Troi Villes Tour d’Alamance


In middle of last month (July 2015), because Americans are free to travel at will within the country by car and I wanted to visit my friend, Eric, I took a bike with me and drove to Alamance County, North Carolina.  He’s been out this way to visit with us several times over the past few years, so I thought it might be a good time and simple neighborliness to pay him a visit at home.  You may remember him from my earlier posts about swapping my Pouch E68 kayak for a Razesa road bicycle, and my posts about going back to Asheville to sell my Pionier 450S kayak – Return to Asheville Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Eric and I met in the 1990’s, when we were both attending seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, and were housed on the same dormitory floor.  His room was at the top of the stairs and was a natural meeting place for the floor’s residence.  Eric was sort of the community social director.  We became friends, and some years later, Eric served as best man at my wedding; he is my son’s godfather and probably my closest friend.

Garmin Confusion at Asheville

The drive to Asheville was pretty uneventful I-40 through Knoxville and then follow the signs and drive up the winding, mountain road.  As I ascended the mountains nearer Asheville I saw river outfitters’ school buses carrying rafts on top and crowded with tourists within.  I listened to the Minor Prophets on the car’s CD player while driving because I’ve been studying Nahum to preach through the book, and all of the Minor Prophets in order and context convey a message I’m trying to discern.

I’m down to one pair of bib-shorts for cycling and my old Castelli jersey is showing signs of wear – threads coming loose, zipper-pull broken off – generally looking worn-out enough to replace.  On my way to Eric’s house, I planned to stop for lunch (I brought a couple of sandwiches with me in the car) and buy a jersey and bibshorts at Hearn’s Cycling & Fitness downtown Asheville.  I remembered that odd used bike shop from my previous visits as a friendly place, and thought it would be cool to have a Hearn’s bike jersey.

At Asheville, Garmin GPS – I used “Voice Command’s” Find Place feature – routed me to an address on Broadway that has no bike shop.  I tried to remember the location of Hearn’s from my several walks through the downtown area, but consistently failed on my own to find the bike shop.  I did drive past all the places I’d walked past or eaten at or window-shopped with on my two prior visits to the city.

Without any difficulty, though, I found the Four Points Hotel, where I stayed during my first visit to Asheville.  Helpful hotel desk staff found for me the correct address for Hearn’s, 28 Asheland Ave.  Garmin, supplied with the correct address, got me there without difficulty.

The vibe at Hearn’s was completely different than it was at the time of my first visit to Asheville.  I had the impression that the grownups had gone off and left the store in charge of an indifferent and underage staff that knew little about cycling.  Or, rather, knew something about cycling related to their own use of bicycles, but had little or no idea how to communicate that effectively to customers in a friendly, welcoming, and productive way.  I did buy a set of cleats for my old SPD shoes to try out with the old SPD pedals I bought used at Stepford a couple of months ago.  Next time I need a bike shop at Asheville, though, I’ll look elsewhere.

Alamance County


Before leaving Stepford, I googled cycling routes in Alamance County, North Carolina.  The North Carolina Department of Transportation has detailed information in the form of maps and brochures by county and region.  Here are the county maps:  The State of Tennessee offers nothing remotely close to the wealth of data North Carolina provides to interested cyclists.  The cycling maps I’ve reproduced here were taken from this brochure:  In addition to the NCTDOT website, googling this morning the phrase “bicycling alamance county nc” returned this link, as well: .  Burlington’s one of the three bigger towns of Alamance County.  The other two are Graham, the county seat, and Gibsonville.


Heat and humidity in Alamance County during mid-July were oppressive.  Daily thunderstorms provided some relief from climactic conditions and opportunities to practice rain-riding skills.


Eric lives in a 660 square foot two bedroom, one bathroom, condominium on the good side of one the three Alamance County municipalities that all run together to form a more or less seamless small urban or large town area.  The condo, as these owned apartments are colloquially known, is part of a development built in the 1940s that resembles housing built for married officers during World War II.  Brick exteriors, well-built interiors with hardwood floors throughout, but tiny compared to what we’re used to nowadays.  Our expectations of comfort and personal space have changed a lot during the past 75 years.

