Monday, September 28, 2015

autumn jubilee

[T]hat old September feeling... of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air.... Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes and failures had been wiped clean by summer. 
--Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) American author and historian. 

Above: A misty day on Unaka Mountain in late September. If you enlarge the photo and look closely left of center, you'll see the Appalachian Trail. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

winding road

Life is a winding road with unknown perils and troubles, but we can be certain of God's providence, security, and care. 
--Marvin Williams

Above: Autumn colors beginning to show on Unaka Mountain.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

healing nature

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. 
--John Muir (1838-1914) Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of conservation of U.S. wilderness.

Blue hasn't had many adventures since his knee went out last November playing frisbee. It's been a long, slow healing process. This was one of our first "long" treks since his surgery -- a hike up Round Bald down to Engine Gap and then back to Carver's Gap. He did great and enjoyed being out on the trail. :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

new heights

Failure is not fatal. Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. It should challenge us to new heights of accomplishments, not pull us to new depths of despair. From honest failure can come valuable experience. 
--William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) American author, pastor and teacher.

It was a lot colder than it looks. And colder than I was expecting atop Round Bald yesterday. Forty-five and gusty kept me moving fast in an attempt to stay warm. But it was all worth it to see the sun break through the clouds and light up the path before me. Note to self: Always bring the heavier jacket to Roan.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

something fishy

Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it. 
--Lao Tzu (600 BC-531 BC) Chinese Taoist Philosopher.

These friendly fellows were found in the Watershed Room display at Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, TN. Taken from behind glass at a high ISO (5000!), they're a bit grainy. Visit the park website to learn more about all that Bays Mountain has to offer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Boone Lake Draw Down

What a difference five months makes. With the draw down of the Boone Reservoir to repair the leaking Boone Dam, there have been dramatic changes to the shoreline. These photos were taken near the Winged Deer Park Boat Ramp -- on April 11th and Sept. 8th. The draw down was necessitated by the discovery that the integrity of the dam, north of Johnson City, had been compromised by underground water seepage. The Bristol Herald published some good articles this week on the dam's problems, the impact on local property owners and the steps the TVA will take to resolve the issues (click here and here).
It is stunning to see not only how low the reservoir is right now, with boats suspended dozens of feet above the ground, but the rapid growth of vegetation in what was only recently the muddy lake bottom.  The bad news for homeowners, marinas and those who enjoyed boating and fishing on the lake is that the TVA estimates it will take 5-7 years to fix the dam. To read more about the draw down and the ways the TVA will repair the dam, visit the TVA's website: click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

set us free

Gracious God,
Turn us loose, but never let us go.
Set us free, but never let us go.
Let us find our own path, but never let us go.
Let us work it out for ourselves, but never let us go.
Let us suffer from our own mistakes, but never let us go.
Receive us to Thyself, never let us go.
We leave this Thy house, but never let us go.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

 --Fred Craddock (1928-2015) Minister, Professor and Author (Benediction from his sermon, "The Cloud of Witnesses")

Some scenes from the beautiful area beneath South Holston Dam of the Weir Dam at Osceola Island. For more images, discussion and directions, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

holston rainbow

The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched. 
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American Writer and Philosopher.  

Above: Rainbow over South Holston Lake

Friday, August 14, 2015

dog days

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”
― Natalie Babbitt (b.1932) author.

Above: Blue enjoying the dog days of summer at Watauga Lake. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

go placidly

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

--Max Ehrmann (1872–1945) American Writer, "Desiderata"

Above: Trail at Sycamore Shoals State Park, Elizabethton, TN

Thursday, July 30, 2015

stand out

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. --Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) English photographer.

The tree above stood out so beautifully against the horizon I was drawn to it. Immediately after taking this, I realized that I had taken nearly the exact photo on Flat Rock Overlook seven years ago. So much for being creative. :) That post, with a short description of the trail, is found here. This is a fairly short, looped trail located near Grandfather Mountain at Mile 308 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The primary view is westward toward the Roan highlands, but you also have beautiful views north to Grandfather Mountain. Click the link above for more on this fun place to explore.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


You can't change who you are, but you can change what you have in your head, you can refresh what you're thinking about, you can put some fresh air in your brain. 
--Ernesto Bertarelli (b.1965) Swiss businessman and philanthropist.

Signs warning of aggressive bear activity in the Clark's Creek area of Unicoi County didn't deter us from seeing Sill Branch Falls today. We did see plenty of other hikers -- but fortunately no bears. The signs specifically warned against overnight camping, grilling out and picnicking. However, the area is  still open for day hikers. Camping in the area has been banned since late May and isn't expected to be allowed again until fall.  Click here for more information.

For directions to Sill Branch Falls, click here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

take a chance

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide 

--Victoria Lynn Shaw (b. 1962) Country music artist. 

Above: Rocky Fork State Park, Unicoi Co., TN

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bays Mountain

Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened. 
--Anatole France (1844-1924) French poet, journalist, and novelist. 

Summer is a great time to visit Bays Mountain in Kingsport, TN. Pictured here are some of the animals found in the nature habitat at Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport, TN. Featured at the top is a gray wolf named Tanasi. The wolf habitat is always popular to visit, especially with the addition of wolf pups this spring. In addition to wolves, the park also has bobcats, deer, otters, turtles, snakes, birds, raccoons, a bee hive, an aquarium, and numerous other exhibits. There are also 25 miles of hiking trails, a 40' dome planetarium, and barge rides on the 44 acre lake.

Click here to visit their website.  See my previous posts from the park by clicking here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Life is a mosaic of pleasure and pain - grief is an interval between two moments of joy. Peace is the interlude between two wars. You have no rose without a thorn; the diligent picker will avoid the pricks and gather the flower. There is no bee without the sting; cleverness consists in gathering the honey nevertheless.
--Sri Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011) Indian Spiritual leader.