Euharlee River Kayaking

Another kayaking trip with the Coosa River Basin Initiative, or, more to the point, 30 people who signed up for their guided trip.  Actually, the name of the river is the Etowah, but for some reason they call it the Euharlee as it passes by that small town.   It would be a nine mile trip on a perfect Earth Day.  And what better place than to paddle downstream from an environmentally impactful coal fired power plant?  

IMG_9140

And… the Etowah isn’t a pretty river.  Sure, there are setbacks for most development, but it’s wide and brown.  Below I feature stairs to nowhere.

IMG_9137

They probably lead some distance to a residence, as there were indications of very nice homes out of sight from the river banks.  You figure this out when you Google Earth the river as you kayak it…  Here’s someone’s resting spot.

IMG_9143

This has the look of a farm or plantation to it, but it’s a killer “clubhouse” overlooking the river – Lights, bar, bathrooms, the works.  One possibly unknown to readers is that while boaters enjoy Federal rights to use rivers, they do not have the right to enter private property that borders it.  Many of the residents chose to post their friendly “No Trespassing” signs.

IMG_9146

Swallows were in great abundance.  Under the bridges are many clay nests where they entered and departed.  Whether they were African or European, I don’t know!

IMG_9151

Life finds a way, like this tree hanging on to an old bridge support.

IMG_9153

No trouble ahead!

IMG_9228

Ah, well, there’s a “rock garden,” both observable and very close to the surface.  My kayak got a few scratches this trip.

IMG_9229

IMG_9238

The most interesting person was a lady possibly from German descent who wanted to explore the river for mushrooms.  She tries to eat an all natural diet and was searching for a specific variety of mushroom that tends to grow on oak tree roots.  With her wandering eye, she got stuck twice on rocks and flipped her kayak as well.  I did my good deed for the day month by helping her once, when it was pinned under a tree and she was standing next to it, almost in shock. Or, maybe it was the loss of her iPhone… and whatever was in her dry bag, as she didn’t seal it correctly.  In any case, fungi are passion for some.

IMG_9240

A little lunch break above in presumably a no-man’s land.  We also passed a good number of people fishing, two of whom I saw with bass catches.  I think maybe I’ve seen one other fish caught on the Etowah in all my previous trips.  The lady below was a good conversationalist, along with her husband.  She won the “color coordinated” award.

IMG_9241

All in all, about a 4.5 hour trip in great weather, and a section that was more fun than others on the Etowah due to the rock garden and the Indian fishing weirs, which create minor obstacles/rapids.  In other words, you don’t just paddle straight down the river!

Meet George Jetson!

Hopefully you already know him.

Jetsons

Maybe we’re not far off, but I can’t help but wonder if George will be flying these or whether they’ll be autonomous.

 

The company’s website has more details.

March for Science 2017

Political subjects consume a lot of time to research, to make certain that my opinions are reasonably grounded and not based upon the media influences that come my way.  I don’t do it often, mostly due to fatigue brought about marchforscience-1024x512by daily news.  However, sometimes I get curious, where issues draw my interest like the allegations of racial reasons for the naming of a Clemson building.  It’s important to keep an open mind and start with the facts.

So we’re having a march for science, to demonstrate that the participants are against… Donald Trump.  I would be on board with the March for Science if the claim was that they suffered for funding due to administration priorities for poetry, literature, drama, political science, philosophy, or, I’ll say it, even football.  That’s obviously not the case here, but neither is the politicization of science..

The agendas of our political parties differ greatly, but the common outworking in terms of lawmaking, rulemaking, funding, fiscal policy, etc. is the reward or punishment for U.S. stakeholders - corporations, entities, organizations, individuals – heck even foreign governments -  depending on where they stand on a political party’s agenda.   Whether tweeted or spoken, Trump points out a direction, but with a maximum of eight to ten words to a sentence (and a wise preference for brevity), he either lacks the ability to persuade or chooses not to do so. Such is the “us vs. them” nature of our current bicameral system.   So, we take what little he gives us and try to guess at what the ramifications are.    Two major campaign promises, which he seems to hold to, are reigning in the regulatory power of the Federal government and cutting government spending. 

In matters of science, Trump has said “We stand ready …  to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries, and technologies of tomorrow.”  That’s a broad, ambitious statement that seems to support scientific investment and endeavors.  But, to some, this means, respectively,  wasting money that should go to the needy, overpopulation, and global environmental disaster.  And, I understand reasonable doubts are deserved given, for example, his anti-vaccine stance, which begs the question of who he turns to for credible information.

His first budget confirmed the fears for many who are “invested” in science.  With proposed cuts to the  EPA, NIH, Dept. of Energy (funding for renewable energy), and NOAA among others, what’s a scientist to do?  Well, join other scientists, concerned citizens and Trump protesters and march on April 22nd, Earth Day! The March for Science does a nice job of outlining their goal, essentially to bring political pressure on governments to save people and/or the planet though Science! …but mostly it’s about climate change (“in the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus.”)  So who backs the March for Science?  Institutions that promulgate objective science discovery?  Or those that support political actions who cling to science that agree with their philosophical (or other) leanings?  Take a look at the partner organizations, and test what the motivations would be for each.   There are both, plus others with apparently a few bucks to chip in (The Wick Poetry Center?).

I like science.  I like the idea of testing an idea and finding that it holds true under close scrutiny and is repeatable when tested by others.  What I don’t like is the political pseudo-science that holds popular opinion as much as any “fake news.”  All men can be created equal, but it doesn’t mean that their opinions should hold equal weight, especially when fringe voices, if not louder, are certainly so plentiful.  Or the hucksters, like Dr. Oz.  It all points to the continuing failure of Western society to educate in general but also in critical thinking, which isn’t that distant a cousin from the scientific method.  Should we trust science?  Yes.  Support it?  Yes.  Is all reported science true?  No.  Perhaps we’re too lazy or trusting.  When science disagrees with our opinions, too many are quick to condemn the results based on who funded the research.  There may be influence there, but not if it’s truly a scientific finding that is supported by other scientists.  But like my rare political posts, it’s worth investigating anything that shapes your priorities about the way you live your life, whether it’s the resurrection of Jesus, global warming, or cancer from (insert favorite food here).

As for the Walk for Science/Earth day, I’ll be enjoying nature on a kayak, picking up occasional litter rather than littering the streets.  I’ll trust good science but not necessarily those who tell me what I should think about it.

Here’s some things you can think about.

 

 

The March for Science Politics:

MarchforScienceISIS

Ichetucknee Springs Kayaking

The final river for our Florida kayaking adventure came highly recommended from some friends, and it’s location was helpful in that it drew us closer to Atlanta for our return trip that day.  We arrived shortly after the park opened, somehow missing the honor system box at the front entrance for a $5 parking fee (which we returned to shortly thereafter).

 egret 2

We unloaded our kayaks at the launch before the outfitter opened, then waited to make shuttle arrangements, which were $7 per boat plus $5 per person.  We were first on the water, just as the morning vapors were disappearing above the water.

untitled-6

The park is extremely popular in the spring and summer for riding tubes through the river.  It’s honestly hard to imagine hordes invading such a natural, peaceful and beautiful river that turned out to be laden with wildlife.  For all three rivers, March was the perfect timing for visiting these rivers.  This was in some regards the average of the two prior rivers.  Like Rainbow River, the width was spacious at times, and it held the deeper hues of blue/green and more abundant wildlife.  And like Juniper Run, it was unmolested by development, despite rumors of abuse before the State of Florida purchased it in 1970.  A daily average of 233 million gallons of spring fed water is worth pausing to consider how and where it all comes from, but appreciating the vibe and beauty of the place in the morning hours is the point visiting here.

American Bittern

The distance between the North entrance and the South takeout is about 4 miles (it continues for another two miles beyond the park), and like the other paddles, you essentially steer through it.  We were shortly caught up other kayakers who seemed eager to race through it – maybe it was their morning exercise.  In any case, cypress trees, beautiful water, a variety of birds and yet another river otter kept our attention from start to finish.  We took our time with this one and probably spent three hours on the water.  A lot of that was for the photography.

That warm feeling gave away to humor as we watched all the bikers from the Daytona rally pass us on the highway, and then it led to frustration as Atlanta turned its usual trick of bad traffic, making the trip several hours longer than it should have been.  That said, the pictures tell the story, and a great one it was.  Photo collection can be viewed HERE as the ones here do not feature it as well as it deserves.

untitled-226

Juniper Run Kayaking

Or is it Juniper Creek?  or Juniper Springs?  In any case, our second stop on a 3 day Florida kayaking trip was at this 7 mile stretch of clear spring fed water, located in the Juniper Springs Recreation Area within Ocala National Forest.  The price of admission is $5 per person, and canoes and kayaks are available for rent ($35 for either).  For those like us who brought their own kayaks, a shuttle service is available for $10 per.   It’s your option whether you would like to drive your vehicle to the end point, then ride the shuttle back to the start, or avoid the delays and hit the creek, then wait for the shuttle, which departs the end point at the top of each hour.  We opted for the former.

untitled-57-2

The walk from the parking lot to the start is not short (100 yards?), but free carts are available and an elevated walkway is provided.  There is a park officer at the start, and she dutifully checked to make sure that we hadn’t packed any disposable food/beverage packaging, which I gather is standard for Florida parks.  And, finally, we’re off.

juniper

Slowly.  It is truly a creek at the start, with a shallow and narrow beginning over a sandy bottom.  I’m not certain whether kayaks or canoes fare better during the first 50’ or so, but it’s worth it once you’re past bottoming on the sand. 

Canon-1-2

Beyond, the creek/spring/run is like passing through a Tarzan movie, less the noises of monkeys and without the requisite man-ape yell.  It’s also a very technical path – it’s not difficult necessarily, but it twists and winds regularly, and several fallen trees require an in-boat limbo to pass.  In other words, it was the “natural wilderness” experience that I desired… with some allowances for the good people who keep the path mostly clear, of course.  If someone reports an obstruction, they reportedly close the run until it’s corrected.  This isn’t a place to get left hung up or stranded – there are no rest areas or public access areas until the end.  On the other hand, it’s very shallow throughout, and other than one very brief minor rapids section (just go with the flow), there’s really nothing other than bad steering to hold you up. 

untitled-5-3

For those who enjoy taking pictures, it’s more difficult juggling a camera and the paddle, because taking more than a picture risks the current sweeping you into an embankment.  And who knows what is on an embankment.

Canon-23-2

The trip was comparatively absent of wildlife compared with our other two trips.  Other than several gators, fish were frequently seen in the latter stages, and, of course, turtles, and we saw a river otter briefly.  But birds were surprisingly rare.  Also, there were no mosquitos in March.  We learned that the creek/river runs into a lake a couple of miles past the pullout, and birds are more common.  We went a short distance and found a bunch of partiers with airboats in a cove, decided that one form of wild life had driven away the other, and returned to the boat exit.  Overall, a highly recommended trip and great fun!

Photos can be seen HERE, and the video I pieced together is beyond the narrow turns and was a test of a different sort – wielding a paddle with one hand while recording with a camera in the other.

Rainbow River Kayaking

My wife and I, after having kayaked the generally brown and visually impenetrable North Georgia rivers and lakes, had seen pictures and heard tales of the crystal clear, spring fed rivers of northern middle Florida.  With the input of some friends and reviewing the available options, we decided an extended March outing was in order to enjoy several – but before the heat, mosquitos, and tubers hit the waters during peak season.

Canon-16

The first we chose for obvious reasons – Crystal River, essentially a can’t miss for kayaking with the manatees, or sea cows as some would name them.  Only, we didn’t get around to it.  We arrived late in the day at Crystal River, but it was windy, there are motor driven boats on the water, and despite the wee bit of time it would have taken, we were tired and passed.  Maybe next year.  In any case, Crystal River, FL was a great place to rent a motel room, eat, and otherwise treat as home base.  It’s a touristy area, so we also brought security chains to secure our kayaks to the car, because you never know.  The hotel  didn’t think it would be an issue, but they’re not exactly responsible for watching our car, either.

Canon-3

Rainbow River is located in Dunnellon, FL, about a 25 minute drive.  We arrived around 9:30 at Rainbow River Canoe and Kayak, which offers a shuttling service for about $15 per kayak (they rent them as well).  They deposited us upstream at a State Park near K.P. Hole, essentially a sandy bottomed crater in the river that divers enjoy.  New paddlers to Florida should pay attention to the safety requirements as well as the restrictions (disposable containers).  Reservations, even for shuttling, are recommended as they have limited shuttling capacity and only do this at the top of each hour. The put-in is easy – there’s a boat ramp very near where they offload the boats.

untitled-7

From there, it’s 4.5 miles back to the outfitter, a couple hours of easy paddling.  But, if you do that, you’re missing the best of the river in my opinion.   Instead, we paddled 1.5 miles upstream, without difficulty, to the head of the river, then back down, creating about a 7 mile trip.  This was a beautiful paddle, with the expected crystal clear water, shown at its best when the sandy bottom was visible.  Grasses cover most of the river bottom, but these add different shades to the river, though not qualifying as a “rainbow.”

untitled-131-4

Overall, I’m glad we did this river first.  If we had saved it for last, I would have been somewhat disappointed.  It was probably noted in the websites we researched, but one bank of the river is built out with river houses.  They’re attractive enough, whether close to the banks or set back, but the other bank has the natural habitat we were expecting.  Residents and others do use houseboats occasionally, but it’s no issue for kayakers.  Still, it’s a pretty nice place to live if you enjoy recreating and exercising on or alongside the water, and the web indicates you can buy a modest 3BR river front house built in the 1940’s for ~$500,000.

untitled-9

Wildlife on this river was surprisingly sparse, but we still spied a variety of birds and fish.  There were no alligators, which is good as a number of people tube and swim in the water, though few in March.  Afterwards, we stopped for a late lunch at the Blue Gator Tiki Bar & Restaurant, which was right around the corner from the outfitter.  Highly recommended – great deck space by the river as well.

untitled-108

Complete set of photos from the trip can be seen HERE.

Radiohead–Live at Philips Arena

I don’t always see concerts at Philips Arena, but when I do, they’re a good band.  This was my third time for Radiohead, a British band that released their first album 24 years ago.  Their music has evolved through those years, not necessarily in the direction I might prefer, but they’ve continued to release music that challenges and intrigues, which is a rarity.

Radiohead Atlanta concert review

The stage was set for this Philips show, with seats in Red, a bar/lounge at the end of the arena with tables set against the railings, complete with a waitress.  It’s s a distant view, but one without people standing in front of you, crowding you from the sides, and similar expected aggravations of attending concerts.  I’m still willing to stand on the floor for shows, but this was an exemplary way to see the concert.  Gathered below are Matt, his wife Meredith, my concert buddy Frank and me.  I was primed for seeing the band, as it had been nine years since the last time I had seen them.



The show opened with high intensity beams, not unlike a mid 70’s laser show, a spectacle of sorts, with the promise of more to come.   What would follow included a good retrospective on their history, and it made me aware of how few of their post OK Computer songs I actually knew the names of or could place on a specific album.  Kid A sounds like Amnesiac (recorded at the same time).  Hail to the Thief and King of Limbs are similar for general lack of a pulse, In Rainbows I’ve pretty well got figured out, and their latest, A Heart Shaped Pool, has good songs but I’m no so familiar with them that I might not think the songs were on one their other CDs. (No “Identikit.”  Really?). 

Radiohead Atlanta concert review

The other aspect is how starkly divided their work sounds between OK Computer and Kid A.  When listening to an album, each has its vibe.  Interjected like a random play list, there’s a definite gravity for me – and apparently thousands of others – towards their earlier songs with clearer melodies and less pretensions.  Still, had the concert excluded all those, I still would have enjoyed the show; it’s just the the songs relate in different ways.  In any case, even songs which don’t significantly register amid an album sound really good when the band plays them live.

RH-20

Now, I’ll go ahead and put this out there – maybe someone will with agree with me.  For an arena show, the video board was awful.  As shown below, the majority of the concert featured not only captures of each of the band members (itself not a bad thing), but they changed positions every few seconds leaving no opportunity for the audience to observe any band member with a sense of continuity.  When snippets of Yorke were featured, they frequently showed only the back of his head – either the camera or the piano out of position. When going to a concert, Johnny Greenwood thrashing at the guitar, Phil Selway’s mastery of the drums, or Thom Yorke’s signature rattling of his head to shake the vocals out demand to be seen.  Clearly. As for the lighting, there was nothing spectacular – spotlights and general shading of the stage with hues of blue or red, primarily.  The only standout use of the video board was during the encore, when Yorke playfully looked into a camera placed on the keyboard, allowing him to display his expressive self (see the eye photo at the beginning).  Still, based on past shows, the production value was weaker this tour.



That said, the sound quality was very good, improving after the first handful of songs both in quality and loudness.  It takes an impressive amount of computing horsepower to coordinate lights and sound for an arena show.



As for the crowd, the show had sold out in 10 minutes.  The below was the forward view with the crowd encouraging an encore return.  The band was gracious with three of these, as well as a 25 song set lasting about 2.5 hours, which flew by all too fast.



Overall, it was a great show, and if there was one thing lacking, I’d really like to hear this band take one of their songs and extend it musically for a few minutes – several just ended way too soon.  And as for that, Yorke’s voice was in superb shape, so there’s likely to be opportunities for that in future tours.

Radiohead Atlanta 2017

Photos were taken with a Canon G15, a point and shoot from a mile away with some post-processing to make them tolerable.  You can click on any picture for an enlargement, for what it’s worth.
Setlist:
  • Daydreaming – Moon Shaped Pool
  • Desert Island Disk - Moon Shaped Pool
  • Ful Stop – Moon Shaped Pool
  • Airbag – OK Computer
  • My Iron Lung – The Bends
  • Separator - The King of Limbs
  • All I Need - In Rainbows
  • Pyramid Song – Amnesiac
  • Street Spirit (Fade Out) – The Bends
  • Bloom – The King of Limbs
  • I Might Be Wrong - Amnesiac
  • Myxomatosis - Hail to the Thief
  • Idioteque - Kid A
  • The Gloaming – Hail to the Thief
  • Subterranean Homesick Alien – OK Computer
  • The Numbers - Moon Shaped Pool
  • House of Cards - In Rainbows
Encore:
  • No Surprises – OK Computer
  • Burn the Witch - Moon Shaped Pool
  • Paranoid Android – OK Computer
  • Present Tense – Moon Shaped Pool
  • Everything in it’s Right Place – Kid A
2nd Encore:
  • You and Whose Army? - Amnesiac
  • Bodysnatchers – In Rainbows
3rd Encore:
  • Karma Police – OK Computer