Almost Heaven – Second Anniversary Post

This week will bring the start of my third year with this blog.  1998 posts and 5 deleted ones later…. I celebrate two years with where I started.   The original post.  To all those reading, thank you for your support.   I have met some of the best people i know here.  😃

Short trip to West Virginia in spring will leave you with some great memories. While you may have heard of New River Gorge, the place was meant for your eyes.  Spring brings high water, wildflowers, and people.   The New River cuts through several parks offering great views and chances explore on the ground.

Best approach to the area is US60 East from I77 in Charleston.  The travel time straight through is just over an hour. You leave the city and quickly start following the New River.    Several small towns dot the river, but at Gauley Bridge get out of car.  Here the Gauley River meets the New River, best viewed from walking abandoned railroad bridge next to small museum.  As you leave this town, you will cross railroad tracks and stop at little parking lot. Cathedral Falls is over sixty feet tall but looks twice the size in it’s little gorge.   It’s about 500 ft from road.

Next  the road starts to curve, it will take you to Hawk’s Nest State Park.  Great views over looking gorge and the river impounded is called Hawk’s Nest Lake.  The State Park offers lodging, with corner suites with views that are spectacular from balcony.  Lodge isn’t new but updated.

From here the New River National River is fifteen minutes away.   Taking US19 south,  You will see visitors center on left.   Inside you will get a map of park and learn the history of area. You should drive the old way to river.

The park guide has a list of hiking trails that are fairly easy. If you have two or three hours go to bridgeview trail. The picture below is your reward.

Once on other side of river, visit Pies and Pints for best pizza and microbrews selection around.  There are several outfitters here that offer rafting trips, climbing, and other activities. Fayetteville is really close to I77 about ten minutes.

If you have time side trips to Babcock State Park for horseback riding, Grandview park, and Bluestone Lake allow more views. These are all with half hour of National Park.


The Path

Footsteps fall elsewhere.

The plants reach across the way

Time has forgotten it ever was.

Distant views bury any trace.

At one time, the only way.

A distant time there it was.

Fallen on hard times, maybe.

Left behind for better options.

Clear cut ways leave nothing of chance.

That’s their flaw in reasoning.

Chance is life in greatest sense.

Hope rides obscure rails.

Shadows cast from enlightenment.

Looking through the forest for trees.

But following the spirit first.

Nature creates blank canvas to be filled.

Walking on its acrylics and pastels.

Tapestry shows the path clear.

My footsteps will have little company.


outsider stories

There is a little sign hanging on a chain fence near the Grand Canyon.   It reads”dinosaur tracks.   FREE”.  If you are a tourist the word “free” beckons to you. The area near the Grand Canyon is sparsely populated by the Navajo, or more correctly the Dine.

Well versed in tourist, my wife and I stopped over to look at the dinosaur tracks.   They are surrounded by tent like covers and have handmade silver and baskets for sale.  We smile and head toward the tracks instead.   Good tourists never carry extra weight when hiking.

We are quickly joined by “Sonny” who carries a bottle of water to our into the dinosaur tracks so we can take pictures.   He tells us about the places far off that he could take us.   He explains coming home because of lack of money. . He is actually a good guide.  Until half a mile from the car, he drops a “we get $20 per person to guide you” on us.   I have a dozen Dine between me and the rental car.

I’m busting out with a “you should have said that way back there.”  I’m in enemy territory.   We are totally screwed if Navajo police show up.  As a union steward, I’m used to hostile encounters.   So I dig out $ 12, and tell wifey were out of here. Sonny is keeping up, saying just stop at my cousin’s tent and look please.

We stayed outside street that!

Kelso Dunes -Pictures

Why go to desert?  There are things you can’t see elsewhere.  Like sand, the wind stacked it up about 700 feet here.  Wedged between several mountain ridges, and part of one of four deserts in Southwest US, it unique in size and scope.  Forty five square miles of sandbox.  The road in can see seen going on forever too.  The California everyone thinks of here. 😉. Look for Mojave Desert Nation Mounment and you’ll find this about twenty miles north of I40.

