Posts tagged ‘Hiwassee River’
Yesterday I worked; today I played.
Even though it is the first official day of spring, it felt more like summer. Eighty-plus degrees and sunny. The heat makes me want to ride to the river, and I figured I may as well try to do a little paddling. I have a nice set-up to tow my boat with my Xtracycle, and it’s a happy combination to be able to ride and paddle on a beautiful day.
My put-in is just up the road from our house, about 4 miles. Getting there was a breeze, literally. Gently rolling with an overall downhill grade, and I had a nice tailwind. It was definitely the easy part. Arrived and locked the bike along the guardrail by the bridge, and was reminded again of the mess that has been made of this river by Olin and their mercury dumping – which thankfully will be ending soon, with their commitment to converting the plant to mercury-free processing.
Meanwhile, I still cannot comprehend how people are still willing to fish – and keep their catch – despite the clearly posted warnings of high levels of carcinogens in the fish. Completely baffles me. I’ve discussed it with several fishermen before, but I have learned to just keep my mouth shut. There is no changing their minds; they perceive the risk as negligible. (And I secretly shudder and shake my head).
I paddled away most of the afternoon, exploring and trying to navigate the very shallow water. In places, I was paddling in only inches. The Hiwassee River levels are regulated and controlled by TVA, and at this time of year they don’t typically release water upstream for recreational use in this inlet. Hence, the lake that is filled and sparkling blue in late spring through summer, is filled with stumps and shoals and islands over the winter and into early spring. The locals call this inlet Stump Lake. A fitting name.
Dozens of Great Blue Herons were my company; I love to just sit and watch them fishing in the shallows. Turtles were out sunning on stumps and logs, but would quietly slip into the water as I raised my camera lens. One of the fishermen said he had seen a Bald Eagle near the bridge. Sadly I missed it. It was peaceful, quiet, and a beautiful afternoon to be on the water … and “pedaling” my arms rather than my legs for a change.
Having had enough sun and with fatigue setting in on my shoulders, I headed for home in the late afternoon – this time against a headwind, with a more uphill grade, requiring a bit more muscle to tow the boat. I will confess my wimpy-ness by saying it felt good to get home. Dinner was salad and veggie pizza. Not fish. Definitely not fish.
I am still here …
The temperatures have just been unseasonably (and unreasonably) hot, and I have been like some seminocturnal creature – out on my bike in the early morning or into the evening, in search of water to slide into, and avoiding the blinding heat of mid-day. Some of you may love to see the mercury rise into the upper 90’s (F) each day. Not me. I’ll take riding in a snowstorm any day.
I’ve been drawn to the water. A little paddling, early morning swimming at the Y, riding to the river. It’s all a necessary alternative to riding through the rippling, shimmering heat rising from the pavement. Simply looking at water cools me off.
Ironically, Mark and I are about to set off on another bike touring adventure – nothing as exciting as Italy, but we are really looking forward to it, just the same. Except for the heat forecasted heat, of course. Along with possible flooding along the route (that may be a story for another post). Our timing is obviously not the greatest. If nothing else, it will be some fresh scenery for my camera lens, as well as a chance to really put some mileage on the Xtracycles. So stay tuned.
Meanwhile, summer is here in full bloom – and full heat. Remember to drink plenty of water. (Or swim in it, or bike alongside it 😉 )
So what do you do the day after #330daysofbiking? C’mon … did you really think there was any other option? 😉
Two of the boys were home for a brief weekend visit, with the local Battle of the Bands being the driver. The boys’ band The Night Shines took the win this year (YAY!) – and they have a free download of their song Forest Fire on their bandcamp site, for anyone interested).
Ross and I had a perfect day to take a great ride up to and along the river. After all of the grey and rain of the past days, it felt so good to have the sun shining.
While I don’t intend to keep a running tally of how many days I ride over the next year or so, I may just keep a personal log of the days I don’t – which hopefully will be kept to a bare minimum.
The perfect cycling life lesson appeared in my friend Jim’s (@bikerly) blog today; it can’t be said any better than this:
Yesterday, something compelled me to ride along the river – the Hiwassee River, up the road from our house. I can’t begin to count how many times I have crossed this bridge and have been reminded by the TDEC warning sign of the mercury contamination in this beautiful body of water. Or how many times I have watched (with disbelief) the people fishing, despite the warnings. Yesterday was no different. It always bothers me … and I’m sure you might be tired of me posting about it by now.
Last week, I attended a public hearing at our local Chamber of Commerce regarding a $41 million bond proposal for Olin Corporation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. My friend Suzanne Wisdom from Oceana, along with several concerned residents (including myself) made comment for the record – if Olin was to receive this funding, it should be imperative that they commit to converting their plant to mercury-free technology.
The Chamber’s Industrial Development Board kindly told us that environmental issues did not factor into the issuance (or non-issuance) of this type of bond. Of course. But, as always, all we could continue to do was to speak out for the record.
