December 31, 2010

Fun Stuff 2010

Jan 1. BCC Feast On The Beach. We paddled the Mulberry then had a feast at the take-out which is a beach owned by the Birmingham Canoe Club. Level 1 ft., in the Riot Magnum. The surf spot between the islands at Glen Clark was in, I didn't go investigate it but some others did.
Feast included: 4 kinds of chili, grilled pork chops, greens, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, and various desserts. Sunny day, high in the upper 40's.
Jan 9 Limrock Blowing Cave. Outside temp in the low 20's. Water got to waist deep. Pics HERE and HERE.
Jan 14 UAB Rolling Session. In the Sub-7.
Jan 23-24 Little River in the Smokies. With Dave Fox, Jenni H., John ?, Chris ?, on Saturday, on Elbow to the Y section, level 2.9., then Dave, one of the mystery guys, and I ran the Bridge rapid and the one below it. On Sunday Dave F., SpicyPablo, Jenni H. and I ran Elkmont Campground to the rapids below the Bridge, level 2.6? Photos HERE. Video of Saturday HERE.
Jan 26 UAB Rolling Session. In the Riot Magnum.
Jan 31 Locust Fork. With Team V. In the Riot Magnum. Level approx. 4 ft.
Feb 6 Mulberry Fork. I didn't paddle. I loaned my skirt to Joan S. because she forgot hers, so she could try out her new 07 Jackson Star for the first time on a river. Video at 5-0 rapid HERE.
Feb 13 BEK 5k. Time 34:11. I ran a 10:00 mile for the first mile, which was a goal of mine.
Feb 14 Cave spotting with Kim W., Milo, and Andy. Pics HERE and HERE. Trip Report:

Kim and I joined Milo and Andy to look for a Cherokee graveyard near Prescott. We went to the Cherokee graveyard first; Milo n Andy were en route. When we got near the supposed location, we came to a gate - the graveyard is on private property, so we didn't get to see it. We stopped instead at another graveyard nearby and waited for them. I took a picture of this tombstone: As you can see in the photo, the stone was hand carved and hand inscribed.
After a few more directional snafus we joined Milo and Andy and went to look at Not Pole Cave. Here is the entrance.
It's a nice cave with two rooms big enough to stand and walk around in. We only went in the entrance room to avoid getting muddy.
It has many nice decorations, and I photographed a lovely Cave Salamander:
This cave had a recently worn trail to it, some graffiti and several beer cans inside. Would be a nice spot for a quick cleanup. Would also be a nice cave to map. RE: not getting muddy: don't give me too much grief, I had no caving clothes, just my helmet, and was hobbling around on sore achilles tendons. Didn't expect to get underground... Next we went to see a cave that Tom Chamblee reported years ago, as being 'full of spiders' hence the name might be Spider Cave (I'm not sure what the name is).
Nice beech tree near the entrance:
And we found the -small- entrance which we did -not- enter:
This cave is described as a couple of hundred yards of crawl, with some spots you can sorta sit up in. ;-) Did I mention that I am scared of spiders? Yeah we skipped that one. All of our destinations were within 30 minutes drive of B'ham btw.

Well that's it, great day plumbing some of the secrets of our part of the globe...
Feb 19-21 Guntersville Getaway. Pics HERE, HERE, and HERE.
Feb 23 UAB Rolling Session. 60 rolls, Riot Magnum.
Feb 27 Adam's Heart run 5k. I was super slow, and yet I won 3rd in womens' 40-49 and got a $5 cash prize. I am so fancy!
Feb 28 Class with Jeff West on the Tellico. Level 1.6. We did some paddle drills, then I did some laps on the autoboof spot. Then we did the ledges minus the last two drops on Jerod's Knee, in the Jackson Dynamic Duo. Literally one of the most fun things I've ever done. Rolled up at Baby Falls. Saw Louie. It was supposed to be 45 and sunny; instead it was 35 and snowing. 2 pics here and here.
March 5 Magic City Blues Society Acoustic Jam. At Moe's BBQ in Lakeview. I played my mandolin, Paul's guitar, and someone's cajon drum. No not simultaneously...
March 6 Knights of Columbus 5k race. I think my time was 35:00. Hungover. ;-)
March 6 Mulberry Fork Canoe and Kayak Race. I didn't race. I went to take some pictures/video and attend the awards banquet. Pics HERE. Video HERE.
March 7 Ridgewalk at Keel Mtn. With Dave H. We did not find any qualifiers, I got lost and ended up walking on the road at some point, and it was a long hike and a great day.
March 13 Ain't Louie Fest. Clear Creek Jett to Nemo. AWESOME day. In the Riot Magnum. Level approx. 350 cfs. Pics here. I stayed at the Sweetwater KOA, shared a "Kabin" with Dr. Wendy. We had dinner at Cinco de Mayo restaurant with Louie, his family, and many open boater friends.
March 14 Ain't Louie Fest. Middle Tellico. In Dr. Wendy's Shredder. Level around 2 feet and some change. Pics here.
March 20 AMG and Locust Fork Invitational Race. I was a spectator with Panda, DB, and Lilly. Pics here.
March 21 Locust Fork. In the Wavesport EZ. With Team V.
March 27 Brushy Creek. In the Sevylor K1. Level on Sipsey gauge approx. 500. Pics here and here. Trip Report here. Video here.
April 2 Chief Ladiga Trail. Rails-to-trails bike trail. With Amanda, Nick, and Joan. Pics here.
April 3 Coosa Outfitters Demo Day. In Gadsden. I demoed a 2010 Jackson Fun.
April 9-12 Stockbridge DMD Production. Pics here.
April 17-18 NOC Demo Day/Freestyle Comp. Nanty. With Joan and Heather, Charlie and Sara, at Lost Mine. Photos here.
April 24. Cartecay. Level 2.5 ft. In the WS EZ. With Jenni, GCA-Steve, Mary, and Ryland.
Stayed that night at Dneesh's. Monsoon outside. The next day, drove to the Ocoee but it was around 3000 cfs., chocolate milk. We declined. Pics HERE.
May 1. Locust Fork. In the WS EZ. Level very low - 2.7ish. With Helen, Jenni, Ryland, Sue and Steve.
May 8 Ocoee. In a demo WS Fuse 56. With Amanda.
May 9 Oak Mtn. Lake. In the WS EZ.
May 15-16 Coosa River Festival. In the WS EZ. With Amanda and Joan. Met and shuttled with Michael from Montgomery, and met and camped next to Steve from Huntsville. Level 8000 cfs.
May 21-23 Geezerfest 2010. Saturday - Tuck West Fork release (low) in the WS EZ. Sunday the Nanty from the top to Surfer's rapid in a demo WS Project 52 with Dave N. handpaddling his Magnum 72, normal level. Pics HERE.
May 29-31 Hiwassee. In Ryland's Project 52. Sat. with the BCC; Sunday and Monday with the Kayak Fast Class. Pics HERE. Video HERE.
June 5 Cahaba. In the WS EZ. Level approx. 900 cfs. Lovick to Grants Mill. With Marc, Paul, and Juliet. We went under a limbo tree and a water moccasin plopped off of it into the water next to us. Pics here.
June 6 Coosa. In the WS EZ. Level 8000 cfs. With Glen and Ellen, their friend Kathy, her son and two of his friends. Pics here. Video here.
June 12 ERA private instruction. With Craig Parks. At Fontana lake and Tuck in town (Bryson City). Finished earning purple paddle points. In the WS EZ.
June 13 Nantahala. Ledges to Surfer's. Normal release level. With Mary Mills, Joan Steed, and Peter Chau. Many stern squirts, ferries, combat roll in Rope Wave, surfed Surfer's. Rescued a 4 ft. rat snake from the Surfer's take-out. In the WS EZ.
June 17-20 SERA. June 20th Hiwassee. Visited Foster and Greeter Falls. Both have been run. Sunday I drove over to the Hiwassee and paddled with Ryland and Jenni. In the WS EZ. Pics here.
June 26 Mom's 80th Birthday party.
June 27 Oak Mtn. Lake. In the Triple X. Good grief it was hot, and the water was hot, even in the middle of the lake.
Week of Rivers- July 5-11. In the WS EZ and BS Super-Rad 180 (Pigeon demo).
Monday - Drove up. New NOC footbridge surf wave with Bill and Joan.
Tues - Tuckaseegee, level 500+ (low) with Joan and Brenda.
Wed - Pigeon. Low summer release. Demo in the BS Super-Rad 180. With Wendy, Katie, J, Teledave who joined us after I posted about the trip on FB, and John who joined us after I announced the trip at the morning meeting.
Thurs - free Playboating Clinic with Wayne from NOC at Pyramid Rock and Three Hump Rock on the Nanty. Then lunch with Mary M. and a swim at the Falls. I sprained my ankle while walking up the riverbed below the falls pulling my water-filled EZ.
Friday - Shredded the Nanty with Wendy. Late lunch at River's End Restaurant then watched the CCC slalom race on the footbridge with Juliet.
Saturday - Nanty. All day fun, great line at the falls.
Sunday - Hiwassee. With K1Chik. We put-in at the first parking area below the big hill. This put us right below the big ledge (Mary Nell Point?) and above the Lunch Stop. Saw an Osprey.
Pictures from Week of Rivers here.
July 17 Tyrolean Traverse. At Desoto Falls. Fundraiser for the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit.
July 17 Visiting Fancher and Osama's Farm.
July 18 Hiwassee. In the EZ. With the BCC. Pics for the Tyrolean Traverse, the farm, and the Hiwassee are here.
July 24-25 Hiwassee. With the BCC Fast Class.
July 31 Coosa. With Joan and Amanda. 4000 cfs. In the EZ. 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Never again. ;-)
August 7-8. BCC Summer Slam. Hiwassee. In the EZ. With RRoberts, K1chik, Spicey Pablo.
August 21-22 Nantahala. With Joan, Greg, Amanda, and Heather. In the EZ. Water level about 2.9 on Saturday, 2.7 on Sunday. Spike in the water level after we got off to about 3.4. Photos here. Videos here.
August 28 Gross Skelton Cave. With the Birmingham Grotto and K1chik. Photos and video here, here and here.
August 29 Hiwassee. With the BCC kayak class (Hogan). In BMac's Dagger "The Green Boat". Photos here and video here.
Sept. 5 Ocoee. In the Magnum. With Spicey Pablo. Level 1800.
Sept. 6 Ocoee. In the Magnum. With Robbie, her husband, a friend of theirs, and Teledave. Level 1800.
Sept. 11 Chalk Cave. With the Howells and their nephews. Brief visit.
Sept. 12 Oak Mtn. Lake. In the EZ. With Glen and Ellen, Tracy, Ryland, and Kenny.
Sept. 16 - drove to Norris and stayed at Norris Dam state park.
Sept 17 Appalachian Caverns - with K1chik, in a rental car, on the way to Gauleyfest.
Sept 18 Lower Gauley. In the Magnum. With Cindy, Ray, Andy, Lynn, and Jim. Standard release. 1 flip/roll at Backender. Great day.
Sept 18 Gauleyfest. With Rick and K1chik.
Sept 19 Ran shuttle for those running the Upper Gauley and went back to Norris with K1chik.
Sept 20 Returned rental car and drove home.
Sept 25 GAF. Skipped Whitesides rappel because I thought it would be rough weather on the mountain. (this time I was wrong - reportedly beautiful there). So I went by GAF. Then camped at Nelson's Nantahala Hideaway with Norma, Amanda, and the Huntsville CC.
Sept 26- Ocoee. In the Magnum. Level normal. With Norma, Amanda, Phil, Sue, Steve. Great day.
Oct 2 - Hiwassee. In the XXX. With K1chik and Dneesh. Lovely day.
Oct. 3 - Ocoee. In the Magnum. With p1mp and spicey. wheeee
Oct. 7-10 Tag Fall Cave-In
Oct. 1o - Rappel at Weaver Point in LRC. Video here.
Oct. 16 - Bridge Day 2010. Photos here.
Oct. 24 - Rafting on the Ocoee. free ride with k1chik, her boss, and mikeyboats as guide, ned in a glass slalom kayak.
Oct. 30 - Bham Grotto Halloween Party.
Nov. 5-7 2010 Green River Race. Pics here.
Nov. 13 McClendons Cave. With the Bham Grotto. Pics here and here. Videos here and here.
Nov 14 Mtn. Biking at the farm and kayaking on Choccolocco creek. In a Dagger Piedra. Pics here.
Nov 20 Hiking at Buck's Pocket state park. With ryland and jenni. Also visited Double Bridges Pics here.
Nov 21 Rappelling at Palisades' Park. Birmingham Grotto training trip. Pics here and here.
*Wholly krap. The last time I went kayaking on whitewater was Oct. 3rd. This 'sabbatical' has gotta stop.*
Dec 4 Mtn. Biking at Oak Mtn. Seven bridges trail.
Dec 10-11 Howdy Puff Fest. I got a coughing fit on the hike to Cemetery Pit, and walked back to the car. I did not bounce the pit. Saturday night was the BCC Christmas Party.
Dec 19 - Clear Creek Lilly to Nemo. With Ry and Jenni, Teledave, Steve I. and two other 1st triber canoeists, and a guy in a red Diesel we met at the put-in. Air temp at put-in 32f. brrr! Level 500ish. Pics HERE.
Dec 28-29 Cataloochee Skiing with Joan, Linda and her grandkids, Sue and her son, and Amanda and Derek and their son. Pics here.

