Tuesday, November 29, 2005

War Damn Eagle

Eleven sacks later Rob wished he hadn't made it into a drinking game.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Delevante Opening for Rolling Stones

This Thursday, December 1 at The Basement on 8th Ave. South. 9:00 pm. Bob is charging exactly one-seventieth the cover charged by the Stones two nights later so e-mail or just meet us there. Six of us are already in (counting Bob).

The Pot Wrassler Sings

Secretly recorded when Rob thought everyone was in bed and he was alone by the fire. It's uploaded here. Press play to listen.

You can also play 20 Questions on-line. Click here and use "gravy" to shut down your ISP network.

Spring Menu: Venison

Kirly was in O-klahoma during the fall trip, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. Look how sleepy this deer he found is.

193 lbs. field dressed
Gross B&C 154

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

RRCC in the News

Nice article on Big George in the paper today.

They say he could do the work of three men.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fall 2005 photos.

Just a sample here. Too many to load. Did anyone get a shot of the Nine Man Log?





On top of the food box alligator-skin corrugations of frost had formed, and with the first touch of the sun the willows began to whisper as frozen leaves loosed their hold and fell side-slipping down through the others that were still green. Titmice called, and flickers and a redbird, and for a moment, on a twig four feet from my face, a chittering kinglet jumped around alternately hiding and flashing the scarlet of its crown . . . I sat and listened and watched while the world woke up, and drank three cups of the syrupy coffee, better I thought than any I'd ever tasted, and smoked two pipes.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Rolling on the River

Mar. "Marry, sir, somtimes he is a kind of Puritan"
Sir Andrew. "O, if i thought that, I'd beat him like a dog!"

Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene 3

Lot of pictures coming soon. Watch this space for announcements of post-trip banquet and gear swap. Keep your receipts.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Good Day Sunshine

It's getting better all the time...



This trip is going right smack through the middle of the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area, which was created from the land that would have been flooded by the Columbia Dam. The dam was razed in 1999, even though it was 90% complete, when the birdwing pearlymussel dragged itself out of the water with its one little bi-valve foot and laid down in front of the bulldozers in the name of the Endangered Species Act.

Traveling through public land is a good thing for us for lots of reasons, but everyone should understand that "management area" is just a nice way of saying "killing fields" and tomorrow is the first day of hunting season. We're not too worried about it, but there are some things you should and shouldn't wear in a wildlife management area.

If you want, you will have no trouble buying some bright orange University of Tennessee hunting cap at just about any gas station in Marshall County and you can look like Ignatuis Reilly all the way down the river. They may even be on sale this year. But at the RRCC we'd rather be shot through the heart with a high powered deer rifle than wear orange during the Vandy -UT game. So for about three hours starting at 11:30 Saturday morning we will be vulnerable to some perverse natural selection process where only Tennessee fans survive. Maybe we will bring something bright yellow.

Shots, far back from the river . . . Deer season, and a Saturday, which would likely make for hell on the hills . . . I guessed that not even the normal quota of whisky-head sports would probably shoot a boat for a buck, but decided to wear a bandanna if I went rambling ashore….


The only other consequence of paddling through the WMA is we need to fall the rules more or less. Canoe owners make sure there is an adult life jacket for each person. If you fish, you need a fishing license. Or at least you have now been told that you need a fishing license.

Here are some other regs of interest. Our lawyers say that a technical reading suggests this only applies "while hunting"…

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Celestial Report

Last week, when we posted the 10-day forecast, here is what the weather man said was going to happen just five days later (the day we had torrential downpours and tornado warnings all over middle Tennessee):

So for what it's worth, here's what they're now predicting for the canoe trip two days out...

Fourteen-degrees warmer and 0% chance of rain sounds pretty good. The showers on Sunday are something of a surprise. But since it's only a 30% chance Mike should be fine with the poncho that only covers 30% of his body.

In other news from the heavens, the sun is going to set early, but the moon is going to come up just in time and should be good light for cooking, or navigation if we miss our island.

