I have been invited to join Diane Ludwig of the Little Kanawha Area Development Corporation (LKADC) to take part in “Walk West Virginia in a Day” program at the 2009 New River Gorge Bridge Day in Fayetteville October 17.
Diane’s organization represents Calhoun and Wirt County, and with a limited budget for hand-outs and presentations, Diane has asked Two-Lane Livin’ to help represent businesses in the area and provide past issues of our magazine to represent Central West Virginia.
We don’t really have any past issues from the last six months, since we reached 100% readership for those issues, but we do have some from our first year-and-a-half (when we only had a 95% readership level) filled with information that never expires.
So, Two-Lane Livin’ is headed to a four-lane celebration.
I have never been to Bridge Day. The thought of the large crowd has, in the past, been enough for me to say, “I think I’ll pass.” Diane has never been there either. She’s afraid of heights.
Aren’t we a pair to head to Bridge Day? <giggle>
Of course, we won’t be on the bridge. We’ll be set up on the approach to the bridge, which I assume, is the four-lane highway leading to it. We also had to get security clearance to be there, so I’m assuming it’s a crowd-controlled situation.
Still, for this country mouse, it’s a big deal, and a great opportunity to introduce more people to the columnists in Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine.
While we do deliver to Nicholas County, we don’t quite reach into Fayetteville. We don’t have enough copies as it is, and the “theories” that readers are converting to online media just don’t seem to be happening with us. Traffic to our online edition is one-eighth of our print readership level, and the demand is for print copies, not for online expansion.
At this time.
My hope, in introducing print copies to those outside our region, is to increase our online readership. Of course, more print edition subscribers would help us reach that goal of meeting requirements for bulk-mail rates for our subscribers. And, obviously, it would be nice to make connections with more businesses that would want to promote and advertise with us in order to reach our 38,000-plus readers in Central West Virginia.
Of course, the reason I’m there is to represent our region, and our counties. We have columnists from Wirt, Calhoun, Gilmer, Jackson, Upshur, Braxton, Clay, Roane and Lewis Counties. We distribute to 16 counties, and we reach right up to – but do not cross – the New River Gorge Bridge.
For Two-Lane Livin’, Bridge Day is a door to a new frontier, a chance for us to reach outside our region. A chance to make personal connections to build our online community.
And who knows? I may even have some fun.
Every New Year’s Eve, people all over the world decide to try new paths, make some improvements, bring some changes to their lives. Others, perhaps like me, have another annual moment when they do the same — the birthday. I now have a third “new year” I respond and react to — the birthday of Two-Lane Livin’.
I realize, my blogging has not been a priority for me this summer. Perhaps there are two things I should share about my blogging habits:
1. When I’m not posting, things are happening.
2. In Winter, I’ll likely wear you out with frequent updates.
This month, we released the second anniversary issue of Two-Lane Livin’ – Volume 3, Issue 1. (The September 09 issue.) By now, we’ve laid our foundation, and we’re ready to build.
By all means, the magazine is our main endeavor, and advertising is our main product. But not many realize that our business name is actually Stumptown Publishing, and their are other projects Frank and I want to work on that aren’t the magazine. Their are venues we want to explore and perfect, and we have been studying.
OUR WEB SITE
I have already mentioned current and pending changes for our web site. Two years ago, I didn’t have the knowledge to design a web site that could do all the things it could (should) do. I upgraded my design software and found that I hated the program. Then, my blogging brought me to WordPress, and I have been learning. This two-year anniversary seemed to be the right time to apply what I have learned to our magazine’s web site.
So, our online edition now has an RSS feed (already included at wvnewsline.com), better presentation, and allows for comments and interaction. Within a few weeks, we’ll be working to integrate audio and video projects created by WVU students.
By all means, when we started Two-Lane Livin’, with our web needs, I was certainly in over my head. Over the last two years, I have basically been treading water while the rest of the world was swimming competitively. I’m ready to see what I can do.
I know there are going to be glitches. I’m not completely happy with the new site as it is, but I still think it looks good enough to launch. I realize that it is a huge internet “faux pas” to launch a web site under construction, but I’m to the point where I think folks will understand. It doesn’t LOOK like it’s under construction, and I’ve come to look at our online edition as a work in progress — a creation that has to flex and grow with this publishing revolution and the new technology that appears every day.
When Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine launched, Frank and I also began some home-based internet courses through American Writers and Artists, Inc. Specifically, we have been fine tuning our education in travel writing and photography – me in the writing courses and Frank in the photography courses.
We are nearing the end of our training. Now granted, it doesn’t take most people two years to finish these courses. But Frank and I have been launching and producing a magazine in the same time frame. We’ve worked through the courses at our own pace, reviewing and renewing our knowledge when time allowed.
We enjoy travel. We enjoy traveling to secluded places, out of the way places, unpolished locations. Frank takes hundreds of photos wherever we go. It only made sense to develop these gifts and habits and use them in our magazine. But, everything in Two-Lane Livin’ is designed to be positive. And would mean travel articles we write would also need to be positive – not journalistic reviews from an objective traveler.
That’s why we decided to use our services for travel “advertorials.” Not as travelers come to review and judge the location and experience, but as professionals there to market and promote the features and benefits of the destination. We will be offering this service for a fee, however, a full page feature in Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine – reaching over 35,000 readers – is included in the package.
CUSTOM PUBLISHING NETWORK
In making the rounds for Two-Lane Livin’, I ran in to many, many people who were needing printing and publishing services. Business cards, rack cards, web sites, posters — you name it, it seems someone has asked me about it. At the same time, I have met folks who offer such services: proofing, printing, copy editing, web design, book cover design, etc.Each of these people has a special niche, skill, talent, ability of their own.
It occurred to me that really there just needed to be a way to connect the right project with the right person.
And so, we created a Custom Publishing Network. Project requests come in through our office, and we send the details out to our network. Quotes, turn around times, etc, come back in to us, and are then presented to the client. The client chooses the network option that best suits them.
It’s a simple concept really. The network (so far) includes four designers, two copy editors, two writing technicians, and five printers. We already have two book projects coming into the network, and have been approached for a new business marketing package. The book projects alone will need the services of at least three of the network members (who have never met by the way), and the client can find them all “under our roof.”
I haven’t yet created the web site for our network yet. That’s one of the “under construction” sections yet to come.
THE PRINT EDITION
All this talk about changes, some may fear that Two-Lane Livin’ in print is no linger a priority. Not so. The print edition is also seeing some improvements.
First, our spot color pages have all been converted to full color pages. Our Reader’s Page was a spot color page, but we began receiving so many beautiful photos, we really wanted to present them in color. Also, the requests for full color ads are on the rise.
We also changed the main body text for the magazine from Times New Roman to Gill Sans. This change will allow me to fit more words on the page, make it easier for the reader to read it and — hopefully give what so many call, “The Two-Lane Paper” more of a magazine look. I will likely never use magazine layout styles (too much white <wasted> space), but I do want readers to get a tighter grasp on the fact that we’re NOT the news.
Starting next month, we will also be featuring an antiques column, made possible by a “column exchange” with The Marietta Register. The Register will be using Two-Lane Livin’s “Only Organic” in exchange. This is a neat trade I think. The two publications serve different regions, so there’s no real worry about readers having read the piece in the other publication.
THREE’S A CHARM
I’m excited about these new developments. I see a whole new world of possibilities for us in our upcoming third year. The rest of the world may be gloom and doom about magazines and publishing venues, but I don’t see that for us. Here in Central West Virginia, we have the potential to grow. We’ve spent two years forming our roots, and it seems that we’re working to bloom and produce fruit just like our garden.
Oh – and speaking of the garden – that’s the other reason I haven’t been blogging so much lately. The garden’s coming on. Pickles, salsa, beans, peppers. Lots of canning and freezing happening every day.
In fact, I think I’ll wander out to the garden to see what awaits me now. And when I return? I’ll work on our new online edition a little more. I’ll have updates from the new issue online soon.
This is my second year as a member of the Rush Run CEOS. (Formerly known as Extension Homemakers, but some upper level folks at WVU changed the name a few years ago to Community Education Outreach Services.)
Anyway, no matter what you call it, it is the ONLY club, organization, group, etc. that I belong to. I know. It’s “good business” to belong to trade associations, chambers, EDA’s… But I don’t. I belong to the one club in my county that actually serves my community within my county. And believe me, boys and girls, this one club is enough to keep me busy enough.
