Tims Ford State Park

Winds’re predicted from East Norhteast today. I’m headed for a state park boat ramp, to an area I’ve never paddled. Have a map, have a compass, three quarts of water, and a lunch I’ve just packed. I overate yesterday at a coworker’s farewell lunch, so I’m all carbed-up for the day. Joints are feeling better, but the ancient Klepper backrest I’ve been using for the past year or so blew out last week. Dunno what that’ll do to my forward stroke, much less my aging lower back. Time to find out.

At the state park boat ramp and dock - Wildlife Resources boat
At the state park boat ramp and dock – Wildlife Resources boat
Paddling southwest and looking left - warm morning's sky
Paddling southwest and looking left – warm morning’s sky

When the markets crash, and those institutions and things relied upon are no more, this will look a lot more Charles Addams than it does now
When the markets crash, and those institutions and things relied upon are no more, this will look a lot more Charles Addams than it does now
Nameless islands and distant shorelines seen from The Narrows
Nameless islands and distant shorelines seen from The Narrows
Second time I've approached this island (last time was the day my golf umbrella broke), this time from another direction
Second time I approached this island (my golf-umbrella sail broke last time I was here)
My back and legs hurt badly by the time I reached the island's lee - convenient cinder-block steps led up
My back and legs hurt badly by the time I reached the island – convenient cinder-block steps led up
Steps behind me, I walked through a clearing and down the ridge's central trail, looking back to see the way I'd come
Steps behind me, I walked through a clearing and down the ridge’s central trail, looking back to see the way I’d come
To my surprise, I found island camping is permitted
To my surprise, I found island camping is permitted
No surprise at all, I found what trash left behind
No surprise at all, I found what trash left behind – this; an open latrine; a portable grill; etc.
Here's a view from the island looking back toward, IIRC, The Narrows
Here’s a view from the island looking back toward The Narrows
Tims Ford Dam distant - a boat ramp is to the right, almost adjacent the dam
Tims Ford Dam distant – a boat ramp is to the right, almost adjacent the dam
Not far from the dam

Not far from the dam

Completing my original circuit - here is the boat ramp at Tims Ford State Park

Completing my original circuit - here is the boat ramp at Tims Ford State Park

You can rent these at the boat dock - Looks like they've got them chained to prevent theft - Can you imagine?

You can rent these at the boat dock - Looks like they've got them chained to prevent - I have to laugh at this - theft

I saw a lot of fish, but didn't see anybody catching fish

I saw a lot of fish, but didn't see anyone catching them

Later: I’m going to have to find some back support. My body today was a Disneyland of neuropathy – numb feet, shooting pains in the palms of my hands, similar pains in the soles of my feet, some numbness in the left hand. Didn’t help that I started off with the Nautiraid Greenlander seat (which replaced the East German rubber tractor seat that shipped with the E68, and worth every penny) a little overinflated. That coupled with some of the lately recurrent shoulder pain, and back pain.

The predicted wind blew, and was alternately a hindrance and a help.  I made about 12 to 13 miles, counting the paddle back through the park after completing my original circuit.  I’ve walked the trail to Weaver Point dozens of times.  Today I was able to paddle the water seen from that path, which has been sort of a goal since I got my first boat in 2005.

I think these are martin houses - used to see many more of them in this part of Tennessee.  The martins, in season, help to keep mosquitos and other insects in check.

I think these are martin houses - used to see many more of them in this part of Tennessee. The martins, in season, help to keep mosquitos and other insects in check.

I chatted with the Wildlife Resources woman before setting out about 7:20 am (I had farther to drive than last week).  A state employee, her job consists of every day driving around the lake in the boat pictured near the top of this post, and talking to every angler she sees in order to determine number of fish caught, their type, and their size, then recording that data for the agency.  That’s it.  She said that, as with any job you have to do every day, it can get old, but she remembers answering phones for the agency’s revenue division, her previous employment, and said, “I’ve been blessed.”  I guess she has.

Young great blue heron takes flight

Young great blue heron takes flight

Plenty of fish were in evidence.  All day long I heard the sound of countless cicadas in the trees, listened also to the sound of the wind in the trees, each tree taking a different voice than its neighbor.  I snapped a picture of large carplike beast to port in a shallow creek in the park.  I saw what I think, because of its slow reflexes and starveling appearance, was a very young great blue heron, and I was able to snap its picture as it moved to take flight.  On my way out of the park, saw something to port that I, with hardly a conscious thought, noted and dismissed as the shadow of a ledge, or a submerged stump.  And then it moved, swimming toward and behind the boat as I started, then paddled on.

Kudzu, at left, encroaches upon indigenous flora, right

Kudzu, at left, encroaches upon indigenous flora, right

Kudzilla rears up to smite puny kayak man.  Undaunted, Christov_Tenn takes a few snapshots to show Caution-Lady and Little Seventy-Six
Kudzilla rears up to smite puny kayak man. Undaunted, Christov_Tenn takes a few snapshots to show Caution-Lady and Little Seventy-Six

I discovered Kuzilla’s Garden, and Kudzilla himself. Some genius imported this stuff from I don’t know where to slow topsoil erosion, and it grows like a monster vine in Jumanji. At an Alabama barbecue, I recall discussing the plant with a fellow who works for a chemical company that manufactures weedkiller for use on big farms. He said it grows from a sort of potato, and to kill the plant, one must kill the tuber. I remember he also said the Kudzu potato is edible. Heck, it’d be the one crop nothing could kill, that would never fail. Probably tastes awful.

Kudzilla's garden - looks like fanciful Disneyland topiary
Kudzilla’s garden – looks like fanciful Disneyland topiary

Christian Rogues Camping Trip

Caution-Lady, 76, and I returned yesterday afternoon from a weekend at Lake Jocassee with the Fattony and the Math Doc families from the Christian Rogues bulletin board. We left Saturday afternoon because the Cautious One didn’t like the idea of another night in the tent with our almost 11-weeks old son. The boy, however, really liked the tent. His first reaction upon being placed therein was to look around at the lamplight reflected greens and shadows of the tent fabric, and to pronounce for the first time ever the happy baby word, “Ah-goo,” that is, “It is good.”

ah-goo - it is good

Turns out the tent-site I’d reserved back in January had no drive-up access, although that information was not available on the Reserve-America website. Caution-Lady trekking a hundred yards with camping gear, kayak gear, and baby gear? No way. At the Devil’s Fork State Park check-in and information center, the lady behind the desk rented me campsite #45 for $11.00 more. Located across the lane from the remarkably clean bath-house, #45 was situated at a considerable distance from the lake’s shore, but just up the hill from our friends’ campsites closer to the water.

I think it was shortly after we’d set up the tent, or while we were working on it, that two little sandy haired girls walked by our campsite. One of them asked, “How old’s your baby?” Told he was about 10-weeks of age, the older of the two girls asked, “Are you Christov?” I answered, “Yes,” and asked how she knew. “We’re Fattony’s kids,” she said. “See that red tent right down there,” she pointed, “that’s ours.”

Mosquito Netting for Babies

Once we completed setting up camp, we put the Small One in his stroller, covered it with bug netting, and made our way down the hill, past the campsite I’d originally reserved, and into the Fattony domain. What a gentleman – more soft-spoken than I expected, Tony resembles the gun-toting, cigar smoking avatar cadged from the sketchbook of Matt Groenig, only he didn’t seem as portly in person as his cartoon fiction twin appears on the pixilated screen. Tony, his wife “Special-K,” son, “The Boy,” and daughters characterized by freckled nose and continual smile, respectively, invited us to visit with them for awhile. As we were getting acquainted, Math-Doc, Vic-Chic, and their three sons Nacho, Burrito, and Fajita arrived. They didn’t have any trouble toting their own gear, but we walked with them to their car, helped them carry some stuff back to their campsite, and helped pitch their tent.

Tony invited us all to share the hamburgers and hot-dogs they grilled, I walked back up the hill and returned with a couple of camp-chairs. Had to go back and get a can of powdered formula for ’76. Weekend travel and camp-food were totally off the Weight Watchers charts. The Vzzztbot clan was pretty tired, so we said our goodnights and returned to the green tent beside our rented van.

A word about that vehicle, a Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow & Go seats – I’d be willing to own one. Decent mileage obtained, I think, with an engine management system and transmission that keep RPMs generally in the low 2000s. Handled well enough I never worried about skidding out of control into some ravine on that narrow, winding road between Highlands and Cashiers (pronounced “Cashers”). Carried with room to spare 18′ Pouch RZ-96 in bags, bag of kayaking gear, baby gear, camping gear. I think the one we rented was an ’06 or ’07 with maybe 26,000 miles on the odometer.

Because we arrived late Friday afternoon, because our campsite was far from the water’s edge, because our RZ-96 weighs well over a hundred pounds, and because we had to leave by mid-afternoon Saturday because my cautious wife didn’t want to spend another night in the green tent with our infant son I never did assemble the RZ. Too much of a headache to assemble for two or three hours paddling, then disassemble, towel dry, and repack before a long drive. Tony had arranged with a local outfitters to drop off a couple of rented tandem kayaks. He paddled with his smiling, fearless youngest daughter while I paddled with MD & VC’s youngest son, Fajita to a jumping off rock and some caves, normally submerged.

The ranger I spoke with said the water level at Lake Jocassee is about 27 feet below what is usual for this time of year, so although Fajita climbed the rock, he didn’t jump in. The sandy beach at the bottom of the photo should be lake bottom. Fajita, standing upon the rock, did spontaneously pose like Il Duce – someday he may make the kayaks run on time and the water reach its appointed level by fiat and dam.

Of course there’s more to say – Fattony’s cigar box, the aggressive squirrels infesting Fattony’s campsite, exchanging speech with friends as opposed to internet correspondence, the retired couple at the campsite adjacent to ours, the Microtel with microroom at Franklin, North Carolina, discussing chemical toilets with Caution-Lady after having used one at a Lake Ocoee boat ramp.

Looks like the Christian Rogues website is offline just now (10:30 pm Central Time 5/20/08). Informe.com seems to have frequent problems keeping its hosted sites online.

Several Things

First thing is the image above – I’ve been meaning to scan front and back of this calendar page for weeks, now. Morass. Turns out to have been derived from a Dutch word. Funny that the example sentence is an adoption sentence. A baby’s a good outcome. We didn’t find ours among the rushes, however, I’m hoping to have him out in the RZ-96 with us by September, when the weather’s still fine but not as punishingly hot as August. Seven months – should have a good baby pfd by then. I like this one from Salus – have a look at the demo-video.

Today Frasier, the ninth season on DVD, arrived. We already have the other seasons, so this completes our collection. Although I enjoy the show, sometimes I can’t watch because I’m too embarrassed for the protagonist. Sometimes I get up and leave the room before Grammer’s character makes the gaff I know is coming. I know, it’s silly. Probably not DSM-IV behavior, but strange. We hadn’t seen the first two eps from season nine, and I was able to sit through them both in their entirety. Cricket hunting. That was funny. Grammer played Frasier sometimes like a cross between Herman Munster and Jack Benny.

Another thing about Kelsey Grammer – doesn’t he bear a striking a resemblance to the late Bob Hope. I suspect they’re related.

Yes, I know my dad was not what is known popularly as a saint, although there’s a possibility he may have fit the biblical def – I’ll have to wait and see. I was still pretty steamed when I wrote that blog entry. When next I vent about family here, I reckon I’ll have to expect family to read it. D’oh!

Caution-Lady’s a little worried about the weather for camping this weekend – 50% chance of thunderstorms Friday, and 40% chance that night. She’d like us to stay in a motel that first night, then in the tent Saturday overnight. Getting her to camp-out at all is a big step, and probably more so with our infant son. I’m still debating bringing the redboat (a single) or the blueboat (a tandem). The tandem takes up a huge amount of space, even when packed in its bags. Either way, if we take a boat, we’ll have to rent a van or SUV. I’ve got to get that taken care of today.

Then gotta get my expedition headshave for no-hassle camping hair.

Weighed-in yesterday (it’s now Tuesday morning), and hit 169.4 (or something like that) on the scales fully clothed, although I had emptied my pockets and exhaled. Up 1.8 pounds from last week, but then I wore light-weight shoes, t-shirt, and shorts.