I haven't posted in a bit as I have been working for FEMA as a Community Relations Field Specialist here in McDowell County, WV for last two weeks as part of the Disaster Response Operation for the June floods. This is the first time I've worked for FEMA "at home" in McDowell County, and I am TRULY getting know my own county- and it is HUGE!! For the last 8 years I've basically let Chef Dan play Chauffeur Dan, and ferry me around and around and up and down the narrow, winding mountain roads of our southern WV mountains, frankly because winding Route 52 scares the poopies out of me- even as a passenger! But I, a.k.a. "weenie girl", have just spent the past 2 weeks driving 10 hours a day on Routes 16, 7, 103, & 161, and Route 52 now looks like a fabulous piece of cake! There are stretches of it where even I can almost make 50 mph! Once you do Those Other Routes, with 12% grades, hairpin "switchback" turns that MUST be taken no faster than 3mph, giant coal tucks that come whipping around those curves at you in your very own own lane, ramps you have to enter from the opposite side of the road (on a curve, no less), guys passing you on a double-yellow because they think they've been reincarnated as Dale Earnhardt, roads with no center line because they're too narrow for one, and entrances to residential areas that literally drop off the highway into seeming nothingness, and do them on patched (& sometimes semi-paved) roads with no "pull-over" space, no guard rail, & a 1000 feet down the mountain, Route 52 looks like a Super Highway! Whoo-whee, baybee! So far I've been to War, Davy, Gary, Sandy Huff, Squire, Bishop, Newhall, Cucumber, Coalwood, Capels, and Carswell Hollow, as well as nearby Northfork, Keystone, Eckman, and Welch. I've been to places where the blacktop REALLY ends, kids, with more to come, and by the end of this operation I WILL KNOW MY COUNTY AS WELL AS DAN DOES! I have a prayer in Hebrew that I recite each and every time I turn on the engine, and I say it unfailingly many, many times throughout the day... but, surprisingly, I'm finding (most of) the driving almost fun, and it's certainly an adrenaline booster! But at the end of the day, when I pull into our parking lot, I am Knackered! In addition to this, we have guests at the Elkhorn Inn every day, all month long, so Dan has been pulling "double duty" all day while I am out FEMA-ing; at the end of the day I change out of my FEMA uniform & become the Inn's hostess again!
About two weeks ago we harvested The First Tomato Of The Season- a landmark event for gardeners the world over, I think:
We served most of it in a salad for Elkhorn Inn dinner guests- who were delighted! We're now harvesting those candy-sweet grape tomatoes, and there's lots of green tomatoes ripening, and little tiny peppers on the pepper plants! The weather has been Gorgeous- 90 degrees & sunny- and I had a day off last week, so Dan & I, in True McDowell County Fashion, got on my ATV, and set out to pick a few early wild blackberries! We got enough to eat our fill and bottle some up in brandy, but most of them need another week or two to hit Blackberry Perfection:
The photo below was taken at the gas station in Welch: