Monday, May 31, 2010


click on photos to enlarge
It's Monday and the last day of the Memorial Day Weekend.  I really wanted a canoe ride but the boats on the lake were many over Saturday and Sunday.  I thought it might be different today, Monday.  Rather than drive a hundred miles to a pristine mountain lake;  I would investigate the grassy waterways down at Tellico Lake.  The water is shallow at the top of the lake just below the Chilhowee Reservoir and in the Summer water channels form that meander through and around the mud islands.  The grasses and reeds grow tall and the greenest green you ever saw.  It would be different and something to do today.  I should be MOWING GRASS right now but can't force myself to do it.  The mower is not working properly anyway and it is a labor some chore muscling that thing up the steep banks on that lawn.  I grabbed Douglas and off we went.
I pulled off the road onto a grassy place along the lake and unloaded.  Canoe's don't require much of a launch area.
Douglas was acting like an old hand at this canoeing routine.  He even waits until I get in the boat first.
The day was hot and I didn't want to be out on the open water with Douglas for any long periods of time.  There is a notch in the shoreline (top center of the above picture) that we would head for.
We cut through the notch and paddled to our left over the above wide channel.  I was looking for a place to float into one of the many tiny ditch like waterways that cut through the islands made of mud and trees.  Some of the waterways follow the solid shoreline that usually turn out to be farmer's fields.
I noticed a small waterway directly ahead that would take us off this main channel and into the weeds.  Again, that waterway can be seen top center of the above shot.
This was perfect.  There were a number of tiny channels we could take.  The canoe slipped along silently and thankfully, Douglas sat still.  Actually it's no big deal if he moves around.  A  year ago I would have been on pins and needles when he moves and shifts his weight but, I have come a long way since those early canoe days.
The tall grass is beautiful and greener than green.   The bright sun makes the shades of green bright and vivid
We move very quietly yet I can not even see a bird.  I think the wildlife is holding to the shade back in the woods.
Douglas wants to hit the ground.  He doesn't realize that there is no ground under those weeds.  They extend out into water twenty to thirty feet from the shore line.   I'm looking for a tiny water through way to paddle on and then we will beach the boat for a little hike.  It's too hot to get real serious with the hiking.  Now;  this is what I was looking for.  We'll go up this ditch for a little while and put ashore.
The water back here is isolated from the lake and is mostly stagnant.  We paddled up this little channel until it dead ended against a dead fall.  We beached just below the blown down tree.
The tall grass makes a pretty spot to pull a canoe ashore.  I wonder if the chigger folks are here.  I know they are.  I applied the Sawyers tick and chigger repellent to my clothing so, I hope that stuff works.   This is super prime chigger country.
Wow!  I'll have to mark this spot well in my head.  It would be easy to walk away from the canoe and not find it again.  Oh, it would certainly be found but it could be a time consuming process if a fellow returned and struck the water below or above the canoe and searched in the wrong direction.
We walked about two hundred feet and came out of the tall lake grass onto a mown hay field.   Douglas changed into his old searcher self and started investigating every blade of grass.  I walked with him until I felt the urge to be on the water again.  This is a very pretty part of Tellico Lake in the Summer.  It's different in the Winter.  Everything appears to be dead and brown.  The water is kept very shallow and it is a morbid place when the weather is dark and cold.  But today it's shining green and beautiful.  We walked back to the canoe and launched for the return trip.
He's a handsome boy and is in his element.  We paddled along the shoreline for three or four hundred yards and headed back through the notch and across the main channel.  All of a sudden a jet ski came roaring down on us.  He was a good distance away but we would have to turn the nose of the canoe into his wake.  And then my heart jumped for joy!   A TWRA boat came blasting up the center of the channel from around the corner and closed in on the jet ski.  That boat had to be going 60 miles per hour.   Blue light flashed and the jet ski was pulled over.  I don't know if the TWRA Officers pulled them over due to their discourtesy toward a canoe or if they were doing a routine stop.  But, I loved it.  I felt great about seeing TWRA presence on the water down here.
The rest of the channel crossing was uneventful and quiet.  The few hours with Douglas and the canoe were enlightening and peaceful.  Love canoes.  I hope your Memorial Holiday was a good one.  I wish you fare well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


 Wow;  super nice bolt of lightning!  The rain is really coming down.  It started as a gentle shower but escalated into this great downpour.  Thunder claps are many and frequent.  It's the day I have dreamed of.

