Xyon's Rambles

Monday, July 29, 2002

8:40 PM

Found It

This is now the most posts I have made in one day. After rebuilding the site, I found the problem I couldn't figure out before. One FREAKIN' character. The character was > -- little bastard.

8:15 PM

A Word To The Wise

I have learned a very valuable lesson just now. I thought I would share it here. When editing a template, any editing, highlight the entire template - copy it - and paste it into another place like your mail or Word. Then if Blogger roars its ugly head, you have a back up and can restore the previous template before you made the changes. My fellow bloggers have already probably figured this little tip, but I am slow sometimes and end up doing things the hard way sometimes. Now if I can remember not to sign the blog because now I have it in small line under the entry. Wonder how many times I will sign it before it becomes habit....


7:59 PM


Blogger templates are temperamental bastards. Trying to subtely move some code I screw everything up. So it was back to the drawing board - but I have learned a few tricks along the way and it shouldn' t be too bad...but I digress. Merde! Merde! Merde! There, now I feel better.


2:38 PM

Companion Site Link

I am using the AOL space for the companion site and freebee software to make the site. It is quick and easy, but these quick fixes usually have more problems. If you don't see any changes after I post that I have updated it, try refreshing the page (reload icon on your browser). That usually helps if there is a problem. If that doesn't work, then just try again later. That is the most common problem I ran into when I used AOL to host the Bristol Bird Club page I used to run. As of now, it seems to be running smoothly.


1:27 PM

More Updates on Xyon's Picture Journal / Weekend

I have finished the Montreal section of the Xyon's Picture Journal Site. Check it out here. I plan to do the New Orleans section next. Then, after I download more pics from camera, put up some stuff from the West Virginia and Ohio trips.

This weekend I went to Joey Cross's place in Knoxville or what was his place. He moved yesterday to Charlotte and had a big blow out on his last weekend in KnoxVegas. I arrived at his place around 1pm. We grilled out that afternoon with friends of his whom I had met, some previous and some then. Around 6 or so we head to one of his friends place who lives about a block away from The Old City. We park and go into this awesome loft on the second floor of what looked like an old brownstone where Joey's band, High School Speeding, was going to play. They even had an opening band, The French Broads, who weren't bad at all.

Keep in mind that this is in a guy's loft apartment. They had cleared everything with all the neighbors (most were over) and the first band was scheduled to start at 10. Around 8, a group of us walk into the Old City and go in Barleys. I can't go in that place without going upstairs and getting a Rogue Shakespear's Stout. Freakin' awesome! Anyway - we head back to the apt/loft and the place had started getting pretty full. There were 2 party kegs (Shiner Bock and Mich Light) and everyone seemed to have a cup.

The bands start around 10:30. Joey's band comes on at 11:30. I have been trying to find a way to describe their music - I suppose they have a 'Train' sound. You know, Train - that sings the song "Drops of Jupiter." They have been practicing a lot and sounded real good - at least until Joey blew his amp (pull of the backup!).

I had decided early on that I wasn't going to drink a lot (figures - with all the free beer there) because I was wanting to head back to JC that night. Around 12:30 I say my good-byes and head to JC. From the Old City to my apt is right at 1.5 hr. At least it is at an average speed on the interstate at 80mph. I suppose the next time I go visit Joey it will be in Charlotte.


Friday, July 26, 2002

1:31 PM

Testing again - I am putting together a web picture site to accompany this journal. I will be periodically putting testing pages here while I see if everything is working...also give anyone who wants to see the progress of the construction of these pages...

Xyon's Picture Journal

1:06 PM


Thursday, July 25, 2002

2:39 PM

Out with ME and in with 2000

I have had enough of Windows Milleninum. Last night I finally got Windows 2000 installed on my computer. I had found my breaking point with the program crashing or locking up. {"To the moon, Alice!} I spent a good 4-5 hours last night installing Windows 2000 and reinstalling my driviers and other programs so Windows 2000 would reconize them. It was a perfect companion to my laundry which I started on as well. Before I knew it, it was after 1am and I still had a few more installations to make. But they were destined to wait until today, along with the rest of my laundry. I still have to get AOL over there. I think I have an old disc here I can use and then download the current version overnight. AOL 8, so far, is the best yet. Either you like AOL or you hate it. Lately, I have found more people that hate it.


2:13 PM

Back Journal 2 - Dayton, OH

July 12 - Day 1, Part 2

Another long one...

After I returned from John Bryan State Park and Clifton Forge, I met up with my group and we head to find some lunch. I mention this place that I saw near the parking garage, but when we get there it is closed. The group start mumbling something about Arbys and I immediately start trying to find a way to get out of going there.

