Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures in the Mountains

This past Monday, my new travelling buddy Larry and I braved the elements to go rampin' in the mountains. The mountain where we went is called the Birthplace of Rivers, because it contains the headwaters of the Potomac, Cheat, James, Tygart & the Monongahela Rivers. What this sign doesn't tell you, if you walk due east about 1,000 yards, take a left and go another 1,000 yards, then take another left and walk 1,000 yards, and finally take yet another left and go another 1,000 yards, you will come upon the headwaters of even more rivers...the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Yellow, and the North Fork of the Possum Branch of the Nile. This mountain truly is the Birthplace of Rivers.

The temperatures hovered around freezing and we were bombarded with a mixture of rain, and snow, and sleet, and refrigerators...all amid warnings of giant bears that rip out tree stumps just for fun. We were even shown one of these stumps at one point, a stump that would have taken ten men to reach around. We were concerned but nothing could dissaude us from our goal of digging ramps.

On our way to my secret rampin' spot in the mountains, we found none other than my mother sitting alongside the road in a warm vehicle. I wasn't having none of that, especially for MY mother, so we dragged her along with us kicking and screaming. After all, we needed someone to carry the ramp bag (and when I say "ramp bag" I am referring to the sack that carried the ramps and not my mother).

Lucky for me, Maw doesn't read this blog!!!!

After finding the ramps were not up very much on the highest point in West Virginia, Larry and I dug just enough for a good mess for each of us, but let it be known far and wide that our shortened trip had nothing to do with us being "skeert" of the gigantic, megafaunal bears that rip out tree stumps just for fun. And finding that big pile of steaming bear crap in the ramp patch had nothing to do with our hasty retreat to the warm and steel reinforced car. We just figured we had plenty of ramps! And we were a might cold.

Luckily, Granny Sue who doubles as Larry's wife in the evening hours, packed us two warm quilts soaked in kerosene to wrap up in. She was so nice to do this so we wouldn't get too very cold. I think she might have had an ulterior motive, she wanted us to take photo's for her and she couldn't have either of us losing a finger to frostbite because then we wouldn't be able to shutter the camera.

After we got thoroughly warm from Granny Sue's carcinogenic quilts, we proceeded off the mountain with ramps in tow and away from the gigantic, stump-eating bears. We then hit upon the idea of doing a little fishing up on the mountain. We checked the signs and determined that it was the right time of year for the Salmon to be spawning, and sure enough, we caught a peck or three of fresh mountain salmon and even two wayward halibut. Sorry, but we didn't take and photographs since we didn't have a government stamp on our fishing licenses, and we didn't want any photographic evidence of our crime. But here is the stream in case any of you all want try your luck with the West Virginia salmon run.

We were now loaded down with ramps, salmon and the two wayward halibut, and we were making good progress off the mountain, and we knew we had to do something to preserve the fish or else they'd go bad on us, and there ain't nothing worse than a passel of gun toting fish that rob banks and cause mayhem. We'd always heard that one bad fish will ruin the barrel, so this was of special concern for both Larry and me because we had two wayward halibut in the mess. I had heard tales of a Fort nearby so we decided to go there and get some salt to preserve our fish. On the way to the fort, we passed another warm and welcoming vehicle that now offered a cold and hostile interior so I dropped my mother off at it so she could drive up another mountain to home. Larry and I proceeded on to the fort. We drove down the valley and tried to follow the rising smoke of the settlement, but finding none we figured that the Fort had probably passed some no smoking legislation so we just followed the road signs. After we arrived at the fort, we noticed that they were apparently still closed for the winter so we couldn't get the supplies to preserve our salmon. Just our luck! I know we were at the right place, too, because the fort still had their shingle sitting out by the road.

We were then left with a carload of rapidly decomposing fish, so we decided to go ask my Granny if she had any idea's on what to do with the salmon or at least the two wayward halibut. We drove up to Granny's house, and I remembered that it had been awhile since I last visited Granny. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time I had stopped by. The house looked abandoned and it appeared that the big bad wolf had succeeded in blowing the house down.

I knew that Granny would be safe and I wasn't a bit worried about her, she liked nothing better than warm wolf stew, and I knew she knew her way around a wolf, but we were in a hurry so we didn't scout around to find Granny to get the advice on preserving the fish. Anyhow, I figured she was probably up on the mountain hunting fur seals in the salt-petre caves. Nothings warmer than a fur seal cape. After all, it was that time of year.

After leaving Granny's cabin, we drove back into Riverton, and was surprised to find a monument commemorating the Battle of Riverton, from back in the days when the North invaded America.

