Friday, April 13, 2012


click on photos to enlarge
Above is the road that runs through the Department of Energy (DOE) property at Oakridge, Tennessee.  The property and associated road system is expansive and well kept.  Neither get used or abused by the public - hence the pristine condition of the land.  The place is a refuge for all nature of beasts and birds.  Its wonderful here.
This osprey nest sits on top a pole that has power lines beside it.  There is nowhere I can position myself that will yield a picture without those wires in the shot.  It is most unfortunate as I was able to collect some great osprey photos today that I could have worked with.  The wires ruined everything.
The pictures came out nice but, not great.  Sometimes ya just have to work with what ya got.  Without those power lines I could have made some of these shots winners.

This bird was providing me with some spectacular opportunities and I couldn't cut the wires out of the shots.  They were right beside the nest.

Its amazing to watch these raptors as they make an approach to land themselves.  Their wings change not only in speed of movement but, they alter the surface area of the under-wing that slows them down by tilting the wing forward or back in order to catch more or less wind under and against the wing as needed to alter speed - the descent.   When their body aligns itself perfectly with whatever the bird wishes to land on - he beats his wings forward and back to reduce the speed of ascent until his body is inches above the selected perch.  He touches down and immediately extends his wings out horizontally for that last moment of needed balance and keeps them extended sometimes for seconds until he feels secure on his perch.  Then the wings fold up against his body and the whole thing is over.  It happens very quickly.  That's why photography is so neat.  It catches it all.

 The osprey above is carrying materials to the nest to reinforce deficiencies.

Ospreys are my third favorite bird.  The bald eagle is number one with the wood duck in the number two slot.  The osprey is number three.

I guess I got ahead of myself with this entry.  The title to the entry is Canoeing With a Friend.  Its indeed unusual for me to be out here with anyone.  My old friend and former work partner from Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson in Maryville, Kevin, expressed a desire to go canoeing.  Actually I bullied him into it.  Anyhow - we met up at a restaurant in Oakridge and proceeded to Melton Hill lake.  We would go to Jackass Cove to put the boats in and paddle to the pretty inlets that border the DOE property that I enjoy so much.  I brought two canoes to Melton Hill on my canoe trailer.  One is the Esquif Champlain and the other is an Esquif Attikamec.  both canoes are made of kevlar and ultra lightweight.
Kevin had only very limited paddling experience so I attached the canoe stabilizers onto the Champlain for added safety.  We unloaded all the gear and made ready for the water at which time I explained some pointers to Kevin whether he wanted to hear them or not.  It made me feel better knowing that I explained the basics to him.  I just went over the fundamentals like how to enter and exit the boat, not to lean over and outside the gunnels and if he drops his paddle into the lake to let it go and don't try to save it.  That would require leaning over the gunnels to grab the paddle and we know what that causes, don't we?  That's why the second paddle on board is a requirement. It allows one to paddle back and retrieve the one that fell overboard.  Its a spare tire, so to speak.
He was doing fine.  Actually he was showing perfect form.  He was blazing down the water within ten minutes of launching.  He listens good and pays attention to what he's listening to.  I was delighted that the skills came to him so easily.
Above:  He's either going to poke a hole in the bottom of the boat with the paddle out of frustration or he's changing hands and going to paddle on the opposite side of the boat.
We are approaching the desired cove that will allow us to land just below the old cabin on the DOE land.
These boats are made of kevlar and they sit right on top of the water much like a dry leaf would.   This presents the issue of stability, the ability of the canoe to be stable when entering it and also when under way.  The bottom of the boat is a shallow arch bottom which allows the canoe to roll left and right with the slightest provocation.  In reality the canoe is solid but feels "tippy" to the human sitting in it. The key to success is to simply keep the upper body inside the boat between the gunnels and don't lean over.  The other important aspect is to know the boat's limitations as well as your own.   As weight is loaded into the canoe it attains a more solid feel because it is pushed deeper into, and, is displacing more water with the additional weight.  This leads to better secondary stability.  Oh well - whatever.
We headed toward my favorite little spot to land.  The grass is only a couple inches above the water and is an easy dismount from the canoes.  Now - if I can only get that boy to stop paddling for a second so we can beach these boats.
"Kevin - get over here!"

Those kevlar boats are beautiful parked on the grass.  The beauty of the canoe is a great part of the canoe experience.
We hiked on up the grassy hill to the cabin and sat down awhile.  I wanted to photograph the tree swallows again.  I got some shots last week when I was here but, I had a different lens with me this trip, 400 mm,  and wanted to compare results with my other lens which is a 500 mm.
I photographed the ospreys you saw earlier in this entry from the yard in front of the cabin.

The little swallows have young inside.  They would swoop and dive toward me if I walked too close to their box.
A little face peers out through the hole.
And, he departs.

We stayed awhile longer and mounted up and paddled away into the afternoon sun.  We drove to Kevin's house and checked out his neat old 1954 Cherokee aluminum fishing boat.  She's a beaut!  Well, she's interesting.
The previous owner of this fine example of craftsmanship stated that Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) used this boat for state operations on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes back when it was new.  That's a long time ago.

The engine was just tuned up and runs fine.  The whole package is about as simple as a boat can get.  I bet this old girl could be made to look like new again with, oh say, about $30,000 worth of effort.  Na - just kidding.

This whole package needs sand blasted and every nut and bolt replaced with stainless steel hardware.  A good marine paint job would make her look new again.
 Look how simplistic the controls are.  It even has a wooden dash and its in great shape too.
Put it this way:  this boat is 58 years old and runs great.  It doesn't cost much of anything to tune it up.  It's all basic old world stuff.  How many $40,000 bass boats do you think will be around  58 years from now?  

Today was a super day with Kevin.  I enjoyed his company and look forward to being on the water again with him.  Hope you enjoyed it too.