Barren Fork River Float, McMinnville, Tenn.

Collins River Vista

Last Sunday, my son and I skipped church and floated the Barren Fork River through McMinnville in Warren County.  We put in at Smooth Rapids (who shuttled us back for about $11.00) and took out at a concrete ramp in the VFW parking lot – a downstream journey of about six miles.  Another father and son team paddled with us; the kids threw rocks in the water, talked, went for a swim, shared snacks.  After we got back to the outfitters and put the canoe back on the Cross Country, we had a pretty good lunch at the restaurant the outfitter operates overlooking the riverside launch point.  Here are some pictures – I’ll add a few more later as I noticed none of those I’ve posted below are particularly good representations of the river as seen while paddling downstream.


Kayak Fishers

Kayak Fisher

We saw at least three guys paddling sit-on-top purpose designed fishing kayaks not too far downstream from Smooth Rapids put in, and tried to keep our noise to a minimum until we got past.  Much later on, we saw three or four guys in what looked like an Oregon drift-boat (only with an outboard motor) – they were also fishing.


We saw numerous turtles along our route sunning themselves on logs.

Rocky Undercut

Some rocky cliff faces with undercuts, as above, in many places to our left as we paddled downstream.

Water Grass

A lot of this kind of water grass we saw during the entirety of our trip downstream.

Two Canoes

Got out of the canoes here so the kids could swim and throw rocks into the water. It was here that we picked up a number of rocks, and piled them in the boats so the boys could throw them when we continued.  Easy fun, and I was happy to note they didn’t throw them at each other.

Collins R Meets Barren Fork

Here’s where the Collins River meets the Barren Fork River.  On the map, the stream’s marked Collins River past this point.

Nearing VFW

This point is not too far from the VFW parking lot take out.

Old Canoe & New Paddler

Last Sunday afternoon I took my son for his first time on the water in our canoe since he was about two years old.  We paddled about an hour and stopped a couple of times so he could jump in the water.  Here’re three photos:

Canoe Excursion 1



Last week, I reaffixed the peeling edges of three of the Aleut’s keelstrips. This weekend, I’m planning to paddle it for the first time.  Here it is on my Volvo wagon’s crossbars.  I tried to work out how far apart to space them. Got a couple of cheap foam blocks to serve as hull or deck cradles.  Dunno yet whether to cartop it hull-down or deck-up.  Regarding the deck, I stupidly applied the wrong 303 product to it last week – the UV protectant that’s intended for  hull-type material.  It doesn’t seem to have harmed the fabric in any easily discernible way.  I’ll get some Fabric Guard soon, though.

Folbot on Volvo

For those of you who actually know me, my former telephone number ending in 6642 is no longer active. The same area code and prefix with last four digits 1389 is active.  Also, with that phone, I can actually send and receive text messages, although my texting skillset is below average.



Quick Update

Yesterday morning, I drove up to Knoxville and bought a 2003 Anniversary Edition (also, apparently, the Expedition Edition) Folbot Aleut – a 12′, 40# folding kayak.  This is the first solo boat I’ve owned in several years.  I essentially quit paddling when my son got old enough to miss me and be bugged by the fact I was gone most of the day every Saturday and some Sundays.  Now, he’s been asking to go paddling with me.  I’m still working on, but more seriously now, rehabbing the Pouch RZ96.  This afternoon, we plan on paddling the canoe – an 18′ 1974 Grumman. Gear’s all packed and ready.

My son and I set up the Folbot yesterday afternoon – it was pretty easy compared to the only other aluminum framed folder I’ve had, and super lightweight compared to my wood framed folders.  I got some Harbor Freight super glue gel to stick down the keelstrips that’re coming loose.  Maybe will get that done today, too.

Still sober – about 32 years now, I think.  Still bicycling – working full-time again has cut into my pedaling time, but I’ve been leaving a bike at the office during the week to ride at lunch.  An easy 4.27 mile route, but better than not riding at all.  Recently also been getting up really early Saturday and Sunday mornings to ride to the gym, spending a couple of hours strength training, then back to the house.

I’m amazed I was able to remember my L/P for this site.

Here’s one of the seller’s images of the Folbot Aleut. I’ve still got to get my photo editing software sorted out on this computer.

Folbot Aleut


Stuff I’ve Been Thinking About

Blog Posts

My blog posts, in grammar, content, and style, tend to have the character of telephone pad doodles or the things one writes in the margins while taking notes during a meeting, lecture, or while reading a book.  Mistaken is the person who expects this or any blog to conform to scholastic ideals of “penmanship” or rigid notions of propriety.

Stodgy Canoe Guy

One of the things I like about paddling is the woodsy ambiance or vibe associated with paddling.  It’s especially evident in the preoccupation with things like sandpaper, tung oil, needle-and-thread, preparedness, self-reliance and mutual aid.  And the clothes.  At least the clothes I wear – floppy hat, old permanent press work shirt, long baggy shorts, etc.  For the most part cheap, plain-looking clothes that dry quickly.  I’ll leave the bright colors to the guys zipping around on jet-skiis.

Other Drivers on the Road

Something is wrong with the people who drive their cars, outer elbow (because this is probably true in England as well as America) on the window ledge and forearm hanging down against the outside of the car-door, palm backward, resembling to me a large, usually fat, white-bellied dead fish.  It’s like the driver lacks the energy or some other quality of life that separates the living from zombie-like necessary to so much as control all of his or her limbs, in addition to operating a motor vehicle.  Usually, this type of motorist drives too slowly and seems to take pleasure in aggravating the drivers behind them who, for some reason, cannot yet pass them.  Also, and this is similarly galling, this sort of driver seems to be saying, “I AM TOO BIG, THIS CAR CANNOT CONTAIN ME, I AM BURSTING OUT OF THIS CAR!” which is, in itself, pretty offensive.

I think license plates on vehicles should bear some device or color-coded tag that allows other motorists to determine at a glance the vehicle owner’s Performance Intelligence Quotient (or PREFERABLY some entirely new measure of intelligence specific to motor vehicle operation).  Maybe something that could be abbreviated DIQ.  Drivers are going to let you know all about theirs, anyway, but it would be nice to know at a glance in order to plan lane changes and passing before it becomes necessary to dodge some erratic manifestation of deficiency or impaired ability.  Drivers with seriously impaired DIQs could be required to drive vehicles like that Obama soap-bubble, the so-called “Smart Car” – that way when they crash their vehicles into other vehicles or buildings they will do less harm to other people.

The use of cellular telephones by anyone operating a motor vehicle should be prohibited; pull over to talk on the phone.

Feeling Rich

When I bought that canoe Ohio last week, then took it to the White River and paid the outfitter there a measly $13.00 for shuttle service, I felt rich.  A man who has his own canoe is a man of substance, and a man who can use his own strength and sense to propel it on the water’s surface is a man who feels rich, indeed.

I do not know why, having owned five folding kayaks, I never felt that way before about owning and paddling that type of boat.  Folding kayaks are uniquely beautiful.  They tend to be more expensive to purchase than canoes.  I think the difference is a sense of permanence.  A folding kayak is designed to be put away or packed for easy transportation to the location of its intended use, whereas an aluminum canoe is designed to retain its shape and withstand the elements through time.  True it is that folding kayaks are designed likewise to last through time.  The most recent of these that I have purchased was manufactured around 1962 and was watertight when I got it.  The Grumman canoe is 36 years old, the Pionier kayak is 47.

I felt a bitter sense of loss when it was time to put the canoe in to the barn loft at the farm last Friday.  The feeling is similar to what I experience every time I disassemble one of my kayaks.  The feeling roughly translates thus, “Have I used this boat for the last time?  Is this the last time I perform this task?”  What doesn’t translate neatly in to words is the knowledge that some or other that will be the case.  I will use my kayak or canoe for the last time, and I may not know the experience is my last with that boat until time provides a vantage point for perspective, or events translate me in to the past tense and my next phase of existence.

These unpleasant feelings that I wish to repress seem consistent with an unconscious fear of death, although I seem to be in fairly robust good health at present.  As a young drunkard 26 or 27 years ago, I sought but did not find death.  As a man in middle age I seem to be aware of other feelings pertaining to my mortality.  Although they are clearly as long-lasting as any hardshell paddlecraft, the folding kayak has an ephemeral quality – skin stretched over a frame operated by whatever it is that I consist of – that is similar to that of man and animal.

Caution-Lady the Canoe


I bought a canoe the day before yesterday at Eaton, Ohio.  My first hardshell paddle craft, the canoe is a 1974 Grumman 17’ double-ender.  The boat has two seats, bow and stern, as well as three thwarts.  Some of the same machinery Grumman used to stretch aluminum for World War II carrier-based fighter planes stretched the aluminum used in my new boat’s hull.  Although I could count them, it is easier to say there are innumerable small rivets holding the hull together and the “standard keel” to the hull.  Monday night, while sitting at the dinner table, we were discussing whether we would buy the canoe and I kidded my wife telling her I would name the boat for her.  “It’s about time you named one of your boats after me!” she said laughing.


On Monday, I’d driven to Eaton to look at the Grumman which I’d found on Craig’s List.  The seller was asking more than I wanted to pay, but the other canoes that were priced more reasonably had already sold, or the seller was leaving town for a week that day.  The canoes that hadn’t sold were the plastic variety with cup-holders and built-in “coolers” sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods or Wal-Mart, or they had holes and looked like they’d been used as bongs. 

Seeing the 17’ behemoth on sawhorses at chest level, the Grumman looked overwhelmingly huge.  Kind of cooled me on the idea of buying a canoe.  Huge boat.  I’m the only one in the family who usually has any interest in paddling.  The seller said he had some life-jackets, paddles, and kayak he would throw in to complete the deal.  On the phone, the kayak sounded pretty good, but when I looked at it, it had two large holes on the bottom fixed with Bondo.  Anyway, I didn’t think there’d be room on the racks for both boats.  I told the guy I’d have to sleep on it since he wasn’t willing, and I didn’t seriously expect him to be willing, to accept an out of state check.  Which is how my wife and I came to be discussing the boat at the dinner table Monday night.


Tuesday I woke up thinking there was no way I was willing to pay the guy’s asking price, roughly a third of what the boat would have cost new.  I called the seller and told him I couldn’t pay what he was asking and offered him a lower price I didn’t think he’d accept.  We compromised, and although I think I paid about $50.00 more than I should have, the deal was still reasonable.  My father-in-law and I drove out to Eaton again late Tuesday morning and, before money changed hands, we checked to make sure the huge canoe would fit on the 850’s roofracks; it did, easily.  That’s the photo of the test, above.

The Grumman secured easily and none of the straps or tie-downs worked seriously loose during the drive back.  No problems with handling.  Actually, handling was not significantly affected.  The 850 with RZ96 on the racks handles a little worse.  Heavy stuff in the trunk, however, has a markedly worse effect than boat or boats on the roofracks.

Mid-morning yesterday I drove to Canoe Country at Daleville and paid them for a pair of cheap water shoes and $13.00 shuttle for the ride back, put in at the outfitter’s property, and paddled/floated down to Anderson.  I was concerned that the 17 footer would un-paddle-able solo, but I turned it around and paddled it from the front seat and the stern-as-bow.


This part of the Midwest has this week had daytime temperatures in the mid-nineties.  I took three pieces of pizza, a small bag with almonds and peanuts, and about a gallon of water in addition to a couple of small drybags.  Not much weight in the boat besides my own. 

Edgewater Park at Anderson is seven bridges downstream from the put in at Daleville, an easy 11 or so miles.  I have paddled/floated this section several time over the past few years, usually in rented kayaks that look like slippers, and once in a 16’ Nova Craft or Old Towne rented canoe.  In several places the river is punctuated by mild riffles.  The water was running about four to four and a half feet at the gauge on Wednesday.  Enough water that I was able to explore a previously inaccessible backwater into which the river flowed.


I experimented with paddling from the rear seat, from a kneeling position braced against the thwart forward of my seat, and once, when I failed to “read the river” aright, using the long paddle included with the canoe to pole the boat from a standing position to get past some rocks I’d got hung up on.  The Grumman was not a problem to paddle solo, and I obtained the best results with a short paddle while kneeling braced against the thwart near the boat’s center.  Some kind of closed-cell padding would have made that more comfortable, but was not really necessary.  I was able to lean the canoe from the central position for faster turning.  Torso rotation worked with a single-bladed paddle as it does with a kayak paddle, and I modified a couple of other techniques of form from kayaking to move the large canoe.

When we drove north earlier in the week I packed a couple of fifty or so year old canoe paddles.  Miss Blanche gave them to me, although I’d offered to pay for them.  They were in the attic of her house, and had belonged to her late husband, who’d used them to propel whatever non-motorized craft he’d been wont to fish from.  I started stripping them, because they appeared dried out and their varnish bubbled in places, the week before we left. 

Although I hadn’t completed the process by Wednesday, I took along with me the darker of the two paddles, the one with the squared blade and better-carved handle, to see how it would work.  Also took the long laminated wood paddle the seller included with the canoe.  I know next to nothing about canoe paddles, so asked the guy at Canoe Country who said that longer paddles are more commonly used in deeper water like lakes or possibly large ponds. 
The shorter paddles are used in shallower moving water like rivers.  He said he thought the shorter paddle was reasonably sized for river paddling the Grumman.

Standing in the boat was pretty easy, but I’m not sure how efficient or good an idea it is to paddle it standing.  I have seen pictures of paddlers standing a canoe’s gunwales, or with one foot on a gunwale and a knee in the boat.  Not sure of the utility of either technique, but it might be interesting to try out another day.

The previous evening my wife, her sister, and her mother had been watching an old Mel Gibson film, “Forever Young,” on one of the cable or satellite channels.  I caught about the last five minutes of the movie’s happy but implausible ending.  Two things about that movie, which I’d already seen, struck me.  The first is that the things I see today in the town where I live that date from the 1930s and ‘40s were once new and looked new.  The second is that the film contrasts the general competence of people who came of age in the early part of the last century with the general ineptitude of those who came of age during its latter decades. 


I saw something shiny in the water after the sixth bridge.  It turned out to be the left rear quarter section of a plastic model B-17 Flying Fortress.  Those little windows at the airplane’s stern-section or tail-section clued me in, but the almost square opening forward for a waist-gunner also helped with identification.  The small replica bomber’s last fight was, I imagined, initiated by a bored child flinging the airplane out of a car window as the vehicle crossed the bridge overhead.  Or perhaps the youngster was interested in the model’s potential for flight.  At least it spent a few seconds aloft before shattering on the rocks below either this bridge or another somewhere upstream.

The broken airplane (even though the bomber in the movie is a B-25) started me on a train of thought about actor Mel Gibson’s recent very public living problems.  I’ve always liked the guy’s movies since Gallipoli, which I saw when I was young drunkard in the 1980s, through The Passion of The Christ, although the latter contained mythological elements that have no provenance in orthodox theology as I understand it.  I hope the guy manages to overcome whatever’s tormenting him and has a better end than the plastic B-17.

Ford-Paddles Yesterday I drove to town to buy some Tung oil to finish the canoe paddles after I’d finished stripping and sanding them.  The hardware store in the closest big town was out of Tung oil but could have sold me a gallon of linseed oil.  They directed me to a hardware store in another town, which was what I preferred to the local Wal-Mart.  Thing about Wal-Marts is that they seem to be filled at all hours with incompetent-looking people who don’t appear to have much direction.




The guy at the hardware store (first of the three pictures above), knew my father-in-law and his father-in-law, had gone to church some years ago with that aged gentleman, and grew up a couple of miles north of my wife’s family farm.  That’s the canoe on the 850’s roof seen through the car’s windshield.

Today is Friday, and we’d planned to take the canoe to the lake nearby to paddle with the kids as a watery supplement to pontoon-boat rental.  Weather radar informs me that we’ll probably not paddle today.  I will probably help out at the barn cleaning farm implements.

Weather Radar 7-9-10 

About my black and white photos – they start out as color digital photos, and I discard the color information or make other adjustments.

C’est tout.

Canoe, Combine, Thistle Eradication