Monday, February 26, 2007


There is no better way to clear the mind than from the seat of a motorcycle. I have been riding for thirty years and more and have left a lot of troubles behind while driving these get away vehicles. Tennessee is blessed with absolutely the finest motorcycle roads in the nation. I mean that. I have been all over this country on a motorcycle and Tennessee is still "A" grade plus. I am amazed that I can leave my humble abode and be on the famous Foothills Parkway within twenty minutes. And I am only a half hour from the Cherola Skyway, a fabulous motorcycle road. I used to plan trips from Pennsylvania just to set my wheels on these two roads. Now I live on them. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most fabulous of all. Another trip is planned for that piece of heaven and I'll cover it here for sure. It felt great today to get out in the mountains after such a "hang on winter". The wind, sun and scenery combined to put me in a frame of mind that can only be described as utopia. Those of you who only visualize danger when you think motorcycle are depriving yourselves of one of mans last adventures. It is an amazing feeling to look in any direction and have no windows to block the smells and door posts to block the views. The wind carries fragrances to the motorcyclist that car occupants can only imagine. Everything becomes three dimentional. The road passes by only inches below your feet, and the entire machine and driver are flicked side to side with a minor body movement caused by a unique coordination of eye and mind that requires no real thought process. It's as though the machine is an extension of the body. The motorcycle to the driver is as a bat to a ball player. A bird maneuvers through the air effortlessly without thinking "I gotta lower my right wing for this right bank comming up here". "Then I've got to get height to clear this tree comming up". No. His eyes, mind and the resultant action are as one. And so goes the motorcyclist. Motorcycling is an adventure. It is riding a horse with wheels. Its is a wonderful exploratory vehicle. It is raw adventure in the hands of the adventurist. And---------------it is disaster in the hands of a mindless dolt! I stopped at an overlook on the Foothills Parkway to try out my ten second delay on my new Canon Camera. Piece of cake. I do, by the way, recommend the Canon S3 camera. Excellent equipment. I love the Foothills Parkway as it does not require a lot of intense driving. Its an easy mostly uphill run with delightful turns and straightaways.
is one of the many views from the Foothills Parkway. The parkway runs from Townsend over a gorgeous mountain road and ends at Chilhowee Dam on 129 South. 129 South is the famous road that leads to the tail of the Dragon, a famous twisty road renound for its sharp curves. The Foothills Parkway is an easy meandering up and down road and a delight for motorcycles.
A few weeks ago I drove to the other end of Abrams Creek from Chilhowee Lake in my boat. This is the extreme other end of Abrams Creek far up into the mountains
The road through Happy Valley from 129 South is amazing. It is smooth and curvy. The scenery is wonderful and the pavement smooth. It also cuts through a portion of Great Smoky Mountain National Park
This delightful road was bliss on a motorcycle. Red and I ambled along at a brisk 45 miles per hour soaking up the scenery. Spectacular views and perfect motorcycle roads.
Along the road through Happy Valley

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


A gentle rain is falling outside. I've pulled a chair up to the open door that leads out into the yard. Its windy too. I can smell the fresh fragrances that come with rain. I love rain and storms. Always have. There is something about it all that has a calming affect on me. My friends would always cancel out on camping or hiking trips because it was going to rain. I always went anyway. I had a close friend who would go with me at the drop of a hat, but he moved to Colorado years ago and I just continued the practice alone. I even enjoy gentle rain while on the motorcycle and I love heavy rain when in the boat. I guess I'm just different! But the rain tonight is soft and the wind has changed to a breeze and the temperature is comfortable. It allows me to think about a lot of things. Ah, thunder too. Delightful! I have lived a lot of adventures in my life and have done things that many folks have saved for old age. I simply didn't want to wait for old age. I have always had a fear of acquiring some disability in my later years that would prevent me from doing the things I wanted. It hasn't happened yet. I did not want to deprive myself of travel and experiencing the out doors through travel and hiking. My choice of vehicles were motorcycle, cross country skis and my own two feet. I just recently have added a boat into the equation. A lot of years in industry and several years as a business owner have lead me to my present location here in Tennessee. And a new adventure was started and quickly ended with a short employment with TWRA, Tennessee Wildlife Resources. I have been sitting here thinking about all this and am wondering if I have made the right decision in migrating to Tennessee. I had ended a job position in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and felt that I could be unemployed in a place with super climate just as easy as being unemployed in a dismal, no sun shine, rainy and snowy state. So I packed up Big Red, my motorcycle, and made the voyage to Tennessee. That was 2004. And now I wonder if I did the right thing. I left my best friends, what is left of my relations and any work connections to make the move to Tennessee. I found it difficult to find work as it seems industry doesn't seem to need an experienced manager of 30 years who has managed everything from assembly lines to a industrial plant with it's own waste treatment facility. It surely wouldn't be because I'm 61 years old. But I have a great job working in the finest motorcycle dealership in Tennessee and maybe in the US. I do not make the pay I used to in Pennsylvania, but I don't need that same pay. I'm doing alright by local standards. I have new friends and have met a wonderful, beautiful girl who thinks the world of me. I still do not know what she sees in me and I can't understand why she hangs on so tightly. She is a wonderful mother, an understanding shoulder, and a champion for all four legged creatures. She is my very best friend here in Tennessee. I never told her that. I'll have to. Through her, I have come to absolutely love dogs. I see them as I never have. They are as important to me as a child would be to a parent. In a great way, they dictate how I come and go and what I do with my off time. They deserve my attention and they look to me for guidance and correction. They are here by this chair now. Douglas is lying on the floor to my right and Happy is at my feet, as usual. Sigh is on the left side of the chair on the floor. She normally would be snoring on her mat. They are all with me because they look to me for guidance. They are all ready. Ready for what? Nothing, something. But they are ready. When I go to bed, Douglas will lie on the floor on the rug beside the bed, Happy will jump up onto the bed and sleep with her head on the pillow to my right. Sigh will resign herself to her little cave I made for her which is a dog crate with an old artificial sheep skin to keep her warm. She will start snoring loudly withing five minutes of her retiring. Douglas will have his nightly dreams and he will whimper and his legs will move as if running, all while sleeping on his side. He's a trip! Homer the cat will jump up and take his place directly in front of me, his head just under my chin. Sea Foam will sleep right in front of my feet. All that, the result of me just going to bed. I was the cause of it all. I am their human. It is a great responsibility I accept with honor. I think of them and Janet and the friends I have made down here and I feel warm about all that. I try to think what my life would be like without my lakes and my adventure machine that skims effortlessly across the water. I think of the water birds and the great photo opportunities that continually arise. I think of the gorgeous roads here in Tennessee that seem to have been made for motorcycles. After all that, I am reinforced that I made a good decision to move here. I just want to make the most of my later years while I can. Nothing lasts forever and that includes health. I am reminded of that fact by thinking about the most recent news I received from Pennsylvania just yesterday. My 95 year old aunt, my second mother, has been stricken with cancer. Why this gracious, gentle lady was chosen by this despicable monster is the dark night's secret. So, all I can do is live life as best I can and with zeal. Because one never knows. Never..

Saturday, February 17, 2007


It was a cold February morning when the green TWRA truck pulled into the Melton Hill boat launch area. It was seven AM and the threat of snow was in the area. The driver's door opened and the uniform stepped out followed immediately by the golden dog. Douglas immediately ran down the launch ramp and splashed into the water in an attempt to catch the little white duck that floated safely just out of his reach. This reenactment of "chase the duck" has been an ongoing occurrence with every visit to the lake. The uniform did not act quick enough to stop the golden dog from getting wet. This was not a day for Douglas to be exposed to near freezing cold while he was soaked. The uniform called him back to the truck and motioned for him to enter the cab, which he did. A bath towel was hanging behind the seat to handle situations such as this. After drying Douglas, the uniform proceeded to launch the boat. Douglas would wait on the front seat of the truck until called. The boat slid off the trailer silently and floated out toward the lake and away from the trailer. A rope previously attached to the bow was the only tether keeping the boat from floating away. The uniform pulled in the rope and the boat approached the dock slowly, bumping the protective rubber that lines the edges of the dock boards where the side of the boat made contact. The rope then was wrapped around a dock cleat and the uniform entered the truck and drove to a parking spot. He stepped out once again and hesitated, looking up toward the heavens. A shiver went down his back. His job today was to survey fishermen on the lake. Would there be any anglers on the lake today? Probably not. There weren't any trucks or trailers here at this boat ramp. But there were other boat ramps along the lake. It would be easy to spend his time at the boat ramp in the warm truck but he was driven by work ethics instilled in him by a father who struggled against all odds to operate a farm and supply a family with what it needed to flourish. He worked his entire life with this ethic and he would not allow himself to stray from that guideline now. TWRA hired him and he would produce for them as expected. He reached behind the truck seat and withdrew a pure wool pullover sweater and put it on. Then the rain pants and jacket followed by a floatation parka. The parka was wind proof and supposedly was capable of keeping a mans head above the water in the event of a catastrophe. Douglas was panting. Amazing! He always seemed to be oblivious to the elements. He is a wonder! "Douglas, come". Douglas exited the truck and wandered toward the lake. "Get in the boat", the uniform yelled with a deep voice; "get in the boat," and the golden dog instantly turned left toward the dock and trotted out onto the boards. He slowed to a walk and hopped neatly onto the deck of the boat and sat down in his spot at the bow awaiting the arrival of the uniform. The uniform unwrapped the tether and stepped onto the boat's deck. He dropped the rope as he took two steps to settle into the seat behind the steering wheel. The current slowly pulled the 19 foot boat out toward the center of the lake. The key was turned and the 150 horsepower Mercury motor came to life. Throttle forward and they were off for the day. The boat had a small sumbrella top that covered the cockpit area clear across to the opposite gun whale. It attached to the windshield with snaps. The day would be impossible without this little top. It was very cold even with it. They made slow speed at fifteen miles per hour. An occasional twenty five miles per hour was attempted but not maintained for long.
The lake appeared empty. Totally void of any boat. There appeared not to be even a soul on the shoreline. The uniform felt that one run down to the Solway Bridge and back would be enough torture to satisfy his all precious work ethic promise to TWRA. That bridge was the farthest end of his assignment on this morning. The wind had increased since they left the Melton Hill boat ramp. Small white caps were forming across the lake in front of the boat. The protection of the hills at the narrow portion of the lake at the Melton Hill Dam was giving way to the more open water of the large bay that lay approximately half way down the lake to Solway. The wind could blow unrestricted here. And it did. A mist of rain started and the wind grew stronger and blew the rain at an angle. As the wind increased the white caps grew larger and soon the boat was slamming into the crests of the waves. Shallow water lay dead ahead and the familiar left turn around it was made. The boat circled around an island that lays at the mouth of the bay and continued safely around it until the main lake channel could be seen a mile away. The uniform steered directly toward this artery. A bay can have many exits from it toward any shore. Most look alike. but only one can be the main channel of the lake. A novice could easily select the incorrect path. But the uniform has travelled this lake many times and knew the way perfectly.
The rain had turned to snow and the snow was blowing horizontally now with increasing wind. It was decided to stop progressing down the lake and to turn around and return to the dock. The boat was banked tightly to the right and put on a course that would backtrack the original trail. The boat was now located directly in the center of the bay. This was called Reactor Bay. The white caps were now possibly two feet high and the wind was still on the increase. The golden dog turned his head and looked at the uniform as if to say " get me out of here". Ok, ok, I'm trying! The falling snow intensified to the point that the boat had to be stopped. Visibility was absolutely zero. Douglas's left side was solid white, caked with snow. The uniform was glad he dried his friend off before leaving the dock. He was glad the top was on the boat too. They could only float with the current. As he remembered before the turn; the current flowed toward their rear, opposite the direction they were heading. It should not float them onto the shallow rocks near the island in the center of the bay. It was unnerving though. Nothing could be done but wait out the wind. The engine was stopped and raised out of the water just in case they were blown into rocks. The visibility was still zero. The wind was howling and the snow relentless. Fifteen minutes had gone by. The golden dog was now under the dash of the boat, out of the wind. He kept looking at the uniform as if to say "make it stop". The uniform bowed his head and pulled the rain suit hood out from under the floatation parka and pulled it over his head. He was getting very cold. The uniform was beginning to become a bit concerned as enough time had passed since the white-out occurred that the boat could have floated to one of the many dangerous areas of the bay. Hopefully they were still far out in the bay and away from the rocky banks that line the shores. Then the wind started to abate and the view became better. The uniform still could not see the shore line but he could see out into the water farther. The good thing was that he did not see the shore line. They were lucky. They were far out in the bay. Then the island came into view. They were blown about a mile directly away from the island and into the main channel mouth at the north end of the bay. No doubt the current played the major roll. The wind never blows in a "lucky" fashion. The current had floated them to the channel. The engine was brought to life and they were again off toward home at a brisk ten miles per hour. The shore line was now totally visible and everything was as if nothing had occurred. Calm wind and gentle ripples on the lake. Great bodies of water are definitely to be respected. They literally change with the weather. Douglas was again at the point of the bow in his usual place. The left side of his body was still white. He would need dried again soon. The boat bumped the dock gently and the uniform stepped onto the dock followed by the golden dog. Even in this miserable weather, the golden dog made time to put on a search for the little white duck. The duck was not here. If the duck was smart, he would be approaching Atlanta by now. The uniform walked to the truck, opened the door and yelled "get in the truck". Douglas trotted to the open door and bounded in with a single fluid motion. For once he was glad to enter the cab of the truck. The towel was wiped over him and he was none the worse for wear. The boat was retrieved from the lake and they were off. The uniform would drive to three more boat ramps he knew of in search for anglers who may be braving the weather. His ethics would not allow him to leave for home. But he would indeed quit work early after he visited all the boat ramps. Common sense was another one of his fortes. Another trying experience has been added to the uniform's memory. He enjoyed being in the elements. He enjoyed going with nature. He never tried to fight her ways. Each visit to the lakes made him more wise and more understanding of the natural things. A glance at Douglas showed a bored dog lying across the bench seat. Already he wanted to go again. He is amazing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I have been posting a lot of dog material on this blog lately. I don't want to bore anyone with it but then a blog is a place where thoughts are put into words. I haven't been able to go adventuring lately due to the weather and work so I spend cold days with my canine friends. Dogs have provided great companionship to me this winter. I have had time to watch them closely and study them closer than I ever did. They are interesting and great to watch. Douglas doesn't appear here really because he always gets first considerations. The following are newer friends who I like to be with and enjoy greatly. Sigh is a hound who lived with Janet's dogs for two and a half years. Janet added three more dogs to her collection and something happened. The dogs became a pack and the pack acted like a pack. The pack leader, a dog named Pie, evidently decided to eliminate the weak and aged in order to preserve the integrity and health of the entire pack. They mauled Sigh. She was found taking a beating by the others. The dogs she lived with for two years turned on her and were trying to eliminate her. She was terrified! Refused to eat and we thought her near death. After a vet visit to guarantee health, I took her to my home. She did an instant turn around and is happy and bright eyed and her old self. She will stay with me. She is a welcome member to my little band of odd dogs and cats. Photos below are the dogs that stay at Janet's. We all went out last Sunday to the Ruins for an outing. A great time was had by all.
This is Sigh. She is a very old hound that was found paper thin and nearly starved to death a couple years ago. She is now overweight and a happy girl. X Rays indicate that Sigh, at some point, suffered a broken pelvis, had shot gun pellets embedded in her hips and when neutered, she was full of pups that her starving body was absorbing for nurishment. Her final time on earth will be happy. I guarantee it. She lives with me now. The sweetest being on the planet!
Janet with the pack
I call this photo faces. Janet is surrounded by little soft faces. Wren, Pancake, Robin and Happy.
The picture below is of Wren, the pointer pup and yes, thats Douglas, world renouned hero golden dog, chasing her along the lake
This is Robin. He is picture perfect. He is a pointer. His sister's picture is directly below his.
Look at this little sweetheart. This is Wren. She is a pointer who came from a shelter. She is beautiful and a loving partner.
Boon. The stray who became a great, great friend and well mannered companion

Thursday, February 1, 2007


I stood and looked around in all directions as the sound became louder and louder. It sounded as if a wind with force was blowing in from the East. I was at Hiwassee, the sanctuary for the Sandhill and Whooping Cranes. This is a stopping off place where the Cranes rest up and feed on the bounty supplied by the grains that are grown by TWRA on this preserve. It is a place of wonder. Its beautiful wet lands are gorgeous enough, but add the magnificent Sandhill Crane and one would need a Leonardo DeVinci to paint a more beautiful picture. And he would have a challenge to do so. The sound arrives before the specks in the sky. The specs become larger and larger and there are many of them. Soon the sound is breath taking and it eminates from the huge slow flapping of the Cranes wings as they fly overhead after leaving their feeding fields. They are heading directly to the wet lands. They land gracefully and silently. They are very large and one would expect great disturbances at their landing. But not so. Each one touches down with grace. If one looks carefully he can see two or three prominently white birds . These are Whooping Crains. These birds are still on the endangered species list. They are standing and wading with the Sandhills. There is not enough space here to be technical. But I do want to bring a situation to everyone's attention. Please go to the address I have attached here and read the latest.

I won't repeat here what the site above covers. It seems that there is nothing sacred anymore. This will be the last winter the Sandhill Cranes will stop over. Hiwassee will be where they used to stop.. Hiwassee will be the pretty place that is used by the residents who will soon live in the new 600 acre construction developement project that is going in adjacent to the present Crane Refuge. I guess there just isn't any other property left to develop anywhere else. The rich developers just have to do their digging next to the refuge. I'm going to make a statement here. Many might not like it. But here goes:

I have seen beautiful areas of Pennsylvania turned into parking lots and developement projects in my lifetime. It sickened not only me but all who appreciate the out doors and things natural. But I have never, ever in my lifetime; never ever------ have I seen so much beautiful natural areas destroyed by developers as I have seen in my brief three years here in Tennessee. It is amazing to see the landscape change so rapidly. Its the farmers son who inherets the farm who becomes a land developer the day after dad passes away. Sell, sell, sell. Its the rich developers from Florida who want to build Rarity this and Rarity that and the land keeps changing. The most beautiful and the choicest pieces of properties are always first to go. Let me ask you something. What makes Tennessee so desirable? Its her beauty. Its her wilderness places. Her mountains, streams and forests. All those places are still rich in wildlife and natural things. What would happen if Tennessee lost all her beauty. What would it look like if every mountain top had someone's house on top of it? What would a lake look like if homes lined the bank on both sides? Been on Ft Loudon Lake lately? Tenneseee isn't exactly a leader in economics nor does it have the best schools. As a matter of fact, the young people who have any intelligence and education usually leave the state for better jobs. Many become developers who return to develop and make a killing and then return to Florida with their hefty bank rolls. Tennessee is forty years behind the rest of the industrialied nation when it comes to simple things like applying for a title to a car, or health care. So I guess the one thing Tennessee has to sell is beautiful land. How long will it last? How long will the Sandhill Cranes last without Hiwassee? Ever see the sky blackened by the passing of passenger pigions as they migrate. You say no? Well, you never will. Do you care.? The whispers are that a hunting season is in the thought process for the Sandhills. Seems they may mess up too much property and expensive cars as they pass overhead to their new wintering area, wherever that is................................Shooting Sandhill Cranes would be like shooting floating swans in a farm pond. If you have any appreciation for the natural things that are left to us; let your voice be heard. Shout loudly and do it quickly. Development money speaks with thunder.