Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clues...





Monday, December 29, 2008

A-Team Abduction

There is something wrong with me....

video


What happens to Riley????

Sunday, December 28, 2008

FLUMMOXED

Ever find yourself in a complete lull, with nothing coming to mind? I know it's easier being a man to have an empty mind but bear with me, I don't know where this is going. Lately I've been self-deprecating towards my future posts. Whether they were good, decent, or otherwise, I trashed them. What's wrong here? Is my sub-conscious telling me to stop trying? Is my overly-procrastinating id sabotaging my psyche, preventing me from conjuring up new tales of woe or revelations of joy? I can't even get on a rant lately. Am I trying too hard? I'm doing this for me, or for the benefit of others? Obviously I don't know all those answers. I'll tell you what part of it is. It's that holiday-lard-butt-eat-too-much-don't-exercise-get-fat-get-depressed-get-mad-eat-more virus that comes out every time this year. If I don't get the blood flowing with regular outdoor adventures and gym trips, then I become an ornery, stubborn, cynical "fill-in-the-blank". Another symptom of this virus is a short-tempered behavior coupled with an overwhelming lazy-care-less attitude. So, until I get other things back on track, I may take a break for a while. Then again, I may not. Who knows?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!




Merry Christmas from the B team! Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays and, hopefully, some well-deserved vacation from work!



Sunday, December 21, 2008

So 'Long Old Friends...

30+ years. That's a long time. However, for two of my travelling companions, we will never share another moment together. No more wild adventures. No longer will we enjoy trips to locations new or old.

Sad indeed. But, I feel it's for the best. For you see, these two had deteriorated in health for quite some time. They were barely hanging on to life. I could see the distress in one of them. The other, though, took me by surprise. A glimmer of hope suggested that they might pull through and live to see another day.

Alas, it was not to be.

A little over two months ago, our bond with each other was set on a path in which there was no shimmer of light awaiting us. Only the harsh reality of death greeted us at the end of our journey. Too soon......too soon.

I take full responsibility for the consequences of my actions at that time. I had no idea this was going to happen, but nevertheless, they trusted me to make the right decision and I let them down.

So, on Saturday, December 21, 2008, I made the heartfelt decision to say goodbye to two of my toenails. At this point I can realistically assume that I will be reduced to 50% of my original nail coverage by the time this is all over. This is a result of wearing shoes that were comfortable and broken-in, but not suitable for a three day, 30 mile trek in Hazel Creek. Live and learn, right?

Denise, I have made the tasteful decision to not attach pictures to this. Rest easy.

Hug your toes tonight and reflect on how special they are with attached nails.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yar, there be new posts a'comin'


Ahoy, I dedicate the beginning of this post t' Addie, whose expectations o' my prior blog fell brutally short, causin' her water heater t' break which, in turn, flattened a tire on Ott' Von Crapp. Arrr, ne'er in my wildest imaginations would Me suspect one seemin'ly innocent rant about irresponsible pet owners o' spiralin' out o' control and wreakin' ha'oc in the uni'erse. Aye.

There you go, Addie. A partial pirate post. Happy now? I hope to have a creative handful of musings for all of you over the holidays. Greyhound Bus, part deux, makes the first long distance trip this weekend to visit my parents for their 46th anniversary and Christmas festivities. Other insightful snippets coming to a computer screen near you: "The Surplus of Pepè", "You're Paying to do What??", "Close in, Far Out".

So, to everyone traveling over the holidays, relax, stay safe. There are going to be stressed out people doing idiotic things out there. Don't be one of them, yar!

Monday, December 15, 2008

What did YOU do this weekend?

Did you wake up and think, "Brrrr, it's pretty cold out today. I think I'll just kick it on the couch in front of the TV." Or did you get out and do something? If so, was it because you had to or because you wanted to?


I wanted to....



