Saturday, December 10, 2011

And Then They Were Gone

I ran on trails at the base late this afternoon and after as I was done drove a mile down the road to UTSI.
I wrote about UTSI not long after moving back into our house:
It had started off cool as I headed into the trails and as I continued with my run I could see through the trees that the sun was settling lower and lower on the horizon.
By the time I was done it was downright cold and I dug out a hat and then dug out a jacket, gratefully put them on, turned the heat on high in the truck and headed for the space institute.
I was hoping to take some pictures of the sun as it was setting on the water.
As I pulled out of the mountain bike gravel parking area I was surprised to see a deer standing in the open directly across the road from me.
It was then that I remembered that the deer all seem to come out of the woods at this time of day in late Fall when the days are so short.
In years past I have seen huge herds of deer around this time of day sitting together in the large grassy sections that are so abundant in the recreational areas of the base.
They always make me smile when I see them. 
Deer are so elusive during the day and although I see them often while running on the trails they are gone just as quickly as they appeared. 
Always on the run.
So seeing them in such large numbers, calmly but watchfully sitting or standing in the open grassy fields late in the day is a nice and sweet sight.
As I pulled into the UTSI beach parking lot the first thing I saw was this sailboat............
There is a long bench spanning three sides of the flat roof of this structure, allowing visitors to sit and look out over the reservoir.
The structure is actually a stone boathouse and in all the years I have been coming out to this beautiful place I have never run into another person here.
I have run into others closer to the institute but not here.
I love it in this place and so many other places on base, and as always I was very happy to spend some time alone beside the water before heading home.............
Sailboats parked at a dock in a nearby cove.............
As I stood beside the long stretch of wooden bench on top of the boathouse looking out over the lake I realized that my heart rate was slowing down and I felt peace.
I was cold but did not want to leave.
I could see the plateau in the far distance. 
The shoreline of part of Franklin County across from me.
A huge flock of white and noisy birds congregating in the center of the lake.
A ridiculously clear and calm sky that contained a hint of the color of the early setting sun.
No sounds of people or cars or planes or boats.
I was cold but also very glad to be here and did not want to leave..............
To the left of the boat house is a paved walkway that takes you down to the dock............
I cannot stand on this dock without remembering the untold number of times I swam with my triathlon training partner before I even began adventure racing.
We spent a lot of time on this dock (and on the steps leading down from the parking lot) after training sessions talking, eating, drinking, recovering.
It seems like a lifetime ago.
In fact I think it WAS a lifetime ago...........
UTSI is located on a point and as I drove into the parking lot I realized that the sun was going to set on the opposite side of the point from the boat dock.
That was disappointing because I knew from so many trips out there over the years that the trees were abundant, the land was uncleared and I would most likely not have an unobstructed view of the setting sun.
After spending some time at the dock I turned right heading towards a trail that was completely covered with fallen leaves.
As I headed for the trail I stopped for a moment to take these pictures.
All indicators of an outdoor recreational area that is deeply embedded in hibernation.
A wonderful time of year...............
The trail is a horse shoe shape that leads out to the very end of the point and then circles back towards the parking lot.
After hitting the trail I almost immediately decided, since vegetation was also in hibernation, to bushwhack through the woods to the opposite side of the point.
Heading up and over a completely leaf filled hill eagerly in search of the setting sun............
When I came to the back side of the trail that would take me back to my truck (when I finally decided that it was time to leave) I was stunned at the colors in front of me.
My world suddenly and surprisingly and wonderfully turned orange.
The world at UTSI was a world of rapidly changing colors this late in the day.
Bright blue by the boat dock.  Multiple colors on the horizon line across the water.   Dark shadows through the woods.  Bright orange.  I was really loving this time............
I crossed over the trail for the second time and headed down towards the water, and could see the sun beginning to set through the trees.
Doubtfully I wandered through the woods close to shore looking for an opening so that I could take pictures unobstructed..............
This was the closest I could find.............
I do not know why these trees were tagged but saw a number of them with these............
I will have to go on the hunt for another place to take sunset pictures because there were too many trees on both sides of the cove to really take the kind of pictures I was hoping for.
Regardless, I found this beautiful place on a beautiful and cold late afternoon and was pleased..............
Red sky at night, sailors delight...........
After climbing back into my truck I again turned the heat on full blast because I was freezing.
I pulled out of the parking lot, drove down the road behind the school, stopped at the STOP sign and prepared to turn left, my head already in "head home and get something to eat" mode.
I automatically looked to my right before turning onto the road and was stunned to see these guys standing on the grassy island in the middle of the circular driveway of the school.............
There was no vehicles or people anywhere in sight and I quickly turned the truck off (right in the middle of the schools' back road), climbed out the truck again and slowly walked to the front of my truck.
They were watching me closely.
In fact, they had seen me before I had seen them.
I dared not walk any closer to them, because I knew that they would take off in a run at my first step towards them, and so I impatiently but begrudgingly realized that the front of the truck was as close as I was going to get.
They were beautiful.
So were the ducks swimming in the water of the cove behind them.
And so were the colors of the sunset on the lake.
It was a really great trip...............
 I had been driving for only a minute when I saw these deer crossing the road in front of me.
After stopping the truck (again in the middle of the road) I managed one picture of them through the windshield.
I began adjusting the zoom on my camera hoping to take a closer picture of them.
When I looked up again they were gone................

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