Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Camping 2010 - Part 2

You may have wondered about my blogging silence on the second half of our camping trip. There was no blogging on the second leg. We left the technically savvy campground in Virginia and headed west, to West Virginia. I now know why they call West Virginia "Wild,Wonderful". First, it's wild, as in primitive, because almost as soon as we crossed the state line, I had no cell service and that remained the case for rest of the week. Second, it's wonderful because almost as soon as we crossed the state line, I had no cell service. It took me a day to get used to the "wonderful" side of West Virginia, but I came to enjoy not being connected at all. I did think it a bit curious that there was no cell service to be had and wondered out loud many times about what West Virginian's do without cell phones.

But we were entertained by things other than our smartphones all week long.

Like looking at jaw-dropping views.

And driving down long lonely mountains roads.

And back again.

But every now and again between peaceful mountain moments, I would check my cell phone. Just to see. But still no service. It wasn't until we stumbled upon the National Radio Astronomy Observatory hidden in the middle of the Monongehela National Forest did I understand why West Virginia is not a mecca for cell coverage. The reason is this -

We were right smack in the middle of the The Quiet Zone - 13,000 square miles established by the FCC to minimize possible interference with the radio telescopes at the NRAO. They control all manner of radio waves, from cell tower placement to microwave ovens to the use of digital cameras within certain proximity to the telescopes. Which is why the closest picture of the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope I could get was this.

In this very pastoral scene, you can see that this mammoth structure is really sitting out in the middle of nowhere.

Now what is such a structure like this doing in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia? Listening to space. It is not a transmitter but strictly a receiver for radio waves from any and all sources.

The boys had a great time steering the model in the museum.

And hubby and I had fun posing in front of the wacky mirrors.

After the cell service mystery was solved, we could get back to relaxing. So we did. And that was the best part of all.


  1. Did I ever tell you about my backpacking trip in the Monangahela? I was a camp counselor and we took 10 girls backpacking and got a little lost and slept one night in a valley that was so dark my co-leader woke me up in the middle of the night because she thought she might have gone blind. Good times!

  2. Magnificent scenery and interesting story ... it almost looks like a contemporary sculpture.

  3. Hmmm..interesting the things you find out in the middle of nowhere in W.Va.!

  4. Fascinating stuff here, my friend. I learned something new today! Glad you got to enjoy some tech-free time :) (Did you feel like you were in "the olden days?"haha


Whaddaya think about that?