Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A few pics from the past

Found an old CD with a few pictures....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Back in the saddle

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

It's been a while since my last post, but I don't want you to think that I've just been sitting around watching Scooby-doo. It is quite the opposite, guess I just got busy with life and growing up (a little). In all of my previous post's I showed my love for the outdoors and adventures but over the last couple of years I found something I love spending time with more than mother nature, my new fiance. Long story really, really short we met through mutual friends and now are set to be married next September.

Back to the reason I'm writing this. I think my love for adventure and the outdoors is rooted in the sereneness and beauty of nature. I don't think i ever really enjoyed the sweating, sore back, and tired legs that accompanied most of my trips, but the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I reached the top and saw the overlook, waterfall, or whatever I was hiking to see made it all worthwhile. During the past couple of years, i haven't done much or really any backpacking, biking, or canoeing; but i have still made sure that I found time to enjoy the outdoors. I now spend a lot of my time boating, fishing, and still enjoy a good brew while hanging out with my friends.

No matter where or how you choose to find that peacefulness and serenity that beautiful mother nature offers, it is important that you realize that each of these moments are gifts. It doesn't matter if you are on the lake watching the sun creep over the trees just as the morning fog lifts and the warmth begins to touch your skin; driving home from a long day and see the bright sun begin to fade into pink, purple, and orange as clouds scatter the horizon before darkness, or setting up camp beside a river brook watching/listening as the water trickles past you, close your eyes, take a breath and take in a moment of the peacefulness and thank God for each and every gift he gives you. I look forward to doing a better job of keeping up my blog and letting you see my transition from an outdoor adventurer to more of an urban outdoorsman with flare. haha

Friday, February 13, 2009

1899 Hydro-Electric Power Plant

To all of those who haven't heard, my knee/back has put me out of commission over the last few months. I've been back and forth to the surgical center in Pinehurst trying to get over a weight lifting injury. The doctor prescribed no lifting, no running, and no riding for the next 2 months... Basically no fun......

However, I have been doing some canoeing and some hiking as I try to make it through the 2 month sentence. I had heard of an old power plant located on the Cape Fear River. I couldn't believe that I have paddled past this place many times and never noticed it. I soon found out why.

The power plant is located on the Cape Fear River about a mile and half downstream from the current Buckhorn Dam. You follow a trail along the river until you get to a T-type intersection. You then take the grown up logging road on the left and follow it all the way to the plant. You can tell when you are getting close, as you will be scrambling up and down several very steep muddy banks. As soon as Daisy and I saw the power plant, she put on the brakes. She refused to get close to the power plant. After dragging her for a few feet, I gave up and tied her to a nearby tree. This is where she remained sitting contently while I explored the old plant.

The first thing you will notice at the plant is the numerous posted signs. CP&L currently owns the land and has posted all sides of the property. I'm not going to tell you anymore about what I saw, however I will give you a short history of eerie beginnings of the power plant below.

A short history of the Power Plant at Buckhorn. (This information was taken from Duke Power's Website and also from the newspaper of the time "The Chatham Rabbit".)

The facility began construction in 1899 when W.M. Morgan and Captain R. Percy Gray decided it would be profitable to develop power on the Deep and Cape Fear Rivers. These men in conjunction with a few other companies (Cape Fear Power, Deep River Manufacturing, and Cape Fear Iron and Steel) took a loan out for 350,000. (I'm not sure what the equivalent of 350,000 dollars would be today, but I'm sure it would be an enormous amount of money). This project must have been a little more involved than at first thought. In 1905 after six years of construction, the loan was found in default and the plant faced foreclosure.
During the foreclosure process, the Power Plant faced more problems. An epidemic had stricken the residents between Lockville (Lockville is in Moncure, NC) and Buckhorn Dam. This sickness was believed to be caused by the backwater from the Dam. The residents quickly tried to stop construction, claiming the dam was a nuisance and a health hazard for landowners in the vicinity. Landowners frantically sold their land in an effort to move away from this facility.

On Oct. 6 1906 the dam was sold at a public auction for $250,000 to Mr. S.D. Mitchell, a prominent electrician of New York. (Bondholders and stockholders of the company lost all they had invested.) Construction resumed on the property and it was near completion six months later, when disaster struck once again.

On April 25, 1907 four workers at the Power Plant were killed as their vessel was swept over the damn into their watery grave. This caused a halt in the operation of the dam. (There seems to be a history of bad things happening here). A month later disaster struck once more.

On May 23, 1907 70 feet of the Buckhorn dam washed away. Operation was once again halted to provide time for the dirt to be replaced by concrete.

Once this renovation was completed, it was reopened and began operations, successfully transferring power to Fayetteville and Sanford mills. However the catastrophic past of this eerie place continued. (Maybe Daisy was smart not to want to get close to here). As workers were continuing to complete the metal structure which was attached to the dam, a storm arose. The workers moved inside of the building to escape from the violent rain (21 workers). During the storm, lighting struck a nearby tree and ran inside the building. This killed 7 of the workers, and severely wounded another 7 (and also killed a horse). This halted the operation once again.

Over 20 deaths in a period of two years, just to try and get this place going... Creepy.

Next adventure... Camp in the attached building... (This is why I don’t watch scary movies!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Paddling the Cape Fear

"Originality is unexplored territory. You get there by carrying a canoe. You can't take a taxi." ~Alan Alda Every year my friends and I spend numerous hours on the river. One of our favorite river trips is going from Buckhorn Dam to Lillington. This is a two day paddle and always presents some type of challenge. We typically make this trip several times a year, but this was the first time that I had paddled this section for 2008. There were only three of us heading out for this trip: Joel, Gavin, and I.
*Google Map of Put in, Camp, and take out.....
We met at Joel's around 1:00 and after we had loaded all of our gear up we headed for the dam to put in. We put our boats in the river on the Lee County side of Buckhorn Dam at around 2:30. We agreed that we should try to make it to the fish traps before dark. This would be a challenge since we only had about 4 hours of paddling time before dark. About a mile down river we came to the first obstacle and first close call of the trip. The obstacle was a rock garden that engulfed the entire river for about a 1/4 mile. These rapids were especially hairy today because of all the rainfall over the last few days. Not to mention that our canoes were loaded down with way more gear than we needed. (Gavin had a small version of REI packed in his rucksack.) After banging a few rocks and taking on a good amount of water in the boat, we were all able to navigate through the switchbacks without capsizing. We continued paddling for the next hour or so until our shoulders burned to much to continue. We decided to pull over to one of the enormous rocks in the river and take a break, hydrate, and dump water from our canoes.
After a short break we loaded back into our boats and headed downstream, paddling as hard as we could. Our next obstacle was about 2 miles downstream. This was the largest rapid on this section of river. As we approached the rapid we all commented on the ferocious sound it made. We paddled closer to get a good look at which line we thought would give us the driest route. I had been through this section tons of times before, but during the winter months you have to be a little more careful because of the dangers of the cold weather. (I had capsized here a few years back when it was snowing outside, which makes for a miserably cold nights sleep) After a few minutes of trying to decide which line was the safest and watching Joel nearly loose his boat. Gavin and I decided to err on the side of safety and portage around this one.

We made camp just before dark and spend the last few minutes of daylight gathering enough wood to keep us warm by the fire all night. The spot we chose was amazing. It was just past a small set of rapids on a sandy island. This would make for a relaxed nights sleep on soft sand while being sung to sleep by the fast moving water.

As the sun set over us, we unpacked and got ready for the night. We broke out our stoves and our meals and cooked them by the fire. My favorite thing about camping is all the laughs and stories told by the fire. Time flew bye as we laughed by the fire and continuously wiped our eyes from laughing hysterically at all our misadventure tales, besides its not an adventure until something goes wrong, right? We joked by the fire until we all found our eyelids becoming heavy, we had a good ways left to go before reaching our take out tomorrow, so we would need our rest. We headed to bed.
We woke up the next morning before daylight and enjoyed our breakfast by the rekindled campfire. This morning was extremely foggy, the kind of thick wet fog that would slowly dampen your clothes. As the sun rose we found it extremely hard to look forward. The rising sun's reflection beamed off of the water and seemed to set your eyes on fire in just a few seconds. The majority of the morning we spend looking straight down into the boat as we paddled down river. The fog finally lifted around lunch and the remainder of the day was perfect. As we always do, we finished the trip with smiles on our faces. It was another great river trip and another cool story to tell.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Knoxville, TN with Bit Marine

This past week the dealership where I work (Chatlee Marine) sent Jason and I to a training class for the computer system we use. The meeting was held in downtown Knoxville, TN at the Crowne Plaza hotel and convention center. This was my first time visiting Knoxville so I was hoping I could squeeze in a little sightseeing during the trip.

We headed out around lunch on Monday and after a 6 hour drive through the beautiful North Carolina mountains we arrived in Knoxville just in time for some wings and Monday Night Football. The next morning we woke up and had meetings from 8-6. Afterwards, the president, Ed Mcfawn, took us out to dinner at a nice restaurant downtown. I have known Ed and the members at BiT for a few years now and always enjoy their company. After dinner a few of the guys from other dealerships joined Jason and I for a few drinks at a downtown brewery. (In the picture I was giving Ed some grief about being famous, He was voted one of the top most accomplished worldwide in the boating industry)
The next afternoon Jason and I spoke with the concierge about where to find a good dinner. He recommended that we try a restaurant on the waterfront that was renowned for their ribs. (Voted best in America) Before dinner we took a stroll downtown to try and see a few things before dark. We were especially interested in a giant gold object you could see from anywhere in the city.

The Giant Globe we were hunting for lead us to an amazing park. This park is called World's Fair Park and was the location of the 1982 world fair. The park contains several waterfalls, a restaurant, convention center, amphitheatre, an enormous lawn and has a stream flowing through the center of the entire park. We could have kicked ourselves for not bringing our camera, thus the pictures came from my iPhone. From the park we could see the Tennessee Volunteers football stadium, which is where we headed next. As we walked, we joked at how hilly Knoxville was, it seemed like we were always walking up hills or steps. As we made our way to the stadium, we found that all the gates were locked. But we happened to find a construction entrance that was halfway propped open. We knew we probably weren't supposed to enter, but we could talk our way out of it if we got caught, so we headed in.

Neyland Stadium is one of the largest football stadiums in the country. It seats over 107,00 excited fans. As we made our way down the stadium seats, we both commented on the erie feeling that we had. You associate football stadiums with thousands of insane screaming fans and never of quiet solitude. As I entered I couldn't help but imagine being a recruit walking into this enormous stadium and imagining all the fans that would be there to watch me. How great would that feel? We spent a few minutes walking around the stadium and enjoying the view. We were very tempted to run out on the field, but later found it was a blessing that we chose not to. (The stadium has sensors to detect trespassers and the cops would have been immediately called.)

Later that night we headed back to the hotel to meet with Adrian ( a BiT Marine employee and friend) and some of the other guests to head out for our last night in Knoxville. Adrian took us away from the city towards his home for a night out. We had a blast hanging out, as you often do with close friends. I think everyone was moving a little slow the last day and were kind of anxious to get home after a great trip.

Little Black Dress Party

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snow + Friends = Good Times

"Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall."~Oliver Goldsmith

There is something about snowfall that brings out the kid in all of us, especially for those who don't see it often. When I was teaching elementary school, I quickly learned that on possible snow days it was best to keep the window blinds closed. One snowflake sighting could take a classroom from quite to chaotic in an instant. The funny thing is that at the first sighting of snow most adults display the same childlike behavior. "Hey, it's snowing" sends everyone to a window or door in excitement. I saw my first snowfall of the season this weekend while I was visiting my friends Gavin Holt and Carrie Council in Boone, NC; and at 26 years old, it still puts a smile on my face.
I headed to see Gavin and Carrie on Saturday afternoon for a quick snowboarding trip. Gavin is a snowboard instructor at Appalachian Ski Mtn. and Carrie is finishing up her undergrad at Appalachian State. We loaded up our boards and headed for the mountain around 5:30. When we got to the mountain Gavin gave me a few short lessons on the basics of snowboarding and once we had assured that everyone witnessed me looking like a fool on the flatland, we moved up to the bunny slope. After several more crashes, bumps, and bruises he turned me loose. We all had a blast at the park and stayed until closing, leaving with smiles on our faces. We finished the night in similar fashion catching up over a few drinks and a lot of laughs.

