Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter unofficially arrives in TN

Iska and Lily at Lake O'Donnell.

It's not officially winter yet but it sure feels like it. I'm glad I drove my SUV up the mountain this weekend. We got the Christmas tree up and went sledding with the kids. It's been really cold. I think it got up to 20º today and last night it snowed about 5 inches. The wind was howling and windchills were around 0º.

Didn't stop me from running 7 miles (in shorts) though! I really do like running in the cold.

Just returned from a walk to Lake O'Donnell. Time to stoke up the fire.

Back to splitting wood, tea, guitar and apple pastry.

'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.... eeeevry where you go....'

Monday, November 29, 2010

16 mile hike in Savage Gulf - the Collins Loop

The Wild Collins Gulf.

Out of town for the weekend for some hiking. It took us just over 5 hrs to do this rugged 16 mile hike. Didn't see one other hiker the entire day. A great wilderness experience.

Suter Falls was really flowing and the thousand foot climb up the Historic Stage Road to the east rim of the Collins was challenging.

Great day...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cutting big red oak firewood

This was one huge log.

Some of these pieces of oak weigh 300+ lbs.

Takes every bit of strength I have to move these pieces around. It's very straight wood and should split really well. I'll hopefully have enough cut and split to keep my fireplaces warm all winter.

This Stihl 026 chainsaw is 13 years old and still kicks ass. It was my dad's housewarming gift to me back in early '97.

Thanks Dad. Your gift is well used and appreciated after all these years.

UPDATE: Wood is split, now to stack.

Lower picture... note the three distinct color woods: Red Oak (brown), TN Cedar (purple), and Osage orange (yellow).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Storm chasing 10/26/10

Two tornado warnings for my county on Tuesday this week.

Chased this impressive wall cloud, hoping to see a funnel drop, but it never really fully developed.

Helluva storm though....

NC Mountain wilderness - by boat, cycle, and hiking trail

Photos from my recent trip to NC...
Fontana Lake, Nantahalla Forest, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Center Hill Lake - Last weekend in Sept. '10

Center Hill Lake, Sept. 25-27, '10.

(click photos to enlarge)

On a mostly cloudy day, just as the sun was setting, a brilliant burst of yellow sunshine contrasted beautifully with the dark clouds (pic 1).

Looking toward the sun just moments later, the clouds parted briefly to reveal an ethereal sunset. (pic 2)

Hiking down the beach, I parked the Sea Ray on the soft sand. (pic 3)

Something I had not seen before, a deer swimming across the lake. I got quite close to her with the boat and watch her stagger to the shore, exhausted. (pic 4)

Walking along the cliffs I heard a big houseboat coming. Who would be out here on a Monday... besides me? Oh, it was Alan Jackson, taking his behemoth redneck house boat from the marina to his mansion.

I was surprised to find many wildflowers including fresh honey suckle vine growing along the lake. Also, lots of ripe scuppernong muscadine grapes around the lake edge. I collected a bouquet for the galley. Tea is a necessity for boating, ask any Brit.

Water temperature is still 79°, swimming was nice.

I really need to start bringing my camera on these trips. Again, all photos taken with my cell phone.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thinking about screaming to Dave Ramsey

By November, my house will be paid off.

Having an abundance of concerts in the past few years has allowed me to get way ahead on mortgage payments. I could pay it off now, but I think I might buy a car first. This will be the first time since my pre-college youth that I will be 100% debt free. I might just call Dave Ramsey and scream "I'm debt free!" This is one of the most important milestones of life. Wanted to do it before I turned 50, but whats a few months?

I've often thought about selling this place and moving to a more isolated setting with a bluff view or on the water, but I'm pretty happy with my place. I thought about reopening it as a Bn'B. I thought about building a smaller cabin in my woods and renting out the big house. Any ideas?

It will always be worth more than it's appraised value since it's a unique historic house, hand-hewn in the 1830's from red cedar, (moved and reassembled in the '60's), and location location location... it's on 4 acres in the largest stand of big oak forest within one mile of the largest undergraduate college in the state.

Not a bad spot.

Bottom pic: the back patio under the solarium is where I spend most of my time in the summer. 100% private, I like that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

TN River gorge - pictures of morning and storm clouds

Morning in the TN River gorge. It was a calm serene morning. Osprey and blue heron were fishing. I was amazed by the lack of boat traffic for a Saturday. We definitely found the nicest and least populated part of the TN River gorge, near Raccoon Mountain, about 12 miles outside of Chattanooga.