Let me pause here and say that I really dislike going out of town, especially out of state, and eating somewhere I can go to at home. This really bugs me. I will save these places for more near the end of the trip when I am probably going to be broke and need these places. Until then, I look for somewhere I have never been or, if I have been to the city/place before, somewhere I really liked the last time I was there.

I didn't want to get in to all this while we were all waiting to cross the road heading towards Arbys. Especially since our group had grown with other people from the convention that they knew who were coming along with us. So I just say that I was not in the mood for Arbys and I would just walk around and find someplace else. After they try and talk me out of it once, they see I am not going, so they head on to Arbys. Granted they had more of an expense with the convention costs and buying stuff at the convention, but I didn't. So walk back towards downtown. Arbys was at the mouth of Oregon District, which I will get to in a bit.

I find a place called Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers. My kind of place. I go in and seat myself and start going through the menu. I lucked up and had the cutest waitress in the place come over to my table. Looking around at the other waitresses, she didn't have much competition. She was damn fine. Anyway, I order a specialty mega-cheeseburger and an Old Peculiar. Old Peculiar is imported Yorkshire Ale from England. Wonderful stuff, my absolute favorite import beer. Imports there were $3.00 which is respectable price. When the waitress returns with my Ale, we start chitchatting and I ask what there is to do on a Friday night in Dayton. She tells me about the popular night spots, most of which are in Oregon District, 2 blocks from where I was staying.

After the 4th Old Peculiar, I head back to the Hotel and find my group getting ready to head to an old book store just down the road. We head in the direction of Arbys and enter Oregon District.

Oregon District was aptly named. It had a very Oregon feel. You walked under a walk bridge (at least that is what I think it was) with Oregon District spelled out in a half moon shape across it. Once on the other side of the bridge it was like stepping through the closet into Narnia. The asphalt road turned into a brick road. You immediately lose the downtown feel which was replaced with old restored buildings and trees lining both sides of the road. The shops down here were either specialty shops or cafes. Most stores do not open up before 11am, except a couple small cafes that served bagels, expresso, and cappachino. During the afternoons many of the bars open up for late lunch/dinner before becoming mainly a nightspot after nightfall.

The bookstore was really neat, if you are a book person. They had a touch of everything and had started expanding beyond books. One area of the store I can't help but mention was devoted to porn. They had every bad porn you had never heard of and some that you probably had.

We head back to the hotel. I collapse on the bed for a short spell while the others in the group hit the dealer's room at the convention on last time before it closes. This was the first real sleep I had gotten since we left Bristol. They wake me up in time for dinner.

Dinner was at the Spaghetti Factory. When we entered, I thought that it would be a high dollar Italian restaurant. As it turned out, it had very reasonable prices. I had spaghetti with garlic butter sauce. I had never had this before and wanted to give it a whirl. It was ok at first, but really grew on me by the time I finished it. I looked at the wine list and saw a house Cabernet for $2.95 so when the garcon returned, I asked for glass. There was not a particular name attached, so I just asked for a glass of Cabernet. When the bills were passed around, I noticed that I had been charged $6.50 for the glass of wine. I immediately pointed the error out to the waiter and he fixed it. No wonder the wine tasted so good. With the problem fixed, we head back to the hotel.

The night festivities were stating at the PULP con, so everyone but me head there and I go back to Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers for more Old Peculiars.

There was an extension to the restraurant that was bar only. I head there and find a pool table and a pinball machine. This couldn't have been a better start to my evening. I order an Ale, set my money down on the pool table and go over to play a game of pinball while I was waiting. After about 6 Ales, I decide to leave and take a walking tour of the nightlife remembering what the waitress told me earlier in the day. As a side note, the bartender was pretty fine too. She was a friendly and perky little thing.

Next stop was a dance club across the street. I pay and get in. This place was like every other dance club I had been in, except it was real small and the music was 80's style dance. I had hoped to continue drinking Old Peculiar, but my hopes were crushed when I was forced to order a Michelob Light, which I like, but after many dark Yorkshire Ales, the first one tasted flat. About one beer was all it took for me to head out and toward Oregon District. I did about a 2 beer stop in most places down there. There was a little bit of everything: live music, dance, or bar atmosphere. You could take your pick. I ended up staying the longest time in a bar that had Oatmeal Porter on tap.

I did dance a bit. I found a rock and roll, of sorts, dance club. It was late enough that they were not charging an entrance fee and I finished out my evening here. I was just drunk enough that I didn't care to jump right in dancing; and besides, I was in a town where no one knew me. I started dancing in with a group of women and they didn't seem to mind. After a surprising good time dancing, I start the journey back. Problem was, I was ready to head back, but didn't want to kill the beer I had. So I do what any good drunk would do, which was stick the bottle in my front pocket and put my shirt down over it. After I get on the sidewalk I pull out the beer and keep it down, behind my leg a bit. As I walked, I kept it between me and the buildings and when it was clear, I would take a drink. In about 4 blocks it was finished and I tossed it into the trash can, which were neatly on the sidewalks in decor that made them blend in with their surrounding. I was blended as well.

