Tuesday, July 26, 2011

More Thunder

Last year, I really enjoyed myself at the Thunder Over Michigan Airshow. So why do it again?  Come on.  What is there not to like?  Temperatures above 90 degrees for the umpteenth time. A super-saturated atmosphere.  Thousands of children crying because of noise and heat stroke.  "More cars than a beach got sand" (Thanks Dave Mathews! Great line!).  Sunburn.  Obnoxious people.  You can't can't lose.....

....if you have a chance to see historic aircraft and the Blue Angels.  So dad and I called it a "Guys Day Out".

Sadly, like last year, heat and humidity made for a frustrating day of photography.  Everything seemed so damned hazy.  (I wanna see an air show on a cold, dry, winter day for once.)  To make matters worse, I did not have my head-in-the-game and did not transition well on camera settings between prop planes and the jets.  On top of all that, the threat of thunderstorms and unstable atmosphere created all sorts of varying degrees of light (blue skies, hazy skies, and lots of shades of gray scattered all over...). I guess if you are a good photographer, you can manage. But I'm not, so I didn't.  708 pictures later, I have very few where I can say "Hell yeah!" (You'll find "hell yeah" photos here.)

Be sure to click on the photos. It makes them a squeak better.

Winning the award for "The Most Science Fiction-Influenced Aircraft Ever Flown", the B-2 is a complete trip.  Mostly silent and flat, this was the plane that fired the first rounds of the Second Gulf War.  Taking off from MISSOURI, they re-fueled in the air, came in under the radar and knocked out the key Iraqi installations.  Watching this sub-mach thing float around the airfield was memorizing.  Only 21 exist. Makes good sense when you think about their 1 billion (with a "B") dollar price-tag. 


Noticeable "woomp" sounds would occur every time this freakish cloud formed.  While it looks like this F-16 is disappearing into a wormhole, it is all based on physics.  By the very nature of the wing's design, air pressure is greater on the bottom surface of the wing (compared to the top surface).  Little vortices (tornadoes, if you will) form and spin off the wing tips.  They are usually invisible and are a simple function of how the air flows over the wings.  As the pilot jerks the plane into a high "g" turn, the pressure on the top surface of the wing really drops. The inside of the vortices lose pressure so rapidly that the temperature inside the vortex bottoms out. If the temp falls below the dew point, the water vapor shifts to liquid (droplets) making them visible to the guy wielding the nice camera but who forgot sunscreen and ended up with fifth degree burns.  (Okay, not that bad, but I got a little cooked.)  On very humid days, a plane in a very tight turn basically sheds a massive vortex along the entire upper surface of the wing.  That is what is occurring in my photo. 

Despite the long nose and the rear placement of the cockpit making landings a bitch (the pilot couldn't see), the Chance Vought Corsair was a killing machine once the pilots got to know it.  The gull-wing fighter was feared by the Japanese.  Top speeds of 425 mph allowed it blow past the once-intimidating speed of the mighty Zero - an anemic 325 mph.  With six 50-caliber machine guns (an anti-tank caliber in World War I),the delicate Zero would be shredded in no time.  Over 12,000 were made.  Three are above.

In war, average people can make decisions so big that history can swing in a new direction.  During World War II, the opening months in the Pacific Theater were not going well.  The United States was reeling.  During the Battle of Midway, Naval patrols located four Japanese aircraft carriers.  A flight of Dauntless dive-bombers (above) arrived at the expected location only to find the vast oceans empty.  While they could have turned back, Flight Leader Wade McClusky, pieced together the clues that were available (including the lone Japanese destroyer below him), thought to himself "Where would I be if I were them?" and figured out what happened to the fleet.  Low on fuel, they stretched their planes to limit and found the fleet.  Within minutes, three of the four aircraft carriers were wrecks.The Dauntless was a well-built machine and no doubt helped to change the course of World War II.  