After a few chores this morning, I hitched up the Gheenoe and invited Happy, Douglas and Shade to go along.  All I need do is leave a truck door open and the tailgate down.  After picking myself up off the ground from the stampede of the dogs for the truck;  I fought for a spot on the front seat from which to drive from.  They sure get excited.
 The drive to Calderwood Lake was uneventful accept for a windshield wiper blade that flew off and went past the passenger window.  Douglas didn't miss it as his head snapped to the right following the blade as it went past his face.
The tiny seven spot campground at Calderwood was full.  There were two campers and a few tents.  But I didn't care.  We were going down the lake a couple miles to camp in the great "out there."  The only thing that deters from the wilderness experience is the tent sites that the forest service installed along the lake.
There are only three of those wilderness sites that I know of and the reason is because the shoreline is so rocky and vertical that it's practically impossible to stand without holding on to a tree, let alone erect a tent.  It appears that the sites receive little use.  Too bad!  The tent enclosures do allow for fast tent set up and I can accept this minor reference to camp site modernization.
It was thundering as I backed the loaded boat into the water.  I couldn't wait to get to the campsite and get the OZ tent set up.
Tying the Gheenoe to the shoreline has always been a concern as the shoreline is covered with stones and boulders that jut out into the water.  I brought along some boat bumpers (rubber cylinders a foot long inflated with air) to place in strategic places along the hull of the boat where contact with rocks appeared eminent.
The bumper idea worked fine.  I can rest easy that the boat will survive the night unscathed.
Douglas wants to keep going.  He really does.  When he sits and waits;  he does not want to stop.  He thinks I'll give in.
The first task after unloading the boat was to put the tent up.  Thirty seconds and done.  No kidding.  Thirty seconds and it's ready to use.  The design is amazing.
 I pulled out the canopy and finished setting the poles just in time for the rain.

 The air was heavy with moisture and the temperature was cooling.  I like to open the back flap on the tent for flow through ventilation.
By the way;  if you like the looks of this tent you can contact the distributor at the following address and phone:  
USA - Family Tent Camping3708 Lakeview Dr.,
Winnebago, Illinois 61088 USA
Phone: 866 917 4083

The rain is pattering down on the awning.  I finished setting the awning poles just in time.  Shade is laying beside my chair frightened of the thundeer.  Douglas, keeping to his aloof nature, is laying on the ground behind the tent in the rain.
Douglas is his own guy and follows the beat of a different drummer.  He's a loner, much like myself.
The rain continues to fall and the pattering on the canvas canopy is relaxing.  I've always loved storms.  I don''t know why and there is no use trying to explain it.  I have thought about it often.
All the dogs jumped to their feet and have formed a line, all looking up the steep cliff behind us.  They quietly stare, unmoving in silence.  I wish I had their senses.  What a marvelous set of sensory skills they have.  Nothing goes unnoticed.  No sound escapes their scrutiny.  Better friends I could not have.  Shade has returned to her spot beside my chair and Happy has appeared to my right.  Happy is still fixated on the steep mountain side behind the tent.   Douglas is, "out there."  This trait he has for investigation worry's me.  It always has.  If he stumbles into trouble;  I won't be there to help him.  But at least he's free and not tethered by chain or rope.
Rain is still falling hard.  The water in front of the camp site is slowly moving toward the dam where it will fall into Chilhowee Lake.
Patches of fog are forming close to the surface due to the high humidity and heat contacting the cold water.  It is a mystical site to watch unfold as the wispy fog moves past in front of us.
The rain is falling harder now and the density of the fog increases.  It is growing in height right before my eyes.
This is great to watch materialize while sitting in my chair under the awning.  I hate navigating in that soup.
It creeps along silently enshrouding all in it's path.  Very interesting phenomena. 
Time for one more shot and then try to remember where I packed my little camp stove.  Douglas comes to full alert and focuses his attention down the lake.  I can hear someone talking.  Actually on man is controlling the conversation.  They are in the fog but their voices carry loud and clear over the water.  A small boat slowly comes into view and there are three men in it.  Still, only one of them dominates the conversation.  They are at idle speed.  That's smart in fog but, the heavy fog is overtaking them..  The boat becomes more
visible and one fellow waves to me.  I return the wave and climb back up the hill to my habitat.
Three guys in a fishing boat were keeping just ahead of the fog.   They weren't going fast enough.  It caught up to them.
The sky is very dark and is promising more rain.  Bring it on.  I couldn't be in a more perfect shelter out here.
 It's raining steady now and I'm certain the soft audible pattering sounds will escalate into a dynamic symphonic rendition of nature's fury before long.  I need to try to start a fire too.  I should be able to even though it's raining.  I got a system.......
Being somewhat alone out here (I have the dogs) allows time to think.  Now, in my case that's not always a good thing.  My thoughts usually focus on dogs at some point.  Oh yes;  got it started.
I am surrounded by dogs.  Why not give them consideration on this blog entry.  I hear all the scientific dissertations concerning dog psychology and dog this and dog that but, I just like to accept them for what and who they are.  To me, they are personalities.  Each is an individual.  All are canine.  I didn't adopt a canine.  I adopted an individual.  I adopted a friend.  and of all the personalities and of all the individuals out there I can guarantee this:  they just want to be loved and cared for.  Each dog has his idiosyncrasies but all desire a gentle hand and a kind voice directed to them.  I've heard people say that "I can't stand when he jumps on me or licks my arm.  He puts his paws on me continuously."
Think about that a second.  Look at his face when he jumps on you or licks your arm.  His eyes will be soft or excited depending upon the emotion you have evoked in him.  He isn't trying to upset, or antagonize you.  He doesn't have hands and fingers and he can't talk.  He just might be trying to be closer to you or touch you on his terms.  Look at his eyes.  They will be focused on you.  He will be staring directly into your eyes.  How many people stare into your eyes during conversations?  A dog is incapable of lying to you and acts of love are too often met with harsh language and often disciplinary action.  Think before you raise your voice to him.  Train the dog for obedience but, don't discourage him for praising you.
The tent is working great.  It is a load to carry on the boat but it's value to comfort is well worth any inconveniences.   I can't haul it on the canoe without removing the front seat and I don't care to do that.  I should replace that statement.  I can't carry it with a dog on the canoe without removing the front seat.  My canoe is a sixteen footer and will indeed handle the big tent package but, it occupies the space that Douglas needs to sit in.  The Gheenoe is no problem.  There is plenty of room.  I would have brought the canoe with a back pack tent today accept I knew foul weather would befall us.  I'd rather have a motor on this lake for bad weather.  The lake sits at the bottom of a very deep canyon and wind can be an insurmountable obstacle to a canoe.
Calderwood is truly a primitive lake but still, there are the very few who float on it.  I wonder what it's like to range over water for days and not see another human.  That may be too much to ask for in this day and age.  But, next year I am going to paddle the Boundary Waters in Minnesota with Douglas.   I'm thinking that's as close to primitive canoeing as I can get in this lifetime on my income.  Now;  a Boundary Water's trip would be a great blog entry.
When camping I like to hash over the occurrences of the day and sometimes my mind dwells on topics that appear spontaneously instigated by I don't know what.   I wonder if I truly am heading in the direction of eccentric reclusiveness.    See;  that isn't even a real word.  Sounds good though.  I mean, maybe I should be experiencing these out door pleasures with other human beings.  See how my writing goes?  This new thought appears from nowhere.  The thing is I think that this wilderness thing is an escape mechanism.  It allows me to run away from the reality of life's daily ordeal.  It's like another dimension where the environment is beautiful and friendly.  What does that mean?  I guess it means that social reality is all about money, noise, money, personal value, money, busted relationships, money, plastic people, money, big business, money, politics, money, untruths, money, deception, money, deceit and lies, money and MOWING GRASS.  The wilderness experience allows me to be free of the chains that bind me to the daily rigors of social acceptance.  The wilderness offers a refuge from social reality;  even though it is itself real.  The normal daily reality is the social dirge created by the human terms called success or failure.  I find the wilderness to be a haven to disappear in.   I used to run away on a motorcycle.  The roads were endless and the experience pure and unequaled.  But time marches on and now everyone is moving over the landscape on a motorcycle.  What was once unique is now the norm.  Technology has catapulted the experience of traveling on the edge with two wheels to luxurious motorcycles with insurance packages that guarantee that the trip will be uninterrupted no matter what the problem.  Gone are the days of fixing flat tires on a picnic table in a wilderness campground or adjusting valves alongside interstate 70 in Colorado.  Today; bike owners don't even understand what a valve does.  Their idea of building an engine is buying chrome.  I've hammered the roads of this country over a million miles and I hate to see the dollar run rampant over the true motorcyclist experience.  But its progress.  Those of us who lived the dream from its inception can be proud of their experiences.  The rest are pilgrims who are trying to fit into their own motorcycle nitch.  The difference between us is that I did it as a way of life.  It was my life's motivating force.  Today's riders share the passion but visit it only when convenient.  Like it or not;  it's just the way it is.
"Shade!  Come here girl.  good girl.  Look down that shoreline at the rich green bows hanging out over the water.  The fog is the backdrop.  Just exquisite!  What do you think girl?"  Nothing to you;  right?  Of course.  You are part of it.  You are an integral part of the picture I see.  It's daily hum drum to you.  You are in tune with it all.  I am the outsider trying to invest.  I am the pilgrim, the new guy.  You're genes are interactive with the natural world I constantly see.  I can only try to understand.  You are the real thing, a natural.  Dear Shade;  I am humbled in your presence and it is a privilege to be your care taker and guide you through the plastic world you have been born into, and abandoned in. 
A beaver is smacking his tail against the water every ten minutes.  It's senseless to walk the shoreline to have a look as he would dive at my approach.  He has slapped the water exactly nine times now.  No doubt the dogs are keeping him away from his late day feast of bark.

