Friday, July 13, 2012


click photos to enlarge
I had to drive through Dandridge to get to the desired boat ramp.  The town was congested and the wide boat I was pulling provided some touch and go moments while negotiating through the tiny town.  The bridge across the lake is located at the end of the short street I was on.  The problem with this bridge is that Paul Revere rode his horse across it when he warned that the British were coming.  The bridge is narrow.  Its obscenely narrow!  Barely two vehicles can pass on it.  I approached it and slowly started to ease across.  A few cars passed by and then a  big pickup came flying along.  Slow down!  He was moving.  I put the sidewalls of the trailer wheels right against the road berm and they were scraping.  The idiot blasted by and his mirror hit the trailer guide-on.  That made him stop.  He yelled something out the window at me and I just ignored him.  What a moron!  A couple more cars passed by and the right hand turn to the boat ramp was just ahead.  I started the turn and two cars with boats on trailers pulled up to the stop sign.  Then the lead car pulled even further ahead and closer to the road.  Of course, I needed that space to swing into the turn so the boat trailer wheels wouldn't run up and over the berm.  No way would that idiot give way an inch.  I kind of lost my temper and just made the turn with some authority.  The trailer wheels rolled up onto the side berm and I heard a metal to metal sound as the fender caught a sign post just behind the berm.  To he-- with it.  Every day over here seems to be a challenge to get to this mud hole and back safely.  There is just too many people.  Once in the parking lot by the ramp, I got the ole channel lock pliers out and bent the trailer fender back away from the tire.  OK - back to square one.  I got the boat on the water without killing anyone or wrecking anything and I was off down the lake.

I eased up on the throttle as the boat approached the area I would be running in today.  I saw what I thought was a loon far ahead but it turned out to be a female mallard duck.  I needed to get my mind on something else so I pulled the camera out and took a few photographs.  She's a beauty.
Yep - that dark area in the background is mountains.  Fog cover is masking them.  This is probably the prettiest spot on the lower lake.  I chugged into and out of all the coves on Muddy Creek and when I came out of the last cove I saw lightning.  I ran out to the middle of the creek so I could see past the top of the mountains and an enormous bolt of lightning lit up the sky.  Dark clouds were rapidly slipping onto the lower end of the lake.  I checked the weather radar on the computer before leaving home this afternoon and it showed absolutely nothing.  This oncoming storm must have just materialized out of the blue sky - literally!  I called my friend Paul for a weather update because he carries a magic cell phone that shows weather radar animated on its screen.  All I have is a bag of dust I toss into the air.  

The storm seemed to be approaching the lake from the left which would be west and I could actually watch the black storm clouds cover the open white area of sky you see at center and right in the shot above.  Paul indicated it was a sizable storm cell and that I should get off the lake.  That,s one man I don't question when he advises.  I turned the boat toward the main lake and laid on the power.  I kept watch behind me and could actually see the open white area of sky quickly disappear and turn black.
The black sky was not only behind me but also moving in from my right side.  It was about 5 miles to the boat ramp and I wasn't sure I'd make it before things got nasty.  A light rain started falling and loud thunder could be heard over the sound of the engine.  I figured, "that ain't good."
Almost there!  I pulled up to the dock and tied the boat off just as the wind started moving the water into waves.  Things were looking good.  The truck and trailer were set to load the boat.  Perfect.  The wind picked up force even more.  This thing was close.  It could be a quick little storm or it could turn out to be a dangerous storm driven by high velocity wind.  It is anyone's guess when on the water.  I untied the boat and tried to pull it along the dock and away from the shoreline more before jumping on board and firing up the engine.  The length of the entire dock is about the same length of the boat.  Things were going too good.  I couldn't move the boat forward.  The bottom of the engine, the foot, was hung up on the boulders along the shoreline that were very shallow due to the lowering of the lake.  I jumped on board and raised the motor and dropped the trolling motor located on the bow of the boat. The electric motor and prop would not move the boat forward against the wind and waves.  This was just great!  The big boat was pushed up against the rocks and boulders on shore.  I carry an old 9 foot long wooden pole that used to be a sapling and pushed the boat along the boulder strewn shoreline and out toward the main channel of the lake.  All I could do was push forward along the shoreline.  I could not push the boat away from the shore.   Eventually the bow of the boat cleared the shore 
and the current caught it and sucked the boat out into deeper water. Electric motor pulled up and engine down, ignition and I blasted out of there and got it loaded just as the rain fell with authority. I waited in the truck for it to let up. It didn't. The rain suit top was zipped up and I went out and strapped the boat to the trailer and retrieved all the gear. It appeared this would be an all day rain. I thought about sitting there and waiting it out. I could re-launch the boat if the storm passed but somehow lost my motivation. What a day!
I'm going to have to stop using this ramp as the town and the bridge are dangerous to negotiate. Its not worth it just to get to this ridiculous, public nuisance of a mud hole called a lake. This entire experience over here is becoming an aggravating experience. When I worked on the lakes back west, where I moved from, the experience working on the lakes was daily bliss. They are real lakes. These two monstrosities over here are nothing but depressions in the ground that are filled with rock and mud and a constantly changing water depth. There's too many people around these lakes as well as on them too. Huge ponds in the middle of an enormous housing project and all the homeowners own pleasure boats and jet skis. I'll end this blog with that irrational comment. I think I need some paddle time.  

Yep - that's my living room. Domestication has caught up with me. I got a table and a couch now. Table's under the canoe.