Monthly Archives: May 2019

Burn, Baby, Burn.

Blythe Ferry/Hiwassee Kayak Map

click for larger, or Movescount data

OK, I’m trying to do something new – that is, staying caught up. We’ll see how that goes.

The reason for the aforementioned trying to stay caught up is that I have adventures planned for pretty much every free moment I can conjure, and last weekend was no different. Friday night, another visit to Nightfall on the motorbike. Didn’t hang around long, but it was cool to ride down there (so much so that I’ll probably take a run on Riverbend this week). Saturday, a quick (for me) 5-mile paddle on the North Shore to Maclellan Island, one of my favorite places. I haven’t been there in ages; it was nice to visit my old friend, and really, the place that motivated me to take up kayaking in the first place.

The Big Trip was on Sunday – a well-planned trip from Blythe Ferry, which I visited earlier in the month, heading north to the town of Dayton. The water was the best I’ve seen in a long time – very calm, not too much current; an easy paddle for me. Plus, at the turnaround point in Dayton, there’s the Dayton Boat Dock and Grill, and about a mile past that, the Blue Water Resort, with a little store for snacks. Many paddles, there’s just nothing, so it was a nice change to stop and stretch and what-not. Following that, I took a different tack on the return lag, and circumnavigated Hiwassee Island (where I also visited last week), which ended up being somewhat challenging, because of the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers. Still, no worries, and by the time I got back to the Adventure Buggy, I had added another 19 miles to my Blueway map.

Of course, because it’s me, the trip was not without injuries. Climbing out of the boat onto the dock at the boat harbor, I badly burned my arm on a hothothot bolt in the dock. I’ll spare you, but it’s pretty gruesome (luckily, I’m used to gruesome burns from the pipes on the motorbike, so I’ll live). In addition, probably the worst sunburn I’ve ever had. Fortunately, only in two spots on my back that I couldn’t reach. The sun was brutal; it could have been far worse, had I not had my sunscreen (and I’m so white, I should really be using mayonnaise).

Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade

this is the tandem style; the one I ordered is for a single boat – but you get the gist

However, there’s not a problem that can’t be solved by throwing money at it, and that’s precisely what I did. I ordered an Adventure Canopies Kayak Sun Shade, which will hopefully be here before the weekend. This could be a real game-changer as far as my paddling goes; I really wasn’t tired from doing 19 miles, but I knew I was getting sunburned, so I realized I needed to get off the water. With built-in shade, I will hopefully be able to hit my next goal of 25 miles. To further help with that, I also ordered a gel pad for my seat, which should also help with the long paddles. Unfortunately, it hasn’t shipped yet, so it won’t be here before the weekend, but hopefully, the canopy will be.

Nonetheless, I’m still paddling this weekend. If you look at the Master Adventure Map, you can see that’s there’s one significant blank space I need to fill in just south of my last two paddles, and I’m going to do that this weekend, sun be damned. I’m hoping to put in around 5 AM, so I can knock out 5 miles or so even before the sun comes up. That’ll be a little dangerous on the open water in the dark, but my boat has a light on it, which will (hopefully) help keep me safe. If this is the last post here, you’ll know that didn’t work out so well.

One Bike, Two Bike, Red Bike, Blue Bike

Friday, I rode down to Nightfall. It’s big for the local biker community, and the city accommodates them (us?) by closing many blocks of city streets for all the dudes and dudettes to park and show off their wheels. I’ve only been down there on the bike once, because it generally rains this time of year, and I guess I’m not that hardcore. But it was cool to ride down, look at bikes, hear some music, blah, blah. I even ran into a few people I know, but if you happened to see the 2 minutes I was talking to a 16 year old girl, it was just an old high school acquaintance and his daughter – nothing creepy. If you care – which you don’t – here’s some video (not pictured: anyone else):


Saturday, padding. A new personal best 21.3 miles on the open water of the lake, to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge. After the noise and crowds Friday night, peace, quiet and solitude on the water was nice (I did, however, speak to one or two boaters along the way. Bad me.). It was an exhausting paddle, complete with sunburn, dehydration and soreness, but I did it – and really quickly. Eight hours forty minutes to do more than 21 miles; compare that to my last paddle, which was only 12 miles in just over 7 hours. It’s not that it’s a race or anything, but it’s gratifying to to cover so much ground (um, water?) in so little time. Plus, nothing like breaking a record. It’s been a long time since I set a new personal best, and I doubt my mountain biking (100 miles) or hiking (26 miles) records will ever be broken.