A Whipperwill is calling from across the lake.  One answers from my side.  They are moving closer together.  One moves to a tree near our camp.  His call is very loud.  He is so close I can hear the leaves move as he flies to another tree.  His voice grows more feint with passing minutes.  It's been a nice day and it feels good to lie down on the air mattress.  Happy, as usual, lies down against my chest and Shade lies facing the doorway to the tent, inside looking out.  Douglas is just "out there."  Somewhere, far away, a motorcycle passes over route 129;  the mufflers barely audible.  As it should be.

The morning is bright and the breeze gently.  I thought we would run to the end of the lake to see what we could see.  A Bald Eagle passes us going in the opposite direction.  Wood ducks run across the water seeking flight.  I know of a cove with a camp site installed by the Forest Service.  We would stop off there for a short hike and a look see.
 The camp spot is a beautiful one.  I looked back as we left for the day.
This cove and camp spot would be easier to approach and to occupy but, it doesn't hold the beauty that our current spot has.
 The view down the cove to the main lake is beautiful

 We walked along the small creek which happened to be on a very steep mountain side.  I have mentioned in the past about the near vertical mountains surrounding this lake.
The hiking is extremely difficult and taxing as dead falls and thick shrubs had to be negotiated.
I've had it.  This is excruciating!  Just a bit further and I'm heading back down this hill.
 I don't even think the dogs are enjoying this climb.  I'll take them back down to the lake for a swim.  They will love that.
 Now what do we have here?  A billion butterflies.
 If you look closely the butterflies are all around shade and Happy.
The following two shots are full of butterflies.  Maybe when the picture is enlarged, they will be more apparent
Dark clouds and thunder were happening and I felt it wise to go back and break camp.  It would take a while to load all the stuff into the boat.  It's been a great overnight.
It seems to take longer to tear everything down and put it in the boat than it did to unload and assemble.
Nothing left to do but bust on back to the put in.  I have some tired companions on this boat today.  A great time was had by all.
A SHORT STORY    contains violence.

The rain fell incessantly and the air so hot and heavy that he sat with a towel wrapped around his neck.  He tucked the ends into his fatigue shirt.  The terrain was flat to his immediate front but sloped sharply vertical at the edge of the rice paddy to his right.  What on earth was he doing here?  He thought about all the girls back home who were at the dances on Friday night.  Man, it was fun going to those places!  It was another world away.  He had five more months to do in this septic tank called Viet Nam.  It seemed like an eternity.  The water ran down the channels on the left and right side of his nose and dripped off his two week old beard.  No one gave a damn about shaving.  What could they do;  send you to Viet Nam?  Hell;  he was already there.

A dark figure appeared on the edge of the rice paddy.  The individual raised each leg high to remove his foot from the mire as he slowly walked along.  Now, what was he up to?  The American sergeant lifted the binoculars to his face but could not see a thing.  Water pooled in the eye pieces.  He withdrew one end of the towel from his shirt and dabbed it against the eye cups.  He couldn't really identify the person.  Then as the rain abated, the sergeant could see the shallow metal helmet and the red star above the left breast pocket of the soldiers brown shirt.  He was N.V.A.  The 308 Winchesters stock instantly slammed home against the sergeant's shoulder and the cross hairs of the Unertal scope focused perfectly on the red star on the pocket of the enemy's shirt.  He remembers thinking;  is this guy a father?  Does he have a young wife or a sweetheart at home waiting for him?  And a final thought;  he should have stayed there.  His teeth clenched as he squeezed the trigger.  The rifle roared and the man on the paddy threw both hands out to his side and dropped to his knees and finally fell forward on his face.  The Sergeant ejected the spent cartridge and sent a live round into the chamber and didn't give the incident a second thought.  What had he become?