As an aside, the Dauntless is a two-seater. One man is the pilot while the other is a rear-seat radio man and gunner.  He has twin .30 caliber machine guns at his disposal.  They fire behind the plane as he sits back-to-back with the pilot.  It is a known fact that George Lucas used World War II imagery for the Star Wars trilogies. I have to think that he used the Dauntless (or perhaps other craft with the two-seat back-to-back arrangement, like the Stuka) for his vision of the Rebel Snowspeeder.  

Of course, damned efficient dive-bombers can't destroy the enemy if you don't know where they are.  Forget satellites. They did not exist in the 1940s.  You intercepted radio transmissions so you could get a basic clue where they were.  From there, you "only" had tens of thousands of square miles of ocean to search. With a flight range of over 2,500 miles, these monsters would be airborne by dawn and patrolling until nightfall.  Observers with binoculars would scour the ocean looking for telltale ship wakes.  Fleet positions, speed and heading would be radioed back to the base.  In addition, this plane can land on the oceans just as easily as it can a runway. Have a downed pilot floating in a life raft? Pick 'em up and have 'em back on base in time for dinner.....

You might liken the Japanese Zero to a boxer. They are powerful and fast. They can dance around you and nail you hard when you least expect it.  Dogfights in the early days of the war between American Wildcats, the stock US dogfighter and the Zero did not end well for the Americans.  Tactics introduced a few months into the war, like the Thatch Weave, started to even the odds.  A few captured Zeros allows American engineers to see the inside the plane and analyze it for weaknesses (not unlike the Rebels and the Death Star in "Star Wars!").  In the case of the Zero, engineers discovered pilot armor and self-sealing fuel tanks did not exist.  The speed and maneuverability of the plane was directly related to the fact it was a lightweight.   If you could hit it, you would drop it.  It had a glass jaw.  Hitting it was the trick.  (I should note, too, that pilots in the Pacific learned through trial-and-error how they could defeat the Zero.  So, in a sense, the engineers with pencils and slide-rules drew the same conclusions as the "field engineers" with did bullets, oil, and blood. Both teams reached the same final conclusions simply using different information.)

While some museums have them, very few flight-capable Japanese Zeros exist today.  Seeing TWO at the airshow was simply awesome. 

The above photo is a MiG-17.  "MiG", by the way, is not a typo.  I did not intend "Mig" or "MIG".  Mikoyan-Geruvich was the designer of many Soviet-era aircraft.  Think "Grumman".  "MiG" is simply a short way of recognizing the builder in the name of the aircraft. Obviously "Mikoyan-Geruvich 17" is a bit harder to say, especially if you had too much Stoli

Any way you look at it, the MiG-17, was introduced in 1954 and became the mainstay for the Air Forces of various Communist Countries.  The plan was simply - fly up there, shoot down big slow bombers and come home.  It also worked well as a dogfighter, but only with cannons. No missiles. Nothing fancy.

Working on the idea that the plane is 37 feet long, I'm gonna guessimate that the flame is 10-12 feet long. I was declined the opportunity to roast marshmallows.

The final three pictures are the best I could really manage with the Blue Angels.  It goes without saying that these guys are really damned good.  The joint Navy/Marine Corps crew is basically there for publicity. Fancy flights and maneuvers are all about recruiting.  The 10-year old kid sees them and says "I wanna be in the Air Force when I grow up!"  Something must be working as they have been doing this since ole Chester Nimitz OKed their formation in 1946.  (I just re-read that sentence.  He approved the formation of the Blue Angels, not the formation of children. Well actually, he did approve of the formation of children. He was a father of four.)

During the Diamond Formation (the third photo), the distance from a canopy on one plane to the wingtip of the other plane is about 18 inches.  That is less than your arm's length.  They could literally roll down the window and touch the wingtip of the next plane (not that the window rolls down at all...I'm just sayin'...). I would not want to be driving on the expressway 18 inches from something, let alone be sandwiched together with other aircraft.  That is just nuts.

All in all?  A good fun day. Dad certainly had fun, too.  It was especially rewarding for him that he was able to retrieve his hat.  During lulls in the action (much more common this year than last year), he would wander over to flight line to see the planes taxi in and out.  It does not take much of a prop wash to send a ballcap flying down the runway!

