Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘waterfalls’

Blackwater Falls – A Powerful Experience

The roaring falls of Blackwater River can be heard for miles around. Located near Davis, West Virgnia, these falls have become one of the most photographed sites in the state.

Steps at Blackwater Falls

Steps to Blackwater Falls

When you arrive at the Blackwater Falls sign, you notice that it says 214 steps to the falls. As you start down the first steps, it seems like an endless adventure as group after group of steps appear. Youngsters step gingerly down the steps, counting as they go to see if that number is actually correct. Several viewing platforms have been placed for enjoyable viewing, as well as a spot to rest.

mountain laurel

Mountain Laurel already produces blossoms for next spring.

Along the way, the forest flourishes with mountain laurel plants, already forming blossoms for next season. In the fall, autumn leaves add color to the greenery of the pines.

Posted signs give interesting, helpful information regarding the falls. One sign points out that the walls of the falls are composed of “Salt Sand” used by drillers. This Conoquenessing sandstone strongly resists forces of nature, and forms the canyon walls and Blackwater Falls. This special sand assists in the production of oil and natural gas in West Virginia.

Sandstone began to form here over 230 million years ago as deposits of sediment were deposited in large basins that covered present day West Virginia. Over millions of years, most sediment deposits squeezed and changed the underlying sediment to rock. The large boulders at the base of the falls were once part of the cap rock.

Blackwater Falls

Beautiful Blackwater Falls

The first glimpse of the falls even from afar takes your breath away. When you get closer, you can actually feel the spray from the water on your face. As it descends the falls, the water appears amber, or tea colored as it plunges straight down about sixty feet before it twists and turns down the eight mile long gorge. Since the color appears darker than most waterfalls, it received the label of “black” water. The color results from tannic acid emitted by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.

Blackwater River flows on.

Blackwater River flows on.

As you watch the bubbling mountain stream at the top of the falls, it suddenly picks up life as it tumbles over the edge, swirling as it goes.But it’s pure pleasure to sit on the deck of the overlook and listen to the powerful sound of the falls with its unending flow. Sometimes during the year, the falls either slow down to a trickle, speed up to a torrent, or even partially freeze over.

Everytime you visit will be a new experience!

Blackwater Falls can be found in northeastern West Virginia near Davis. Natural treasures like this remain off the beaten path so directions vary greatly depending on your direction of travel. Definitely worth the trip!

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Explore Canadian Wilderness on Agawa Canyon Tour Train

Agawa Canyon Train

Agawa Canyon Train

Want to spend a day in the wilderness? The Agawa Canyon Tour Train will fulfill that desire. Starting early in the morning, passengers board for a one-day rail adventure that leads to the beautiful Agawa Canyon in the heart of the Canadian wilderness.

In the upper peninsula of Michigan, Sault Ste Marie is the place to begin. You will first cross the International Bridge into Ontario, Canada where you board the all-day excursion to the back country of Canada. Everyone settles in to watch the scenic view pass by the  large windows of the excursion train. Lakes, waterfalls, and many pines give a feast to the eyes as mile after mile of this 228 mile journey relaxes your mind. A knowledgeable tour guide delights travelers with stories of local history, Ojibway, fur traders and explorers. For breathtaking views along the way, monitors throughout the coaches are connected to a camera mounted on the front of the engine.

School children wave to the Agawa Canyon Train.

School children wave to the Agawa Canyon Train.

Around nine o’clock, the train gives a whistle as it passes the elementary school where students line the track waving to the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. The guide said the children look forward to this break in the morning, while the teacher attempts to involve them in the history of their area.

Although this is a wilderness area, some people still live here. Every few miles the train will stop at a small depot to leave mail and packages. Once in a while, a passenger might board for a ride farther into or out of the canyon. Locals are accustomed to the arrival of the train as the tracks were laid in the canyon during the winter of 1911-1912.

Towering trestles provide spectacular views of the valleys below and once in a while you can catch a glimpse of the end of the train as it curves around the valley walls. It is thought that Agawa Canyon was created from a fault, which occurred over a billion years ago.

Waterfalls at Agawa Canyon Park

Waterfalls at Agawa Canyon Park

At the farthest end of the tour, the train sweeps down to the floor of the canyon stopping at Canyon Park. There are only two ways to reach this spectacular park area : by train or hiking. Great views of the waterfalls appear from the canyon floor, so this is the perfect time to stretch your legs and do a little exploring. The Overlook is a great place for breathtaking pictures while the train stops for about an hour.  As you might imagine, there is a Souvenir Car here in case you want to purchase a special memory of the excursion.

As you get closer to Agawa River you notice that the color is rather unusual. It has a near rusty color caused by staining of tannic acid, which comes from the roots and bark of the many cedar trees in the area.

