Saturday, August 31, 2013


There must be something wrong with me because it was pouring rain at 4AM this morning when I woke up.  I immediately became overjoyed with the prospect of slowly cruising on the river in the coolness and breeze of a rainy morning.  I really love to be on the water in the rain.  It's nuts, I know.
That's not a doctored up picture above.  That's what it looked like at Rogersville near the river.  Lightning and thunder were very prevalent and the rain came down harder by the minute.  The bright flashes of lightning appeared as long, slender jagged lines that ran vertical to the earth from the sky.  This is the bad kind of lightning.  Mom didn't raise a total fool so I would wait at the boat ramp until things settled down a bit.  I launched the boat as soon as possible.  I'm not one who can sit around in a truck for long.
The rain would turn on hard and then shut off as fast as it started.  Then it would start again.  The most gentle breeze was blowing continually, hardly disturbing the surface of the river.  Perfect!
The overcast morning would ruin photography efforts but, I doubted if anything would be out in this weather anyhow.  The sun did finally poke through the haze and would temporarily light things up before succumbing to the will of the stormy looking, gray sky s. 
It's funny how something can catch my eye as I pass by it.  I noticed a little patch of grass and flowers with wood that stood out starkly against the shoreline.  I did a turn around to have a second look.  The result is a photograph that moves into the archives as one of my favorites.  
I know most all of the critters on the shores of this river and the little imp below is one I hadn't met before.  I've photographed his cousins and probably his brothers and sisters but, not him.

Even the simple shots above were difficult to accomplish do to the overcast morning.  I turned up the tone control on the camera to try and brighten the color.  Big mistake!  A quick check in the LCD window on the back of the camera indicated a bland picture.  I'll have to study up on tone control.  Needless to say I put the adjustment back where it was.  I need to learn more about histograms on this camera.  
The shot above lacks the brightness that usually accompanies shots of scenic views on this river.  The sun's trying to show but, is failing miserably.  
A small group of turkeys are pecking their way across a field near the river.  Turkeys never seem to care if it's raining or not.  They just peck away as if everything is normal.  I guess for them everything is normal.
 Note their almost white heads.
The holiday brought out the fishermen this morning.  They have braved the rain and lightning to get a day in on the water before domestic commitments drag them away to social interactions.  Glad I don't have any of that stuff to deal with.  The rain started again in earnest combined with thunder and lightning and the five fishing boats in view fired up their engines and blasted toward the boat ramp.  I guess they were turning in for the morning.  Well, that leaves the entire river to me.  A pass by the eagle's mountain found him perched on the limb of his favorite tree plucking feathers from under his wing and tossing them to the side to float slowly down to the ground.  He is undergoing the molting process.

These shots were almost impossible due to terrible lighting conditions.  I almost didn't even take the shots.  Excuses, excuses.

That's about it for today.  The rain was nice and the morning uneventful.  I could have used the company of an otter or a beaver or two but, can't have everything.  Not sure what I'll do tomorrow.  We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


You read it right.  I actually did some fishing today on the river.  I did a slow run up and back down the river looking for wildlife and finding very little wildlife to photograph, decided to do some fishing.  I did find a few wild friends to chase, however.
This was going to be sort of an osprey kind of day as there was a pair of them hanging out together in the trees close to the water.  One of them had a fish in his talons but, I couldn't approach close enough to get a good picture.  Actually, I couldn't get anywhere near either of them.  These ospreys up here on the Holston are a jumpy lot.  If you look closely you'll see that he is holding a fish with his right foot.
It seems that ospreys can't ever just gently glide off their perches.  They always make a grand production of the leap into space.  They approach life with vigor, which is what you'd expect from an aristocratic raptor.
The second osprey hesitated just long enough for me to get a couple shots off before he also departed his perch on a limb.

These are larger birds than I normally see.  I wonder if it's an age thing.
 And yet another one.

It was right about here that I decided to do a little fishing.  But, not before photographing one more bird celebrity.

 He's a belted kingfisher.

I fished for about three hours for bluegills.  I know I caught over a hundred of them.  Don't worry - I pinched the barb down on the hook so they could be released very easily.  I was catching them in such numbers that I became bored with the affair and switched back to photography.  I decided to beach the Gheenoe and just sit around for awhile to see if some warblers would appear.  As it turns out, they didn't.

