Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I know this is beginning to look like a dog blog, but I don't intend it to be. I enjoy their company and their shenanigans. I wanted to go up the Blue Ridge Parkway and camp at Mt Mitchel overnight on my days off. But an unexpected problem with Big Red has postponed that little excursion. The part is ordered and I will have her back on the road by next Sunday. She has seventy two thousand miles on her chassis and things are expected to wear out and fail. Hence, a new rear brake caliper is on order.
I'm baby sitting a little black dog named Pancake this week, so I thought I would load her up with Happy and the Golden Dog and boat down Tellico Lake in search of a suitable island to camp on next week. Pancake is a sweet being and stays on top of me at all times. I specifically select islands for camping because of the peace of mind I have over the safety of my dog friends. Douglas is a powerful swimmer but will not go through the effort of swimming across a large expense of water just for the sake of expanding his play territory. We have been parked here now for an hour and each dog is totally enjoying the day running, chasing each other and swimming. They are interesting to watch. Again, it makes me happy to see them happy. I feel so sorry for the dogs I see on the end of a chain tied to a tree or pole. It is heart breaking. Their entire lives are spent in that small confine of a fifteen foot circle. How absolutely appalling! I look at the friends I have with me today and I think how fortunate I am that they think enough of me to want to stay near me. I am honored by that.
Happy has now overcome her fear of water and has become a strong swimmer herself. She is a smart little girl, but has a habit of being a yippee, yappy little thing at play. That's ok I guess. She's having fun. I do not see as many woodland creatures as I would like when she is along.
This is a great spot I have found here. It is back in a shallow cove off the main lake. An opening exists directly in front of the boat allowing a view of grass that leads up to a dense wooded area. The foliage is green as green can be. An occasional Gar fish takes a fly from the surface of the lake from time to time. The Gar is an amazing fish. It is ancient. A long, narrow muzzle snout lined with needle sharp teeth top and bottom protrudes from a slender head, eyes located forward and to the front of the skull. It is a predator and lurks in warm water under overhanging trees and shrubs. The Gar are taking flies from the surface today for some reason. I am certainly not an expert but I thought them to be meat eaters. Well, I know they are. But, I wasn't aware they reacted to insects. I guess they are opportunistic like any other fish when it comes to dining.
The sun is high and hot. I have put the top up on the boat and a very slow breeze is gently blowing through. This is delightful. Douglas is slowly swimming in circles and Happy is---------------rolling in the mud! NO! "Happy, get your --- out of there".!!!! Oh well, got to wash the boat anyway in a couple days.
Days like this are important to me. They let me regroup and "get it back together." I have a great job. Over the past year it has become a lot more stressful because the business has grown so fast and operational requirements must advance with the progress of the business. Procedures are instituted and tested. Some are complicated. When one thinks about it; standing on your feet ten hours a day, talking to a hundred different people, discussing all aspects of Harley Davidson Motorcycles and explaining the same features of the same bikes day after day and dealing with all the different personalities on the planet, takes a toll after five days. I didn't and won't get into the paperwork and finance of selling a twenty five thousand dollar motorcycle. But there is a constant grinding that works on a fellow and a break in the action is necessary. We, in sales, have been allowed a "three day off" per week break from all this. It is wonderful. So, days like this are not just fun. They are a requirement. People often criticize me for being so particular with my boat or motorcycle when it comes to maintenance and perfection of workmanship. I am that way because I want them both ready and available when I need to unwind. They are my magic carpets. I escape on them. I have done so today with my friends.
I have adventures planned for every week. Big Red's problem was totally unexpected or I probably would have been with her today. I will document the next Blue Ridge Parkway ride thoroughly. I have need to go to my home in Pennsylvania shortly and I shall drive the Parkway end to end during that ride. Other adventures include my search for river otters and beaver, using the boat as well as a boat camping trip on Cumberland Lake in Kentucky. Also, folks are not aware that Tennessee has an enormous refuge that is home to elephants that have been rescued from the torture and inhumane treatment of circus handlers and zoos. It lies West of Nashville. It is a huge area and elephants can not be readily viewed. But it is worthy of a ride there on Big Red to investigate. Reelsfoot Lake, located in the extreme North West territory of Tennessee is on the list of rides for Big Red also. Hopefully, I can supply you with interesting stories and photographs in the future. For now, it's dog days. Literally!
The sun is big and the lake surface is like a mirror. It is so smooth I can see the little circles under an insect's feet as it touches down onto the surface from flight. Wonder how many under water predator eyes have caught his delicate landing? I guess even the fish are asleep. The little insect is still there. The gentle movement of the boat coupled with water noises is soothing. I think I'll lay down on the floor and catch a few winks. Below are some photos of Happy, Douglas and my guest, Pancake. Look at Happy go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh man! This is rough! Don't know if I can stand the pressure....
I believe I've found the island we will camp on next week.
Happy spends most of her time in this position. I don't know why it is but my dog friends like to have their paws right on the edge.
This is a great boat for doing what I like to do. She's not fancy, but she's got what it takes
I love it!
These lakes have sights to see at every turn. Here are the supports for what appears to be a bridge that went to nowhere. Theres nothing over there but forests. Seriously speaking though-it was a bridge before TVA flooded all this property. The bridge was demolished eons ago.
Happy appears to be confused as to our placement on the lake. She's always confused. This is the dog who can't tell a coyote from a canine friend.
Heading down the lake with my motley crew. Douglas, as usual, is at the point
The magic carpet with the sun shade up
is the area we hung out in for a few hours today. Delightful place.
Here is a terrible picture of the Gar I mentioned earlier. Between my inability to decide weather to catch it or photograph it combined with parallax produced this miserable photo. But it was long. Very long. I'll get a better shot of this species. I promise. I'm talking six feet long
This little black dog's name is Pancake. She is another rescue dog. I'm having her as a guest for this week. She loves boating and the water. Fits right in.
I'll tell ya. There are three happy dogs!
Pancake gets in on the play action. I may have printed this photo below also. I like it allot.
Pancake is a very small dog and she has troubles climbing back onto dry land after swims. The bank is slick
"Hang on Happ; I'll get you back to dry land"
Happy is a pretty fair retriever herself---------well-----sort of.
Hanging out with Douglas has given Happy the desire and motivation to take to the water
The dynamic duo at hard play
These guys are too much
All that swimming and playing got to him. A gentle breeze wafting over the deck and the sound of water lapping against the boat is too much to resist
What a handsome guy!

"Climb aboard and hang on Happy. I'll get you back to dry land"
This is an amazing little dog. She is smart as a tack. Loves the water
Happy is a Terrier of sorts. Terriers are not really noted for turning into great swimmers. Her desire to be with Douglas overpowers her desire to stay on the dry land.
Talk about team work! Give me a break. This is so cute I couldn't pass up the picture
Happy has become quite an accomplished swimmer. Look at her go!
What a pair!!
Douglas has his paws full with Happy
They struggled over this stick for over twenty minutes. Constant running and swimming. Endless energy.
What great fun! Out in the middle of nowhere and having all this wonderful entertainment. I'm very lucky.
A hard day of swimming, chasing friends and swimming, and chasing friends and swimming. Whew! A gentle breeze wafts across the deck and Douglas can't keep his eyes open.
He's so handsome!


This is Pancake. She is a guest in my humble abode for this week. I thought she would like to go for the boat ride also. She is quite a good swimmer
Ah, yes. A gentle breeze, the sounds of water lapping up against the hull of the boat. Ho Hum....
Its hard for me to believe that this is the little Golden puppy I cared fore over three years ago
He is so pretty!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I took the dogs out for a bit of exercise on Thursday to the Ruins, as I affectionately call them. Happy, Douglas, Old Sigh and a new young pup named Mario. We walked our usual brisk walk down the wide path that leads to the old ruins of the mansion and beyond the ruins to the lake shore. I knew they would enjoy a dip in the water. Douglas performed as expected by immediately plunging in the cool water and swimming along the shore line as we walked the trail. At the waters edge, Sigh went in for a swim and to my surprise, Happy plunged in and swam out to link up with Douglas. This is out of character for her. She was swimming perfectly. She returned and I tossed a piece of wood out far into the water and told her "get it". She did so and returned the wood to me. Amazing! This is a terrier not a water dog. All gathered about me on shore and played and ran. Douglas and Happy suddenly glanced up a steep bank to our left and instantly ripped up the side of it and dissappeared over the top. About thirty seconds later I heard Happy emitting agonizing wails. Her crys were continuous and at varied pitches. I raced up the bank but couldn't find purchase on it's steep elevated slope. Happy all the while screaming. I could hear leaves rustle and I imagined her impailed on a sharp stick when she went over the top. The rustling came closer and I pictured her rolling in agony somewhere on top the bank close to the edge. Just a second later she raced through the edge of the foilage and weeds lining the edge of the cliff top and like a bullet, raced past me at blinding speed, toward the lake edge and ran out of site up the side of the lake. I was at the bottom of the cliff at this point. Within a split second, my eyes still on the top of the cliff where Happy exited, an incredible face appeared through the weeds and limbs. It was a coyote with long muzzle and teeth knashing. I could hear the "slapping" as his mouth opened and closed. He and yet another coyote plunged down the cliff side past me and were hot on the heels of Happy. And yet one more coyote came through the grass and down the hill, not seeing me, and actually brushed my pant leg. I yelled loudly and all stopped instantly and, seeing me, stretched out at full run to the woods. To my left I saw Douglas far away trotting toward me. He must have seen the danger in the woods and eluded the confrontation. Happy probably ran directly into the coyotes when she topped the cliff. She is curious by nature and may have seen the coyotes and approached them. Its hard to say. But I called her and she came to me from whence she ran. I collected all four dogs and turned back along the path to the truck. However, it's not over. As we walked up the trail, the coyotes followed. They stayed to our right, on top of the cliff and back in the woods. But I could hear them. They would emit gutteral sounds and ocassionally a howel. But they followed. After two hundred yards we came to the open ground at the ruins and the coyotes stayed in the woods. They would not come into view. Absolutely amazing!

Happy's wailing and screaming was pure terror! I can envision her trying to evade her pursuers. She, running figure eights and performing quick stops and direction changes constantly while looking for her out. Her pursuers tightning and closing the circle that coyotes make when hunting prey. She found her exit and blasted through it at top speed to safety. Now, I don't think there is a dog alive that can catch Happy when she gets her feet going. She is fast. I mean REAL fast! She twists and turns at blinding speed. Certainly no coyote can catch her. But in the woods under their expertise she is at a disadvantage. Fortunately, no harm was done and I hope Happy learned a lesson. But, for sure, Happy wasn't very happy.

This is the bank where Happy came down with the coyotes on her tail. The picture is a little fuzzy because one coyote thrust his head through the foilage and I took a snap shot at it and the camera would not react quick enough. Immediately after this picture, they burst through after Happy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Its been a very busy week. Installed tires and brakes on Big Red, mowed some grass, took the dogs on their outing and finally boated to the eagles lair. The fledglings are out of the nest and flapping around to different positions on the tree. At first I could not see the second baby but she was there, hidden by tree foliage. Both baby's appear to be lively and healthy. There is still some soft baby plumage on both chicks. The parents circled constantly while I did my human photo thing. The chicks sat contented on their safe limbs and allowed me to snap shot after shot of them. Many of the photos following may appear to be repetitious but I assure you they are each different. I took as many as I could of these young eagles because one never knows if there will be future opportunities. I mean after all, how many people have seen a baby Bald Eagle in the flesh? Have you? The opportunity to view and photograph these magnificent birds is not common place, nor is it easy to capture them on camera. I feel honored to be permitted to hold their essence with a camera and to have their images here with me to look and marvel at in my own time. There are more than a few images below. This will be the last pictures I will be able to get of these fledglings. They will be gone very soon to start lives of their own. I wish them well. I wish them safety. The future of the Bald Eagle is secure in the babies you are about to see. And the future of the country they represent is secure too. Don't ever doubt it. To look into the sky and to see the Bald Eagle soar with wings outspread will conjure up thoughts of liberty and freedom. And so, I give you the young eagles: