Saturday, December 29, 2007
I walked very slowly through this tunnel 3 times, no moving sidewalks for me here, I wanted to drink it all in. What a trip!!
I recorded this video with my pocket digital cam. Watch the whole 2 minute movie, it's pretty cool.
The walls were lined with translucent glass by Fox Fire Glass. The lights and sound were designed by Mills/James Productions. Bravo!
Friday, December 28, 2007
I got a chance to see my brother's son Kris practice polevaulting at SUNY Binghamton. Here he is going over 16 feet.
This is a family tradition. Kris's dad, my brother Tom was a 2 time NY State Highschool Polevault Champion and record holder. He was the first highschool vaulter in NY to clear 16'. He was recruited to MTSU in 1980 by Coach Dean Hayes. Tom's MTSU polevault record still stands today at 16'1" - a record that has lasted 27 years. The longevity of this record speaks to the fact that those successful in the complex sport of polevaulting are quite rare. It takes speed, strength, gymnastic ability, technique, and courage.
Here is a photo of brother Tom flying high, wearing the MTSU Blue Raider uniform with the ceiling of MTSU's Murphy Center in the background.
I was never as successful as Tom in track as shoulder injuries cut my polevaulting career short, but I did manage to win a few sectional Gold medals in sprinting and sprint relays (indoor 60, 4x200), and a Silver in the long jump. I had a pretty good start in the sprints. Here's a photo of one of my high school 100 races a few steps after the starting gun.
My new goals for running are overall health and I continue to run today, not sprints but 5k races.
I credit these abilities to good genes. My dad was a stand out athlete, polevault record holder and all-conference semi-pro football player in the EFL.
My mom is a renown dance teacher and choreographer. Her students have performed prominent roles on Broadway, appeared in major Hollywood movies, Vegas shows, ballet companies, etc... Tom's daughter Kari is a very talented singer and dancer. Tom plays guitar and both he and his wife Debbie are good singers.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The December 11, 2007 high temperature of 77 in Chattanooga broke the 90 yr old record high temperature of 73 for the date.
I had my friends John and Nancy join me for a cruise up the TN River Gorge from Haletown to Chattanooga.
This is the most scenic part of the Tennessee River.
What a day!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
As I wrote in my previous post, distance racing is totally new to me. I've been doing it a week.
I've won two awards in three races and my time has improved with each race.
My personal best 5k is now 22:35. Not too bad for a beginning runner who has never trained for such an event.
My latest stunt was to run two 5k races just 13 hours apart. The 27th Annual Rudolph Run on Friday night, 12/7/07, and the Frostbite 5k in Hendersonville at 8 am Sat. morning 12/08.
Here's a brief recap of the races:
12/1 - Jingle Bell 5K - Shelby Park, Nashville, about 400 total runners. I won Second Prize in my age group out of 12, time: 22:56. The course was the best of the three I ran. Fairly flat, very cool weather. I barely even sweat.
12/7 - Rudolph Rednose 5k Run - Nashville, about 900 total runners. I finished 6th in my age group out of 45, time of 22:40. This run was hard. Starting from near Titan's Stadium, we ran up the hill and across the bridge down the Christmas parade route - 2nd Ave up Broadway to 5th and back the same way with hundreds of people lining the streets. It was very competitive and the winner finished in a time of 15:29!
12/8 - Frostbite 5k, Hendersonville, TN, total of about 400 runners. I won Third Prize in my age group out of 16 with a personal best time of 22:35, (7:17 per mile pace). This was also a hard course and anything but frostbite weather. It was nearly 60 degrees and raining lightly. There were a lot of up and down hills on this course. I went out probably too fast again, my mile split was 6:24, two mile split was 14:07.
It has become apparent that this type of racing is all about lungs, aerobic conditioning and efficiency of stride. I never had the lungs to run such distances, even in my youth as a top sprinter. But I have found that those that stand out in these races in the older age groups have been doing it a long time. I was beaten in my first race by a 67 yr old man, a man my father's age. Well, he showed up to all three race, but he didn't beat me again. Jimmy, my age group rival that beat me every time also showed up for these 3 races. In my last race, a 62 yr old man beat me by a little. I find these older athletes totally inspiring. The kind of runners I hope to be when I reach that age. I would love to get faster as I get older.
Who knows, I may never run another race, or I may actually train and see what I can do.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
What to do on a freezing day in Tennessee? Go to the beach, of course! Here at Bill's TN Paradise, we tend to live a life less ordinary. This is what I did on my first day of winter break... I have the next 5 weeks off. SWEET !
Centerhill Lake was low, and pretty much deserted today. It was sunny and in the 30's. It really didn't feel cold. The water looked clear and matched the blue sky.
The beaches were broad and clean, covered with shells, stones, and even a few tiny flowers. (click on pics to enlarge)
I really like coldweather cruising because the lake is always empty and so quiet. I keep the canvas up and the interior heated, cozy enough for shorts and socks. Making hot chocolate and playing guitar while slowly moving down the lake is really relaxing. Hiking along the shoreline is really nice.
I put in at Sligo, took the boat all the way to Centerhill Dam, about 20 miles up the lake. This is a part of the lake I've avoided in recent years due to over use. I noticed Hurricane Marina got a face lift. Looks like a new store and restaurant, well... new to me.
In Cove Hollow, there are some newer godaweful ugly looking apartment buildings on the top of the hill, a few new houses as well.
On my way back, who do I see? Alan Jackson in his behemoth of a silly looking houseboat turning down Holmes Creek. I'm not sure it was him driving, but his boat is unmistakable. Looks like a floating mansion. Maybe it was one of his guys taking the boat to get winterized at Hidden Harbor Marina? I guess he likes to live a life less ordinary as well. The only time I've seen Jackson on the lake is during the week. Any experienced boater will tell you, avoid area lakes on the weekends, especially Percy Priest.
This was a perfect day for a cruise. Saw almost no one. Had a nice walk, almost felt like being in the wilderness. I was tempted to build a fire on the shore and stay the night in the boat, but ... I've got a 5k race to run Friday.
My boat is a classic 24' Sea Ray, in great shape. The cabin is trimed in teak and it has heat, hot water, shower, 2 burner stove, sink, fridge, head, TV/DVD, comfy bed ... everything I need. This is where I'd be if I were homeless.
Thanks to Carlos Moore at Sligo Canvas Shop for such a great canvas enclosure at a great price. Carlos is a great guy!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Running for me has been a lifestyle. I do it a lot, I've never blogged about it and I've never entered a 5k race, until yesterday. In the Nashville Jingle Bell 5K I finished second in the 45-49 age group with a time of 22:56. OK for a first try. I'll do better next time, I guarantee it.
The race had a turnout of about 400 total runners. I showed up with my nylon hiking shorts, cheap Walmart sneakers, and 2 pairs of hiking socks. Not knowing the course, I found it difficult to pace myself and started way too fast, staying with the leaders way too long.
From a family of track athletes, my expertise was sprinting. I was a NYS sectional indoor 60 champion in HS. (My brother a 2-time NY State Champion polevaulter and record holder!) I never liked distance running as it always felt like 'slow pain.' My short and powerful legs are built for fast starts, not 3 mile runs. But now I'm running for a different purpose: not to win, but to stay healthy and fit for life. I might try this 5k race thing again in a few weeks.
What do you think, not to bad for an old guy, aye?
Thanks to Shirley for the excellent photos.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Stones River Chamber Players:
Deanna Little - Flute, Andrea Dawson - Violin, William Yelverton - Guitar
If you haven't heard the Stones River Chamber Players, check out some of the soundfiles on our website.
We play stuff people like. Visceral and evocative music, not the standard Mozart & Beethoven (even though we do that too!). We play mostly fresh new music that draws influences from Folk, Jazz, Latin and World music. Some call it 'concert classical crossover music.'
Today on "Live in Studio C" we played music of German jazz guitarist and composer Günter Möll. Transition Man is a piece with rock, jazz and folk influences. Rarely performed and unpublished, we did the TN Premiere of this work on 11/19/07 at MTSU. We played it a bit slower than it should go, to be safe on live radio because this is a brand new piece for us.
The performance will be rebroadcast tonight - Tues Nov. 20, 2007 at 8:06 PM on Nashville Public Radio. WPLN 90.3 FM - Nashville, WHRS 91.7 - FM Cookeville, WTHL 91.5 FM - Tullahoma, and WPLN 1430 AM.
In case you miss it, you can listen to the live recording of the TN premiere of this piece on the SRCP website.
The great thing about playing on live radio is that we can wear jeans and take our shoes off!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
From WSMV via CNN:
Vintage Whisky May be Poured Down the Drain
POSTED: 3:04 pm CST November 15, 2007NASHVILLE, Tenn - a sobering thought: Hundreds of bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey, some of it almost 100 years old, may be unceremoniously poured down a drain because authorities suspect it was being sold by someone without a license. Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled."Punish the person, not the whiskey," said an outraged Kyle MacDonald, 28, a Jack Daniel's drinker from British Columbia who promotes the whiskey on his blog. "Jack never did anything wrong, and the whiskey itself is innocent."Investigators are also looking into whether some of the bottles had been stolen from the distillery. No one has been arrested.
