Saturday, April 09, 2011

Then and Now

I woke up alive and screaming like a newborn baby. But I am going to be all right. Just the pain is killing me. Not much getting done today, but I am trying mightily. I just want two more days, to say "I MADE IT!" to my birthday on Monday, April 11th. :)
Aerial view of Hartwell Lake, which borders Georgia and South Carolina, with numerous islands stuck in the middle.  It touches 3 counties from each state.
The lake depth is measured by the number of feet above sea level, typically full pond is 660 feet above mean sea level (as opposed to nice sea level...)
Around the dam area, the lake is 180 feet deep. 
Hartwell Lake, referred to as the Hartwell project, was completed in 1963, after 8 long years of hard work. It is named after a colorful local character, Nancy Hartwell, who was not a native, but rather a transplant. Many maps and locals erroneously call it Lake Hartwell, but the official name is Hartwell Lake. 


It took nearly 13 months to fill the lake to capacity, from the two rivers feeding it, the Tugaloo and the Seneca.  The Savannah River forms at the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers, 7.1 miles above the Hartwell Dam.


The shoreline is an astonishing 962 miles long, with over 23,500 acres designated as public lands. 



I'm so glad those hot air bags in Washington DC came to their senses.  I would have had an angry mob on my hands, early this morning,  had they not.


I am a volunteer for the Federal government in a boat launching area, on Hartwell Lake,  that was due to be closed if those nuts had not finally got around to passing the budget. 


What a huge embarrassment. America must be the laughing stock of our overseas counterparts. 


Today over 50 boats showed up to launch at my area, on the lake before 8am. Some arrived as early as 5am. Some days I see fisher folks arriving at 330am.  Many had 2-6 people with them. Can you imagine me out there doing battle with an angry mob, telling them the lake and launch area is closed?


I could see a few trucks and their boat trailers simply running me down. It would be all over the news. 


Mermaid found dead with multiple tire tracks on body and tail...


By 11am, the parking lot for the trucks and boat trailers was filled to capacity, with a few choosing to park creatively in non-parking areas. Lots of people have asked me for information. Some I know, some I don't. 


Fees for boat launching is paid on the honor system at a lock box near the boat ramp. Rumors are that the launch fees have dramatically gone up, since I arrived on the scene. Maybe it's a little intimidating when I stand outside with my camera and binoculars as boaters launch.  


Seems they suddenly "remember" they owe for the boat launching.  They can also buy an annual pass for only $30, which must be displayed, in lieu of paying $3 each time. One guy told me he was "saving up" for the $30 pass fee. I tried not to burst out laughing as I studied his truck, boat and trailer which all together must have set him back well over $50,000.  


Boaters don't like being told they can't go boating. As a former sailor, I surely know. 


One day in the Caribbean, I had to divert course for miles and hours, because they were filming a movie. They hadn't pushed any publicly about the filming, so I had no idea. Then some official comes up in his boat, telling me because of the movie filming, I can't sail to where I am sailing. 


Money talks, especially in the movies I guess. 


Back to Hartwell Lake. In my book "Hurricanes and Hangovers"  there is a story within a story about the regular poker players.  Every character in that story is based on real poker players, my old cronies, many of whom are now deceased, by reason they were much older than me. One character, however, the one who doesn't play poker, chose Hartwell Lake to eventually commit suicide.  (This was years before my book was written.) He was seen, on the dam,  tying bricks around his ankles when someone called for help. By the time help arrived, all they found was his empty car. Dredging the lake, yielded his body, with the bricks tied around his ankles. He was my former neighbor, as I recall, he hadn't even reached the ripe old age of 30 yet. 


During the early and mid, 1980's, I spent loads of time sailing on Hartwell Lake. Although I didn't own a boat, I was thought to be responsible, so many folks simply loaned me their sailboats for the day or weekend. Good old southern hospitality. You can't beat it anywhere. 



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