I make it back to the hotel and crash hard. Extremely long day ended with an extremely long night. It was worth it though. I kept one up with my snoring - which I know can be real bad. I gotta find a solution to this somehow. Still, what a great day!


Tuesday, July 23, 2002

1:46 PM

Back Journal 2 - Dayton, OH

July 12 - Day 1, Part 1

My friend at Mountain Empire Comics in Bristol invited me to go to Dayton, Ohio with him. He was going to a PULP convention (old PULP Magazines - I.E. The Shadow, The Spider, etc...) and, while I am not into PULP mags, I decided to go because I had never been to Dayton. Just before the trip another friend of his joins the group and we are set.

They decide, for maximum coverage of the convention, we should leave at 12am Friday. I figured, what the hell. So we I travel to Bristol and meet them and we leave at 12:05 am and head to Dayton. We make it through Cincinnati just before rush hour and have breakfast just on the other side. After a leisurly breakfast, we make it into Dayton about 8:30 or so. We drive straight to the hotel and find that our reservation has been screwed up (one double bed instead of 2) but since we are early it is ok and we proceed with our day.

The Hotel was downtown and right across the street from the convention center that they were going. Their convention didn't start until 10am so we take a walk around a few blocks downtown until they decide just to go and wait the last few minutes.

I had decided that since I wasn't going to the convention, I would find either find a park to enjoy or walk around downtown. It ended up that there was not a park really within walking distance, but my friend lets me take his car to find one. I saw that there is a nature preserve close to a little town called Xenia. My friend says it is fine for me to take the car there, so I am set. I get my directions and head that way.

What was so neat about Dayton and surrounding areas was that most of the building were real old buildings that had been totally restored. I will mention more of this in a little bit, but these were my first impressions. As I got out of Dayton heading east in Ohio I started getting into the country. I started driving past vast field of corn, bean (soybean?), and cut wheat fields. Xenia was a quaint little town with more buildings that had been restored and beautiful trees lining the sidewalks. I saw some really nice homes and then it was back to the country.

About 10 miles outside of Xenia, I came to my first stopping point. John Bryan State Park was mostly set up for camping, but for someone just driving around birdwatching, it was perfect. This was Friday morning so there were not a lot of people there yet, just a few grounds keepers getting the campsites ready. I meandered my way along the gravel roads stopping occassionally as I heard a good bird that I wanted to get a look at. Birds at this stop were: Indigo Bunting, Veery, Black-capped Chickadee (as opposed to our Carolina Chickadee, Black-capped are found up North), Tufted Titmouse, Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Yellow Warlber, House Wren, Mourning Dove, Wood Thrush, Robins (bunches of these), Eastern Wood Pewee (I only heard this one -- PEE-O-WEE), American Crow, Blue Jay, White Breasted Nuthatch, Catbird, Starlings, Song Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and a Turkey Vulture soaring above.

The next stop was about 5 miles down the road. This was Clifton Gorge. This was a fairly large Wildlife preserve with a deep gorge with a river ( I didn't catch the name of the river, dang it) running throught it. This place had lots of trails with nice overlooks of the gorge. I walked through most the upper section of the trails and had most the same birds, adding: Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Least Flycatcher, Swainson's Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, and Blue-headed Vireo.

I could have stayed here all day, but I had told my friend I would be back at 2 so I had to cut it a little short than what I would have preferred. Along the trip down there and back I collected these birds for my list: Kestrel, Eastern Meadowlark, Commn Grackle, and Rock Dove. The list wasn't too shabby to start my list for Ohio since I only had a few hours.

The next part of this day will be in my next entry since I have let this one get a little long (imagine that!). It will include a late lunch, dinner, and the night life of Dayton.


12:12 AM

Fixing the Blog

Trying again the screwed up entry...

My good friend over at DAMNDIARY told me about a blogger that is linked over at Jaded Journal, who is also a good friend. The blog is Double Click Dailies. I found this blog a neat read as I like to read about west coast stuff and I really liked their layout. I liked the links so much that I "stole" some of the links and put them on mine. I know these are only links but their site gave me the idea to spruce up mine site and I thought it only appropriate to include a like to their site on mine as well. Fair is fair. Of course, it would be more signifigant if I had more than two people reading my blog ;). Thanks REX and SKYCRY!


