Friday, July 30, 2010


click on pictures to enlarge
Today has been a full day.  I took old Sigh, the hound, to the vet at 7:00 AM this morning to get that despicable tumor removed from her right foot.  My thoughts have been with her all day.  I won't soon forget the look on her face when I handed the leash to the vet's assistant to lead Sigh to some back room.  Sigh turned her head clear around and looked at me as she went through the door.  I can only imagine what was going through her mind.
After dropping off Sigh, I rushed to Maryville to meet a realtor who found a couple shacks she wanted me to look at.  She thought it funny I was more interested to know if any had a car port or garage on the property.  I have to have a place to keep the canoes and the Gheenoe.  "Three bedrooms, you say?"  Like I care.  "Where's the car port?"  I only need one bedroom.  I'll build bunk beds down at the end of the room for all the kids.  The Realtor lady just laughed.  I told her that owning a house was not my idea of fulfilling my American dream.   A house boat would be fine for me except I can't figure how to keep my dogs on it.  I'd have to return home every single night to take everyone outside.  With a dog door on the house;  I can leave for up to three days and they are fine for food and water.
I picked up old Sigh from the vet at 2:30 PM.  She was very happy to see me.  Her toe nails were neatly trimmed and that horrible growth was gone from her foot.  I carried her through the gate in the yard and sat her down gently.  That old girl has had a hard life up until our meeting.  She's had shot gun pellets removed from her hips, had a broken pelvis, a two inch piece of her left ear is missing, she was near death through starvation when found.  She was pregnant and the puppies were absorbed back into her body to keep her alive.  Arthritis is getting to her and she has a bad hip joint that allows her hip to pop out of the socket at times.  And now this growth on her foot.  I hope it is not a harbinger of future tragedy. 
The temperature is hot;  almost 100 degrees.  Humidity causes perspiration to soak the clothing.  I'm out of here.  I filled up the dog bowls with food and fresh, cool water, tossed the canoe on the truck and sneaked Douglas through the gate and into the vehicle.  It's off to Calderwood.
The camp is built, Douglas is fishing in his favorite stream and I'm enjoying the cool air coming off the water of Slick Rock Creek.  This is going to be another fabulous evening and night.
There's not a soul around this evening.
The canoe ride to Slick Rock Creek was beautiful and amazing. We arrived after a gentle paddle and I got the camp made in a hurry so we could sit back.  I struggled to get the canoe out of the water without gouging it on boulders and rocks.  I've never seen so many rocks in my life as along that lake.
I successfully struggled to shore with it and set it in a secure place.  Then to erect the tent.  Again;  I brought my old back packing tent.  Quick and easy.  I am spoiled with the OZ Tent though.  This tent is just too small for me now.  I've got the room to carry a larger one, and carry one I will.
As you may be able to tell;  I am very much addicted to canoe travel and camping.  I love the feel of the paddle in my hand and the fact that I can steer the craft in any direction I wish simply by twisting my wrist, thereby angling the paddle blade against the water causing direction change and control.  The moving weight of Douglas causes me to incorporate many paddle corrections.  It's no big deal.  Whatever euphoric feelings are diminished by his innocent movements in the boat are minor, compared to the joy his companionship gives me.

Ah;  Its great to sit on this rock with my feet in the cool water and watch my boy try to catch fish.
He never tires of fishing.  Never!

I have been putting a plan together to paddle across Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.  Now, I'm discovering some negatives about the idea.  Camping is on platforms only and limited to six canoes.  That is a maximum possibility of 12 people.  No way am I partaking in that mess.  I may as well go to a tourist campground at Indian Boundary Lake if that's the case.  Also, the maximum amount of time allowed in the back country is three days.  That won't get it either.  I guess the human intrusions have finally reached that wilderness swamp to the extent where regulations come into play.  I wonder what's left to explore anymore where there aren't any signs that say "keep out" or "private property."
It's 9:00 PM and time to start a fire.  But wait;  I think I'd like to just sit in the dark under the sky and enjoy feeling sleep overtake me.  That's what I'll do.  The sky contains gray clouds that can be seen moving across the tree tops.  Surely it will rain and blow tonight.  I wish I had the OZ tent with me.  It's a dream tent.  I can't fit it and Douglas in the canoe together.  But;  there is a new tent on the way.  It's called the Spring Bar Tent.  It is much like the OZ tent but packs smaller.  The bundled up tent packs to 14" diameter by 28" long.  I can put that tent behind me in the canoe.
I think I'll bring all the guys up here next weekend.  I have four days off in a row and the Gheenoe hasn't been out for awhile.  I have a new way of anchoring that boat to keep it off the rocky shoreline.  It will float out in the cove anchored off shore;  I hope.
Here's a neat little guy I just saw:
Don't know what the name is but, I'll find out.  It's not in my insect books.  A millipede of some sort.
Oh;  the tail end is toward the top of the photo.  And below; a woods spider )daddy longlegs, is ambling along with a partially eaten insect.
And along came a thief
Bats are flying low over the water.  Now;  theirs a challenge.  How in the world can I focus and shoot a bat at night while they are on the wing?  Gotta read up on that.
Douglas and I stayed awake until 11:00 PM.  Well, I did anyway.
The sky kept changing from stars to clouds.  It may not rain after all.  My loss.

The morning is overcast and cool.  The climate on this mountain is so very different than the valley.  I feel totally rested when I camp up here.  I think it's the comfortable temperature and peace and quiet.  The real cause of rest is escape.   It takes longer to load the canoe than to unload it.  I'd rather have the boat floating in the water to load it but, I've got it sitting on a large protruding tree root.  I can just slide it into the water after I strap everything down'
The paddle back to the truck was uneventful and a lot of fun.  I can't wait till next time.

   I should really MOW GRASS today.  We'll see.  More importantly;  Sigh needs her medicine.  Hope you had fun on this little overnighter.

I'll  post the name of that worm bug as soon as I can find it out.  I may post a movie below if it will upload.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


click on photos to enlarge

Yesterdays camp out on Calderwood is a tough act to follow.  So, I didn't even try today.  After attempting to mow grass; I gave up when the zero turn mower finally lost all power to the left side wheel.  It is now a dangerous proposition using it.  I mow a lot of hills and sloping banks requiring both wheels to be involved in the propulsion business.  Off to the shop it went.
I decided to take the three dogs to the ruins and lull about in the shade.  The heat and humidity was stifling.  There was no way to find relief anywhere.  Even the water is 85 degrees in the shallows near the shoreline.  Perspiration poured down my back soaking me as if I were in the water.  We need a good rain.
I took a couple short movies of the ruins to give a better perspective of what the place is like;  a flavor of the place.  The movies are short as I have trouble uploading longer versions to the blog site.
The dogs are lounging under any shade they can find.  A doe with a small, dog size fawn, ran across the field behind and they wouldn't even give chase.  Thats saying something for this bunch of canine.  I do miss Calderwood and Slick Rock Creek.  I'm already putting a plan together to visit there again next week. 

