Friday, July 4, 2014


I normally throw all my photos (100,000 of them) onto a 3 terabyte external hard drive, actually a couple of them, but sometimes I let them accumulate on the computer's hard drive too long making particular photos difficult to find.  This isn't good practice for a number of reasons, one being that they aren't backed up.  Carbonite back-up is activated on my computer but photos take a long time for Carbonite to upload it seems.  An external hard drive is the instant way to save data, as long as one actually follows up and does it.  Carbonite is an excellent secondary back-up just in case.   I'm going through some of the pictures this morning, now at 4:26 AM and have decided to place them in folders and to also post a very few of them just for something to do.  Nothing spectacular - Just pictures.
I never mentioned it but I bought a 14 foot Wilderness Experience Kayak just a couple months ago.  It was a Tarpon 140.  I just wanted to try it and see what all the fuss was about where kayaks were concerned.  Well, I drove to the dealer's in Knoxville and loaded it onto my canoe trailer that I converted to carry kayaks, and headed home.  I thought and thought about that thing on the trailer the whole way home and eventually talked myself out of desire for it during the drive.  It sat on the trailer for two weeks.
It just wasn't a canoe.  Then one day I decided to take it to Beech Creek and at least give it a try.  In under an hour I had it loaded back on the trailer and heading home.  It went on Craig's List that night and sold the next day.  What was wrong?
Well, for one thing I'd never approach wild critters with those paddle blades flailing about in the air like airplane propellers and their entry into the water is too noisy.  A lot of water runs down the paddles and soaks the shirt sleeves or drips onto your lap.
A very big thing is the skill level involved in operating the thing.  There is very little skill involved.  I'm sure a professional would disagree but try it someday.  Paddle a kayak and then paddle a canoe.  See which one requires skill.  Anyway, I'm just a canoe guy and that's that I guess.  Kayaks are fine, as long as they aren't florescent colors like the ones above.  Plastic litter on the lake is colorful too.  I really think that boats, especially paddle boats, should be neutral colors,  friendly colors such as greens and gentle blues and browns that allow the paddler to interface with the natural world and not be a blaring beacon that says, "Hey, look over here - look at me".  And, every wild critter will.  Oh well.....
So, while taking the tarp off the Gheenoe the other day, I noticed a little black spider pulling along an egg sack.  It made me jump back.  Why, you ask?  Because it was a black widow spider.  Black widows are rivaled by the brown recluse spider as being little packs of danger with 8 legs.  I don't know which spider is more dangerous but I do know a little about the widow.
This was a female, the more aggressive of a black widow spider pair.  She will defend her egg sack with her life and will actually attack viciously to ward off potential danger and that includes humans.
Her venom is extremely toxic to humans, more so than any other spider I know of including the recluse, who is to be highly respected and left alone.
Most folks avoid spiders like the boogie man, and that's great.  It protects spiders.  With me - it depends what species the spider is and where its located.  If this little lady was in a wood pile or on a tree I'd have let it go unharmed.  But, she was setting up housekeeping on my Gheenoe and I couldn't allow her and her soon to be born spider community to stay.
Black widow females kill the male after mating and then she eats him, destroying the evidence I guess to avoid prosecution.  Spiderology is an interesting vocation.
 This is a "True Katydid".  Really - check out the insect guide.  There are at least four other species of katydids which I never knew about.  Enlightening news, huh?
And there I was, stepping out of the truck at the tiny back woods restaurant anticipating a egg sandwich with ketchup.  That's about the only thing I can eat until I get these new dentures made.  That's another story I won't go into here.  A tiny Nissan truck that appeared to have been used in a government crash and burn test screamed into the lot, stopped and an older lady jumped out and yelled at me, "I was looking for you, thank God".  Well, I've never been married so there isn't any X's I've been dodging so I stopped and turned toward her displaying the most intensely concerned face I could muster.  Doesn't matter what the outdoor issue is;  it is assumed that the patch on  my shoulder obligates me to handle any public outdoor situation.  By the way - I work with fish.  That is F.I.S.H.  

"Yes man, what is it?"

 She replied, "there's an enormous copperhead down at the swimming hole down where the pipe comes out of the side of the bank and there's children down there.  My God, You've got to do something!"  I'm serious.  This is how it went down.

I couldn't tarry for two reasons.  The first reason is that this woman needed to see a public employee react in an instant concerned fashion and secondly, there was children involved.  Great Scott, we must save the children!

The swimming hole she spoke of was only a quarter mile down the road so I jumped into the truck, donned my green super cape and sped off to "save the children from this enormous, dangerous rogue snake.  I arrived, jumped out of the truck ready to clear everyone out of the immediate area for one half mile, just to protect the kids, but I decided to find the culprit and deal with it one on one.  
And, there it was skulking among the wet, mossy rocks near the water, its tongue flickering in and out testing the air for a scent of prey.  Copperhead?  Hardly.  I saw from a long distance away that it was a Common Northern Water Snake and totally harmless.

He was a beauty.  These snakes do a wonderful job of controlling over habitation by amphibians and large insects.  The key word i should have used is "beneficial".  
The saddle markings aren't even close to a copperheads, although they both have vaguely similar markings.
If you don't know the species of the snake, at least look at the eyes to determine if its poisonous or not.  This snake has round eyes indicating it is a little sweetheart and not harmful  to anyone even if it bites.  The teeth are more like a roughness in its mouth rather than real teeth.  A viper or poisonous snake will always have eyes that resemble slits (elongated pupils).  Can't miss them.  They also have holes along side and to the rear of their nostril openings called pits that are used to sense prey.

 If you run onto a poisonous snake simply let it alone and it will leave.  There are only two poisonous snakes that one needs to be concerned about in East Tennessee. Those are the copperhead and the timber rattler.  West Tennessee has the addition of the cottonmouth and the pigmy rattler.  NOTE:  "All" snakes are protected by law.  All of em.   If you aren't at least somewhat educated on snakes then -- stay the hell out of the woods.  You don't belong there.  They do.

Well, I could go on and on with this but, its now 5:25 AM and I've passed the early morning with this endeavor.  Time to get a coffee and retire to the porch and watch the sun come up.   Have a great 4th and don't forget what its all about as you cram that first hot dog down your throat.  See ya.