I spent the better part of Sunday on the Etowah River, just below Allatoona Dam. Even with the intrusion of residential and commercial properties, it's very peaceful. Very relaxing.


The Army Corps of Engineers typically does not generate electricity on the weekends, so the water level was normal. In the next picture the water mark on the bottom is at generating levels and the top mark is flood stage.




Hey Alabama, look how much more water you get during the days electricity is generated! For those of you not indigenous to the Southeast U.S.A., the Etowah River drains the Etowah Watershed and, along with the Oostanaula Watershed, make up the Upper Coosa Watershed which brings water into the Eastern portion of Alabama via Lake Weiss.


Here's some of the local wildlife.



You may have to squint, but in the middle of the picture is one of the biggest blue herons I've ever seen.

Below is one of the many fishing birds that I encountered. I could never sneak closer to get a better picture. I even tried moving to the opposite bank from them but it never worked. They have beautiful blue and white plumage and spook easily.


These pilings near the US Hwy 41 bridge are original railroad pilings built in the 1800's. Very cool.





Highway 293 Bridge w/Red Barn on right

This is, by far, the most dangerous part of the entire trip. Can you see the water forming a straight line near the old red building? Do you know why?


Lowhead Dam!!

This keeps the trip interesting. This is the Thompson/Weinman Dam. It was built in the early 1900's for the process of mining barite from the surrounding area. There's a portage route around the dam that's not too bad, especially considering there are no alternatives. That's a full-size, can't get your arms around it, tree in the middle of the spill-over. This lowhead dam is dangerous because once you go over it there's a concrete ledge ready to break you and your boat in half. Other dams of this type have such a powerful hydraulic (circulating) current at the base of it that it can entrap boats and not let go.

The last part of my trip took me by the Etowah Indian Mounds

Another river feature that has withstood time is the fish weir.

These fish weirs are an arrangement of rocks in the shape of "V" with the bottom point of the "V" pointing downstream. This creates a pool in the river where fish will naturally collect due to the current. Native Americans would wade out and collect the fish in baskets. These weirs are all over the Etowah River.

Today's takeout is the bridge at Douthit Ferry Road, just behind this old iron bridge. It was a cold, windy trip, but I had the entire river to myself. No fishermen along the banks. No boats to manuver around. Ah, peaceful bliss!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!

Why do I find so many news articles that shine the white hot light of irresponsibility on people? Shelters all over the country are reporting a massive influx of surrendered pets. However, more concerning than that, they are finding pets abandoned on foreclosed properties, often without food or water. Left behind. Seriously folks, if this is your idea of responsible pet ownership then I have the perfect pet for you.

Or how about this?

These might be more your speed because it's blatantly obvious you don't know how to take care of anything more advanced. You're probably the same ones that missed a mortgage payment here and there just so you could become delinquent and receive government assistance. Did that change your habits at all? Nope. Not one bit, because you looked for the handout you didn't deserve. You took the easy way out. Look, I understand times are tough and most of us can only read about the economic hardships faced by our parents and grandparents that endured The Great Depression, or skyrocketing inflation rates of the 70's. However, there is absolutely no excuse for not making provisions for any living creature in your charge when you can no longer care for it.

"I'm too embarrassed to take them to the shelter. What will people think?"

BOVINE MANURE!

I have ten times the respect for someone that has realized they've gotten themselves in trouble and does the responsible thing arranging for their pet(s) to receive the adequate care they can no longer provide than for someone that is worried what people will think of them. If you are worried what others will think you need to get your head out of whatever cloud it's in and realize that you need some serious re-adjustment in your life.

Change comes from within, not from a campaign slogan...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bring it On!

Choose your mood. Can you appreciate nature in all its forms? It's raining hard today, probably tomorrow too. One forecast calls for 1"-6" of the white stuff. Bring it on! With a rainfall deficit this year of 10" we could use all we can get. As I watch the rain drive through in sheets my thoughts drift off to full watersheds and navigable rivers and streams. More reasons I need to get back in my boat this winter.


Today is also chicken day. Jennifer and the new bus are coming home with 400lbs of chicken backs and necks. Thank goodness I polyurethaned the walls I put in! I usually like restocking our supply during this time of year because the flies are gone. With it being warm today I don't know what to expect.


Speaking of the new bus, I finally finished enough of it so we could move out of the old van. I still have some finishing work on the walls before I start on the shelves and the center console. I'll put some pictures together soon.


So, what about you? How do you take your weather? Hot and steamy? Cold and frigid? Somewhere in between?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Money Shot

EDWARDS POINT - CUMBERLAND TRAIL


Stowe and Maria recently asked me about the main picture on my blog. I completely agree with them that it's a great picture. But, what makes it great to me is you can't drive up, point-click-shoot, then get back in the car. Depending on the direction you take it's a minimum six mile round trip hike, and the only flat ground is where you left your car. I took this picture while on a winter hike with my friends, Mike and Cooper.




This little slice of the world is in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is part of the Cumberland Trail. This past Spring, Jennifer and I went back there again. Jennifer wrote about our trip and included some of the pictures we took. On her post the first picture on the right is Edwards Point (uppermost rock formation) as it is seen from Signal Point. I personally love this trail and it's on my short list for my next overnight trip. The terrain can be classified as moderate to challenging. During the Spring hike, I wanted to push and make it to Edwards Point to recreate the picture. However, after the second suspension bridge, Jennifer decided that was enough for her dogs.


MIDDLE CREEK BRIDGE

I don't blame her one bit. Travis was on the cusp of his second MACH title and Reagan is the up and comer with lots of potential. The terrain is rocky and steep in a lot of places. Recent rainfall had also made the bridges rather slick. I think I enjoy hiking with my dogs more than anything else. The girls (Allie and Julie) seem to really enjoy it and can be rather ornery if we haven't gotten out in a couple days. Our trips are much shorter now as flare-ups from old coursing injuries make it impractical to attempt anything farther. I'd say that's my regret with coursing. I find myself tempering my desire for hiking everywhere with the dogs to cherry picking short, easy trips so they can come along, too.

The history behind this area is interesting as well. The "points" along the Tennessee River were used by Union forces to signal messages back and forth from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Bridgeport, Alabama. Earlier than that, Native Americans used these advantageous points to pick off settlers floating down the Tennessee.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hazel Creek - Part 4 - Final Chapter

My last trip post stopped in the middle of day three of our trip. We were heading for the lake to follow the shoreline back to our boats because our feet (Smith's especially) were not up for the ridge traverse. We made it down to Fontana Lake around noon.


video


We were rather discouraged at the daunting trip ahead, but remained optimistic. We were dealt another bad hand when we discovered that, ironically, the Lakeshore trail did not follow any kind of shore. It was ridge after ridge after ridge. Great. Just great. Forget making good time anymore. This was going to be a grunt-fest. We stopped to rest and collect water about two hours later. Smith pulled out his cellphone. I joked at him. We couldn't get a signal at the lodge on the inhabited side of the lake. What makes him think he's going to get a signal in the park?


video


Well, he did, somehow. That seriously changed the rest of the trip. After a very brief discussion which involved nothing more than a glance, Smith called his girlfriend who, in turn, called the marina to see if they could meet us with the pontoon boat. Hooray! They agreed to meet us at the next campsite, just two miles away.

So, onward we hiked, and hiked, and hiked, and hiked. Something wasn't right. We should have been at the campsite by now. The next time we stopped on a ridge so I tried to get a signal on my GPS unit. Great! (sigh) We overshot the campsite by about two miles. Later, we figured out that the campsite was only accessible by boat. The trail was some 200' higher up on the ridge. We were in between campsites and had to make a decision. First things first, we attempted another call on the phone. Amazingly enough, it worked again. We knew from talking to some people earlier that the campsite ahead of us was on the water and the trail went right by it. So, through a relay of phone calls the plan was changed to meet us at the campsite 98 ahead. Coincidentally, earlier we had determined we would stop for the day at site 98. After another handful or two of gorp and a couple slugs of H20, we set off again. After a while the ridges became indistinguishable. However, somewhere between two of them I finally got what I had been looking for the entire trip.

video


I had the good fortune of spotting this fellow well before he made it onto the trail. To give you an idea of how fast these bruins are, that slope he just motored up was a little less than 45 degrees. Again, no noise in sprint mode. I can't figure it out. I could hear him when he was foraging down the creek below me, but not when he ran off. This was the biggest one on the entire trip.

As we closed in on site 98 we descended the last hill and a cove from the lake appeared off on the left. Good, the site can't be that much farther ahead. About halfway down the hill I could see the entire cove and I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. Now, you've heard the stories of people that have been stranded in the desert or other harsh conditions and hallucinate, envisioning something or someone that's not really there. Well, we weren't in that type of condition by far, but I reacted the same nonetheless. There it was, floating out in the cove, a pontoon boat! I hustle-imped (that's hustling and limping) down the hill, throwing my pack on the bridge and heading out to the shore of the cove. I'm thinking if we can at least get over to our boats, we can make the trip back to the marina. Fortunately the boat was headed into the cove so they saw me and headed my way. After some negotiating and discussion back and forth, they agreed to take us over to our boats in Hazel Creek.




Moving at 15mph, it took 45 minutes to get from the cove over to our boats. We graciously thanked them for the ride, then pulled the boats down to the water and loaded them up for the trip to the marina. Smith went ahead of me since he had the slower boat. As he was coming to the second bend in the creek a small fishing boat came up the creek, made a wide circle, then headed back to the lake out of sight. Then it came back and stopped. Smith paddled over to them. I figured they were just being friendly. Then I saw him hand his paddle over to them. Is this possible? I picked up my pace and caught up to them. The man in the boat looked at me and said, "How'd you like a ride to the marina?" Hmmmm...let me think about that. 8 miles back to the marina. It's getting dark. We have no lights on either boat. I think we may just have to take him up on that offer.

To top it off, we made it back to the marina, loaded the car, and made it back to the lodge just as they were closing the dining room. They made an exception for us and let us eat. It was so nice to sleep in a bed that night. It was really amazing that we came across the couple with the pontoon boat who happened to drop us off at our boats when this fishing boat was in the creek. The next morning, we headed for Smith's house in Athens, TN via Deal's Gap. Anyone with a knowledge of the area, or a motorcycle for that matter, knows that Deal's Gap is the top of the Tail of the Dragon, an 11 mile stretch of US 129 consisting of 318 turns. Unfortunately, there are no signs in North Carolina that suggest that this section of 129 is impassable by semi.

This semi is not moving forward. He is backing up. I took this picture a little after 9am. According to what we heard, he had been stuck since 1 or 2 in the morning. Fortunately for us, we only had to wait 5-10 minutes for him to get clear for traffic to move through.

This was, by far, one of the most memorable trips of my life. I learned a lot, too. Black bears, at least in this area, are cautious around humans and would rather run away than be curious. No matter how long you let your pocket shower "warm-up" it's still going to be freezing cold when you're standing under it, naked, in 40 degree temp with the wind blowing. Don't mix freeze dried red beans and rice with macaroni and cheese shells. Just don't. I think this trip would have been better if we had allowed more time and traveled less each day. I was concerned about making it back because I had told Jennifer that if she hadn't heard from us by Friday evening she should contact the park ranger's office the next morning. The remaining section of the trip would probably have meant two additional nights out there which would have put us past the cutoff time.

Hmmm.....the only thing left is to start planning the next trip.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Huzzah!

The Death Star has deemed me worthy of a role-addition. While I've been quite accustomed to playing the part of scapegoat (total responsibility and no control), this new "opportunity" is the perfect setting for breeding hate and discontent amongst my peers. Hooray! (sigh)

In addition to all the other "hats" I wear, it has been determined by the powers that be that I should also handle the interior/exterior, hydrological, electrical, material, ingress/egress and overall perimeter integrity of the property I work at.

I, AM, BUILDING MANAGER!
Doesn't sound as impressive or awe inspiring as "Gladiator", huh?

To steal a line, "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet I wouldn't be more surprised than I am right now."

If anything, anything, goes wrong, I'm the one who is called.

The biggest problem is the local meth-head du jour who sees dollar signs where the copper sits in the yard. Undeterred by the barb-wire topped fencing surrounding the compound, they've resorted to ladders or even cutting straight through to get at our provisions. It's been quiet recently, but I'm sure they are regrouping and comparing strategies for their next siege.

When I worked in Atlanta, there was an office that was more secure than most prisons. Two rows of perimeter fencing with razor wire topping each fence AND in between. They needed it, though. Before the upgrades, thieves made off with the transmissions and batteries from two work trucks. Transmissions for crying out loud! How flippin' motivated do you have to be for that?!

My friend and co-worker that bore this illustrious title before me has geared me up for what's to come when the weather is warm.

Most common complaint?

"Water don't taste no good"

I only wish I was paraphrasing, but, a quote is a quote. No reason to break out the Scrabble board. No chance of any exquisite verbal jousting. My only solace is that I've learned from my mistakes. Never lock horns with an individual of this caliber. They will only drag you down to their level and proceed to beat you with experience.

Alas, an opportunity beckons from within this otherwise oppressive addition to my daily grind. Whenever an uninvited entrepreneur makes off with our bronze gold, the representative from the security division of the Death Star arrives to personally take in the loss. I'm not ashamed to say I've always been intrigued by the work he does. I know that this division hires from within and, according to my co-worker, all it takes to get a foot in the proverbial door is to show a smidge of interest. That's all well and good, but, unless it is a promotion, my Imperial Leader is not obligated to sign me over. Any attempt at a lateral defection would receive an immediate kebash, but I will maintain my optimism.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thought for the Day

Kick this around in your cranium today.....


President-elect Obama goes on record during the primaries saying Senator Clinton's suggested foreign policy experience equates to nothing more than tea parties with foreign dignitaries.

Senator Clinton's rebuttal, in part, states Obama is weak and is not ready to be Commander in Chief.

Now we have Barack Obama as our next Commander in Chief and, gee whiz, Senator Clinton is the top pick for Secretary of State.

One of the obvious questions to President-elect Obama that came up in a round of exchanges with reporters yesterday:

"You talked about the importance just now of having different voices and robust debate within your administration, but again going back to the campaign, you were asked and talked about the qualifications of the -- now your nominee for secretary of state and you belittled her travels around the world, equated it to having teas with foreign leaders. And your new White House counsel said her resume was grossly exaggerated when it came to foreign policy. I'm wondering if you can talk about the evolution of your views of her credentials since the spring?"

Our Commander's response...(sigh)

"I think this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign. No, I understand, and you're having fun."

Translated:

How darest thou insult thee with such pithy inquisitions. As ruler, I chooseth not to answer thine inquiry. Instead, I shalt find jest and amusement in belittling thee.

Guess he really didn't mean what he said time and time again during the primaries. I wonder if there was anything else he really didn't mean...


Now you just go and have yourself a terrific day!



The thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog posting are in no way consistent with the thoughts and ideas expressed by Barack Obama or the Democrat party. Therefore, you have been notified that any thoughts and ideas expressed in this blog posting are the equivalent of hate speech as defined by any mainstream media news outlet. Furthermore, aforementioned thoughts and ideas may cause offense to Democrats, liberals, non-achievers, those afflicted with wealth-envy, and any and all followers of the "Chosen One"...