Authorities are still determining how much of the liquor will be disposed of, and how much can be sold at auction.Tennessee law requires officials to destroy whiskey that cannot be sold legally in the state, such as bottles designed for sale overseas and those with broken seals."We'd pour it out," said Danielle Elks, executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The estimated value of the liquor is $1 million, possibly driven up by the value of the antique bottles, which range from 3-liter bottles to half-pints.One seized bottle dates to 1914, with its seal unbroken. Elks said it is worth $10,000 on the collectors market. Investigators are looking into whether the liquor was being sold for the value of the bottles rather than the whiskey."Someone was making a great deal of profit," she said.Tennessee whiskeys age in charred white oak barrels, but the maturing process that gives them character mostly stops when it is bottled. A bottled whiskey can deteriorate over a long period of time, especially if it is opened or exposed to sunlight and heat.Christopher Carlsson, a spirits connoisseur and collector in Rochester, N.Y., said old vintages of whiskey in their original containers are highly prized."A lot of these bottles are priceless," he said. "It's like having a rare painting. It's heavily collected."The raids, prompted by a tip, were conducted at two warehouses and a home in Lynchburg, about 65 miles southeast of Nashville. Another raid was at a Nashville hotel room where drinks were being served and bottles were being sold.For now, the whiskey is being stored in a Nashville vault.Elks acknowledged that pouring out the whiskey would not be a happy hour for her."It'd kill me," she said.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
A good link for weather nuts and storm lovers is the convective outlook page from the Storm Prediction Center. They give probabilities of severe weather in given locations along with a text convective outlook. This weather jargon is unintelligible to most people as it is full of 'isms' and abbreviations.
Looks like this will be the last warm day for a while.
Convective outlook statement (11/14/07):
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1021 AM CST WED NOV 14 2007
VALID 141630Z - 151200Z
...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS FROM THE LOWER MS RIVER
VALLEY/MID SOUTH INTO THE TN RIVER VALLEY...
...MID SOUTH/LOWER MS RIVER VALLEY INTO THE TN VALLEY...
DEEPENING TROUGH ALOFT OVER THE CENTRAL U.S. WILL BECOME MORE
NEGATIVELY TILTED AND AMPLIFY AS IT ADVANCES ACROSS THE GREAT
LAKES/MS RIVER VALLEY DURING THE PERIOD. THIS WILL OCCUR AS STRONG
MID/UPPER LEVEL JET DIVES SEWD ACROSS THE CENTRAL PLAINS. AHEAD OF
AMPLIFYING TROUGH...LOWER AMPLITUDE SYSTEM IS BECOMING MORE DIFFUSE
AS IT MOVES TOWARDS THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS THIS MORNING. AT THE
SURFACE...STRONG COLD FRONT WILL CONTINUE MOVING RAPIDLY EWD ACROSS
THE GREAT LAKES AND SEWD INTO THE MID SOUTH/LOWER MS RIVER VALLEY
THIS AFTERNOON. LAPSE RATES REMAIN RATHER WEAK ON MORNING
SOUNDINGS...AND WILL IMPROVE ONLY A LITTLE THROUGH THE DAY.
HOWEVER...SURFACE DEW POINTS IN THE MID 60S AND MILD NOVEMBER
AFTERNOON HIGHS SHOULD BOOST MLCAPE TO NEAR 1000 J/KG INTO THE LOWER
MS RIVER VALLEY/MID SOUTH REGION LATER THIS AFTERNOON.
DEEP ASCENT AHEAD OF APPROACHING MID/UPPER LEVEL TROUGH AND WITHIN
STRONG UPPER LEVEL DIFFLUENCE SHOULD INCREASE ELEVATED MOIST
CONVECTION THROUGH THE DAY FROM THE LOWER OH RIVER VALLEY INTO
MIDDLE TN/KY. EFFECTIVE SHEAR REMAINS SUFFICIENT FOR SOME
ROTATION/PERSISTENCE TO THE STRONGER CORES AND THESE MAY YIELD HAIL
TODAY. MORE ROBUST CONVECTION SHOULD AWAIT STRONGER HEATING AND
DEVELOP ALONG AND AHEAD OF THE COLD FRONT INTO SRN AR/NRN MS/WRN TN
DURING THE MID TO LATE AFTERNOON. FORECAST SOUNDINGS ACROSS THIS
REGION INDICATE LOW AND DEEP LAYER SHEAR MORE THAN ADEQUATE FOR A
FEW SUPERCELLS OR SMALL LINES MOVING QUICKLY SEWD THROUGH THE EARLY
TO MID EVENING. ISOLATED DAMAGING WINDS ALONG WITH SOME HAIL WILL
BE PRIMARY SEVERE THREATS.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Some of my favorite trees to see in autumn are the bald cypress. These trees grow in TN primarily in ancient stream beds, often completely in the water. If I have a favorite color, this is it. The rust red-orange of these trees was stunning on a mostly cloudy Monday afternoon in November on the lake. It seems that the state is planting more of these trees, particularly on islands in Percy Priest Lake (which is the Stones River basin).