I took these pics with a cell phone, so they are not very sharp, (click to enlarge).

Later that day, I saw it coming.

The thing most boaters don't want to see on the open water: a severe storm... except me of course, I like storms. On the radar, it looked like it would be brief, so I didn't put up my full canvass, a mistake.

By the time I saw the wall cloud dipping down, seeming headed right for my boat, I decided to drop anchor and hide in the cabin.

The wind then started picking up and serious waves started hitting the boat. I could tell my anchor was slipping because the waves were catching me broadside. Not good. Rain was pouring in from under the top canvass and every time I went out to put up the side canvass, lightning chased me back into the cabin. At times the boat was rocking pretty violently with white caps slapping the boat around. Quite a ride!

I was OK after the anchor caught and turned the boat into the wind which I estimate to have hit 55 mph with near zero visibility in heavy rain.

It was a great storm.

I love the summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tennessee - the Hottest Place on Earth ... for a moment

Heat Index: 130.8ºF.
KNQA: Millington Municipal Airport, TN, United States [54.9°C, 130.8°F], Aug. 3, '10

For weather nuts... I noticed that at one point, Millington, TN was the hottest place on Earth as measured by Heat Index. Heat Index is the measure of dewpoint (absoCheck Spellinglute humidity) and temperature, resulting in 'apparent temperature' or 'how hot it feels.' At the time on Aug. 3rd, Millington was reporting a temperature of 105ºF and a dewpoint of 80º. This (with fractions) resulted in a heat index of 130.8. Note that Millington was far from the highest temperature, but desert locations can often have a heat index lower than their actual air temperature. The usual places that have the highest heat indexes like Africa and the Middle East were dark (night time) at the time of Millington's report.

Find weather extremes like dewpoint and heat index at (Some of the extreme readings displayed are occasionally due to malfuctioning sensors ... i.e. today's Crocket, TX 100º dewpoint and 198ºF heat index - obviously false readings). The Millington reading was in the ballpark within readings from the region at that time, so I think it was authentic.

Personally, I love hot weather. Today, there was a heat advisory in effect for TN. I was outside all day, playing guitar in the shade, by a fan, with occasional pool breaks. It was 95ºF here today with heat index well over 105º.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Center Hill Lake - mid July '10

Center Hill Lake trip from Sligo to Great Falls at Rock Island State Park.

Swimming at night in an isolated section of Center Hill Lake, Iska said she's never experienced lake water that warm. It had to be over 90 degrees at the surface.

We hiked to the falls, swam around and sat behind the waterfall. An ideal place to be on a 95 degree day.

It was perfect. The boat ran great!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fontana Lake videos and pictures

Two videos of serenity and more pictures from Fontana Lake, early June, 2010.
The best way to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park - by boat.

Click to enlarge pics. (Sorry for the windy soundtrack on the vids).

Running Roark's Cove Rd. - 1000' climb in 2.8 miles

I love running hills. The climb from the base of Roark's Cove Rd. up to Sewanee, TN is 1000 feet over 2.8 miles. After the climb, I run to Iska's house an additional 1.6 miles on the flat to complete a nice 4.4 mile run. It always seems that the last mile on the flat is harder than the hill. I can only manage about a 9 min mile up the steep. And, it's brutally steep in places, for extended stretches. In fact, it's such a climb, I can feel a change in the air from bottom to top. It is usually several degrees cooler at the top.

It's a great workout, and less impact than running on the flat. I do this run almost every time I visit Sewanee. July 4th weekend, I did this run every morning, 3 days in a row. A good way to celebrate my upcoming 50th birthday this week.

I intend to run this hill on my 60th birthday as well.

Check out the topo map, click to enlarge.

Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts Classical Guitar Seminar - Performance at TPAC

TN Governor's School for the Arts first classical guitar seminar concluded with a performance by the quartet at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville on June 30th.

Congrats to Wes Atnip, Ian Baker, Ben Kass, and Max Marlowe for their performance of the Telemann Sonata in D and 2 Dances from "Terpsichore" by Michael Praetorius.

Special congrats to Max Marlowe - Third Prize Winner at the Austin Peay pre-college guitar competition.

Classical guitar LIVES in Tennessee!