandeered it all as a hospital for his wounded rebels after they'd repulsed two Union armies from crossing the Allegheny mountain passes just above us here, and saved the Shenandoah Valley and certainly Staunton, at least temporarily.

Apparently, it would seem, the health-giving waters of the springs unthermalized -- in any case, the infrastructure declined, the reputation faded off, and in the early 20th century it was given up. It's all gone now, except for some lonely brickworks tucked away amongst the vegetation.

All that said, we've run through this story so many times here that we can't bear to haul out again the various old photos and period testimonies, etc., but a judicious use of our Search button on the front page might lead one in the correct direction.

That forlorn little creek out of the fabled springs is anxious to join the Little Calf Pasture River across the road.

A grand stretch of graceful boardwalk over a goodly section of the swampiness.

Here's who we can applaud for this welcoming little park, the US Forest Service perhaps most of all, the DWR or Virginia Dept of Wildlife Resources, and Ducks Unlimited.

For people who like to bring their books out to a quiet spot in The Nature, to read for a while and listen to the chirping birds and smell the flowers, this could have been a wonderful contribution, but there are only two benches with backs on them.

But we're ever so much more ambitious than that (and besides it's mid-January: neither chirping birds or sweet flowers) -- in fact, we're headed, once again, for . . .

. . . the renowned Uplands Trail.

The official maps show this Upland Trail as a welcome extension of the short toddle round the central pond; it runs up along the creek here, ascends and tops out on a ridge perhaps a mile to the north, then descends down alongside another creek on the other side (that's where you can view the rusted wreckage of 5 or 6 abandoned 1940s-vintage cars)(if you want to).

But some time ago, we noticed that there were markings for a (possibly new) shortcut across the ridge down here at the lower end, and that's where we're bound today. Because we're often lazy.

Halfway along this shortcut path, one can branch off to the left up an unmarked path directly up the spine of the ridge, finally to pop out at the place where the regular trail crosses over and starts down again on the other side; and there you can actually continue on the clear but unmarked trail farther north along the ridge into the wilderness, who knows how far but we've only loped out that way for half an hour or so, and back.

But today we're crossing over and making shorter work of it, partially because the great god Aeolus is suggesting that some of these long dead trees might soon become part of our legacy.


Down the far side

-- Damn, did you forget the galoshes?

That, by the way, is the only other bench for comfortable, sunny-day reading, and some discreet tanning.

But today we just want to acknowledge the central pond, and see if there are any shivering ducks or geese still lingering about.

None to be seen today, but they do hang about at the oddest times.

We're mostly finished for today.

A fine and quiet place . . . never crowded, but we did cross paths with a gentleman up on the trail on his first exploration. He explained that he's purchased the 'Old Country Church', formerly the West View Methodist Church, on the Old Parkersburg Turnpike, and was taking a break from rehabilitating it into a residence.

Some of Virginia's heritage persists long after the residents have moved on.

Denny's Lounge, on the Little Calf Pasture Highway in Swoope, VA, is another case in point.

Every one of these probably has its own story. Or had one.

We're on the Old Parkersburg Turnpike, which may once have been bustling with traffic.

Here's the 'Old Country Church', formerly the West View Methodist Church, which our woodland acquaintance today said he is rehabilitating. It's about halfway between downtown Staunton and Buffalo Gap, which has no downtown.

This will probably all be greener in 4 or 5 months.

We've just ferried the groceries in and have thoughtlessly left the cart out, where it can mislead Choupette into thinking we're going on another trip.

Sharing a spot in the sun on a winter afternoon.

Next up: Sherando Lake dries up (almost), but don't worry

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 March 2023.

Recent Events