At one time, the biggest bald cypress tree east of the Mississippi lived in TN at Big Cypress Tree State Park in Greenfield, TN on the Obion River. The tree's diameter was 13 feet and its circumference was 40 feet. The tree lived to be 1,350 years old before lightning struck and killed the tree in 1976. The lightning knocked the top out of the tree and the tree smoldered for two weeks. Unfortunately, the tree is no longer standing.
J. Percy Priest Lake is not my favorite lake to visit due to it's over use, shallow depth and confusing channel. However, it was good to get out on the boat on a relatively quiet Monday afternoon. I did see other boaters, I think I may have been the only boater I saw who was not fishing. Anyway, got some decent guitar practicing in and some quiet time connecting with nature walking at Ponderosa Island. I'll be happy to claim it as part of Bill's TN Paradise.
The use of a GPS is indispensable on this lake where the navigation channel is often along the shoreline and not in the middle of the lake where you'd expect. Even with the GPS, I'm often hesitant to put the boat up on plane because it only takes a second to get off the channel into shallow water, and very often people fishing in small boats tend to sit in the center of the channel.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
The upstairs sunroom, also known as 'the rain room,' is a favorite hangout spot during rainy weather due to the glass ceiling. Even on dark and rainy days, this room is always bright and cozy, thanks to the new gas fireplace.
The larger downstairs sunroom, where the cats live, also becomes a tropical paradise in winter. Equipped with hot tub, fireplace, and TV, it is an excellent place to spend time.
Plants always do better outside but it is nice to have them indoors for a few months every year.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Always interesting when such a story hits the MSM.
My vote is for the skinny bear. But you know, part of me wants to find Bigfoot.
Rick Jacobs said he took this photograph with a camera using an automatic motion sensor trigger in the Allegheny National Forest.
Now, I know this area. It is a huge wilderness area that extends beyond the half million acres of the Allegheny Forest north into NY and east into PA. Not saying there are apes living there, but it is a very remote area.
"We couldn't figure out what they were," Jacobs said of the images captured on Sept. 16. "I've been hunting for years and I've never seen anything like this."
But .... the PA Game Commission rains on our parade ... they have a more conventional opinion. Agency spokesman Jerry Feaser said conservation officers routinely trap bears to be tagged and often see animals that look like the photos.
"There is no question it is a bear with a severe case of mange," Feaser told The Bradford Era.
In this second photo, the animal is sniffing the bait on the ground and the arms certainly seem long and primate-like as is the bipedal stance.
Photos and more from the BFRO.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
This shampoo has not been in production since the 1990's. It was briefly reissued in '01 but only in limited quantities, and then discontinued shortly afterward. Despite this, I have been able to stock up with Ebay purchases from England, where occasionally, some of this shampoo appears for sale. I haven't seen any for sale for a few years or so now, except small amounts that sellers won't ship to the USA. So, this is it. The last of the last. Fortunately, this is a large size bottle that is 3/4 full. It could last years since I use it sparingly.
Have you ever had a favorite product suddenly discontinued?
It really sucks. Thankfully, I still have a few years supply of my favorite shampoo. The Body Shop company had really made some bad mistakes. I remember some wonderful products they had that have been discontinued, like the Dewberry shampoo and various other products. Fortunately, when there's a will, there is a way, and that way is Ebay.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
There sure is a lot of guitar playing going on here in Middle Tennessee but there is only one real-deal flamenco guitarist/singer around here - that's MTSU's award winning Silviu Ciulei from Romania.
2955 South Rutherford Blvd
Friday, Nov. 2, 2007
check out these clips from a gig last year -
William Yelverton - Guitar Soloist
Danza de las Haches, Canario, and Españoleta
(Amateur video recorded with a pocket Canon SD900 digital cam)
Friday, October 26, 2007
Aay mon.... the shipment's comin' in.... from Jamaica, just a few more weeks... it's really good shit. The best!
The best coffee in the world. (It better be for $80 a pound). Peet's is once again offering for sale their special reserve Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee., from one of Jamaica's oldest estates.
Peet's offers this rare coffee just once a year and last year, they sold out in 2 days. They have a larger supply this year, but it might only last a week or two. It is sold by the half pound at $39.95.
There are probably a lot of counterfeits and lower quality Blue Mountain blends. Believe me, not all Jamaican Blue Mountain is this good. Peet's explains -->
Jamaica Blue Mountain will ship only on Wednesdays starting November 7, 2007.
Jamaica Blue Mountain is subtly complex with a smooth texture, generous aroma, nuanced flavors, and perfectly balanced body and acidity. There are stringent regulations around what coffees can be called Jamaican Blue Mountain. The coffee producing area of the Blue Mountains is tiny, and just a few Estates now produce the old-style quality and mild, aromatic flavor which made this origin so famous. Our pick is worthy of the name - 100% pure, grown on Estates dating from the 1800s, and processed by hand in a plant from the same era. It’s the combination of the unique regional conditions - rich soil, lofty altitude and cool mists - along with meticulous quality control in processing that makes this such a prized coffee.
The interesting thing about Jamaica Blue Mountain, is the perfect coffee to drink black with a dessert or piece of chocolate. The stronger I brew it, the richer it tastes. Even when I've brewed it strong, it never tastes bitter. Last years coffee was awesome.
And I drink so little coffee, maybe one or two cups a week, I've been able to make 1/2 pound last a year. I have other coffees, but once in a great while, like tonight, I drink the Blue Mtn. I've got my order in, hope this years was as good as the last.
As a daily tea drinker, Peet's Assam Extra Fancy is the good stuff. $48 / lb. and worth it. A pound lasts a long time.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Peel three cloves of garlic and put in mortar with a tbsp of kosher salt and grind to a paste with pestle. Add Italian spice mix, 5 pepper mix, and 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbps lemon juice, and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Grind until almost smooth. (The mortal and pestle is indispensable!)
Cut up vegetables. Soft vegetables like yellow squash, bell pepper, and zucchini in big chunks. Root vegetables like potatoes, yams, and carrots in smaller chunks. I also used whole mushrooms, onions, asparagus, red bell pepper and whole brussel sprouts.
Mix the vegetables the garlic olive oil mixture and put in a pan with a a quarter inch of water.
Bake at 400 degrees, for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 12-15 minutes. Broil at the end for 10 minutes to finish.
Tasty, yum, good food. Yea, this is what I eat, and yea... I can cook.
You know, if I ate now like I did when I was 17, the burgers, fast food, processed food, dairy, etc... now at 40 something, I'd certainly be overweight, maybe obese. I'm in my 16th year as a 'vegetarian with occasional seafood.' Some call it 'pescaterian,' but that sort of implies a fish-based diet which is not what I do. For me it's 90% fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I love bread, grains and some dairy, but have been avoiding them almost completely. This and exercise has helped me stay about the same weight as when I graduated high school at age 17 - harder to do nowadays in my 40s than it was 10 years ago.
Live well. Peace.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Watch these guys in their pursuits on the Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers show.
A similar weather nut project I've often dreamed of was to film a hurricane storm surge. An ideal place to do that would be the Cape Florida lighthouse. A 150 year old lighthouse on Key Biscayne that has survived dozens of hurricanes, including a direct hit by Hurricane Andrew.
Someone should write a grant to do this!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
A major tornado outbreak is underway. At 8:00 pm there were 12 tornado warnings and 26 severe thunderstorm warnings from Michigan to TN.
A line of severe storms with mesos (rotating thunderstorms) is lined up and approaching the TN River, crossing TN. Storms will be in Middle TN later tonight!
Very exciting stuff!!
From the NWS: Tornado Watch 722 remains in effect until 1100 PM CDT for much of Middle and West TN.
Can you feel the energy in the air? The warm tropical air, the south wind, the moisture... man, I LOVE IT. Even the guitar sounds great in this weather. It's been too long since I heard that tornado siren at MTSU go off, too long since I stayed glued to my GRLevel3 radar program, the festive atmosphere that severe weather brings. Yes, I'm a weather nut, can you tell?
As a storm chaser, I've not photographed my Holy Grail, a tornado ... yet. The above photo of a wall cloud I took last year along Woodbury Highway is the closest I've come. The tornado eventually touched down and killed a man in Canon County.
I do worry about damage, I live in a house surrounded by 100 ft tall oaks and could lose my boat, vehicle, pool or part of my house if one of these trees were to fall. I know the risks but something primal gets me excited with the energy of an approaching cold front and the feeling in the air. I just love it. Seeing that there is a lake wind advisory, I wish I was out on my boat right now.
As of 4:30 pm there are sparse rotating thunderstorms developing over western KY and AL that have produced Tornado Warnings. Hold on to your hat, it should be a fun night, fellow weather nuts.