October 31, 2010


It's halloween it's halloween it's time for scares it's time for screams! it's halloween it's halloween!

Thus starts the wonderful Shaggs song about Halloween.

I was supposed to be on the Ocoee today for the very last scheduled release of the year. But I overslept, even though I got home pretty early from the grotto halloween party at Alabama Caverns. My cats are delighted, as my spending a whole day at home so seldom occurs, but I feel quite the slacker.
This has been my best paddling year yet, at least so far (not wanting to jinx myself)... and coming soon, all the river rats hope, will be local rainfall creating "local water" - whitewater less than 3 hours away.
Alabama has a lot of whitewater that we can only experience in the winter and spring. As a result local paddlers tend to invest heavily in dry gear - waterproof tops, neoprene bottoms, and the fanciest of all paddling gear - a drysuit. In my drysuit I can stay completely dry even after a swim - the only exposed skin is my head and hands. I've even paddled to the take-out, and once off the river, gotten out of the drysuit, and driven home in my fleece layers. Drysuits have advantages in terms of safety as well as convenience - in the event that a paddler might need to stand in the water for a long time helping someone who has had an accident, or in a situation that necessitates an overnight stay in the woods, drysuits can prevent hypothermia. One downside is that they can feel like you're wearing a sort of space-suit.

In other news, I am now the Conservation Chair for the BCC, and a board member. Being Conservation Chair means a lot to me, because I am a member of many of the national whitewater and local water advocacy groups, and this way can keep our club appraised of the good work being done by these groups. Since I cannot afford to be members of all of the water groups I rotate my membership between them; with a couple that I intend to remain in as long as I can: Alabama Rivers Alliance and Black Warrior Riverkeeper. Nationally I urge all paddlers to become members of American Whitewater. AW fights for access to whitewater rivers and also protects the access we have during proceedings like power company dam relicensing. One thing AW has been working on for several years is the relicensing process and agreement with Duke Power for releases on the Upper Nantahala and the West Fork of the Tuckaseegee. Here is a video of the West Fork of the Tuck study release.

Lots of other stuff, sad and happy, has happened in my life besides paddling. We lost Matt Kimbrell to a heart attack at 51. He was one of Birmingham's music icons in the Southside, a sweet and super-talented guy. I still can't really believe it happened. His wake was hugely attended, and I saw a lot of people I haven't seen in years. I still have mixed emotions about the music scene; the other day I was at Highland and it struck me that I'm about to be 45 and really, what am I going to do with a Marshall half-stack now?

I am still playing ukulele a bunch even though I think it's aggravating my tennis elbow. At home it's the blue jap strat and chinese Vox ac30. Sometimes my cheap mandolin. It doesn't matter. I only play at home, at the Blues Society Jams on occasion, and once in awhile when we are out camping somewhere. I get a kick out of people singing along with me. My favorite musical memory of late is playing 'Do You Want To Know A Secret' by the Beatles during Geezerfest, around the fire ring, with turtle, garmachi, kayakpirate and psychicmidget.

I had to laugh because someone told me recently that they had to end a friendship because they couldn't take the drama the other person was dropping on them, and I sheepishly admitted that I've been both - the person who ended an overly taxing friendship in one instance, and the person who spewed friend-ship ending drama in another. I've been thinking about this for a few days now: maybe it's because all of the people involved are women, but jeez men seem to have simpler friendships than women do. Anyway, many of those folks at the wake were people I saw on a daily basis, and now some of them - I couldn't even remember their names. I never expected any of it but most of my friends now are paddlers or cavers or both. A few of us at the wake commented that we should get together more for happier occasions, not just at sad ones - but we all know that we will not. And that leads me to my meandering point. The river again teaches us something - just this: it all flows, changes, never going back upstream; and I believe that we shall find that that is a good thing.

I will never be able to quantify all of the things the river has taught me, it has so enriched my life.

Now, it's ice cream time.

June 25, 2010

Good Summer

Good stuff going on. Tomorrow is my mom's 80th birthday! We are celebrating with a fancy party at The Club for her and her friends.
Such a wonderful thing to have my family. I miss my father, and I miss my nephew John. I am however grateful to have my sister Kathy with us victorious after her battle with cancer, and all of my other siblings, especially my sister Marilyn. My three brothers, Frank, Sam, and Rick, will be playing music at my mom's party and I expect to be up for a song or two myself. I dunno how goofy I'll look playing bass or guitar in a nice dress but it'll have to work. ;-)
And - July 4th - after BBQ at my brother's house - it is the start of Week of Rivers, a Carolina Canoe Club event that takes place at Smoky Mtn. Meadows campground near the Nantahala river every year. Last year I paddled 5 different rivers during WOR, including 2 that were my personal first descents- the Pigeon and the French Broad. We have creekside sites and set up a little 'tarp city' because it always rains some during WOR. Being paddlers, we don't mind getting wet on the river, but it's a little tough trying to cook and eat our dinner in the rain...
Still working on my roll, yes I have been hitting my combat rolls when I follow Craig's advice, but the old bad form creeps up once in awhile. I did a stern squirt on the Hiwassee at Thread the Needle and carped coming up. I also slid around in the boat so after I crashed back down I put my hands on the cockpit rim to readjust my position and felt a 'bump!' from Ryland who saw my hands and thought I was eskimo rescuing. So I thought, what the heck, why not? and eskimo rescued. I can't believe, after all the foam and padding and discomfort I've added to the EZ, that I can still slide around in the outfitting. We had a good time at that eddyline, at the 360 hole on Three Bears, and at the ender spot at Three Chutes.
This weekend, since I have to stay local, I am going to take the triple X to the lake and see if I can get a bit further on initiating my bow. Craig gave me an aha! moment when he showed me that my posture made a big difference when driving down the bow. I've been trying to get a bow stall, or even close to a bow stall, in flatwater for years. Maybe it's futile. But at the least working on flatwater bow initiations has got to make a big difference in my eddyline wheel attempts.
So far, a great summer - my plum tree went off btw and I am now sick of plums ;-) and if I'm lucky, I'll get to paddle again with Spicy Pablo.

June 24, 2010

MORE incredible footage

This is outstanding. I want an octocopter now!