Eric’s condominium reminded me a lot of his old dormitory room from seminary, only quite a bit larger.  Books everywhere, as well as photos, pictures, wall hangings.  Actually, a pretty comfortable small home.  Eric filled me in on the goings on in his neighborhood; he seems very well informed and seems to know his immediate neighbors pretty well.


I arrived in the late afternoon Thursday, and got my travel gear moved into the spare bedroom, where I camped out with an inflatable mattress and a sleeping bag.  I parked the bike in the living room, against a small couch Eric had inherited from a deceased aunt or uncle.  We spent some time catching up, and then Eric gave me a driving tour that included a 20+ mile route he used to ride pretty regularly before he swapped me his old roadbike for my old kayak.

Riding Around

For this trip, I took the Jamis Supernova rain bike because stormy weather had been predicted by; turns out I made the right choice.   I got caught in rain and thunderstorms every ride.  The Supernova, equipped with Clement X’Plor USH tires handled slick, wet conditions in town and in the country without the slightest problem.  I visited Elon Bike Shop initially in search of cycling togs, but also out of tourist-like curiosity; while there, I did buy a bell and some wheels.


My visit lasted five days and four nights.  I rode every day, even the day I arrived, if I recall correctly, except the Monday I left.  My rides took me through Graham, Burlington, and Gibsonville – the Troi Villes referenced in the title line, above.  I also rode through Elon (and visited the university there as well as the famed Elon Bike Shop) and Ossipee near which municipality I crossed the Haw River on my way to and from Berea Christian Church’s building (built in 1903) – where on a couple of rides, I rested and drank Gatorade, ate a snack, and snapped a few pictures.




During my rides I saw fields of cultivated tobacco growing green and healthy-looking, as well as soybeans and corn in abundance.  The crops in Alamance County looked better than most of what I’d seen earlier in the summer while riding through East Central Indiana.  While riding I came upon a couple of derelict houses.  One appears to have been built of cinderblocks stamped with a starfish design, and intended to resemble houses built over a century ago.  The other house appears to date from the 19th Century and could at this point provide shelter only for the birds of the sky and the small, wild animals of the fields and hedges.  The chimney is still standing, but it appears the section of house in back where the kitchen was probably located has long since returned to the ground.  After I rode past the broken house, I wondered about the family or families that’d lived there.  Were they happy?  Did things turn out well for them?



On Friday, Eric and I visited his family’s lakeside dacha at a private hunting and fishing club.  I saw an albino deer stuffed and displayed in a glass case at a gas station bait shop on the way out to the lake.


We grilled out (chicken soaked in a marinade that defies adequate description) and spent most of a lazy day reading (me), fishing (Eric) and talking.  I’d gone for a ride in the morning and was pretty worn out by the time we got to the lake.  Because I was pretty spent, I didn’t take my old companion, the Pouch E68 folding kayak Campsis Radicans, for a paddle around the lake.  Still, it was good to see the old boat again, and to remember how ill its badly fitting hullskin made me (which is why I was so willing it to swap the kayak for old roadbike).  A family of ducks swam over to the dock and disruptively demanded to be fed.  Eric gave them some dog food he’d gotten from somewhere, and the ducks were satisfied for a while.



On Saturday, 18 July, my grand tour took me on a circuit that included the county seat, Graham, where I attended a rally in support of a monument in remembrance of the Confederate soldiers of Alamance County who gave their lives during the the American Civil War.  I listened to an informative and well-reasoned speech made by a member of the local Sons of the Confederate Veterans camp.  In a separate post, I’ll talk more about the rally, but here let me say that if 20 years ago you’d told me I’d applaud and express hearty agreement with the statements made from a man wearing a Confederate uniform in support of Southern heritage and values, I’d have said you were crazy.  But I would have been wrong.  After the speech ended, a thunderstorm broke and rain poured down on me as I rode on.


The town of Gibsonville is memorable for its model railroad hobbyist store, Bobby’s World of Trains, an outdoor model railroad, a Saturday market on the green, and an ice-cream shop.  I visited the hobby shop where I snapped some pictures of its train-table.  If you have any interest in electric model trains or railroading, you should pay this place a visit.  The owner and customers seemed friendly and knowledgeable.  They’d even heard of Tennessee’s Chapel Hill Ghost Light, a phenomenon I saw many years ago.  Bobby’s World of Trains is located at:  113 Lewis Street, Gibsonville, NC 27249 Telephone: (336) 449-7565.


