Sunday, July 15, 2007

Camping at Cooper's Rock

Damian, Rachel, Norah and I all went camping this weekend at Pine Ridge Camp near Cooper's Rock in West Virginia. (That's a long sentence.) It was a ton of fun. Here are the highlights.

The drive down to the camp site was about an hour and a half. We packed just about everything we could into our Saturn, so it was a bit crowded on the way down. But we had fun.

When we got there, we set up camp. We had a very large campsite available to us. It was pretty far back in the woods so there weren't any campers near by. That meant lots of wildlife... read on, you'll see what I mean.

The first fire...

Here's the tent we stayed in. All three of us slept on the queen-sized air mattress that Damian brought. (Though I don't know Rachel can say she was sleeping if she was up every fourteen minutes to pee. Poor pregnant lady...)

The three of us just after setting up camp. I think we had corn on the cob in that pot.


This collapsable table was under the canopy that I put up. We borrowed the tarp and the table from our new friend Jennifer. She's super nice. Thanks Jennifer.

I was very proud of myself for setting up the canopy, and when it started to rain, it was a very pleasant place to sit. We had some wine, and Damian played the guitar while I played the drum and Rachel sang. (No. Not really.) It only rained for about an hour or so, and we ended up the evening next to the fire.

Ooohhh... fire... again...

That night, we had a couple visitors stop by. I awoke at four in the morning to the sound of raccoons fighting a few yards away. I shined the flashlight out at our cooler to it was wide open. I jumped out of the air mattress and walked out to the site in my underwear trying not to swear. Those persnickety little raccoons came by and must have laughed themselves fat while they gorged on our hamburger meat, hot dogs, and a whole package of homemade pancakes that I had frozen. Grrr.....

Oh well.

We cleaned up the mess and stoked up the fire a little bit. Damian and I then stayed up until the sun came up because I knew those little black-masked crooks would be back for more. When the sun came up, we found four or five half frozen, half eaten hamburger patties strewn about the ferns. We also found some corn on the cob, and a bunch of empty bags. Wildlife really shouldn't litter as much as they do.

After the clean up, we made a light breakfast.

After Breakfast, Damian and Rachel took a nap while I built a little oven next to the camp fire that was all the rage for the rest of the meals. Right on the other side of this little stone window were some stones that you could set the pan on. Between those stones were the coals from the fire. It worked great. Oh, and our old PA plates? That was the fan for stoking up the fire. That was a little charm as well. I'm bringing it with me every time I go camping now.

Damian and Rachel got up at about ten. Then, we took heated showers (sweet!) on the camp grounds, and then we drove out to Cooper's Rock. It's a beautiful overlook nearby that provides one of the most beautiful views I think I've ever seen. After a brief stay at the rock, Damian and I walked down to Haystack Rock. This boulder used to have a few popular climbing routes on it, but a few years ago erosion caused it to slide out of the ground and sometime soon, it will suck right out of the mud and go crashing down the mountain. On the other side of Haystack rock there is a sharp drop and from there the mountain just spills down. I definitely would not want to be on that rock when it goes... but it sure is pretty to look at. (Needless to say climbing is banned on Haystack rock and rightly so... it's an incredibly dangerous boulder to be on.)

The view from Cooper's rock. It's high enough to make me feel like I'm going to fall over. Scary and cool all at the same time.

This gives you a little better feel for how high the outlook is.

I tried to do a Timesque panoramic. It's harder than it sounds...

Here is Haystack Rock. It's HUGE! See Damian and I in the shadows over there on the left? Between us and the rock is a gap in the ground, that's where the rock was a few years ago. It's since slipped out creating that little gap. Yeah, I wish I could be there to watch this thing fall down the mountain. It's just a matter of time.

Here you can see me standing at the base of Haystack Rock. The dip that I'm in is where the rock used to be. That little gap between the ground and the face of the rock is about eight feet deep.

Damian snapped this pretty picture of Haystack Rock and part of the view on the other side... can you imagine climbing on the other side of that rock? You would feel like you were hundreds of feet off the ground.

After lunch, we went to the pond and went swimming in water that we probably should not have been swimming in. Then two out of shape young men played Boccie in the yard. (We ended up utilizing the slide a few times.)

Da dum, Da dum, Da dum...

Baaaa!!!!!! GOTCHA!!!!

This was our most creative round of Boccie. And no, we're not naked. After Boccie, Damian taught me to play paddle ball. It's a fun game that I think I'll try to teach my family for the next time we all go camping. (If there ever is a next time.) After that, we basically just hung out by the fire all night.


Rachel. Cold, bundled, and sleeping. Oh yeah, it's nine o'clock.

Around ten o'clock or so, while Damian and I sat at the fire, we could hear snapping twigs in the woods around us. I shined the flashlight out into the ferns and a raccoon stuck his little masked face up and stared right at me. He seemed confused at how bright it had become so quickly, so I threw a rock at him. The rock barely scared him and he lunked back off into the woods.

We burned logs and threw rocks at coons for a few hours before heading off to bed. The next morning we made breakfast and closed up camp. It was a very nice weekend all around.

For breakfast we had potatoes with onions and sausage, scrambled eggs, and roasted pineapple. You can see everything resting neatly on the little oven...

Oh, we had some home made jelly and sour dough bread as well. This was easily the best camping food I've ever had.

Breakfast the first day out. Potatoes, onions, corn and bagels.

I forgot to mention, I also made Damian burn his pot holders because they were gross. But I felt bad about it later, and now I think I'm a jerk for making him do that...

This was my first Jiffy Pop experience! So COOL!

Oh yeah, and I forgot, we found this little guy when we got there hiding under some rocks by the fire ring. I don't know what kind it was, but I think it's just a black rat snake. Anyway, he crawled under the rocks by the fire and we never saw him again. I hope he didn't melt in there or anything.


Joshua said...

P.S. I just found out that the snake is a Ring-Neck Snake. Perfectly harmless little fella that eats frogs, salamanders and worms. I miss him already.

Jim Elek said...

This sounds like a fun camping excursion. We should try and plan a family one sometime before I turn 40.

Tim 2 said...

I want to go camping as well...

Perhaps we can find a state park somewhere in Pennsylvania that is half way between everywhere and go..

Rachel Elek said...

yes, let's do it Eleks!

Jim Elek said...

I can't go for like 22 months because Char started her program.

DrAwkwArD said...

Not even sure you check this blog anymore, but where is Haystack at in relation to Cooper's Rock? I've been there a million times and I'm not sure I've ever seen it. Maybe it's just the angle your shot is taken at...not sure.

Anyways, tia.

Joshua said...

Heystack is a little ways from the outlook. There's a map on this page:

If you find it, let me know if it's still there! I'm pretty sure it is, but then again, I think one good rain could possibly send it down the mountain.