June 14, 2010

Purple Paddle

I made a pledge last year to work on my rolling issues. My reward for 20 combat rolls would be a new Werner bent shaft, small shaft fiberglass Player with purple blades (only sold at NOC btw).
Yesterday after a good rolling class with Endless River Adventures the day before, I went into NOC and bought my new paddle. Here is a picture:
I followed up the Saturday lesson by buying the purple paddle on Sunday, then meeting friends on the Nanty, rewarded with a good combat roll mid-rapid on Sunday, and many stern squirts and surfs.
What did we work on in the private instruction? Craig diagnosed my roll issues very quickly. He had me adjust my setup so it was a good bit further back towards the stern. He had me initiate my head dink a millisecond *before* snapping my hip. And he had me concentrate on arching my back during the hipsnap and continuing in the finish position. As I ponder these things this morning, I think arching the back is far more important than I had realized.
Craig also started me back on a regimen of doing left hand rolls, which I was doubtful about at first, but, when I did as he instructed - arched my back and initiated my head dink just before my hip snap, I popped right up.
Next Craig had me work on an ERA specialty: directional rolling. This means that, when catching an edge and tipping over, go ahead and set up and roll on the side of the caught edge, using the current momentum to help roll back up. To practice this, he had me do the stern squirt motions on flatwater, and when tipping to set up on the side that I had caught my edge on. When trying for a lefty roll this was very counter-intuitive for me. I have a very ingrained reaction when flipping to set up for a righty roll. This is a great exercise because it forced me to be aware of which edge was catching and start changing my reaction to one that is relative to the edges not to my habit of one sided rolling. When mastered this will result in a faster roll matching the speed of the current. I can practice this on the lake at home and really get my responses tuned up for rolling on the side that gives me the most advantage, rather than favoring a side.
Another thing we talked about was bracing while river running. As in, don't do it. Jeff West also instructs this. Jeff says that rather than brace, take a good stroke. Craig says that, if you're tipping over go ahead and do a directional roll and go on your way. I think both Jeff and Craig are right about this and I have spent far too much time laying on my paddle brace goofing off, when it's really reinforcing a bad habit.
Next we worked on stern draws to ferry across current. Boy this is *really* counter-intuitive to me, and something I really want to work on more. Use the stern draw to set your ferry angle, after letting the current catch your bow coming out of the eddy, then maintain the draw to propel you across the current, rather than paddling. One challenge with this is keeping the blade parallel to the stern - any feathering forward or backward alters your ferry angle.
I had had some instruction in stern draws while surfing from Juliet but had not tried this for ferries, and it was really challenging. When Craig would do this it was such a graceful move, energy conserving, and precise.
Finally we did work on stern squirts and I realized that I never do righty stern squirts, when I didn't realize before that I had a preference. I suspect that this goes back to only doing righty rolls. That is not a preference I intend to have much longer. I got a decent lefty stern squirt or two, but never pulled off a righty. (my definition of righty and lefty stern squirt: righty = initiating right stern edge from an eddy on river right to current on my right; vice versa for lefty. If I have this all backwards I would not be surprised.) * I had to edit this because I did have it backwards. I still may! ;-)
We also did a bit on bow initiation and I had an aha moment when Craig showed me that for the forward sweep and reverse sweep strokes you have to maintain forward posture, rather than lean back. My bow instantly went deeper than I'd ever managed before and I am excited about exploring this further at the lake. Another bonus was that it didn't tweak my shoulder at all.
And this blog today is a good testament to something I have found to be true: Continuing kayak instruction, with great instructors like Jeff West, and Juliet and Craig from ERA, is always a good decision. Especially if you are like me - living hours away from summer water, only able to paddle on weekends, and middle-aged. ;-) It's a treat I give myself; it accelerates my learning and helps me correct mistakes; and it makes the sport much more fun.

If you would like to boat with me and work on stern draw ferries, back ferries, directional rolls, and simple playboating (stern squirts, 360's, eddyline and hole cartwheels, and so forth), let me know. It's hot and muggy outside and perfect weather for getting on the river or in the lake for flatwater practice. See You On The River!

May 26, 2010

A Small Update

I planted pink/red and white vincas everywhere around my house, and still had some left, so I brought them to work and gave them to Jerry.
I know that eventually I will break down and hire a gardener. I also know it will be expensive. I don't mind doing the lawn mowing but the weeding and flower maintenance takes time I don't want to give (though I love all of the flowers in my yard; I have several kinds of roses, azaleas of many hues, lantana, daylilies,
geraniums, gardenias, and a peony) because I am paddling pretty much every weekend.

I've made a decision, not quite consciously I think but nevertheless factual: I am paddling instead of caving this year. I expected, when I started paddling, to find myself less inclined to be on the river as the years go by, but it seems that I crave it more than ever. The tiniest events on class II can fill me with it - like a combat roll I had in the demo Project 52 this Sunday. There is a spot on the Nanty that has a river left rock in a bend/wave train. You can go left of the rock in a small chute between another rock/river bank, or right and skip down the little wave
train. I hesitated in my decision long enough to go into the rock instead and then I folded into a river right crease against the rock. I tried to roll up, carped, knocked back over and thought in my head, "Come on, you can do this" and rolled up just in time to be facing another rock, which I hugged and worked my way around with my left hand. I loved it.

Yes this is a feat that any first-year boater could experience, yet any time I get a handle on my old fears of injury it's exhilarating.

Like so much in boating, this scenario can teach me about something in real life.
I also spent the weekend with the Geezers, which are a group of boaters I met through Boatertalk. We had folks from Ohio, N.C., S.C., Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama.
We kind of agreed that to be a Geezer you had to have one of the three following attributes:

1. be old.
2. have at least some gray hair.
3. have a boating related serious injury in your past or present.

