Monday, July 18, 2011

LEARNING CHEROKEE LAKE AND A CHANCE FOR SHADE/one last thought about Douglas


I have been spending a little time testing the state boat and running the new GPS over Cherokee Lake in an attempt to learn my way around.  The actual function I will perform for the fisheries will start on or about August 1st, last I heard.  This month has been spent bringing the equipment, boat and truck, on line.  The boat sat idle for almost two years and required some tender loving care.
As I stated in a previous entry;  Cherokee is a mighty big piece of water at 58 miles in length.  It also has 580 miles of shoreline.  It's a lot of water to find one's way in.  I spent time today floating along the East side of the lake heading North.  I hadn't done that previously.  I took along a passenger today.  Shade.  I decided to give Shade, Black Lab, a chance at being a boat dog today.  She has been in my smaller boat and even a canoe once but, this boat has a 150 horsepower two cycle engine and it is much louder than my smaller four cycle engine.  She may withdraw in fear over the noise.
She was the perfect dog at the boat ramp.  Shade walked beside me and never once ran off.  She followed me up the ramp and when I told her to get in the boat;  she jumped right in.  So far;  so good.  I headed toward the far shoreline to be sure I could match the information on my lake map with the GPS screen.
Shade was doing real good at idle speed.  She searched around on the boat and acted very inquisitive about everything.  Then I pushed the throttle and the engine came alive.
Then it was run to dad.  She's a funny girl.  She would get used to the louder engine in time.  I would watch her closely.
She would venture off on her own when I'd leave up on the throttle, but as soon as the engine would get louder she would come right back and sit between my ankles.
She became more tolerant as time went on.  This was all new to her and her actions were expected by me.  Eventually she calmed down and walked up along side the center console tower while under speed.  At one point she even laid down in a place other than on top of my feet.
I'm proud of her.  She is becoming more bold as the hours pass.  I carried a gallon of fresh, cold water for her and a collapsible drinking bowl.  I wasn't sure how hot it would get today.  Her black hair is a heat magnet.

At last she found courage to slowly wander up toward the bow.   A bit of emotion swept over me when I saw her there alone.  That was where Douglas always stood with his muzzle raised to the sky.  I guess I'm not used to seeing the color black on the bow of my boats.  My golden boy was always there;  always.  He absolutely loved being on the very tip of the bow.  He would watch the wakes rolling toward the boat and I could see his legs flex in preparation for the rise of the boat over the wave.  Oh Douglas!!
Shade is approaching the bow very cautiously.  She'll be there, in her own time.  Yea Shade!
Today would be her test.  I would determine if she will go on the boat again.  It all depended on how she handles herself.  Right now;  she's impressing me with her good manners.  She stays out of my way and is no bother.  She apparently is growing bolder by the hour because she is moving around the boat.
I brought along a sandwich today and I wanted to stop the boat for awhile.  We had been traveling for about three hours non stop so far.  I needed to know how this boat would handle pulling along the shoreline to disembark.  I cut into a cove and noticed grassy banks.  No rocks.  The bow was aimed directly toward a grassy spot with trees and I cut the motor to an idle and shut it off when approximately 50 feet from touching down.  This boat is great.  It handles much like my Gheenoe.  The bow very gently "touched" the shoreline and I simply grabbed a small sapling with my hand and tied the bow line to it.  I watched Shade.  She stayed with me.  I told her to "lets go."  She jumped off the boat.   I was impressed.  
She waited for me.  I couldn't believe it.  She stood there watching me.   This is what I mean when I said individual dogs act differently when away from the influence of other dogs.  
The boat looked really pretty with her nose touching the grass.  I think these style boats, and canoes, show their best lines when in a wilderness area beached against grass and with a good looking background behind them.
Shade has not been in the water since Douglas has been gone.  Douglas was her best friend and he set the pace for them.  Shade has been lost without him.  She seems, however, to be substituting me for Douglas.  She actually got into the water today.   It made me feel great.   She sat down right in the water close to shore.  It was a start.
And then I threw the stick in the water.  "Get it girl!"
To my delight, she turned and swam to the stick and picked it up and started back to me.  Her heart is mending.
This made me feel great.  I worried about her for the past couple weeks.  It looks like she's bringing it all the way back to shore.
Not only did she swim to the stick and bring it back;  she laid it at my feet.  Amazing!  She has never done that before.  She deserves a good roll in the grass to dry off a bit.
The passing of Douglas has been very hard on all of us.  He was the leader; the one everyone followed when on the trail or in the water.  When that close knit group was fractured, they became confused as to how to act.  I guess I'm not a very good pack leader.  Douglas is a hard act to follow.  It seems that Shade is leaning on me to be a decision maker.  I'll do my best.
This is a pretty spot.  I'll have to make a note of it.
The views are great in every direction.  We'll just turn in a half circle and take it all in.  Very pretty.  It won't be long until the lake is lowered and the views will change dramatically. 
Egret

We had to get going.  I wanted to go one more mile and swing left to the opposite shoreline and follow it back to the boat launch.  This run is the last run to determine the reliability of the boat and all aspects thereof.  It is running very well.  It exceeds my expectations and that ain't easy to do.
I decided to check one more cove out to determine if it might hold fishermen.  I wanted to get a read on the water depth also.  I saw what looked like two canoes on the beach at the back of the cove.  I chugged over toward them.

There were two ladies with the canoes.  That's not odd in the least.  But, what brand were those canoes they were using?  The closer I got the more intense my curiosity became, and the better those two boats looked.
I pulled right up to them and rested the bow in a bush along the shoreline.   My eyes opened wide when I got a good look at those two canoes.  Solid wood.  
Look at these canoes.  They are glorious and boast of the finest quality.  Where did they come from?  Well, the designer, engineer and builder is in the picture below.  
She said it was OK to put her picture on this site but, I didn't ask if it was OK to place her name under it.  So, I won't.  The lady knows her canoes.  We talked and talked and I asked and asked about the canoes.  She stated that it takes her a whole Summer to build one.  These canoes in the photos are made of pine wood.  She can use cedar, my favorite, or any other wood of choosing.  I guess one might say that the pocketbook is the only limitation.
The canoes are different in design.  Look at the flowing lines of it.   These canoes are the most elegant beauties I've seen on any water in Tennessee.  The lady knows the craft of building canoes.
I can't say I've ever seen this exact design.  The fitment of wood parts is superb!
Of course I have to have one.  I told her I will call and discuss specifications.  I doubt she believed me.  She doesn't know me.  But she will.


If your reading this, Cat;  I will be calling.  I've got some things to handle on this new house I just bought but it won't take long.  I'd like to have a 16 foot canoe made of cedar with mahogany gunnels and trim, cane seats and a custom yoke.  I want it made to the exact specs as the Pal canoe that Bill Mason used before he moved on to Prospectors.  Nova Craft makes that canoe to the same specs, they say.  That's what I'll be asking for when I call you.  I admire your ability to create works of art such as I've seen today.  What a wonderful talent you have!

Shade and I said our goodbys and slowly moved away from the shoreline.  I had a bad case of the wants.  The house has a bad case of the need for a garage door and siding on the back.  After that, I'll get into this canoe thing with Cat.  
A quick check of the sonar/GPS unit indicated exactly what the map told me only in super detail.  What a marvelous instrument to navigate with!  This will come in handy when the water levels drop.  I will be able to cruise over the main river channel which is indicated on the GPS map.  That is deep water.
I just couldn't resist posting the beautiful art piece that a close friend made for Douglas and me again.  My heart aches for him but, something is happening.  I can now talk about it without breaking up.  If you have been reading the entries about my feelings for Douglas,  I indicated that I felt it was he who was holding on to me;  not me holding him.  I went to bed a couple nights ago and I noticed I could enjoy just being tired. My mind wasn't wracked with memories and I didn't cry for my little golden boy.  I actually fell asleep.

"Oh, my little golden boy I miss you so much.  I told you before that your paws were heavy upon my chest and that you should not tarry, but should leave on your journey.  I think you have done so because the weight on my chest is gone.  The ache in my heart is still very painful though.  In my minds eye I can see you as you drop to the ground after standing, leaning on my chest while looking into my eyes.  I think you finally got the idea that I couldn't go with you.  I watch as you slowly walk away down a lush green path only to stop as you always did on the trail, to look back at me to see where I was.  Then I can see you turn your head and walk on up a short rise in the road.  Your hair is wafting in a gentle breeze that passes over your perfect golden body as you reach the crest of the hill.  Once on top, you turn sideways and look directly toward me for a long while.  My heart is crushed at your beautiful presence.  I miss you my dear golden son.  Then you turn away and walk over the top and I watch intensely as your shape slowly recedes behind the hill.  I strain my eyes to hold you in my sight and then you are gone.  Douglas; I'm sorry I could not be with you on this outing, your last.  It's the first time we've not gone together anywhere.  I will miss you every day of my life my sweet innocent friend and I will always see you standing proud on the bow of the boat with your muzzle pointed skyward, drinking in the wild smells and reveling in life.  And I am so sorry I could not help you in your moment of greatest need.  Forgive me sweet one."