The Weather Underground provides my favorite internet nexrad radar of TN
5:00 pm UPDATE: It looks like a significant tornado outbreak is developing. There are now several tornado warnings reported in these states - MO, MI, KY, AL, IN
The main energy producing these storms has yet to move over Middle TN. The front will pass mid day on Friday. Here is the latest NWS discussion:
BEST CHANCES FOR SEVERE WEATHER IN MID TN WILL BE THIS EVENING
FROM 8 PM CDT - 2 AM CDT WITH THE MAIN HAZARD BEING DAMAGING
STRAIGHT LINE WINDS. PARAMETERS WILL REMAIN SUITABLE FOR ISOLATED
TORNADOES THROUGH THE PERIOD. GUSTY THUNDERSTORM WINDS ALONG WITH
GRADIENT WINDS WILL LIKELY BRING DOWN A FEW TREES OR LIMBS THIS
EVENING...ESPECIALLY DROUGHT WEAKENED TREES. A LAKE WIND ADVISORY
WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL 7 PM FOR GUSTY GRADIENT WINDS. WINDS
MAY BE STRONGER LATER..BUT SHOULD BE CONVECTIVELY INDUCED OR JUST
ALONG THE FRONT ITSELF. AT 2 PM CDT...THE SURFACE FRONT EXTENDED
FROM A LOW PRESSURE IN MN DOWN INTO MO AND NORTHWEST AR THIS
AFTERNOON. CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP AND FILL IN
AHEAD OF THE BOUNDARY OVER WEST TN AND WEST KY LATE TODAY. THIS
FRONT WILL SWEEP ACROSS MID TN WITH WIDESPREAD SHOWERS AND STORMS
BETWEEN 06Z- 12Z FRIDAY.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Friday, October 5, 2007
One of my favorite destinations, a true paradise. Visiting Burgess Falls on Centerhill Lake on my 24' Sea Ray cruiser was like having a home in paradise. I would often go on a weekday and have to place to myself and my guest(s). Now such visits may be a thing of the past. I had heard (by a communication from a marina owner) that Centerhill Lake is being drawn down to a level below 620' for a period of 6 years. To get a boat under the falls requires a minimum depth of around 645', to get within hiking distance, about 639'. I'm glad I went up there this year. It was great, as clean as I've ever seen it.
For a boater, Burgess Falls is a natural air conditioner, a constant wind and spray is generated by the falls. Sometimes I'd stay there all day, even take a nap in the boat or watch a movie while enjoying the breeze coming through my cabin hatch. I always anchored the boat and swam to shore to hike up to the middle falls where you can walk behind the falls on a hot day and also up to the observation deck.
This spectacular boating destination I will sorely miss if the lake is in fact drawn down for 6 years. I hope perhaps some heavy rain might swell the lake at some point to make the falls accessible again. It was a great part of Bill's TN Paradise.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
When I slightly wrecked my '89 Civic Hatchback I thought about buying another car. Well, I didn't.
Even though it's got 195,000 miles on it, I decided to fish around in junkyards and rebuild it. I couldn't find many acceptable used parts so I bought mostly aftermarket parts including a new hood. No, I doubt I'll go to the expense of painting the black hood the right color, it runs well and gets 38 mpg. That's all I need it to do. I don't need it to be all the same color.
I was disappointed when Honda changed the Civic Hatchback in 2001 to a 2.0 liter sport coupe with much less fuel economy compared to the 1.5 liter engine in my car. Civic Hatchbacks are one of the most sought after used cars on earth. Probably because they run forever and are so well designed. The model design looked very similar for years up until that unfortunate change in 2001.
This car could run forever, probably needs a new timing belt/water pump/ cam seal but, maybe next month.
Honda Civics of all types have consistently received high marks and have lasted longer than most cars. The Civic Hatchback is one of the most copied car designs in history. Even BMW makes one very similar.
Long live the Civic Hatchback DX.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Fourth of July on Fontana Lake in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Quiet and majestic. No fireworks . . . except for nature's own.
The lake has warm and clear blue-green water. The thick rhododendrons forests are in bloom with rushing cold creeks and rarely a person to be seen.
What can I say, it's a paradise. There is no better way to see the Smoky Mountains.
Sunday, July 1, 2007
With 9 million visitors a year, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited National Park in America. (click photos to enlarge) To get a true wilderness experience, you can't go through Gatlinburg and hike Mount LeConte - unless you want to be surrounded by hundreds of other hikers and tourists. It seems like 90% of park visitors come to the park through Gatlinburg. So, we avoid such tourist areas and visit the most remote and beautiful areas of the park ... by boat.
