Three Saturdays ago, my youngest nephew and I set out for Woods Reservoir with The Great Blue Heron atop Thursday, my longsuffering Volvo 850 sedan. We drove out to the boat ramp near the hunter’s check-in station off Old Brick Church Road. One other vehicle was parked nearby. We unloaded the kayak, piled our stuff aboard, rigged the rudder, and set off. We first explored down to the left of the boat-ramp, passing a duck-blind along the shore at our left. We poked around a bit in the shallows, as far in to the overhanging branches as we could manage, then backed out again. Paddling back out toward the brick pumping station near base housing, we turned right and explored down another branch, crossed to a courtesy dock intended for the use of DOD personnel where we pulled the boat ashore and sat on the dock to eat our lunch. My mom, with whom my nephew had been staying, made us sandwiches and I can’t remember what else. Because we didn’t want the sandwiches to turn, we ate our lunch around 10:00 am. After lunch, we paddled into the shallows of that branch, too, then back toward the main body of the lake. As we paddled out, the wind was at our back, so we deployed the golf umbrella and sailed a bit. The wind was much stronger the further we went, and we sailed out to Little Elder Island, a rookery for every kind of local waterfowl. Usually the island is covered with thick foliage, but it appeared this year’s drought conditions significantly diminished its growth. We saw herons, egrets, duck-like birds. The island didn’t stink as badly as it usually does, but we still probably risked acquiring histoplasmosis paddling as close to it as we did. Paddling back to the put-in against that strong breeze required real effort. We ate our generic fig-newton cookies and drank water in a sheltered inlet before paddling back to the boat ramp. Here are some pictures:
This’ll probably be my last post about Morris Ferry Landing until the United States Air Force contracts with the relative of a hack careerist retired to a lucrative consultancy to build condos on the site in order to sell same to executives of some of the aerospace and other firms doing business as contractors at Arnold Engineering and Development Center. Well, that’s speculative. If things turn out differently, I’ll report that, too, if I wind up knowing about it. Like most Americans, I want to believe that hack careerists of the sort I’ve described end their careers with demotions or shunted into positions that declare their dishonor and inadequacy to the discerning observer.
I hurried through a two sandwich lunch after church Sunday, that is, yesterday, strapped down the kayak (I’d already set it atop Thursday, the silver 850, Saturday night after loading my gear in the trunk). Changed into polypro, and drove out to Old Brick Church boat ramp. On the water by 2:30, my stupid should immediately began to hurt. The big lunch sat uneasy in my distended-feeling gut as I tried to concentrate on paddle cant, torso rotation, and legwork to reduce shoulder strain. The wind was sort of at my back as I paddled past the Island of the Birds, a trick of that wind sparing my olfactory the rookery’s smell.
Not many boats on the water Sunday afternoon. To my right I could see what looked like an inflatable city at the base’s enlisted recreational beach. I paddled left toward the causeway for a last look at Morris Ferry Landing before it enters the past tomorrow, 9/30/08.
The former vacation colony was now mostly bare hillside and waterfront. The docks remained. I some camper trailers about three lots up the hill from the water’s edge. I could hear power tools being used somewhere out of site. The rustic covered boat slips were just about completely empty. All the larger, permanent trailers were gone.
Someone had pitched a beige, red-fly Coleman dome-tent adjacent the cafe/store. No boats were tied up at the dock. Most of the travel trailers that’d been near the bathrooms were gone. The small trailer with sign advertising some small construction business was still there. Someone had the engine-covers up and appeared to be working in the bilge of the big houseboat across from the fuel dock. IV, Lynda, and Isaac Hill’s vacation cottage had been reduced to a pile of structural timber, insulation, splinters, and one very old camper trailer. IV and another man were working to complete demolition. Hardware had been moved to one side. Nowhere really to burn the debris.
IV Hill said he wished the Air Force had had the courage to tell the residents plainly why they have chosen to close Morris Ferry Landing. “We’re all grownups,” he said, “It is their land, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t just say what they have in mind.” Tearing down the cottage has been emotional for him, he said. He remembered holidays at the site as a child, then the summers with his own wife and son. “We’ll find a way to come back,” he said, “even if we just bring our boat on a weekend.”
I paddled out and to my right, near where I photographed the red bucket tractor a couple of weeks ago. A couple of guys who looked like they were repairing something on a pontoon boat asked if I was having any luck. Not fishing, just paddling, I said. Working, not fishing, one of them replied.
I saw a tree with pods that’ve dried – gone to seed – as I paddled beside the causeway on the AEDC side of the lake.
On the way back to my put in, I met a couple of women paddling bright yellow sit on top kayaks. Audrey and Shawn, I think they said, were their names. At the boat ramp, a couple’d brought their beagle to the water. The happy yearling walked right in, then strained against the leash to get a closer look at the kayak on the grass, near my car.