Friday, March 31, 2006


  The Savage River, Maryland

We broke camp and loaded everything into the vehicles and prepared for a leisurely day of trout fishing on the Savage River in Maryland. This stream is a fast moving stream early in the summer due to the increased release of water from the Savage River Dam. The dam is a bottom release containment and assures that the water temperature is pretty much the same, 64 degrees, year round. The Savage River impoundment was constructed of soil and rock as a flood control method like so many other reservoirs throughout the nineteen hundreds. The beauty of it all is that the native trout grow to extreme lengths and weights on this stream. The fish may be kept but the legal length must be 14 inches minimum. They are beautiful. These fast moving, heavy fish are healthy and vicious. They just don’t eat but they attack floating prey with a voracious appetite. The males have rich black heads with colors of the rainbow shaped like quarter inch ribbon that sweep down both sides to the tail. In between the colored ribbons are speckles of purple, orange, reds and yellows. The belly is red from the gills back to the stomach which is a rich yellow to the anal duct. Tail fins are orange top and bottom and tipped with black. They are outrageously beautiful. The Savage is also known for its abundance of Brown Trout. These trout are indeed savage by nature. They grow to be huge creatures that will attack a fourteen inch rainbow or native and grasp it cross ways in its mouth. I have caught and played a few ten to fourteen inch natives and have had large browns flash out of nowhere and grasp the hooked native cross ways in its mouth. Amazing fish! All this is due to the superior water quality of this marvelous stream. But this is not the purpose of the story. A rather humorous tale follows:

On this day my partner, Al, decided to sit on a huge boulder that was at the side of the stream and just enjoy the sun. In his mind this was fishing. Really---what is fishing? This was his method. He was good at it and I respect him for his attitude toward the sport. At least Al wouldn’t hurt too many fish this way. As I walked away and up stream I looked back to catch the view and saw Al sprawled out on top the big rock. He looked like he belonged there. Al was known to carry a fine Cuban cigar to the stream from time to time and the gray plume that arose from the rock proved that he had fired one up.