I would guess to many people whose idea of a Smoky Mountain vacation is a cabin in Gatlinburg, Sevierville or Pigeon Forge, that to visit the mountains by boat would seem like an impossibility . . . unless you happen to look at a map. If you do, you'll notice that nearly the entire park is bordered by the crown jewel of TVA mountain lakes - the 30 mile long majestic Fontana Lake. This resevoir was created in 1944 by the largest dam in the east, the 480' concrete Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River.
Hiking from the North Shore of Fontana is superb. Some of the great remote destinations include Shuckstack Tower, High Rocks cabin, and many family cemeteries quite close to the shore. The lushness of the rhododendron thickets on the Forney Creek and Bear Creek Trails is awesome. From Forney Creek, it's also possible to hike up to Clingman's Dome and back to the lake in a day. It is the biggest day hike I've ever done - 25 miles with a 5000' climb.
Staying on the boat for several days isn't exactly roughing it compared to camping. A 24' Sea Ray cruiser with a queen size bed, hot water, shower, bathroom, stove, icebox, and TV/DVD ... there's a movie every night, a hot shower, popcorn and a cold beer after a day of hiking. A great boat to stay on, small enough to trailer but fast enough to ski behind.
This place is a slice of heaven, and it's best shared with a companion and as few other tourists as possible. I can't wait to see that moonlight on the water.
Friday, June 22, 2007
The summer solstice is marked by celebrations, often called Midsummer in Europe, or Litha in the Wiccan series of solar holidays. In the arctic, north of 66° latitude, it is time of the midnight sun, when the sun never sets.
These are the longest days of the year, and shortest nights. My favorite time of year.
Here's a photo of a favorite place in Murfreesboro. From this high spot, when it is very clear and dry, with binoculars it's possible see the tops of buildings in Nashville, just above the horizon. True!
Enjoy the summer.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The accompanying story will be in the August issue of Adventure Motorcycle Magazine.
If you ride here, get your permits, don't go on a weekend or anytime it's wet. Personally, I'm not into 'muddin' . . . must be a 4-wheeler ATV thing. I think cycles tread more lightly, tearing up less ground, overall - much better for the environment than the larger ATVs.
#1 - through the fern forest at Royal Blue WMA
#2 - wild flowers along the lush trail in the Sundquist WMA
#3 - looking west in the Coal Creek area.
#4 - on the Cumberland Plateau after sunset looking down at Caryville, Cove Lake and Jacksboro.
My bike - 2001 Kawasaki Super Sherpa KL 250 dualsport
Monday, June 11, 2007
Silviu Ciulei - flamenco guitarist performs with his band on WPLN FM 90.3 - Tues at 11:06am - 'Live in Studio C'
21 year old award winning MTSU guitar student, Silviu performs again on WPLN Tues June 12, 11:06 am and rebroadcast at 8:06 pm. This time, he'll be playing and singing flamenco with his band, "Tequila." In addition to being a great classical and flamenco guitarist, Silviu is also a fine flamenco singer and composer.
Flamenco, the earthy and rhythmic Spanish gypsy style of guitar playing is not a style heard much in Nashville. Listen to Silviu Ciulei perform flamenco guitar program with his band on Tues, live on WPLN 90.3 FM.
Silviu is an award winning classical guitarist and a 'real deal' flamenco guitarist who has studied flamenco with top flamenco guitar masters Adam del Monte and Oscar Guzman.
In case you miss it, you can listen to Silviu's program anytime this week on the internet at WPLN.org
Silviu is a Romanian student attending MTSU on a full international music scholarship. This semester, Silviu won 2 major classical guitar competition prizes in the Texas Guitar Competition and the Appalachian State Competition.
Monday, June 4, 2007
I found this gorgeous specimen of a canebrake timber rattlesnake last July behind Shirley's house in West Nashville (near Old Hickory and Charlotte Pike).
I was inspired to post this today since yesterday, Kelly was asking about coyotes in Davidson Co., I thought I just mention there are rattlesnakes as well.
We were clearing some brush when I found this majestic creature. It was quite unexpected, I had never seen a rattlesnake in Nashville before. The snake was so fat in it's lower half I thought this might be a gravid (pregnant) female. All the more reason to capture it and relocate it since Shirley has 2 small dogs, including a rat terrier that likes to stick her nose everywhere.
This snake was very well-behaved. She never struck at me or showed any sign of aggression. She only began to rattle when I pinned her head down in order to safely pick her up. I put her in a feed bucket with a secure lid and released her several miles down River Rd. near the Cheatham County line.
Notice the closeup photo of the 10 segment rattle. This snake had been around a while.
I must say to everyone reading this, if you see one of these awesome creatures, don't even think about killing it. That is truly the cowardly thing to do! Just leave it alone and feel lucky you got to see one of these elusive creatures.