I visited Six Scoops ice-cream shop and ordered two scoops in a cup getting something closer to two pounds of ice-cream made on site.  Six Scoops has a Facebook page here.  I got lost on the way out to find a very old Lutheran church building, but found my way back to the familiar course I’d been riding since my arrival.  One of my ancestors, William Jenkins, was a Lutheran pastor who made his way to Bedford County, Tennessee, from North Carolina.


Worship Services

On Sunday morning, I attended a worship service with the church to which Eric belongs – a mega-church in nearby Greensboro called Westover Church.  I enjoyed the service and the outgoing friendliness of the diverse, upscale congregation.  This came as a great surprise to me, given my tendency to disparage big, showy, institutional Christianity.  On reflection, though, it seems that should not have come as a surprise – if a large congregation did not offer a pleasant experience, it probably would not long remain a large congregation.  In the afternoon, I again rode a circuit that included Berea Christian Church and Gibsonville.  In the evening, I worshiped with a Reformed congregation – Beacon Baptist Church near the Burlington airport.  If I’m able to visit Eric again next year, I plan to again attend that congregation’s worship service.  Again, on reflection, it seems to me that Westboro Church presents as informal, but its organization is doubtless highly structured and somewhat formal in its operation.  Beacon Baptist Church presents as formal, but I had a sense that it may be less so in its actual operation.

A Long Drive Home

The drive home was uneventful – I stopped at a Cracker Barrel on the Tennessee side of the mountains for lunch.  Getting back to my own county, I encountered heavy rain.  Rain bothers me less than it used to.



Asheville Gear Swap

Early last Saturday morning, January 28, my goal was to leave the house before 5:00 am and drive across the Upper Cumberland plateau to I-40 East at Crossville, then drive through Knoxville and points further East to Asheville, North Carolina, to meet my friend Eric at a downtown hotel parking lot.  I was motoring along that stretch that runs uphill, past the curves, that is between Sparta and Crossville.  At my right, to the East, the sunrise backlit the horizon so that it resembled nothing so much as a freight train speeding parallel my course.  The picture below doesn’t capture the thundering dawn train I imagined; I must have snapped it about three minutes later after fumbling in my backpack for the camera.


The drive from Stepford to Asheville only took about four and half hours.  I enjoyed driving I-40 near the border and through Cherokee Forest into Asheville, especially the tunnels.  Although my 1997 850’s horsepower was anemic even in its day, the standard transmission, front-wheel drive car handles superbly.  As I drove, I listened to the entire book of Genesis on CD, and experienced a surprising emotional impact the narrative never had upon me when I read it.  I arrived at my hotel about 11:30 a.m. local time.


The Sheraton Four Points is, if Tripadvisor and other online hotel review sites are correct, a former Best Western hotel.  But the rates were excellent and the location good – a block or two from downtown and right off the freeway.  After I checked in, I phoned my friend, Eric, who said he was only a few minutes away.  Our goal was to exchange human powered vehicles – a Pouch E68 folding kayak and a 1985 Razesa 12-speed road/touring bike.  As also noted somewhere on Tripadvisor, the magnetic room-keys didn’t work, but the friendly staffer at the desk quickly “made” new ones.  The room, itself, was a bit small but apparently clean.  The room’s WiFi signal was relatively weak, at two bars, but adequate for email, looking at the weather, etc.

We parked at the edge of the hotel’s lot and emptied our cars of gear.  I assembled the kayak so Eric could see how it was done; he took photos to help remember.  I’m still puzzled by the fact that I always look worse in photographs than I do when I check my appearance in a mirror to make sure I’m presentable before I go outside.  I also brought along some miscellaneous gear found a watch I thought I’d lost at a put-in a couple of years ago; it’d probably got stuck to the velcro on a paddling glove for cold-weather I included in one of the boat’s bags.  We’d both brought our lunches and ate them in the parking lot while assembling the boat and monkeying with the bike.  Here’s a picture of the kayak and gear spread out behind our cars in the parking lot, followed by another picture of Eric riding the Razesa to make sure it could still be ridden and also so I could take the picture of one of his final rides on the bike he bought at Madrid in about 1985.

While we worked in the parking lot, the bus driver for the Liberty University women’s basketball team, in town for a game and staying at the Four Points, came over and talked with us about the kayak and about religion and culture.  Something about a folding kayak that never fails to attract the attention of passersby.


I bought that red kayak from Ralph Hoehn at in, I don’t know, maybe late 2005.  I wanted something that tracked straight and was sufficiently sturdy that when bracing knees and feet against the frame, the frame itself would not come apart.  Ralph’s demo-boat fit the bill, perfectly.  When I bought it, it had what I think was its original hullskin – without fore-hatch, deck much faded, a sort of rubber tractor-seat, PVC hull much scuffed and nicked.  Ralph challenged me to assemble it without instructions.  As with any of the folding kayaks I’ve owned, it took not too much time to look at and think about the pieces to see how they must fit together.  I was able to manage the thing without very much difficulty, with maybe one part left over.  I assembled it for the first time in the front yard of the first house my wife and I owned. 

The faded red deck was about the coral-pink color of the common trumpet creeper or campsis radicans, which I saw growing on the rocky shoreline of Woods Reservoir the second or third time I paddled the kayak, so it came to me as a sort of vision-quest revelation of the kayak’s name.  Ralph had told me the kayak had never been named, so I was free to find a name for it.

In this kayak, I explored portions of the Duck River up and downstream Normandy Lake, all of Normandy Lake, all of Woods Reservoir, portions of the Elk River up and downstream Woods Reservoir, and most of Tims Ford Lake.  In addition, I paddled Lake Ocoee and Lake Watauga in this kayak.

Here are many of the photos I’ve taken of and from this boat – .

About three years ago, now, maybe a little longer ago than that, but not much, I bought a more recent hullskin from Ralph.  Although it was used, it was not much used.  New hullskin came with a forward hatch, a little better workmanship on the rear-deck closure, as well as better workmanship on the rudder-cables management (plastic sleeves to prevent the cables catching on stowed gear aft, and reinforced exit points on the rear deck).  The problem with the new skin is that it never fit quite right, due, in my opinion, largely to PVC tabs holding the sponson sleeves in position.  Inflated, the left side tubes always pushed up over the gunwale frame in front, and at right, was significantly lower than it ought to have been.  Nothing I tried, in terms of fitting the frame into the skin, could correct this.  The kayak paddled fine, but looked odd to me.  I guess I’m OCD enough to have been significantly bugged by the left side bulging.  Back during the summer of 2011, a couple of times I was so frustrated with the odd fit that I wanted to burn the boat or throw in front of a speeding tractor-trailer rig.

I’m not sure why I got so frustrated with the E68, but I couldn’t tolerate the fact that the deck was uneven left to right.  When I mentioned a couple of months ago to Eric that I wanted to burn it, he said, “I like that kayak.”  He’s paddled it several times.  Here’s a picture of him in it on the Stones River near Manson Pike Trailhead at Murfreesboro:

Eric told me he’d purchased the Razesa bike in Madrid in 1985, at which time he was serving as a short-term Southern Baptist missionary there.  He said he bought the bike for around $300.00, and it was a mid-range roadbike he thought comparable to what’s available currently at about $1000.00.  Eric said he and another guy had ridden from Madrid to the Mediterranean coast and back using this and another bike.  When he got back to North Carolina, he said he’d ridden the Outer Banks a few times with it, as well.  Maybe a couple of years ago, I remember him telling me he hadn’t ridden in a long while and that he’d slowed down his jogging regimen.  Back pain, leg pain.  When I mentioned that during the Christmas holidays I’d ridden a very old (late 60’s to early 70’s) Raleigh Grand Prix at Goldman’s Bicycles, and wished I’d gone ahead and bought it at $119.00, he mentioned that he’d had the Razesa in a trainer stand for the past three years using it as a clothes rack.  Said I could have that bike.  I began researching downtube shifting and Razesa bicycles. 

Razesa-View-1 Razesa-View-2Razesa-View-3Razesa-View-4

The bike’s got a lugged frame, Weinmann brakes, Weinmann rims (the original rim on the back and a newer rim on the front), Shimano 600 derailleur, Simplex (according to Chuck – and I found a West Coast Craigslist ad with photos that seems to confirm this) shifters.  I think the frame’s about 54 centimeters.  The steel frame bike is lighter than my aluminum Trek Navigator.  The lugs have some cool decorative cut-outs.  The rack is original, and Eric included a couple of panniers purchased at the same time.