There is an old Irish quote, "There are many types of ships. There are wooden ships, plastic ships, and metal ships. But the best and most important types of ships are friendships." Spending the weekend in Boone made me realize just how true this was.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ogamaga the troll at the One Lane Bridge

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence". - Dr. Carl Sagan
Legend has it that down a 12 mile dirt road, way out in the country, where no cell phone would have signal, under an old narrow one-lane bridge lives a troll named Ogamaga. I'm not really sure how the legend came about, or why Ogamaga chose this bridge. Maybe it was the fact that the closest street light or home is 6 miles in either direction? Maybe it was the fact that hunter's often threw the remains/carcasses of their kill off the bridge which would give him an easy meal? Who knows the reason Ogamaga chose this bridge, but it was definitely his home.

The way the legend tells it you are supposed to drive down the long dirt road and arrive just before midnight. Once you have put your car in park on the bridge, you are told to turn the entire car off; no radio, no heat, no headlamps and wait for midnight. At midnight Ogamaga will sacrifice an animal and when you turn your lamps back on, his sacrifice will be laying on the bridge. Or at least that's what they say....

Night Ride 11-25-2008

It looked as though our Tuesday night adventure was going to fall through. Joel was recovering from a bad cold and had to watch Mason, I was sore from the running/biking that I had done this weekend, and the rain had pounded two days earlier (making everything super muddy). Joel was the first to back out, and even though Jimmy and Alex gave him a ton of grief, he wasn't coming. We decided that tonight would be a good night for an easy, out and back ride down towards the bridge where Ogamaga dwelled.

We met at 7:00 and made sure we hydrated properly with Nature's water. After we quenched our thirst with steel, we headed out. As we rode we talked about Ogamaga and the legend. Each of us had tried the legend personally and had never seen Ogamaga. But we hoped tonight would be the night. While we were riding we laughed about stories we had heard from other people's experiences with Ogamaga. Evidently, some crazy things had happened at the bridge we were headed towards. The adventure and excitement was slowly building with each story.

What Alex and Jimmy didn't know was that Joel and I had a little surprise waiting for them at the Ogamaga's bridge. Joel was sick and didn't need to be out in the cold, but we decided he should stay plenty warm inside of a nice and cozy, full gorilla suit! Joel and I had planned earlier in the day to scare the crap out of Alex and Jimmy. We had it planned out perfectly. I was going to text message Joel as soon as Alex arrived. This would give Joel time to park his truck out of sight and hide near the bridge. I was going to build up the story as we talked during our ride and get Alex and Jimmy to pose by the bridge for a photo, just long enough for Ogamaga to appear. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into laughter during the ride.

When we arrived at Ogamaga's bridge we saw something that even I was surprised by. Ogamaga had left a recent "sacrifice" on the bridge. We hopped off of our bikes and posed bye the bridge to take a photo and take a look around. As we were examining Ogamaga's sacrifice, I asked Jimmy and Alex to pose for one last photo by the bridge. As they were posing Ogamaga came yelling from the brush!
This was the hardest I had laughed as far back as I can remember. Even when they realized that it was just a gorilla suit, their terror didn't end. In Jimmy's words, " When i saw it was a gorilla suit, I got even more worried. What kind of crazy a*^ redneck waits in the dark under a bridge in a gorilla suit?"

When Joel took of his mask, the laughter ensued. This was definitely going to be one for the books!

The Culprits:
The Victims:
In the end we all had a good laugh. But I'm positive the next time one of us comes up missing we'll all be on our toes!