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Monday, April 17

Land Between the Lakes

Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area, Kentucky

Petey and I have covered quite a bit of ground since our last work gig in Dallas so I'll try and get an update while I've finally got a decent internet connection. Since Texas, we've hit Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. I try and take the most remote roads I can find when headed somewhere and I can assure you, there are still many spots in the good old USA that have crap for internet. I'm a major slacker taking notes as I travel and if I don't update this blog every so often I tend to forget stuff.  I'm currently in an actual campground (Townsend, Tn) just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and unbelievably, they have decent internet.  I'm laying up here for a couple of days to resupply, take on propane, oil change, laundry, pay the govt some money (crooked bastards), etc. Once all this is taken care of I'll be heading into the park to camp in search of black bears to photograph.  I've got a full week before I need to leave the area and start working my way up to Akron, Ohio where I'll meet Tiffany for the next show.  Speaking of Tiffany, she was able to take some time and ride along with us after Dallas while we worked our way to the next stop in St. Louis. We headed up through Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas before rolling into Missouri.  We didn't really get to see or do much en-route as we had to be in St. Louis in four days. We also had a full day of some really hard rain along with high winds so spent one of those days just trying to get out of Texas.  I haven't seen it rain that hard since I sat through a typhoon in Japan. Of course, we found some dirt roads in the Ozarks in search of a waterfall we had been told about.  While having dinner at a little local restaurant with an all the sweet tea you can down along with all the fried food you can shove down your pie hole for $8.50, the waitress, who was very chatty, began telling us about this great waterfall after I inquired about what is the must see in the area.  She thought on it a while and narrowed it down between the biggest Bass Pro Shop in the US or a waterfall up in the mountains. She told us it was rated the second most beautiful waterfall in the country.  We were both silently questioning this prestigious rating as she ranted about its beauty. Her departing comment, with a heavy southern drawl, was "you can see it from the road". What she failed to mention was that "the road" was an unmarked dirt one about six miles off the nearest pavement.  If we hadn't of run into some horse riders camped in the area I doubt we would have found it. In the Ozarks, they tend to be a little short on signage.  Nice young girl, but she needs to put a couple of zeros after that 2 and brush up on directions. We ended up camping alongside "the road" right at the falls since it was almost dark once located. A little pasta and wine that night with the falls cascading in the background before leaving early the next morning. So it wasn't a total mileage grab getting to St. Louis.  A little adventure was found.

It was pretty, but number two?

 Came across an abandoned mercantile in Snowball, Arkansas.

After roaming around the Ozark's for a couple of days it was on to St. Louis where we had the best show to date.  Tiffany was headed back to Tacoma after St. Louis so Petey and I were back in the solo mode.  Once dropping Tiffany off for her flight, we headed southeast through Illinois to an area in eastern Kentucky called Land Between the Lakes.  Lots of areas to explore.  I swear there are more bass boats here than people. I think it's a state law that you own a boat and a pickup here because I saw plenty of each.

Illinois farm.

 Fishermen headed out early one morning.

 Drone shot from camp one evening.

 Dogwoods were starting to bloom in the area.

 Big Tom chasing hens near camp.

Campsite along Kentucky Lake.

Camping was good in the area so I moved camp almost every night during the week I stayed.  One night I simply camped at a remote boat launch about 5 miles down a dirt road which dead ended out on Lake Barkley.  Had it all to myself but the following day a pickup rolls up with a couple of guys in it.  I got to talking with them and they ended up inviting me out for the day to lay trot lines.  They were after catfish and soft-shelled turtles. James and Earl were the real deal.  Good ole boys who were born and raised in the area.  They have hunted and fished these woods since boys and had plenty of stories to share when they weren't talking trash to each other. I wish I had a nickel for every lie that has ever been told in that boat. Was a fun trip hearing all their stories and information about the area.  Encounters like this are why I seek out the more remote spots.  

Petey ensuring we're headed in the right direction.

Drone shot from camp at the boat ramp.

After almost a week in Kentucky, I dropped down into Tennessee headed for my current location in the Smoky Mountains.  En route I stopped at many Civil War sites, walked some battlefields and one of particular interest was Fort Donelson.  It was the first major win for the north and the battle which really launched Ulysses S. Grants military fame and eventually led to his Presidency.   

Gun placements along the Tennesse River at Fort Donelson.

While exiting the park I look off in a field and spot two women with lenses as long as my leg.  Both shooting away at something and moving across a large field.  I put the Chinook into a four-point power slide to get off the road, grab my camera and begin the trek to intrude on their party and find out what the hell is going on.  For those who like to take pictures of wildlife, you know that anytime you see someone with a big lens alongside the road it's like a magnet.  You've got to stop for fear of missing something. Turns out they were shooting a couple of eagles that had built a nest.  Not like I don't have any eagle pictures but one is always in search of that perfect shot so I hung out with them for a few hours shooting pictures and talking photography.  Still in search of that perfect shot but didn't leave empty handed.  Not a bad way to kill a few hours before moving on.

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