Friday, July 22, 2011

They Already Know

So, what has happened this week. 

Surely, there is something out there more fascinating than all that, right?

I found it!

Assuming you don't live in a hole, you know that December 7th, 1941 is a day that will live in infamy.  Japan attacked American naval forces at Pearl Harbor. (Please tell me you know this. Please.)

The Japanese forces really handed it to us. They did.  It was a Sunday morning, for Pete's sake. Rest. Relaxation. That was the norm.  Few sailors, if any at all, had any idea that by dinner time that Sunday, they would be fighting fires, stanching the flow of blood, and burying the dead.

One of the things that is sometimes forgotten is this - Japanese lives were lost, too.  

A stark reminder of that fact came across the wires yesterday. Apparently, a skull was dredged up off the bottom of Pearl Harbor.  

Details are still a bit sketchy, but it appears that it might belong to one of 65 Japanese lives lost that day. Okay, it would belong to the one of 56 lives, as we know that 9 men were lost during what might be one of the stupidest operations of the entire war.   (For now, we will look past the part that it might have worked. Overall, it was dumb.)  Recognizing that it was found in the middle of the harbor, a pilot's skull makes the most sense. 

So, where are we now?  Forensic specialists will have to dig a bit deeper (sorry, I could not resist that one) and find out what we know.  

Here is my prediction.

The anthropologists are being conservative, but they don't have to be. I can all but promise you the first doc who looked at it knew what it was.  Skull features vary by race, like it not.  Nasal holes, eye orbits, degree of chin protrusion and the presence/absence of a nasal sill are all huge clues.  Caucasian vs. Asian vs. African?  That is like asking a chef about differences in knives. Sure, they are all knives, but a paring knife, butcher knife and butter knife all have unique characteristics.  The same could be said about beer.  Lots of variety.  Similar, but different at the same time.

They already know it is Japanese. Trust me. 

Sadly, I have the feeling we will not see the conclusion to this story.  Like so many other intriguing tidbits that pop-up in the news, a follow-up is hard to come by. 

Nevertheless, I will try and find out the final conclusion after it becomes available. 

Oh wait. I already know....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FL & C No. 101

No, I have not lost my mind.  The title of this entry is not some whacked-out code, gibberish and random keystrokes.

That coffee mill I mentioned in my West Virginia post?  I have a name.....

Frary, Landers, and Clark Model No. 101.  My title isn't so weird now, is it?

Here she is:

So, what is the scoop on FL & C?  It is short, simple, and goes something like this...

Landers is a carpenter and Dewey is a metalworker.  1842? They partner and form "Landers and Dewey".  Dewey drops dead.  They become "Landers and Smith" in 1853.  1862 shows the purchase of "Frary and Clark" by "Landers and Smith". Mush the names together and you have "Frary, Landers, and Clark".  Smith apparently fell off the planet.

For the next 100 years, they were a manufacturing powerhouse.  By 1922, it was estimated that 60% of all homes in the United States had something made by FL&C.  I could go on and on and tell you about everything they made, but I would be here all day. Coffee mills, mouse traps, gas masks (during WWI), stoves, pressure cookers, and even radiological survey meters (I have no idea what that really is....) are just a few of the hundreds of items.

By 1965, they were done. Purchased by the Union Manufacturing Company right up the road in Meriden, Connecticut, they disappeared from the landscape.

So, how do I know it is a FL &C?  Um... this picture should help you.

Once I had the maker, it was as easy as thumbing through the correct pages of the Good Book

The only wooden mill in their section is a perfect match for mine. The No. 101 Mill is simply dead-on.  The pattern of the embossed top is a match.  Even the drawer pull is a match.

Patents records show this mill contained a 1878 and 1882 patents.  That makes this a potential oldie!  One hundred years old is just about guaranteed (they were making metal box mills by 1904).  130 years old is possible ,but unlikely.  Lets say 100-125 years old. Very cool. 

