Wednesday, November 10, 2010


click on photos to enlarge

The past two days has been filled with outdoor activities.  Monday found me at the old ruins with the dogs, and later I took the Champlain, canoe, on a paddle across Tellico Lake.  Tuesday was a treat because I got to ride motorcycles with my best friends Kevin and Shaun.  I swear Kevin knows every dirt road in the Big South Fork Wilderness area.  We rode many dirt roads far back into the mountains.  I had no idea where I was at any time.  It's good to get off the asphalt and explore the countryside on roads that penetrate into the recesses of the back country.  The motorcycles we were on are particularly suited to dirt road adventuring.
Today finds the golden wonder dog, Douglas, and me on Melton Hill Lake.  I want to enjoy his company-one on one- without interference from the other dogs.  He's my boy.
There is no particular reason to be here except that the lake is here for me to be on.  And on it I am.  I'll snap off some shots of the "here and there" just because I like to take pictures.  This blog entry follows no particular theme.  It's just the mood I'm in as I write this.  All I can say is, "I love these wild places."
 There are a lot of logs and debris floating on the lake.   Trying to avoid collisions is testing my ability because I can't swerve and cut quickly for fear of tossing Douglas off the front of the boat.  Reduced speed is the only answer.  The logs float in certain areas of the lake;  quiet areas where the current is rather stagnant.  Douglas has his water legs on today and doing a stellar job of pointing the way without falling overboard.
The left hillside is usually covered with kudzu.  It's rich green color contrasts against the sky and water.  But, I noticed that someone has been attempting to kill it.  Kudzu is a tenacious plant that is, in reality, impossible to annihilate. 
One can see that the kudzu is short on this hillside.  It has been sprayed and presumably killed.  But, it is a temporary control factor only.  It will rise back up in a year or two as it has here.

This area has been sprayed this year.  The defoliated area was lush green and thick with kudzu last year.  I'll check it out in the Spring.  I bet it will be growing again.  If I had a lawn;  I'd plant kudzu and never cut it down.  It would overtake the house and I would keep the windows and door cut out only.  I've seen buildings completely covered with kudzu.  Only their outlines are visible.  It's an eerie sight to behold.

I like to wander over Melton Hill Lake, especially in the Winter time as there are practically no boats on the lake.  The extreme downstream end of the water is wild and the country side is not privately owned.  I can still beach the boat and not have to worry about upsetting some property owner.  The sounds of construction, however, can be heard far down the lake.  Progress is rapidly moving in.  A shame!
I think I'll find a quiet cove and drift in to shore for a rest in the sun.  I'm sure the golden dog is ready for some land sniffing.  The water is very smooth and the boat hardly rocks about at rest.  I cut the engine, and she quietly drifts up to the bank and barely touches it.  Perfect landing.
Douglas is really into this day.  He doesn't have his dog friends who normally join us so, he's hanging on my every lead.  But, he ranges into the woods on brief forays only to return to see what I'm up to.  I'm writing in my journal right now.  I've only got one clean page left in this notebook.  Wow!  That's fourteen notebooks I've filled up over the past six years.  I'll just write smaller.
The view across the lake is pleasant.  The Fall colors are rapidly disappearing, giving way to the cold of the advancing Winter.  Still, there are beautiful sights left to find.

If a fella just sits quiet, there's bound to be critters moving about that beg to be observed.  As I sit here arranging the photos in the camera for entry onto this blog;  I hear the distant sound of horses running.  What?  The sound is really getting closer.  Where's Douglas?  Before I can take another breath;  a huge white tail deer gallops right in front of me not twenty feet away.  He passes between me and the shoreline.  And, he is really moving.  His antlers are huge and they are misshaped.  I can only glimpse his right side but, one huge tine is bent down beside his jaw and appears to be about two inches in diameter.  He's gone in an instant.  And right behind him is Douglas!  No!  "Douglas No!"  Oh wow!  I know Douglas will not follow the deer long as he follows by sight only.  He does not have the traits or the tenacity of a hound.  When Douglas looses sight of the prey;  he quits and returns.  A hound will scent the prey and continue on relentlessly.   But, what is this?  The sound of crashing brush and more hoof beats.  I'm struggling to get the big camera out of the back pack and my hand is on it.  A second deer screeches to a halt, turns into the woods and turns again and runs full out toward the water----and the Gheenoe.  He leaps entirely over my little boat and plunges into the water.  The camera is in my hands and I turn it on.  "Come on, start."  These digital s start too slow.  The big deer is already a third of the way across the lake.  He's moving on, and he is huge.
I, at first, thought his antlers were larger.  All I could see was a blur and horns.  But, I see now he is a 6 point.  But, look how thick and high they stand on his head.  From the side;  his ears hide the two long tines protruding straight up from the back of his head.
Douglas, Douglas;  what have you done here?
Look at him.  He's beautiful and wild.  All one has to do is to look around a little bit.  And, of course see.
He's magnificent!
I couldn't believe the size of this fellow when he stepped out of the water.
Don't forget to click on the pictures to enlarge.  One or two final shots of him and he is gone like a phantom.
"Come on Douglas.  Lets go someplace where you can't get in trouble."
We pulled away from the scene of the chase and moved further down the lake.  There is a farmer's field, I remember, that touches the water and would be a good place to hang out and maybe photograph some birds.
It is very shallow here in this cove but the Gheenoe only requires six inches of water under her.  We pass a pied billed grebe.
 The Gheenoe settled in against the bank and I pulled her up onto the grass.
Douglas jumped out and comensed to search for things to chase.
I walked along with Douglas as he dodged in and out of the brush, running to the lake and back again.  I decided to strike out on my own across the field to the other side where a brush line separated the field from the water's edge.  Douglas is intelligent enough to keep track of my whereabouts and won't run off on his own.  I noticed a critter crossing the field.  Now, I have never had the opportunity to photograph one of these.  I'm glad I have a 500 mm lens on the camera.  Sure don't want to get too close.  These are dangerous.
He's a beauty alright.  The skunk appeared to have found something he liked and was settling down in a shallow depression in the ground.  He scratched and scratched at the ground trying to tear away the grass.  Possibly he knew there were some grubs or some insect just beneath the surface.

He appeared oblivious to my presence.  I advanced toward him slowly but, my feet were crunching the dry grass and each step sounded like I was walking on shredded wheat.  He didn't care.  I really don't think he realized I was approaching him.

Then he scented me and lifted his head

His scratching stopped and he watched me out of his left eye.  Funny how animals just won't turn and face you.  They turn their heads slightly left or right and watch that way.  He was very much aware of my presence now

Ok, wheres Douglas?  There you are.  Now, just stay back there boy.  Douglas hasn't seen the skunk and I want it that way.  He's involved with the brush over by the edge of the field.  The skunk and I are about fifty yards away from him.

A pretty little thing.
He's got an eye lock on me for sure.  I'm not moving a muscle and I doubt he knows what to make of me.
Oh no!  "Douglas!  NO, NO, NO, NO,  Get away!  Stop!  Douglas Sit!  Stay!  NOOOOOO! OH NO!  DAMN IT;  NO I SAID;  NOOOOO!
He picked a fine time to come to me.  He blundered right up to the skunk and lurched at it.  Skunky let him have it right in the face.
After hitting Douglas with a powerful spray of his elixir;  he ambled off toward the brush.  He didn't run;  he didn't show fear;  he simply left the scene in a dignified manner.  He has nothing to fear out here with his powerful weapons.  Douglas rolled in the grass and frothed at the mouth.  It was heart breaking to see his misery.  White froth dripped continuously from his mouth.  "Come here boy;  no wait;  don't come here."  What a situation!  I coaxed him to the lake and he instantly submerged himself in the water.  The frothing stopped.  I got his collar and checked his eyes.  They didn't appear to be watering or red.  I was releaved to know the urine of the skunk didn't hit his eyes.  That would have been serious.  I did immediately call the vet to ask what to do in case his eyes did become infected.   So, my wonderful, intelligent, magnificent golden retriever dog isn't infallible after all.   As for the skunk;  See below:
He ambled off across the field and into the brush but, he kept his weapon trained on us the whole time.
Douglas came out of the water and rolled around in the grass.  He then jumped directly onto the deck of the Gheenoe as if to say "lets get out of here."  So, we did.
So, here's the mix that takes the skunk smell off dogs.  I got this straight from the vet:
a.  wash dog thoroughly with  Dawn detergent.  (the blue color Dawn;  not green)
b.  Mix 1 table spoon vanila in 1/4 cup of baking soda and one pint of hydrogen Peroxide.
c.  Apply to the dog and leave it on him for up to 30 minutes.  Reapply as necessary.
d.  Follow up with a wash with straight Dawn.

Douglas got the treatment when we got home tonight.  I will have to keep watch on his eyes though.  The spray from a skunk will cause infection if sprayed directly into the eyes.  I hope Douglas learned a lesson.  He needs to listen to dad when dad says "NO!"

Below are some shots of our motorcycle ride into the deep unknown of Tennessee on dirt, back country roads.  There will be many adventures to come.
A road side rest
Kevin sure knows these back roads.  He was raised in these parts.
I have no clue where we are.
A man could starve out here
Desperadoes waiting for a train;  or, two bums waiting for a train.  Take your pick.
The crossing
Kevin;  where can a guy get something to eat out here?  Oh man!  And leave it to him.  He finds me a restaurant out here in this wilderness.  Funny!
We came upon an old railroad bridge with a sign that read "Burnt Bridge Park."  There was no information what so ever anywhere.  I'll have to look it up on the internet.  Nice place though.
The views were spectacular.  No humans either.  I like this gravel road traveling.
Another crossing and daring do!   Well, another crossing anyway.
And over the treacherous waterway he goes!
It was nice to be out and about with good friends.  I am usually totally alone in my wanderings but, I thoroughly enjoy the companionship of Shaun and Kevin.  I'm ready anytime they want to go motorcycle wandering.

Rough sledden.
That's about it for this edition of the meandering explorations of myself and friends, human and dog alike.  Keep an eye on the blog.  I've got some Winter surprises up my sleeve.  Remember;  always wear a life vest when on the water.