Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SPRINGTIME YET?

It was another frigid morning here at the ranch with the temps being at minus 9 degrees just before sun-up and  I was loaded up and heading for the lake on deserted snow covered roads.  I got the surprise of my life when the lake finally became visible.  Douglas Lake was covered with thick ice shore to shore.  I've never seen the like.
 This is an unusual situation and doesn't happen very often.  I spoke to some old timers this morning and they said they can't remember when it's been this cold this long in Tennessee.  There wasn't much I could do on the lake under the ice conditions so I headed toward the Cherokee Lake Tail Race  (water discharge from the dam) to see what the conditions were there.
The roads leading up to the river were terrible.  These are rural roads and very narrow with most of them buried in the hills and woods which hides their locations from the road crew radar, not that it would matter as I believe rural roads are the last roads to get attention from any snow crews.  After all - snow in Tennessee is sort of rare and this most recent snow/freeze event has been on the front page for a week now.
The truck above is only one of  maybe 11 vehicles I passed this morning that were incapacitated in ditches or on road banks.   There is one road condition in this state that is very bad and it is the steep drop offs on most secondary roads throughout the state.  Look how far that truck is leaning into the drop off.  A fair number of vehicles roll onto their roofs or sides when they drop off the edges of side roads for whatever reason.  I helped with an accident on this same road just a week ago.
The most obvious thing that caught my attention this morning was how sanitary everything looked.  Snow does that.  All the trash along the road and the colorful toys left in yards were covered with pure white snow.  Salt isn't used down here on secondary roads so the snow retains it's pure white appearance until it melts.
I finally turned onto my favorite road that leads down to the river.  I have to be careful this morning as this road is very narrow and it's difficult enough passing an oncoming vehicle in perfect driving conditions.  This road is solid ice under the snow and these folks around East Tennessee show little respect for snow and ice. 
Roads like this would be perfect to idle on with my motorcycle as they are very picturesque and most all of them have smooth surfaces.  There are farm houses and barns here and there but I welcome them due to the antique flavor they add to the experience.
The trees that lined the bank of the river caught the early morning light just right when it was what I'd call partially soft light.  Soft light can make an otherwise mundane scene into a fairytale picture.

I had to take a temperature of the water in the river and walked down to these trees.  The world is very different at sun up and more spectacular than at any other time of day.
It is obvious that I'm the only person anywhere near here, and that's good but, there was no sense driving the entire length of this tail race looking for people who obviously aren't here.  There wasn't even one deer out this morning and even the birds were staying close to the nest.
I turned the truck away from the river and slowly made my way back to Owl Hole Gap Road, the closest main artery through this area.
Although the scenery is pretty it remains miserably freezing cold and the snow will be slow to melt.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a warmer day as I miss being on the water.  It's been so long I'm not sure the boats still run.  I'd better throw a battery charger on them tonight just in case tomorrow is warm.
I've been unpacking my fly tying (for fishing) tools and paraphenalia and setting up the equipment in the computer room in hopes of producing some feathered lures suitable for fishing these Tennessee waters.  Trout is the species of interest and the trout in Tennessee are mostly stocked trout with some native brook trout in the higher elevations.  I've been tying trout flies for many years and haven't resurrected the art since moving to Tennessee.  It's an interesting pastime even if one doesn't fish.
I may throw fly tying segments up here on the blog from time to time.  I'm not sure if there's that much interest in that subject but one never knows.
Below:  There are some that just won't give up and admit defeat and still proudly display the stars and bars.