Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Climbed a Mountain

During Saturday evening no snow fell yet the weather reports still threatened us with an elusive snow storm which would disrupt everybody. It was only to be a couple of inches which wouldn't cut off anybody but would still thwart many peoples' plans including ours, which were to scout around Richmond for abandonments. We'd got a few places to visit lined up and were going to leave Richmond late so we could also get some good night shots. By late Saturday afternoon, the trip was postponed until March 11th leaving some of us at a loose end and frustrated. Emily, Huguette and I decided to hike on Sunday if the weather permitted and so we went to bed with plans to chat again in the morning.
There was still no snow in the morning yet still the weather reports called for a storm. We all agreed we weren't stopping indoors so we went hiking instead. They both came to my house and then we drove locally to climb some mountains.
We met a guy finishing the hike as we parked and being the only car there we knew we'd have the trail to ourselves, a rare treat. We set off onto the trail which immediately began to climb quite steeply. This was a shock to the system as I'd been imagining a nice leisurely stroll through the woods. We plodded upward climbing 500ft in about half a mile, all of us chugging and puffing like old steam engines. We stopped a few times but plugged away at the hill grateful when we reached the top and paused to enjoy the view across the valley.
The trail was easy once we'd got to the summit and we followed an old stone wall stopping now and then for photos. Huge rock faces were laid bare by erosion and small clumps of fungi were the only splashes of color among the dead leaves and bare branches. Huguette found a load of curly hair on the floor. We couldn't decide if it was from a fox , a fur ball or what. It was clumped together but was curly and black. Huguette amazed Emily and I by picking it up and sniffing it then holding it to her face as though a mustache. Emily looked faintly repulsed but I was secretly impressed. We gave up trying to ascertain what the hair was from and continued hiking, coming across more huge rocks and a stream.
We met two people who had arrived after us and were following the trail from the other direction. They commented that they'd seen a woman and a dog, she was lying down at the abandoned house and they thought she seemed a little strange. We walked further up the hill and came to the house but there was no one there. We stopped to take photos and then approached the building, exploring all around the outside and then inside. On Monday evening I was checking my photos and was surprised when I noticed an image in front of the open door, look below...
It looks like someone in a white coat standing in an open door, yet there's no way I saw this when I took the photo. The door was shut, as in the first house photo, and the three of us were all observing the house as we approached. We would have commented if we'd seen someone. And, the door was locked. We tried it from the outside then we entered the house from the back. I tried the front door from inside and managed to slide a bolt but the door was still locked. I've contacted Emily and Huguette since then and neither of them saw anyone or heard anything, nor do they have this on any of their photos. We were all close together and taking photos within seconds of each other. I definitely never saw this on my camera when I looked at the image to check the lighting was correct. It was suggested that trash was hanging in the tree but I would have spotted that easily in the bare branches as it would have obstructed my view of the house which I had on a short dept of field focus, purposefully blurring out the branches in front. Very strange. So, is it a ghost? I haven't found anything on line yet about this building but more research is definitely needed. You'll notice that I don't name the park or area we were in and I won't tell anyone either. The last thing we need is hoards of ghost hunters wrecking the tranquility and solace of this area.
The inside of the house made some great images and an old chimney was outside. I'll check this again in the summer as I suspect that in the baking heat of the sun, there will be quite a few black snakes sunbathing on the stones ledges.
Spring was starting to peek up from the ground and all around the house where clumps of green daffodil shoots, so I'd like to return in three weeks when they'll be in full bloom. And check that front door again at the same time...
We noticed the temperature had dropped as we left the house after about 20 minutes. Was this due to our visitor or maybe because the snow was supposedly heading our way? Rob sent a text from Gordonsville where it had started coming down hard. The sun was setting behind the mountains so we picked up our pace and headed to the car. Back to Meadow House for pizza and beers in front of the blazing fire.
And the snow never came...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Trip to Front Royal

On Saturday afternoon I trekked over to Front Royal to look at the antique and thrift stores. I'm desperate for furniture especially bookshelves and storage cupboards but don't want any junky stuff so was hoping to find some bargains. There were plenty of antique and thrift stores but pricing was either too high or the stuff was just trash. But it was a fun afternoon and great to walk down a main street without crowds of people.
There was a cute abandoned house at one end so that endeared me even more to the town.
This general store was fabulous and I'm sure it didn't look any different 40 years ago. There were racks of outdoor wear with tools and gadgets and I loved the gas fire in the cowboy boot display.
This store looked interesting from the outside but inside was full of cheap wares and stuff I'd never seen before and quite frankly, stuff I didn't want to see again. I mean, seriously, would you want one of these tasteful candelabras as a centerpiece on your dining table? I really couldn't see myself buying anything from this store and scuttled out quite quickly.
I walked around a lot of the town and visited all the thrift and antique stores but found nothing suitable so got back in the car and took a slow drive home, traveling the back roads which were empty, so I had plenty of time to look around and stop every now and then as interesting buildings appeared.