Later on we had supper at Mafel’s downtown, a place we chose because Eric wanted the salmon advertised on the Daily Specials chalkboard.  Turned out to be a good choice – good food and a waitress who laughed at our jokes.  Inside, somebody’d turned the music up too loud; we ate at a table outside protected from the wind by plastic and vinyl side-curtains.  I took pictures of stuff I saw; because my camera bounced out of my sweatshirt pocket while riding around the parking lot earlier, the SD card got scrambled and I lost some of them. 



The drive back Sunday was pretty uneventful.  I stopped off at the scenic overlook as I drove down to Sparta from Crossville.  I was reminded again that the state of Tennessee is a good deal more than its government – it’s the land, air, water, living things and what the people living here make of it.  Government is limited because it can be nothing else – a flawed human construct.  Below are some photos I took from the overlook.


Another Busy October

As usual, October was a busy month for us – leaves to manage, deadline work to complete, toddler to raise, extended family activities, Halloween, some paddling, in-state travel for a brief vacation.  I still have a couple of emails I’ve been wanting to respond to but haven’t had time for about a month.  It’s a little maddening to have stuff I want to get done and limited time in which to accomplish those goals.  Here are some October photos:


Giant Leaf-Blower rules the yard making relatively short work of leaf-management chores.  The jet-pack Stihl blower is effective for smaller cleanup jobs.  The lawn tractor’s mulching blades didn’t make much difference, but I didn’t get the complete “mulching kit.”  I got a reprieve from the rain predicted for this afternoon, however I was only able to get two-thirds of the backyard leaf-pile to the curb this evening before dark.


Earlier this month we got to spend time with cousins we don’t often see, and it was pleasant visiting with them.  We all met on Sunday afternoon for a cookout at their family farm on the other side of our county.  The old farmhouse is much as I remember it from boyhood visits.  Seventy-Six enjoyed meeting relatives, playing with other kids, chasing and playing with little farm kittens, and looking at the penned chickens.


I bought a new camera that’d been waiting for someone to purchase it since its manufacture in 2007.  It is the 7.1 megapixel Pentax Optio W30 (at right).  I bought it to replace the somewhat older 3.2 megapixel Pentax WR33 I bought as a factory refurb in December 2005.  The WR33, about the same size and shape as Klondike Bar, has been devouring AA rechargeable batteries these past two or three months, but seems to “run” normally on standard AA batteries.  I put the WR’s lanyard on the W30, and the short wrist-strap that shipped with the new camera on the Klondike Bar.  I don’t think I could manage a camera in my kayak on a wrist strap without dropping it over the side.  The Giant Leaf-Blower photo was made with the W30 as was the close-up crop below from the control panel of my HP scanner/copier/printer.  The kayak photos further down the page were shot with the W30.


I think the new Pentax (at $99.95 including shipping brand-new in box from an vendor) will serve pretty well for the next five or so years if its build-quality is anything close to that of the WR33.  Certainly, it cost less than the WR did five years ago.

Barton Springs Boat Ramp

Saturday before last I went to the county administrative complex and voted early.  While there, I spoke with a friend and we made plans to paddle the following day.  We met at a nearby lake the following morning.  He paddled the Pionier 450- S, and I paddled the Pouch E68.   We had the unexpected opportunity to practice a T-recovery and even though all was well, we decided to abort the Fall colors tour of Carroll Creek branch.




Stepford Fall colors brighten the day.

Fall again here at Stepford and I am catching up on work at the office, trying to get enough exercise not to get fat, experimenting with a new camera, and managed to paddle last weekend even though that involved playing hookie from worship service Sunday morning.  I shot some video with the new Pentax Optio W30 while driving earlier this week, and I’ll try to get that posted later this week, but I’ve got some deadline work I must complete by the weekend.  Moses Santiago suggested on a social networking site that I am in need of a lifeline. 

Another Duck River Expedition Above Normandy Lake

Lunch Stop

This is the place I stopped for lunch upstream the first bridge above the Fire Lake boat ramp. At 9:37 am, I was already hungry.