Sadly, as you can see, there is a sizable ding on the base. In fact, there is a second one on the back side, too. However, everything is original as far as I can tell.  So, we are back to that collector's conundrum - original and flawed or not-original and near perfect?

I know this.  I bought it for less than $65.  One is selling on eBay for $100. The drawer pull on that one appears to be a replacement. Hmmmmmm.....

I'll take mine. 

Freshly ground coffee beans, anyone?

More Ooooohhhh...Aaaaaaahhhh....Ooooooohhhh

The 4th of July means fireworks, right?

Below are some from the other night. Remember, clicking on the image will provide a better look!

Sorry, but I could not get any of the "smiley face" shells.  Really. The coolest thing I think I have ever seen.  Check out this video to see what I mean.  You might consider turning down the volume so you don't have to hear the people.

Monday, July 4, 2011

West Virginia

Three days off.  In a row. Say it with me: R-o-a-d T-r-i-p! Road trip!  Camping gear, birding buddies, camera gear and GPS. That's all you need, right?

How about West Virginia? 

The commute from Detroit to Athens Ohio was pretty uneventful.  It would all go so much smoother if Ohio "drivers" (I used the word loosely) would simply not panic at the sign of the police on the side of the road. When they are already dealing with a speeder, they are not worried about you!  No, I was not speeding, but hard breaking at highway speeds for no damned reason is not good. Stop it. 

The simple rational of my travels normally goes something like this - get there and enjoy it. If you screw around too much on the way, you will never get there!  So, with no urge to camp anywhere near Columbus, we pressed on to Athens for a hotel and continental breakfast.  A simple over-nighter there went fine right up until I cut my cheek off on a razor-sharp spoon at breakfast.

Really. I did.  Gallons of blood and a need for thousands of stitches from the sharp edge of a plastic spoon. Damn those things. Next time, I'll just use my own utensils.  Okay. No stitches.  No blood even. But, dammit, I did cut myself. We have put people on the moon and flown faster than sound itself, but we can't mass produce safe spoons?

After cleaning up the bio-hazard (oh wait,.no blood), we rocketed off to south central West Virginia.  Now, being from southeast Michigan, where the largest hills are found on a highway exit ramp, any roadside hill larger than a pimple is a show stopper.  Add a waterfall and this flat-lander will do a u-turn in a moment.

Sadly, the quickly approaching shower prevented “linger time”. I don't have any gear to protect my camera from the rain, so I did what I could with the time I had.  Cathedral Falls is, I believe, the name.  Perhaps I could re-name them – Blood Falls or Spoon of Death Falls.  Naaah.  Lets stick with the original.

Winding roads can be quite fun, but one road, in particular, annoyed me.  Clifftop Road, not far from the New River Gorge, is a boondoggle if I ever saw one. Imagine a two-lane road.  Gravel. Fine. Now add one lane worth of asphalt down the middle. That's right. One road on a two-lane surface with huge gravel shoulders and two-way traffic.  As you drive, you had better hope the on-coming driver is driving wisely.  With the blind corners and hilltops, I have to believe people wreck on this road. Often.  Come on, West Virginia.  Pave your roads so they are safe.   Are you cheap?  In 2008, you were one of four states with a budget surplus. Pave your roads!

By the time we arrived at Babcock StatePark, rain showers were on-and-off, just enough to interfere with plans.  The fact that “no plan” was the plan is not the point. Options are limited when you want to hike, bird and take pictures.  After purchasing a fleece at the gift shop (it was THAT chilly and I forgot to pack one ), we set off to find one of North America's most elusive warblers.  

A few years back, I spied a Swainson'sWarbler in a swamp along the Virginia/ North Carolina border. The look was brief.  A better view had always been on my list. Interestingly enough, the Swainson's Warblers in West Viginia do not like swamps. They would much rather have rhododendron glades.  Using some info I snitched off the Internet, we simply started walking remote roads in the park. 

