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Monday, April 18, 2011

In our BackYard

It dawned on me that our travels take us through and across our large backyard.  Like our home yard we can take that for granted.  Having had this profound thought I want to embark on a series of articles reflecting the various "backyards" we encounter along the trails.

First of these was explored the weekend of April 8-9.  Our habit is to reside at the Canal Campground at Grand Rivers for several weeks during this Spring time it seemed we should continue our exploration of the history of this area.  Now, obscure history seems to find me even when I am hiding.  Pulled by unknown and possible mystic forces, I propelled my self and loving wife to explore Mantle Rock.
As seen from Highway 133, Mantle Rock is marked but somewhat obscure historical area in western Kentucky near the banks of the Ohio River.    Marking the winter camping ground for the Cherokee Indians walking the "Trail of Tears" this short trail has mystical, ghostly remembrances for the forced march of the native Americans.
The aerial photos depicts the current hiking trail to the natural arch of Mantel Rock.  Now being an adventurous couple we chose to hike the long way around to get a feel of the "trail of tears".  A portion of the current trail follows along the original trail of tears.  Imagine walking in the foot steps of these Americans from the 1800's.  Many hiked several hundred miles during the forced march west.  As we stumbled along the trail, slipping in mud and moss, our path was a lark compared to the exhausted Americans carrying children, food, water and their limited possessions.  Our walk along this portion of the trail was void of human tracks but decorated with spring flowers, singing birds and water trickling down to the creek.  This is a moment to let your imagination soar.

After traversing the down the ridge to discover a gently flowing creek we were directed off the Trail of Tears as it crosses private property.  The marked trail leads you along the creek.  It is easy to imagine the exhausted Cherokee kneeling for water, filling gourds, skins and possibly a quick meal.
 The creek pools just below this portion of the ridge.  Suddenly you begin stumbling across limestone boulders, climbing higher on the ridge.  Large out croppings appear and you know you have reached the Mantel.  But wait, the ridge continues along more creek with even larger boulders and pools.  Rounding a portion of the ridge you are confronted with Mantel Rock.  Oddly a large tree has grown behind the arch giving more life to the history of the rock.  The Mantel is 40 ft. high and 80 ft. long.  Unusually, I did not notice any graffiti or carving in the rock.  Another indication that the modern world has not blimished this historical location. 
I was warned that cosmic forces can be experienced near the Mantel Rock.  While cosmic forces may not be present, the historical feel of the formation is a reminder of the history of the Native American in our Backyard.  We only inhabit their land at present and we must be good guardians for the Americans who passed this way.    Soar with your imagination, explore new lands and find those mystic feelings along a new path.

Happy Trails,

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Begining of 2011

Lack of inspiration usually temps the writer to expound on the beginning of things.  Thus we are arriving at Spring of 2011.  While I usually have a number of ideas for the blog, a beginning seems most appropriate. Hopefully I can overcome the pressure to be original and write about the beginning. 

My spring began with time to spent with my grandson, Bennett.  Now, most of you know I do not relish entertaining children.  After all, "anyone who hates dogs and kids cannot be all bad"!  However, time with "Beans" can be good.     To be 18 offers certain hazards to all of us.  We made the voyage in the Phaeton to Hillmans Ferry Campground in Land Between the Lakes.   I normally avoid this campground due to the 500 screaming children found ravaging the other campers.  But during March, they are fortunately in school, jail or abducted by aliens and not there.   Why do they not have a corn maze to lose the children?

Planning of our journeys for 2011 is like letting the children loose in the candy store.  What a large and interesting country we inhabit.  Casting round the country one must consider the current diesel fuel prices. Damn the torpedoes, we will push on inspite of the fuel.   The Phaeton must move on.  Where oh where do we travel?   To steal a phrase,  "can plans be written in Jello"?  We are residing at the Canal COE park at Grand Rivers, KY.  This has become of home base.  We will reside here for month of April with maybe a side trip to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Reserve and Keenland Racing Track.  Hence the "jello".  

Hiking today along the Honker Lake Trail was a wonderful and wearing journey.  Hunting the eagles was futile but the adventure along the lake and the fatigue made the later steak and beer refreshing.  After all I am the "crew" for the poparazzi, Lady Denise.  Hence, lugging heavy lens, water, binoculars, maps and keeping unwanted fans at arms length is just a part of the job. 

The flight returns to Land Between the Lakes.  These Zebra butterflies are beautiful and were in abundance on our hike around Hemitite Lake.  Spring 2011 seems to be busting out.  Watching the Osprey feed their young, building the nest larger and soaring with the wind just makes our day.
I leave you on this date, tired, refreshed, encouraged by nature and  charging into another day.  Bring on the JELLO!

Happy trails,

Denise and Barry, Bailey and Bella