Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Land Between the Lakes

One area not far from Mississippi that I have long wanted to explore but never seemed to get around to is the Land Between the Lakes area in Tennessee and Kentucky. With several hundred miles of shoreline on two huge man-made lakes - Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley -and thousands of acres of public lands between them, this is an ideal outdoor destination for sea kayaking, hiking and camping.

I didn't go there with any intention of taking a major kayaking or backpacking trip. I simply wanted to go somewhere that I could camp, see woods and water without hurricane damage, and do some hiking and backroads driving for a few days. For this purpose, Land Between the Lakes was ideal. You pay a mere $5.00 fee for a backcountry permit, then you can camp almost anywhere within the boundaries between the two lakes. The weather was perfect while I was there. Warm, sunny days and nights down to about 30 degrees F. The first night I drove down a deserted gravel road to an isolated cove on Kentucky Lake. There wasn't a soul around. After I set up camp and began cooking dinner, a bald eagle flew low right over my campsite. Over the next couple of days I saw a few other campers and fishermen, but for the most part the area was not crowded at all this early in the season.

I ended the trip with a leisurely drive down some Tennessee backroads to the upper part of the Natchez Trace, which I followed south to Jackson.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Over the Edge of the World

I just finished reading one of the best non-fiction books I've come across in a long time: Over the Edge of the World, Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen, William Morrow, 2003, ISBN 0-06-621173-5

This is a gripping, well-written account of of the first voyage around the world, narrating not only the incredible hardships of the voyage itself, but the almost insurmountable obstacles Magellan faced getting backing for the expedition before setting sail. This is a true story of shipwreck, mutiny, undiscovered lands, exotic cultures, cannibalism, death and eventual triumph by the 18 survivors of the 260 man crew that set out in five ships. I highly recommend it to anybody interested in the sea and sailing, history and adventure and discovery. Here's a link to more information on