Earlier today I received a phone-call from Suzanne … and it left me speechless. As of mid-day today, here is an excerpt from the official Press Release from Oceana:
Olin Corporation’s Two Dinosaur Mercury Plants Will End Mercury Use and Releases
in Tennessee and Georgia
Oceana Celebrates Olin’s Response to Community and Customer Demands
The Olin Corporation announced today it will convert its mercury-based chlor-alkali manufacturing plant in Charleston, TN to modern, mercury free technology and eliminate mercury from its plant operation in Augusta, GA. Oceana has been pushing for these actions since 2005. Olin’s plant in Tennessee is the largest remaining mercury-based chlorine plant of the four plants in the U.S. that had refused to make the switch to safer, more efficient technology.
In response, Oceana offers the following statement from Senior Campaign Director Jacqueline Savitz:
“This toxic, unnecessary practice was putting communities’ health at risk, and contaminating fish that could end up on dinner plates far from the plants themselves. Olin’s Tennessee plant was the largest and released the most pollutants of the remaining mercury-based chlorine plants. This shift will mean less mercury in the Hiwassee River, as well as in Charleston and the state of Tennessee,” added Savitz.
Olin’s announcement shows that even a large facility can shift to mercury-free technology in the time frame described in pending Senate legislation, which would require plants to shift to mercury-free production by 2015. Olin will easily meet that timeframe, committing to shift to cleaner production technology by 2012 in Charleston, TN. For that decision, we applaud them.
Finally, we are grateful that the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will help to make the Tennessee conversion possible.
Oceana Tennessee Field Organizer Suzanne Wisdom, who has worked long and hard to exert community pressure on Olin to switch, offers the following reaction:
“I am excited to hear that Olin’s plant will ‘Go Mercury Free,’ just as Oceana and thousands of Tennessee residents have urged them to do. I’m especially happy for the wonderful community of people who live near the plant. They have been the heart of this campaign and I know they are celebrating today,” said Wisdom.
And from the AP/Bloomberg this afternoon: “Olin plant will eliminate mercury in $160M upgrade”.
What can I possibly say???? Cause for celebration? Are you kidding?! ABSOLUTELY!
Most of all, I cannot begin to express my heartfelt gratitude to Suzanne Wisdom from Oceana – who has worked tirelessly for so many years on this issue … who has been an inspiration and provided much-needed encouragement and support to the concerned citizens throughout our community … and who I feel most privileged to consider my friend. Suzanne, you are my heroine! It’s definitely time to celebrate!!! 😀
The days follow a pattern – a pleasant pattern. Cycling, paddling, taking pictures, conversations, laughter, rest. Watching the sun go down. And come up again. The summer is passing so quickly, sometimes I feel like I can’t quite get it all in.
Riding into town on Thursday, a trip on the Greenway. It’s always heartening, inspiring, to see others on bikes – and their willingness and enthusiasm to stop and strike up a conversation. (And yes – their agreeing to let me take their photos :). When we’re not boxed up in cars, I believe we’re much more inclined to interact, to converse. It makes us more approachable, more a part of the community. Stopping to talk with two other cyclists (and one of the Greenway police officers) and talking about the merits of the Greenway for getting across town, observing the increase in ride-share around town, and just enjoying the simple pleasure of having a “commons” – a place to walk, to ride, to just stop and sit.
The heat continues, and the evening continues to be one of the nicest times to get out. A time to stow the camera in the Xtracycle and just take a leisurely spin on roads close to home. Enjoying the “golden hour”, the hum of the cicadas.
Lazy Saturday mornings spent exploring the river by kayak. Flat grey skies, calm still water – like glass. Different than cycling, yet oddly similar, moving through the landscape. A lesson in patience this morning – spending close to an hour slowly approaching a Little Green Heron, who graciously let me get incredibly close.
Ending the weekend riding with “my boys”. Another summer day, another ride. The sun comes up and goes down. It passes so quickly. I feel like I can’t quite get it all in.
Solo trip to the river today. Just me, the bike, the boat, the camera … and a few of the things I saw on the water.
For the record, the scupper hole trailer + Xtracycle is the perfect combination for me; infinitely easier than trying to lift a boat onto a roof rack, or into a vehicle. And truthfully, I could never fit the boat into/onto my tiny car anyway … so this is the ultimate freedom. I can head out to the river any time, easy to load, easy to haul, everything fits, I get to ride my bike and paddle. I am a happy camper. (Or paddler, as it were.)
Decided to ride this morning, rather than swim. Mason had initially planned on going with me, but ultimately he opted out after thinking about how many hours he would be spending out in the heat and sun – lifeguarding at the Y later in the day. Can’t say I blame him, it was a beautiful day, but another hot one.
So I set out on my own, a rather convoluted route, combining a couple of my favorite roads along the river, and a couple of new ones. Gave me a chance to think about some things that have been on my mind – especially the direction of this blog, what I’m doing with this whole project, where I want to go.
My very dear cycling friend (who I will refer to as @blueallez, as he is known on twitter) had sent me this cartoon from XKCD … which rang so true (and made me laugh).
The truth is, I have been having a debate with myself over the past few weeks. While I am loving the riding of #330daysofbiking, I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable, personally, with the posts.
The advent of the blogopshere has been a blessing and a curse. There is definitely a great value in many blogs, especially the ones that have a clearly defined objective – from promoting/reviewing products, to presenting opinion or topic news, or valuable advocacy of a cause or mission.
But at the same time, I find far too many of them to be dull, uninteresting, and often self-aggrandizing personal diaries – a fair number of “posers” and attention-seekers, in my opinion, saying a whole lot of nothing. Maybe it’s a necessary niche (I’m sure for places like WordPress, anyway), but it’s one I have never wanted to fit into … and increasingly, I am feeling more and more uncomfortable, fearing I am sliding into that category.
The fact is, #330daysofbiking is a purely personal goal; I have no goals to make or raise money – for myself or a “cause”, I have no interest in sponsorship or anything similar. I don’t need the validation – from readership numbers or other measure. Just because I am trying to ride every day doesn’t mean I need to publicly broadcast my “vacation photos” and the mundane details with the cyberworld. I have debated whether or not this qualifies as legitimate (or measurable) advocacy, and have decided it doesn’t.
Mostly, I just want to do – much more than telling (showing, writing) about doing.
I simply want to ride my bike, take some pictures – and the details really don’t matter in the scheme of things. Except to me. And that’s where they should ultimately stay.
So, I’m not sure where I will go from here. It is something I need to figure out for myself. For the record, I will keep the blog. And #330daysofbiking will continue – for me. But I’m uncertain as to the direction of my posting. I’d like it to have more of a purpose and less trivial drivel – there is already an overabundance of that in the blogosphere. When I feel like I have something legitimate to say, an opinion or idea to express, I will be posting. Otherwise – well, I’d rather “leave no trace” than leave a cybertrail of simply “stupid”.
For today, then – the leftover “vacation photos” from the day. 😉
The best recipe for summer weekend adventure-fun? An Xtracycle … and everything and anything your imagination can add.
Saturday (Day 95) was only a brief out and back on our road on the Xtracycle; one of those days filled with kids, watching the Tour, yardwork, and just general around-the-house stuff. In the evening, we decided to head over to the drive-in theater in Etowah. When was the last time you watched a movie at a drive-in? Seems like there are very few around any more, but this place is great – clean, family-friendly, and a bargain (on car-load nights). We did not ride bikes there I am sorry to say; distance, darkness, and our typical giant crew of kids and friends and girlfriends made it a little impossible. So, it was our gang, including a bunch of college-age kids, all watching Toy Story 3 at the drive-in on a summer night — good times! 😉
On Sunday (Day 96) I finally got to give the scupper-hole kayak trailer a trial run on the Xtracycle. Mark had engineered a great little removable hitch-type of contraption that attaches to the back of the Xtracycle frame; the tow-strap hole slips over the “hitch” pin. Loaded up the boat and headed to the river. It worked beautifully!
About a month ago I had tried loading the boat on the Xtracycle’s Wide-Loader – which was ok, but with the shape of this boat’s hull, the pedal clearance was a little marginal. Hauling the boat with this trailer seems a little heavier and slower-going, especially on inclines, but also more stable and pedal-safe over the distance. And very easy for me to load and secure for hauling.
Mark and I had a beautiful paddle, exploring some side channels that we had never visited before. They seemed to go on endlessly – we never did reach the end. The lush, green tree-cover and shoreline foliage made it feel almost like the Amazon, we joked. Spotted a beautiful Little Green Heron, a couple of Great Blue Herons, a King Fisher and some swallowtail butterflies. Mark said he was waiting for a snake to drop out of one of the overhanging branches (thankfully, we were spared such a treat).
Rode home in the early evening. End of a wonderful summer weekend; loving all of the “living outside”. (And as my friend Darryl says, “loving the bike”!)
Sometimes, my posting is like way I ride hills … lagging behind.
Yesterday I began the day with an early morning swim with Dillon. Came home to pick up the rest of the crew, and the boys and I headed to Chattanooga. Mason and the Governor’s School group were coming into the city on a trip to visit the UTC SimCenter (because that’s their idea of good times and excitement, lol) – and we decided to meet him for lunch and a quick visit. It was brief, but I think he was happy to see all of us … and likewise.
Enjoyed some good conversation about the Tour de Suisse, some geeky physics jokes (which were basically over my head), and a review of this years’ crop of Governor’s School kids – impressive as always. And when I mentioned to Mason that I missed riding with him, he responded in his typical manner, “Yeah, I miss riding with someone who’s a lot slower than me …” I, of course, hit him for that one.
Came home and got out for a ride … into town for a haircut. That was the extent of it. 😛 No camera, no pictures; just taking care of business. By bike.
Today it rained for a while, but fortunately the weather cooled off a bit. When it started to clear in late afternoon, Mark and I decided to head to the river for a paddle. I wanted to ride, so Mark hauled the boats and let me go by bicycle.
Spent a couple hours out on the water, exploring a few new stretches of shoreline. Rumbles of thunder in the distance, but beautiful skies and very comfortable temperatures. Fish were jumping everywhere, herons overhead. Spotted a beautiful Kingfisher, but couldn’t catch him by camera. Paddled back to the landing in the golden twilight. Rode home as the sky was turning pink. Perfect.