We had them singing in minutes.  Hearing vs. seeing are not the same (it is like dull vs razor-sharp spoons).  While we heard one at our first stop, it was not until stop #2 that we managed a look.  While it was only 50 feet off the road, it might as well have been 50 miles. Using my iPhone, I played a short loop of the Swainson's Warbler song.  Within seconds, he came rocketing down the hillside.  “Chipping” and grumpy, he sat there.  In plain view. For at least a minute (quite a long time, if you think about it),we gawked. And gawked. And gawked. Incredible. Finally, realizing that the dopey, tall, bald guy with the fancy gadget was not a problem, he moved back up the hillside no doubt ready to kick the crap out of the next intruder...

For the record, I actually felt bad for playing that audio loop.  We were just looking for a better look.  His efforts were wasted as there was no intruder who wanted his woman or his territory.  Playing songs and calls to get a bird's attention is becoming quite the subject in some parts of the country.  Some people say “Whatever.”  Some say “Do so with caution and sparingly.”  Some won't do it if is not a part of a survey. We got our look. Had we wanted to, we could have played it again and again and again. To what end?  We got our looks. Memorable.  Feeling glum, but memorable. 

Photos? None.  The consequence of birding Babcock in June is this: everything is so lush, lighting for pictures is quite challenging.  Add the clouds and we were basically in the dark.  I was ready to bust out the flashlights. It was incredible and ridiculous at the same time. 

Black-throated Green and Black-throatedBlue Warblers were pretty easy to come by.  Wood Thrushes and Veery were just about common place and often standing the middle of the road.  Hooded Warbler? Everywhere. Simply everywhere. 

The tent went up in no time.  A quick walk around the campground turned up Yellow-throated Warbler and Northern Parula.  That near-death moth by the bathroom light was really something.  A Giant Leopard Moth. Very cool. 

Sadly, plans for the evening dinner at camp were a bust.  Rain showers. Alpine Spaghetti with a Cheesecake dessert will have to wait.  Dammit.  Oh wait. How about some local West Virginia beer?

Yes, folks, the Swainson's Warbler was not the reason for the trip.  Well, okay it was “a” reason, but I considered it a bonus before I even left my driveway (it is considered that elusive). I wanted to visit New River Gorge National River and have a West Virginia beer.  My map from my 1000thbeer shows are pretty large gap that could easily be corrected.  So, I corrected it.

Pies and Pints is quite the place.  Basically, the main food items are the wacky pizzas that I am really growing fond of, and locally brewed beer by the BridgeBrew Works.  The brewers realized that the West Virginia microbrew scene sucked and they tried to fix it. They did. The India Pale Ale (#1014) and Lager (#1015) were pretty fair.  I made the mistake of having the Ale before the lager, so the already light-tasting lager was pretty much tasteless as the Pale Ale all but wrecked my taste buds (as they are prone to do).  Award winning? No. Worth a stop for a great pizza and beer? You bet. Do it.  The pizza, by the way, was mushrooms with Gorgonzola cheese, garlic, and caramelized onions. Damn good. 

With the exception of those obnoxious gaps were New Jersey and New Hampshire sit, this is lookin' pretty good. 

Sleeping was pleasant. Temps were perfect. Before the sleeping bags said “Hi”, it was nice to know that the biting insects were nowhere to be seen.  The Acadian Flycatcher, in the gully behind the campground was singing until nightfall. The “pit-SEE!” call, translated to English, means “good night” to the camper.  If they call at sunrise (and they do), it means “Good morning!”  If you are another Acadian Flycatcher, it means “Get the hell out of here!” regardless of the time of day....

Sunrise on Monday morning was all about “lazy” and bird-friendly coffee and cold cereal.  After the morning campground walk (coffee in hand), the GPS had us in Fayetteville again. The obligatory “antique mall coffee mill purchase” was met (perhaps more on that some other time).

By this point in the trip, the New River Gorge Bridge had been crossed four times (back-and-forth for dinner and back-and-forth for the mill and supplies).  What a piece of work.  My only experience building things involves little bricks so I can't even begin to appreciate this thing.