If you want a snake removed from your property and don't have the balls to do it yourself, call county animal control or the TWRA. Even the biology department at the local college could refer you to a qualified herpetologist. Don't call the police, they will likely be 'heroic' and shoot it.
Rattlesnake capture 101: the snake must be fully extended before you pick it up. If it is coiled and rattling, don't even think about it. Just let it relax for a while and if it remains coiled, gently prod it with a stick to get it to move. Once it is elongated, it can not strike and then you can pin it, grab it behind the head and pick it up. Heavy gloves are recommended. I certainly wouldn't recommend wearing cutoff jeans and sneakers like I happen to have on in the photo, but like I said, this encounter was unexpected.
I see the existence of such creatures here, just a few miles from downtown Nashville, as a sign of a healthy ecosystem. We should feel lucky that we humans haven't driven this species to extinction in our area.
"Canebrake" was once thought to be a subspecies of the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) but now it is seen as just a lighter colored variant. Here is some interesting new research on the venom of these snakes.
Friday, June 1, 2007
I just returned from a wilderness dual-sport (on/off road) motorcycle adventure in the vast forest wilderness between Oak Ridge and the KY border, east of Rugby and Big South Fork, west of La Follette. In the quarter-million+ acres of off-road trails, I came upon a few isolated family cemeteries. Finding any sign of humanity in the wilderness is intriguing to me. Back in the day where people lived in areas not bound by modern utilities, close-knit family communities of Appalachia often buried their own, 'back yonder on the hill'. I'm amazed where I find some of these graves, Tennesseans 100 years ago would plant their deceased just about anywhere.
But the really amazing thing are the first names! Forget the trendy Brittneys, Ashleys and Kaylas of today. Forget the Biblical John, Luke, Matthew... boring. Even the 'ethnic' names Kamisha, Tawanda... forget it, these 19th century Tennesseans' names are unique!
OK - here's the list of first names from just 3 small family cemeteries:
Dausewell, Parzida, Shecum, Nerva, Cardella, Lueliza, Morletta, Clodie, Lonzo, Rittie, Flem, Maudy, Inus , Lark, Serelda, Ozias, Ortha, Shyann, Hesler, Ohmer, Pearside, Gussie, Pherbia, Othelia, Arzo, Ulus, Armelda, Mertie, Hiter, Edis, Mashack, Alvis, LuverniaMany of these people were born in the 19th century. I photographed every gravestone bearing the names quoted above, it's the easiest way I could document all these names. Ever hear of anyone alive with any of these names today? Perhaps it's a statement of the individualism, creativity and isolation of these 19th century people of Appalachia.
I traversed a few hundred miles of trails in the Royal Blue WMA, Sundquist WMA, Brimestone and Coal Creek. More on the trip later - the ride is going to be the subject of my next article in Adventure Motorcycle Magazine.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The area north of Oak Ridge contains about a quarter million acres of state forest wilderness. The Royal Blue and Sundquist areas are state 'wildlife management areas' (WMA's) - essentially hunting grounds, but are also part of TN's largest system of trails for off-road capable vehicles. Contained in this system are: Brimestone, Royal Blue WMA, Sundquist WMA, and Windrock. Each has a system of trails and in total, there are hundreds of miles of interconnecting trails.
I'll be riding there this week, based out of Caryville, TN. I've been asked to write an article about this ride for Adventure Motorcycle Magazine's June issue.
Regarding motorcycles, I'm in agreement with the magazine's slogan:
"Adventure begins where the pavement ends"
I sometimes feel sorry for those motorcyclists confined to the pavement.
An area as vast as the Royal Blue/Sundquist wilderness can't be traversed any other way but by a rugged off-road vehicle. For me, I much prefer my dual-sport motorcycle to 4-wheeled ATV's because it's quieter, more nimble, street legal, and it treads lightly - not ripping up the environment. It's also light enough to lift over logs blocking the trail. I've even dragged the bike under trees over the trail. Judging by pictures I've seen, ATV riders seem to like 'muddin' ... personally, I'll leave it to other types of animals to wallow in the mud. But, I can handle mud if I have to.
This is my bike of choice: the Kawasaki KL250 Super Sherpa. Light, tough, and strong.
I'll have a post and photos later this week of the upcoming ride. The top and bottom photos are by Shirley of me riding the steeps at the Cheatham WMA. If you ever try to ride these pipeline trails, make sure you have complete confidence in your machine and riding ability, because these valleys are v-shaped, once you go down, you must climb out, it's not so easy as the trails are rugged and the underbrush hides boulders and logs. The pictures don't do justice to the steepness.