Using the handy moon phase generator, it will be just a few days past full (the "waning gibbous moon", of course) and here's what it will look like at 8:00 pm

Actual photo of waning gibbous moon.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Saturday Night Menu Unveiled


Meet the chefs:

Camp Cookie


The Pot Wrassler



The day was Thanksgiving. The holiday ritual seemed to have little to do with the river, but for its honor I put in an hour or so of food preparation and came up with fried bass filets and beans and steamed brown rice and biscuit bread and a roasted widgeon stuffed with prunes, and there seemed to be little reason to envy the fare of anyone in town. It was all good - the better for being the harvest of gun and rod - and afterward I sat under the arched live-oak limb by the fire with the pup, drinking coffee with a little whisky and honey in it, listening to the Morse dots and dashes of steam whistling out the end pores of a damp log. That gets to be one of the river's symphonic sounds, like owls and the gurgle of snag-thwarted water and the eternal cries of herons and the chug of tractors in unseen bottom fields.

Packing List

I took my pistol and a hundred dollar bill
I took my pistol and a hundred dollar bill
I had everything I need to get me killed

Except as otherwise stated below, you only need to bring your own personal stuff. That means: lots of warm, dry clothes (lots); fishing gear if you want it; a sleeping bag and a pad. If you're not bringing a tent, make sure you've claimed a spot in someone else's. Put everything in a dry bag or doubled up garbage bags. And maybe a chair, but it doesn't have to be the world's biggest soccer mom chair because space is an issue.

Everything else, including food and booze, will be taken care of. Scroll down to see who's responsible for what. If you're not on the list, try not to bring things that have been assigned to someone else so we don't overpack, which we are already pretty famous for.

Exhibit A

Here are the rest of the assignments. This list will be updated throughout the rest of the week. NOTE: CANOE OWNERS, please drop your boat off sometime this week (i.e. before Saturday) so we can load it on the trailer.

- 1 canoe plus paddles, life jackets
- dinner, dinner bell
- 1 entire gourmet kitchen

- more dinner, Mountain Man breakfast
- 1 guitar
- water for cooking
- a match

- 3 canoes plus paddles, life jackets
- canoe trailer
- Big Daddy skillet
- utensils
- coffee
- maps
- saw

- 1 canoe plus paddles, life jackets
- beer, wine, liquor, water
- ice

- 1 canoe, plus paddles, life jackets
- Crown Royal
- Satellite radio

- Saturday lunch (for about sixteen, Mike)
- 1 thin t-shirt
- Chinaman drinking hat

- $37 and a Jap guitar

- 1 canoe, plus paddles, life jackets

- 1 canoe plus paddles, life jackets
- smokes

- 1 canoe plus paddles, life jackets
- 1 big ass axe

- swizzle sticks


In solitude one finds only what he carries there with him.
Juan Ramón Jiménez

By the time I pulled onto a sand bar below a narrow flat that lay between the river and a mountain, the wind on my neck carried flecks of cold rain. I set up the little tent under a twisted mesquite, threw my bed roll into it, chopped dead limbs into firewood, and finally carried up the other things from the boat -- the map case and the shotgun and the rods and the food box, heavily full, and the cook box and the rucksack, all of them battered familiarly from other trips long before. With a juvenile shame from those days when we had tried to model ourselves on the old ones, going out only with a blanket, tarp, skillet, ax, twenty-two, jar of grease, and sack of cornmeal, I knew that I'd brought too much gear for one man. But it was November, and our stomachs had been tougher then, and anyhow the point was no longer to show one's hardihood. The point was to be there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It's an Eminence Front!

Notice the color coming in behind it...


Out of whose womb came the ice?
and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath
gendered it?

On the river the wind wasn't strong, but high up it was doing violence. The El Greco clouds suddenly, as though consciously, coalesced into a gray overcast that turned the day ominous. Two long skeins of big birds flapped across that grayness toward the south - sand-hill cranes, grating out their castle-gate cronk -- and I knew what the air's muggy edge meant. Geese confirmed it, the first I'd seen, four snows in a little disciplined V, winging solemnly and soundlessly south. The wind on the river died, and paddling I began to sweat. It was the kind of day that usually, in the Texas fall, is full of a kind of waiting; things are moving, the year is changing, a norther is coming…


There is less talk of "northers" these days. People sit softly at ten fifteen in the evening and watch while a bacon vender points to highs and lows and fronts on a chart, and then they go to the wall to twirl their thermostats, and perhaps the windows rattle a little in the night, but that's about all. . . In the country, though, a front is a fact still. There it's a blue line along the horizon, and a waiting, sweaty hush, and a hit like a moving wall, and all of life scurrying for the southern lee of things. There it's a battening down, an opening of hydrant valves, a checking of young and valuable stock, a walking across the swept lots with a flashlight, a leaning against the hard-shoving cold, a shuddering and creaking of old, tall, frame houses. There it's a norther, and there someone always, inevitably, rightly, cracks the old one about there being nothing between West Texas and the Pole except a bob-wire fence.


A good norther in November can pare fifty or sixty degrees from the temperature in a matter of hours, and if it's a "blue" one, it can bring days of driving cold rain or sleet.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Same Day, Different River

Sorry about changing streams in mid-stream, but we're going to abandon the Red River plan and go back to the Duck. We will prove Heraclitus wrong and step in the same river twice this year - different section though.

The rain is not doing us any good, and in the event we actually got enough water we'd have less gravel bar which could be a problem since we're up to 13 people, 3 dogs, 2 pigs, 1 mullet and a washtub bass. Here's a map of the Duck:

Once again, we will be headed for an island right at the mouth of a creek. It's in the middle of the river just across from Cedar Creek on this map, even though it doesn't show an island....which is ironic because on the Red River the map showed an island that wasn't really an island at all. Maybe the Bell Witch had something to do with that. But this one is a real, honest to goodness island "entire of itself". And that should be reason enough to change plans, as those of you who have done your reading already know:

Because I liked the look of it, I stopped there in the middle of a quiet bright afternoon and made a solid camp on flat gravel under willows, eight feet above the water but only a few nearly vertical steps from the canoe. I was tired and my gear needed tending, and it looked like the kind of place I'd been waiting for to spend a couple of nights and to loaf through a little of what the abstractly alliterative military schedules used to call "matérial maintenance." Islands are special, anyhow, as children know with a leaping instinct, and when they lie in public domain you can have a fine sense of temporary ownership about them that's hard to get on shores, inside or outside of fences.

The island does show up on the aerial photo. We'll be on the upstream tip, looking straight up Cedar Creek at a small waterfall that we can use to reenact the Hamm's Beer Sign-O-Rama with Jim's red Old Town canoe....

The campsite is about nine river miles from the Carpenter Bridge put-in and is less than a mile downstream from Sowell Mill Road bridge. Our take-out will be at Howard Bridge on what was always called Negro Creek Road. The creek itself apparently has kept the name, but the road is now called "TVA Road".













The Book has something to say about this phenomenon also:


Likely the bluff had a good name once before some dullard called it Inspiration Point. The nation's map is measled with names like that, pocks from the old nineteenth-century plague that made people build gazebos and well-tops of rough masonry with oaken buckets on ropes but no well beneath (unless it was a "wishing well"), and sing "Annie Laurie," and read Scott for his worst qualities, and long to own paintings by Bouguereau and, disregarding the guts and soul in the old nomenclature of American places, rename them Inspiration Point and Lovers' Retreat and Maiden's Leap. It is worst of all in the South, because the South yearned hardest to believe Scott, but the whole hinterland had the disease; in the Midwest it got flavored with Hiawatha

Now that the land looks a little older and we don't have to stare directly at the tobacco juice on the haired chins of those who made its past, the grandchildren of the Gothicists are likely to be enchanted to find that the streamlet below their house used to be called Dead Nigger Draw, but they have a hard fight with the real-estate men, staunchly Gothic all, if they try to cancel out its present title of Bonnie Brae. . . And the effort, somehow, seems little more praise worthy or genuine than their grandparents' was.

Friday, November 11, 2005

WTB Workshop

Tim and Rob C. get all oiled up.

It took two pliers and Harry's teeth to pry
the handles off the washtub.

Bob Vila: "Measure twice, cut once."

The first note. Success!

"Oh play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway..."