Finished in 1977, this is the one that is on the West Virginia state quarter.  The third largest of its kind (single span) in the world, you don’t really gather what you are driving across. Sure, it is a bridge, but you don’t realize the New River is 850 feet below you.  The towers of the Mackinac Bridge (both the above-water and below-water segments) would fit under this thing would room to spare. Way huge.  

By the way, yes, the bridge is very rusty despite the young age.  That is not paint.  Those crafty engineers opted to use a steel that would rust quickly, but just on the surface.  That would prevent a deeper rust from forming (a rust that would compromise the bridge itself) and prevent the need to paint it.  How smart is that?  (Now go build a good spoon.....)

With an abundance of trails to choose from and working from the standpoint that “Easy” trails are better than “Difficult”, a nice one-mile loop was perfect before lunch.  While not very birdy, the best thing was this – beech trees without graffiti.  So many beech trees in Michigan are scarred with lovers' initials and other non-sense that some field guides use the grafitti as a field mark!!! Here? Very few scars. Incredible. 

From there, it was back across the bridge and down the road to the old river town of Thurmond.  What a trip.

A bustling town during the coaling days, the place now is mostly gone. No more hotel. No more red-light district. No more gambling (the town is known for the 14-year poker game!). No hustle-bustle. It is all gone.  The 2010 census showed a population of five people.  The original train depot is now the National Park Service Visitor Center.  The Coal Tower still stands as does the bank. The Phoebe seemed okay with all that. The Cliff Swallows on the bridge could not care less, either. I asked them.

A short hike along an old rail bed was quite pleasant.  With a creek/river to the right and a steep rocky cliff-face to the left, it was a nice walk. More Hooded Warblers and a millipede that was rumored to have eaten a woman's dog.  Okay. No. But it was huge. It certainly seemed like it could have eaten a dog. Okay. Not.  But it was big.  

Not wanting to drive “The Road of Death to Out-of-Staters who don't understand Unwritten Rules on Roads with inadequate surfacing”” (ie: Clifftop Road), the roads south across the gorge was much more appealing.

Grandview is exactly that.  Grand.

After driving along and seeing some of what had to be some of the nicest homes in the state, Grandview was awesome. The New River opening up below you with Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures above you made for some awesome “quiet time”. After the viewing platforms clears of kids of who want to climb the rocks, everything stops. No phones. No planes. No cars. No human sounds. Nothing. It is you and Mom Earth.  Everyone should experience that.  Cool.

On the other hand, no one should wrack their head twice in the same tunnel.  A short, easy loop at Grandview involves a walk through a rock tunnel.  I'm not tall, but man, this tunnel is for hobbits.  Not once. Twice.  Concussion? Nah. A bit of swearing? Sure. I admit it. I'm glad kids were not around. 

The short hike to the overlook was cool, literally and figuratively.  Just off the parking lot, a crack in the rock wall is perhaps 12” wide.  As the breezes blow across the Gorge, air that passes through this little chasm gets cooled.  It was like a little air conditioner. Pretty neat. Sadly, the gap is at the beginning of the trail!  It would be much more rewarding if it was at the top as the humidity was increasing quite a bit. It made for a warm day. I asked the National Park Service to see what they could do about moving the crack closer to the top of the trail. We’ll see what they do….

The Alpine Spaghetti (a camp version of spaghetti with pesto) was great as was the Cheesecake with graham cracker crust. Sure it was more like cheesecake pudding, but who cares.  The night serenade was peculiar. GrayTreefrogs were cool, but deep woods “hoo-ing” could have been anything. Maybe Great Horned Owl? Hard to say.  There was just too much going on it was just too far away. 

The late thunderstorm more or less wrecked any chance of a solid night sleep. Oh well.  After camp was dismantled, it was back to the Glade Creek Grist Mill for more photos. (Swainson’s Warblers were on the road into the park.)