Pionier 450 s Bow

Already out of the boat, it occurred to me this was a convenient place to take some photos of the Pionier on the water. I had just walked the boat up past that branch across the stream in the background.


Front left three-quarter view Pionier 450 S


Pionier 450 S right rear three quarter view


Pionier 450 S seen from astern


Photo of the Pionier's back deck with logo. After I took this picture, I pushed the boat in to deeper water and practiced cowboy re-entry. Worked okay, but deck rigging would be nice for holding the paddle.


Here's what that pool looked like where I took the boat pictures. At far right frame you can see where I walked the boat up through and over that fallen wood.


Paddling up past that first pool. A lot of fish up there visible under the clear green water. They didn't take much notice of me in the kayak. My guess is, the area's not been fished much.


Here I'm standing upstream that discarded tire and looking back. This is as far as I got because the water for the next stretch was only about ankle deep. I didn't see much point in dragging the kayak a quarter mile over slimy rocky bottom. Walking the boat back down to where I could again paddle, I slipped and fell in a couple of times.


Paddling back to the pool pictured earlier.


Here I am paddling back just below that pool where I took all those boat pictures. At left is the gravely bank holding the pool in. Ahead is the fallen tree I had to paddle under on my way upstream. The only passage is at far right.


I'd never before seen that flaky-looking bark on the fallen tree. A little farther right was enough space to paddle under and enough water to paddle over the fallen tree's trunk and branches.


This stretch I referred to in 2008 as Duck River Stairs. I was not able to paddle up this far, and photographed the rock upon which I sat to eat my lunch on that drizzly June day.


It was easy to see at the time, but it doesn't show up well here - I was trying to photograph what looked like a pile of water I was pushing downstream ahead of me.


At this point, too far upstream and too shallow for any bassboaters or jet-skiers, the still water was marked with a lot of white feathers.


I stopped here at an isthmus not far from the boat ramp in mid-afternoon because I badly needed to stretch my back. Here's where I ate what was left of my lunch - trail mix, a few pretzl sticks, and drank some water and way-past-expiration-date Gatorade. This could have been a cool photo, but I spoiled it by leaving my hat on the foredeck.

Back in June of 2008, on a drizzly day, I put in at Fire Lake boat ramp on Normandy Lake and paddled as far upstream the Duck as I could get.  I made it to point where Cat Creek joins the Duck, but beyond that, the river extended uphill in a sort of shallow spillway like a set of broad steps curving away to my right.  I dragged Campsis Radicans, my Pouch E68, up to a flat rock large enough to serve as bench and lunch table.  That post is here.

In this post, I am experimenting with use of a table to organize my photos.  Seems to be working okay.

On Sunday 8/8/10, I skipped worship service and went paddling.  A hot day with a heat index of about a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, I paddled about 14 miles in Ga-Gong or Gongol (my son’s word for “water”) my 1962 Pionier 450-S.  Great boat.  However, its aging hullskin is not as abrasion resistant as it perhaps once was.  The keelstrip I affixed has helped some, but I’m going to have to refrain from taking this boat on any more shallow, rocky expeditions.

That’s it for today.


Also at the isthmus was this day camp. Instead of being inhabited by sireens, it was the work of a couple of fishermen who reminded me slightly of a pair of assassins from an old James Bond film, but were pleasant enough to talk to.

Normandy Lake 7/18/10

Josh H. and I, after church and after lunch Sunday, loaded the E68 and 450S and drove out first to Ovoca Lake to see if that would be at all interesting to paddle (it was not, it is a largish pond of probably no more than 10 acres covered in sludgy-looking lily plants).  We drove on, then, to Normandy Lake and put in at Barton Springs boat ramp.  Crowded parking lot filled with trucks that’d trailered in pontoon-boat party barges, jet-skiis, run-down bass boats, and every variety of lesser motorized waterborne conveyance.  The drivers and passengers of these small craft seemed a little boozed-up and under-dressed for the occasion.  Because we got to the water fairly late in the afternoon, we didn’t spend long on the water – paddled out to the bridge, then crossed to Negro Hill and around to the other side of the public camping area there, and then back.  Way better than no time on the water.  I tried out round-tipped canoe paddle with the Pionier, and it worked pretty well.  It was easy to stash in the cockpit and may reasonably be expected to serve in the event of some emergency.

