Still exploring

One of the images I posted yesterday deserves comment — specifically, the shot showing the price of 87 octane when we gassed-up Mercy yesterday at the Harps in Bellefonte. That station reliably has the best prices in the area, and we paid $3.199.

Checking the AAA Gas Prices site today, I see that the national average is $3.656. Back in Ohio the statewide average is lower than that but higher than pump prices here, sitting at $3.544.

Arkansas, for now, reports the nation’s cheapest gas, an average of $3.274 for a gallon of regular.

Traveling to and from The Mountain today we saw pump prices as high as $3.549. On the way back we filled the Jeep at the Harrison Walmart, the lowest price we saw — $3.159.

There’s nothing good about paying that much for gasoline, the all-too-predictable result of installing a progressive administration that’s robbed America of its energy independence. Though cold comfort, at least we’re paying less than most of our fellow citizens are.

The ticks are out on The Mountain. Deb picked up her first a couple of weeks ago. I came back with one yesterday. Each of us came out with a couple more today. It goes with the territory, more annoying than hazardous, and we’ll need to be disciplined about applying repellent before venturing into the woods.

We haven’t seen any snakes yet this season, even on these warm and sunny days. Still, we pay close attention to where we put our feet while navigating ledges and outcrops.

Whitetail are our constant companions in the woods. We’re treated to regular sightings — usually pairs, occasionally as many as seven together.

And the birds are back, or maybe they’re just coming out. Their songs, almost absent during daylight hours the last couple of months, have returned to the Mountain air. Yesterday’s highlights were robins and the comical calls of barred owls.

Today we heard the cry of a young bald eagle.

Driving by a farm pond along the county road this afternoon, we caught the sound of the year’s first chorus frogs (colloquially “spring peepers”).

Butterflies are rising again. Ditto regular ol’ fly-flies. South-facing slopes glow with a hint of green.

We’ve seen and heard all that in the last three days. The seasons are turning.

There was one more topographic feature we wanted to check out on The Mountain, another curiosity revealed by The National Map. I’d seen it on the hillshade layer while plotting our hike to the ravine, and I marked it for future investigation.

In two dimensions it looked like a shovelful of rocks had been tossed from the the southeast corner of the property, a line of bumps running roughly north before disappearing. The feature traversed what appeared to be a wet-weather run.

The best way to get there, it seemed, would be to take the equestrian trail that traces the eastern boundary and bushwhack upslope in the general direction of the summit. Today we parked the Ranger at the roadside and waded into the brush.

(A 360° panoramic image captured today from the overgrown horse trail at the southeast corner of The Mountain.)

Because we could — and because we wanted to — we followed the old trail all the way to the southeast corner. We turned west, climbing 50 vertical feet in less than a hundred yards. Even in the leafless woods, our objective emerged before us with surprising suddenness.

That line of “bumps” I’d seen on The National Map were ledges and enormous boulders, bigger than anything else we’d found on The Mountain. Some were the size of a small car, a few even larger than that. We picked our way among the rocks, slowly making our way north to where the feature faded away.

We found the dry run, too — nothing spectacular, just something worth noting.

It took us almost two hours to work our way to the end of the boulders, a distance of 500 feet. We poked around (carefully) and lingered over the most intriguing ledges. It was a real find, well worth the effort, and we’re glad we took the time.

And we had the perfect day to do it — brilliant sunshine and temps in the low 80s. (You read that right.) I don’t think our Wednesday could’ve been better.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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