Archive for July, 2010

Whimsy and Whirlygigs a WV Tradition

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Pop can airplane by Neal Eakin of Morgantown, WV

Like tourists everywhere, visitors to our mountain town in the highlands of West Virginia often seek local goods to take home as souvenirs. The Bright Morning Inn, in Davis, WV sells a few such items, including local honey from Mt. State Honey in Parsons, packaged granola from LaFontaine bakery and cookbooks from the nearby Whitegrass Cafe. All are useful items welcome in almost any home.

There’s one souvenir that’s clearly different —  the pop can bi-planes crafted by Neal Eakin in Morgantown. Mr. Eakin’s creations are whimsical, useful mostly for amusement. Created from pop cans he acquires from friends and family, with carefully matched patterns, they’re a testament to his extraordinary patience and good ol’ West Virginia thriftiness.

Neal Eakin was green before green was in. Every part of his planes is recycled — from coat hangers, cans and shoelaces. The only new part is the plastic bead that serves as nose piece for the propeller. And those have been so carefully color matched that you don’t really mind.

The Coke planes are wonderful, with their shiny red aluminum and classic cursive typography. Kids — mostly young boys — love them. I’ve seen handsome planes from Guiness and Yuengling cans, too, in esoteric colors. Budweiser planes are popular, in fact all the beer planes sell well.

But it’s my Mt. Dew planes that take the prize. Sitting on the porch, listening to the tiny tinny sound of the propellar spinning in the wind, the Mt. Dew plane is a sly reminder of why I love West Virginia and the wonderful, resourceful people who make living in these mountains so special.

Stumped by the Skunks in Davis, WV

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Two young skunks playing in the park in Davis, WV

Beautiful young white skunk grubbing for insects in my backyard

You’d think that creatures this adorable would be more than welcome in downtown Davis, WV, home to wildlife lovers, hunters and hikers of every persuasion. But these guys are creating not a stir, but a stink. They are part of a band of four young skunks that have taken up residence in the brush along our Riverfront Park.

As wildlife goes, these skunks are picture perfect. Two are all white with black faces and paws, the others classically marked with black and white stripes. They’re fluffy and playful and fun to watch as they grub in the dirt or slurp water from puddles in the alley. The problem is they are doing all of this smack in the middle of a park, and our town’s popular dog-walking grounds at that!

Several local dogs have been skunked so far, so the word’s gotten out quickly among the dog walkers. But yesterday, one showed up on the sidewalk in front of Hellbenders Burritos, right across from Blackwater Bikes, and prime tourist grounds.

There’s something wonderful about watching these playful young skunks from the safe vantage point on my back deck. They remind us we’re sitting at the edge of a magnificent forest filled with wild animals –even when they’re as fluffy and adorable as these!

Officially Summer: Rhododendron in Canaan

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Rhododendron in bloom near Blackwater Falls WV

Masses of blooming rhododendron are just one reason to visit the WV highlands near Davis and Canaan Valley. Summers are cool here, which means rhodies bloom late, in fact you can usually count on peak bloom near the fourth of July.

This photo, with its unidentified bug, is courtesy of Kurt Manwiller, our friend, guest and sometime innsitter. It was taken near Blackwater Falls, where rhododendron thickets blanket the forest.

The rhodies are fading now but you can still find many blossoms in the higher elevations near Canaan Loop Road, a remarkable 21-mile gravel road offering miles of secluded hiking and mountain biking trails. The Loop Road starts three miles out of town at Canaan Heights, a tiny scattering of homes on the high western ridge of Canaan Valley. It ends at Blackwater Falls State Park, nearLindy Point, one of our most cherished vistas.

The trail network encompassed by the Loop Road is mostly what remains of old fire service roads cut to fight the forest fires that once plagued our area. The entire length of the road is no longer passable, but there’s still plenty of access by car to secluded primitive campsites, a catch-and-release fly fishing site at Red Run and numerous spongy bogs offering cranberry and blueberry picking.

Guests at the Bright Morning Inn are surprised to discover so many wild and secluded trails within a stone’s throw of town. The terrain looks and smells like Alaska…and yet it’s so much closer to home!



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