Saturday, January 7, 2012

IMAGES ALONG FLAT CREEK

click photos to enlarge
The weather forecast called for rain today and I planned on a wet morning but, it didn't happen.  I would be running the boat on Flat Creek this morning; a tributary that branches off to the right just after leaving the boat ramp.  The nice thing about starting on a new lake is the exploration of it and learning where everything is.  I noticed the water was lower today than yesterday when  I was here.
In the picture above you can see water encroaching on the walkway.  That's due to the movement of the forward part of the dock which is a floating section.  It hinges where the water lays on it and actually extends in an attempt to stay level.  The forward part hinged downward and extended with the lowering of the water.  The lowering effect allowed water to overflow at the hinge point.  Whew;  wish I'd not gotten into that explanation.  Notice the concrete berm extending into the water.   There's one on each side of the boat ramp and they go out a good ways.  The water is so low in the lake that the boat propeller can make contact with this piece of concrete while at the dock.  It's insane.   The concrete berms prevent mud from building on the part of the boat ramp that is submerged.  It's a disaster waiting to happen.  I got the big boat hung up on these berms yesterday.  It's always something.
Flat Creek is located a very short way from the dock at the dam and is on the right side of the lake.  It's a long creek channel but I doubt there is enough depth in it to travel to the end.
Entrance to Flat Creek
The water was plenty deep at the mouth and I suspected it would have good depth for at least half the distance to it's end.
So far the morning was gorgeous.  The sky was very overcast but, I didn't have to put on my wind pants and extra layers of cloths under the floatation parka I wear.
So far I only saw one fishing boat.  I bet everyone thinks it's going to rain and are staying home.  I idled up the channel looking at everything.  A lot of folks make comments to me about not knowing why I don't get bored doing what I do.  They think searching for fishermen to interview and weighing their fish isn't the most adventuresome thing to spend time doing.  Life is what one makes it and I love the situation I'm in.  You see; I not only perform the tasks that satisfy my job but, I constantly scan the shoreline clear to, and into the trees.  I watch the sky for different species of birds and carefully look at disturbances on the surface in case a beaver, muskrat, otter or swimming squirrel might present themselves for observation.  If I have the big camera, I'll photograph the critters to the best of my ability and try to identify the species when I get home where my field guides are.  I have beached the boat to photograph certain flowers I noticed far up the shoreline at the edge of the woods.  These activities keep me occupied while the boat drones along on it's prescribed path for the morning or afternoon.  Then I saw a lighthouse.  Yep;  a light house.  As usual;  my kaleidoscopic mind kicked into gear.
Oh;  it wasn't a full size, official light house but, it was of fair proportions.  I imagined a stormy, foggy night with high winds and a wayward soul lost in his 12 foot fishing boat, almost out of gas, heading for the light in the distance.  He prays he will find safe haven in the warmth of the life saving light house.  He doesn't know it but, if he heads for this light house he'll run aground two hundred feet away from it.  That thing would draw a boat to it like a piece of cheese in a mouse trap for a rat.  The end result would be the same.  Oh well;  guess ya had to be there when I was thinking about it.
I noticed that Flat Creek holds some of the finest and most expensive homes on it's shore, both sides, that I've ever seen.  Then the ole mind started again on my usual rant.
The home "on" the lake
Yep;  nothing like having that million dollar home right on the lake.  The above villa is a dream castle for sure.  But, I ask myself;  why would anyone with that kind of money build a dream home like this at the edge of a lake that has water in it only part of the year?  What good is it to build an absolutely spectacular mansion on a chunk of rock that will be a hundred feet up in the air, off the lake from early Fall through March?  Why Douglas Lake?  Who would willingly spend those bucks for a view of the Sahara Desert with some water laying between the sand dunes, and have to look at it every time they peered out a window?  I just don't get it.  Really don't!  It's pretty------up there though.

 Then, another one came into view.  There it was;  poised upon the top of the highest peak overlooking the wondrous sights of gorgeous Douglas Lake.  This one had character though.  Had it been me;  I would have built a place that looked exactly like a sixteenth century German castle.  Can you imagine that?  This tremendous home in the photo above has a great view of the water desert also.  And, after a thirty minute stroll down to the edge of the lake in front of his house;  he can launch his cabin cruiser in the three foot deep muddy water that awaits him.  All right;  I'll stop.
The channel was void of any fishing boat or even fishermen on shore.  I crossed to the other side and meandered back from where I came from.  The houses on this side weren't quite as fantastic as the ones on the opposite shore.  I guess the water channel is sort of like the train tracks in some towns.  This was "across the tracks," so to speak.  I saw a private boat dock laying on the side of the hill, left there by the receding waters.  On it were lawn chairs.  The humorous thing about them was that they were still sitting there in place.  I could discern no fasteners attaching them to the wooden dock.  It was as if they were super glued to the wood.  Maybe the owners actually come out and sit in them from time to time praying to the spirits for more water so their dock will once again float.
Isn't that pretty?
I guess what I have a hard time accepting is that the folks who own these elegant, million dollar homes don't seem to mind living with the deplorable sights and devastation that exists right behind their homes.  The boat docks hanging on rock cliffs and pontoon boats sitting fifty feet up on a hillside are just plain ugly.  Ropes and cables stretch across rock faces holding onto boat docks that are precariously resting on solid rock with water somewhere out in the distance.  And if that isn't ugly enough;  the shoreline is solid rock and brown, sticky mud presenting itself for view each and every day.  Now;  these same people wouldn't think of buying a million dollar home across the street from a junk yard.  Nope;  can't stand the site.  Property value is ruined.  But, they will buy or build a dream home on the edge of the Sahara Desert just because it has a little muddy water in it and is called a lake.  I'll never understand.
"Grab yer drink Ethel and lets step down and squat on a rock and watch the fish by moonlight,  float to the top as they die of suffocation in the muddy water.  Watch ya say darlin?  Just watch that last step babe."
Yep;  welcome to Douglas Lake.  I gotta stop this!

I talked to a couple guys in fishing boats and headed for the dock.  Along the way I noticed something interesting.  Really;  seriously I did.
It was an old dam.  This old thing was covered with water when Douglas Dam was built.  It stays hidden in the depths until Fall when it is allowed to see and feel the light of day for a brief few months each year.  Then it will be committed to the dark when the water once again fills the dam.
It probably spanned across the ravine from hillside to hillside.  Silt, over the many years, has encroached upon it from both sides, narrowing the breastworks and filling in the basin behind the wall.  The only factor that has preserved it's presence is the constant flow of water from the stream that once filled it.  That stream continually flows into and through the hole in the dam and empties into the lake even when Douglas Dam fills with water.
I wonder what else I'll find on the bottom of this desert called a lake?  Probably myself, if I'm not careful.  Maybe Jimmy Hoffa's here.  No; I know where he is.  I'll tell ya someday.
Time to get this boat out of the water.  I'll have a time of it loading her back onto the trailer in this shallow water.  It was a nice morning.  I was able to combine humor with seriousness, perform my job safely and look for wildlife all at the same time, to create a delightful morning.  It's called multitasking.  See Ya......