The landscape may seems barren but there is life to spare.  Plants and critters are hidden but there.  Several small lizards some themselves.

But the sand…the hike is much more than it looks like.  The dune isn’t straight up.  The layers have dips on the way up.  As you climb a hundred feet  there are cuts that drop you ten to twenty five down to climb back up.  I made it to the 125 feet straight up climb.  It’s a desert. No water and 85 degrees is much hottest when covered in sand.



Palo Verde Mountain Wilderness – Pictures!

Outside Blythe, California lies a vast desert.  Go further abound explore your world.  But you need to have a SUV or Four Wheel Drive vehicle.  The payoff solitude and if you lucky geodes, or thunderbird eggs. Below is a picture from the website.  I found nothing.

 Welcome to the desert.  

Rule one there will be wind. This is a sand storm five minutes earlier it was a couple clouds of dust. It drifts across the road like snow.

The area around Palo Verde is sparsely populated. The roads are mostly gravel. The sides are between three and ten feet high on both sides.

Road signs are a plus here. The first one is thirteen miles in. The second five more. But notice the difference. You have ti get out of car to read it. The idea of a cross on these roads are usually memorials to people who pasted away.


Why go here? Views are eighty miles one way and fifty miles to the north. Only thirty to the east, but a mile high set of mountains are there.



The crown jewel of the desert, the ocotilla. They are usually solo. This is about ten feet tall. It dances in the wind. September they are loaded with red or orange blooms tight against their stems.

Cactus are what most think of in the desert. The white pieces are what’s left of the blooms. This guy off about four feet across.

Here is the Arroyo. Below water cut a channel. It’s presence provides life for grasses, scrubs and trees. The rabbits and roadrunners live here.

Three separate ridges in view.

Did I mention spiders? This lonely tarantula was waiting for his close up.

Blythe Intaglios

The American version of Nazca Lines.  Three easily accessed figures are located off of US95, fifteen miles north of Blythe, California.   The following is a photo gallery of the area around the Intaglios.


First off all this is the only sign you may see.   There’s are two small white signs with brown print warning of the turn off, but you won’t see them the first time.  


Fall brings storms.   You’re open in the desert.   Heavy rains bring flash floods in the arroyos (dry creek beds).  The roads are gravel here and only passable for the first mile without four wheel drive.


The wall behind is twenty high.   This creek cut that far bank.  It can be half mile of water twenty feet deep moving fast.


Above is the view the builders never had.   These ancient figures are st least 3000 years old. They are fenced in. So pictures are hard to make look good.   But the views are staggering.

Best view right from parking lot



The walk around a figure one hundred feet tall and over sixty feet wide. They are made from removing the desert surface and leaving an outline of the figures. There are no vantage points to coordinate their construction.

View showing the fence


The desert does give gifts.  The rainbow had a faint double above it.   The views are on the fifty miles each way scale.




One of the figures has extra features.   Concentric rings by the left arm and a line through the waist.   Although both male figures (no obvious reason for male) are called the creator.



The third figure is animal.  No idea is given for it.  There were no cattle, no horses, and no elk near this area.   Other objects not seen here include rabbits, more people,  and snakes. I have not seen just read about them.


Grand Canyon Near Death

I have survived a overnight backpacking trip in three miles dropping 2500 feet total. They do number funny here. You go up and down on trails but only start and finish height count. Three miles is particularity impossible when you look at the one mile place and half way mark.

But I was treated to an isolated camp site. The best beat death, can I ever make it out of here climb. My feet are up in a window sill. The website looks over the same Grand Canyon I climbed into. The View is 13 miles across. Hordes of people wall by. They all see the canyon. Sad they don’t experience it.

Drink in hand. Hundreds of pictures to download. Next week details on travel. I might actually write a nice dark twisted story. But my legs, knees, back and neck are telling me something about hiking, backpacking, and no reasonable people over forty does this sort of thing. Good thing I don’t lesson well.

Upcoming posts, visiting Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Grand Canyon Flora. But it’s Bourbon Appreciation Month and Knob Creek spent years perfecting this bottle.