Sunday 27 June Estill Springs Slough

I am still trying to figure out how to get multiple photos to appear in some kind of sensible order.  Probably the solution involves inserting a table and inserting the photos into the cells, then adding captions.  I’ll try that next time.

Gongle (or Gongol) my 1962 Pionier 450 S kayak up a shallow creek that empties in to the Elk River upstream from the ruined footbridge above Beth Page Rd.
Starboard (right?) rear three-quarter view showing waterline, rudder, steering yoke.
State of the art comfort seating of 1962. My butt didn’t hurt until about the third hour on the water. The curved seat provided adequate thigh support, and seatback supported my lower back to a much greater degree than either of the modern Pouch folding kayaks I own.
Heading back downstream toward the bridge above Beth Page Rd. Don’t usually manage to make this far upstream on the Elk; helped by recent rains.
Eric paddling Campsis Radicans, my Pouch E68, at Beth Page Rd. bridge. Note the high water.
A blanket of green water plants (dunno what they’re called) near that second bridge.
That’s me looking a little Spock-like under the hat and smirking while at rest in the cockpit of 450 S.
Eric paddling upstream toward that second bridge. Note the waterline. I liked the reflection, which is why I took the picture.
Eric & Campsis Radicans up that shallow creek.
A snapshot of the E68 underway. Eric was using a Werner Skagit paddle he’d purchased a couple of weeks ago to use with the plastic rec-boat he bought. At 230 cm, the paddle is too long for the E68.
Eric snapped about six shots of me getting out of and back in to the 450 S hoping to capture something similar to his concrete-roll portrait the day before at Boat Day in Murfreesboro. Here I’m getting in to the boat. The paddle’s about 223 cm. Dunno what that is in inches.
A not terribly secure lock on our lunchtime mooring in the shade of the bridge at Beth Page Rd. The Pionier came without any deck rigging or perimeter line; I improvised.
A couple sight-seeing in their 20′ pontoon boat
We rafted up for lunch and ate the remains of a large chicken alfredo pizza.
I love this stretch of the Elk River above the ruined bridge. Even in extreme heat, this section is cool from the cold river water, and the smell of spring-water seeping and flowering leafy plants at the rock overhang is pleasant. As a bonus, bird sounds and the sound of wind in the trees makes this place worth the price of admission.
The shallow creek maze where we rested a couple of minutes before proceeding to the next bridge upstream. Usually passage upstream from here necessitates wading and pulling the boat behind not much past this place on the map. The river is to the photographer’s back.
Winchester has a number of these stony piers that don’t seem to have much to do with anything currently visible either here or behind the city’s housing projects.
Some of the stone facing is missing this year. Previously I’d always thought these were Civil War old, but the concrete underneath makes me wonder if they were’nt part of some WPA flood control project before the river was ever dammed.
Strange marker at that second bridge. The map shows a gauging station here.
Swallow nests under that second bridge.
Thursday awaits us at the take-out, an “unimproved” dirt ramp at Estill Springs City Park in Franklin County, Tennessee.
Trumpet creeper, or campsis radicans, in bloom.
Just paddling – note improvised deck rigging.

SRWA Boat Day 2010 Murfreesboro


Here are some snapshots from Manson Pike Trailhead I took today.  Eric and I got there about an hour early, and he got out on the E68 to familiarize himself with the boat’s handling characteristics.  We both spent the bulk of the day volunteering.  I helped fit people with pfds, Eric helped launch and haul in boats.  After the event ended we took the E68 and 450 S out and paddled around until a thunderstorm got close.  Then we packed up and got out before the lightning and torrential downpour could find us.


My friend Eric asks for help as he perfects his E68 concrete roll. I tell him to hang on a sec while I get the camera.


Somebody brings a trailer full of boats


Young people from MTSU rec department (at left) brought some whitewater boats.




Randle Branch


I spent most of the day helping fit an unending line of boaters with pfds.


Family of volunteer - Grandfather, son-in-law, grandson


Hardworking Parks and Recreation Department employee Niki and Randle Branch sort gear at the end of the day


After the event was over, Eric and I paddled the Stones River.


Eric paddling Campsis Radicans demonstrating he can remain upright while under way.


