Monday, December 29, 2008


click on photos to enlarge It's 11:30 AM and I have paddled my canoe three quarters of the way around this 100 acre lake. Indian Boundary Lake is a man made mountain lake that is located approximately fifteen miles up the Chirohalla Skyway from Tellico Plains, Tennessee. I wanted to experience this lake in the colder months before the tourists arrive with the warmpth of Spring. It is a mountain jewell. No motorized boats are permitted and it offers the flavor of wilderness to those inclined to seek out that experience. I fall into that catagory. The South end of the lake contains very narrow water "pathways" barely wide enough to allow passage of a canoe. I followed on such a water trail for what seemed like a half hour only to be halted by a tree that had fallen across the water path bank to bank blocking further travel. This exploration is great fun! As I was cruising the shoreline; an otter appeared from nowhere. The inquisitive little rascal circled my canoe, constantly submerging and surfacing in an attempt to discover what this strange aborition was that had invaded his space. I tried my best to get good photos of him but he is a quick little guy. I paddled on and noticed that the little imp was following me. He would continuously surface and disappear. Then he finally disappeared. After another forty minutes I started thinking about my new furry friend here in the lake and wished he would appear again. And he did. This time he had a fish in his mouth. He submerged with the fish in his mouth and reappeared at an undercut in the lake bank by a brush pile. I sculled the canoe over his way silently and watched for a photo moment. I could not only see him eating the fish, but could hear him eating. Loud crunching and munching sounds were coming from under the bank's overhang. I snapped picture after picture hoping that at least one or two would be ledgeable. I desperately need a high quality camera. The photo conditions were miserable. It was bright sun on the lake and dark, dark under that overhang. I tried flash and I tried digital zoom. Digital zoom with this camera is terrible. But I clicked away. If you look closely at the photo above one can see the fish and the otter's face fairly well. I'm taking a lot of pictures of this otter because I may not have another opportunity to capture one on film for a long, long time. I have been roaming these lakes for four years now and have never had the pleasure of meeting one of these sweet guys.

The otter held the fish and stared at the canoe. He wasn't spooked by it. He acted curious. Then he munched and crunched and occasionally would look at me and emit a growling sound much like a dog. I was totally enthralled by this creature. He ate the entire fish and I guess he figured he'd had enough of me. He quickly bolted out from under the overhang and into the brush.
But even then; his curiosity made him appear again and growl at me from the safety of the brush pile.
And then he circled the canoe, popping up here and there. I became giddy and started to chuckle softly. He surfaced again; barked at me and was gone. This was well worth the trip up here. Wow! What a morning! I noticed a very picturesque piece of shoreline and decided to go ashore and sit awhile and maybe eat some trail mix. This canoe is great. It is so easy to maneuver; and it's quiet and nature friendly. I love the quiet of it. Hunger strikes and a bite to eat is in order. Ah, for a hearty meal. Don't get any better than this. The area I am in must be covered with woodpeckers. Their sounds are almost deafening. They are flitting among the trees, woodpeckers and flickers, everywhere. One bird in particular ends his rat, tat, tat with two resounding solid thuds. It's as if the bird is loosening up the wood with his preliminary hammering and then finally slamming his bill under the wood as a chisel to pry the loosened wood apart. Amazing birds. The Champlain canoe is handling flawlessly. I am feeling really capable with it and good about it. The paddle strokes are easy and come naturally to me now and require no thought. I tested my ability to maneuver in the tight confines of the water paths I spoke of earlier and found that experience pleasurable and non threatening. As I stated in another blog entry; the challenge is entering and exiting the canoe. I do so much want to do a couple overnight trips in the canoe just to be sure of my abilities. That will happen soon. I do, however, miss Douglas. This whole experience is lessened greatly without his presence. I am really afraid to put him in the canoe. He is a hundred pounds of movement I'm not sure I can handle. I need to esxperience this boat fully loaded, which will make it sit lower in the water, thereby making it more stable. Perhaps then his additional weight wouldn't have as much negative affect. Happy is no problem as she only weighs thirty pounds. I'll figgure it out. I have the Gheenoe for Douglas, and I've got some trip ideas for that boat that will surely include him. This lake is amazing! Pristine beauty surrounds me in every direction. And it has otters in it. What a morning! I've got to paddle back. I have a date with Douglas for this afternoon. He needs his time in the woods to stretch his legs. How silent I can move! It's time to leave. But I'll certainly be back again and again. This is a dream scape!! about otters:

Friday, December 26, 2008


click pictures to enlarge
I got an inquiry about Almondine today. A lady who has a 25 year old daughter who is mentally retarded asked about her. The girl loves boxer dogs and asked if Almandine would show aggression if the daughter held the dog's head and petted it, lets say aggressively. I told her Almandine is a darling and is soft and sweet and she would have to try her out. Almondine could bring happiness into this girl's life.
A sense of sadness overcame me and I put Almondine in the truck and drove to an out of the way park and walked her. We sat down in the grass and she came to me and sat beside me, resting her chin on my arm. She stared into my face and I put my palm under her muzzle and held it. Such a sweet girl. I found her and saved her from death, nurished her and cared for her. She sleeps beside me at night and finds safety in my presence. She has given me her trust and love. And now her time is near to move on. I hugged her to me and I could feel tears starting to press behind my eyes. Just when she can find someone to trust; she is forced away to somewhere else. She is so innocent! As much as it hurts me, I hope she can forget me. I hope she will find love and someone who understands her where she is going. I wish I could forget her; but I never will. That's the hard part. Not being able to forget them. Almondine; good luck to you. Maybe our paths will cross again. Make me proud of you .

Thursday, December 25, 2008


click on the photo's to enlarge Ah Ha! The sun is up and the weather is to be around 50 degrees. Time to load up the canoe for another self taught lesson. I went to the East Coast Trail at Tellico Lake. The water is really low and there is a long sloping beach where I can gently load and launch the canoe. So, with the canoe in the water; off I go. Yep; the good ol J Stroke. It's working wonderfully. I don't even have to think about it. Off to my right are a couple of seagulls diving for minnows. It is amazing to watch them feeding. They must have incredible eyesight to be able to spot a minnow under the surface from so high. Shortly after taking a few photos of the gulls; I decided to beach the canoe and sit on the shoreline for a bit. I easily turned the bow toward the closest bank and gently paddled toward it. To my immediate left front, the bank was mud and the water shallow. Just thirty feet to the right of that mud bank was a shoreline covered with tiny stones resembling course gravel the size of marbles and golf balls. Well, I opted for the mud shoreline because it would be easier on the canoe. Wrong choice. I turned the canoe sideways and slowly sculled in until the boat touched ground. Great! I put my left foot out and into the shallow water. When I put my weight on it my leg sank to the knee. Of course this tipped the canoe that direction too. That boot was full of water and there was no recourse but to go ahead and pull the right foot out of the canoe and stand up. It also sunk to the knee in the mud. While trying to maintain balance I leaned on the gun wale (top edge) of the canoe and it upset. Great. I made a monumental effort to save the camera, writing equipment and my jacket. I did good. Nothing got very wet. But the canoe was half full of water. There was nothing left to do but pull it up on the bank and unload what was still in the boat. Then I dumped the water out. Nothing was harmed. I learned a valuable lesson today. I thought I would just go out on a short non-serious paddle for just a couple hours. No sense dragging out all the dry bags and nonsense required for a long journey. That is the wrong frame of mind to be in with a canoe. Anything can happen. These boats are very unstable and require a learned skill to operate safely; I am learning. One must keep his mind on business continually. It's a lot like motorcycling. I always think; "if I do this, the bike will do that." And so with the canoe. "If I do this; the canoe will do that." I am still in the process of finding out what the canoe will do if I do this. I do know one thing for a fact. The most perilous areas of canoeing is getting into and out of the canoe. Hands down those are the two biggest areas of my concern. Those are the two situations where the weight in the canoe transfers from the center of the boat to the outside. Remember what I said above; if I put my foot here in the water and stand up; the canoe will do what? Always have to remember that. One must think ahead of the process constantly. I love it. It requires skill to operate a canoe correctly. I have the paddle strokes down perfectly. They just happen second nature now. Stability on the water is common sense for the most part. Launching is not a problem for me. Landing can be interesting and challenging due to the fact that I don't know what the bottom is like just under the surface at the shoreline. The problem today was my fault for not focusing on what I was doing. I took too much for granted. I learned a lesson. I feel confident right now that I could go on an extended trip in this canoe and be perfectly fine. I will, however, have every item safely packed into dry bags. If my camera would have been submerged today over that little fiasco; it would have cost me a thousand dollars to replace. Yep. Dry bags. Tomorrow I'll be leaving the water and venturing out on the motorcycle with my friend Kevin and possibly another friend Greg. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


