Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It's Bearly Possible

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Millikans Overlook

I was very happy that we received a nice rain this past week, compliments of tropical storm Bill. When we live this far inland from the oceans, the storms do lose some of their velocity, but thank God for the precious rain. It was getting close for me to drag out the fabled hosepipe to quench the thirst of my small garden.

Last weekend was a lot of fun camping at Fall Creek Falls State Park. The weather was wonderful and it did cool off a little after the sun went down. Setting the tent up was an easy task, since everything just seemed to unfold with very little help from me. The tent legs snapped into place and thank goodness for the new air mattress, kind of reminded me of a waterbed. Sleep was easier than before when I had to lay on the hard, hard ground.

Cooking breakfast the next morning, we had a pair of very small birds poking around our campsite looking for food. I, of all people had forgotten to take my binoculars, can you believe that? With the poor light of early morning and my "fantastic" eyesight, I still couldn't figure out who my visitors were. I grabbed my camera with my 300 lense firmly attached, hoping to get a decent enough picture where I might be able to identify what I was looking at. It took a couple of days before I came to the conclusion that they were Chipping Sparrows. I did toss out some remnants of bread, hoping to bribe them a little closer, but my offerings were ignored. Was my cooking that bad?

The next morning, after breakfast, eggs, bacon and hashbrowns, we went to the main waterfall in the park. This is one of the most beautiful falls that I have ever seen. I have been to Niagara Falls before, but this one is right here in our own backyard. It drops 256 feet into a plunge pool where brave swimmers take advantage of the cooler water. I noticed a pair of Rock Doves flying around about half way down. They probably had a nest under one of the overhanging rocks, but, remember, I forgot to take my binoculars.

Driving around the road that follows the gorge, I pulled off into a small parking area that afforded us a good view down below. The road continues on around where you come to Millikan's Overlook. This is a very beautiful area that faces north into the Cane Creek Gulf and seems to go on forever. Just to the right, a trail will take you out to "Buzzard's Roost" where you might catch a glimpse of one. We did see several Turkey Vultures taking advantage of the updrafts there. With the valley dropping off at a fast pace, we found ourselves looking down on some of the Vultures far below where we stood.

I couldn't wait till supper time on Saturday night at the inn, and was looking forward to the prime rib buffet there. Well, I was in for a shock to learn that I missed it by one day. The flyer outside the restaurant said Saturday night special is "Chicken", seven different ways. I used to raise chickens and it was not one of my favorites. I had rather made my meal , a bologna sandwich, but I did manage to eat some chicken tenders.

Bird life was sparse, but we did manage to spot several of our old friends like Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse singing up in the majestic hemlocks and yellow popular trees. Being there is almost like stepping into the boreal forest of northern Canada. It was so much fun just being able to get out of town for a few days, but it was also time to return home. If any of you are looking for a mini vacation spot, consider camping at some of our beautiful state parks.

This past weekend, Anthony Gray and I headed out to the Big Springs area hoping to catch a look at a black bear that was reported to be in the neighborhood. We looked all over but failed to see anything that even remotely looked like a bear. You never can trust everything you read on Facebook, but the thought of maybe, there is one, brought a little excitement to our bones.

We drove out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park hoping to spot a few birds. It was still raining when I tried to use my parabolic microphone to hear what might be singing. It sounded like popcorn popping when the rain hit the unit. Driving around the campground, we saw several campers trying to stay dry, except for one little boy standing in the middle of a mud puddle, having himself a good time.

Wayne (Buddy) Ingram, park manager at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, was on the Coleman Walker show on WANT radio last Friday morning. I sat on the sidelines watching my nervous friend answer questions about the park when Coleman asked me to join them on the air. During the break, we talked about the lack of local people visiting Cedar Forest. It is just 7 miles south of Lebanon on highway 231 and must be one of the best kept secrets of the area. I made a statement that maybe 70% of the people in town have never visited the park before. This park is so unique and should be enjoyed by everyone. There are probably more people that live out of state that visits the Cedars of Lebanon State Park than our very own citizens.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

 

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Our Feathered Friends
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Anthony Gray, Coleman Walker, Ray Pope
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