Majestic Wind Turbines Near Thomas, WV

May 8th, 2010

The ridge just north of Thomas, WV, which we call Backbone Mountain, has been lined with Wind Turbines for nearly ten years. They’re a bone of contention for some, who question their adverse affect on wildlife, in this case the many varieties of bats who soar the night skies zapping insects. It’s a serious issue, as bats are endangered on many fronts.

But for purely visual spectacle, the turbines themselves are awe inspiring. Bold, white, quietly slicing through the sky, they are more beautiful than most public sculpture, and much more useful.

The electricity these turbines generate goes into the grid and is sold to people in the cities who want to do good and think that buying wind power, even if it costs more, is a good thing.

I’m still conflicted about the issue. I love the turbines, but am awfully fond of the bats, too. Let’s hope the clever scientists who invented these things will get with the biologists and devise a way to lessen the impact on wildlife. In the meantime I will continue to send guests who visit the Inn  up the road to photograph and marvel at the power of human engineering.

Forty four wind turbines line the ridges of Backbone Mountain near Thomas WV

Trout Fishing Fun on the Blackwater River

May 5th, 2010

There’s nothing like spring trout fishing to keep a person young at heart. This colorful fisherwoman, my mother, Sarah Pierson, has been trout fishing lately, at a beautiful spot on the Blackwater River near Davis, WV. She hasn’t caught much, but that’s besides the point. The real fun is just sitting in a quiet spot enjoying the breeze.

Fortunately for Mom, there’s a handicap pier along the river outside town, built by folks at the Canaan Valley Institute, and a popular spot for less nimble fisher folk. Whether you dig your own nightcrawlers, or pick up some PowerBait at the sporting goods shop in town, fishing in Davis is a great and inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors. And when you need to take a break, or when they’re just not biting, the good part is you’re close to town, with it’s charming cafes and restaurants.

Trout are stocked often in the spring, and fishing is good all along the river from Canaan Valley and down through parts of Blackwater Falls State Park (catch and release only). So grab a big sunhat, or maybe just a visor, and head to Davis for some fishing this spring. My mother says fishing is good for your nerves, and she just might be right.

Blackwater River Fishing

Trout fishing along the Blackwater River near Davis, WV

Apple Blossom Time in Davis, WV

May 2nd, 2010

It’s hard to believe that Davis, WV was once a boomtown, with nearly 5000 people and two streets lined with stores. It was a prosperous and busy place filled with boardinghouses, like the Bright Morning Inn, a fine hotel or two, a tannery and lumbermill and, of course, a railroad running right along the Blackwater River.

Nowadays it’s mostly gone…the town has dwindled to around 500 residents and there are just a handful of shops and restaurants, mostly catering to tourists. But we do have remnants of those good ol’ days– lots and lots of old apples trees. Sometimes I think Davis is an apple orchard pretending it’s a town, they’re that ubiquitous. And now, in early May, they are in glorious pinky white bloom.

The old railway bed along the new Riverfront Park is lined with apple trees, and they’re in nearly every yard. And if you north drive to Thomas, or south to Canaan Valley you’re struck by the beautiful display.

Apples aren’t gathered and treasured the way they used to be, when Davis residents needed apples for pies and sauces.  Now you’ll mostly see them strewn across the roads or alleys, rotting on the ground, an offering to deer and other critters.

But in early May, when in their blooming glory, they remind us of how rich this funny little mountain town really is, and how giving these trees have been to us these many years.

Blooming apples in Davis, WV: Remembrance of Things Past

Spring Morel Hunting in the WV Woods

April 28th, 2010

It’s cold and wet in Davis, WV today, and just barely spring, but here on top of the mountain we’ve found morels! Yes, at an undisclosed location near Blackwater Falls, I found six beautiful morels this morning, arguably the most succulent and delicious mushrooms of all.

Brown and gnarly, morels are hard to find. They blend in perfectly with decayed leaves and soil, and are usually found beneath elm, poplar, sycamore or ash trees, though sometimes in old apple orchards, too.  Morels are luscious with butter and cream, mixed in with pasta, or just floured and fried in olive oil.

The Bright Morning Inn’s restaurant serves ramps in the spring, small wild leeks that carpet the hillsides in early spring. But we won’t be serving morels. They too scarce…and they’re one thing that we locals won’t share. But if you’re willing to visit us in springtime, a notorious slow season, we might share with you a few tips about morel hunting.

First morel found April 28, 2010 near Blackwater Falls, WV

Celebrating Spring on the Refuge

April 14th, 2010
Coiled strands of frog eggs hatching on a refuge wetland pond

 Early spring on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge reminds us that the refuge is largely a wetland…what they used to call a swamp. When folks in the lower elevations celebrate redbuds and dogwoods, here in Davis, WV, on the edge of the refuge, we delight in skunk cabbage, and the sounds and sites of many mating frogs.  Any puddle on the refuge teems with frog eggs now, and then tadpoles, and then the ground is alive with them. Tiny at first, they head into the woods to offer succulant morsels to their many predators: birds, fish, turtles, snakes…just about everyone finds them appetizing.

Early spring is also time for the annual Woodcock Roundup, where birdlovers come together to identify and count this unusual bird whose mating dance is one of our area’s earliest harbingers of spring. This year the event takes place on Saturday, April 17th at 6:30 p.m. and will be led by refuge biologist Ken Sturm. Be prepared with walking shoes or boots and dress for the weather.