You see, our club isn’t afraid of work. We clean cemeteries, 2 miles of road in Adopt-A-Highway, plant flower beds, and collect whatever any other club, organization, non-profit, educational outlet, health service… needs us to collect. I save canceled stamps, toilet paper and paper towell rolls, box tops, used greeting cards…. I gather kitchen gadgets, lotions, powder, games, magazines, stuffed toys….
Every meeting, I have a mile-long list of things I must remember for that month’s donations, plus, the item of the month for the food pantry, plus, my change for the breast cancer collection barrel, my notebook, my club book, my book list, my recycling pounds for the month, my volunteer hours for the month….
My point here is: most often, our club is working on something, or talking about working on something. But, once or twice a year, we go on a Club Trip.
This summer’s trip was to Durbin, WV, where we rode the Durbin Rocket. There’s a story about the Durbin Rocket, and it’s included in this month’s issue of Two-Lane Livin’ (which is being delivered this week in print, and will be updated online Saturday. The article isn’t up yet, or I’d provide you a link, but now you’ll just have to wait and check it out after Sunday).
So, I’m basically posting these photos about the Durbin Rocket, and you’ll have to wait until after Sunday to read the article online….
I love this photo. Look at it. That engine is 99 years old. In fact, Engine #3 is one of the rarest steam locomotives in existence. One of three Climax-geared locomotives, the 55-ton steam engine was built in 1910.
Doesn’t look a day over 29 does she?
There she is, waiting at the station. The lady to the right, in the black and white outfit, is my mom. Most of the folks at the depot are Rush Run CEOS Club members.
Now, here’s a photo that just wouldn’t work in black and white newsprint. It’s the fire-hot glow fo the coal in the broiler in comparison to the charcoal surroundings of the engine’s cabin that makes it great.
One the return trip, we stop on a bridge, to refill the Engine’s broiler with 1200 gallons of water from the creek below.
Sure, it’s a mellow, two-hour train ride. But, I can now say I’ve ridden a train pulled by one of the rarest steam engines in existence.
Now, don’t you want to learn more about The Durbin Rocket and Engine #3?
Tune in to Two-Lane Livin’ online, next week, to read all about it!
He sat, all afternoon and evening, into the dark, alone by a campfire, next to his pop-up camper. His son pulled and parked the camper for him, for he lost eyesight in one eye due to a recent stroke, and couldnâ€™t back well any more.
Each night, as quiet fell upon the campground, he remained still and silent, leaned forward in his lawn chair, elbows on his knees, hands clasped in the fireâ€™s warmth.
His wife was gone, 23 years now. He was accustomed to living alone, indoors or outdoors.
On the third night, after seeing the dome light on in his vehicle from our camp across the road, I felt a need to interrupt his posing.
â€œSir? Did you know your dome light is on in your vehicle?â€
â€œNo, I did not,â€ he replied, â€œThank-you.â€
And I returned to the flickering light of my campfire, and he returned, after attending to his car, to his.
In the morning, as a gesture of thanks, he brought us kindling to light our morning-coffee campfire.
He had peaked our curiosity — this old man, alone and quiet in the night. We had to ask, â€œAre you alone here?â€
With stuttering spaces filled with spelled-out words his mouth would no longer say, he summed up his story for us, and then gave a matter-of-fact shrug.
â€œI just like to get outside.â€
I hope, when we are his age and condition, shall we all.
10/07 – Add Things to Love About Audra State Park
Audra State Park has many attractive features: hiking trails, a walkway through a cave, the Middle Fork River, geocaching, pavilions and game courts. The park is a ‘best kept’ secret itself. But some odd features at Audra’s campground are especially appealing to hard-core campers.
Rough and Ready
Audra’s campground is inconvenient for most large RVs. Most sites have small pull-through drives banked above the site or above the road. Other sites are cramped or require backing. One campsite is even designated as “tent only,” as it requires a mini hike to get to the site from the road. Those who travel in large RV’s will find Audra’s sites a bit cramping to their style. Odd then, that this would be a positive for the park.
Audra’s minimally polished grounds reward other campers with spaces upon the very banks of the river, or in an area surrounded by forest and rock on almost all four sides. Due to the abundance of Rhododendron and boulders, campsites at Audra feature varied levels seclusion and privacy, some offering almost 100% visual cover. Almost all sites enjoy afternoon shade as well.
