Dog Dependence Day

This is how I found Tisen, Twiggy and Pat once firecrackers started going off

This is how I found Tisen, Twiggy and Pat once firecrackers started going off

For about a week before the 4th of July this year, I saw admonishments to keep dogs indoors during fireworks from at least a half-dozen places.  The pet supply store where we buy Tisen’s food had signs up and posted regularly on Facebook.  McKamey Animal Shelter, the place from whence Tisen came also posted regularly on Facebook.  And beyond that, at least 3 or 4 friends were posting articles about the importance of keeping dogs inside and the increase of dogs who run away on the 4th because the fireworks are so terrifying to dogs.

I can only imagine what fireworks must be like for a dog.  Some estimate a dog’s hearing to be 4x that of a human’s plus dogs hear a much broader range of sound than human’s can.  According to one website, the reason dogs bark at vacuum cleaners is because of the very annoying high-pitched noises they make that humans cannot hear.

Tisen was pretty calm on the bottom of the puppy pile

Tisen was pretty calm on the bottom of the puppy pile

One of the many dogs we took in over the years came to us following the 4th of July fireworks.  We actually found her about a week after the fireworks were over.  She was wandering alone in the wooded ravine we lived in, an adorable Boxer lost and extremely happy to meet new friends.  Especially new friends with food.

She came home with us with an exuberance few breeds can duplicate–boxers have endless enthusiasm.  She had a tag that indicated she was microchipped, but when we called the number, they were closed for the weekend.  When my husband was able to reach them on Monday, they could only provide the name and number for the vet where the tag was issued.  It was a vet in Pennsylvania.  When my husband reached the vet’s office, it turned out it was one of the vet’s dogs who was living in Columbus with his son who was attending the Ohio State University.

We were able to reunite the energetic boxer (who we had taken to calling Roxy, although that didn’t turn out to be her name) with her family about a week and a half after she had escaped from a fenced yard during the fireworks.  Her owners were so happy they brought us a plate of cookies.

I’m pretty sure that kid never left a dog outside alone during fireworks again.

First attempt to capture fog rising from Lookout Mountain with iPhone

First attempt to capture fog rising from Lookout Mountain with iPhone

Since Twiggy’s parents were attending a BBQ early in the evening on the 4th and we were going to a party later that evening, we did a dog sitting trade.  Twiggy hung out with us for a couple of hours while her mom and dad were socializing and Tisen hung out with Twiggy’s family for quite a few more hours while we did the same.  The dogs piled on Pat when the first firecrackers went off.

As a general rule, I don’t share photos from private parties, but I did attempt to capture the fog rolling off Lookout Mountain in the background.  Unfortunately, it was a bit too dark for the iPhone.

Second attempt--the ridge in front of the fog kept getting clipped

Second attempt–the ridge in front of the fog kept getting clipped

The First Overlook

Panoramic view taken with the iPhone

Panoramic view taken with the iPhone

This is going to be a short post.  I’m writing at 11:15PM on Thursday night.  I just finished my “day” job 15 minutes ago (I guess that makes it a “day-and-night” job) and if I try to write my usual 500 words, I’m likely to end up writing this post in my sleep (yes, I’ve done that before–check this out).

Cloudland Canyon is one of those must-see places if you’re anywhere in the area.  They have nice facilities including campgrounds, a picnic area with restrooms, an interpretive center, a spectacular view, and lots of great trails, including backcountry trails.

Looking the opposite direction down the gorge

Looking the opposite direction down the gorge

That said, if you are having a low-energy day, there’s also the leisurely walk around the mostly flat path along the cliff top.  There are several nice overlooks that always make me feel like the $5 parking fee was well worth it even when the path around the cliff top is the only path I walk that visit.

Looking up the gorge at a rolling valley covered in dense green you can hear a distant waterfall

Looking up the gorge at a rolling valley covered in dense green you can hear a distant waterfall

All of the images in this post were shot from what I think of as the first overlook.  It’s only the first overlook if you start with this one.  🙂  I like to park at the far end of the cliff top path and walk uphill around the rim.  I don’t know why I like this, but it might be because even when the park is really crowded, there are usually still parking places in this end of the parking lot.

The other reason is because it’s a short walk from the car to the first overlook, so there’s a quick payoff.  One drawback is that the restrooms at that end are often closed, so stopping at the first set of newer facilities (in a concrete block building) may be imperative, depending on your situation.

Rocks and trees along the cliff top

Rocks and trees along the cliff top

A short walk down a dirt path followed by a steep descent down metal-mesh steps takes you to a panoramic view up one leg of the gorge.  I, of course, was standing there with my 5D Mark III and my husband’s T4i with a 70-200mm lens on it (don’t ask) hanging around my neck while I stood on the overlook creating panoramics with my iPhone.  I sometimes think I should get my husband to take a picture of this with his iPhone just so I can see how ridiculous it looks!