Some of us had all three of those attributes; some were much younger (30's) than the oldest (62) and yet they had one or two of the other attributes. Many of us, me included, are in the kayaking shoulder dislocation/surgery club. I think only Jocelyn has none of the above qualities, and yet she is a Geezer too. A finer group of friends I have never met. We all share the same thing- a love of whitewater kayaking that has been so irrational sometimes, considering the punishment it can mete out - but so unquestionably right at the same time. I cannot describe it to you if you the reader have not had the experience.
Other things- I bought a ukulele, a Kala Ka-C concert sized, from a great vendor in Atlanta, It was $122 with a setup, better strings added, an extra set of strings, a padded gig bag and shipping. I've had it at work during renders and I want to make sure I do not drive my co-workers crazy with it. Yet I am already driving myself crazy with it. I didn't expect to get obsessed with the little thing, but it is awesome. I've played it so much my hands are sore. So far these are the songs I've learned, either by looking them up online or just figuring them out:

1 If I Fell by the Beatles - one of my favorite John songs
2 Michelle by the Beatles - one of my favorite Paul songs
3 Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles - one of my favorite George songs

I guess I should learn a Ringo song . Can Yellow Submarine count? I guess I could learn Photograph.

4 Someone to Watch Over Me - Gershwin
5 Let's Call The Whole Thing Off - Gershwin
6 They Can't Take That Away From Me - Gershwin
7 Our Love Is Here to Stay - Gershwin

Are you seeing a pattern here? Beatles and Gershwin. It really doesn't get better than that.

See You On The River

p.s. when I'm 80 like my mom, I want to be like Aunt Margie:

May 10, 2010

More Family History stuff

I spent the afternoon with my mom for Mother's Day, and she told me about her grandparents from England.

Tom Williamson came to Alabama from Newcastle, England to work in the mines. He went back to England and brought over his wife Mary Elizabeth. Once they were here they had 9 children:

Jim, TJ which stood for Thomas (?) , Dixon, Jessie Ann (Shane), Katie (my grandmother), Margaret (Mag), Lenore (Nore), Evelyn, and Winifred (Pee Wee).

Jim Williamson married a woman named Margarite and had 3 kids: Jim, Dolores, and Mary Lou. He worked at the steel mill. Jim Jr. died young from a brain tumor, Dolores moved out of town, and Mary Lou worked for Don Drennen in Ensley.

TJ married Ellen and was drafted in the Army. They had one son, Dixon. TJ was an electrician in the Army and while working on a telephone pole overseas he fell and was in a coma for several months. After he came out of the coma he continued to have seizures and couldn't work. Ellen divorced him, saying that he was not the same man she married after his brain injury, and TJ had a seizure that ended his life. Ellen never remarried and she stayed close to the Williamsons; Aunt Mag and Aunt Shane helped raise their son.

Dixon made the Navy his career. He lived in California whilst in the service and, after retiring from the Navy he moved to Tn. and continued to work for the Navy (I am guessing as a contractor). A ship he served on in the war was blown up in the Pacific and Dixon spent some time in the water waiting for rescue, an experience I'm sure was memorable. He was married 2 or 3 times, had one daughter named Margaret, and had two heart attacks, open heart surgery on the first and died from the second.

Jess Ann (Shane) married Jimmy McCutcheon, (spelling a guess by me) who was a miner, and they had 4 boys and 1 girl: J.D., J.O., Tommy, Morgan, and Betty (Mary Elizabeth). As far as mom knows Tommy is still alive.

Margaret (Mag) married (? LeCroy) and had 1 son, John Ray Penny.

Lenore (Nore) married (?) and had 1 son, Billy LeCroy, who died of diabetes.

Evelyn married (?) and had one son, Jerry Roberts.

Winifred (Pee Wee) married (?) and had 2 girls and 1 boy: Nancy June, Diane, and Philip Doss. As far as mom knows Pee Wee is still alive (if so she must be 100 years old) and lives in Jacksonville Ms. with Diane.

There are a lot of cousins here that I have never met. I failed to get the names of the husbands of Mag, Nore, Evelyn and Pee Wee. And if Pee Wee is still alive that is remarkable.

If you are family and have some more info on the Williamsons please let me know.

