Friday, October 30, 2009


CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE I didn't get on the road this morning until late morning. I blame it all on sloth. This has been the first day off of four in a row and I wanted to paddle the canoe on Calderwood and camp for the night. The weather forecasters were calling for wind and rain but I didn't care. I tossed the canoe on top the truck, pitched Happy in the cab and took off. The wind was light when I left home but I noticed the water on Chilhowee Lake was really rough and white caps could be seen occasionally. I stopped to survey the situation. It was really nasty looking conditions to operate a canoe safely. I was well on my way to Calderwood Lake so I thought I would at least look at it. The truck wound around the curves and corners of Route 129 until I saw the famous photo pull off overlook on the right side that looks over Calderwood Lake far below. Even at this distance, I could see the mini waves and wind sheer upon the surface of the lake. The canoe wouldn't work today. I could easily paddle down the lake with the wind but, I doubt I could make it back without a monumental effort. I turned the outfit around and headed for Greenback to swap the canoe for the Gheenoe. I'd put a motor on things. Furthermore; I exchanged Happy, the canoe dog, for Douglas, the Gheenoe dog. We arrived at the lake early afternoon. I transferred all the camping gear onto the Gheenoe and we were off. I had hoped that the leaves would be brilliant by now but, it appears they will not achieve the penetrating colors we all love to see. The sky is overcast with dark clouds moving into the area and that may be causing the less than perfect colors on the trees. I'm glad I opted for the Gheenoe. The canoe would have been impossible to navigate in with this wind. I wanted to drive up the lake past the submerged train tunnel where my favorite camp spot lies. The shoreline is covered with boulders and makes a landing in a fiberglass boat precarious work, not to mention dangerous. This is truly a beautiful spot to camp on. I tried several approaches to the shoreline for the purpose of possibly beaching the Gheenoe but found it too risky. I was very disappointed. The best bet would be to drive back down the lake and turn into the cove at Slick Rock Creek. I can pull the boat up onto the grass there and tie it off. There are a lot of rocks in the water near the shore line but if I'm careful I should be able to place the Gheenoe in safe habor. The sky is getting dark quickly and I fear a storm may hit at any moment. The cove at Slick Rock Creek was more shallow than normal. The boys at the dam must me messing with the water level. I can just barely motor up to the head waters with the engine. I could use a push pole but it wasn't necessary. I pulled the Gheenoe up onto the bank as best I could and unloaded her. The tent went up quickly and I constructed a sort of quick tent for Douglas with a spare tarp I always carry for emergencies. If it poured, he would have a dry place in which to sleep. All in all we had created a neat little place to live for the night. Below is the view I have directly outside the tent flap. The water is crystal clear. The leaves on the bottom of the channel are easily seen. The wind was really howling now. It was not as bad back here in this cove as it was on the main lake. The trees high up on the mountain were bending as if they were made of rubber. White caps could be seen out where the main lake meets the beginning of the cove. I'm not too certain I made a good choice in coming out here today. I would take Douglas for a walk up along the stream and ponder the situation. I wish I had that "campfire tent I intend to get." It is eight feet wide, made of canvas and has an awning. Both Douglas and I could stay in it and I could even have a cot to sleep on. The camp fire tent is designed so that one can stand in it. A chair could be placed under the awning and rain could be enjoyed while sipping a hot cup of coffee. These little backpack tents are great for motorcycles but, I desire a large tent for comfort these days. Slick Rock Creek is gorgeous, as usual. Douglas is sprinting about and swimming all at the same time. He absolutely loves this place. The stream here can only be called spectacular. Slick Rock Trail follows along the stream and it is obvious that it goes unused for long periods of time. Much of it is grown over and there are no signs of people passing. They do walk it but, they are few, far and between. That's a good thing. Now where is Douglas. Doug-------------Oh; there you are. It's interesting how one can enjoy the constant roar of rushing water and not grow tired of it. Yet, the constant babbling of people and sounds of traffic irritate the senses to no end. The water is loud today. Out here, loudness is silence and silence is loud. Think about that. I call the following photo turmoil. It is angry water speaking loudly but presents a relaxing sound to the ear. The forest is full of beautiful sights if one only takes the time to look and see. The looking part is easy. It's the seeing part that requires practice. It is impossible to come to this beautiful lake and be bored. Impossible. One can stand anywhere here, in this forest, and simply turn in any direction and find something beautiful. It is called seeing. The colors are varying shades of green and brown sprinkled with the colors of Fall. The sky is getting darker and it's becoming difficult to get good settings for the camera. I think I need to decide weather to stay the night or break camp and call it a nice day and leave. Tonight could get interesting out here. Stay or leave. I'll give it some thought. I'll have it figured out by the