Monday, November 30, 2009

Giant Crystal Caverns
I was really intrigued by the National Geographic episode dealing with the crystals located in the Mexican Naica mine. The Naica Mine of the Mexican state of Chihuahua is a working mine that is known for its extraordinary selenite crystals. Located in Naica, in the municipality of Saucillo, Naica is a lead, zinc and silver mine in which large voids have been found, containing crystals of selenite (gypsum) as large as 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter and 36 feet (11 m) long.

It is an EXTREMELY dangerous cave because of extreme temperatures that are deadly to humans.

Here are a few facts concerning this marvel of nature. Hidden deep beneath the surface of the Earth is one of the greatest natural marvels on the planet: a giant crystal cave with crystals up to 36 feet long and weighing 55 tons. But this scorching cavern could kill humans after just 15 minutes of exposure.

The giant crystals found in the caves at Naica are softer than a human fingernail.

The largest crystal found at Naica is 500,000 years old.

The stunning crystal pillars are made from the same common mineral as drywall – it's called gypsum.

The Naica cave's deadly heat comes from the depths of the Earth. Naica sits on a set of fault lines. A magma chamber a mile and a half down warms the water that flows throughout the mountain.

The Naica principle cave "Cueva de Los Cristales" is 113°F and 100% humidity.

The Naica facility pumps 16,000 gallons of water per minute out of the mine and runs 24-7.

The water pumped from the Naica mine formed a lake in the arid Chihuahua desert and is also used to irrigate a golf course.

Naica is one of the most productive lead mines in the world, and a huge supplier of the world's silver as well.

The Naica cave actuality footage was shot on solid-state memory HD video cameras (tape-less) wrapped in plastic bags and pre-heated for three hours prior to entering the cave.

The Naica Project team created a stop-motion robot and fitted it with a Nikon digital still camera powered by a custom software to capture beauty-shot sequences of the cave with 10-megapixel resolution.

This is certainly extreme caving compared what we experienced in the West Virginia caverns.

Click for more information from YouTube..

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Early Thanksgiving

The End

We had such a great time with family in Canaan Valley. It was hard to leave Timberline early Sunday morning. Rachael and the girls came back to Glenville with us for a visit. They stayed until Wednesday. Thought we would share a group picture with you. Hope your Thanksgiving was as special as ours!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Early Thanksgiving
Walk In The Bog
On Saturday, I decided to check out a section of the new NWRS boardwalk located on Freeland Road.

The boardwalk allows the visitor to get up close and personal with some of the wildlife and bog areas. The first part of the boardwalk has an observation deck that overlooks an active beaver dam.

The beaver would be much easier to spot at dusk. I remember Judy and I were observing a beaver dam on Spruce Knob several years ago. It was really great to be able to not only see a mother beaver and her young, but hear then gnawing within their lodge. The beaver is the largest rodent in our state.

This section of the boardwalk is new.
The boardwalk goes to a fenced in area where the balsam fir is being protected. Originally, vast forests of spruce covered much of this area, but these were nearly destroyed by logging and subsequent fires. The legacy of this past has had lasting, harmful consequences to the plants and animals that depend upon the conifer forests and conifer-dominated wetlands for their survival. Though red spruce has struggled to come back, balsam fir is being decimated by an insect pest accidentally introduced from Asia.
The pest that is attacking the balsam fir in the valley is the balsam woolly adelgid. The balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae) is frequently and mistakenly referred to as the balsam woolly aphid. While related to aphids, it belongs to an entirely different family of "sucking" insects. This pest, an imported insect of European stock, arrived on the North American continent about 1900. It has become a notorious pest of native true firs (Abies spp.), and of some exotic true fir species. The fencing protects this stand from another danger - overgrazing by the local deer population.

Wait! What is that moving in the field to my left?

Oh, my.... this carnivore seems to be at home in his tree stand.

OK- I fib! I did not see a black bear, but I did see many of these critters that are contributing to the demise of the balsam fir!

It is important on any path to take one's time and look carefully. The reindeer lichen was plentiful along the boardwalk.

I always love the hummocks of sphagum moss that seems to hug the bases of the trees.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Early Thanksgiving
The Hot Tub
On Saturday morning, the kids decided it was time to check out the hot tub on the deck of Cedar Creek. As you can see, Miss Flora was the first into the bubbly water. Grandma Great had to check out the water temperature to assure it was in the safety range.

Sam has some real concerns about entering this boiling cauldron. The hot tub jets had to be turned off so Sam could see the bottom. (No sharks, etc.) Dad Jeff is doing some confidence building.

Hurray! Sam had success in entering the tub with the ladies. What a lady's man!

Flora is the one who really enjoys the water. The hot tub is no exception.

Flora has taught Lucy that water activites are great. Even though the outside temperature was in the forties, the kids enjoyed their hot tub adventure.

Tomorrow - the walk through the bogs!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Early Thanksgiving
The Birthday Party

The cake above was made by Nanny's Bakery in Davis. The rabbits are supposed to be Max and Ruby.

For you guys that are not into kid's TV, Max and Ruby is an animated series that debuted in 2002 that is aimed at a preschool audience. Created by children's book author/illustrator Rosemary Wells and based on the world of her Max and Ruby books, the episodes present stories about Max, a rambunctious and determined 3-year-old bunny, and his big sister, Ruby, a patient, goal-oriented, sometimes restrictive 7-year-old bunny. The show presents an uplifting message for its audience by showing Max and Ruby playing together and exercising respect and love in resolving their conflicts.

Grandma started the festivities by lighting the birthday cake.

Sometimes it is hard for a three year old gal to blow out a candle. Flora is always there to help out with wind production.

Grandma Meads had special birthday bags for each grandkid. Oh no! The bags contained noise makers, kazoos, and other sound producers. What was Grandma thinking?

Lucy loved her presents. She is opening the purse that Aunt Judy purchased this year at the Black Walnut Festival. In the purse were four little dolls!

One thing that Lucy loves are dresses. Grandpa and Grandma selected three dresses that fit wonderfully. Lucy was so excited!

It is interesting that Lucy loved reading the birthday cards. Most kids her age toss the cards and go directly to the packages.

We had a great birthday party. Yes, the kids did enjoy the cake - it was YUMMY!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Early Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving Meal

Rachael, John, and the girls arrived in Timberline during the late afternoon. The meal was ready. It was one of those occasions where you feel that the food was so plentiful that it could have supplied all residents of Davis and Thomas, WV.

The menu consisted of ham, turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, cooked apples, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with brown sugar glaze, and rolls. The desserts were a plethora of delights including apple pie, pumpkin roll, pecan pie, gingerbread with orange glaze, chocolate cherry cake, sugar cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies.

My good wife was working like a beaver building a dam before the storms move in. She (and all the others) did a fantastic job. What a job to coordinate all the items to be ready for the table at the same time!

The kids donned their party hats in anticipation of Lucy's party which was happening directly after the meal.

I know that we had full bellies, but the birthday cake was soon presented and we could not disappoint the little ones. (Isn't gluttony a sin?)

John got into the birthday party spirit. He actually wore a third hat in the back of his head. I believe he was doing the birthday triceratops thingie.

Mr. Nate was also in the celebration mood. You have to love his Prince Charming bib!

Lucy, where is your hat? On tomorrow's blog we will see the after Thanksgiving dinner birthday party.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Early Thanksgiving

The First

Aunt Judy is holding Sir Nate who had a first experience on this trip. For the past several months he has had a diet of only his Mom's breast milk. On Thursday Jeff arrived and they thought this would be a great time to start rice cereal. Big Brother Sam wanted to document this experience.

Nate is ready. Mom and Dad were hoping that this would allow him to sleep throughout the night. (Did not happen - probably he is cutting his teeth.)

Get ready - GO!

Nate had little trouble in getting used to this new addition to his diet. Gosh, things have changed since our girls were born.. Our eldest, Rachael, was eating cereal at two weeks! Tomorrow - the Thanksgiving meal!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Early Thanksgiving
The Arrival

What a wonderful time this past week with our family. Judy and I left Glenville on Wednesday (18th) and met Sarah, Sammy, Nate, Bill, Judy, and Grandma Great at our rented house in Timberline, Canaan Valley. We had planned an early Thanksgiving since all familes were available this weekend.

The house was a marvelous place for the family gathering. Cedar Creek provided the following:
7 bedrooms, 8½ baths, 4 king beds, 3 queen beds, 2 twin beds, a family room, a theatre room, CATV, wireless intenet, VCR, DVD, phones (free long distant calls), 2 gas fire places, 2 washer/dryers, 2 dishwashers, microwave, hot tub, and a pool table. It was located slopeside and had a maximum occupancy of 16.
There would be 13 of us during this visit.

To see the house interior, check out this website. You have to click on the pull down menu to see all levels of the house.

What was neat about this house was that it was large enough for everyone to have a bedroom and also provide quiet space for those times when one needs to read or rest.

On Wednesday we arrived in early afternoon. Sarah and the boys arrived about an hour later. Bill, Judy, and Grandma Great were the last to get to Timberline. (around 3 PM) Jeff could not arrive until after work on Thursday. Rachael, John, and the girls would arrive on Friday. Flora had to get her H1N1 shot at her school before they could leave.

Bears are a common sight in this area. The sign indicated that the powers to be do not encourage spreading bacon grease and peanut butter on the trees.

The management did not post a sign about the following creature. By the end of our stay, this beast had devoured turkey, ham, and meatballs!

We had an Italian meal on Wednesday evening. Judy and sister Judy were the captains of the kitchen during this week.

Thursday was a rainy day. We visited and certainly enjoyed watching the boys. Judy and I went to Davis to order Lucy's birthday cake at Nanny's Bakery. It was certainly a blessing to have four generations present during this outing. Grandma Great is enjoying Nate's cuddles. Thursday was John and Rachael's 15th wedding anniversary. On Friday we were to celebrate an early 3rd birthday for Lucy along with Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for at this time.

Sammy was helping to unpack the refrigerator food. He is certainly becoming quite the young man. (Even though I call him Sam the Man - he says "Grandpa, I am not a man- I AM A KID!)

Dad Jeff arrived Thursday evening. Plans were being made to prepare for tomorrow's Thanksgiving supper and Lucy's birthday party.