Sunday, May 17, 2015

Far Western Maryland

Garret County is as far West as one can go in Maryland. Those far peaks are West Virginia.

Anna has caught this reflection a number of times over the years.

This particular weekend I was able to spend it with my best friend and his wife. My youngest daughter was in tow also. Dale was towing his new 2015 Shasta Reissue. Cute as a buttercup that Shasta is.

Anna looked cute as a button. We camped at our favorite campground; Swallow Falls State Park.

Swallow Falls has been featured a number of times on this blog.

It is a special place of virgin forest.

Gnomes, Tomkins, and fairies live in these woods.

Dale and Lisa have never been to Swallow Falls before. I was honored to share one of my favorite places with them.

We saw Muddy Falls. It was running rather clear this weekend.

We saw the Lower Swallow Falls. I did not know it, even though this was not our first visit, but Swallow Falls got it's name from the cliff swallows that used to nest on a huge rock just below the falls. The rock is still there. The swallows are not.

There are many photo opportunities at the park.

We always love hiking the trails in the park. You round a bend and there will be a great view through the trees you never expect. Walking trails in Maine are like this.  You just don't expect this kind of raw natural beauty in over populated Maryland.

This is Upper Swallow Falls.

Tolliver Falls is my favorite. It is not the biggest, but it the least visited and the stream is so beautiful fulling over bed rock for a great distance.

One of my favorite aspects of this state park is the trees. 37 acres of the park are actually virgin hemlock forests. Back in the day, Swallow Falls was where many powerful men used to like to go and camp, hunt, and fish. Somehow this tiny part of Maryland avoided the axe and saw. Unfortunately for us, the trees have not yet leafed out. In the Baltimore region we have had leaves on the trees for almost a month. Spring is a little late in far Western Maryland. We took a little trip over to West Virginia. For many years, Beth and I have been involved in a chunk of land that was formally a hippie commune. We commonly call it The Farm. It is actually called Uptop and is a communally owned retreat. In the near future we hope to host an extreme boon docking Airstream rally there.

Because Spring was late, so were the ramps. Needless to say, every thing we ate after this contained ramps. That there is a fine, triplet, ramp. What are ramps? Ramps are an Appalachian mountain delicacy. They are a type of wild onion. I believe they are closest to a leek. The traditional, mountain method to cook ramps is to dredge in flour then fry in bacon fat. We had them raw. We had them in a cheese ball. We had them sautéed with mushrooms over steak. We had then in the breakfast potatoes. We loved them to say the least. Unfortunately we did not have them fried in bacon fat. The funny thing about ramps is once you eat them, you cannot smell them very well. Others, however, are very able to smell them, exuding from you, even across the room.  Ramps were the latest rage in all the farm to table joints this past year.

At the Farm we hauled out some spring water. The water here is very sweet and delicious. Preston County, where the Farm is located, was cursed with no coal. Though this left next to zero job opportunities for the men of Preston County, the environment tends to be much healthier than other part of the Mountain(top removal) State.

At the campground we were treated with our very own episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom right in our campsite.

Our campsites were right in the middle of a bard owl's hunting grounds. I hope all of you have the opportunity to see one of these owls in the wild. They hunt during the day which is rather unique to other owls. They are very effective, efficient hunters. Did I mention they fly without making any sound? Did I mention they are the second largest owl? I ask only because you might not have hit my link. 

Yet another great weekend. Thank you Anna for making it all possible.