Tag Archives: West Virginia

Surrounded

Surrounded.


My wife and I have always been enchanted with this lovely farmette at Judy Gap, West Virginia. The charming setting flashes into view on U.S. 33 as you round a downhill curve traveling west. The plain, white farmhouse with the sweeping front porch certainly stands out. However, it is the regiment of matching and neatly maintained red outbuildings outlined in white that really catches the eye.

The picturesque scene certainly conjures up a multitude of questions. What purpose does each building serve? Why are they situated every which way? Do the owners know just how gorgeous their property and unique set of structures are? Do they fully appreciate the beauty of both the setting and their artistic contribution to it?

As a stranger, I’ve never had enough nerve to stop to ask these intrusive questions. Instead, I am content to both admire and share the Currier and Ives-like scene.

“Surrounded” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

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Filed under architectural photography, human interest, Photo of the Week, photography, rural life, travel

Christmas in the Mountains

Christmas tree farm, West Virginia

Christmas in the mountains.

I pass by this scene on every trip between Holmes Co., Ohio and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Due to schedules or weather, I never had a chance to photograph the beauty of this Christmas tree farm in the mountains of northern West Virginia. But my latest trip proved the perfect opportunity. I wasn’t disappointed. The early morning sun highlighted the various greens and browns of early September, and the rows of evergreens added a geometric touch to the natural beauty.

“Christmas in the Mountains” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

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Country chapel

Chapel at Judy Gap, country church, chapel

Country chapel. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

My wife and I drove for four hours in a steady to light rain from our home in Ohio on our way to Virginia’s Shenandoah’s Valley. We never saw the sun. We passed through Judy Gap, West Virginia, a low spot in the razorback ridge of the nearly vertical Tuscarora quartzite outcropping, and started up yet another mountain pass. As we rounded a curve, this country chapel stood, basking in the bright sunshine that had broken through the heavy cloud cover.

The contrast between the little church’s illuminated white paint, silver roof, and the dark clouds in the background made this week’s Photo of the Week selection easy. “Country chapel” is it.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

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Spying on the NSA

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The NSA listening station near Sugar Grove, West Virginia.

Today bloggers around the world are protesting the unreasonable intrusions into our private lives, all in the name of national security that the NSA does daily to both U.S. and world citizens. I clearly understand that “they” have an important job to do in tracking down terrorists.

I communicate regularly with friends around the world via this blog, on Facebook, and by emails on personal matters with them. Not one of them is threatening to any government, anywhere. In fact, as a Mennonite, I am a non-violent person, and most of my writing is about or for citizens of the Amish community. We are people of peace, but we also want and enjoy our privacy as well.

Last fall, while visiting in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, I ventured up to Reddish Knob, a lovely location along the Appalachian Mountain range. From my vantage point, I noticed some large disks and several buildings in the valley to the west. I was told that was one of the NSA’s listening locations, near Sugar Grove, West Virginia.

Of course I did the obvious. I took some pictures of the facility. In effect, I was spying on the NSA. I’m sure I wasn’t the first, and clearly I gained nothing but a chuckle from the juxtaposition.

I understand that the NSA has a job to do. However, I hope that our right to privacy is soon restored since my friends, followers, and I have absolutely nothing to do with violence.

Grace and peace to all.

Bruce

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A change of venue for the grandkids

By Bruce Stambaugh

When our daughter told us that her husband had accepted a new job in Harrisonburg, Virginia, we were ecstatic. Although we enjoyed our visits to Texas with our family and their neighbors and friends, we found the flights from Ohio tedious.

With the move to Virginia, our grandchildren would be a quick six-hour drive away. I mean quick in the most liberal sense.

We enjoyed flying but to fly three hours to Texas without a direct flight really consumed an entire day. Add together the drive time to the airport, check-in, security navigations, waiting at the gates, and flight connections and a good day was gone.

Driving to Virginia would be a whole lot easier. To be sure, we knew the route by heart. We drove it often to visit our daughter in college in Harrisonburg. She had met our son-in-law at Eastern Mennonite University, and they had lived and worked in the city for a couple of years after their graduation and marriage. Now he works for the school.

There were multiple ways for us to get to Harrisonburg, an expanding city in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. As long as the weather was good, our favorite route was also the most demanding, climbing and descending eight mountain passes. It was a scenic, curvy drive.

Last week, we made our first trip to Harrisonburg in a decade. Our daughter and her family had moved from Texas, but settling in with three youngsters and a husband who works full-time isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Our excuse was to help our daughter and her husband unpack and to get organized in their Virginia home. Our motive was to see the grandkids. The ever-thoughtful Nana packed up containers of frozen sweet corn and applesauce and we headed southeast.

It was fun to travel again through familiar towns like Elkins, Harman, Franklin and Seneca Rocks, all in West Virginia. Not surprisingly, little had changed in those 10 years. But once we hit the mountains, the road seemed windier than I had remembered, even though it was clear some of the curves had been softened and widened.

I would have gladly crossed 18 mountain passes for the chance to see our two grandsons and granddaughter again. I last saw them in Texas at the end of February.

I was amazed at how much they had matured, if indeed you can say a six-year old, a four-year old and a nine-month old mature. But there were definite differences. The two boys, Evan and Davis, played together well, yet were equally content to play independently, too.

Evan surprised me with how well he could read, even though he had just finished kindergarten. Davis, too, showed his inquisitive prowess with delving questions. When we weren’t watching the World Cup on television, we played soccer on their expansive wooden deck.

Maren cuddled right up to me. She seemed more intrigued with my beard than my conversation, however. When the discussion went sour, Nana was the designated diaper changer.

Maren is crawling, curious and exercising her best operatic voice, although not always in harmony with her energetic brothers. She is one adorable little girl, and has saucers for eyes that match the same Paul Newman blueness of her brothers.

Our stay was much too short. You can be sure that now that they are only hours away, there will be many more visits to come. After all, we have the drive down pat.

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