Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hairpin Turns, Oh My


Through fog or clear skies, mountain views are spectacular at 2-4,000 feet when you arrive there - somehow.


All of the wonderful details of Muddlety have been told so I will be brief and say Muddlety Strips was dreamy and captivating in the rain.


I had some alone time at this Muddlety pond. Here, just me and the hush of a gentle rainfall, mud suctioning under foot, and the songs of a dozen species of birds that were all foreign to me. I’ll never forget this spot and how rudely the hush was broken by what I heard a half mile up from behind where I stood. At this tranquil place, powerful buzz saws continued to fell trees – I sadly imagined the immediate loss of habitat at the first, in a series of cracks, echoing, the crashing fall, then silence. It’s a disaster and I hate it.


Susan’s find. Her eyes are as sharp as her raptors’.



To the mountains of West Virginia I brought my fear of heights. It’s only a minor phobia, I thought, and didn’t become unnerved until we set out on our Sugar Creek trip, ascending a mountain, in a van, on mud and gravel.


The road pictured above is a good road, wide and paved. Not like the dinky ones I saw... One look to my left through the window and I knew the van’s wheels were about five feet from a 2,000 foot drop. Yes, we were eye-to-eye with warblers and the treetops that held them! My imagination is way too overactive in situations like this and I held back my desire to scream, “Oh, let me drive, please, or we’re all gonna die!”

From behind I heard a very kind person say, “The trees will stop us from falling too far.”

Well, thanks a lot.

No one else seemed to be concerned and I wondered why school buses were allowed to carry children up and down a mountainside.


I would have preferred to sit on the floor of the van and stare at everyone’s muddy feet but instead I focused my wandering eyes on the seat in front of me or the backpack on my lap. Head low, I sang a song lead by Kathy,

"...The other day I met a bear, out in the woods, a way out there..."

Thank you, Kathy. We saw a black bear that day and poor Susan was thrilled beyond words.

Lynne, who sat beside me on our short bus trips, kept me giggling and I do believe she and Susan were laughing at the long, wet, vertical cowlick on the back of my head one day. It’s alright. They all helped me through to the end of the week and got me through those scary hairpin turns. For that, I'm thankful!




Hawk’s Nest Overlook


Muddlety and Sugar Creek were speckled with great birds, however, this is the way I see it.


We all gathered at New River for the birds and nature


but it soon became very apparent that we were most significant.


Sunset at Smokey’s on the Gorge, where I won birdJam software. I need all the help I can get!

For me, the birds during this trip were secondary – albeit an exquisite, colorful sideshow. We held center stage.


And, I kissed Chet Baker. The real Bacon. Dreamy.
Chloe & Bella are very jealous and they should be.


KGMom said...

What to write about--too many things.
Fears: yours of heights; Susan's of bears.
The loveliness of nature; the stupidity of humans.
Creatures great (Chet Baker) and small (salamanders and birds).
Your ever lovely photos.
Do you recall your pre-trip dithers? I do--and am amused at it. How wonderful it all turned out!

Mary said...

Donna, I do remember! And now I can laugh. It was truly wonderful and I will return next year. There is so much to show and tell right now but life is overwhelming me and I don't have time...but I'm trying. Thanks for your sweet comment.

Susan Gets Native said...

bear. Bear. BEAr. BEAR!!!!!!!!

We HAD to laugh at your hair, Mary. You started out the morning, and then the rain and the hood.....if us yelping like hyenas helped you keep from freaking out, then our job was done well.

Everyone seems so CHANGED by our trip. Don't you LOVE it???

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

May, honey, we weren't laughing AT your hair, we were laughing WITH your hair!!
You got up extra early and got yourself so nicely done up...

The funniest part about your "the bus is going to tip off the edge of the mountain and tumble down thousands of feet" anxiety was that you'd hide your face but then about every 30 seconds, you'd look AGAIN!! You couldn't keep your eyes off the edge.

littleorangeguy said...

Ahhhh, next year!!!

Rose said...

Mary, I haven't had a chance to visit here since you came back from West Virginia. What a beautiful, beautiful place! I would have been clinging to the door handles of the van, too, but the view at the top was worth it. In spite of the rain and mud, sounds like you had a wonderful time. Glad you were able to see so many "lifers"; but I'm sure Bella and Chloe were so happy to have you back home. Thank you for sharing all the stories and photos of your trip.

Dawn Fine said...