Other paddlers who said they planned a take out at Thompson Lane. Generally speaking, it's unusual to see other paddlers on the lakes and flatwater rivers of Tennessee.


Steep rocky shoreline


We paddled down to this point and turned around. Even with the new keelstrip on the 450 S, I didn't feel comfortable paddling the 47 year old hull down there. Also, lacking deck rigging and a painter, the old kayak would have been difficult to manage on the way back upstream the gently sloping shallow riffle.


Paddling back toward Manson Pike trailhead.


Storm approaches as we take the boats out of the water.

Father’s Day

Although I’ve got a lot to say, I haven’t got very much time to get it written, so I’ll give you the short version and start with some photos from yesterday on Woods Reservoir where I put in at Morris Ferry boat ramp.

Up early yesterday morning for a walk then back home to finish assembling Campsis Radicans, my Pouch E68 folding kayak.  After that was done, Seventy-Six was ready to play outside for a while, and he wanted to blow soap-bubbles in the boat’s cockpit.  I held an old golf-umbrella to keep the already hot morning sun off his head.  He thought that was funny.

I loaded the gear and boat in to and on top the car so I could leave after worship service and head to the lake.  Until Caution-Lady asked me where I planned to paddle, I hadn’t made up my mind.  When she asked, I said, “Morris Ferry Landing.”  I thought I would paddle out and see whether any of the water-lilies were still in bloom (turns out I was way too late for the lilies).  I paddled maybe eight miles.  Then back home and unpacked the car and put the boats in the garage.

After that, I played in the too-small wading pond with Seventy-Six while Caution-Lady prepared supper.  Because we got really dirty, and I already stank from sweating all day in synthetic-but-quick-drying paddling togs, we both had to bathe before the evening meal.  Then a terrific supper and an evening at home with my family.  What could be better?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Here are some photos:

Pionier 450S – First Report

Today, several long months after purchasing my 1962 Pionier 450S, I paddled it for the first time.

The interesting spraydeck did not remain attached to the coaming on the right front of the cockpit.  The clips kept coming loose.  I eventually removed it.  The after portion of the spraydeck remained in place without any problems, and I left it on.

I did not use the rudder today.  This boat doesn’t track nearly as well as my Pouch E68, but then, what does?  I used the kayak’s inflatable seat cushion, but while using it, never felt securely in place.  When I stopped to stretch, I removed the cushion and stowed the front part of the spraydeck behind the seat.

The kayak’s primitive-looking wooden seatback, affixed to a sort of thwart upon which it swivels, provides comfortable back support, totally unlike the seatbacks crafted for the more modern Pouch E68 and RZ96.  With the inflatable cushion off the apparently ergonomically curved wooden seat-bottom, I found paddling much more comfortable and felt more securely, um, in touch with the kayak.

The cockpit’s traditional gothic-arch shape allows the paddler to lock knees under the deck outboard the coaming.  My E68 feels “loose” around my waist without the inflatable hip-pads on the Nautiraid Greenlander seat I use in that boat.  The 450S does not feel like it needs a hip-fit modification.  Another cool thing about the gothic-arch cockpit is that it minimizes, along with paddle drip rings, the volume of paddle drip falling into the boat.  I used a Euro paddle today, for no good reason I can think of, but was glad of the paddle’s drip rings when I removed problematic forward section of the spraydeck.  Although I didn’t paddle for more than two or three hours today, my butt, legs, and lower back did not and were not numb after a fair amount of time on the uncushioned seat.

The Pionier 450S is not as fast as my Pouch E68.  It has some rocker (the E68 has none), and is about a foot and half shorter.  It took me longer to paddle a short distance, which may be accounted for, in part, by the fact that I have not paddled in several months – probably not since July of last year.

Paddling did not seem to unduly stress the shoulder that’d required surgery in August of last year.  As I write this, my surgery-side trapezius is painful – but I can probably correct that with better posture and exercise.  Of late, I have not religiously adhered to the regimin of post-surgery corrective exercises prescribed by my physical therapist.

For about the first 30 to 45 minutes, none of my body’s right-side movements seemed to coordinate with those of my left-side.  I had a strong sense of lopsidedness.  Eventually I seemed to get a rhythm and my muscle-amnesia lifted a bit.

Some of the Normandy Lake pictures I took today follow: