Saturday, December 31, 2011

LAST OFFICIAL RUN ON CHEROKEE LAKE FOR 2011

Click photos to enlarge
As I said previously; today is the last day I would be running the state boat on Cherokee Lake.  The 2011 schedule is over and the 2012 schedule transfers my efforts to Douglas Lake, located at Dandridge, TN.  I took some photos of some of the prettier places on the lake that were in my assigned area today.
The light of morning is not soft like afternoon's light but, the shots are acceptable.  The area I was traveling in today was all big water, bay areas, with few coves exhibiting navigable water conditions.
I've gotten used to this lake and it's fickle water and ridiculous boating hazards and I guess I can say that I will miss it,  just a little.  I'll certainly be back on it in one year, and surely I'll visit these waters when the lake is full again for the Summer.  She's a beauty when the water level is up where it should be.

Today was Shade's day on the boat.  She has not been with me in ages and she needed to get out of the house and into some action.  I wanted today to be a great last day at work and I expected to really apply all I had to collecting some of the best data I have yet so far.  I didn't have time to swing in and out of training mode with Falcor.  Falcor, lately, has been very obstinate in obeying my commands, primarily the command to come. He has been frustrating me daily at the boat ramps and also at the little stops we make on the islands for lunch.  I just wasn't into being frustrated today.  Shade, on the other hand, is the perfect, obedient partner.  She presents absolutely no problems at all.  Getting her into the truck in the morning has been an effort but, I found if I put the leash on her she will jump right into the front seat of the truck.  She will, however, not get in the back under the cap.  She absolutely remembers the terrible accident that day when she was back there under the truck cap.  Once we arrive at the lake;  she will enter and exit the truck and boat without a hesitation.  I just say;  "get in the truck" and she is instantly on the seat.  At islands all I have to do is walk toward the beached boat and she beats me to the deck without a word.  She's been with me a long time and knows the ropes.  Falcor will do fine but, he needs worked with.  I am not a dog trainer by any stretch of the imagination.  I'm terrible at it and don't have the patience for it.  Falcor has to start cooperating more if he will be a daily companion.
"Dad;  did you bring any of those Pennsylvania Christmas biscuits by chance?"

One old fisherman who I see on the lake almost every day asked me how many dogs I have.  He's a nice gentleman and a dog lover himself and thinks it's great that I take turns bringing the dogs to the lake.
I've never seen Shade happier than this morning.  Her muzzle was in the wind and her nose constantly twitched with the scents that the breezes brought to her.  She really doesn't care where she's going;  just so she's going somewhere with me.  What a dedicated friend!
The breeze picked up but did not present any problems.  The air wasn't what one would call warm but, it wasn't cold enough for the slightly elevated wind speed to cause problems.  I have a habit of judging water conditions in canoe terms.  Actually, this boat can take 4 foot waves or greater, and swells, easily without any problems.  A canoe is a slightly different animal.  The water above would be no problem in a canoe.  It's the wind that requires the strategy.  If a person can travel 5 miles per hour paddling a canoe and, the wind is blowing 20 miles per hour against him;  you can imagine the frustrating situation the canoeist faces.  If you look at the second picture above and compare it with the picture directly above;  you can see a difference in surface texture.  That change took only ten seconds to occur.  It's no big deal in this ocean liner but, a canoeist needs to know how to deal with those subtle changes.  
There were no fishermen on this side of the bay.  I knew there wouldn't be due to the elevated wind.  The gulls could be seen flying in circles at the center of the lake and beyond toward the far shoreline.  That would be where the wind is blowing the bait fish namely, the Shad, would be.  That would be where the Rock Fish and Cherokee Bass would also be.  But, the schedule is written in such a way that I must cover the water, fishermen or not, and so go we.  We were approaching a favorite beaching spot and would pull in there for a leg stretch and maybe a peanut butter sandwich.  I made Shade and I four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this morning before we left.
This is a sweet spot to stop at.  It is on the leeward side of the island and the texture of the soil is sandy so the boat can easily slip onto and off of the beach.  I'm very careful where I put the bow of this boat.  There is actually more danger of hitting rocks while beaching the boat at the boat ramp areas.  They are miserable places.
Shade was in her glory.  She jumped off the boat and hit the ground running.  It was great to see her stretch out and run.  I wanted to see if I could stop her and make her return.  "Shade Stop!"  She stopped and looked back.  "Shade Come on, Come on!"  She instantly turned and blasted back to me full speed and jumped up on the boat with me.  Now, that's what I need Falcor to do.  He has to in order to stay safe and allow me to maintain my temper with him.
She's running free as a bird and fast as she can.  She owns this place.
"Shade;  STOP!"  Look at her.  She stopped dead on the spot.