Monday, July 22, 2002

11:50 PM

Blundering Blogs

The last entry got seriously screwed up...I can't even access it to delete it. Blogger strikes again. I do really like Blogger...sometimes, though, it really pisses me off.


5:02 PM

My good friend over at Jaded Journal. I visited DAMN DIARY and

2:10 PM

Back Journal 1 - Part 2 Family Reunion

Friday July 19, 2002

My Cousin Melissa and I took off around 11:30am to the Mall so I could exchange some shorts at Parks Belk. She is 12 and into reading. After we left Parks Belk we stopped by B Dalton Bookseller and browsed the books. I had shown her my copy of Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" and she had shown interest, so I bought it for her. I eagerly await her email to see how she liked the book. We left there and went and got pizza from the food court. What a neat person she it turning out to be.

Later that afternoon I went with family walking around downtown Bristol family. We hit all the antique stores downtown. Then we drove over to Sonic CD's and I bought the "Scream 3" soundtrack to satisify my Heavy Metal craving. It has stuff on it like Godsmack, Powerman 2000, Staind, Static-X, and Creed. Lots more good stuff but I don't have it sitting it in front of me. I have a very eclectic taste in music. I have been listening to a lot of bluegrass lately and had the heavy metal side to purge.

Later that evening, just before we ate, we all exchanged gifts that was to be from the area that we lived in. I gave a book with that captured the history of living on or near the Nolichucky. My cousin Paul got that gift and was relatively pleased. I received some Salmon from my Aunt and Uncle from Oregon. This is suppose to be a real delicacy (this particular type and style). I left it at my parents house to enjoy one evening with them. It is suppose to be eaten by a group, not just an individual. We will get crackers, cheese and wine to round out the salmon. I am looking forward that evening!

The rest of the night we just hung out until the kids went to bed. After all the kids were sleeping, all the adults gathered on the back porch for drinks and stories. A couple of times I got caught up talking to my cousins' wife and had to be scolded to listen to the group instead of breaking off into my own conversation. My voice carries nicely and I was overriding the person everyone else was listening to. Oh, well, it would not have been a normal family get together if I didn't get called down for something...>sheepish grin<.

We all had great stories to tell and most of the men smoked a cigar. Jeff shared his Maker's Mark and Ronnie broke out the Gentlemen Jack. I had my Imperior Stout that I bought the day before. It was a dark stout imported from England with a hint of molasses after taste. Good stuff, good night.

Saturday July 20, 2002 -- The Family Departs

After hugs all around, the family said their good-byes. I was particulary touched by my cousin Jeff's eldest boy Jack. He is around 8 years old. He came over to me and gave me a hug to beat all hugs. This was our first real meeting as the last time I saw his mom she was very pregnant. He just hung on and hung on. It was awesome.

Goodbye Uncle Mike, Aunt Jeanne, Cousin John and Sue, Cousins Melissa and Dylan, Cousin Jeff and Gina, cousins Jack and Sam, Cousin Beth and Rusty, cousins Will, Benjiman, and Maddy, and Cousins Paul and Bill. Good travels to you next destination or home. Great seeing everybody and what a wonderful time we all had.


Friday, July 19, 2002

1:27 AM

Finishing Taking Care of Grandmother / Family Reunion Start

We buried Grandmom today. Wonderful funeral in the Mausoleum. Many family and friends of Grandmom stood up and talked about past experiences and how much Grandmom meant to them. I think everybody was pleasantly surprised when my niece stood up near the end and said some beautiful words. I was doing fine until she started talking and my eyes started watering up.

I have a hard time talking in front of a crowd. I hate that I have this problem. I have been told by many people that you "just have to do it and it will get easier the more you do it." My biggest problem is a combination of "stage fright" mixed with a slight stuttering problem I am still dealing with. My mouth just won't say some words sometimes and that has compounded my "stage fright." I write instead. My mom printed off what I wrote in my journal a few days ago and read most of it at the service. That was nice.

After we got home, the family reunion that was planned for this "long" weekend started. My step-dad started got the smoker ready and took out the ribs that had been marinating since the night before. Tons and tons of ribs were fixed. There were so many ribs (LOTS of family) that all of them could not be put in the smoker. There were enough left over to fill up another grill, so I fixed them. Everybody gathered down by the pond at the cabin and started to majorly chow down. After dinner we were all surprised as a blue grass band came walking down the hill. These guys were good, damn good. They set up on the front porch of the cabin and played for a good four hours. What a fitting tribute to my grandmother, who would have really loved the music. The kids were dancing and the rest of us were socializing and listing to the music. The wine and beer stock took a serious dent tonight.

After we clean up the dinner / music party, a few of us that are left sit around the table on the back porch of my parents house and visit until about the time I started writing this. I am still at my parents. We have another full day of everyone tomorrow. Family has come in from Oregon (Portland and Lake Oswego) and southern California (LA). The couch is starting to call my name and then we will see what tomorrow holds.

