(10/30/2001)
Story and photos by Dan Cosgrove

Over eighty people from the Arnoldsburg's "Lights On!" program braved the frigid weather on Saturday, 27 October, for an adventure they won't soon forget (at least their cold toes won't forget). Travelling on two chartered buses, the group headed for the Monongahela National Forest in Pocahontas County to ride the Cass Scenic Railroad. Uncertainty was felt throughout the buses as falling snow was spotted at the beginning of the trip. As we passed through Elkins and entered the National Forest, uncertainty changed to trepidation as snow blanketed both the ground and the road. However, this trip was part of what we call the "Saturday Adventure Club," and a puny dusting of snow wasn't going to stop adventurers like us!

Upon arrival at Cass, the adventurers enjoyed a gourmet meal of either peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese sandwiches (yummy). Now, with bellies filled, we were ready for an adventure! Our first test: To make it through the gift shop without taking out a loan to pay for the many "luxury" items available. When most accomplished the first test, we boarded the train. Knowing that West Virginia is famous for its glass, you would have thought they could have put one or two windows on their trains, but hey! This is the "Saturday Adventure Club," who needs windows? And besides, everyone was warned the temperature may be around 20 degrees, and it was at least 27! People who peeked out of their hoods were rewarded with a beautiful snow covered forest. While deer and squirrels were seen, I think the hot chocolate at Wittertaker station (our destination up the mountain) was the best thing spotted on the trip. After a brief stay, and a quick warm-up by a fireplace, we boarded the train for our return trip down the mountain.

Back on the buses, sensation eventually returned to toes, fingers, and ears. It was time to go home. However, since we were ahead of schedule, we quickly decided the adventure wasn't over. With a large number of students on the trip and a world class science institution close by, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring the two together by touring the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The observatory staff was very accommodating and provided an excellent tour of the facility. As we drove next to the largest movable satellite dish in the world, the first thing heard on the bus was "Wow!" All were in awe of the massive structure.

The final amazing fact of the trip was arriving home within minutes of the scheduled time! The "Saturday Adventure Club" has started off in fine fashion and we look forward to many more adventures. Thank you to all the people who took this trip and kept smiling through snow and freezing temperatures. A special thanks to all the people who made this trip possible: From the folks fielding phones, to finance doing their magic, to the crew who made the box lunches and, of course, our mentors, it took 14 people to make this trip "happen."


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