9-6 Fountain pens, dead-ends and cemeteries, old men and jeeps
Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky
This morning I’m on the move around camp after a night of rain, draining remnants of it off the awning then bouncing off leaves and detritus shaken free by the wind.
I sweep the “porch” for more removal of same and bring things back outside from inside the camper. The ones left out I hang in the sun for drying.
I refill the water jug for brewing coffee and breakfast (ayup - protein powder and oatmeal again — too lazy to go to the grocery store yesterday).
Finally I sit on the “porch” and realize my mind is still running around with thoughts of things to do.
I take a deep breath, exhale and consciously downshift, slowing mind and body down into ease and peace.
I take a long, slow sip of my beloved coffee, let out an equally long aaaahhhh and extend peace to you too, dear friends.
I find my fountain pen running out of ink far more often now that I’m journaling in a written notebook. A good sign, yeh?
An easy and cheap way to refill fountain pens?
Buy a little bottle of ink and use a syringe to refill those disposable plastic ink cartridges (they usually have more capacity than the refillable ones too).
Works great and the ink quality from a bottle is better and lasts muchero longero.
Favorite fountain pens? Hmm…
I’ve tried the very popular (and quite more expensive) Lamy 2000 pen — it does write sublimely but since it was around $200 I was always afraid I’d lose it so I sent it back.
The Pilot Metropolitan writes just as smoothly and there’s way less guilt should it find legs and walk away. Besides I tend to be a frugal bastid and can’t justify spending Lamy 2000 kinda money on any pen.
Since when do houseflies bite? Ouch, geez. Pesky suckers. Time to hang another watery penny bag.
The Land Between the Lakes is also the Land With Roads to Nowhere and Land of Many Cemeteries.
I’ve been randomly exploring, following winding forest service roads throughout and just about all of them abruptly end on the fringes of shore or sometimes forgotten cemeteries planted long ago (hmm, adds new meaning to “dead-end” doesn’t it? Bad pun, I know).
A small handful of these roads happen to be long slivers of crumbling asphalt eaten away from decades of rain washing. Those are the most mysterious because they hint at what once was — civilization way out there since the Feds (Tennessee Valley Authority) bought up the entire place for a national park (and now national recreation area).
If one looks carefully down spurs off these forest roads one may spot faded foundations absent buildings and if you’re lucky you’ll come across rare remnants of actual crumbling structures overlooked during the TVA’s removal of all buildings when they acquired the land.
Like the little one-room catholic church built by German immigrants to the area in the 1800’s. Since restored as a memorial, it sits atop a cleaved hill wrapped in an old wooden picket fence at the end of a long, rough dirt road.
Take a short hike down the hill behind the church and you’ll see faint impressions of another long ago road taken over by trees. According to a map, this inaccessible road leads to another abandoned cemetery (I suppose I could slog through a few miles to it but it would be a very ticky thing to do).
St. Stephen Catholic Church on Land Between the Lakes
At the end of another of these long stretches to nowhere I’ve twice come across campsites seemingly abandoned in haste.
One was a crumbling, torn apart pop-up tent camper. No idea how it came to be or was left behind.
The other was more eerie — this was in one of the more remote dead-ends and I actually thought it was a live campsite where someone might have left for groceries.
It was a two room tent, a cooler and gallon container was sitting outside, raincoat hanging from a tree, shoes propped on a log.
But it felt dead.
So I came closer and then I could see the front tent flap wasn’t just open, it was torn and clothes ’n such were dragged out by curious animals over time. Towards the back it was crushed by a fallen limb post-haste.
By now it was clear this was abandoned and quickly. Again, no idea what happened to this once functional campsite.
Perhaps an emergency of some kind? Or maybe they got fed up with camping and said screw it (this spot is an overly hot location with swampy water and mosquitos galore)? Or… ghosts ran ’em out (all these cemeteries, right?).
Regardless, it’s another one of the mysteries of Land Between the Lakes.
Despite my best efforts to assassinate that pesky sucker (the housefly y’know) I have failed. So now it taunts by biting me while I try to meditate.
I meditatively resolve to invest in a proper flyswatter that will put me out of my misery.
A buff older gentleman with an equally old Jeep pulls up to the boat ramp. He and his tiny dog hop out (what is it with these mean looking dudes with little dogs?). He looks over and gestures, writing aren’t ya?
I nod, he nods and carries onto the beach.
Writing done, I walk over and compliment his Jeep - it’s built like a tank unlike those pavement princesses we see today.
It’s a ’70’s model he says, those were good times.
I agree, offering I was born in ’67.
’63! he exclaims. Unprompted he adds he used to motorcycle all the time.
You look like it, I laugh.
He smiles and says he lost an eye so no more biking, hence the open air Jeep.
I was also a fighter pilot he adds.
Wow I say — I bet you have of a lot of stories to tell.
He says he lives nearby and I ask if it gets cold here in winter. He gestures, this Cumberland river here froze not too long ago.
This huge river? Holy crap I say.
We bump fists and part ways.
What a short and strange and wonderful interaction.
Mission set — large flyswatter purchased; I’m armed and ready to go. Next: the kill.
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