We stopped and took some pictures and I was reminded of a legend about buried treasure that was supposed to be located nearby. I also recalled a method of "dowsing" out water and other treasures by weaving together fish bones and making a divining rod of sorts. I mentioned this to Larry and we were soon neck deep in fish guts and bones, and were swatting away the seagulls, pelicans and California condors. After a few hours of this work, we had completed our homemade, fishbone divining rod, and set out to finding the buried treasure of Riverton. Well no sooner did I start "treasure witching" that divining rod took to spinning around in my hands like a whirlygig and danged if it didn't twist out of my grip and it commenced to drilling down through solid sandstone.

After a few minutes of drilling and grinding, all of a sudden the noice stopped. Larry and I were puzzled about this and wondered what could have happened. Then it come to Larry that the fish bone divining rod probably hit upon a piece of gut that we missed while cleaning off the bones. He said that little piece of fish gut had probably acted like a spot of grease and most likely it had made the drilling fishbone divining rod change course. Larry said that it was his experience that while cleaning fish guts off of salmon bones is extremely hard to get them impeccably clean if the salmon haven't been taking their shark cartilidge supplements. He said he should have thought of that before, but in our haste to make waste, he had forgotten about how hard cleaning nutrient deficient salmon bones can be.

Oh well, at least we were now rid of the peck of decomposing wild, wonderful West Virginia mountain salmon, but we still had the two halibut and the bag of ramps. We decided that it would probably be best if we just called it a day and headed back westward into the sunset. We did this and had crossed the Eastern Continental Divide out of West Virginia into Randolph County and lo and behold if we didn't come upon two mountain lions sitting alongside the road. Evidently the recession had hit the mountain lions the same as it has the rest of America because those two big cats were just sitting there, each holding a large placard that read, "Brother, could you spare a dime?". Well, Larry always did have a soft spot in his heart for catamount's and barricuda's, so he jerked the car off the road and gave each of the two mountain lions a twenty dollar gold piece, a Daniel Webster cigar and the two halibut. They were very grateful for his generousity, and lamented to him that they were in dire straights since the National Forest had laid off 80% of the deer population, and how they had been surviving solely on porcupine and beenie weenies ever since December. They said Santy Claws had even forgot to stop by at Christmastime, because they reasoned, he probably got wind that they were planning on ambushing the reindeer. The two mountain lions, who we came to know as Nelly and Mart thanked us even more when Larry told them about the stimulus funds that was pouring into the area, and how the mountain loins were supposed to get 40-acres and a sheep out of the deal.

I would like to say that after leaving those now jubliant mountain lions on the mountain, that we had a relatively uneventful trip back to the Kanawha Valley, but in fact, it wasn't. We got attacked by a giant chicken in Elkins, and we had to eat that sucker in order to get past him. The only thing was, that giant chicken wouldn't give up the ghost until I dressed up in a white suit and put on a fake beard and offered him a package of 11 herbs and spices. No sooner than I did that, he up and ran clucking into the deep fryer, and we soon filled our gullets. I reckon it is true that the Colonel has his way with chickens.

I would continue recounting the events of Matthew and Larry's great adventure but I have a feeling you all wouldn't believe some of the more outrageous things that happened to us that day. That is why I only told the things that were the most believable to you today, I wouldn't want you all to think I was stretching the truth. I reckon I'll have to write a fiction story about the other things sometime.


Granny Sue said...

ROFL! Good grief. And Larry came home acting like yall had a quiet, uneventful little sashay into the hills.

Except I wondered about his boots and pants. They seemed to be steeped in something brown and fairly smelly. It even covered up the kerosene stench in my car.

His blue eyes seemed to be turning a shade darker too. I think you guys might have earned your PhD on that trip, or perhaps that's waiting for the mollymoocher trip?

Shirley Stewart Burns, Ph.D. said...

My goodness, but that's quite a story! I hear those Condors from California ain't very good neighbors, so y'all are lucky!

This was a hoot! One of your best ones yet!

Granna said...

Crazy boy!

Janet, said...

Matthew I think you should enter the liars contest this year. You'd have a good chance at winning. Just kidding, I believed every word.

tipper said...

Loved the adventure!

laura gayle said...

Matthew, love your account. Reminds me of the Skoonkin Huntin or something similar. Or maybe even the tale about Ol Roaney!

Rowan said...

I'll obviously have to visit West Virginia - I never seem to have adventures like that on the Derbyshire moors! I'm sure that those two mountain lions were really grateful for the halibut....

Jason Burns said...

You're so full of it your hair is brown!

And I second that you should do some lying for money - not that you've EVER done that before!