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Snowbird Christmas


My parents visited for dinner and gift exchange before heading south for the winter!

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Christmas outside


Dorothy came downstairs this morning, looked around, and asked “Did we get any presents?”
Me: “No, sweetie, today is Thanksgiving not Christmas”
D put her arms out, palms up, and replied “But, it’s Christmas outside!”
Me: “There’s still another month until Christmas”
D: “But people put up Christmas outside!”
(Then I realized we drove past the Christmas lights in Oakland on the way home last night)





 

Pumpkin Carving/Painting


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Carolyn's pumpkin:
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Saffron's pumpkin:
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Mac-o-Lantern:
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Jonathan Run


I managed to get away once more before the weather turned cold. This is Jonathan Run, in Ohiopyle State Park:

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As I walked farther down the trail, I could hear an even bigger waterfall (not to mention it's marked on the map). I could sort of see it through the trees. But, how to get there?

Turns out, you have to climb half way down the side of the gorge, then climb down this rope:
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A couple was climbing up as I got to the top of the rope, and they told me it's worth it. It was!
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You can turn live photos into a "long exposure" now. Yep, this is a cell phone camera photo:Image/photo

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Portrait Mode


It's incredible how good cell phone cameras have become.

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Ohiopyle


On a warm September day, we visited Ohiopyle:
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The kids love the new visitor center:
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It has a roof deck!
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We hiked down to the Meadow Run Cascades:
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Obligatory big rock picture:
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The water level was very low:
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Fairly dry under this enormous hemlock:
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Still some fast water on the other side of the creek:
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Dorothy is actually sitting above a pool that is shoulder deep for her. I know this because five minutes after taking this picture, I looked over and she had fallen in up to her shoulders. She was holding onto the rock and crying:
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So I got to carry a cold wet Dorothy all the way back up the Meadow Run trail.

Obligatory bigger rock picture (with barefoot Carolyn):
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By the time we got a little ways up the trail, Dorothy was feeling better:
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Dolly Sods Wilderness


On Sunday we started with a nutritious breakfast:

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Then drove back into West Virginia to the Dolly Sods Wilderness. The last part of the trip was a steep drive up narrow Forest Service Road 19. The suspension in the Chevy needs some work, and FR19 is not paved. It felt like a wheel was going to fall off!

I set out to find the Lion's Head rock (which is a rock that looks like...a lion's head...), while Jess stayed behind to knit in the mountains. I started out on the Red Creek Trail.

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Trails in DSW aren't blazed, so you have to follow them as best you can. Sometimes it's easy:

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Sometimes you have to look for cairns:

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Unfortunately my pathfinding was off that day and I missed a crossing of a dry creek bed. I spent a lot of time going in the right direction (I did have a map and compass) but backtracking a lot trying to find the trail.

Eventually I did get back to it, and had to cross the Red Creek to get on the Big Stonecoal Trail.

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I made it almost the whole way across before stepping in up to above my ankle, and my boot filled with water. That must be a fun crossing in spring!

Unfortunately I had lost too much time being lost at the beginning, and made it up the steep climb to Rocky Point Trail without enough time to find the Lion's Head rock. I had to turn around and head back. So no pictures. Maybe next time!

On my second try at the Red Creek crossing, I only stepped in to below my ankle. But somehow my foot still got soaked. I figured out why after I crossed:

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According to my watch, the round trip was 7.77 miles, and the elevation gain was 4287 feet(!?) For comparison, my bike commute home from Shadyside to Squirrel Hill has an elevation gain of 247 feet.

Jess and I took the poor Chevy back up FR19 and onto FR75 to this scenic overlook:

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We didn't have time (or shocks) to drive all the way to Bear Rocks. So there's plenty left to do next time we visit!

We had a quiet late dinner in Harrisonburg (at a restaurant with actual silverware!). Then the next day we drove home to get the kids.
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Return to Harrisonburg


Jess and I left the kids with the grandparents and had a long weekend just the two of us. Lots of driving, meals and quality time together, and some alone time too. The remains of Hurricane Harvey made for a gray rainy day Saturday, but it didn't stop me from visiting my favorite Firewatch tower on Shenandoah Mountain. The fog adds some depth to forest pictures, which are hard to make interesting on a sunny day!

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See any fires?
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Yet more cell phone wildlife photography:
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Back to Harrisonburg for dinner:
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Back to School!


Carolyn started third grade, and Saffron started kindergarten!

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The Great American Eclipse


We planned ahead and bought some eclipse glasses on Amazon. But a week before the eclipse they emailed us and said not to use them. By then it was hard to find authentic ones, so Jess made pinhole viewers for everybody! Except Dorothy, who is way too stubborn to trust not to look at the sun, so she had to stay inside :(

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The eclipse showed up in the iPhone's lens flare:

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Why look at one eclipse through one pinhole when you can look at five?

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One with the DSLR:

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Camping with Carolyn Day 3


Carolyns' new favorite game is Rummikub:
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Three caterpillar friends:
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A walk through the woods (yes, barefoot):
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Bear was excited to visit Beartown Rocks, but four miles is too far for my bookworm eight-year-old. Even with shoes on.

Not pictured: on the way home, the new (2011) Malibu overheated. Out of coolant! Fortunately each of us had half a liter of water left in our bottles, which was enough to get us to the next gas station.


 

Camping with Carolyn Day 2


Carolyn slept in:
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We took a break from camping to go on a short canoe trip:
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Then after lunch we went to the beach!
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So, we didn't bring a bucket:
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If you are wondering how Clear Creek is deep enough to swim in:
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