I walked up stream and followed it around a right bend to a pool that I knew held huge browns. After checking the water very closely, I noticed a tiny dimple appear on the surface of the water. Yes, it was a trout barely breaking the surface while sipping in the tiny Blue Winged Olives that were floating there. The current was carrying the midget flies down a tiny channel toward a pool of water the size of the hood on a car. In this pool, where the channel entered, lay a huge Brown Trout with its body lying against the stream bank and its dorsal fin protruding out of the water. Its mouth was simply opening and closing as the tiny flies floated in. I tied a representation to the end of my tippet and prepared to cast. Just then, to my chagrin, an apparition appeared directly below me about thirty feet down stream. A human!!!!!!!!!. Great Scott!!! Is nowhere sacred from the social ills of civilization? The gentleman must have hiked down from the country road that runs down the mountain past the dam. He must have climbed down the near vertical slope to my rear that makes this stream inaccessible. At least I thought up until now it was inaccessible. The disturbing thing was that he was preparing to wet his line in my pool. This is characteristic of a beginner. A novice. For in the world of fly fishing, one always respects the space of a fly fisherman on the stream. And thirty feet away is not an acceptable distance. He looked my way, raised his hand to his red ball cap, pinched the beak with his fingers and slightly bowed his head toward me as he recognized my presence. I made no reply verbally or visually with body language but proceeded to make my presentation to the big Brown in the pool directly in front of me. As I think back I can see this rather robust (pleasingly plump) individual standing there along the stream preparing his tackle. He was about five foot six and at least three to four hundred pounds. Maybe five hundred. It was hard to tell with all the fly fishing stuff dangling off his body. His garb was entirely of Orvis brand. Neoprene chest waders, cedar handle net, Orvis rod (the gray color gave it away) and reel. The fly line was of the florescent orange variety. Incidentally orange fly line isn’t exactly cool to use for native or brown trout in water with gin clarity. Trout aren’t exactly the brightest bulbs in a fixture, but they aren’t blind. He had one of those multi drawer fly boxes located in the middle of his chest suspended by shoulder straps that attached to a harness that held the box in place. A walking portable Orvis store was about to apply his prowess on the Savage River. I continued my approach in order to make my first cast. I completed a simple forward cast after two back casts to gage the distance properly. The line straightened out on the forward cast and the tiny fly gently settled on the surface of the water in the current and appeared to blend in with the crowd of natural flies that were floating there. Down around the rock and the curve it went with the naturals. It was a perfect cast. The big brown’s mouth opened and closed around fly after fly. My fly was in a group of three naturals and floated directly to the trout. His mouth opened and closed over a natural that was a half inch to the right of my representation. Wow! So close. I let my fly float on past and downstream before lifting the rod rapidly to the One O Clock position and instantly picked the fly off the surface in preparation for the next cast. I false cast twice and prepared to set the fly back down onto the surface for a second float when I heard a very loud scream. I instantly twisted to my right and saw that the huge ignoramus was airborne, arms outstretched from his sides, head back, mouth open, legs together toes down and equipment of all nature scattered on the grassy bank and falling from every pocket and crevice from his new Orvis outfit. He appeared to be in slow motion. Yes, he was airborne and about to enter the cold, icy waters of the Savage River belly first. I was amazed at the grace and perfect poise he displayed. There he was; all three hundred pounds of him. He was stretched out in mid air in perfect form, ready for his sublime entry into the rushing water. And enter he did. HARD! His entrance was indeed a spectacle. The entire length of him crashed into the water with a sickening Ka Thunk Splash! I turned away as if I didn’t see a thing. I could hear gasping and splashing and just couldn’t bear it any longer. I turned again for another view of this professional fly fisherman at work. He was standing and preparing to start his walk back to the stream bank. Water was cascading off his arms and shoulders. With every lift of his leg for a step, water poured out of his waders at the waist where the neoprene narrowed into a bib. Then he slipped and both his arms were thrown to the vertical position simultaneously. He was still standing but his feet were trying to find purchase and he appeared to be trying to run backward. This went on for what seemed minutes. My sides were ready to split and my mouth was twisted, ready to scream with laughter. But I held it in. I still made no move to assist the man flailing in the water. I read somewhere that I shouldn’t be hasty in trying to contact a drowning man. Actually this entire scene was being enacted in water that was no more than two to three feet deep. The problem was that the Savage River bottom is covered with rocks. The rocks are covered with a green slippery slimy moss. It is the most treacherous stream to try to wade in imaginable. And here was a huge human trying to find purchase on the bottom. He could not extricate himself. I yelled over to him “are you alright?”. He said something that I can’t repeat here. I laid down my rod and walked over to where this huge whale of a man was standing vertical trying to slide his feet on the bottom against the current and inch his way toward the edge of the water. He was out too far for me to grasp his hand so I stood there and watched. I admired his tenacity. What a struggle! I was really impressed with his ability to stand on his feet against the current that was attempting to force him backward. Then over backwards he went. A perfect landing flat on his back. The current carried him downstream around a boulder and into a rather deep pool where he righted himself to a standing position. He was in water up to his chest now. But the pool was quiet. He actually could walk in this pool as the current was slow because of the huge car size boulder that blocked the flow. I ran down the side of the stream bank, my mouth grinning ear to ear, tears were streaming down my cheeks and a low growl was emitting from my chest as I tried in vain to suppress the laughter that was welling inside me. What great fun!!!! Mr. Orvis was planting his new wading shoes on the grassy bank as I arrived on the scene to assist. I said “man, are you alright?” “Here, lets get these waders off you so you can get warm”. After unhooking the complicated fly box attachment and removing the wading shoes, the big man started to peal off the neoprene waders. Water coursed out of every opening . He was obviously miserable. I made a few comments about my concern for his well being. He was making comments that I can’t repeat in this story. I could see that his face was turning bright red and it wasn’t from the cold. He got up from a sitting position, and in his haste, proceeded to stomp off up stream. But he still had one foot in his neoprene waders. He took his wading shoes off and pulled the waders down to his ankles, but did not remove them entirely. He blasted off through the grass and fell unceremoniously on his face. Actually he fell on his stomach which protruded pretty far out from his belt. Lying on his gut, his legs stuck out straight behind him and his chest and head were unable to touch the ground. That did it. I began to laugh loudly. Once it started, it got worse. It got louder. I was lost in hysteria. The entire canyon we were in resounded with my loud, boisterous laughter. I had to sit down. This was unbearable. He rolled over on his side and literally tore the neoprene waders off his feet and stomped on up the stream bank toward his initial water entry point and his gear. The stream bank was littered with equipment from the point he exited from the water to his present position. There were fly fishing things I only dreamed of owning spread out in all directions. It was amazing! I could not get up. My laughter created the undeniable urge to urinate. As I raised myself to my knees I saw the big guy pick up his fly rod and bend it double until it broke in half. My guts were about to take off again in uncontrollable laughter. Then he took the broken pieces and methodically positioned them perfectly side by side and snapped them over his knees breaking the Orvis rod into pieces. Into the water they were thrown. I burst into uncontrollable laughter rolling to and fro holding my stomach. Never have I laughed so hard so long. It went on and on. The Orvis guy was attempting to climb back up the cliff from whence he came. He left everything. I lay there and my thoughts ran the whole affair through my mind a second time and I gasped for breath as I again repeated the agonizing laughter until I almost lost consciousnesses. Al would not believe this story.