Celebrate this special time of year at one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. As John Denver once said, it’s the place where you belong.

Ramp Season Comes to Davis

April 5th, 2010

Early April and ramps we are digging ramps for the Bright Morning Inn restaurant

Early spring in Davis is beautiful, but it’s lackluster when compared to warmer places with their opulent flower spectacles. Our spring is more subtle than that, and it takes forever to get here. That’s why ramps are such a celebration in the mountains. They are proof that the season has finally turned, and they’re a great treat for those of us who seek out wild and local foods.

Ramps are wild leeks, Allium tricoccum to be specific, and members of the lily family. They are a pungent cross between garlic and onion, with delicate strappy green leaves and a white stem that looks a lot like a scallion. Ramps grown on steep rocky hillsides at higher elevations, which makes them a challenge to dig. But they’re worth it. Because they add a marvelous garlicky flavor to bland foods like eggs and potatoes, which is how they’re served at many traditional ramp dinners, called “ramp feeds” by locals.

At the Bright Morning Inn, we scramble them with fresh orange-yolked country eggs and potatoes, or sprinkle them in omelets with bacon and cheese. They’re wildly popular, but they don’t last long. By the middle of May most local ramps have withered or grown too big and stinky, which means one thing: you must eat them, as many as you can, when they’re in season. They’re a spring tonic, and a tangible tie to our forebearers, who relished the first wild greens of the season in all their forms.

On May 2nd the Mount Grove Volunteer Fire Department will host their annual ramp feed near the Tucker County line (about 9 miles north of Davis). From 11 am to 3 pm you can feast on an array of traditional country dishes including fried pototoes, pinto and great northern beans, cornbread, ham and various raw and cooked ramp treats. It’s a truly special slice of West Virginia culture you won’t want to miss. In fact, it has been chronicled in the Spring 2010 issue of Goldenseal, our magazine of West Virginia Traditional Life.

Unique Dog-Centered Lodging in Thomas, WV

February 10th, 2010

The Bright Morning Inn prides itself on being pet-friendly, which means we allow quiet and well-behaved dogs. However, for folks vacationing in the Canaan area who aren’t staying at the Inn, there’s another lodging alternative: PetRated, a pet sitting and boarding service in nearby Thomas, WV run by local “dog whisperer” Judy Haverty.  is more of a vacation retreat for dogs than a boarding kennel. Every day, twice a day, Judy and her charges pile into the Jeep and head for the woods, and for long walks in the trails surrounding town. In the summer, there’s swimming in ponds and creeks, and  a shady side yard for lazy snoozing. In winter there’s snow: huge piles of it for jumping and rolling.  At PetRated dogs swim, run and play together

Hanging out at PetRated in Davis

under Judy’s watchful care. It’s no wonder that every year more and more locals, and visitors, too, are treating their beloved pets to healthy outdoor education in our beautiful West Virginia hills. For more information visit  www.petratedwv.com or call Judy at 304-463-3388

Plant a Tree and Help Rebuild a Forest

January 30th, 2010
Before the  Bright Morning Inn was a lumberjack boardinghouse, long
Red Spruce in Canaan Valley

before the town of Davis was built, these Allegheny highlands were home to a magnificent conifer forest.  Help restore the majesty of that primeval forest by participating in this tree planting project on April 10th and 11th. Meet at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center at 10 a.m. and join a team of hearty souls as they plant spruce and/or balsam fir in early spring. Sponsored by the Refuge, WV Highlands Conservancey, Dominion Power and partners in the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative. For more information contact Susan Moore at the Bright Morning Inn 304-259-5119.

Wildflower Pilgrimage May 6-8

January 20th, 2010

Flower lovers, bird lovers, nature lovers of every description are invited to attend the 49th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage held May 6-8 at Blackwater Falls State Park. This well-known event brings together wildlife experts, ornithologists, botanists and geologists from area universities and colleges who lead tours of well known flora and fauna hotspots such as Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods, Seneca Rocks, Fernow Forest and Otter Creek, as well as lesser known “secret spots”. The small group tours help participants identify particular plants and birds and point out interesting flora and fauna. It’s a fun and informative weekend to experience early spring in the Allegheny mountains, offering lots of great cameraderie, and a special way to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with your favorite nature lover. To register for the event or for questions, contact Emily Fleming or Vickie Hash at the WV DNR at (304) 558-2754. For reservations for lodging at the Bright Morning Inn (less than a mile from the park) visit our website at www.brightmorninginn.com. This is a fantastic event for hearty souls who want to learn more about our beautiful area. Don’t miss it!

Canaan Valley Snowfall Approaching Record Levels

January 16th, 2010

Cutting a trench in front of Hellbender's Burritos

According to local weather guru Dave Lesher, whose records of  Canaan Valley weather can be seen at http://canaanweather.4t.com/, the first nine days of January this year have been the snowiest ever for the past 66 years, which means some of the best cross country and downhill ski conditions in recent memory!  At the Bright Morning Inn in Davis we’ve been shoveling, scraping and plowing, and then doing it all over again…to prepare for guests. The inn is mostly filled on weekends this month, but plenty of mid-week slots are open. If you haven’t tried mid-week x-c skiing at Whitegrass or Blackwater Falls you’re missing out on a pleasure mostly known to locals: peaceful woodland trails and a solitude that is sublime. And if you’re a downhill skier at Timberline or Canaan, midweek offers that rarest of benefits: non-existent lift lines.



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