Hiwassee paddle

click for larger, or Movescount data

As if all that wasn’t enough, on Sunday, I took the other motorbike out to ride some trails with the Jeep Club. Yeah, I’m part of a Jeep club, but my Jeep doesn’t really have the rock-crawling pedigree as the other members buggies, so I took the BMW, because it’s unstoppable on that terrain. Well, kinda. They decided to cross the deep, fast creek on Haley Road – which I’ve hiked across before – but since I didn’t have water gear with me (that road wasn’t the original plan), I turned back at the creek. Lesson for next time – take the gear, just in case. Still, it was a good ride, and the first time I’ve ever gone out with a group like that (I invariable always ride alone – ALWAYS – in fact, there has only been a person on the back of my street bike three times [never on the BMW]; once, right after I bought it in 2011; my niece [is that OK?]; and one other time. I do, however, often carry a spare helmet, just in case I find someone broken down or something who needs a ride – especially a cute girl [yeah, as if – read my diatribe about motorcycles]). Anyway, the trails were hot, dusty and exhausting – a real workout – but that’s why I bought the bike. It’s all about the adventure.


In fact, the bulk of the ride was solo (as are they all)(as I already covered). I wanted to do some exploring before it got too hot, so I set out early by myself. My intention was to go to one of my favorite spots, but the gate was closed, so I had to scrap that. On a whim, I went to another area that’s normally closed off (because of logging), just to find it was open. Not just open, but a pretty decent ride, as well. I was a little pressed for time (to meet the Jeepers) so I’ll need to go back while that area is still open and get some film when I have more time to putter around.

So, a busy weekend – street bike, kayak, dual-sport bike, and a little walking in the woods. No complaints. Well, none worth mentioning, anyway.

Links:
Prentice Cooper Dual Sport Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Hiwassee Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

A Death in the Family.

So, there’s a guy I know, that has worked as a subcontractor for me for quite a number of years. 10 years? 12? Something. Very smart computer guy. Like, really very. I haven’t spoken to him in a couple of years, because I haven’t really needed any help with what I do that would require his services. Recently, I’ve thought about bringing him in on some projects; ones I just don’t have the time to deal with. Reached out via email, got no response, and to make a long story short, I found out he was dead.

For, like, almost 3 years. Frick.

I’m somewhat desensitized towards death – the life I’ve led, I’m pretty much desensitized to everything. Not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse. But [NAME REDACTED, because that’s what he would have wanted] was a pretty good friend, and like I said, a smart guy. Typical computer guy – stubborn, opinionated, a pain in the ass sometimes – but still, overall, a good guy that I’m going to miss. How do you mourn that? I mean, it’s new to me, and I’m bummed. But it was years ago. Undoubtedly, his family and friends have moved on. But to me, it’s fresh.

It had been almost a year since I spoke to him before his death. He was busy, I was busy, blah, blah. It just never really occurred to me that I wouldn’t get the chance to say, “Hey, thanks for everything.” There’s a lesson here, kids. Get a crayon and a sheet of paper, and write it down: If you have something to say to someone, say it today. Right now. There may not be a tomorrow.

Maybe the afterlife has Wifi, and my message has been received.

click for larger

Prior to all of this, and as threatened, I did go shopping for a big toolbox that would go in the newly-empty barn. Times like this, I miss the Rocket Truck, but I was able to cram the thing in the Jeep – granted, it took 3 men and a forklift, but it fit. Of course, there were no strapping lads or forklifts to help me unload the thing, but eventually, mission accomplished. Now to just fill the thing up with widgets and whatnots. If I were married or, y’know, spoken for or whatever, I could make an awesome mancave in the barn – tools, motorbikes, sporting gear; what would make a better mancave than that?

larger. click it.

Speaking of the bikes, the power was out for several hours the other day, so I used the downtime to clean up both bikes. The Phantom can benefit from being cleaned; it stays clean for a long time. The BMW, on the other hand, has a date with the Jeep Club and many puddles this weekend. So, clean now, but dirty soon. Worth it.

Other adventures planned this weekend, as well, including a somewhat dangerous paddle that might wind up being a new personal best. Gonna set out before sunrise so I have plenty of time. And one or two other activities. Watch this space.