March 28, 2010

Brushy Creek March 27 2010

Yesterday I went kayaking with cavers. Kinda ironic. But the cavers seem to be more inclined than my whitewater brethren to paddling flatwater and class I creeks, so I was was glad to be invited to join the cavers on a trip down Brushy Creek in the Bankhead National Forest, in Northwest-central Alabama. The Bankhead is home to the much more famous Sipsey River, which is a wonderful canoe-camping river that Brushy Creek flows parallel to; both empty into Smith Lake.
The original plan of most of the cavers was to do an overnighter on Brushy for a total of 18 miles. I signed up for a 7.5 mile day float of the first section, and the entire group opted to make it a daytrip instead, due to a big storm predicted for the next day. We met at the put-in which is Brushy Lake, a very nice forest service maintained fishing spot with fee parking and clean bathrooms.

I paddled my Sevylor inflatable K1, a $99 purchase on closeout from Academy Sports. For this trip, its maiden voyage, the Sevlor K1 was perfect. It is light; I could carry it by myself over portages. It also has plenty of space for storage in case I did want to do an overnighter in it. It doesn't take a lot of muscle to inflate with a decent size hand air pump. It stores in a zipped plastic fabric case that I can pack in the back seat of my car. It comes with a sea yak style spray skirt. No thigh hooks or straps so rolling it would be... challenging... but for the light class I-II shoals we encountered it was great.
After crossing Brushy Lake, a few hundred yards paddle, there is a portage over the dam.

I guesstimate the dam to be around 11-15 feet high. There is a rugged little trail around the river right of the dam.

Brushy has many downed trees in it, and one of the first ones has a well-worn portage trail on river right. All of the others had a decent way around or under the trees at the level we were at, which was 500ish on the Sipsey gauge.

Brushy Creek has several nice shoals/rapids and the water is a beautiful blue color.
One of the rapids consists of a boulder garden that is a pretty fun zig-zag.

There are no roads nearby, especially once you're below Beech Creek, an optional put-in at high water that joins Brushy a couple of miles downstream of the 'normal' Brushy put-in.

The scenery is gorgeous; sandstone and limestone bluffs, some of them huge undercut shelters with dripping water...
High walls at times, ,
and countless secret coves with waterfalls.
We had lunch just downstream of a long set of class I shoals:
While we had lunch one other group of three boaters in rec boats came through. I was very surprised to see anyone else besides us on the creek. It's that 'under the radar'. I imagine the Sipsey had quite a crowd on it.
The finale of the trip was at a tributary to Brushy called Sougahoagdee Creek. It comes in about a mile above the take-out on river right. Stop and walk a couple hundred yards upstream to Sougahoagdee Falls. It's worth the trip!
There is supposed to be a primitive trail to Sougahoagdee Falls from a Forest Service road, and we talked about backpacking to it once the water is too low to paddle, which it almost always is - catching Brushy Creek on a good weather and water day is reportedly a rare treat.
I took some video with my new Panasonic camera in my pfd pocket going down one rapid, and then took some video at Sougahoagdee Falls. I put the clips together and posted them here:

The take-out is a low water bridge, but I didn't have any more space on my SD card to take any photos of it. When we shuttled cars the water was close to the bottom of the bridge. The water had dropped so much that by the time we got to the bridge we could safely paddle under it. We were on the water from 11 am to 4:30 pm.
It was a wonderful, and exhausting day.
Forgot this extra detail - at the take-out Jeff handed us each our own fake moustache:

More Brushy Creek pics at:

March 25, 2010

Dillsboro Dam Removal Video

Thanks to American Whitewater, Duke Energy, and LVM Video.

March 24, 2010

Nature By Numbers

I've watched this 10 times today. I love it.

March 20, 2010

February 27, 2010

All Hail Teckno Viking

Be patient. Teckno Viking appears around :30 seconds in.

February 17, 2010

John Daker

I just love this.

February 9, 2010

no time

This is no time to post something. I have to leave pretty soon for the rolling session.
I have been reading several blogs, sometimes finding them through google/blog searches for random words, and I have to say, I think that blogs (in the blogosphere?) represent the best Internet content out there. Except mine, but that's not the purpose of this blog anyway.

If you are reading this and are unhappy, I have two suggestions. Take either one. But not both!

1. examine this site:

2. do a random google/blog search for the first word that pops into your head.


OK you can do both.