Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lazy Day

I took it easy yesterday. I bought a plastic strainer so that I can search for minerals and fossils in local creeks. Just a simple plastic colander. Yesterday was the first time I've tried using this method to look for stuff, and I didn't spend a lot of time messing around with it. But I did find a nice piece of white quartz. If I can find enough decent stones I may drag out my father-in-law's old tumbler and lapidary stuff and polish them up.

Spent a little time there on Gar Creek. The most interesting things I saw were animal tracks. Some were quite fresh. In fact, I think the deer had just passed by before I got there. I saw some fox tracks, but they were so faint that I couldn't get good images of them with the camera.

Since the creek was near my wife's family church I drove over to clean up the grave site where her father and brother are buried. There wasn't much to do beyond pulling up some stray tufts of grass and brushing off the headstone.

Then I headed back where I checked on the backyard hemlocks and am very pleased to see that there has been no new sign of the wooly adelgid infestation. The insecticide I treated them with last year seems to have completely killed off the hwa. I used both a spray application and soil drench. I think I killed off the little scumbags for good. From what I understand, the hemlocks shouldn't need another treatment for a few years. I'll keep my eyes peeled to make sure.

Gar Creek. Didn't find much. I'll try again another day.

I think the deer had just passed by. (Water was slowly filling the tracks when I found them.)

Raccoon tracks. I also spotted some little gray fox tracks but they were too faint to photograph effectively.

One last look at Gar Creek before I walked back to the truck.
Cleaned off the Henderson family plot.

Checked on the back yard hemlocks. So far, they seem to be completely free of hemlock wooly adelgid.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


I love to hike to see waterfalls. My favorites are the waterfalls that are so far out in the middle of nowhere that not only aren't there any roads leading to them, there aren't any trails. You have to bushwhack over long distances, over steep slopes, and down into plunging gorges to see them.

One day I was at a waterfall that's fairly easy to get to. You can park about a mile away and walk to it over highly engineered, well-graded trails. To get a good view of it I walked up a side trail and found that there was a wooden viewing platform with benches. And a handicap-accessible sign.

Soon after that I realized that there was a gravel road leading to this spot. Another hiker showed up. "What is this place, anyway?" I asked him.

"It's for handicapped people in wheelchairs. The park rangers can give them access to a gated road and they can be driven here and roll their wheelchairs in or use their crutches to see the waterfall," he told me.

"Huh," I said, the fantasy of wilderness at that point completely blown.

After sitting there for about five minutes taking photos we heard the sound of automobile tires crunching gravel. A big SUV appeared. Full of people who had gotten permission to use the road and the handicap-accessible spot to see the waterfall.

A family of American lardasses oozed out of the vehicle. Not a one of them under 300 pounds.



Triple Falls. You can hike to see it. Or if you're a pathetic sack of lard the park rangers will give you the keys to the road where you can sit on your disgusting, fat ass and look at it from the comfort of your freaking gas guzzler.

I ain't gonna tell you where this one is. Some jackass will lobby for a ramp to be built to it because hiking there isn't "fair" to everyone.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reality Sent Wernher Von Braun to Bed Without His Dreams

I love science fiction as much as the next nerd. However, most people take that stuff much too seriously. They think it's all going to come to pass--interstellar travel, terraforming other planets, encountering alien civilizations, and other such fantasies.

Worst of all of those fantasies are the ones wherein people think we'll find another Earth-like planet.

The odds of finding a planet where we can breathe the atmosphere and not get blasted to smithereens by radiation are...hmm...let's see: ZERO!

It ain't happening. It's a fantasy and a pipe dream.

What are the ingredients. The Goldilocks zone around a sun pretty much exactly the same mass, age, and activity as Sol. A planet not only approximately the exact same mass as Earth, but with the precise chemical and elemental makeup with active tectonics and vast systems of oceans and rivers of H2O at the triple-point of water. A planet that has a HUGE moon so large that what you're looking at is a double-planet system--said "moon" helping to keep the main planet's core heated and the magnetic shield in action. Which means, a planet that was smashed at some point earlier in its life by a Mars-sized body that it absorbed, kicking off a Moon-sized portion of the impactor into orbit so that the duo would form said double-planet system.

Yeah...we're going to find exactly that somewhere in the galaxy where we can travel in our faster--than-light vehicles. LOL!

Go watch a Stark Trek show, my fellow geeky mooks.

Yeah....We're going to find this concoction.

Reality slapped Von Braun in the face and sent him to oblivion with the realization that it will never happen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


A few years ago I was a guest at a science fiction convention. They treated me well and gave me a prominent place on panels and a nice spot to sell my books. All gratis, for being a guest at their show.

It was an okay experience. I met a few interesting people but I didn't sell a single book.

Some time after that they sent me a questionnaire. They wanted me to list the good things about the show and the bad things, if any, about it. They even went out of their way to mention that there would be no repercussions for mentioning any negative aspects of the show or how it was run.

I complied, with complete honesty and absolutely no rancor, since I had been well-treated. But I did point out some things about the show which I thought needed improving.

I was not invited back. Ever.


Well, Hell...I got to meet Jeffrey Combs!

Hello...Bobby. Don't come play with us. Not ever..or ever...or ever.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

And Then There's the Bad.

I love to write about the great places where Carole and I go to camp and kayak and hike. It's fun to recall them and I think it's a nice thing to do to tell other interested parties about our favorite spots.

But sometimes we visit places that are less than pleasant. Most of the time I don't want to think about those locations, and then there's that old saying about not saying anything if you can't say something nice. So I generally stay mum when it comes to lousy times at crappy places.

One spot that I kept meaning to talk about and haven't for some time is Cascade Lake Recreation Area. I had decided to mention it again--and how lousy a place it is to stay--and was looking up some links when I discovered that it's closed with no plans for reopening. So here goes what was wrong with it:

The campground was the closest National Forest-related campground that we could find to DuPont State Forest. Du Pont does not currently have its own campground and I'm not sure if there are any plans for it to ever have one. I've heard rumors, but nothing definite. We don't generally like private campgrounds because--frankly--there are a lot of negative aspects to private campgrounds and we almost always have a negative experience at private campgrounds.

My understanding was the Cascade Lake Campground is technically owned by the National Forest Service* but is rented out to a concessionaire. I don't know why so many state and Federal parks do this, but for some reason they argue that it's cheaper to let someone else hire out the premises for a chunk of any profits that are generated. One most often runs into this kind of operation with the hotels in such National Parks as Yellowstone and Glacier and Yomsemite, etc. The land and structures belong to us...the citizens...but the profits go to a private concern. Personally, I think this is a dumb way to run things, but there you are.

Cascade Lake Recreation Area was run like this. It was a concession owned by a non-governmental operation. The second we arrived we encountered what we almost always do with this kind of operation: rude, inept assholes acting like prickly little Nazis. We had to wait at the entrance for about 45 minutes before we could get in because the people admitting campers were idiots who didn't know what they were doing. In addition, they were very rude to my wife. Yes, I'm sure they were snippy because they were stressed, but that's the kind of thing we generally encounter from these concessionaires who win their contracts by being either the lowest bidder, or the only bidder.

From there it just got worse. The campground is on a nice, man-made lake, but it was extremely crowded. Also, a lot of the chores were farmed out to volunteers who weren't paid, but were given free campsites for doing odd jobs such as customer relations and cleaning up the garbage (of which there was much). The place was packed, messy, poorly maintained, and noisy. When we did encounter anyone who worked there it was a negative experience (imagine the Soup Nazi from the Seinfeld TV series).

So, briefly, I would never again stay at the Cascade Lake Recreation Area unless it was turned back over to the National Forest Service completely. As it is, I'm sure its closure is only temporary so that the slimy concessionaires can argue for better terms before "giving in" and taking on the job for a much better piece of the action. (Action which they will not ever get from our business.)

This was our campsite. It looks okay and was across the road from the lake. But it was in direct sunlight and was on an artificially created area produced by gouging out the side of a hill and dumping the fill into a wetland.

My nephew Mark and I in 2008. The reason we camped at Cascade Lake was for easy access to Du Pont State Forest which is totally insane with amazing waterfalls.

This one is called Merry Falls and was at the head of Cascade Lake near the dam.
Merry Falls.

*I just learned that it was never a National Forest property, but always privately owned. But it was run by the CFAIA which I had always associated with the National Forest Service. (My mistake.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Roads Closed!

When Carole and I decided to take the sled up to the high country to try some hills, our plan was to hit a state park where there are plenty of hills and no worry about trespassing on private property. The nearest park where we knew there to be appropriate grassy slopes covered in snow was Stone Mountain State Park. Upon arriving we found the gate lowered and the park closed. At this place the snow was about ten inches deep. Bad, but not horribly so. And it was still snowing at that time. Still...we were disappointed and headed to the next possible park: New River.

However, while for some reason the park service had opted to plow the road and open the park, we found that there were no good places to sled. Too many trees and no open fields. Okay, fine. We then headed toward Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. It used to be a state park, but was downgraded to "Natural Area" for various reasons (park size being one of them). At first it looked as if the park was going to be open. We drove up the road until we saw a barrier and a sign indicating that the road (and the park) were closed. Shit.

We didn't discover until later that snowfall totals at most of these parks was in excess of two feet. Too much snow for the parks to safely open. In fact, Mount Mitchell State Park not far from where we were at one point, recorded 66 inches of snowfall during the storm. Impressive.