Tisen does not like metal-mesh steps

Tisen does not like metal-mesh steps

Looking Down

Centipede on moss

Centipede on moss

After spending  a half hour or so at the hang gliding launch ramp on top of Lookout Mountain on Sunday, we decided to take the time to drive over to Cloudland Canyon.  Although we weren’t up for a long hike, the flat, easy walk along the cliff seemed about right for us.

I’m not sure why exactly, perhaps it was the sudden realization that the path we were on was bordered by poison ivy, but I started looking down.  Not down the cliffs so much–well, maybe some, but the view from the overlooks is spectacular and looking straight out is usually far more interesting than looking down.  Plus, looking down always makes me feel a little weak-kneed.

Evening primrose with a few remaining drops of water

Evening primrose with a few remaining drops of water

Rather, I found myself looking down at the occasional wildflower growing by the side of the path, the insects hanging out along the way, and at the pine warbler who decided to show himself just long enough for me to get my camera in position and then flit off.

I guess I should be grateful for poison ivy because it’s taught me to look down, look at what’s at my feet, and pay attention to where I’m stepping.  Who knows, it may have saved my life a time or two.

I thought this was a rhododendron, but after googling, I think its a hawthorn flower

I thought this was a rhododendron, but after googling, I think its a hawthorn flower

But, poison ivy is one of those plants that you’re either indifferent to or it strikes terror in your heart.  I spent the first 30 years of my life pretty much oblivious to poison ivy.  I wasn’t allergic to it.  Then one day, I was weeding in the garden of our first house.  I looked down at the handful of vines I was holding in my gloved hands and realized I was holding a bouquet of poison ivy.  Unconcerned, I set them in the yard waste pile and thought no more about it.

The next day, the part of my wrist that was above my glove and below my sleeve broke out in a rash.  Pretty soon, I had a 2-inch tall welt that was, at close inspection, a mound of bump on bump on bump.  It looked like it had been skinned across the top and clear liquid oozed out of it at such a rate that it ran down my arm.  It was truly disgusting.

More hawthorn/rhododendron

More hawthorn/rhododendron

That was the first time in my life I took steroids.  But I was sure happy to have them as an option!  Every since then, I have broken out with poison ivy every summer whether I come into contact with it or not.  I blamed the dogs for many years, but then the dogs died and I still broke out.  I became paranoid–I frequently jump away in terror when I see a Boxelder sapling, which resembles poison ivy at first glance.

As an offshoot of my paranoia, however, I now notice more plants and creepy-crawly things than I ever noticed before I felt like I had to continually be on the look out for my sworn enemy.

I'm not sure what these are, but they were pretty

I’m not sure what these are, but they were pretty

Mountain Launch

A pilot returning after a 1-year hiatus launches while we watch

A pilot returning after a 1-year hiatus launches while we watch

There are some moments in life that leave a lasting impression–a shadow of the experience that lives on long past the moment, perhaps even a lifetime.  One of those moments for me is the moment I crossed the “Danger!  Risk of Falling” line on the launch ramp on Lookout Mountain.  It was my first mountain launch as a novice hang glider.

The Danger! line is literally a line on the launch ramp

The Danger! line is literally a line on the launch ramp

We have returned to the Lookout Mountain launch a couple of times since that monumental day, but we haven’t been back to fly.  It’s been over a year now since I last hooked myself into a hang glider.  My husband has remained determined to return “eventually” to flying.

This is the view of the launch ramp that nearly caused me to lose consciousness the first time I saw it

This is the view of the launch ramp that nearly caused me to lose consciousness the first time I saw it

On Sunday, we found ourselves back up on top of Lookout Mountain at the hang gliding launch.  Soon, we were inside the office checking on our membership status and filling out paperwork to renew.  Then, we realized one of us was going to be out of town every weekend until July.  And so it appears we are likely to be celebrating our 18th anniversary on the training hills together.  At least, I will be on the training hills.  Pat may graduate to the mountain in a day (if hang gliding is like riding a bike), but I have no plans to go off the mountain ever again.

Hang glider pilots are not the only ones equipped to soar the ridge

Hang glider pilots are not the only ones equipped to soar the ridge

Of course, I had no plans to go off the mountain the first time either.  I just found myself there after getting to the point where I felt confident and comfortable enough on the training hills that it just seemed natural I would run off a mountain with a kite hooked to my body.

Standing there on the launch ramp, looking over the fall line, I found my knees remained solid.  I had only a brief wave of nausea thinking about stepping over that line, then, the shadow of the memory, the feeling of the hang glider on my shoulders kicked in.  The weight of it lifting in the wind assuring me I could, in fact fly.  All I had to do was look at the ridge on the other side of the valley and that’s where I would go.