time we get back to the camp site. I believe we should go. Douglas; Come! The walk back was nice. I hated to disassemble the camp but it doesn't take that long. I've been putting up camps for years and years and I can have a tent up quicker than I can dress myself in the morning. I noticed a primitive campsite far up along the stream and investigated it. I am constantly on the look out for poachers and miscreants of all sorts. The site hasn't been used for a long time and is probably a hikers or fisherman's little camp. If it showed frequent use; it may be of significant interest to the law. Who would take the trouble to create a camp site way up there along the stream when there is one down at the headwaters? Oh well???? It didn't take long to return to camp and take it apart. The wind never ceased since we arrived. It's been fun and interesting, as always. No big deal. I'll be back very soon with the canoe. The canoe is the best way to camp on this lake. It can be lifted off the lake and placed safely on dry land. A bigger boat must stay in the water precariously close to the bolder strewn shoreline. I don't like that at all. We loaded up and I pushed the boat into the water and carefully navigated out into the deep water of the main lake. Another adventure is over. I like calling the outings adventures. It adds a flavor of daring-do to it all. When I pulled over at the photo road side parking area on Route 129 earlier; I pulled out the big camera and took a couple shots of Calderwood Lake. The pictues were taken from about half mile distance. You can see clearly why I took the canoe home. There are serious white caps on those waves down there. The areas that appear light gray are where the wind is sheering across the water. Hardly a place for a canoe. Well; this child ain't goin out there! Hope you enjoyed this blog entry. The trip never should have happened but I can't sit at home on a day off. Just can't do it. And; be kind to a dog. They need all the help they can get. It's not their fault....................


Sunday, October 25, 2009


I have a four day off weekend coming up and I thought I would collect some of my old camping gear for the paddle down Calderwood Lake to my favorite camping spot. This time I want to take some comforts along in the way of cooking items, stove and even coffee. I want the camp out to be a "no rush", easy going, laid back experience. As I rummaged among the old broken boxes filled with stuff; I came upon a cardboard box full of pictures. Pictures were housed in frail paper envelopes, cardboard pouches and many were laying loose in the box as a result of no less than eight residential moves. They were covered with a thick layer of dust. I pulled out a group of photos held together with the standard drug store plastic spiral keeper that fits into notches cut into each photo. The photo's were of my friend Terry and me when we toured Northern Pennsylvania on bicycles. Oh the memories! Terry was my outdoor buddy. We back packed and bicycled together every week. We sort of lost touch when he moved West to Colorado. Distance will do that. The bulk of the photos pertained to uncountable trips by motorcycle to all points of the country. The photos referred to areas from British Colombia to every National Park in the United States. I put a lot of miles on motorcycles in my life. Pictures of friends and all the different motorcycles I have owned are in the box. Fly fishing and camping trips forgotten are captured vividly on film and await my attention. I know of another box containing over three thousand slides of motorcycle trips West. At one point in my life I would head West on the bike and never used a road map. I knew the roads well. Now days I walk into a room and forget why I went there. I guess it's an age thing. But, I found some camping items that would be useful for the overnight stay on the lake this coming weekend. I even found an old blue pot that I carried on a back pack trip in the Winter with Terry. It snowed so hard we couldn't find our tents that night. The old pot was used to boil water for our coffee. I will take it on this trip. It will boil water for oatmeal in the morning. Oatmeal and honey; can't beat it. I did order a peculating coffee pot earlier this evening. I have a liking for hot coffee in the morning when camping and desire the convenience of just putting the coffee in the strainer and heating. Then I saw a another rather large box. In it was one of my old Colman oil lamps. I had two of these but I can't lay my hands on the second one. This one looks in great shape. Ok; I'll take it too. And then I saw something that made me think about times long, long past. There in the box lay my old Bushnell binoculars. My dad bought them for me when I was eighteen years old for a birthday present. Oh, they aren't much by today's standards. They are of the 7 x 35 variety and have proved useful through the years. When I returned home on leave from advanced infantry training before shipping out to Vietnam; dad asked me if I packed away the binoculars he got me. I didn't, but told him thanks for reminding me of them. He said "they might come in handy for you over there." Actually, I know he didn't really mean that. He wanted me to have something personal from himself to go with me. I didn't figure that out until I was older and he was gone. They did serve me well. I carried them through Vietnam and used them often. They show the dents and nicks of much usage. The case was covered in mildew which I cleaned off tonight. The scratches are many but the binoculars still work perfectly. I have had others over the years that have been more powerful and of better quality, but none have had the character that this pair have.