I have been worried about old Sigh, the ancient hound that has been my guest for the past five years.
She used to go on outings with us but could not keep up.  I always waited on her but eventually she would just get out of the truck and lay under a tree.  She is a fine old girl.  She is like a shadow around the place, being quiet and absolutely asks for or demands nothing.  Last night she went out the dog door and fell off the steps.  I heard it all.. She just laid there on her side.  I picked her up and carried her inside petting her head all the time.  She stood and all seemed well.  It was then I noticed that her foot had a growth between two of her toes.  It was orange and red with a black center.  It appeared that a small cauliflower the size of a fingernail was growing there.  I remember seeing a wart on that spot that she carried there for years.  Older dogs get them.  But I fear the worse for her.  If my suspicions are confirmed; then my heart and soul will do battle with common sense and practicality.  I love old Sigh.  She, otherwise, is like an adult puppy often bouncing up and down when a treat is offered.  She sometimes walks over to me for a scratch behind the ear.  But mostly, she just lays in the shade outside out of the sun.  Did I say I love her?  There are many paw prints on my heart but, Sigh has placed very, very deep ones there.
I sometimes wish I had a movie camera but, my real pleasure lies in still photography.  I like to stop the moment.  The photograph can be studied.  It can be referred back upon for whatever purpose.  The moment can be remembered when reflected upon years later.  Someday someone will eventually discover this treasure I call the ruins and will change it forever.  It is inevitable.  And, I think it will be in my lifetime.  I will have the precious photos to show how it once was.  This is East Tennessee and everything rich in natural beauty is bought, sold and eventually built upon.  There is nothing sacred in this part of the state when it comes to the almighty dollar..  The only place that can not be touched is The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  I would put the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest right up there with the National Park on the safe list.  The rest of it will be an extension of Knoxville eventually.  It almost is now.
The sun is hot.  I long for that camp space beside Slick Rock Creek where the air is cool and comfortable.  The sound of constant tumbling water, relentless, soothes the mind and the soul.  What a refreshing break from the daily routine and racket of social life!  But, it isn't too shabby here where I am today.  I just have to put things into perspective.  This is a different kind of beauty.  The views are gentle on the mind and I always have it to myself, and my kids.
The greens are vivid.  I wonder where I could take the dogs if it weren't for this place.  Oh, we go to the East Coast Hiking Trail that follows the shores of Tellico Lake.   Sometimes there are people walking that trail and all of them do not like dogs.  This ruins area has been a salvation.   I used to park the government boat back here when I worked for Tennessee Wildlife Resources.  One day a friend and I simply drove down the road that disappears into the lake just to see what was back here.  That was the start of a wonderful relationship between this beautiful wild area and myself;  and, of course, my dogs.
Shade is such a goof.  She is like a small child, never taking anything serious.  The world is a playground to her.   Thank heaven I found her when I did back then.  She was destined for a miserable end.  I was in the right place at the right time.  And yes;  I love her also.  She will be with me the rest of her life.
Douglas waits in the shade of the big tree.  He is always off by himself.  He takes after his dad.
One more little video of the ruins follows and finally one of the kids having a good time.
 I  took a little break from this entry and mowed the grass.  Back by the fence I came upon the place where I lay Julia.  The spot is not hard to find.  The grass grows the greenest there.  Nature has blessed ancient Julia with a blanket of the most vivid green.  She nourishes the natural world with her splendor as she did every human, kind enough to take notice of her when she was here with us;  and that wasn't many.  The old ones have paid their dues.  Hopefully they grew old in a good life but, many live horrid, painful, extended existences caused by uncaring humans. I want them to enjoy continued bliss and the easy life.  It is so hard to let go of the old ones.  I didn't have Julia long.  She was a joy when she was here.  And,  I miss her dearly.

And finally;  the kids having a bit of fun.  Douglas is missing as usual.  Off under a shade tree alone.
That's it for now.  Back to the salt mines tomorrow.  Wonder where that term came from.  Salt mines----Wonder what they pay there?  Sounds like an honorable profession.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