I switched cameras to catch the hang glider as it pulled away from the mountain.

I switched cameras to catch the hang glider as it pulled away from the mountain.

Then, the memory faded and I looked down and another memory kicked in.  The memory of our first trip up to the hang gliding office–seeing the launch ramp for the first time.  The sudden terror that overtook both of us thinking we might be launching off that ramp.  The physical weakness, barely able to stand in the face of the fear of running off that mountain.

The bib on the launch slopes away from the fall line, making it more probably that if you fall, you'll fall away from the cliff

The bib on the launch slopes away from the fall line, making it more probably that if you fall, you’ll fall away from the cliff

The contrast struck me as profound.  I am the same person.  My response to the same stimulus went from paralyzing terror to confidence (with a few vestigial belly butterflies).  Like so many things in life, the launch ramp is what it is.  We can respond to it however we choose.  As I look over the mountain one more time, I find myself wondering if perhaps, one day, I will launch from this ramp again after all.

Close-up of the flight part logo on the side of the launch

Close-up of the flight part logo on the side of the launch

Random Musings

Pat and Tisen take a turn posing for me amongst a crowd on the way to the point

Pat and Tisen take a turn posing for me amongst a crowd on the way to the point

 

I don’t have much more to say about Point Park, but I don’t have any other photos, so this is a disconnected blog post–the text has nothing to do with the photos.

A colleague of mine lost his father on Tuesday.  His father was relatively young and presumably healthy–he died quite unexpectedly of an aneurism.  It’s funny how such a tragedy in someone else’s family can feel like my own tragedy.  I guess I can make anything about me.

Up close, I managed to get Tisen looking my way

Up close, I managed to get Tisen looking my way

But this is how my mind works:  person dies.  Did person who died have a fulfilling life?  Were they ready to die?  Did they feel like they had done the things they wanted to do in their lifetime?  My gosh.  I’m going to die.  I am not immortal.  I have so many things I want to do before my life ends.  This person died without warning or symptoms of anything.  What if I just dropped dead tomorrow?  My bucket list would be left behind, ridiculous in its length.

These moments always serve as a reminder that I’m rapidly approaching the age at which my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  On one hand, I am confident I do not have cancer and that I will not have cancer.  On the other hand, I find myself puzzled by the notion of finding a balance point between experiencing everything life has to offer and having things like health insurance.  In the event I am wrong that I will not have cancer, it would be really helpful to have insurance.  And income.  Two very helpful things if faced with a potentially life-threatening disease.

I couldn't choose between the previous shot and this one--Tisen is looking so cute

I couldn’t choose between the previous shot and this one–Tisen is looking so cute

But if you spend all your time and energy worrying about having things like health insurance and income to cover you and your family in the event you have a life-threatening illness, isn’t it just possible that you create that illness?  I mean, the stress and worry and long work hours.  Do they not increase the probability of what you most want to avoid coming to fruition?

The back wall of the Ochs Museum at the point looks a little prison-like

The back wall of the Ochs Museum at the point looks a little prison-like

On the other hand, if you throw caution to the wind, pursue your dreams and live hand to mouth with no health insurance, what happens then?  And it’s not just me I worry about.  What if my husband gets sick or my dog?  There would be nothing worse than having to watch my dog suffer without being able to do anything for him.  Or having to put him down solely because I couldn’t afford to treat what ailed him.

These are the kinds of choices I dread.  So, instead, I go to work each morning and I enjoy the other freedoms that comes from having an income and health insurance.  But, some days I wonder if a) I am kidding myself about the level of security I really have–it could all go away in an instant, and b) if I were on my death bed, would I regret not having health insurance or not having traveled the continent more?

I was a little too busy framing the foreground rocks to get Moccasin Bend framed properly

I was a little too busy framing the foreground rocks to get Moccasin Bend framed properly

iPhonoramic

Mocassin Bend from the Point at Point Park, Lookout Mountain

Mocassin Bend from the Point at Point Park, Lookout Mountain

Back home in Chattanooga after a week away at a work conference resulted in two things.  First, a lot of napping and second, a disappointingly dull Memorial Day weekend.

Feeling obligated to do something both celebratory and respectful of those who have served, we managed to muster enough energy to go up to the military park on Lookout Mountain, Point Park, and take Tisen on a walk around the point.

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ve undoubtedly seen photos from Point Park many times–it’s one of my favorite places to take visitors because of the spectacular views from the point.

And, in fact, I took enough photos for at least two more posts (sorry), but for today’s post, I thought I would share my iPhone panoramic experience.

