A Dolly Sods Adventure

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Dolly Sods has long been my favorite spot in West Virginia, but even so, this fall was my first time camping at Red Creek. The guys made the great sacrifice of driving out early Friday morning to snag our spots, securing themselves a little kid-free beer drinking time and allowing the rest of us to swoop in after dark and avoid the task of camp setup. Win-win.

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There's something about seeing a tundra-like landscape where you don't expect it. It's surprising and beautiful and such a lovely respite. I need these times of seeing our state only for the beauty it has to offer and not for the heart-wrenching sadness that often pervades.

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After the soft morning light came these clouds hanging low over the Allegheny Front under a crisp blue sky. Nothing short of exhilarating.

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As only kids can, these guys had the most fun at Bear Rocks playing in the little ephemeral puddles that had formed in the many rock craters.

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We only managed a few short hikes with seven rascals in tow, but the rest of the time they ran non-stop, making their own forest adventures and leaving us to relax in a way you can only achieve when you're outside with good friends, no cell service, and nothing to do but drink beer and enjoy each other's company.

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This is the pre-sunrise shot from Sunday morning, which I got because I could not deny the child who said from outside our tent, "Mom, are you going to miss the day break again?" No. No I am not. And I'm so thankful I got to sit out on the rocks in the blowing wind with that little boy, waiting for the sun.

A Wild & Wonderful Table

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My friends from the Bridgeport Farmers Market know how to throw a party.

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Last Saturday was their second annual fundraising dinner, A Wild and Wonderful Table, featuring delicious dishes prepared by West Virginia chefs using local meat and produce, two signature cocktails, and my very favorite WV beer, the Halleck Pale Ale

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Not only did everything look beautiful, but I loved the way so many people contributed their particular talents to make this event come together. In addition to the organizers, who coordinated and orchestrated many moving parts, one person designed and constructed the long community-style tables using lumber he sawed himself.

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Another envisioned and executed the "look" for the event, complete with vintage place settings and natural tablescapes made from brown paper and fresh herbs, topped with gorgeous flower arrangements (made by yet another market vendor), all underneath long strands of twinkling lights.

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Several Sargasso bartenders made sure everyone had delicious drinks throughout the night, served up in Ball jar glasses of course.

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Local musicians played throughout the night.

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Did I mention the food? Yum. 

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This whole night would have been amazing and lovely no matter where it took place, but the fact that one group of people came together to make it happen here in North Central West Virginia . . . well, let's just say I think everyone involved truly appreciates the sense of community it represents.

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Naturally I took many more pictures than this, all of which are view-able here.

Highway to Holler

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The New York Times says the personal essay is dead. Lucky I only make photo essays I guess. This set documents the three-mile stretch from Route 50, where you turn off to get to where I grew up, all the way back to the holler itself.

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When I lived in Oregon, I thought even the plants that grew in the ditches were beautiful. It's taken me a while to adopt that same viewpoint about home, since it's all so familiar, but seeing it through the camera lens definitely helped. And now I wonder if the west coasters feel the same about WV ditches?

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Once you arrive at the farm, you may start to understand why Dad exchanged small-town life for the hemmed-in serenity of these hills. This has long been a question of mine.

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