click on photos to enlarge
It sure felt good to feel the resistance on the paddle as I pulled against the water.  As usual, I had Calderwood Lake to myself.  I love weekdays.  My only regret is I had to leave Shade and Happy at home.  Douglas always gets the first choice when it comes to camping.  The air was cool next to the water.  I could feel the temperature difference on the hand that grasped the shaft of the paddle.  This trip was a last minute decision, so no great plans to do or accomplish anything were made.
I grabbed the backpack tent because it is quick and easy to pack and carry to and from the boat.  I heard there was a chance of rain tonight but I probably won't be that lucky.  I love storms!
We paddled into Slick Rock Creek and set up camp.  The shoreline back here is so cluttered with rocks and boulders that it is hard to beach the canoe.  I can't imagine the Boundary Waters of Minnesota being any worse.
Setting up camp for me takes about ten minutes.  I've done it countless times over a lot of years.  It actually requires more time and effort unloading the canoe.  Douglas immediately ran to the rushing waters of Slick Rock Creek while I labored with all the stuff and secured the canoe.
The tent erects very quickly although not near as fast as the OZ tent.  The canoe was brought out of the water and supported upside down on two logs for safety.
I had just recently applied a new coat of gel to the bottom on this canoe and already, from this trip, she has accumulated new scars.  Oh well;  it's made to be used and use it I will.
I had better go check on Douglas.   I know he's upstream having the time of his life.  He really enjoys these cold mountain streams with current in them.  Douglas loves to fish.  At least he demonstrates his prowess at minnow fishing.
Douglas stares at the prey beneath the surface.  Look closely on top Douglass head.  A butterfly has found a precious flower from which to gather nectar.  However, this flower, sweet as it is, has no nectar. 
Douglas charges through the water lunging at the minnows and the butterfly stays put.    I will attempt to upload a movie of Douglas fishing in this stream at the end of this blog entry.  He is intelligent, persistent and is pure innocence.
Tonight we will both lounge in this pool together.  Right now;  he stops for a rest in the cool water of  the stream.  This is dog heaven to him.
He is so funny and interesting to watch.  His rests are short lived and it's back to chasing trout.
If you look hard you can see what Douglas is so excited about.
I had ordered and received a water treatment tool and I just filled up my nalgene, quart bottle.  I have used this brand purifier years ago but, have since misplaced my old one.  I bought the same brand, after careful investigation, that I used when I backpacked back in the eighties.  It is called a "First Need."
This particular unit will pump two quarts of delicious water in one minute.  It's amazing.  No more paying for gallons of water to take camping.  I highly recommend this filter to anyone serious about camping, hiking and backpacking.  I thought I had something great back in the old days.  This thing is simply light years ahead of that old technology.
I am so lazy this afternoon.  I got home from work and mowed the lawn before it rained last night.  That, after standing and walking ten to eleven hours a day on the showroom gets to me after a week.  The three days off per work period is generous and much appreciated.  The heat has a lot to do with my lackadaisical attitude also.  It is shady back here in Slick Rock Creek but, there isn't a breeze blowing and the humidity is high.  I think I'll just sit here and arrange and care for some gear.
You know I'm lazy when I take my own picture.
But, I'm never too lazy to get up and love on Douglas.  He's a sweet pardner. 
Strange thought----Wonder how many people go two or three days without talking to another person?  My longest period of being alone has been for thirty five days when on a motorcycle tour around the United States back in the seventies.   Never said a word to anyone the whole ride.  Of course, I didn't stop long enough to meet anyone to talk to either.  Personally;  I savor the experience.  I don't have to keep a conversation going by adding worthless chatter.  Of course, a good friend with common likes is welcome company.  It's just that I don't meet folks who appreciate it "out here" like I do.   To most, camping is all about the tent or the gadgets and the real purpose is lost in the hi tech equipment.  Good equipment is necessary but I view it as a means to reach an end which is the immersion of myself into the environment and not have things break due to poor quality.  A casual evening in a tent in the yard or along the road at the lake is wonderful if time is limited.  But out here;  the equipment is a fundamental necessity to safely enjoy and extend the experience of the wilderness adventure.  I guess I never really knew anyone so intense about it all.  Well;  there was one friend who loved to hike, fly fish and bicycle with me.  We really back packed hard back in the mid eighties but, he moved to Colorado.  I've been alone in  many outdoor endeavors ever since.
I guess I just can't compromise on my beliefs.  The only friends who see it my way all the time, every time are my constant companions Douglas, Shade and Happy.  They are the best friends I could ever find.
What a joy to shed this artificial skin and slip gently into the cool water.  Such joy!  A natural cleansing of the soul, not to mention the body as well.   The sun falling in the sky and the temperatures are just perfect.  I think I'll sit here on this rock in the middle of the pool and just watch it.  Douglas thinks I'm nuts.
The cool water gently massages tired muscles and washes away the sticky feeling accumulated throughout the day.  I glance down at my watch and notice a tick slowly moving up my arm.  Do they never let up?  Just a bit longer.  Just a bit.
It is getting dark.  I am done with clothing this day.  I reluctantly pull myself to the waters edge and slowly walk back to the tent.  I sat down in the chair without drying off.   The temperature is somewhere between warm and cool.  What a joy not to care about anything.  There's no one here but me and;  of course Douglas.  I am thinking of my plans to paddle across Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia in September.  I've about got it figured out too.  But even more;  I'm putting together a motorcycle trip of a lifetime.  One last fling on two wheels.   That one is still in the thinking stage.  A ride across the entire United States on dirt roads.  I have done it countless times on asphalt over my lifetime.  Never on dirt and gravel roads.  I think it can be done.  We'll see what happens.
It's 8:30 PM and darkness is near upon us.  The soft, late afternoon light is almost gone, soon to be replaced by the moons glow.   I have time for one more soak in the stream.  I can't let it go.  Douglas is already in the drink.  His water world is at my eye level.  He abruptly stops and lunges;  his head submerges.  I plunge my head under water and catch a glimpse of silver sheen as the fish scurries away in haste.  Probably a trout but, had the attributes of a bass.   I think trout.  I believe Douglas is getting closer to perfecting his fishing skills. 
It feels so wonderful to sit on this big rock in the middle of a dark, dusky, cool pool of fresh mountain water totally naked.  Naked, by the way, is normal.  I have absolutely no intention of dawning clothing until morning.  This is living!  This is, to me, exhilaration.  Gee Whiz;  wonder what my buddies from work are doing in the bars in Knoxville tonight?  I've been on some camps here in Tennessee but, this particular camp out with Douglas is the finest.
My clothes lay on the ground and appear to be just so many rags tossed about to lie here and there.  I am so comfortable in my nakedness that I am hesitant and reluctant to put them back on at all, and I won't until morning.  Damn that canoe!  See what it does to a man?
A soft fog is settling upon the water and I guess I better turn in.  It's been a grand evening spent in a glorious place with a special friend.