I am so tired right now that in a few days, I will be reading over this correcting spelling and grammar errors - so you had best print off this post because it will be a collector's item as it will probably be checked and errors fixed.

(P.S. this should be the corrected version :) -- I ran a spell check. 7-20-02 1:00am)


Tuesday, July 16, 2002

9:46 AM

Not Enough Time

Tough trying to find a time to post anything because of all going on right now. Between the preparation for family reunion starting tomorrow and getting everything ready for Grandmother's funeral, it has been a very busy time.

I found out some more sad news yesterday. My step-dad's grandmother is not doing very well. She is in her 90's and her health is failing. My prayers and thoughts are there as well. She is such a wonderful lady. I have only known her for a short time, but I know she is one of the greats.

Yesterday I headed to my parents to help them get the house ready for our family coming in from Oregon and California. I will be heading back today. More stuff to do. We are running out of time. Everything is happening all at once and I hope everything is pulled off without a hitch.

I will get a blog up soon on my trip to Dayton, Ohio. Time is not on my side these days. It also looks like I will miss the picnic I had planned on going to today that the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter Bird Club is having today. I hate that because there is always great food and company there.

If I didn't have a little free time at work I would get nothing posted...


Monday, July 15, 2002

3:13 PM

My Grandmother

I lost my Grandmother, Gwendolyn Dawkins Graves, on Saturday, July 13, 2002, around 10:30am. She was 92.

I was fortunate enough to be raised by three mothers: My Mom, My Aunt Liz, and My Grandmother. I lost one of them Saturday - my mother's mother.

When I was a toddler and first met my Grandmother, I was told I didn't like her very much. What you do not realize as a child is that Grandmothers have the best bellies to fall asleep on. You usually have to find this out the hard way – kicking or screaming.

I was a kicker AND a screamer. I would scream and scream for my Mom because I had never been separated from her before. This quickly changed as I found myself asleep on Grandmother's belly quite a lot after that.

Grandmother would spoil us. She would hide things that she considered menial for us from Granddad. She would tell us, “Now don’t tell your Granddad I am doing this for you. It’s our little secret.” Granddad liked things his way and for the most part she did exactly that. Except for the occasional time when she decided that he was being to hard on us or she wanted to do something for us that he would not have especially liked.

Grandmother used to be doing something all the time. Only on rare occasions would you see her sitting in a chair with her feet propped up. Laundry, dusting, weeding or planting in her flower bed, being involved with her church, or cooking; she was always doing something.

Grandmother exemplified the meaning of the word giving. If you ever needed anything, you had better gone to her or she would have asked you why you did not.

Grandmother was the most loving wife. If there was ever a perfect counterpart to my Granddad, it was my Grandmother. Not only was she a Grandmother’s Grandmother, but she was a wife’s wife. Her marriage was the perfect example of how a marriage is supposed to be.

She was old-fashioned in the best sense of the word. As the world beliefs changed, for better or worse, she held fast to her beliefs. She was to remain at home and take care of her husband and the rest of her family; and she did just that.

Grandmother was the best ambassador to her husband at church. She led her life as a soldier of God and was there at Granddad's side almost every Sunday and Wednesday.

Now, Grandmother did take some time for herself. She would occasionally snuggle up in a chair or on a couch and read her bible or other book she was reading. She loved the Andy Griffith Show, Matlock, and Perry Mason, and the Price is Right on the television. I found myself watching these shows with her and grew quite fond of them myself. She would take trips with Granddad and her best friends, Carl and Mary Clark. Until the time when they could not, they took trips every year and had dinner every week together. I had the pleasure of eating most Sunday lunches after church with them at Piccadilly or Long John Silver’s. They were the closest of friends.

Grandmother could cook the best food. She could take the most ordinary menu of food and turn into a gourmet feast. Her roast beef dinners were legendary. She could even make asparagus palatable, and I hate asparagus.

Grandmother would always take care of me. In my early years, during the time I lived at her house, when I would limp home with cuts and scrapes that I had acquired either on the go-cart, hiking, or just horsing around, Grandmother would be there to patch me up with all the TLC I needed.

In her later years, as her body failed it was our turn to take care of her. Her daughters did a wonderful job doing this, though at first it was a struggle. She would fight them to let her help. She would not accept that she could not do something for her family. Only until her body gave into Alzheimer's did she ever give up. During holidays she would sit in the kitchen and try to help. This was her kitchen they were working in, and, it did not matter to her, she was going to be a part of the show. Even then she was thinking of everyone else and not herself.

That was the kind of person my Grandmother is, was, and always will be remembered as.