Still, we had a good time walking around in the snow and taking photos.

Park closed. Alas.

White pines in the snow.

Deep snow (about fourteen inches here, we were told. But no good spots to sled!

I started the video just a little too late to catch a pair of white-tail does running across the road in front of us.

Goodbye till later, New River State Park!

We thought we'd visit the dairy in downtown West Jefferson and buy some fresh butter. But they were closed. Everything was closed.

The creaking noise was made by two hardwood trees growing so close together that their trunks were grinding against one another in the wind.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Carole and I dearly love our Casita travel trailer. However, at some point we will end up spending a lot of our time on the road, going from Forest to Forest and National Park to National Park. When this happens, we'll be gone for many weeks and months at a time. Our Casita is great for trips of shorter duration and wonderful for getting us into backcountry places where your average travel trailer or motorhome cannot go. Also, we will likely apply to be campground hosts from time to time, and most state park and National Park and National Forest campgrounds won't allow people who have smaller travel trailers to be campground hosts. Why? Because they (probably rightly) figure that people cooped up in very tiny trailers will get stir crazy and opt to leave, putting the campground at risk of having no host (since it's largely a volunteer deal with the host getting a free place to stay for doing various tasks for the privilege of using the campsite for an extended period).

So we've been reluctantly looking around at different travel trailer designs and layouts and manufacturers for the day when we'll sell little Casita-girl and hit the road in a larger trailer. We saw one today that we liked. Generally, we have always wanted to steer away from trailers with slideouts, but after researching this particular make we may opt for the model pictured below. It's still a small enough trailer to get us into the out-of-the-way campgrounds that we prefer, but is large enough so that we would be accepted as campground hosts from time to time if we so desired. Also, it's less likely for us to go stir crazy if we're cooped up in this larger trailer due to weather events.

It's a likely possibility.

The kitchen area of the trailer. It has a gas oven which we have been searching for in a travel trailer.

The bed area. The bed is aligned with the length of the trailer instead of side-to-side as with our current trailer. No climbing over one another to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

The bath room. It has a large pantry to the left which I couldn't show. Storage for towels, extra clothing, soap, shampoo, etc.

And the outside of the trailer. As I said, we're not big fans of slideouts, but it does add a great deal of space to the living area, and we researched how to care for the option to prevent leaking and deterioration, motor failure, etc. We also liked the awning on this trailer.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

New River Ice.

Carole and I stopped yesterday at the New River State Park here in NC to check out the campground. All of the other state parks were closed due to the snow, but for some reason the state had plowed the roads for this one and had opened the gates. I haven't a clue as to why they opened this one.

What was interesting to us was that the New River was in the process of icing over. There were unending rafts of snow and ice floating on the surface of the river. Given several days of this kind of weather I'm sure the river would freeze over or produce ice jams (I've seen it, but not in a couple of decades). But the weather is supposed to break, and warm up. No ice jams this year.

That's the New River down there. covered in floating ice and snow.
I'll try to post some other video tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

As Crazy Horse said...

Hoka hey, boys and girls!

Kerouac called them. "Pomes". I used to write a lot of pomes. Not so much anymore. I should get back to it.

James Robert Smith

Floating the Sea of Life
I leave
a multitude of injured right wing morons
whining butt-hurt liberals
in my wake.

I am amused. And know
that I am doing something the way
it should be done.

Bob on Fuchthalottayu Creek. (With paddle.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Southern Mountains

"Hey, Bob! Why do you like hiking the southern mountains so much?"

Well...this is why.

Peaks of Otter, VA.

Table Rock Mountain, NC.

Alligator Back Rocks, NC.

The Amphitheater, Linville Gorge Wilderness.

Apple Orchard Falls, VA.

Big South Fork River National Recreation Area, Tennessee/Kentucky.

McAfee Knob, VA.

Backbone Rock Falls, Tennessee.

Bald River Falls, Tennessee.

Pisgah National Forest in the Black Mountains of NC.

Rowland Creek Falls, Virginia.

Blackwater Falls State Park, WV.

Hawksbill Mountain, NC.

The Pinnacle, NC.

Jacob Fork Falls, NC.

Twin Arches, TN.

Black Mountains, NC.
Blue Jay Falls, NC.

An unnamed cascade, NC.

Waterfall near Thurmond, WV.

Behind a waterfall, Du Pont State Forest, NC.

Dolly Sods Wilderness, WV.

Seneca Rock, WV.

On top of Seneca Rock, WV.
Citico Creek Wilderness, TN.
Middle Mountain, VA.

Helton Creek Falls, GA.

Charit Creek Gorge, Kentucky.

And so on...