"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses."
– Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
Good morning everyone! I trust you had an excellent weekend and are looking forward to some family time and fireworks for this 4th of July. I know we are. Jill's parents will arrive today and then we pick up Terry and Jill on Wednesday. Since this marks the half-way point for their journey on the AT, we are excited to see them and get a read on their experience so far. Terry, of course, is doing great. He's experienced at this "long hike through the woods" stuff. Jill is new to the game so her take on the situation will be interesting. I enjoy her female perspective on this kind of life.
Well the week was interesting. We left Pennsylvania and headed to Coopers Rock State Forest, just east of Morgantown, WV. What a lovely park and campground. Apparently this is a big stop for rock climbers and for people who do something called "bouldering". When I heard that, a picture of Fred Flintstone came into my head - - is it just me? The park has some spectacular hiking trails and is home to the Henry Clay Iron Furnace. Two hundred years ago, this furnace stood at the junction of two much-traveled roads. It is one of the few remnants of what was a flourishing iron center of the 1800's. There were five furnaces like this in the area and these furnaces were the main supplier of iron for the entire Ohio Valley - - from St. Louis to New Orleans. The Cheat River at the base of Coopers Rock was the means of transportation it the area and would move this iron down river. Now, the area is completely covered by forest but you can still see remnants of the coke on the ground all around the furnace. Interesting.
As I said, Coopers Rock is at the top of a mountain and this is important and was nice for three reasons: 1) we had a spectacular view of the Cheat River from the lookout; 2) the heat was definitely not as oppressive as it was in the valley. We were a minimum 10 degrees cooler up there than everyone else; and the most important reason is 3) we were somewhat sheltered from the terrible storm that came through the entire Ohio Valley on Friday night. Morgantown was hit badly with winds up to 80 mph. Most of the area was without power as was Maryland and Virginia. As of this writing, there are still millions without power in this area. So, let me get to the storm and our adventure . . .
Steve's mom called us to tell us that a storm was coming. We had no idea and we are so grateful for her heads up. We let the park ranger know as well and he warned not only the entire campground, but the picnic areas as well. That, potentially, could have saved lives because literally, no one knew that the storm was coming. In our campground, there were a good number of young families camping in tents and without the warning, it could have gotten ugly. Steve and I offered up our trailer as shelter for anyone who needed it, but that wasn't necessary as you will see . . .
Steve and I pray about everything, which is nice. This particular time, we were especially prayerful because we began to see these ominous clouds coming overhead and they were moving at a pace that was rather scary. The campground was eerily silent, and the air was dead - - you know that's not a good sign. Then at one point, the tops of the trees began to sway ever so slightly and then we heard the wind coming and it was LOUD. We could see the trees moving where the wind was originating and then, as it approached the campground, the wind seemed to separate and go to the left and right of us, but completely pass us by. I'm not kidding you. We could see the tree tops swaying heavily on either side of us, but not in the campground. Totally cool!!! Isn't God just the greatest. We lost power and it rained like crazy, but we were spared the devastation that the valley area surrounding the campground had experienced.
We left the campground the next morning and headed to Maryland, which was our intended next stop. Here, the adventure continues. If you will recall, Steve and I drive a big black dually (a/k/a the B.A.T. - - Big A_ _ Truck) and pull a 40-foot 5th wheel trailer that is 13 feet high. So we are 55 ft. long x 8 ft. wide x 13 ft. high when in transit and, therefore, take up a bit of space. Sometimes, campgrounds are in out-of-the-way locations, which makes for nice quiet settings but also for roads that are less-traveled, if you know what I mean. So here we are, headed down a road that is not much more than a one-lane affair hoping we don't meet up with oncoming traffic, and we arrive at a dead end with a very low tunnel to the right as the only means of escape. HOLY CRAP! Now what do we do? Well, I gotta tell you, Steve is one heck of a truck driver because he pulled this mass of machinery across a little bridge over the stream to the left (the width of this bridge was just big enough to accommodate the dually back-end and no more). He backs up this 55 feet in the tightest of spaces and at one point, the truck was at 90 degrees or less from the trailer (meaning it was almost jack-knifed), but he made it. What an adventure that was. We got a standing ovation from the campers that were at a small camping area on the other side of the stream. I am so proud of Steve. That was truly amazing, but again, we believe in the power of prayer so God was definitely on our side on this one! We never made it to the campground, which was on the other side of that low tunnel I told you about and it's just as well because they had lost all power. So we headed to Virginia, where the story continues . . .
We pull into the campground where we were scheduled to stay a few days from now and were grateful that they had a spot for us. What we didn't realize was that everyone around them was without power. As we pulled up to the office, we see trees and tree limbs everywhere and a bunch of people actively engaged in a cleanup process. The camp was hit pretty hard - - one motorcoach lost its entire front end from a tree that collapsed on it. We pulled into our spot and went into town only to see a ton of devastation there. Huge trees down everywhere. We had no idea that the storm was that huge because, as I said, we were sheltered from it on the top of that mountain. Anyway, that night, Steve and I are watching the Nascar race (of course) and hear this popping sound. We look out and the police are cordoning off the area around the campground's bath house & laundry building which is also the area where the propane tanks are stored. Apparently the three power lines that attached to the pole next to this building had come loose so the popping sound was the electrical wires. YIKES! Right above the propane storage!!!! Well, needless to say, they got that situation under control and everyone was safe but it also caused a part of the campground to lose power. Once again, we were spared. God is so good.
Ok, that's it for this past week. Hopefully this week will be adventuresome in a good way. We will have pictures of Terry, Jill and Rooney as well as Jill's parents. We will also be visiting Harpers Ferry, which is a big Civil War location so I am excited about that too.
Take care and until next time - - - - believe in the power of prayer. Life is full of thorns, is it not? Take refuge in the only rose that matters - - God. I know that Steve and I do!!!!!