Another go at Moccasin Bend - almost level

Another go at Moccasin Bend – almost level

First, I confess, I was not an early adopter of this capability.  I updated my iPad to iOS 6 (the update required) months ago when it first became available.  However, updating erased all the data on my iPad, which I restored from backup.  Since I wasn’t sure I had a backup of my iPhone, I waited to upgrade until I had a chance to do a full backup.  It took the moment when I was in the Grand Ole Opry wishing I could take a panoramic shot on Wednesday night before I had sufficient motivation to do the backup and upgrade process.

At long last, I made time for the upgrade (iOS 6 has been out so long, it’s moved on to 6.1 now) on Friday night.  Ironically, I immediately forgot I’d upgraded and now had the ability to do panoramic images.  In fact, it wasn’t until I got to the point in Point Park and saw a guy pull out his iPhone and start taking a panoramic shot that I remembered I too now had this amazing “new” technology!

Another way to get Panoramic--using Stitch to piece together multiple photos in software

Another way to get Panoramic–using Stitch to piece together multiple photos in software

Truthfully, the ability to produce panoramic images has been around for many years.  I believe the first Canon digital camera I ever bought back in the late 90’s came with software called “Stitch” that would allow you to put together multiple photos into a single panoramic view.  If it wasn’t with my first digital camera, it was certainly with my second in 2003.  I have silly looking panoramic shots where the photos create a rather embarrassing curved shape.  If they weren’t on a different computer, I would post one for you now.

A really old-fashioned way to get a panoramic image--crop to panoramic dimensions

A really old-fashioned way to get a panoramic image–crop to panoramic dimensions

By comparison, the iPhone panoramic feature is easy to use.  Rather than taking a bunch of photos individually and either using a tripod or hope to line them up horizontally so you can “stitch” them together in software later, the iPhone uses a video-like mode and guides you through capturing 240 degrees of image while it automatically puts the images together into one.  The result?  Well, you go home with a panoramic already done.  On the down side, the exposure is set from where you start, so choose your starting place carefully.

Starting the image capture in the shadows results in an overexposed bright area

Starting the image capture in the shadows results in an overexposed bright area

Walk to Sunset

Sunset Rock Hipstamatic Style

Sunset Rock Hipstamatic Style

In the effort to entertain my brother and sister-in-law, I came up with the following itinerary:

  1. Have them assist in a birds of prey program at a local festival.
  2. Take them to lunch at a famous barbecue on a hill with goats.
  3. Haul them up to Lookout mountain and take them hiking for a couple of hours.
  4. Drag them out for Mexican-fusion at favorite taco spot.
  5. Give them a tour of husband’s workshop.

We are now on #3.  Hauling said brother and sister-in-law up to Lookout Mountain for a relatively short, easy hike.

Sunset Rock via DSLR

Sunset Rock via DSLR

One of my favorite short, easy hikes on Lookout is the hike from Craven’s House to Sunset Rock.  There are many routes to choose from so it’s easy to make the hike as short as 3 miles or as long as 10, depending on how long you want to be out.  Regardless of which route you choose, the scenery on Lookout and the views from the overlooks are always fantastic.

Our fearless hiking crew

Our fearless hiking crew

The rock formations on Lookout are amazing in and of themselves.  The sandstone (or maybe limestone?) splits, drops, careens, and leans in ways that make you feel like you’re doing something really dangerous by walking on stone that might fall off the side of the mountain at any moment.  If the trail were along the creek with the same rock formations, it wouldn’t be quite as adventurous, but it would still be beautiful.

Chunks of ice remind us it's only spring on the calendar

Chunks of ice remind us it’s only spring on the calendar

Water runs between the rocks from time to time.  We were surprised on this early spring day to discover chunks of ice lingering in one microscopic waterfall.  Just another reminder that only the humans around here are convinced it’s supposed to be spring.

Even the mushrooms look like they are winterized

Even the mushrooms look like they are winterized

Tisen enjoys this hike, too.  He likes to linger behind, sniffing, and then dart back in front.  Sometimes, he stops to check on me if I’m hanging back.  I’m not sure if he’s worried I’m going to fall off a cliff (a reasonably probable occurrence) or if he thinks I might sneak off and disappear to some new life that doesn’t include him.  He really doesn’t have to worry about the latter–I’m not anxious to find out what life will feel like without him.

Tisen checking on Mommy

Tisen checking on Mommy

We made it to Sunset Rock in tact, although Tisen scared me to the point that I yelled at him when he got so close to the edge that I really thought he was going to lift his leg and immediately topple down the cliff.  I called him three times and when he ignored me, I panicked and yelled his name at the kind of volume that echoed off the surrounding cliff sides.  He looked up at me, surprised and sheepish.  I couldn’t remember having ever raised my voice at him before; I felt a little foolish.

View of the valley from Sunset Rock

View of the valley from Sunset Rock

The view from Sunset Rock is not actually better than the view from Point Park, but making the hike through the woods and up the mountain makes it feel so much better.