click on photo to enlarge I am caring for some dogs of a friend who is out of town overnight and I went up the mountain at six AM this morning to let the dogs out for a run after a long night inside. One of the dogs is kept in a large pen when not supervised. I walked him up the hill to the orchard and put him up for the morning. I turned and walked down the little lane that leads to the house, when I stopped. The moment was intense and I instantly revisited memories of lost friends; both from many years back in another place and time, and from not too long ago. It was just over there to the right, under those trees in the orchard where Pie, Pocus and little Verdan are buried. I pointed my light in that direction and saw the fresh turned earth indicating where Pocus was sleeping. And down just a bit lay Pie Pie. And then the little one who never got a start on life; Verdan. Tears poured from my eyes as I thought of them and their sweetness; their innocence sealed here, beneath this cold ground. Their beautiful faces never to be touched accept by memory. Oh; how I miss them! It is hallowed ground; this place. I turned and walked on and remembered an incident that happened 40 years ago in a far away place that caused the loss of two special friends. I couldn't get there quick enough to help them either. It seems life tends to lessen grieving by supplying more friends and other dogs. But my God its hard remembering the originals.!!! So hard!!! When you say you support our troops; say it with enthusiasm and pride. And don't ever chain a dog. It is the same as hell on earth to them. Better for him to be dead. Welcome him into your life and enjoy his innocence. My senses were filled to the limit in that orchard this morning. Total sadness overwhelmed me. But by the time I reached my truck; I turned and faced the orchard with a slight smile on my face and said, "I'll see you soon my good friends." "And you guys too, Sal and Chuck". I've never forgotten you. I'll never forget any of you. "Come on Douglas, lets get in the truck."




