Sunday, November 14, 2010

Four Hikes in Four Days! (published 11-14-2010)

The Appalachian Irishman was on the verge of insanity! He was overworked and over stressed. He needed a week off. Instead, he took two days, Thursday and Friday, October 28 and 29. He had a plan. De-stress. Unwind. Free his mind. Let nature, the woods, and the ridgelines work their healing. Four days off, counting the weekend, equaled four hikes, in four days, in four different locations!

On Thursday, the Appalachian Irishman hiked his nearby and beloved, House Mountain, for the 72nd time overall and for the eighth time this year. Some years ago, on the north bluff, a true patriot planted an American flag. Enjoy the views!

On Friday, I chose Panther Creek State Park, in Hamblen County. Regrettably, I had not hiked in the park before. I don’t know why. One trail led down to Cherokee Lake. Another followed an inlet. Walk along with me. Yes, I found a cactus in the woods!

The Saturday hike was at Norris Dam Park, north of Knoxville. This was my fifth hike there this year. I didn’t have many good opportunities to photograph, but I found the backcountry campsite, for future reference. The gravesite marks the earthly remains of those, who once called the area home, many years ago. My mind dwelt on how those folks must have lived back then. (I should have been born 160 years before I was!) I made my own trail along a ridge, near the campsite, and stealthily photographed the boat through the trees. The foundations of two structures indicate where a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was located in the 1930’s.

Well, on Sunday, Mrs. Appalachian Irishman braved the wilderness with me, on a hike in Cumberland Gap State Park. Last year, we visited the park around our birthdays, but we didn’t hike. We trekked along a trail that led past an old Civil War fortification. Signs of the earthwork lines are still present. A large hole, not photographed, marks where powder storage caught fire and exploded many years ago. I stood on the spot, where the “guvermint” bureaucrats say that three states meet. Again, I didn’t choose many photograph opportunities. The image of yours truly is on a knob, near the cross roads of the Wilderness Road and the Daniel Boone trail. The large rock is called Indian Rock. Yes, I had to climb on it!

The time in the woods, over four days, restored my soul, rested my mind, and energized my body. It is my calling to hike, explore, camp, photograph, and write. Does anyone need an enthusiastic trail/camping guide or a nature photographer/writer? May the dream become a reality for the Appalachian Irishman!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

House Mountain Sunset 10/16/2010 (published 10/24/2010)

Sunset views from the Appalachian Irishman’s mountain, House Mountain, on October 16, 2010! Sit with me for a while on the bluff and enjoy!
The Appalachian Irishman certainly enjoyed the thrill and challenge of hiking down the mountain in the dark. His only light was from the half moon!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Well Machine & Water Truck Legacy (published 6-26-2010)

The cab was all that was left to Dad’s 1958 International well machine, on February 21, 2010, when I took the six photographs, below, at the homeplace in Hawkins County. Only the cab and frame remained from Dad’s 1951 Ford, with a 1970 501 engine. That was the “water truck,” which Dad used to store diesel fuel and water, in two big tanks, for the well machine. My youngest brother and a neighbor of many years, from across the road, had already salvaged most of the vehicles. The photos show all that was left, to finish salvaging the next day.

Due to my work schedule and when my brother and the neighbor could salvage, I never had an opportunity to help them, which still bothers me. The money from salvaging the well machine and water truck will be used to pay off the property tax each year on the homeplace, as long as the money lasts. On February 24, 2010, I took a much-needed half day off from work, to drive up to pay the property tax, in typical family fashion, four days before the deadline. I paid with some of the money from salvage.

Dad drilled water wells for 46 years in and around Hawkins County. See my 6/21/2009 article, Tribute to Dad. Dad did well enough to get by, putting a roof over our heads, but he never did as well as he wanted. Dad took over Ferrell's Well Drilling, from his father (Marion Ferrell), in 1953. Papaw Ferrell had started the business in 1901.

On March 26, 2004, Dad told me that, back in 1966, when he bought the drill, he would have bought a 1964 model, but the bank would not lend him enough money. He traded in his old cable drill, with which he started drilling in 1953, for $6,000, and bought the 1958 machine for $28,000. The bank would not lend him the $40,000 that he needed for the 1964 model.

As the well machine aged, it broke down more often. As Dad aged, he could not work as hard. Lifting heavy drill rod and well casing, pulling pumps by hand, etc., took their toll. I helped Dad a lot, especially when school was out in the summer. It was muddy, dirty, and hard work, hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The well machine seemed to break down more often in the winter, when it was harder for Dad to work, due to the weather. Sometimes, when the weather and business were good in the summer, the machine would break down, just at the wrong time. Still yet, Dad got by well enough.

I removed the base of the well machine’s air horn, after I took the photographs, below, as a keepsake. It is all that is left of the two large machines. The piece is placed proudly on an end table. It reminds me of what once was. The well machine and water truck legacy continues.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

More House Mountain Snow! (published 1-31-2010)

Yes! We had a real snow for a change! The Appalachian Irishman measured four inches in his yard, in the early afternoon before his hike yesterday. The freezing rain of late morning may have diminished the total. Is there hope for global cooling?

Two snows in one month (albeit, the first, on January 9, was light) bring back childhood memories of several good snows each winter.

Enjoy the views, this time mostly of mountain streams and trails. A cloud covered House Mountain, with heavy snow falling, prevented any scenic shots from the bluffs.

Snow Day? (published 1-31-2010)

Life is not fair! The Appalachian Irishman worked too hard and too many hours last week, even working last Sunday afternoon, all to get ready for the ever-loving, annual state (socialist bureaucrat) QA survey. (Now, the surveyors are friendly enough, mind you, but the survey can be grueling still yet.) He needed a snow day off. Did he get it? No. Heck, no! Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, however, who works in the socialist "edukashun" system, was off on a snow day Friday! That was the sixth vacation, pardon me, snow day this month!

Well, I would not have minded, for we must keep the little kiddies safe, but there was no snow! I asked Mrs. Appalachian Irishman to take the following photo from the deck -- since she was home and I was working -- as proof. (The date should be 1/29/2010, not 2009. I'd not set the date to the correct year yet!)

The snow did not start until about 3:00 PM, as light flurries. All the counties in the area, except my beloved Hawkins County, took a full snow day, however. (Hawkins County officials had the genital fortitude to hold school until noon, at least.)

What does this say about our society? It says that Americans have become timid, lazy, and easily frightened! Did the socialist "edukators" just want a long weekend? That’s laziness. Were they afraid that little Johnny might be hit by a snowflake, just as the final bell rang? That’s cowardice!

You know. Actually, it might be the lawyers. What if little Johnny slipped on a snowflake, hit the ground, and bumped his little head? The parents might sue the school system!

Wake up America! Toughen up! Do not be controlled by trumped up mass hysteria! If not, we might become snowed under by another nation. Has anyone heard of the Roman Empire?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

House Mountain Snow! (published 1-10-2010)

We have winter around here, and sometimes it falls on a weekend! Could those global warming fanatics be right? The Appalachian Irishman longs for the cold, snowy winters of his youth, when, getting out of school for days, friends and I would ride sleds, slide on frozen ponds, hike, and even camp in the snow!

We have had about a week of winter around here, with a generous estimate of a whole two inches of snow and below freezing highs. The usual havoc reigned: unnecessary school closings, raids on grocery stores, vehicles in ditches, accidents, radio road condition reports (from “brave” souls who drove in it), etc.

Yesterday, the Appalachian Irishman took his sixty-fifth hike, for three hours, on his beloved House Mountain. It was 25 degrees in the valley. How cold on the mountain? Who knows? The water in my canteen started to freeze. The snow started falling heavily on the ridge, with the wind blowing and temperature dropping. On the north bluff, the updraft blew the snow upward. On the trail down, I slipped, for the first time ever hiking up there, on an ice patch, landing on my butt and tapping the back of my head against a rock. I hiked out the last part in the dark, with no light. What fun! I wish we had more than one week of winter here. I need to go ice fishing!

At any rate, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few photos from yesterday. I wish someone would give me a job hiking, taking photos, and writing about my ventures! The first one, of course, is sheer self-promotion!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

House Mountain & Devil's Nose (published 12-12-2009)

Hiking is the Appalachian Irishman’s escape from the trappings of work and modern society. Living a harder but simpler life in the wilderness of Appalachia 150 to 200 years ago appeals to the imagination.

The following are photos from recent hikes on House Mountain in Knox County, where the Appalachian Irishman is forced, be economic necessity, to live at the moment, and Devil’s Nose, in the Appalachian Irishman’s native and beloved Hawkins County. Enjoy the views.

These are from House Mountain, looking southeast then northwest, from two bluffs. For other entries on House Mountain, read My Mountain, House Mountain Winterland, and Best-Dressed Hiker.

These are of Devil’s Nose. First, see the mountain, from the south. Next, see the views, looking south, from the eastern bluff. For another entry on Devil’s Nose, read Devil's Nose Mountain, Hawkins County.

HOW TO PRONOUNCE "APPALACHIAN" - REVISITED (published 12-12-2009; updated 11-20-2022)

Well, yuletide, holiday, and, dare I say, Christmas greetings, dear readers. My inaugural article – HOW TO PRONOUNCE "APPALACHIAN" (of 3/6/2006) – continues to generate controversy.

This article is my reply to the latest two comments (as of 12/12/2009) to my inaugural article. I decided to reply in this article, instead of replying in the comments to my 3/6/2006 article.

The original two comments, to which I reply now, are in the comments on my 3/6/2006 article. Sarah Jane commented on 12/10/2009. “Anonymous” (Ryan McGarvey) commented on 1/14/2009. In Appalachian-Irish tradition, ladies are first!

Here are my replies to both, in “ladies first,” not chronological, order. Enjoy!

Sarah Jane, thank you for dropping by! I visited your blog. Keep up the good work!

With due courtesy, ask those socialist-minded, Big Brother-oriented, “guvermit edukaters” up there to check any good dictionary, with phonetic pronunciation. They will find that “Appalachian” may be pronounced two ways. Keep pronouncing it as you were raised! Don’t let them fit you into their mold! Stand you ground, sister! Individualism trumps socialist conformity! Oh, I forgot. The Department of “Edukashun” stopped teaching phonics years ago. Maybe that’s the problem!

Additionally, to Ryan McGarvey (who changed to “Anonymous”):

How did I miss posting a reply to your foul ball back in January (1/14/2009)? I did enjoy the baseball pun.

First, allow me to educate you. Appalachians (not your improperly used possessive “Appalachian’s”) are not sheltered. We are aware of the rest of the world. We just know that our lifestyle is better. Also, check your phonetic dictionary, as stated above, to learn that “Appalachian” may be pronounced two ways. Y’all up north pronounce it your way. We ‘uns down here will pronounce it our way. Further, since when are English words spelled like they are pronounced? How do you say, for instance, “through,” “knife,” or “pneumonia?”

As I continue my effort to educate, I didn’t know that Maryland was neutral during World War II, and I didn’t know that the Confederacy fought during World War II. Amazing! What type of history were you taught by those “guvermint edukaters” up there?

Finally, you do have two redeeming qualities. You call yourself a Fells Point Irishman. Good job! Second, you state that you are not a liberal. If so, I wish you well, as you fight the masses of liberal lemmings in your area.

11/20/2022 update: I added the 12/12/2009 published date and this update to the title. I also indented and italicized my replies, for easier reading. I did update, for clarity, some wording in my original 12/12/2009 article. On 11/20/2022, website analytics showed that a few folks viewed this article, of almost 13 years ago, today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom (published 11-24-2009)

You would have been seventy-seven years old today, but you were taken from us, so unexpectedly, just two days after Christmas of 2000. You were the hub that turned the family wheel. How would our lives have been different, better, if you had not been taken?

You are the most genuine Christian that I have known. Thank you for your influence for the years that you were with us. You raised four boys, sacrificing yourself in so many ways. You cared for your mother, after Papaw passed, for so many years. You took care of your granddaughters, when they were in need. You helped anyone in any way that you could. You taught Sunday School for thirty-one years. The years that you co-taught the youth division were so influential on me.

You endured so much without complaining, without bitterness. You always drew such strength and support from Jesus, your Savior. Thank you for all your prayers over the years. I wish I had them now.

You did not have much in material wealth, but you laid up countless treasures in heaven. Seeing you there, with Granny, Papaw, Dad, and so many others, especially as you see Jesus himself, comforts me a little. Selfishly, though, I still wish you were here, but healthy.

The year that you endured patiently the terrible suffering before you went to see Jesus was a great example to us. You did not deserve what you endured, but you accepted it graciously. I hope that our care for you during that year was a way of showing our everlasting and profound gratitude for all that you did for us.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are not the same anymore, because you suffered so much around those times. Also, Papaw got sick on Christmas Day, so many years ago. After you passed, Dad had health problems around Christmas, and we lost him after Christmas in early 2008. I still remember, though, the loving care that you put into all the festive tasks. I wish we could have that again.

I will never be the person that you were. Life has made me hard, angry, and bitter at times. The kernel of who you are, and of what you showed me by your life, is still there. I hope, someday, that it will bud and grow again.

Mom, I will never forget how you made homemade biscuits from scratch early every morning for years and years. You also made a rice crispy Christmas wreath for me every year. Those biscuits, and the wreaths, sum up in symbol who you were – always caring, always doing for us, no matter how much time or difficulty required.

Mom, I miss your biscuits. Will you have some ready for me when I join you someday? I love you, and I miss you.

Your devoted son.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TRIBUTE TO DAD (published 6-21-2009)

Born in 1927, the youngest of eight children, five brothers and two sisters, Dad grew up in the Cave Springs community in rural Hawkins County—a county in which he lived all his life. His father was born in 1880, and his mother in 1892.

Subsistence farming, especially during the Depression, was rough. The Depression had little affect on their lives, since life was difficult in that area anyway. Dad said that it was hard to find a nickel to rub between your fingers. Still, with strong extended family togetherness, with neighbors helping each other, the people survived. Life made them tough, independent, and stubborn, but also quietly concerned and caring for each other--not in words, for a man didn’t express his feelings, but in deeds.

In 1953, Dad took over the water well business, which his father started in 1901, with a mule-powered drilling machine. In 1959, Dad and Mom were married. I came along one year later, followed by three other brothers.

Dad passed away on January 25, 2008, after bravely enduring heart trouble for several years. This is our second Father’s Day without him. Dad never told me that he loved me; he wasn’t raised that way, but he was proud of me, and he loved me. He always wanted to feed me, have Sunday dinner ready when I arrived, send me home with my favorite Winesap apples, etc. That’s how he was raised to show his feelings. Dad and I butted heads at times, for we shared that stubborn Irish core, but we had a unique relationship.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I miss you. Tell Mom, Granny and Papaw Wood, Granny and Papaw Ferrell, and everyone else there that I said, “Hello.” A few more years, and we’ll all be together again. Until then, I’ll keep wearing the watch that I gave you one Christmas, to remember you.