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Saturday, July 19, 2014

NOW - HERE'S A PICKLE!

I am supposed to be at Freeborns Motorcycle Hotel on the Blue Ridge Parkway right now but an suffocating under a sea of falling water.  Actually I left yesterday at 4:30 AM and traveled the interstate north toward Johnson City only to run into heavy rain before sunup.  Pouring rain, trailer trucks at 70 miles per hour and faster isn't a great combination for a motorcyclist to face, especially on a very light weight bike.  I turned around and returned home and have been waiting for the rain to stop ever since.  My friend Tom is still at Freeborns waiting on me.  It doesn't look good for the trip up there today either as the rain has intensified since yesterday and continues to fall non stop. The motorcycle sits loaded and ready pointed toward the garage door.  The ride will happen but probably not in time to catch up with Tom, unless he waits even longer.
 Female wood duck
Below are rabbits I noticed while working along the tailrace of Cherokee Dam a couple weeks ago.  They were jumping over top each other and even jumping over and through the lower section of fence.  I actually laughed out loud watching their antics.


Then, I "tried" to start my old Ford truck yesterday and the starter made a terrible grinding, whirling sound.  I thought the Bendix was bad on the starter, the gizmo that activates the starter shaft with the gear that turns the flywheel on the engine.  When I had it checked out the problem was that the teeth on the flywheel that the starter gear meshes with are rounded off and the two parts don't fit anymore.  Great!  That fix will have to wait as its a 5 hour job and I have to leave the truck.  I'm hoping to get the bike on the road any time now so I have to put the repair off.





And now, this morning, I went to take a shower and there isn't any water.  I ran out to the yard to the spigot and there isn't any there either.  This happens all the time with this water company.  All anyone wants is to collect the money and the heck with service.  Jefferson City is the dumbest place to exist in.  I actually live in Jefferson County and it isn't any better.  Total useless town and county combination.  Now what do I do.  No coffee, no shower, no laundry and its a good thing I'm off work for awhile or I'd have to go with a three day beard.  I ain't dry shaving anytime in this life.  I have to call the water company, again, shortly.
I was bored and took some pictures out the truck window.  I do this allot and you never see the shots.  Usually I delete them all.


And, I'm still working on that white balance setting for great egrets.



I just checked the weather and East Tennessee is socked in all the way over the mountain through the western parts of North Carolina.  Its out of here Monday but that's a lot of lost time in this planned trip.  There's nothing to be done for it I guess.  Hopefully the next shots on here will be of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  See ya.















Monday, July 14, 2014

AN EAGLE HAS LANDED - A PORTRAIT OF FREEDOM

The tiny Gheenoe was really taking a pounding on the Holston River today as the winds blew hard enough to change the direction of the surface water on the river.  It would be impossible to hold the boat steady at all if an important camera shot presented itself.  I had to crank in all the shutter speed possible and even settle for shaded pictures that I could lighten in the computer.  I hate to do that but my only hope of clear, crisp shots was fast, stop motion shutter speed.
The wind came and went, mostly came and the bow slammed onto the water constantly creating a spray that wet the boat's deck.  

 And, he appeared at the worse moment and at the worse place.  Holding that big 500 mm lens on that bird while the Gheenoe rocked wildly beneath my feet was almost impossible.

 He was magnificent!  Bold and courageous and dynamic! 


I was pressing the shutter when the boat would drop after a wave lifted it.  



 There's a bit of blur but what the heck.  I like the shot.

Check out the shot below.  I was shooting cardinal flowers when, well, look for yourself.
Ya just never know.  Look closely to the right of the flowers.
There ya have it.  That's all I got.  Have a great night.














Sunday, July 13, 2014

BOY SCOUTS AT INDIAN CAVE IN GRANGER COUNTY

I had suggested an idea for the boy scouts to visit Indian Cave in Granger County back when TWRA was making presentations to the scouts at a jamboree consisting of   300 scouts and leaders on the shoreline of Melton Hill Lake.  I enjoyed my visit with them tremendously.  The topic of places for the scouts to visit came up and I immediately thought of Indian Cave - a place that has tantalized my mind for the past few years.  I had cultivated a relationship with the curators, Bill and Clarissa Sharp through my work with the TWRA and I presented the idea to them of having the scouts over for a cave and camp-out visit and they were most gracious and excited about having that happen and it did indeed happen this weekend.
I got off work in the morning and drove directly over to the river where the cave resides in the side of a mountain and found the boy scouts  already there and milling about in all directions, eyes wide in wonderment.  The kids seemed to like the TWRA uniform I wore so I left it on.  This adventure for them would be a first of its kind and all the kids were excited and filled with questions.  The scout leaders were permitted to park their cars inside the normally locked gate giving them all an unimpeded, unique experience they would not soon forget.
 The walk to the cave is a beautiful stroll over pathways that wind through rich, green, rustic woodlands and river scenes.  Kudzu is prevalent everywhere one looks but it seems to add to the mystery of the place.
One thing I must point out here is my inability to capture the interior of the cave in all its splendor with the camera I have.  The built in flash is miserable to use and totally deficient.  I'll post the acceptable pictures and try to keep the comments at a minimum.
Above is one of the ever vigilant scout leaders keeping watch at the front of the cave, ready to lend an assist to any emergency that may arise.
The scouts were given permission to camp inside the mouth of Indian Cave.  What a night it was for them!  The discussions were unending in reference to the eerie noises that were heard during the night and the footsteps that grew heavier and heavier as they approached from the rear of the cave.  This is just the thing for kids to experience at this point in their lives, 9 to 13 years of age.  Below is the main camp area.  Some of the more brave lads camped out on the perimeter of this main encampment.
Clarissa Sharp went with the scout masters and the scouts as they investigated the mile and a half long tunnel.  The kids stuck very close to each other and their chaperons.