Wow - time was flying.  I kept active the entire time on the water either photographing things or fishing.  Where'd the day go?  This has been one of the best days I ever spent on the water.
The wind was picking up for some reason and it was getting difficult to hold the camera steady.  It is 4PM and I started to work my way back to the boat ramp.  I can't believe how fast time flew by.
 I saw an immature black crowned night heron picking around in a little opening in the grass.  I know how much you folks like to see them so I photographed him.

A red tail hawk landed perfectly in a tree beside me.  Perfectly is subjective as he made sure to be back lighted with white sky.
And, an osprey landed near by just after I photographed the hawk.  He too made sure he had the white sky behind him.  I know Dick - I'll check out the yellow filter.

Oh well - it was a nice day on the river.  It's always a nice day.  Guess where I'll be tomorrow morning.  That's right.  I'll be back up here.  Love it.  See ya.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Today was such a beautiful day that I figured I'd take a ride through the mountains.  I haven't been on the Cherohala Skyway in a long time or the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in an even longer time.  I threw a jacket into a saddle bag and took off on the bike.
The skyway starts in the town of Tellico Plains, Tennessee and ends in the town of Robinsville, North Carolina.  What a road.  It winds over the top of some of the wildest places left in the Eastern part of the country.
When I lived in Greenback, Tennessee I would run over this skyway at least once every week.  It was literally at my back door.  What a great little town to live in!
Most all of these shots were taken into the sun which eliminates any chances of catching the blue sky but, the mountains were beautiful anyway.  It seems I could see forever.  Thank heavens folks saw the importance of keeping these beautiful mountains out of the hands of real estate companies.  The local government where I live now sold the farm and there's no wild places left except near the lakes and rivers and even the land along those waterway is all private property.   A shame...
I've been running over these mountains for more years than I care to remember and I always have the thoughts of the first white man hiking through this enormous country.  They must have labored endlessly searching for ways to cross these formidable mountains.  The Indians surely had their work cut out for them just living in them.  It's easy to understand why the Cherokee Indians fought so hard to keep their land and equally as easy to understand why the white man struggled so hard to find ways to trick the Indians out of it.  In the end he simply took the land by force.  I photographed a sign that explains a bit of history.  It was set on a post at an angle and I had to take two shots to get the story.
I guess the acquisition of all this land from the Cherokees by force was a legal action back then.  I wonder about that.
I didn't bring the big camera with me today as it makes me nervous carrying it on the bike.  The motorcycle has some vibration that courses through the length of it and I don't want to subject that expensive camera to it.  The vibration isn't bad at all and it's subdued but, I just don't trust the delicate camera, which is in reality a computer, to any jolts and jostles.  

I did what I could to save the sky but, a lot of pictures show the sky as white and washed out.  There's nothing to be done about it.

It was really chilly up here and I dug the jacket out of the saddle bag.  The weather was perfect.

The real way to photograph these mountains is to do it from the trail.  One should get right out in them on foot for at least a month and live the experience.  It's been a long time since I've seriously been on the trails.

So, I like butterflies.
I like bees too.

The finest roads in the world run through these mountains.
A bike crash was on the left side of the road and a woman was being consoled by her husband as they sat on the wooden guard rail.  Her face was totally covered in blood.  I stopped and asked if they needed anything and he replied they had it all under control.  They had a couple friends with them to help.  An ambulance could be heard coming up the road as I left.  Gotta know your limitations on a motorcycle up here on these curvy roads.

I came off the skyway at Robinsville and rode to and through the Indian Reservation at Cherokee, North Carolina to The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The scenery was much the same as on the skyway except that the mountain range in the park does not follow a straight line but, bends in many directions forming many deep valleys and high meadows.  The mountains have distinct spectacular peaks that can be seen from the motor road.  

OK, OK - no more butterflies.  Promise...

Well, that's my lackluster day.  Just a ride in the mountains.  Don't believe it.  I know how fortunate I am to be able to do things like this.  
I've got a strong desire to take the Gheenoe to the river tomorrow for some wildlife searching.  I may even take along my fishing gear to kill even more precious time.  See ya then.  Oh, hope you didn't get bored looking at all the mountain pictures.  I certainly didn't get bored taking them.