Monday, March 27, 2006


The above pattern is of a caddis fly emerger. This would be the stage of life in the caddis fly's emergence cycle where the bug splits out of a case that houses his body. He rapidly ascends from the bottom of the stream and bursts through the surface taking flight almost immediately. At times the little bug becomes caught in the surface tension and struggles there. This struggle can result in an appearance that is less than perfect. At times the shuck that he has just broken out of remains attached to his abdomen and dooms him by drowning him. Trout inhale these little creatures by the millions in all stages of their emergence. Caddis flys are a staple for trout everywhere. This makes them a wonderful insect to try to duplicate at the fly tying bench. Caddis fly hatches can be difficult to fish even when the proper pattern is selected for presentation. But the knowledgable angler who can read the water will be blessed with lots of catches (and hopefully lots of releases) when fishing a caddis fly hatch. If anyone reads this and is curious about the entire life cycle of this insect or any of the mayflies common on our streams may leave a comment on this blog and I will do my best to enlighten. Caddis flies like cold clear streams. There are many sub species of caddis flies and I have noticed three in Tennessee. I have not investigated their emergence behavior very closely as Tennessee does not have a good population of large wild trout in its mountain streams in the area where I reside. North Carolina would be an excellent destination for large Brown Trout which are a thrill to catch and try to fool. The tie method I used on the flies here are Western. The patterns are Western patterns for the most part. May flies are a different breed of insect with a different emergence cycle. They are a beautiful fly and interesting to tie. I use the Catskill method of tying. This method was developed in the Catskill Mountains of New York. A Mr. Walt Deets, a famous fly tyer from the Catskills, used this method exclusively for his flies and has written many tying books. This method is time proven and an old, old way of tying flies. Its just how I learned. Different methods are to fly tying like dialect is to a language. Its all interesting. I may post other fly tying and fly fishing blurb on this blog if folks are interested. Below are some other great Caddis Fly Patterns I use successfully.....


Modified Henryville Special Caddis Fly Pattern. Represents the Dun stage ready for flight. The Soft Hackle. This fly is the most versatile fly at hand, in my estimation. It can be fished just under the surface to represent the emergence stage of a mayfly or a caddis fly or it can be greased lightly and floated on the surface to represent the fully developed dun, ready for flight. Pupa Stage imitation of Caddis fly (traditional tie) The above is a Pupa Stage Imitation of the Caddis Fly Caddis Fly Emerger pattern

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Shortly after I moved to Jefferson City located in East Tennessee; I became infatuated with the great lakes of the area. They screamed out "adventure" to me. I could envision myself cruising along the banks inspecting the coves for wildlife and photographing many of the amazing creatures and panaramic views surrounding the lakes. I soon acquired a small bass boat of 16' in length and equipped it with a 50 horsepower Mercury engine. It was narrow and did not ride the choppy water and swells very good, but it moved along pretty well and I loved the freedom it provided. Just like Big Red, my motorcycle. One day I finished up my run in the government boat at about 1:00PM and decided to take my little craft out for a spin on Lake Tellico. Lake Tellico is gorgeous and much of it is still primitive. Society is marching in at an alarming rate of speed though. The following story is about that day. And on that day I truly almost, (like the uniform in the story Last Run), was no more. It is as near to death a person can come. I am still amazed I got out of the situation.
I had just pulled the government rig, (truck, boat and trailer), into the Wildlife Management Area just south of Vonore, Tennessee. The place sits adjacent to Ft Loudon State Park. After backing the truck and trailer into its spot I thought it would be a great time to put my bass boat into the lake and enjoy sloth and soak up some sun. I opened the door to my old 1980 Chevy Silverado and told Douglas to "in the truck". He jumped in gladly, and off we went to get my boat. The ride to my little shack in the hills was only about fifteen minutes away and we made it quicker than normal as I was excited to be on the lake. I ran the government boat on Lake Melton Hill and Ft Loudon Lakes so Lake Tellico would be a treat. After hitching up the boat trailer to the Chevy, I went back inside the house for the life jacket and even picked up a fishing rod just in case. The little boat dock was very close to the state park and we would be there in short order. As we pulled into the dock area I noticed that not a soul was present. No one. We were alone. Just the way I liked it. I let Douglas out and he promptly raced to the water and splashed in. He is a swimmer. I moved the truck and trailer to the side of the parking lot and began to remove the safety attachments that secure the boat to the trailer. Finally the bow stop hook and strap assembly was removed from the bow eye and the boat was sitting free on the trailer bunks. The last thing to do was to secure the long nylon rope to the bow eye and the other end to the trailer crank. This would keep the boat attached to the vehicle after backing the trailer into the lake to allow the boat to float off the trailer. I then drove around a bit to align the rig with the boat ramp. The last thing to do was to back down the ramp and into the water until the craft floated off the trailer. Just as I started to back down the boat ramp I remembered something. The plug. All small boats have a plug that allows water to drain out of the bilge area inside the boat. If the plug were left out, the boat would take on water. I stopped the truck on the ramp and set the emergency brake. This E brake did not work properly. It needed adjusted. It barely created enough drag on the brakes to be effective. Oh, how I wish I would have attended to that little detail. I jumped out of the truck and walked to the back of the boat and inserted the rubber plug into the hole. There. Now we were ready to launch. Back into the driver seat I went and pulled the shift lever down into reverse. Something was wrong. The lever flopped freely up and down. It lost its attachment to the shift linkage either under the hood or under the chassis at the transmission. At any rate I was stuck on the boat ramp. Not a soul around. I looked for the problem but could not find it. I started thinking of a way out of this mess. My TWRA friends were all up at Clinton which is an hour and a half away to the North. I couldn't expect any of them to drive clear down here to get me. Money was tight and a tow truck was not a desirable option due to cost. Then a thought struck me. I could crawl under the truck and apply channel locks to the transmission shaft and rotate it into drive. The truck was on a steep boat ramp and the combination of the steepness of the ramp and the truck in drive should hold the truck stable in one position. I could place a couple rocks under the wheels as a cautionary measure. I waited for another ten minutes and still no one appeared at the boat dock. So I put my plan into action