There are no round welded fire rings at Audra either. Square grates, welded on a cement platform, through the summer get surrounded by river rocks carried there by campers wanting to keep coals alive.
This is also a plus, as the stone fire ring circumference is directly related to how many rocks were there when you arrived, and how many more you can carry. Welded fire rings in newer parks limit the size fire you can make. At Audra, you can build a better campfire.
Tent campers get to experience the bath houses of every campground they visit. Outdoor bathhouses are not commonly referred to as a pleasant experience, bringing to mind the locker rooms of our youth — always wet, never any hot water, and smelling of chlorine.
It is difficult to get in and out of the showers at Audra without getting all of your clothes wet. But the reasons why are what makes the risk worthwhile. With due caution and planning, you can have a powerful, massaging shower without getting your clothes soaked.
First, the water in the campground bathhouses is almost always hot, hot, hot. If you don’t follow a family of five into the bathhouse at get-ready-for-bed time, or arrive after the morning wash sessions, you should have plenty of steaming water.
But the kicker is the amazing water pressure. Turn the shower on without blocking the water, and the pressure will blow the shower curtain across the stall right up in the air. That’s why you don’t put your dry items on the little bench in the dressing area. Move the bench completely outside the stall, and put your dry clothes out there while you shower. Don’t worry, no one is going to steal your underwear.
I discovered the amazing power of the Audra shower on a chilly fall evening after hiking the trails all day. We were still damp with sweat, but as the sun set, I felt a defined chill. I donned my camping shower cap to keep my head dry, and headed to wash off the day.
Warmed by the intense heat of the water, and tightening from the day’s physical output, I stood under the shower head and just let water pound on my muscles.
Clean, relaxed and toasty, I crawled into the sleeping bag for a cozy night’s rest. The next morning, after camp coffee, I went to the bath house to wash my face and brush my teeth.
That’s when I noticed them — little red spots all over my neck and collar. On my shoulders too.
I leaned forward to the mirror, rubbing the spots, which did not itch, were not rough, or swollen. I felt my forehead, to see if I was fevered. Nope.
I was brushing my teeth when it hit me. They were little red bruises. The water pressure in the shower was so powerful that long exposure to it had literally bruised me. And yet it felt so good.
I suppose, now that the world knows, the powers that be will insist that the water pressure at the park be turned down. I hope that isn’t possible, because when you’ve finished a day of hiking the mountain, a pounding, hot shower is just what you need.
Cold Spring Nights
Audra State Park’s campground is open from April through October. In the summer, the cool mountain-valley evenings are a blessing. The chilly water and evening temperatures are two main reasons the campground is so popular — and crowded — during the hot summer months. But, if you visit Audra early in the season, the nights can be downright cold. In fact, in April, you could wake to find ice and snow upon your tent and table. (Or, if you’re there during a spring Nor’easter, as we were this year, you could wake to find the Middle Fork River at your tent door.)
Not too many who view camping as a leisure activity will embrace the thought of camping in the cold. But, adventurous campers who visit Audra during the early spring or late fall could have the entire campground to themselves. No running generators; no voices; no traffic; no waiting for the bathrooms; no need to observe campground “quiet hours.”
In fact, there is no sound but the crackling fire, the river, and the life of the forest – unless you make it. How often do you get an entire campground to yourself? A few chilly evenings near the fire and inside the sleeping bag seems a low price to pay.
Another benefit to arriving early in the season – free firewood. Because the river runs so high in the winter, in early spring, Audra’s campground is full of driftwood. Yes, some is wet and sandy, but much of it is still good for the campfire. Besides, wet and sandy wood can be dried once the fire is going. Buy a bundle of wood from the park when you arrive, then make one of your first activities a walk along the river. Gather armfuls along short strolls, and remember locations of larger logs. Later, drive to gather the larger pieces.
When you are on an outdoor camping adventure, you find that unexpected discoveries will bring you comfort and relief. Often, it’s the simple things.
A private weekend in the forest with a soothing shower, a roaring fire, and a good supply of firewood — it goes a long way. No, it’s not the comforts of home, but sometimes, that’s the whole point.