I love you Grandmother. You did more than your share and it still was not enough for you. Your wonderful sense of what life is all about has been passed to all of your family. You will be dearly missed. Go to your husband, my Granddad, and keep watch over all of us from heaven above.

11:56 AM

The Past Few Days

I have been away quite a bit the last few days. Haven't had the opportunity to post an entry until now.

I went to Dayton, Ohio this past weekend (will post more on that later).

While I was in Dayton, my Grandmother passed away. I was able to go see her one last time before I went on my trip. She was one of the best people I have ever known. I will miss her dearly. I am going to post more a little later about this as well.


Tuesday, July 09, 2002

10:57 PM

This is my complete Journal for the trip - It is quite long.

Friday July 5, 2002

We leave from Johnson City / Gray, TN at 6:00am to what will be our ultimate destination of Cranberry Glade, West Virginia. We plan on making a couple of stops on the way to bird a couple of locations on the way.

First stop - Grosclose, VA. We are wanting to find Bobolink and Grasshopper Sparrow. We head in the back country of Groseclose to our first destination - where the Bobolinks have been seen the last few years. When we get there, we park in the driveway that I have always parked in and all pile out to hopefully find the bird. After a few minutes we find all the usual birds for that area except the Bobolink. Next thing I know everyone has piled back into the vehicle and are yelling for me to get in. I am stubborn when it comes to missing a bird and was taking one last look around. They yell again a little more urgent this time and I hear something about a man watching us. I look up toward the house and see a man looking in our direction through a rifle scope. It take a second to realize what I was seeing, then I jump in the vehicle. As we speed away I wave at the nice man with the gun. I have never had a gun pulled on me while out birdwatching and it kinda freaked me out. Especially since I have been to that house many times over the last several years. I will have to make a special trip up there now to say hello to the nice people in Groseclose. That Bobolink location hasn't been documented yet and hopefully I can renew the relationship with the people there.

Our next stop was just up the road from the man with the gun. Just before we got there, there was a poor cow that had died near the fence that paralleled the road on the right of way. It had gotten quite bloated and was stinking something fierce. I didn't envy the owner of the cow or what his next task was going to be.

We arrived at the next stop and drove slowly down the road next to the field where the Grasshopper Sparrows have been found in the past. Soon I am hearing the bird and we stop and all pile out and confirm the song.

Are next stop is at Mountain Lake, VA. We make our way back to the botanical study area and have nice walk around the grounds. Barn Swallow, Least Flycatchers, Scarlet Tanager, Chipping Sparrows, nesting Eastern Phoebes were the highlights here.

We take a Forest Service Road to where there is a parking area and a trail that loops around. We park and take lunch here. Up the trail, before we leave, we have Blue-headed Vireos, Red-eyed Vireos, Veerys, Chickadee (sp), Red-breasted Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

We decide to make some time and head on to West Virginia.

Around 4:30 we make it to Cranberry Glade. We first head to the visitor center. It is a typical national forest visitor center. Here is a little information about Cranberry Glade:

"Cranberry Wilderness is the largest USFS Wilderness east of the Mississippi. This 35,864 acre Wilderness is bounded on the West by an additional 26,000 acres known as the Cranberry Backcountry. On the East, the Wilderness is bounded by the Highlands Scenic Highway - once envisioned as being an extended highway crossing the high mountains of the Allegheny backbone of West Virginia. Two scenic rivers pass through the area - the Williams River (and more specifically, the middle fork of the Williams River which originates in the Wilderness) and the Cranberry."

More about Cranberry Glade can be found at Cranberry Glade, West Virginia.

We make it to Cow Pasture trail. This trail is a flat trail that makes its way through Alders and forest. Around 1 mile in, a small path takes off from the main trail to a wildlife observation deck overlooking a huge Alder field. On this walk we find the usual birds to be expected in the woods and at roughly 3500 feet elevation. Chestnut-sided Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, Black-capped Chickadees, Indigo Buntings, Cedar Waxwings, Veery, Hermit, and Wood Thrushes were the highlights this evening.

After this walk concludes we head back to the only place open to eat and enjoy a beer after a hard day of traveling and birding. We head back to the head of the Cow Pasture trail and make our camp off the trail the appropriate amount necessary to comply with USFS rules and regulations. I don't have a tent so I find a spot under the canopy and make my bed with only my sleeping bag. Being as high up as we were and with the temperature falling through the mid 50's there was a heavy dew that next morning. The canopy I was under captured most of the dew from hitting me. The highlight of the night was waking up during the night and hearing Barred Owls (2-3) calling back and forth with their loud call (WHO COOKS FOR YOU, WHO COOKS FOR YOU ALLLLLL). That was a real treat.