Lastly, on a completely unrelated note, I’ve been binging The Larry Sanders Show at the gym. HBO finally had the good sense to put one of the best shows they’ve ever created (sorry, Lannisters, et al.) on streaming. I’ve haven’t really seen it since the original airings in the mid-90s, but it’s still just as good as I remember, and a real who’s-who of 90s culture and celebrity. If you haven’t seen it, find it, especially if you have the same predilection for pop culture as I do. Hey now!

And remember, you have something to say? Something on your mind? Say it today. Right now. While you can. Trust me. And RIP, buddy – thanks for everything.

$339.88

No, that’s not how much I made at my “I’m never, ever doing this again” yard sale (but it’s close). It’s something else, and if you’re smart, you’ll figure it out. Yeah, that’ll always be the dream.

However, the yard sale. Ugh. I have dramatically downsized, and I’m not done yet. But no more yard sales. I just can’t deal with these Professional Yard Sale People™. So annoying. Plus, I have this whole psychological hurdle of knowing what I paid for something, and only getting back pennies on the dollar. With the exception of actual stuff that’s worth actual money (like guitars), I’ll just donate whatever else I wind up with. That’s what I did with everything that was left at the sale, regardless of what I thought the perceived value was. I’m tired of being a hoarder.

Inside the barn.

The practical upside of this ordeal is that I now have a ton of space in the barn. So much so, in fact, that I was able to get my Kendon Stand-Up motorcycle trailer stowed away. I did have to cut a little hole in the overhead loft for the tongue of the trailer to stick up through, but I’m glad to have it out of the driveway. The whole point behind buying a stand-up trailer was that I could store it, since it’s not something I need very often. And there’s still plenty of room for both motorbikes, both kayaks, my mountain bike and other assorted stuff. I think I’m going to add a workbench/toolbox, though. I have a tall mechanic’s toolbox, but I need a little work surface for when I’m tinkering. And I have more tools than will fit in the big toolbox. So, since I have the space now, why not?

Speaking of the motorbikes, I finally solved the problem I was having with the driving lights on Thing 1 (that’s the smaller lights on each side of the headlight). For whatever reason, they quit working a few months ago, and after much tinkering, I think what happened was the splice connector started to corrode, and wasn’t allowing enough current to get to the bulbs (I replaced the mediocre stock bulbs with much brighter Kuryakyn halogens a while back, which draw more current). Anyway, I rewired the lights, and now they work. Yay, me. I also picked up a new Joe Rocket jacket for the BMW. The Joe Rocket jacket I bought back when I got the BMW is awesome, but it’s hot, even with the liners removed. So, awesome for winter, not so much for summer, hence a mesh one for warm weather. It still has the shoulder, elbow and back armor, but is dramatically cooler. I can’t say enough about the Joe Rocket gear – I have 3 of the jackets (this one for the street bike, and this one, which is the one I bought for the BMW), and while they are a little pricey, they’re worth it.


I think I’ve got the motocam system on Thing 1 working the way I want, as well. To recap, this is a front-facing and rear-facing dashcam system, that just records all the time. The quality isn’t as good as the GoPro, but that’s to be expected; this isn’t for making awesome videos, it’s for recording everything, in the event I get run over or something. So, for what it is, I’m pretty happy with it – hopefully, it’ll never record anything bad (like me getting killed on the highway).

Williams Island campsite – click for larger

There was also a paddle recently – the second of the year, following the Old Harrison paddle back in March. Nothing major – just a warm up to kayaking season back to Williams Island. A little over 12 miles total, about 5 miles of which was hiking of the island and avoiding the cows. I have a couple of challenging paddles planned, but so far, Mother Nature isn’t cooperating. In fact, she’s not cooperating with anything lately. Grr.

click for Movescount interactive map

Oh, and I finally saw The Movie everyone has been talking about. I had been avoiding spoilers since it came out, because River said so.

So, I went to the downtown Googleplex for the 11:30 PM show on a weekday night, and as hoped/expected/needed, no one there but me and maybe 4 or 5 other similarly-inclined anti-social insomniac cinephiles. It’s a 3-hour film, so it was pushing 3 AM by the time it was over. Worth it. After that, some wandering around in the Wee, Small Hours downtown. That’s the way films should be enjoyed. By me, anyway.

Links:
Williams Island Paddle Photo Album on Facebook