Friday, March 19, 2010


click on photos to enlarge
The best thing I ever did in my life was to install stabilizers on the canoe for Douglas.

This morning was like winter never happened when I opened the door of my habitat this and stepped outside.  Bright sun and warm air greeted me.  I can't describe the instant feeling of joy that came over me.  My mind raced to decide what to do with the day.  I have so many choices that it is sometimes difficult to arrive at a decision.   Two weeks ago I made a plan to camp on Calderwood Lake but that idea was dished to smithereens when the rock slide occurred on US 129 which leads to the lake.  US 129 will be blocked indefinitely.  This morning would be a canoe morning.  A motorcycle ride would be nice in the afternoon if time allowed.  I quickly moved to the little shed where I keep the boat.  In my haste to get the morning started;  I tripped and fell down.   The canoe was secured to the truck and we were set.  Douglas was more than ready to go.  I had to trick the other dogs to come into the habitat where I closed the dog door.  This would allow me to casually load the equipment into the truck that would be needed while paddling the canoe without them trying to get through the open chain link fence gate.  And, they wouldn't see Douglas getting into the truck either.  Dogs do indeed get jealous of each other.  They will get their turn.
Since Calderwood was out I thought a spin on Chilhowee Lake would be nice.  The rock slide area was located half way down the length of the lake in distance.  As we drove along side of Chilhowee I searched for a spot where I could safely launch the canoe.  There was not one place.  The banks were steep and high.  Alright then-we'll back track to the tail end of Tellico Lake.  There was a grassy spot that ran down to the water at the boat ramp on Rt 129.  We would launch the canoe there.
I debated with myself weather to install the stabilizers on the canoe or not.  This was Douglas's first ride where he would sit in the space on the canoe just forward of center.  He had room to move around, stand and sit.  These actions would shift weight to the left and right sides of the boat and could prove disastrous.   He weighs over eighty pounds and that is a great deal of weight to have shifting suddenly in a canoe.  I attached the stabilizers.  It was the smart move.
He used every bit of that open space.  We would have never successfully floated away from the shore line without the stabilizers.  The canoe would have upset almost immediately.

Douglas finally found his comfort zone.  I still had my hands full when he would shift from side to side.  Twenty minutes later he dove out of the canoe in shallow water and chased a goose that was honking at him from the water's edge.  I chastised him for that action.  The geese are nesting now and I was sorry that Douglas added stress to them.  I got him back into the canoe in three minutes flat but, the point is he charged the goose and disturbed him.

The water level at this end of the lake is very shallow.  If you look at the land features protruding from the surface you'll see what I mean.  The picture to the left, when enlarged, will show the actual bottom of the lake at it's center.  One can clearly see the danger to a motorized boat;  especially one driven by an uninformed tourist late in the evening.  It would be very easy to run aground in the center of this lake.  There are many spots where I could stand in the lake and the water wouldn't cover the toe of my boot.

My little friend and I continued on across the shallows and moved closer to the far shore line.  There was an especially high piece of ground that I wanted to explore.  It would give a commanding view of the lake.  We were making our way across very, very shallow water and following the edge of an island hoping to break into deeper water.  That's when the goose appeared and started honking at Douglas.  My boy just couldn't take it anymore and charged
The stately goose walked along side the boat directing his displeasure at us.  He set up a continuous honking and squawking that was beginning to even get to me.  It's his home.  I have to remember that and so does Douglas.

Well;  if this goose was going to walk along side the canoe then, I would take some pictures of him.  These are wild geese and not tame by any standard.  It's interesting to share space with a wild creature.

He was a noble goose indeed.  The old boy would strut proudly as he moved over the sandy beach.  I was beginning to laugh.  And, I was wondering why he was staying along side the canoe.  Very unlike a wild creature of any kind.

He was a handsome devil for sure.

And then Douglas leaped from the canoe and splashed across the shallow expanse of water that separated the goose from the canoe.  The goose took flight.

He only flew a short distance and landed.  He is a big, big boy.  He made an impressive accent and decent into the water. These birds are dynamic in flight, yet elegant.  Every movement is accomplished with perfect coordination.  Beautiful!

Douglas also startled a few more geese.  Below is another goose in flight.  I caught him as he passed in front of the canoe.
And, splash down!
Another little bird I enjoy watching is the sandpiper.  They are tiny little things with bodies sitting atop long spindly legs.  They are a wonderful bird to watch.  It is interesting to see them searching for food.
Their bills are long and sharp and I love to watch them drive their bill down toward the mud but, the bill never seems to touch it...

We rounded the end of the mud island and continued our way across the last remaining water that separated us from the other shore.  I spotted a mud beach and decided to put the canoe onto that mud.

While paddling toward the beach; a group of ducks exploded from the surface and I grabbed the camera.  As I was bringing it to my face my finger pressed the shutter button and the shot was taken.  The image to the right was a total accident.  The exposure is not really good but, not bad for luck.

With the canoe securely tied off at the mud beach;  we made our way up the mountain.  It was peaceful here accept for the motorcycles passing by on the road that parallels the lake on the other side.  Not too bad though.  It certainly isn't a Calderwood moment though.  That Calderwood Lake makes everything else seem second rate.

This hill side is nothing like the mountains surrounding Calderwood Lake but, it's a steep hike for sure.

Douglas is always ready.  He certainly becomes full alert when he gets back on dry land.  I noticed a small wart like growth on the bottom eyelid of his left eye that I shall have to keep an watch over.  It's probably nothing but I think I will have it removed when he gets his yearly shots.  If any of you know what that is I'd appreciate a comment or an email about it.  It can be seen if the photos are enlarged.  I don't think it is in his line of vision or bothers him.  Bothers me though.

A fine, handsome young lad he is.

The view from this height is great.  I'll bet this is a spectacular hillside to view Springtime as it unfolds with vibrant colors.

It's difficult to believe that a person can almost walk across that entire expanse of lake.  There is however, about a hundred yards clear across on the other side that runs about 15 feet deep.  It is a boat channel that has been dredged out.  Proper buoy's are in place.  However, a large vessel would do well to keep it between the buoy's.

Well, well;  there's the ol man at work.

This is a good spot to get one's thoughts together, if there are any.  The woods is shy of underbrush and a clean appearance is all about.  I like it up here.  I saw a pilliated woodpecker on an old dead tree by the lake when we beached the canoe.  I haven't seen a bird since then.  I don't think birds like dogs very well.  At least I think that's the problem.

It's time to start the long paddle across to the other side.  Douglas has time for a swim.  I may even toss out a couple sticks for him to retrieve.

He sure is a beautiful boy.  I just wish he could learn to sit still in the canoe.
We got back to the truck in about an hour and drove home.  I gave Douglas a quick brushing and pushed the motorcycle out of the shed.  I felt like just sitting down and letting something else do all the work.  I headed for Melton Hill Dam.  (Seems I always head to water.)   I didn't like the traffic and  dealing with people in a hurry.  It was interesting to analyze my thoughts and feelings as I drove up highway 95 toward the Dam.  The unending noise of the highway and the perpetual movement of endless processions of vehicles was putting me on edge.  I don't want to portray myself as a hermit, or, well, maybe but, I found that I have grown unaccustomed to all the "over the road" hubbub.    I pulled into the Solway boat ramp where I used to launch the government boat and saw to my chagrin a development being installed across the road.  I took a picture of the development behind the motorcycle and the really pretty lake in the next successive picture.  It won't be long until Melton Hill Dam becomes the same perpetual rat race that Ft Loudon Lake has evolved into.  Oh ya;  progress.  I almost forgot about that.
If you look closely you will see row boats in the background.  These are race boats manned by one and up to ten people depending on the size of the boat.  I am driving along that portion of Melton Hill Lake that the Oakridge Rowing Club uses.   It is interesting to watch these boats cruise along at speed.  They really move!
I didn't have the big camera along so these shots are the best I could do.  Rowing is a sport I never saw until I got to Tennessee. 
I am really tired from the trials and tribulations of the day and it's about time to turn in.  Hope you liked something in this blog entry.  See you next time.