Sunday, June 26, 2011

Weekend Road Trip: On the Road to Marlinton

This past Friday and Saturday we didn't plan any work: we planned to play. We saw friends, heard music, beat on drums, helped build a story, ventured into wild places and in general just had a pretty wild time.

The weekend started Friday as we packed to go to Marlinton, West Virginia to attend the Masters Concert that culminates the weeklong Allegheny Echoes workshops. In 2004 and 2007, I attended the workshops as a student. Last year I was there as a Master for the Creative Writing class; this year we went just to attend the final concert of the week which featured all of the week's instructors.

We drove up by our usual route through Webster and Nicholas counties, and stopped at a scenic overlook to view the place called Crupperneck Bend on the Gauley River.

 The Gauley is one of West Virginia's best whitewater rafting destinations, with good reason. The river has many rapids, twists and turns, and the scenery is fantastic.  Below the overlook is a bend in the Gauley that is more than 180 degrees, and a place called Ship's Prow that is a Class IV rapid. You can read a description of the river and see a photo of the Ship's Prow rocks on this website.

 This is part of the bend; and this is on the other side:

I wondered about origin of the word "crupperneck" so I dragged out my huge old dictionary and learned that a crupper is a deep U-shaped piece of harness that goes over and around a horse's tail. I suppose that "crupperneck" came from the shape of the river's bend, combined with the narrowness of the river--the "neck" of the river. If you have a better definition for the term, I'd like to hear it. I enjoy unusual words and their origins.

 The stone wall at the overlook was fascinating. I am always amazed when someone incorporates art into a functional piece, and this wall is a good example.
 Probably built by the Civilian Conversation Corps, or maybe by WPA workers, the detail and art put into it delightful and a reminder that even in hard times, people with skills and creativity produced work that stands today as a monument to their labor. I believe that there were stone balls topping the columns at each end of the wall, but these are gone now. In looking up Crupperneck Bend I also learned that there is a geocache hidden there. (Just in case any of you like to go geocaching!)

We stopped again just outside of Richwood at a lovely little roadside park that is within the Monongehela National Forest. There is an arched bridge over the North Fork of the Cherry River that leads to a trail into woodland that almost feels tropical, it is so lush and green.


The two-day trip was so filled with good things that I'll need to write more posts to cover it all: more about the roadside park, the evening concert, the evening on the hill, The FestivALL festival in Charleston where we spent some fine hours, the drum circle...you can see I have a lot to write about, and photos to share, in the coming days. Meantime the rain is falling softly, Larry is napping after weeding the strawberry patch and I need to make bread and unpack/re-pack for my next trip: I'm off tomorrow to Wheeling and Paden City in West Virginia's northern panhandle for storytelling performances. Maybe I'll see one or two of you along the way?

7 comments:

Granny Kate said...

We love the little park near the river -- it's one of our "home" places from when the kids were little -- and from when we were little, too.

I love road trips. Need to visit Marlinton again, but I want Heather to get to go, too. She has lots of friends there from when she worked at Allegheny Mountain Radio.

You got great pictures.

Nance said...

OMG. Photo # 4 down, from the top, looks like dinasaur's vertabrae. Art, you called it and I have to agree. Cool photo. The Gaulley calls me. Or the New Gaulley. Is there a new one? My Mama talked about the river.

Granny Kate said...

Our farm was up Crupperneck road -- Bent Tree Farm. Neighbors robbed us and poured tar all over everything. Some people are nasty warmed over. I've seen those people since, though, and they've fallen on serious hard times -- goes to show you.

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Granny Sue said...

It does, Nance! I hadn't noticed that. How cool.

There is a Gauley River, and then there is the New River (which is like the oldest river on the East Coast or something like that). Both are wild whitewater rivers with stunning scenery.

Granny Sue said...

Kate, sometimes we travel in each other's footsteps :) As for those neighbors--what comes around goes around, I've found. I don't like to hear of anyone having troubles, but there are those who bring it on themselves, I think.

Laura of said...

Sounds like a lovely journey you had! And what a beautiful drive... this stone wall is amazing!

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