I searched for and found two thick rocks which I placed behine both front wheels. I then pulled out a pair of channel locks from my tool box behind the truck seat. I left the truck running. After glancing around the lot once more and seeing no one; I lay down on my back under the driver side of the truck. I could see the shaft coming out of the transmission where the linkage attached. The space under the truck was fairly tight. Laying on my back, I could not raise my knees all the way up to shuffle around on my back without them contacting the underside of the truck bed. But I inched under a little further. My position under the truck was that my right shoulder was behind the driver side front wheel. I was on my back feet toward the rear of the truck. I grasped the channel lock pliers in my left hand and reached over to clamp them on the transmission shaft. It was easy. Now all I had to do was rotate the shaft counterclockwise until the transmission clunked into gear. As soon as I put pressure on the shaft with the pliers and as soon as it started to rotate ever so slowly; a terrible thought flashed into my mine. It struck me in such a way that I felt a wave of heat rise in my chest and flow out through my limbs in a split second. But it was too late to react to the error. The realization I had was that Reverse was between the Park gear and Drive. Instead of putting the transmission into Drive; I put it into Reverse. And back came the truck!
It started back slowly. I inched to my right to try to clear the underside of the truck. But the truck was moving faster than I could move. I did move far enough to my right that my shoulder cleared the wheel but my head was in direct line with the tire that was coming back ever faster. I tried to scoot down the ramp away from the wheel but I could not raise my knees up high enough to allow my feet and legs to help out the effort. The truck was picking up more speed. I could not move down and away from the wheel. It made contact with my head directly in the center at the top and rotated against my skull. The rotating wheel drove me down the ramp on my back in front of it. I was being pushed down a concrete boat ramp by a truck wheel that was rotating against my head, tearing out my hair. I could in no way escape. The only thing I could think of was to reach out with my left hand and grab the hot exhaust manifold pipe and pull myself further under the truck so that it could roll entirely over me. I should come out from under the front bumper if it worked. I reached out and took hold of the pipe but could not hold on long enough to pull. All I succeeded in doing was burning my hand badly. There was nothing I could do. I was helpless. My mind raced through a thousand thoughts. "Never thought I'd go this way." "Made it through a war and now this". "Bet this is going to be a mess when they find me". And down the ramp I still went on my back with the wheel still rotating against the top of my head. I simply put my arms down along side my body and gave up. I was powerless to improve the situation. My feet were now in the water. I had a thought that maybe I would be drowned instead of mashed. Interesting what goes through ones mind when distressed. But then a miracle. The boat trailer jacknifed when it entered the water and finally lodged against the adjacent pier. This must have put just enough pressure on the rear of the truck to push it off to the right slightly. The big wheel left the center of my head and rolled over my shoulder grazing my rib cage and I saw blue sky as the truck rolled over me and went into the lake sideways. I came out under the front of the truck and remained laying on my back as I was afraid to move. I slowly raised to a sitting position. The first thing I saw was the little golden dog sitting in the front seat of the truck , which was horizontal to the boat ramp about thirty feet out in the lake, all alone staring at me through the window. I had put him back in the truck just before launching.
This was Lake Tellico and I doubted I could get cell service but I ripped the cell phone off my belt and hit 911. I told the lady who answered to listen carefully to these directions as I probably would be going into shock any second and couldn't repeat them. I really thought my chest must be crushed and just didn't know it. My back started to feel warm. I noticed a red smear all the way down the boat ramp to the water. It was my blood. Later I would discover that all the flesh was torn off my back from sliding down the concrete grade on my back. It only took fifteen minutes for the ambulance to arrive. A tow truck would extricate the truck and boat. Douglas, I later found out, would spend the night in the care of the tow truck driver. I would spend five hours in the Sweetwater hospital receiving X rays and catscans. My back was raw and the back board stuck to me. An attendant had to peel me off the board. The results were no broken bones and the head was undamaged. Amazing! The doctor told me to wear white shirts to bed in order to avoid the toxicity of colored garments. Each morning, for a month, I would have to shower with the shirt on so it could be soaked loose by the warm water. It would stick to my back. Eventually scabs would appear and that nonsence could stop. Incidently, I never missed a day of work over the accident. It was painful, but I was on the job at 7:00AM next morning.
So thats the story. A close one indeed. I have since sold the boat to acquire money to build a porch on the old house at Smoky Branch. The truck has a dent in the side of the bed where the bow stop crushed it when the rig jacknifed into the lake. The most foolish thing I have ever done in my life. And it nearly cost me my life.