Agawa Canyon Overlook

Agawa Canyon Overlook

A box lunch on the way back settles everyone in their turned around seats to enjoy the scenery from another direction. Although many small animals live in this area, none were seen on this particular trip. The larger ones have two reasons for avoiding the canyon: the walls are too steep and the train is too loud. This is truly a day for relaxation and visiting with friends and new acquaintances.

For those who enjoy the sound and feel of a train ride,  Agawa Canyon Train Tour is a great, relaxing experience.As David P Morgan said, “Things that move are a lot more exciting than things that stand still.” I agree!

Agawa Canyon Tour Train can be reached in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario across the International Bridge from Michigan. Boarding takes place at Bay Street along the St. Mary’s River. The train runs from June – October on its regular daily runs. However, the Snow Train operates only on Saturdays from late January until early March. Check ahead for changes in schedule.

Aloha from Alluring Maui

Hawaiian hula dancers welcome visitors to Maui.

Hawaiian hula dancers welcome visitors to Maui.

Brrr! The weather in Ohio has been bitter cold this January, so thoughts drifted to Hawaii and sunny beaches. Perhaps you might enjoy a little tropical scenery as well. While this trip was taken several years ago, the memories are still alive through pictures and journals.

The second largest Hawaiian island, Maui, often boasts the name “The Valley Isle” due to its beautiful, never-ending, scenic views. According to legend, it received its name from Polynesian navigator, Hawai’iloa, who named the island for his son, Maui, who had in turn received his name from the demigod, Maui.

Coconut Trees close by

Coconut Trees were a special treat.

Volcanic activity is no secret in the Hawaiian Islands, and here on Maui stands one of the world’s tallest mountains. Maui’s youngest and tallest volcano, Haleakala, measures five miles from sea floor to summit. Never fear, the last eruption happened back in 1790…but, you never know, perhaps it will blow its top again sometime soon.

Three roads will take you around the island: Route 30, The Road to Hana, and Pilani Highway. Before you head off on an island adventure, be certain your gas tank is filled as gas stations are few and far between. At the lone station in Hana, gas prices are about a quarter higher per gallon than any other place on the island. At today’s prices, that would mean $4.26 and up per gallon.

Lava fields appeared around every corner; however, there was also a great deal of agricultural activity on the island. Workers could be seen placing drain pipes in fields to be planted with sugar cane. Pineapple fields extended from roadway to ocean and the plants were just beginning to produce that delectable fruit. Surprisingly, even large herds of cattle were seen on a ranch approaching the city of Hana.

The Road to Hana

The narrow Road to Hana

The Road to Hana is one of the most scenic highways in the United States. Locals will insist that you need them to drive you over this narrow, twisting highway. But they have never been on the roads of southeastern Ohio, so it wasn’t an impossible task for this gypsy. All that was needed was a slow speed for the hundreds of hair-pin turns, and patience with other drivers. Average speed for most drivers is 15 mph on The Road to Hana, even though the posted speed limit is 20 mph. One of the main problems stems from tourists wanting to stop, soak in the tropical scenery and take pictures. Traffic congestion sometimes results, as the road isn’t very wide!

Waikani Falls

Waikani Falls

But who can resist stopping to observe the surrounding beauties of Maui? On the inland side, it’s only natural to stop at the many waterfalls along the way. Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears Falls, is the tallest falls on Maui. Here 400′ of water slide over sheer lava rock walls to present a shimmering image.

The cascading waterfalls leading to Seven Sacred Pools were definitely a favorite spot to relax. It’s proper name is Ohe’o Gulch, one of the most popular stops on the Road to Hana. Climbing here was a cautious affair, but worth the challenge in order to swim in the pools.

Falls at Seven Sacred Pools

Falls at Seven Sacred Pools

Seven Sacred Pools lead to the Black Sand Beach

Seven Sacred Pools lead to the Black Sand Beach

While along the coast, the Black Sand Beach entices visitors to take off their shoes and attempt to walk on the tiny black lava pebbles, which are actually volcanic rock pulverized by the ocean waves.  But near Hana, you will also find the secluded Red Sand Beach made from a collapsed volcanic cinder cone. Here you will want to wear some sturdy shoes as the red cinders are rough to the touch.

Visiting Maui brings lots of pleasure. Before leaving, pack up your pictures and memories so your thoughts can return again and again. You might even bring home a tee shirt that says “I Survived the Road to Hana”. Aloha!

Travel between islands on Hawaii usually involves a small plane or boat. Once on the islands you can rent a car to travel at your leisure. If your stay is a short one, perhaps you would rather take a shuttle, tour bus, taxi, or public transportation. Any way of travel is sure to bring an enjoyable experience.

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