I found a couple of houses that were abandoned and really wanted to thoroughly explore the white house above but I only had my phone camera and also the weather forecast had been threatening a snow storm for this afternoon so I wanted to be up on top of my hill for that and not trapped at the bottom. It was frustrating having to drive away but I will come back to this place.
I followed another narrow lane that was meandering its way through the countryside in the general direction of my house and was amazed when I turned the corner and saw this huge wall along the side of the road. I parked Stuart at the side hoping to emphasize the size of the rocks but again will have to return to here and get better photos. This wall was about a mile long and I would love to know the history of it and why it was built. It must have taken a very long time and where did all the rocks come from?  The upright slabs reminded me of Stonehenge and there was a definite pattern in its construction. It was amazing, especially standing up against it.
Many of the roads were unpaved as I weaved my way back to Meadow House and I was actually surprised at myself for being annoyed about the oncoming snow as I wanted to continue exploring rather than sit at home waiting for white flakes to appear. But there would be other days and so I behaved very responsibly and drove home, stopping to grab some milk, and then piling up the hearth with logs for the rest of the weekend.

Jason's Lamps

I really should have posted this when it first started, a friend of mine is trying to get sponsors for a lamp project on Here is is link and please sponsor him if you feel inclined.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Freezing Sunday with Jeff

Sunday was another freezing day and my friend Jeff came over so we could explore some more of Marshall together. We stuffed our pockets with hand warmers and set off to a local salvage yard which I'd spotted a few days earlier.
I'd fed the birds and was delighted to see a tufted titmouse by the feeder. Isn't he cute? We got to the salvage yard and walked down the railway line to gain access. There wasn't a great deal to see which was disappointing as I'd been hoping to see old cars or machinery stacked up but we were forced to be creative which was pretty tough with the freezing cold biting its way through our jackets. But we soldiered on.
 We took a few portrait shots of each other too, amazed that we didn't have glowing red noses in our photos. We soon scurried back to the car and then headed to a favorite abandoned house of mine that was built in 1910.
It was a relief to be indoors albeit a house with no lighting or heating but thankfully the air was still and no winds picked at our ears or lips. It was nice to be back here and take more photos. I love the lace curtains and old fashioned bedstead, the old fashioned wallpaper which reminds me of my grandparents' old house, and the old photos.
We were both engrossed in shooting our shots for quite a while and took more shots of each other, and for once I think I looked OK in mine despite being wrapped up with two hoods! Great job by Jeff. I love this old house and plan on coming back here again, I just feel there's so many more pictures to take of this old homestead. The house doesn't feel sad or neglected due to its abandonment but to me it feels like it wants more attention. I'm happy to oblige.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Snowy Saturday

I was surprised to wake up on Saturday and find a winter wonderland outside my windows. The forecast had mentioned some dusting that would barely cover the ground but this was far more than that. The local weather cameras didn't show much snow in the vicinity so it seemed like we were in a different world. But it wasn't the 2 feet of snow that I'd been patiently waiting for yet it was still very pretty.
By 7:45 Kota and I were out the door, me looking for pretty vistas with my camera and Kota following very closely behind as he walked in every footstep I left behind trying to keep his paws dry.
The air was crisp, icy cold and very still, every bough hung laden with snow, grass crunched underfoot and it seemed I was the only person around. The woods by the house reminded me of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as they seemed endless, I almost expected to hear a sleigh bell tinkling through the thick mist that hung in the air. It was spectacular. The trees' silhouettes were beautiful with every twig and branch emphasized against the whiteness of the cloudy fog.
I walked around for about an hour before my frozen fingers started refusing to work. Kota had given up long ago and was waiting indoors so I joined him and cooked us an egg and bacon breakfast, mine with a hug mug of tea and his with fresh filtered water. The snow didn't stay too long, after another hour I could hear continuous dripping as it melted and by 2pm there were only a few small white patches under the trees.It was amazing how quickly it vanished.
I snapped a few photos indoors then I decided to charge my camera battery for Sunday. A trip to Warrenton rounded off the day.