The Tallest Water Falls in West Virginia
On Day #29 of our 30-day, 9376 mile, road trip to see more of America we visited the Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, West Virginia.
The Blackwater Falls State Park is located in the Allegheny Mountains of northern West Virginia and boasts a 57-foot set of waterfalls with water that is tinted “black” due to the tannic acid from fallen hemlock leaves and red spruce needles from trees in the area. After falling over 5 stories, the dark water runs through an eight-mile long gorge. A boardwalk makes it easy to get close to the falls for viewing. Several other trails, requiring more arduous hiking, provide different views of the falls if you are more adventurous. The Blackwater Falls are one of the most photographed sights in West Virginia appearing on calendars, stationery, and all sorts of other merchandise advertising the State.
Formally established in 1937 with 446 acres, in addition to the falls, today the 2,358 acre park has over 20 miles of pristine hiking trails. The park also has a nature center, boat rentals, and the longest sledding magic carpet on the East Coast.
The beauty of the Blackwater Falls is stunning, and the dark colored water that cascades over the falls certainly give it a different look from many of the other waterfalls that we have seen through the years. (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
Here’s a short video of the Blackwater Falls in action:
If you want to learn more about the Blackwater Falls State Park here are a few links to check out:
The World's Largest Fully Steerable Radio Telescope
On Day #28 of our 30-day, 9376 mile, road trip to see more of America we visited the Green Bank Observatory and Telescope in Green Bank, West Virginia.
The Green Bank Observatory is home to eight telescopes, ranging in diameter from 40 feet to 300 feet, including the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope, the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The Observatory has been a pioneer in radio astronomy since its first telescope, the 85-foot Tatel radio telescope, was built in 1959. The observatory also has a number of test instruments, including Little Big Horn, a calibration instrument built down the side of a hill.
To support their radio telescopes the Observatory has a full complement of radio receivers capturing frequencies as low as 290 MHz to as high as 115 GHz. The GBT’s specific suite of receivers spans 100 MHz to 100 GHz, and its processors can spot nanosecond timing differences in the signals collected by its giant 2.3-acre dish.
The GBT is 485 feet tall and weighs 8,400 tons. To enhance its collection capabilities the telescope has 2,209 active surface actuators - small motors used to adjust the position of the 2,004 surface panels on the telescope’s 330 by 365 foot collection surface. The panels are made from aluminum manufactured to a surface tolerance of less than 0.0020 inches.
The Green Bank Observatory is located near the center of the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) which provides protection from permanent, fixed, licensed radio transmitters. Surrounded by Monongahela National Forest, and the mountainous terrain of West Virginia, the Observatory’s operations are well protected from extraneous radio signals. There is even a West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zoning Act which allows the Observatory to prohibit the use of any electrical equipment within a ten mile radius which causes any interference to Radio Astronomical Observations.
A few of the Observatory’s notable scientific accomplishments are:
In addition to “normal” astronomical observations the GBT is associated with the “Breakthrough Listen” project which searches for radio signals emitted by extraterrestrials. In 2017, the GBT was used to scan ʻOumuamua, the first known interstellar object passing through our Solar System, for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
The Green Bank Telescope is a sight to behold and its massive white framework provides a stunning contrast when viewed against the green mountains of West Virginia. (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
Here are some photos that have been generated based on the GBT’s radio observations of space (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
If you want to learn more about the Green Bank Observatory and Telescope here are a few links to check out:
We Have Readers from All Over the World
Like most websites, ever since we launched our Hiking, Camping and Shooting (HCS) website we’ve tracked the statistics to see who our readers are, where they’re located and what they read. Since 2020 just finished we thought that we would share some of our statistics from the year with all of you.
In 2020 we had readers from 81 different Countries from around the world, with 87% or our readers coming from the United States, and the largest concentrations outside the US being from the following 20 Countries:
In fact we've now had people from 126 different countries view our website over the past 3 years (2018, 2019 and 2020).
We have readers from all 50 of the United States - with the largest concentrations being in the following 15 States:
The 25 pages and blog posts that people read the most during 2020 were:
Unlike the previous two years, in 2020 we had far more page views on our "Shooting" pages than either our "Hiking" or "Camping" pages. Probably because of the craziness of 2020 and the fact that approximately 40 million new firearms were sold during the year.
The majority of our users look at our website between the hours of 9:00 AM and 12:00 AM (midnight).
Most of our readers find us either by searching on Google (82%) or by previously having been to our website and coming directly to us (10%). A much smaller percentage (5%) find us through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting Facebook page.
The majority of our users view our website from either their mobile device (50%) or their desktop computer (46%) using either Chrome (51%) or Safari (36%) browsers.
Hopefully this data shows you that in 2020 you were in good company as you read through our Hiking, Camping and Shooting gear write-ups and blog posts. Our wish is that they gave you some information that made all of your adventures a little more fun. Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you stopped by to look over our HCS website and look forward to seeing you again in 2021.
NICS Firearm Sales Numbers for December 2020
This week the FBI released the numbers for firearms sold in December 2020. During the month there were 3,937,066 sales, making it the highest month of 2020 and the highest month on record for background checks since the FBI began keeping statistics in 1998. In the process breaking the previous December record of 3,314,594 checks, set in December 2015, and the previous all-time high of 3,931,607 set in June 2020. This made the total number of firearms sold in 2020 equal to 39,695,315 - just shy of 40 million.
In actuality there were probably even more firearms sold since anybody who has a concealed carry permit has already passed a NICS background check, so in many states when they purchase a new firearm a NICS check does not have to be run again. In addition, in most states a NICS check is not required for private firearm sales between two individuals. And finally, a single NICS check allows a person to buy multiple guns during the same transaction. The background check numbers would have probably been even higher, if the "in stock" inventory at most gun stores had been fuller.
It's also estimated that more than 8.4 million people legally purchased a firearm for the first time in 2020. Clearly people want to defend themselves and after the craziness of 2020 have doubts about the Government and Police doing it for them.
You can see all the details, and statistics since 1998, on the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) website at:
What Beginners Need to Know About Handguns
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