Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Hilltop Revisited with a Muddy Fall

On Saturday Jeff came over, and because of a Facebook conversation we'd had with a friend, we decided to check out the Hilltop Hotel in Harpers Ferry. It's been a few years since I last visited and it was on the verge of tumbling down then, a neglected project of a hotel chain.
This was a little building we saw on the way, so we stopped to get some practice shots in and warm up our cameras.
We were soon on the road again, arriving at Harpers Ferry to park behind the hotel where a couple were setting up their drone. We walked around the front, noting that there had previously been holes made in the fence, but today the place was well secured. Since my last visit, the lower doors and windows were boarded up but apart from that it didn't look like it had deteriorated much further,
We walked all around the outside, very much aware that there was a pesky drone buzzing loudly above us. It looked like he was getting views of the river valleys below but it was a much more invasive piece of apparatus than our cameras and we were glad when it flew back to its owner.
I found a Facebook page for Hilltop Hotel supporters, here, and there have been a number of meetings, the last one in December. There's been no entry since, informing us of the decisions made, so I hope it's not bad news. It would be wonderful to see it restored to its former glory.
I also found this page explaining why the developer who purchased the property failed to move forward with his plans. But unfortunately, there's been little news on the empty building since 2011. Let's hope the outcome of the December meeting will be positive.
We strolled around the streets looking at old houses that were boarded up or tumbling down, and which looked to have no chance of restoration.
And then we drove up to the old cemetery. I have no photos of this as I had only taken a few when going down a slope I skidded and landed in the mud. Very fortunately I had managed, to a degree, to control the fall. I fell flat on my back and slid on my behind down a little further, while I gently mashed my camera into the mud. Both hands were plastered with mud as was one knee which had to be placed in the brown mess so I could get back up while still nursing my camera.
Thankfully the Sony is weather resistant, and so hopefully no actual damage was done. No part hit the ground hard, the only issue I had was trying to gently wipe off as much of the wet mud as possible before it dried and got into the mechanisms. I'll see if it's performance is marred in any way in the upcoming weeks and if so, then I'm very glad I purchased insurance for it, and I'll send it off for repairs. The back of my jeans, jacket and knees were pretty grubby but luckily I had fleeces in the trunk that I could lay on my seat to sit on, and once my clothing was dry, it brushed off easily.
I didn't bother any longer with the cemetery. We did go back in briefly, but I ended up slipping again, thankfully this time not falling over, but at that point I was done. We drove instead to the lower part of town and walked along the railroad tracks where an exposed rock face was covered with icicles.
The Sony was really put to the test this day as it ended up receiving a few water splashes as I leaned in to capture the icicle drips. It was very cold in this area and soon we'd had enough, feeling a little concerned that we might be too frozen to be able to jump out of the way in time if a train pummeled along the tracks.
I did stop and take a little video because the water running underneath the ice looked just like tadpoles swimming through a pond. It was almost hypnotic.
We started the drive back towards Marshall, looking on the way for a plane crash site, but we were unable to find it with so much snow on the ground still, so that will be saved for another day.
Passing through the tiny town of Bluemont I adored this sign outside the country store and felt compelled to go inside. They had everything as promised on the sign, and I was particularly taken with the Amish made sleigh bells which I'll be back to purchase for presents at a later date. I did buy a bag of homemade ginger snaps which were crunchy and delicious, and disappeared far too quickly.
We finished off with a beer stop in Marshall at Fosters Grill, enjoying the great selection of Virginia craft beers and a discussion with the manager on how to produce the best pizza crust. All in all, quite an eventful day!

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