Beside the binoculars lay a knife. It was an exact replica of the knife that was issued by Special Observations Group (SOG) when I was in country. I carried the knife religiously. Funny to think back and remember putting ones pants on and threading the pants web belt through a knife sheath on a daily basis. I don't remember what happened to the military issue knife I used to carry. Maybe I turned it in with the 45 caliber Colt 1911 A1. I just don't remember. But I did order a new knife that is an exact copy of the one I had and it also, is military issue.
It is a wicked looking thing and exact down to the lanyard in the hilt. This knife is razor sharp and will cut flesh simply by laying the edge against the palm and slowly drawing it across with absolutely no more pressure on the blade other than it's own weight. And last but not least I saw my old Timberline folding knife. I thought I had lost it in all my moves from one dwelling to another. This knife will now go with me everywhere. It is an absolute beauty. The knife was bought in the early eighties. It is extremely light weight and is a pleasure to carry. It's condition is new and it, like it's wicked sister, is razor sharp. What a find! I believe this is the knife I carried the day Terry and I were fly fishing in Northern Pennsylvania on motorcycles in the mid eighties. He brought the fly rod forward after a back cast and the fly hook caught in his rear end through his blue jeans. I howled! Yes; I have pictures of that little episode also. It was one of the funniest moments I can remember. Lots of memories. Some good and some bad. But, most are good. Friends have come and friends have gone. Some have moved away and some have passed on to the better life. Memories; they become more important the older one gets. No; I take that back. They are not just important but necessary. For without memories life would be shallow. What is the purpose of life? It is to collect memories. Memories are what makes getting old tolerable. Think about it. Until next time; don't forget our canine friends.

Friday, October 23, 2009


click on pictures to enlarge I feel great today after paddling a canoe for over seven hours on Cheoah Lake. I paddled around the entire lake and I felt like it when I got back. I am amazed that I feel great today and pain free. Must be the oatmeal breakfasts I eat every day. The weather forecast for today is for high winds and rain. Maybe that will come to past but, not for hours. It would be risky to take a boat on the lake today. My boats are both rather small and wind is a safety concern. I thought I would get Shade, Douglas and Happy out for a little run in the woods down at the ruins on Tellico Lake. It's been months since we were at the ruins and I wanted to see if the leaves were changed there yet. It felt good to see the ruins and the familiar trees surrounding the area. The colors of Fall were definitely present. One more week would transform this place into an artist's canvas with nature doing the painting. Even today the colors were impressive. This place is fascinating. It is wonderful to investigate and learn about the past. I wish these old ruins could talk. The stories would be endless. One has to remember that numerous families came and went on this land where I stand. All the pains and joys of life, not to mention living through the Civil War, occurred here. These old ruins are all that is left. I wonder how long this particular piece of ground will be left alone for all to enjoy. It is amazing it made it untouched this long. Tennessee has a fetish for selling her land. I remember in Pennsylvania, where I am from, that properties were developed piece meal, et: mostly in small parcels. Ten acres here and five acres there would be developed after being sold by a farmer who decided to retire. A real-estate company or broker would buy it up and develop it. Just progress and the way of things. But, I notice here in Tennessee that the land is sold in huge swaths. Enormous, vast stretches of land, both flat and timbered, are developed by enormous conglomerates who put fancy names on the projects like Slumber Point or Heaven Cove. Lake side properties seem to be the most desired. Only yesterday I heard a hour long radio program sponsored by a land development agency from Great Britain promoting a 6000 acre project on Watts Barr Dam. Not six hundred acres but six thousand acres. Imagine that! The amazing thing is that the promoter isn't from Florida where they usually come from. No, not even from Tennessee. They're from Great Britain. How can that be? All the gorgeous land in this state that isn't protected by being in the confines of the national park is up for sale, or will be. I wonder how long it can last. When I used to drive a boat for TWRA on FT Loudon Lake; I would at time have to pull onto shore to let Douglas off to run about. Even five years ago when he was just a puppy it was impossible to set foot on the shoreline and not be on private property. Homes that rival the size of the average Wall Mart sit atop the cliffs that border the lake. I'll never understand how reality companies can somehow get hold of the land that TVA conscripted from the original land owners who have passed it down from family to family through generations. I guess, in my mind, they took the land for the dams. Understood. Obviously they took more than they needed. Yep; I get it. So now, I guess, TVA can sell the land to speculators and developers and realize a healthy profit. After all; TVA paid the farmers for the property in the first place. Oh; now I get it. I just talked my way through it. I understand now. It's a matter of ethics. 1. Take the land from the original owners. 2. Build a nice dam. 3. Sell the surplus land that was taken to the realty people for a nice profit. 4. Cover both edges of the dam with elaborate homes. Makes sense. The ruins sit in Monroe County, the most depressed County in Tennessee. I guarantee that if a light bulb turns on between the ears of the right politician, this gorgeous piece of property will be transformed into a marvelous golf course. It is still a state park, although it lies in a dormant condition. But, it is a state park. I'm not sure of what crack in the park service it fell through, but it is in darkness and evidently out of the vision of those who love to sell land. I was discussing the probable loss of more wilderness country in Tennessee to a friend just the other day. I made the statement that the day I see a house go up on the shoreline of Calderwood Lake is the day I'll lay my canoe across two saw horses and smash it through the middle. And, I'll leave Tennessee and go back to Pennsylvania. I could not endure the loss of such a fantastic wilderness place. A house on Calderwood would amount to so much litter. If people want to live crowded together and envy their neighbors then let them live in the cities and complexes where they can watch each other with envy and lust over what the Jone's have. When the lakes are bordered with homes and all the big trees are gone, and the asphalt encroaches into the forests to carry the multitudes of city dwellers to their country estates; then what will you look at and appreciate? And the developers will move on to other territories. Ok; I'll get off my soap box. When I look around me here at this ruined estate I can see remnants of the past. Above is a garden that someone obviously put a lot of thought into. How many years has this little spot of beauty been here? Torrential rains, drought and the hands of man have left it alone to thrive. It's good to see and pleasing to the eye. The dogs are becoming impatient and ready to move. All of them have enjoyed the afternoon here. I guess I better pack my writing stuff and camera and be off. A lot of photos similar to these have been recorded last year. But, I can see differences in the landscape since I was last here. I'll post a few more pictures before leaving. Another week will bring full color to the ruins Delicate forms highlite everything much as a picture frame surrounds a fine art print. The colors of Fall come in many shapes; not only leaves. This is a tree that overhangs the lake shore where Douglas, Shade and Happy swim. They have played under it's branches for three years now. I wonder how much longer it can last. It can't go on much longer. Most of it is fallen into the water due to erosion caused by the large boats that contribute to the erosion of the banks. It is only wishful folly that I think it will last another season. Shade; come! Its time to go. It's like leaving an old friend. How long can this old friend survive? I hope, for the sake of this land, that this old friend is overlooked by most. Shade! Come I said!