 Above and below finds Mrs. Sharp gathering a group of kids along with their scout master for a walk through the cave.
  
This hole in the mountain is indeed a mysterious place full of geological oddities and rocks and boulders containing strange coloration caused by, who knows what?
The trappings on the inside of the cave, especially the entrance, allows the visitor to taste a flavor of Medieval times - a walkway to another century - a pathway into the past.  It really is, you know. 
The gates to the subterranean cave rooms where the inquisition prisoners are held, never to be seen again is above.  If one visits the cave late at night,  the echoes of their torment can be heard emanating from the distant, dark, endless, black void of the cavern.   Whew!  I'm outa here!!
 We'll join this small cluster of scouts that Mrs. Sharp has gathered up.  There are a couple other groups assembled with their scout leaders behind us.
From here on in I'll post pictures and keep the blabber to a minimum.  We all know what stalactites and stalagmites are and that's about the extent of my cave knowledge so I won't act like I know what I'm doing.  But, first just a couple more shots of the cave entrance.   I love this entrance and its accouterments.
 I could come in here, sit down with pen and paper and write story after story about medieval adventures.  Computer won't work.  It would be sacrilege to use a computer in this ancient place.  Goose quill and parchment perhaps.
OK, here we go.
The underwater stream provides a constant relaxing atmosphere with its gentle rush of water over its subterranean rills and rocks.


Look how close everyone stays together.  Funny.



 This is a place where texture is the commanding feature and is predominant over any other attribute.





 Note the arm around the shoulder of the little boy.  These are friends who are learning to depend upon each other - caring for each other.  The small boy is uneasy and the older lad is being a comfort to him.  This is what the Boy Scouts of America are all about.




Note the broken off pieces of stalactite and/or stalagmites.  This indicates a shift in the rock or a movement in the earth that fractured and broke the protrusions.  Amazing.  It took centuries to produce the stalactite or stalagmite and a mere second to break them.  


 Look at the texture in that roof above!


Below:  A broken joint caused by the movement of the mountain's rock.





 Below is signature rock.  It is a known fact that humans simply have to write on rock faces and other natural, historical artifacts in nature so the curators have designated this wall of the cave an area where humans can act out on their impulse to write on and destroy the natural world.  This wall is their whipping board, or rock.  Hopefully the destruction caused to this ancient piece of wall will keep the human elements from causing havoc on other walls within the cave.







 The shot below shows the ceiling becoming very low for about 75 feet causing the intrepid explorer to stoop a bit.  Its not bad and one only has to deal with it for a short time before the ceiling again attains a comfortable height.  This is where I tried to enlarge the roof of the cave with the top of my head leading me to the realization that I would have absolutely no impact on the ceiling height by pounding my skull against it.  Of course, being an outdoor professional and a wilderness explorer - I could not cry out in the extreme agony I felt but instead acted like nothing happened and continually wiped the tears from my face with a tissue as I strolled along as if nothing happened.  Soon the tears turned to blood and I laughed out loud and smiled when confronted by someone who noticed the blood dripping onto the ground from my ear lobes where I replied, "Oh, its nothing - not a debilitating injury.  I'll just pack it with dirt and enjoy the rest of the cave tour".  One of the scouts offered me a small cork to plug the hole that obviously resided in the top of my head but I refused his offer, not wanting to be a wimp in front of him.  I again stated that it was not even a flesh wound but a minor prick.






The underground stream continued on and on and eventually disappeared into the wall of the cave.  I wonder where it goes and how far through the mountain it runs, or does it drop down from above to this cave floor where it erodes away the mountain even more to create a bigger cave.







 Rustic stairways cut from solid stone lead one up and down on the path.



 There is a group coming toward me in the shot above.




 The stream appears and disappears from time to time way back here toward the rear of the cave.


I wonder how the 3000 year old mummy got placed at the extreme end of this giant hole in the mountain.  Amazing bit of history.  Wonder what kind of torch was used to see with at that time.



 This water is amazing.  Its ice cold, pure and I have reasons to believe it is ancient and not derived from the surface of the earth but from a deep, deep aquifer.
An interesting experiment:  shut off the light so there is total darkness and turn around in circles four or five times.  Then, figure which way is out.  Oh ya - go ahead and open your eyes if you want.  Dark is dark.....


The entrance was visible and we soon would emerge back into the present time.  Yuk.  Why do I like yesteryear better?
And, so ends a great afternoon doing something out of the ordinary.
 There are other sights to delight on the property and I by no means photographed all there is to see and appreciate about this wonderful property.  This cave is the real deal!  It is a treasure of Tennessee and I wish it could be enjoyed by the citizens of this state.  There are other caves throughout the state that have been embellished with gimmicks like zip lines and confectionery shops lending the atmosphere of Dolly-wood but Indian Cave is as it was centuries ago which is authentic and steeped in history..
I want to thank Mrs. Sharp and the boy scouts for allowing me to tag along this afternoon.  I adore this hole in the wall and hope to be permitted to visit again very soon.  I hope the readers of this blog found something of interest here and maybe the entry will prompt some of you to investigate the cave further by searching the internet.  See ya.