Bridge over the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River, October 9, 2006


Columbus Day Weekend
October 7-9, 2006

Last updated October 12, 2006



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Day One | Day Two | Day Three

Norma sometimes takes her interns to see the beauty of western Maryland. I was fortunate to join her and two of the interns, Rotraud (from Bavaria, Germany) and Annika (from Brandenburg, Germany), for the Columbus Day weekend.

Our goal was to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of the east coast fall colors.

Day One: October 7, 2006

The morning was cold and wet. It had rained considerably in days prior and we found it hard to believe the weather report which predicted a sunny Sunday and Monday with highs in the mid 60s. Not knowing what to expect, I undoubtedly overpacked.

The four of us were off at about 0900. Traffic was pretty good.

Our first stop was the Sideling Hill Visitor/Exhibit Center on highway 68 which runs through Sideling Hill of the Allegeny Mountains. The rock layers in this area predate the dinosaurs by 100 million years.

The next stop was Spruce Forest Artisan Village in Grantsville, Maryland. We saw some pretty flowers (see first photo on left), various arts and crafts and had a chance to speak to Gary Yoder, master bird sculptor. He told me that he uses bass wood to carve because it cuts like butter, even against the grain.

Next, we walked across Casselman Bridge in Casselman River Bridge State Park. This bridge was erected in 1813 by David Shriver, Jr. The bridge was the largest single-span stone arch bridge at the time of its construction. It crosses the Castleman's River and was once called the Little Crossing of the Little Youghiogeny River by George Washington when he crossed it on June 19, 1755. Not sure why, but the spelling is sometimes "Casselman" and other times "Castleman." See second photo on left where (appearing left to right) Norma, Rotraud, and Annika stand in front of the bridge.

We drove across the Mason-Dixon Line for the Springs Folk Festival in Springs, Pennsylvania. We heard a bluegrass band, ate a Mennonite/Amish homecooked meal, ate funnel cake (a Pennsylvania Dutch dessert), saw a sausage smokehouse, petted some alpacas (see third photo on left), saw a rail splitting demonstration, saw a bicycle powered jig saw (see fourth photo on left), and shopped for crafts.

Following the festival, we went to Norma's parents' farm in Garrett County, Maryland. This farm is near Backbone Mountain which has the highest point in Maryland. We were greeted by her parents, Willard and Hazel. The dogs also met us: Toby, Angel, Freda, Tasha, and Chloe. Norma and I helped her youngest sister, Laah, clean out a section of the barn that housed Hope, a slightly deformed calf. After work, we replenished our energy with a great chicken dinner.

The rest of the night was spent playing Pit (Laah won) and Jenga (Norma won). In the fifth photo on left, Hazel makes her move.
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Day Two: October 8, 2006

After a hearty breakfast, Norma, Rotaud, Annika, and I were off to see the beautiful fall colors. Norma led us through the pastures of her parents' farm where we counted Hereford cows. One was a newborn. The morning was overcast but by midday, it was sunny with temperatures in the 60s. Great photo-taking weather.

Our first stop was just off route 219 in West Virginia by the wind turbines, not far from Hoye Crest. Norma and I climbed a big rock pile and took photos. See first photo on left.

Driving onward, we stopped at the North Fork of the Blackwater River. We took photos from the route 219 bridge of the trees and the Blackwater Canyon Rail-Trail (TR 115). See second and third photos on left. Then we did some shopping at the local country stores in Thomas, West Virginia. Next, we ate at The Purple Fiddle coffeehouse and mountain market.

Our next stop was Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia. We parked near the trading post then walked on the boardwalk to view the 50 foot high Blackwater Falls. See fourth and fifth photo on left.

Driving a little further, we saw some other vibrant colors in the park. See sixth and seventh photos on left.

Continuing further, we went to the Blackwater Lodge and walked along the half mile, red blazed Elakala Trail. We crossed over the Elakala Falls (see eighth photo on left) and saw Shay Run, the stream that feeds it (see ninth photo on left). We picked up the one mile long, orange blazed, muddy Balanced Rock Trail and followed it to the end, a sandstone boulder called Balanced Rock. This rock is actually one large sandstone boulder that appears as a large rock balanced on a smaller rock. See tenth and eleventh photos on left. Walking back, we returned on the blue blazed Shay Trace Trail.

We ended the day's hiking with a 0.7 mile hike to Lindy Point Overlook via the red blazed Lindy Point Trail. Lindy Point sits at 3047 feet, overlooking the Blackwater Canyon. The parking area only has room for about 4 vehicles but is the most popular trail and scenic overlook in the park. The reason was obvious. The view was spectacular and the rock formations intriguing. See twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth photos on left. The only thing that might have made it better would have been if we had seen it in the morning. With dusk approaching, the sun was not in a good position to photograph the valley to the south. See fifteenth photo on left.

We picked up a pizza then went to a cabin near Dryfork, West Virginia. Joyce (Norma's middle sister) and Jimmy (Joyce's husband) were renting the cabin for the weekend and we were all invited to spend the night. See sixteenth photo on left. The cabin was decorated in a dairy cow motif. After dinner, we (minus Jimmy) relaxed in the hot tub. Four beautiful women and me in a hot tub...not bad.
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Day Three: October 9, 2006

We left the cabin in overcast weather but like yesterday, things cleared up to a comfortable, sunny day with great visibility. Norma, Rotraud, Annika, and I drove to Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. See first photo on left. This area is part of Spruce Knob, Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area and the Monongahela National Forest.

We crossed a bridge over the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River (see photo at the top left corner of the page) then began our 1000 foot ascent up the Seneca Rocks Trail over 1.5 miles (see second photo on left). Some great photos were taken from a wooden platform at the overlook. See third photo on left for a view of the river we crossed over just a few minutes prior. Then, Norma, Rotraud, and I rock scrambled to the top and got a spectacular view of the ground below on both the east and the west. See fourth photo on left for a westerly view. See the fifth photo for me and Rotraud. Looking around, it seemed we were at the highest point on Seneca Rocks.

Heading back, Norma and I raced each other down part of trail. She won. Many people were walking to the overlook as we headed down. Luckily, we managed to beat the crowd.

We explored the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center. I bought a few maps for future trips. I also learned that the 10th Mountain Division trained on Seneca Rocks in 1943 and 1944.

Before our long journey home, we ate lunch outside on the deck at Front Porch Restaurant near the route 28 and 33 intersection at Seneca Rocks. Moderate servings at good prices.

Norma drove us home. It was a good 4.5+ hour drive back to the Washington D.C. area. Despite a tight schedule, she managed to get Rotraud and Annika to the opera on time.
Click thumbnails to enlarge.

Our goal was to see the beautiful fall colors. Norma planned this trip to help ensure the colors would be near their brightest during our arrival. She took us to some extremely scenic places and gave us a taste of the local culture. Best of all, she helped fill our cameras with vivid photos and our minds with pleasant memories.

Special thanks to Annika for providing some of the photos.