 The night passes quickly and the early sun awakens me.  I move slowly,  as I stayed awake late into the night trying to avoid ending the experience.  It's time to break camp and move on.  I see some wilderness friends have been up well ahead of me.
Well hidden;  these two Monarchs appear to be demonstrating affection toward each other.
The butterflies would normally have gone unseen.  One has to not only look but, one also needs to see.
There is always something to observe out here. 
They  are beautiful.  Just a couple more shots and we have to get going.
The sun was reflecting beautifully off the greens along the shoreline.  I wish we could stay longer.  However;  one 80 pound Golden Retriever in a cramped canoe is not what you want in the middle of a deep lake for extended periods of time.  He gets figity. 
The water was unreal in its smoothness.
A creature was crossing the lake up ahead.  I paddled slowly.  I thought it might be an otter.  Just when I brought out the camera;  Douglas decides to turn around and face the other side of the canoe.  Whoa!  "Douglas;  sit boy, sit!"  With camera in one hand and the canoe paddle in the other;  I tried to decide weather to sit the camera down and paddle or, put the camera away in the water proof box and just ignore the rodent in the water.  I was curious.  The little swimmer heard me raise my voice to Douglas and changed direction away from our previous intersecting course.  There wasn't much light and I shot at 1/1000th of a second.  The ISO was very high.  But, it would capture an image at least.  The picture will be grainy.  The furry critter was a beaver.
"Douglas;  sit down!"
The above shots were the best I could do through the fog and dealing with a Golden intent on practicing an intricate trapeze trick while in the canoe.
But then, just down stream a bit, was yet another beaver skimming along near the shoreline.

I apologize for the sadly lacking quality in the photography.  It's the best I could do under the circumstances.  It did prove out my suspicions about weather there were beavers on the lake.  I know the otters are here but have never seen sign of beaver.  I wonder where they are eating.  There are no chewed trees anywhere.  One thing for certain;  the wildlife viewing time is at sun up.

I hope you've enjoyed this outing.  I'll try to post that movie of Douglas fishing next.  Thanks for being interested in the blog.  See you next time.