Saturday July 6, 2002

The next morning we are up by 6am and make our way back down Cow Pasture Trail making special efforts to find a Mourning Warbler. This very elusive warbler was my target bird and this would be my best chance to find it. We stopped at a bridge crossing Cranberry River (in the Alder part of the trail) but none were to be found here. We did hear an Alder Flycatcher start singing. I had just seen this bird 2 weeks ago for the first time on Roan Mountain and it was good to hear it again. We strike out at the wildlife observation deck hoping again for the Mourning Warbler. With not much else singing here we head back for one last chance at the bridge that crossed the river. Allen and David slipped behind but Audry, Troy, and myself made good time to the bridge. We pished and pished with no luck. I decided pish one more time. I was standing in the middle of the bridge, Alders to my left and right, I pish {sph sph sph sph sph} and out of the corner of my eye, about 20 feet away I see movement. I bring my binoculars up and find him sitting out in the open wondering what was making the noise. I say out loud that I have found him. Audry is the closest one and she gets next to me and finds it. Troy moves over just as it jumps back into the Alder bush but not out of site. He locates it and the three of us get great looks at the bird. After a couple of minutes the bird sings and flies straight up (like possibly a mating flight of some kind or a grand finale for us) and heads deep into the Alders. I start celebrating and Audry and I high five each other. When David and Allen get there we tell them about it and spot an Alder Flycatcher in the distance before we move on.

We eat a quick breakfast and head to the Cranberry bogs. This was a really neat area. A long boardwalk had been made in order to give the public access without harming the bog. The cranberry bog was huge. Acres and acres of cranberry vine weave and tangled its way through the wetland bog. Also here were Pitcher Plants in bloom, a Garter Snake, and various other plants that Audry and Allen were IDing. The boardwalk angled its way into a wetland wooded area where we spotted Northern Waterthrushes. This was my second time seeing this bird as I had just got that life bird last September / October during migration in Johnson City. The trail meandered its way for about .5 mile and did a half moon back to the parking lot. Also had great looks at a mating pair of Canada Warblers.

Around 10:30 we decide to head up to Beaver Lick Mountain. We take the scenic byway which is like the West Virginia version of the Blue-ridge Parkway. This road runs atop a mountain ridge with the peak elevation (of the road) being 4545 feet. We stop at a scenic overlook with a trail and have lunch. The most notable bird we get here is Purple Finch.

About an hour later we arrive at Beaver Lick Mountain. We take a Forest Service Road (that wasn't the smoothest of roads). We make various stops and our notable birds here were Mourning Warbler (female), Red-shouldered Hawk, Black-throated Green, Vesper Sparrow, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Veery, and Red-tailed Hawk. This area looked recently (within the past few decades) stripped of lumber as there was mainly new growth.

From here (around 5pm) we start the trip home. In Beckley, WV we stop at Ryan's and have dinner (around 9pm) and make it back to Johnson City around 12:45am on July 7.

Great trip!


1:25 AM

Chattanooga 10 - Smokies 5

Finally found a little time to do a blog entry...I will have an entry later today about the trip and it will probably be in gory detail.

Just got back from a Knoxville Smokies game. It was fun, even though they lost. They were beaten by Chattanooga - it went down to the 9th inning to decide. The game kept going back and forth until the top of the 9th when the Smokies choked.

My buddy Larry came by and picked me up around 1:15 to head first to TGIFridays in Sevierville and then on to the game.

Survived my birthday - got a nice little present from the birds - will elaborate later... Very nice weekend - but alas, all good things....back to work later today...

Happy Birthday Pam, wherever you are...


Friday, July 05, 2002

2:49 AM

Work, Fireworks, and "Coraline"

I worked the county renowned Pepsi Firework Extravaganza in Johnson City tonight/last night. I "volunteered" to work this event, which equates to extra money for me. It wasn't hard work. The first 4 hours or so I sat in my truck, keeping vigil at Sundale and Willow Wood Dr. Being early, I arrived at about 2pm, I had a chance to dive into my new book "Coraline" by Neil Gaiman (which I finished).

The book is only about 160+ pages long but is really good. It is marketed as a young adult novel, but all can enjoy Gaiman's latest marvel. The critics are hailing it at the best thing since "Alice in Wonderland," and it reminded me of the same type of book as Steven King's "Eye of the Dragon." It is simple enough for a young audience and sharp enough story for anyone with a slight amount of imagination to be thoroughly satisfied. It is about a 12 year old girl finding a room in her house that takes her on a voyage to a mirror universe where she gets trapped and forced to play a vicious little game to get home. The simplest of stories can be some of the best. You can find more information about this little gem at Neil Gaiman.com. From there is another link to the official web page (or just click this link --- Coraline ). Gaiman is a literary genius.

Wow, I turned that into my very own review.

In the midst of my reading, a KILLER thunderstorm swept through the area which added extra flavor to the book. The real work came between 8-9 as the thunderstorm pushed back the crowds. I had a good vantage point to see the fireworks and they provided 20 minutes of patronage. My favorite fireworks are the real loud explosions with little flare. The kind that pack such a punch that it sets off the car alarms (which they did 3 times). When John Wayne was saying Pledge of Allegiance, I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest. We were able to get the people out in a pretty timely manner. Overall the crowd good, 95% to 5%, with the 5% being total pricks so it made it a little more even.

I got home at 11:30, desperately needing a beer which I quenched right away.

Heading to West Virginia in a few hours and won't be back until Sunday night or Monday. As the hour nears that I will turn 30, I am reminded of the movie, "Logan's Run," where you voluntarily turn yourself in to be killed as not to overpopulate the next generation. My palm is about to start blinking red and the Sandmen will soon be chasing me - I just wonder if they can find me in West "by God" Virginia.

See ya in few days, maybe....


Tuesday, July 02, 2002

10:17 PM

Trip Weekend Ahead

I am sitting here trying to figure what all I need for my trip to Cranberry Glade, WV this weekend. Some birding friends and myself are going there to camp and birdwatch this weekend. I figure if I have to turn 30, I might as well be doing something I love to do. I may even get a life bird on my birthday weekend. If the Fates are smiling on me, I will get a Mourning Warbler. Warblers (in the Western Hemisphere) are migratory birds that only are here in the spring, summer, and early fall. They migrate back to the South (Yucatan and parts southward) in the winter. This warbler has been my nemesis warbler for quite some time. I am also looking forward to seeing the cranberry bogs up there. Big enough to have boardwalks through them. Should be a great trip.


Monday, July 01, 2002

11:22 PM

Trek Nerds Unite

Yes, I am a Star Trek nerd. The next movies trailer has been released. It is at Star Trek:Nemesis. This is a streaming movie trailer and you have to have the newest Quicktime to view. For slow connections it takes some time to download it. The only problem with these web sites is that it is hard to save them to your computer. I suppose they make it this way so you have to keep coming back to their web site to view it. Lucky for me a friend has successfully downloaded the trailer and sent me a copy. I just finished downloading it - so if your Internet Server will accept an 11 meg file and you would like me to send you a copy of the trailer, just email me at z02@aol.com (z{zero}2)@aol.com). BTW - the trailer kicks @ss!


10:13 PM

Sitting By the Dock of the Lake

After reading SkyCry's post earlier today over at JadedJournal about seeing "Bridge Over the River Kwai" it made me want to go home and watch my copy but instead I found myself going out to my buddy Larry's new place on Boone Lake. As usual when you first move in to a new place there were boxes still to be unpacked in each room (oh, come on, he just moved there last week - give the man a break :) and a pile of papers, boxes, and other stuff you find to throw away in the middle of the kitchen. We loaded these in the back of my pick up and headed to the nearest dumpster. Turns out the nearest dumpster was at my apt complex. He has trash pick up and he didn't want the stuff out in front of his place for a couple days or so. After we had unloaded the trash we drove to Gray and picked up some BK burgers and headed out to the Boone Dam. That place was packed with swimmers. After fighting with a bee or two, we head for a drive around Boone Lake and back to his place. Just down from his new place is a dock and we headed down there to sit and enjoy the evening. What a relaxful and great dock that was. We sat there for an hour or so, watching a little boy gleefully jump from the dock into the water, his aunt was fishing and boats coming into the cove dragging girls on an tube. The girls would let out a scream every now and again as the boat made a turn, slamming them into the wake. I was IDing the birds (Barn Swallows, Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, Belted Kingfishers, and American Crows). What a relaxful evening. I guess I will wait on the movie I was going to watch, but there is a consolation prize. "Chinatown" is on one of the Encore channels. I think I will go to sleep watching that classic.


2:34 PM

Life's Little Stumbling Blocks

Life sure has a way of throwing little stumbling blocks in your path. It seems that one the blocks start tumbling at you they tend to grow bigger and bigger before you get a break again.

Just found out some news that maybe one day I will share here, but not today.

Well, what else is new -- Hot as hell again today. Glad there is lots of office work to do to keep me inside this afternoon (as well as time to blog a little :)

The Smokies game was fun. We didn't stay for the whole game - too damn hot. It was 94 degrees F at game start and I had roasted butt in the metal seats. I met a few players that might turn pro before too long. Good luck to these players as a possible strike looms after the All-Star break for the pros. I have heard that if that happens baseball might take a serious turn downward. Baseball fans beware.


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