You all had such a great time...How a new family!
Friends forever I am sure.
I hope that I can join you all next year if our schedule permits.
you kissed chet baker..I am sooo jealous..tee hee.
guess who is still wearing his blogger button from Va..check out my blog.

Dog_geek said...

It's been fun reading all the different accounts of the trip on everyone's blog. All great photos, but I especially love the pic of the red eft. Mr. Geek used to do research on red spotted newts - they are incredible critters!

A New England Life said...

I would have been right there with you Mary, scared to death and wanting to sit on the floor, or better yet, walk!!! Glad you didn't have to test out those trees ; )

You ladies certainly made some nice memories. Even through all the rain you captured some lovely photos. I was surprised by the one from the Hawks Nest Overlook as it would have made me qweezy.


Wendy said...

It sounds like you had such fun! Mud, rain, fear of heights, and all! Your pics are beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

Vickie said...

Your first image is breath-taking. What a great description of your experiences, from beauty and solitude, to the sadness of trees falling, the down to the core fears to the laughter and friendship. I've enjoyed reading all these different posts about the week.

Naturegirl said...

Mary what an awesome trip and the photos your share are great!As usual you certainly throw in your humor describing the bus trip alongside the mountain!I know the feeling myself when we would go on a day trip while in AZ...those winding roads next to the wrong turn..and over you go!
The photo of the gentle hand holding the salamader is very touching..shows the true heart of a nature lover!

Mary C said...

Mary, such lovely photos, and such lovely memories. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the rest of the blogger flock and others that didn't make the trip. Imagine if all of us had attended -- that would have been SOME birding festival and SOME PARTY! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing your memories of the trip.
A kiss from Chet Baker would be a dream come true.

Kathleen said...

The Magic of Mudelty and Bacon kisses make for one fantastic week! Mary, I;m so galod your camera worked well - your photo memories are wonderful.

LauraHinNJ said...

I feel like I missed out on half the fun by not being on trips with you all, but hearing about it afterewords almost makes up for it.


Glad you survived your fear of heights and all those bad hair days!

Unknown said...

Beautiful series of images and the first image and the overlooking hawk's nest are stunning compositions as well Mary.

Murr Brewster said...

I grew up in Virginia, and from your first photo I could smell deciduous forest duff and thought: salamander country. And then you gave me an eft! I'm going to consider that a personal gift even though it wasn't. Our woods here in Oregon are splendid, our trees are huge and moss-covered, our slugs are the size of a baby's arm, but we could sure use more salamanders. Couldn't everybody?

Iris said...

Looks like a fantastic time! Beautiful shots, and what a gorgeous place. The logging is hard to take, I agree. Round these parts, people are so broke they've taken to selling their timber, leaving vast acreage with nothing but stumps. It's like Once-ler from The Lorax has been through the county. Sigh. The only upside is that it'll be great warbler habitat in a few years.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! What a wonderful trip you all had. Thank you for taking us with you.
It is sad though about whoever cutting trees.
Glad you had fun. Lisa

Alan Pulley said...

Hey Mary,
Great photos as usual! I especially like the sunset shot.
My grandparents used to own a place up in the mountains in northern VA and I remember the roads being the same as you described - steep and no guard made me very nervous, especially when they were icy!!
Otherwise, it looks as if you guys had a great time! I may have to look into going it next year...

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! That's some real height . . . I'd be clenching! Gorgeous birds and wow I'm so jealous. The party times look SO fun!

Heidi said...

If I was there Mary, I'd be the one saying, "don't worry, the trees will stop our fall!"


Those foggy mountain pics certainly were dreamy. I love how you can capture exactly what you feel... or you feel what you captured, I don't know. Either way, I love it.

RuthieJ said...

Great photos Mary. I'm glad you had such a good time in spite of the rainy weather.
(Winding roads with steep drop-offs creep me out too!)

dguzman said...

Beautiful post, Mary. Someday I too will kiss the real Offisa Pup!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

You had too much fun despite the terror filled ride up the mountain.

Tina said...

Well from reading everyone's wonderful posts about WV..I guess I will have to put that date on my calendar for next yr...not too sure of that bus ride're the second one to post what a scary ride it was!!
Thank goodness the tree tops would be there to save you..hope they are there next yr..and weren't cut down:(

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I can see this trip changed you forever! No longer are you afraid!
Sounds like you had a very fun time. Meeting "good" friends would have to have been the best part.

Kathie Brown said...

Wonderful memories and wonderful photos Mary! I miss you already!