Built from the better parts of three mills (one as old as 1890), this is a beauty. With the waterfalls and all, this has to be on the most photographed sites in the entire State of West Virginia. Add mine to the total. The lighting was cloudy, which was actually nice from a photography standpoint.  No complaints here.

A quick stop at Hawks Nest State Park was certainly worth it. More overlooks (you can’t have too many of those).  But the coolest part of the short hike (better than the fledgling Ovenbirds) was the singing Cerulean Warbler.  Their population is dropping faster than any other warbler in the United States.  Between 1966 and 1999, it declined an average of 4% per year throughout its eastern US breeding range for a total population loss of 70%. Current estimates are at around 560,000 birds. No, it was not seen, but it was there. That is consolation enough for me.  You can read more about the plight of the Cerulean Warbler here.  In short, quit drinking crappy coffee.

After securing my locally purchased, hand-made ceramic coffee mug, it was on to visit a key battle field. 

Yes, a battlefield.  A Civil War battlefield, in fact.

The Battle of Carnifex Ferry gets glossed over in the history books. That is for sure.  But, maybe it shouldn’t.  Basically, in the closing hours of September 10, 1861, Union troops attacked entrenched Rebels on the Patterson Farm near (are you ready?) Carnifex Ferry.   As the sun set and the impact of the day was felt (including Ohio soldiers tending to other Ohio soldiers they had just shot (suggesting that they couldn’t shoot any better than their descendants can drive…), the Confederates packed up and left in the middle night. Yup. That was it.  7,000 men fought.  No more than 30 were killed.  Pretty short, really. Gettysburg, it was not. 

As is so often the case, the dead from combat pale in numbers compared to the dead from disease. Right there, in the middle of the park, sits a grave.  Granville Blevens is his name. No bullet. No sabre.  Not artillery.  It was disease. We don’t know which one. It could have been just about anything we would take for granted today. Dysentery.  Infection from a simple cut.  ConsumptionTyphoid Fever.  Who knows.  We do know his brother, Haywood, buried him.

After the Rebs left, the path was clear for the western part of Virginia to succeed. Yeah, I should tell you that part. West Virginia did not exist in 1861. It was still a part of Virginia.  Fighting for the right to own slaves makes no sense when your geography largely prevents agriculture (and therefore, the need for slaves).  By 1863, the region was a state unto itself and joined the Union. 

Obviously, without West Virginia, our nation’s history would have been much different. Congress would be different (fewer seats), the writer of the Brady Bunch theme may have been born someplace else, and John Denver would have nothing to sing about.  Tragic, that last one.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the Eastern Bluebirds nesting in the cannon.  I’ve seen that before. I need to keep that mind for my future birding. If I need bluebird for a state list, head to local Civil War battlefield!

With 400 miles to drive, it was time to think about heading home.  Oh, but not straight home. What fun is that?

The North End Tavern and Brewery in Parkersburg, West Virginia, was the dinner destination.  Sad as it is, I suspect we could have just kept going.  I’m not trying to dis the place, but I am not going to lie either.  It is a bar that brews beer. Forget upscale establishments like Fort Street Brewery or Jolly Pumpkin. It was leagues behind these places.  The menu was limited to fried foods of the most basic variety (burgers and fries).  Dimly lit and a bit rough around the edges, I just wasn’t impressed.  Serving the beer samples in plastic cups on a nicely crafted wooden paddle was an exercise in weirdness.  The 5-Way IPA was the best of the four (4 out of 5). Roedy’s Red, Northwest Wheat, and Northwest Light (#1,016-1,019) were fair at best (3, 3, and 2 respectively).  As you might expect, the “Light” was so light, I could have just had a glass of water. No taste. None. 

With that, a course was set for home. Uneventful.

Here is a run down…

Total Bird Species (West Virginia) – 62
Total Bird Species Lifetime (West Virginia) – 65
Total Beer Species (West Virginia) – 6
Total Beer Species Lifetime – 1,019
Miles driven – no clue really. Maybe a thousand?

Next trip?  Oh, that is coming in about a month........