Friday, January 8, 2010


click on pictures to enlarge

The roads around here were solid ice last night and again today as a result of a snow storm that blew through here yesterday. The drive home last night from work was an adventure in motoring.  Roads were solid ice and as slippery as I have ever seen them back in Pennsylvania.   Not one customer came into the store where I work today from opening time at 10 AM until 1 PM.  The day was heading for a bust as far as sales go, so we got sent home early.  I decided this would be a good time to get into the woods once again.  I decided on the drive home to give Shade, the Black Lab, a chance to show me if she would be obedient or a totally independent disobedient hard case. .   It's been over a year since just she and I went on an adventure and that was on the Gheenoe on Santeelah Lake.  She did very well then.  When she and Douglas are together they become a small pack and they feed off each others enthusiasm and excitement making it harder to control their activities.  I would see today how she reacts to just me.

On the way to the ruins at Vonore, I stopped at the Shell gas station to get some kerosene.  It was a good time to grab a quick bite to eat so I ordered two grilled cheese sandwiches;  one for me and one for Shade.  Shade loves grilled cheese.  Well;  she deserves a little change in her life.  I stepped out of the truck at the ruins and suddenly realized the wind had picked up and was driving the icy cold with it.  Seems to be wind blowing every time I come to the ruins area.  I believe it has to do with the lake bordering the edges of the peninsula that the ruins sits on.  I pulled the hood up over my head and we were off. 

Robins were everywhere.  They were in the trees and on the ground trying to scratch out something to eat.  This cold snap is very hard on them.

Shade was doing well.  She is staying within approximately 25 feet maximum from me all the time.  This is unbelievable!  Dogs certainly act differently without the influence of other dogs.  This is great!  Shade is investigating a spot where a deer has been pawing the ground looking for feed.  We saw several spots where this has occurred.

It is very cold.  There will be no stopping to sit down on this little hike.  The ruins takes on a completely new look in Winter with snow clinging to the stone foundation.  The buggy lane that runs from the old road to the plantation house is blanketed in white.  The views are beautiful yet the cold and snow add a forlorn look to the place.  Today this hill is gray and cold;  dark and icy.  The warm colors of Summer are replaced with the cold of Winter and the icy wind lends a flavor of gloom to the environment.  My, my;  the human spirit is frail to be influenced by the weather.

We walk toward the lake down the road to nowhere.  I call it that because the road simply goes straight into the lake.  Rather, the rest of the road is under water now.  Don't worry;  it's progress.  Note the disturbances in the snow where deer have tried to paw away the snow and leaves in search of food.  In this case they are hunting for nuts.

Shade needed a drink so we continued on down the old road.  The wind had abated and walking became more comfortable.  Shade is sticking to me like glue.

When she saw water;  she headed straight for it.  Certainly she wouldn't take a swim.  Surely not.

She is no dummy.  That's as far as she went in.  That water is very cold.  This old road is beautiful no matter what the weather.  There's something about how the trees sort of come together above the road and the bushes along side frame the aged pavement.  This particular part of the ruins is always beautiful;  even in the pouring rain.

There is an old barn here at this old state park that is used by Tennessee Wildlife Resources (TWRA) to house some small farming equipment and seed for planting the surrounding fields with corn and grass to feed the wild critters on the property.  It is practically fallen down.   There is no upkeep or repairs of any kind done to it.   This old building screams to me;  "take my picture" every time I come to the ruins.  I can not resist it's rustic appearance.  I take photo after photo placing the old barn in the left corner of the picture.  Then, I place it in the right corner of the photograph.  It goes on and on.  In short;  the barn lends an ambiance to the entire park area that could not be improved upon by the greatest architectural engineer on the planet.  In plain words;  it's lovely and grand...

Or, how about this:

Maybe you prefer this view:

The fields and meadows that surround the barn are of the same rich brown and bronze grasses you see above.  To me, the barn is the center piece and the grasses and trees accent the barn creating a scene of antiquity.

Shade is pitch black and it is very difficult to capture her image with great detail.  All that black blends together.  Which brings a thought to mind.  I wonder why there are two grades of camera lenses.  There are the professional grade lens and another grade of lens called the consumer grade.  The object of photography is to capture an image with great clarity and detail.  I wonder why the professional lens costs a thousand dollars and up while the consumer grade lens is under a thousand dollars.  A 75 - 300 mm consumer grade lens costs $650 and the same lens in professional grade is $1500.  Wonder why the professionals require the expensive lens and I only require the pilgrim lens.  Oh well;  just thinking. 
It is getting colder and later with the wind picking up in force.  Time to leave.  The truck is just around the corner.  As my eyes scan the ground I see the tracks of small animals who have passed before my coming.  They are seeking food.  It's all about food.  It's life and death to the Dennison's of this place.  They leave their foot prints in passing.

"Shade;  come!  We're going"

We got back to the truck and welcomed the warmth.  Shade jumped right in when I opened the door.  Great dog.  Good girl!
I decided to stop at the boat dock located at the Tellico Lake end of Morganton Road on the way home.  I seem to gravitate to the lakes at all times.  I wanted to look at the boat ramp to see if it was clear of ice.

Well;  thats all I need to know.  If I back the boat down this ramp; the truck, trailer and boat all will end up in the drink.  Solid ice!  This particular ramp is slick even in the Summer when wet.  I won't be launching here for awhile.
See how the walkway bends down to the water.  That is an indication of how much the water has been dropped in the lake by TVA.

"Shade;  lets go home.  Get in the truck"

The day turned out great.  I really need to sell some motorcycles for sure and would have preferred to put a full shift in at work.  But, I'm not going to waste time off by sitting around at home twiddling my thumbs.  Shade has proven to me that I can trust her to listen and stay close to me.  That puts my mind at ease.  She has been a great partner for this afternoon.  We had another enjoyable visit to the wilderness.  I am privilaged to be in such good company and able to leave the daily social environment and visit the real world on such a regular basis.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.  Until next time;  be kind to a dog.  Better yet;  adopt one.  It could change your life for the better.