click the pictures to enlarge This is a very windy day. I'm not going to be able to make it home this Christmas. I was given some days off at work during the summer for another event and I just can't make myself ask for more time. I get vacation just like everyone else and don't care to abuse the privilege. Friends at home understand. I received a great Christmas present from my friend Tom who lives in Pennsylvania. For three years now we have been tripping on the Blue Ridge Parkway together. It is an event I really look forward to each Fall. Tom gathered together some pictures from all three trips and combined them into a really neat little photo book, professionally bound, and he made many flattering notations throughout the pages about me. Each page is high gloss and most pictures are of me. I am deeply moved by this gesture of friendship. I'll cherish that book forever, as I will him and his lovely wife Jill. If your reading this Tom; thanks again from my heart. The wind is howling. It is warm and will rain this afternoon. I have a day ride planned with two friends on Friday so I made sure the iron horse was ready to roll if the weather holds. Then, as usual, my eyes scanned over the yard to the dogs who were staring at me with anticipation. Why not. "Come on guys!" They leaped to their feet and stood by the gate waiting. This would be a great morning to do a turn around the ruins area at the park. The wound in Happy's shoulder was healing nicely but still has a way to go. I chose a hike that would not take us too near the lake as I didn't want her in the water and risk infection. So we walked around the lake shore from a higher point. The vista's are beautiful from this high position. I can see a large portion of Tellico Lake. It is amazing how much construction has occurred since I moved to Tennessee. The quantity of new homes on the lake side is amazing. Huge buildings. I'll never, ever understand why one family needs such an enormous house. The house above is not out of the ordinary. They are beginning to line the edge of Tellico Lake much like Fort Loudoun Lake. I do not go to Fort Loudoun Lake anymore at all. There is no land where one can beach a boat and not be on private property. It is that way from Lenoir City clear to Knoxville; about twenty miles of shoreline and I'm referring to both sides of the lake. I see it happening at Tellico Lake. I don't want to dwell on it here but; TVA levied immenent domain on all the land owners years ago to build all the resevoirs here in East Tennessee. Federal marshals actually physically entered homes and removed owners forceably when they resisted. Flood control and power were the reasons. Well then; why hasn't the unflooded portions of land been given back to the original owners? Seems someone is getting rich by selling those unflooded tracts. Who got the money when that property along Tellico Lake, above, was sold? Bet it wasn't the farmer who had it taken from him. It's a curiousoty of mine pertaining to right and wrong; at least in my mind. Here's another photo of what I'm talking about. Wonder how long it will take until this beautiful lake is filled with Wall Mart size houses and the water is littered with jet skis? The picture above is just down the shoreline from the other photos. Even here one can see the construction starting on the high area at the top of the picture. The real estate sellers are on the move. I guess it won't be long until the wildness of this fantastic lake is gone. I catch a glimpse of white out of the corner of my eye and swing the camera to it while pushing the shutter button. I almost got a great picture of two deer entering the edge of the forest. I did get the second one just before he disappeared into the thick scrub brush. And yes; there goes Shade with them. Douglas made an attempt to follow but a loud "NO" from me stopped him in his tracks. Shade is not as well disciplined. The deer in the picture should appear clearly if one clicks on the photo to enlarge it. Douglas is such a good boy. He wanted to follow Shade but he waited with me. Great! He makes me happy. I entertained thoughts of being stuck out there in the wind and later, the rain that is sure to arrive, calling my lungs out for Shade to return. I yelled, "Shade, Come", the whole way back to the truck with Douglas, Happy and Sigh. One more loud vocal "Shade, Come" and I saw her black form round the bend in the dirt path that leads to the truck. She had been waiting there by the truck for us to return. She's a big goof and I love her. But there's work to be done. We're home now. I thought I would go ahead and do this blog post to kill some time. I want to see what the weather is going to do before I start on an afternoon adventure. I would certainly like to get the canoe on the water again. I doubt it will happen today. But I believe I can do it tomorrow. Perhaps I will spend some time training Turnip, a foster dog, to walk on a leash. I'll not waste the day. Of that you can be sure. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008


click photos to enlarge This has been an eventful week. Not only have I lost a great friend in Pocus, but it seems Happy has suffered a pretty severe gash in her shoulder that required medication and stitches. It must have happened when I took her with me on the canoe ride yesterday at some point. I didn't notice the gash in her shoulder until I got home. The lake is full of barbed wire and in some places razor wire and she may have come across it on one of our shoreline landings. I didn't notice the damage until after she had eaten. The vet could not sedate her for fear of her vomiting and possibly suffocating while sedated. So she had to spend the night at the vet. I had a doctor appointment myself and picked her up from the vet on the way to my doctor after work. I sure missed her last night here at home. She took twelve stitches to close the wound and I was shocked to see that she was wearing a plastic cone around her neck to prevent her from licking her stitches. Poor little girl looked so miserable. The nurse said she is truly one of the happiest little dogs she has had in the office. But Oh, what a burden that cone is! She can't fit through the dog door with it on so I have to be there to let her out. This could get interesting as the days pass by. She has to have it on until Jan 2, when she gets her stitches out. I will remove it when I go to bed as she will crawl down under the top blanket with me and sleep. She'll be fine while I'm with her. It's always something with dogs. In many ways they are like children, only better behaved. Well, at times anyway. But I love them and would do anything for them. I am deeply saddened with the passing of Pocus. His loyalty and dedication have been absolutely unshaken over the years. A truer friend and companion there never could be. His human has been fortunate to enjoy his faithful company all those years. I have only known him five years and his passing has left me devestated. As has Pie Pie's. I tremble to think what surely lies ahead of me. But I'll push those thoughts away. My guys and I have many, many camp outs and hikes and boat rides to enjoy together over the coming years. As long as the money holds out.