How can one awaken in East Tennessee, look out the window and see what is posted here, and not start the day with a smile? These flowers greeted me daily when I lived in the mountains at Smoky Branch. I never was educated in flowers as far as names go. However, they add to my personal well being and add flavor to my outdoor experiences. These are only a very small sample of the flowers that grew in my yard (woods) at my little house in the hills.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


The Common Loon. Always alone in solotude. Dale Hollow Lake, Tennessee 2005 The Sandhill Crane When this group of birds left the ground as one; they sounded like a locomotive. Their wingflaps beat in such a way as too create a roaring sound. Quit impressive! These Sandhill Cranes are feeding in a field adjacent to a marshland area at Hiawassi Stopped at Hiawassi Lake on the way back from Dale Hollow lake a couple months ago to see the Sand Hill Cranes. This fantastic bird enjoys a sanctuary provided by TWRA. They are huge and share this pristine refuge with the almost extinct Whooping Crane. The photos are the best I could do with the camera I had, which is digital. I threw in a couple pictures of the Common Loon which is an extra elusive bird to photograph. Just can't get close to them.

Monday, March 20, 2006


"The Last Run" is a short story about the last day on the job working for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, (TWRA). That day was one of the most depressing days of my life. I loved that agency and every individual I ever met that worked for it. They were hearty, robust people dedicated to the stewardship of things natural. They maintain a balance between all things nature and the human use of Tennessee's resources. They also are the governing body for Tennessee's river systems and lakes. I felt a passion for the very, very small part I played in the scheme of things with this agency. But, I was a part of it and I was proud to wear the uniform and contribute to their needs through my assigned tasks. So, the stage is set for the Last Run. It was a sad day and a day I will never forget as long as I live. It is a noisy morning at the dock area of Melton Hill Lake. The early morning darkness emits sounds of the secret inhabitants of the lake, woods and shore. Somewhere along the bank off to the right a Great Blue Heron croaks his displeasure at all the sounds his wild neighbors are making. Much like a cranky old man who was rudely awakened far too early in the morning by children screaming too near his bedroom window. But his croaks grow farther apart and he has accepted the fact that another day is about to start and he must prepare to play out his roll in it. The Peeper frogs are quieting as are the chorus of crickets that hold concert nightly. A loud splash is heard as the golden dog plunges into the water to swim after the white duck that taunts him with each visit to the lake. He will not catch the duck for it will keep a safe distance in front of the dog, swimming ever farther away from the banks of the river. Although it is dark, the imagination can see the dog close the gap between itself and the duck only to have the duck expend a sudden burst of energy that will broaden the span between itself and the dog. This taunting exercise has been played out each time the golden dog has visited the lake. It puts a smile on the uniform's face to see the determination his golden friend displays with each visit to this beautiful place. The coffee is still warm and tastes good as the uniform sits down on a log as he usually does at the start of each day. It's a time to allow the sun to rise and the fog to lift and a time for reflection. Today the uniform and his golden companion will step onto the boat for the last time. For at the end of this day the uniform will exist no more. This is the last run on the lake. The last chance for adventure. For at the end of the day the uniform will no longer be an official presence on the lake. He will no longer be the one to answer the many questions posed to him by fishermen and boaters. They chase him down and seek him out for the latest information and official news for he represents authority and knowledge about water things. They know him by name and even the golden dog has become a celebrity on the lake. The many friends made will drift into memory and a new authority will present himself in due time. But for now the day lies ahead and the uniform forces the inevitable from his mind. "Get in the boat" he says, and the golden dog trots down the pier and hops onto the deck of the boat and sits in his usual place at the bow. The uniform follows and falls unceremoniously in the pilots chair behind the steering wheel. Switches are depressed and the key is turned and the big engine ignites and they are on their way upstream slowly. As they pull away from the dock the uniform glances over his shoulder to watch the dock slowly recede farther and farther away. This is the last time he will look over and around the big Mercury engine in the rear of the boat and he absorbs the moment. A sadness starts to come over him and he pushes the throttle full forward in an attempt to create some situation that will require full attention in order to avoid the oncoming depression. The big boat races along at speeds of fifty miles per hour and the wind is exhilerating. He removes his hat to allow the warm morning wind to ruffle and toss his hair. There is no one to be neat for out here. They pass Granite Bluff and race on upstream toward the great granite wall. This is the place where once they drifted very close to the vertical granite wall and the golden dog stepped off onto a rock ledge and the boat drifted on past stranding him where he stood. The uniform was filling out forms at the time and the move went unnoticed until the boat drifted past. How lonesome the little golden dog appeared standing there alone against such a massive backdrop! He was only six months old at the time of the occurrence. If the same situation should repeat itself today the golden dog would surely plunge into the water and swim the width of the lake to the far shore. He was one year old now and powerful. Solid muscle and in his prime. He had never known weakness and his spirit is wild and untamed. Yes, he certainly would not tolerate the loneliness of that ledge today for long. A boat lies ahead with a man wildly waving his hands. The uniform throttles back and the big boat glides slowly and settles down into the water and moves forward at idle speed as it pulls alongside. There is always a situation to deal with on the lake. Always someone who needs assistance. They know he will be by at some point in the day. All they have to do is be patient and they will see the golden beacon on the bow of a boat in the distance and they will know who it is---,,The gentleman has run out of gas. Normally the uniform would tow the boat to the nearest dock but today he will use the siphon to transfer gas from his tank into the tank of the broken boat. He knows the owner. It is Clearance Moss. Clearance has fished on Melton Hill for thirty years. He was retired and exists on practically nothing. He is one of the unfortunates that was released from his job after forty years of faithful service. Downsized is the word that seems politically correct. He acquired a chip on his shoulder from that point on and decided to spend the rest of his life doing as little as possible. And the lake was just the place to realize his ambitions. Nothing was said to Clearance about the "Last Run" on the lake by the uniform. A conversation with this man about it would prove to be too emotional. Both men waved as the TWRA boat pulled away. At a reasonaable distance from Clearance the throttle was once again thrust forward to maximum accceleration in hopes that the speed would belay the undesirable emotion that was welling up in the uniform. Directly ahead a telephone pole size timber appeared and the steering wheel was quickly turned to starboard and the large boat rolled over onto her side as the timber passed on by. The golden dog's legs flexed with the maneuver and he never moved from his place on the bow. He was used to such flamboyant changes in direction by the boat and instinctively reacted to them. The wheel turned back to port and the boat stabilized level on plane. Debris appeared everywhere and for safety sake the throttle was pulled back and the boat held plane at forty miles per hour. Ahead lay Douglas Island. It was aptly named for the golden dog. When the dog was five months old the uniform sought a place where he could let his friend roam and not worry about keeping a constant vigilance. The uniform beached the boat on the island back in November when no one was using the lake due to inclement weather. It was beautiful place covered with trees and shade and the beaches were of sand not mud. The golden dog would run up and down the sandy beach, back and forth at full speed loosing the energy pent up in his large puppy body. They would not stop today. It would be too sad to leave that place. Better to have the memories. Memories are in the past. Better to avoid creating new ones this day. For this was the "Last Run" and cheerfulness was elusive today. So on they went re-enacting the ritual of patrol as they have on countless days. Waving to friends and stopping to converse with known fishermen. The sky was becoming dark toward the end of the shift. A storm was brewing and the uniform didn't want to deal with it this time. He and the golden dog had withstood many blows on these huge lakes and had come through them all. "Ya gotta learn ta read the water", his friend told him. "Take cover in a cove if ya can", he would say. The uniform always paid strict attention to his friend's words because he respected him. His friend had served the agency for many years and spent them all on the great Tennessee lakes. He knew the business of navigation through storms. The uniform learned from this intelligent, practical person - his best friend in the agency. A gentle drizzle fell as the big boat was pointed downstream and home. He had wished the water would fall in torrents to busy his mind. But the drizzle fell and a hazy fog appeared. A miserable situation for most lake travelers but a welcome event to the uniform The air changed from hot, humid and stagnant to refreshing, cool and invigorating. He stood up in the boat to see over the windshield that became opaque with moisture and rain drops. The dock was just ahead and he was glad it was raining for the moisture falling from the sky onto his cheeks began to have a salty taste. The golden dog paced about the deck in anticipation of disembarking onto the dock. The boat bumped the dock plate and Douglas bounded out onto the dock and instantly ran up the shore line in search of the little white duck. The uniform tied the bow line to the docking cleat and stood as straight as he could. The weight of the emotional circumstance was heavy on his shoulders. He looked longingly out across the lake and let his gaze linger here and there on the far bank. He watched the golden dog tossing a stick into the air and catching it as it fell, only to throw it back up and repeat the movements. "What will it be like for him?" he thought----The golden dog was raised on the deck of that boat and the shorelines have been his habitat. He has known nothing else. Such a spirit could not be forced to exist between walls. It would take effort but the uniform would not let that happen. The uniform was a steward to the dog and he was dedicated to treating his friend with dignity and respect. It was his job to establish a happy environment for his innocent friend. And he would make every effort. Well, its time to go. He backed the boat trailer into the water and set the brake on the truck. That brake never did work correctly. The boat slid up onto the trailer bunks and rested perfectly against the bow stop. He set the hook and applied the rear trailer straps. The truck groaned as it pulled the boat and trailer out onto the parking area. Its was over. The shift was ended and so was ended the best picnic he had ever had. He had roamed these lakes with the golden dog on a magnificent escape mechanism with a powerful engine that would thrust him and the golden dog into adventure after adventure. A time machine that would take them to any point in time the imagination wanted. Usually it was backward in time before our country was tamed. They had braved enormous storms that would blow up from nowhere with lightning and thunder that would test their resolve. Winds that would whip the water into huge whitecaps and toss their craft about on the lake as if it were insignificant. He opened the door and yelled "get in the truck". The golden dog trotted to the passenger side of the truck and jumped onto the seat. He closed the door behind the dog and walked down to the waters edge. Looking up to the tree line on the far shore through tears he could not suppress, he spoke softly with a wavering voice--------"I am part of you now. Even though I must leave, I will always respect and protect you. I will guard your sanctity and forever be amazed by you. My heart has become filled by you and I am thankful for your tolerance of me. I have discovered where I belong thanks to you but can not stay. It has been a privilege to serve your waters. When again I walk your shores and touch your watery face, I hope you look upon me with kindness and welcome me back." He unbuttoned his shirt and removed it. The hat came off and a comb drawn through his thinning hair. As he sat behind the wheel he turned his head one more time toward the lake and uttered a last farewell to the natural place he had become absorbed in. They drove off toward the highway through the park. He did not look at the outflow from the dam. It was over. All of it. Gone. The experiences placed on a shelf in his mind labeled memories. But these memories were clear and crisp. And they would never dull. They were memories a man could step back into and relive while sitting on a porch rubbing aching limbs that pain with age. I was that uniform. And I am proud to have worn it. Very proud!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Osprey (Improperly called Fish Eagle at times)

A pair of Osprey are taking a break from fishing on Tellico Lake, East Tennessee. They are engaged in nest building this time of year in preparation for breeding. Osprey (Tellico Lake) Lift Off!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Blue Ridge Parkway 1991. R100GS (Mt Mitchel) 1999 BMW K1200 RS. Last motorcycle before Big Red

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Thats my boy.


Route 70 West, Kansas. Going to Wyoming. Friend went along pulling EZ Times Trailer. Yuk! Devils Tower Montana. West Trip 1974 Third week into a West trip on a 1974 BMW. Wyoming (Self Portrait) Eating breakfast with the ranch hands at Wappiti Ranch, Wappiti, Wyoming (1974) The passener. Arizona 1974 Break camp in the morning. North Central Pennsylvania, December 1991. GS BMW Wheel removal to chip out caked on, hard packed sandy soil that stopped the wheel rotation. Obscure cliff dwelling in Arizona (1974) Death Valley (1974) Petrified Forest (1975) Mt Rushmore (1975) Grand Canyon Arizona (1974) Somewhere in the Dakotas (1974) I have always found adventure from the seat of a motorcycle and have travelled extensively throughout the United States in the early years. The above machine is a 1974 BMW R90/6. Never used any hotels. Always camped. Not only saw America, but felt it and smelled it and absorbed it.



This magnificent White Tail Deer was seen swimming across Melton Hill Lake at 7:00 AM

Thursday, March 9, 2006


What heartless person could throw these little guys away like so much trash? They were found given shots, advertised on Great Dog Rescue web site, and a foster home was found for them. They were adopted together I think. People can be heartless it seems when they become bored with their pets. Amazing! An amazing human attribute..................Hats off to Great Dog Rescue of Knoxville!!!!!!!