Saturday, October 15, 2011

EARLY FALL AT CALDERWOOD-IN THE GHEENOE

click photos to enlarge
The sound of the on coming rain can be heard beating against the tree foliage as it comes nearer and nearer until finally it arrives in torrents.  The porch is the place to be at times like this.  Nothing can be heard but the roar of falling rain.  The water is so dense it's difficult to see through it across the yard to the woods.  It is 1AM.   Five dim shadows move stealthily along through the downpour at the edge of the woods.  The dogs all stare in that direction.  How in the world can they perceive any living creature out there at that distance, moving quietly, and through a complete downpour?  They were turkeys.   My girls and I sat quietly while the spectacle unfolded before us.  My God;  hard falling rain is beautiful!  I wish I was in a tent along Calderwood Lake right now.  I will be on Calderwood tomorrow.  The first mission is to drive the motorcycle to Madisonville Kawasaki and pick up a couple carburator main jets.  Then Happy and I will leave with the Gheenoe for the lake.   I really wanted to take the canoe in the worse way but, there are wind advisories for that area and Calderwood is not friendly to canoes when the wind howls. 

The little dock was twisted and bent seriously.  As I stated before;  Calderwood is no place to be caught in wind with a canoe.  The wind is channeled down the very deep and vertical canyon that the lake lies in and accumulates great speed by the time it reaches the lake surface.  At that point;  the lake is a highway and the wind follows along between the lines, the shore lines, at high speed.
The signs of Fall are everywhere here.  I notice a lot of leaves floating on the surface indicating there indeed was a high wind situation very recently.
I noticed also that TVA has lowered the lake a couple feet.  This is not a normal occurrence at this particular time of the year.  It's a curious thing.  I wonder if someone anticipates a higher than normal snow fall up here?

I don't have a good lens for landscape.  I've been meaning to get one but, the ole income is pretty much fixed now and I have to get a feel for what the property costs will be on this taj mahal I bought but, never needed or never really wanted.  Most of these shots are taken either with the 500mm lens or the 990 Canon.
The colors of Fall are just starting here and it is apparent that many leaves have been knocked off the trees by wind and rain.  Calderwood provides a Fall spectacle when the leave coloring process goes perfectly.  But then;  what goes perfectly in this world?

Flock after flock of wood ducks explode from the surface, always far ahead of the Gheenoe.  A good picture is impossible.  They can hear the Gheenoe's engine and my position on the lake is given away.  They are wary critters.  The canoe, however, can slip through the water unnoticed until I'm right on them.  Even in a canoe I have to move slowly and the paddle strokes must be absolutely silent or the little ducks will panic and disappear.   Three of them flew past the canoe at top speed and I couldn't resist taking a photo wing shot as they passed by.  The resultant picture is sadly lacking but it was fun to try.

The wind would come and go.  When it came;  it was powerful and would blow the Gheenoe sideways and down the lake when the engine was shut off.  When it was absent;  the lake was serene and quiet.  There wasn't a soul on this body of water but me.

We were getting closer to the old, flooded train tunnel.  I was curious to see what it looked like since the lake level was drawn down a couple feet.
The train tunnel is difficult to photograph as it is dark at the opening and the interior is not lighted at all.  That situation inside the tunnel is highlighted outside by bright light.  The proper way to get a good exposure would be to enter the tunnel and take a light reading and then go back outside and take the shot.  Impossible to do.

My little velcro girl.  I can't leave home without her
The tunnel is just ahead.


The train tunnel is just ahead

Just as I suspected;  one can see straight through the tunnel with the decrease in water depth.
A kayak could pass through this hole but I suspect another foot would be needed to get a canoe through.   I wouldn't recommend trying to float anything through if alone.  The tunnel is located in such a position on the cliff side that it is not easily identified from the lake.  Help would be difficult to summon if required.

We headed on past the tunnel and proceeded down the lake.  I hugged the sunny shoreline.  A bald eagle soared very high in the sky.  He swooped down only momentarily only to fly amongst the trees.  He didn't present any possibilities of a good photograph.
The motor sound on the boat puts me at a disadvantage out here.  The critters can hear it and they see me before I can see them.  The kingfisher below is a good example.  I guarantee that I could get very close to him in a canoe but, today I can barely approach him.  He was ready.
He dropped off the limb and flew as soon as I nosed the boat in his direction.  His head is facing away from the viewer.
Every dog I've taken on a boat has a habit of standing with their feet on the gunnel's.  This is a precarious place to put one's feet.  You guessed it.  She plopped off the boat and immediately swam toward shore.  I don't have a preserver on her today as the lake is narrow and I would be going slow.  Also, it's no trick to lift her out of the water from this boat.  I knew she would take the plunge.  I just didn't know when.  The water is 57 degrees and she was a cold, wet little dog.
Happy swam to shore and awaits dad to come and get her.  She was shivering and had the saddest look on her face when she got back onto the boat.
I wrapped her in my emergency wool pull over shirt.  Happy wasn't very happy at the moment.
Of course the wind had to start blowing at that moment so I got my Carhart coat out and wrapped that around her also.  She was snug as a bug in a rug.
Someone asked me one time;  "what are you doing with her?"  That meaning, why do I have such a little dog when I spend so much time "out here?" Happy has bonded very tightly to me over the years and I've never known a more dedicated little dog than she is.  She will brave unfavorable conditions of all sorts just to be with me.  I call her my velcro dog.  She would walk through miles of broken glass and endure any hardship just to be to be at my side.  That, my friends, is dedication!  How many friends like that do you have?
I'm going to have to start leaving her home shortly as she can not stand the cold. 
The sun is dropping fast and we better head back upstream.  We got a late start today.  It's such a long ride to Calderwood from my new home that I doubt I'll be back here in the very near future.  I loved the time spent here today.

I put the throttle on idle, got Happy on my lap, still wrapped up in my coat, sat back and just let the Gheenoe wander down the lake.  Total bliss!

People always ask me; "what do you do out there if you don't fish?"  The answer is too lengthy to get into with them.  I just reply; "photography."

The next adventure will be on Chilhowee Lake for a canoe camp.  I want to explore the old Club House once more.  I've uncovered more information about that historical place and want to view it from another perspective.

The sun is going down and we're almost back to shore.  There are a lot of photographs in this entry and I hope you found one or two to your liking.

The day wasn't long enough.  I always feel sad to leave this lake.  It's my special place to charge up the batteries.

And so;  the day ends.  It's been nothing short of grand.  I am so appreciative of this great country of ours and the little pockets of beauty we are blessed with.  I wish I could visit them all before I am no more.  But I'll savor what I can and enjoy the experiences to the maximum.  See you next time.