Sunday, July 24, 2011

THIS HAS BEEN A ROUGH MONTH

The passing of my best friend Douglas, moving into this house which is 90 miles from Greenback, dealing with a totally crashed computer,  starting a new job with Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, TWRA, building a electric fence for the dogs, having a garage door installed on the back of the house and getting to bed at 2AM for the past two weeks has been challenging.  To top off the list;  I launched the boat today at a less than desirable boat ramp and swamped the truck.  Fortunately two fishermen came by and pulled me out of that mess.  But, it's all part of the day I guess.  There is plenty of help for situations with the truck and boat.  There are TWRA employees everywhere and they all have radios.  They would respond instantly for me whether stuck on the lake or in the mud on the shore line.  And, I would do the same for any of them.    The term "I got your back" is a standard character trait of all the employees in this agency.  How wonderful is that?!

I selected Shade to go with me today.  Happy was the dog on board yesterday.  I'll try to put a shot or two of her in this mess somewhere.  I only was on the water for an hour today as I feared I wouldn't be able to extract the boat at that gravel ramp.  The day was hot and I probably should have left Shade at home.  Her coal black hair absorbs the heat and it is hot;  very hot today!  The surface temperature of the water was 89 degrees in the cove I was floating in.
My electric boat motor needed service in a bad way so I stopped at Buffalo Springs, our service outpost, to tear into it and try to make it serviceable.  If you look closely in the shot above, you'll see boat dog two--Shade relaxing.  This is about 6:30AM this morning and already the temperatures were unbearable, especially for Shade.   I carry plenty of water for her at all times.  It's amazing that she stays so close to me and/or the truck and boat.  I am more and more impressed with her each time I take her with me.  She's very behaved and listens to me perfectly.  When with Douglas she would run every way at the same time.  That's because she had a roaming partner.  Now, she has only me.  She's not Douglas and I don't expect her to be.  No dog could fill Douglas's paw prints but;  she's a well behaved dog and totally dedicated to me.
OK;  so what's a corn field doing in a lake entry to this blog.  The field is on a Wildlife Management Area, WMA) (Buffalo Springs),  which happens to be our region's work center.  You'll probably hear me talk a lot about TWRA in the future for two reasons.  One is that I work for them, and proud to do so.  The second reason is because I think the general public thinks "game warden" when they see the uniform or hear the term TWRA.   That simple cornfield above was created by TWRA employees.  The product from that field and many, many more will go toward feeding wildlife and to the creation of habitat for all the critters in the meadows and the forests. 
Habitat preservation and restoration,  fisheries management and law enforcement are all part of TWRA.  I've mentioned this before and it is worth mentioning again.   TWRA employees are the feet on the ground doing the grass roots work that make it all happen for the critters in Tennessee.  There are hunting and fishing factions who fund the agency through their purchase of hunting and fishing licenses.  The gear they purchase is taxed and presents another avenue for the collection of operating funds.   The money collected through the sales of hunting and fishing licenses makes it possible for the agency to monitor, regulate and protect the wildlife that belongs to everyone within the boarders of this state.   I've been an outdoor person all my life and have admired the mission of this agency ever since moving to Tennessee.  I consider it a privilege to work for this agency and to make my very small contribution toward their reservoir fisheries programs to make them successful.
What you see above is the inside of the main building at the TWRA Region IV work center.  It is packed with gear to repair whatever breaks in the field.  These guys also service the reservoir fisheries by creating underwater habitat for the various species of fish.  But, the real reason I took these shots is for the bee's nests.  Look closely at the ceiling and the walls.  One of the guys assigned to this location collects wasp and hornet nests.  Just like some people collect weather veins;  this guy, Darrell, collects nests.  Check it out.
Look real close at the ceilings and the walls and click on the shots to enlarge.  It's an amazing collection!
The inside of this building is the single outdoors man's dream room.  I guess if he's married;  that's alright too.   It's pretty cool!
As I said earlier;  yesterday was Happy's day on the boat.  She was a perfect little trooper and loves the boat, accept when I throttle up the engine.  She runs between my legs when she feels the deck increase in vibration to the acceleration.
 I  keep a life vest on her as she is so small that an overboard accident would make it difficult to find her on that vast water.
Actually, I need to get a life vest for Shade also.  Even her tremendous swimming power would not be good enough to get her to shore if she fell off and I didn't notice.  I watch her like a hawk when she's on board.
I am very happy with the beauty of this great lake.  The islands all beg for exploration and I'm sure we'll be on many of them.  I've noted some great canoe water also.  Can't wait for a canoe paddle trip.  This house has me strapped for now though.  The lake will change drastically in the Winter, however.  I'll show you pictures when the time comes.
Below, note the two tombstones on this tiny island in the middle of the lake.  I mean they are in the middle of the lake.  Amazing.  I'll stop in my personal boat and check it out later.
I'm sure I'll uncover an interesting story about these two stones placed so close together
Happy's getting brave
I like to park the boat in a scenic place to enjoy lunch and a cold water.  Yep;  this is my kitchen.  Think it's as comfy as yours?  It's heaven to me.  Baloney tastes better in this environment.
The last two shots show the state rig in front of my house and what's left of my little family.  I miss Douglas so much!  I miss the beauty of him in front of me on the boat.  Oh Douglas, what you've done to me my dear son!
These are the best friends in the world.  The best!