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29 April 2008 @ 08:01 pm
Muscovy Ducks and gust fronts  
Once again, I have been so active outdoors I have gone almost two weeks without putting up a journal entry.

But it has been a good second half of April, especially the adventure I had over the weekend a few days ago on the Tennessee River.

I have pictures here from local.live.com, but they were taken in the winter, so they don't reflect all the bright Spring color that I experienced both Friday and Saturday with the nice weather.

I left from the boat ramp on the Bear Creek inlet at Riverton Rose Trail in Colbert County Alabama after a nice lunch with the couple who run the general store there and have rented me my boat storage stall:



Then I went several miles northwest to J. P. Coleman State Park at the mouth of the Indian Creek inlet:



There was an exotic looking goose there next to the dock who was very friendly and playful.

I learned he is not really a goose, but a large bird known as a Muscovy Duck:





They are native to Mexico but are fairly common as far north as this part of the Tennessee River.

The gentle sociable nature is typical, according to several web sites about the birds.

Several more miles away, the thunderstorms that were predicted for Friday night were previewed by warm winds by about 4 PM that were causing large waves on the wide river, so I landed at this campground:



At about 3 AM, all hell broke loose.

Lots of thunder and lightning began, so I checked the local radar on my Blackberry.

Although there were no watches or warnings, and most of the thunderstorm line coming through looked light to moderate, there was one small patch of bright red heading right toward my tent on that beach. And, it was bowed out as a "gust front"! These are the storm edges that local weather men are always warning us about when they break in on TV with their "live storm coverage".

I quickly secured everything as well as I could, turned the boat upside down with lighter things under it, and waited for some very strong winds.

When they came, they were terrifying for me and for a local family who was also camping there that night in a tent.

It took all the strength I had to hold down the tent from inside so it wouldn't blow away. And the rain was falling very heavily.

I don't know how I managed to stay dry, but by 4 AM it was all over so I went back to sleep.

Saturday morning, I went several more miles in nice weather as far north as the Pickwick locks and dam.

Here is the lodge just above the dam:



After exploring around here for awhile, I started back toward the Rose Trail boat ramp where I started from.

I chose to stay near the most scenic shores and was really impressed with the beauty, especially of the numerous little harbors and inlets.

At this one, not far from Pickwick Dam, I got out and hiked tthrough the open woods to a lookout point near the top of the photo:



I got back to the ramp and general store a little early. I was extremely pleased with how well everything performed and with the amazing fuel economy I got from the motor, even though I travelled quite fast.

While I was gone, the little tent stove I showed and described in the last post arrived.

It looks just right for the kind of boat camping I will be doing from now on.

Perhaps in May when I go on my next adventure to teach myself how to live self-sufficiently on the waterways between Ohio and the Gulf of Mexico, the night will be cool enough to test the little stove in my "wall tent" burning driftwood for heat.