"Shade;  Come on Sweetheart, Come!"  Like clockwork.

The neat thing is that I never spent much time training her.  She learned by following the golden dog, Douglas for years.  All I do is substitute her name for his and she responds.  She had the greatest teacher.  The best!
We wolfed down the sandwiches, two for her and two for me, and I left Shade investigate the island.  There was no danger of her getting lost.  Not Shade.  That girl knows where I am at every moment.
The wavy lines on the beach appear to have been created by the hand of an artist.  In reality;  they were.
Note the houses in the background.  I rarely include houses in my photos.
One of these days, when my ship comes in;  I'm going to get myself a really good wide angle lens for these panoramic shots.  I can't do them justice with my current equipment.
Shooting into the light.  Yuk!

We'll walk around to the other end of the island where the light will be at our backs.
Ah;  that's better.  These little stops only last about 15 minutes.   I view scenic shots in sections when I look around and try to see what the lens sees.  That way I don't have to waste time walking to an area that will not be acceptable to photograph.  It's fun and it's interesting to see what quality of photos I've collected when I get home.  When viewed as a whole, an area may be unattractive or even ugly.  But, when that same area is split into quadrants;  each quadrant or section is judged separately from the whole and an entirely different emotion is captured by the lens.  Well;  a good photographer can do that.  I simply dabble about.
The shot above is straight out of the camera.  Note the dull, mundane color and lack of contrast.
The shot below is enlarged slightly but, note the contrast.  This is achieved in the camera with a simple adjustment before the shot is taken.  Practice tells me when to adjust contrast and when not to.
It's amazing to know that all this beach area will be covered with water in March.  The tree will stand alone, out of the water, as if it is growing on top the surface.
When I took the shot above;  I eliminated the houses on the far away shoreline of the lake from my vision.  I wanted a shot that would portray loneliness.  I like those kinds of pictures for some reason.  No;  I'm not lonely.  
I could camp here for sure   
Shade's having a great time playing in and around the water.  That water is 48 degrees and she doesn't care a bit.
What a super friend to be with! 
"Good girl Shade.  Good Girl!"
What a place to sit down!
This whole stop took only about 15 minutes;  maybe 20 minutes on the outside.  It's good to stretch the old legs a bit and watch a good friend be happy.
"Come on Darlin;  It's time to roll."
I'll say one word; "BOAT!"  Watch what happens.
She has become an amazing dog since the passing of Douglas.  She had this inclination to be dedicated to me all along.  She chose, however, to direct it toward Douglas.  I'm glad she did.  He needed her too.


We backed off the island and continued our search for anglers in boats.  As it turned out; my suspicions were correct about them being across the lake.  We talked to several fishermen and they had some really nice Striped Bass.  There were no unusually large fish but, at least they were catching them and that's what it's all about.
"About those biscuits, Dad."
This was a fine, fine day.  Everything went perfectly.  Even when things don't go quite right;  it's a great day.  It's a super life.  We motored back to the boat ramp.  It was going on 12:30 PM and we're supposed to be off the lake at noon.
"Love ya girl."
Don't get the idea I'm getting down on Falcor.  I'm not.  It's just that I didn't want to deal with training issues today and I wasn't in the mood for frustrating situations this morning.  And---I wanted to enjoy Shade.  I love her as much as I ever loved Douglas.  She was his right hand girl.  And;  now she's mine.
She's beautiful!
And, she's a big baby!
And another shift and day comes to an end.  Tomorrow will find us, me, on Douglas Lake.  I make it sound like a visit to hell but, I kid around a lot.  Douglas is also a flood control lake and it is low on water too.  I'll simply refer to it as The Mud Hole. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR Everybody.  I hope to see ya all in 2012.