December, 2013

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Atlantic Ocean!

I had announced it in my last update, Vivalavida discovered the ocean on Christmas Day. The desire to see something a little different after more than three months of Appalachian, so I took the road to South Carolina after a detour through Atlanta to discover a great World Market (in which he was unfortunately forbidden to photograph…) where I bought my Christmas dinner…
I left Atlanta late and since this huge city is perpetually congested with dozens of miles of trafic jams, I stopped in a National Forest about 70 miles away to spend the night near an old fire watchtower.
1. Boondocking…
Having decided to take the back roads to better discover the landscapes of eastern Georgia, I crossed areas where walnuts are grown. Some “walnut fields” stretched out of sight, like the one I squatted to lunch.
2. Walnuts…
Taking my time, I discovered the ocean only at dusk. Time to find a place to spend the night on Hunting Island, I had a good Christmas diner: Scottish smoked salmon with dill and Moscato d’Asti Nivole..!
3. Christmas diner
I still made ​​a small walk on the beach and enjoyed photographing the sky. The brightness was curious, with the moon just before moonrise, below the horizon…
4. Christmas sky…
5. Waked up early to go seeing the ocean before sunrise, I enjoyed right again splendid colors…
6. Almost slack…
The recent hurricanes have claimed more than 100 yards from shore, gnawing the beach and sometimes leaving a standing tree which now seems to have grown in the sea .. Superb for images!
7. Survivor, well almost…
It is hard to see on the pictures but there was a strong wind and it was 34°F. I had really cold fingers coming back to VLV after 2:30 walk on the beach!
Having spotted a pond behind the dunes, I left again a little later to go birdwatching.
8, 9 et 10 : Willet
11 et 12 : Sanderlings
13. Great egret
14. Heron
15. Another survivor…
I then moved to the salt marshes behind the island that sheltered me for the night.
16. Sweetness of this flat wet land…
Having spotted an osprey with binoculars on the bridge deck that allows access to the island, I used Vivalavida as approach him when my silhouette would have made him to scamper at 150 yards…
17. Watchful hunter…
18. Just beforedoing what we do in the bathroom… 😉
19. A last one..! It’s not everyday that I can get so close of such a lord… 😀
I then returned buck to the wet land and I had the chance to see some other species…
20. Eastern bluebird
21. Great-tailedgrackle. It’s a verry common bird here, not apprehensive. Here is the male
22. … and his female…
23. I end this update with a picture taken from the long bridge that provides access to the island. It allows you to discover the wet land covered with rushes and flooded at each tide…
To be continued…
And as the days go by and I’m never sure when I can connect properly, I already send you my best wishes for the new year approaching. Can he invite you to fully experience your desires and dreams as I have the chance to do it with Vivalavida..!
A big thank you for your faithfulness to follow this blog… 😀

Georgia : 4WD addition

I received some images from Brian, one of the guys with the Jeep who help to go under the last tree.
1. Winching the cutted tree.
2. Rewinding the line…
3. Leaning passage or when VivaLaVida heels quite a bit ..!
discovered the ocean for Christmas, on the Atlantic coast, in South Carolina. Featured soon… 😉

North-West Georgia (3)

Here is the end of my journey in the mountains of Georgia. I hiked the Mount Yonah, a beautiful mountain situated at the end of Appalchian and offering great sighting.
I start with an image of Helen, small atypical village built by the Germans at the end of the 19th century and conscientiously maintained in the German architectural style. It has become a tourist attraction and I must admit that it is quite exotic here!
1. Helen
Then my hike on Mount Yonah
2. I reached the bottom of the cliffs after 1800 feets elevation.
3. A picture for my twin brother ! 😉 It’s a place where climbers can play.
4. Ice created by runoff water largely covered the rock … Despite the cable, I had some difficulties to reach the top of the cliff.
I was lucky to be able to observe the “great buzard”, a mythological bird for Cherokee .
5. Landed…
6. In flight, with the characteristic dihedral that the wings make.
7. From this promontory, the forest at the bottom of the mountain is like a tapestry…
8. Great sighting!
9. I could even see buildings of Downtown Atlanta, more than 70 miles away..!
I then hit the road to Atlanta to see if I could get my drivers license. And finally, I got it ! 😀 That’s my Christmas gift, end of more than three months of paperworks.
10. Then I was able to register VivaLaVida under my name and get the plate!
I don’t know yet what I’ll do during the two weeks to wait on définitives documents. You will discover it in a nest update.
11. And to say you Merry Christmas, here a lst image of a gorgious sunrise on Lake Lanier, two days ago.
See you later…

North-West Georgia (2)

Here is the continuation of my journey in the mountains of Georgia. I left you in a humid atmosphere … The sun came out later, even gratifying me beautiful colorful skies at sunset, which I didn’t see often here.
The serie starts on a cold morning at Unico Lake while I was going to discover the Anna Ruby Falls
1) Unico Lake
The Anna Ruby Falls are probably the best known and most visited of the region. Smith Creek splits into two to form a double waterfall.
2) The Smith Creek downstream of the waterfalls.
3) The waterfalls
I then went up a valley to discover one of the few cliffs in the area, named Raven Cliffs. A beautiful walk a about 8 miles “one way” that leads to a small vertical cliff splited by a large vertical crack into which rushes a beautiful waterfall. Quite spectacular! Unfortunately, the light wasn’t there, the strong north wind surrounding mountains with freezing stratus…
4) The Rave Cliffs (panoramic of three images).
5) Approching the crack
6) The waterfall…
I then drove for half an hour to go to the Desoto Falls where I spent the night in a nice primitive campground.
7) frost on the heights…
8) Desoto Upper Falls
The next day, continuing my exploration, I made another long walk to see the High Shoals Falls, in fact not the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen. But the walk was nice: descent into a deep valley, and then down the river about 5 miles to the two falls.
9) High Shoals Upper Falls
It was already the middle of the afternoon when I found Vivalavida back. I followed some forest roads leading me on the hills to find a place to spend the night.
10) Sunset on the forest
11) Great boondocking place
12) And nice “Apéritif” at the camp fire! 😀
The next day, I planned to go hiking on the Mount Yonah, a mountain which has beautiful cliffs under its summit. Still using my topographic maps, I chose a forest road of about 8 miles leading me to Helen, a small town on the road to Mount Yonah. But my mapss don’t tell the state of the tracks..!
While forest roads taken the previous day were fairly nice, this one first appeared narrower and more “rocky” but nothing really serious for Vivalavida even if I could hardly drive faster than 10 m/h. After about 3 miles or so, the road became narrower and stoned, sometimes forcing me to maneuver in tight corners, where size of VLV suddenly seemed more consistent. But progress continued till a hillside where a recent storm seemed to have devastated the forest. Probably 70% of trees were lying, many across the road. I was not too impressed, most of them had small diameter and only partially obstructing the way. So I took out the handsaw and cuted between 10 and 15 of these trees, nothing too bad, Vivalavida continuing his path about one mile. Then appeared a portion where the road was washed away, with a strong lateral slope, forcing me to put the wheels on the right side of the road to avoid VLV to roll over. Pretty impressive when my “house” was left to swing in balance on two wheels with 150 yards of nothing 4 inches to the right of the wheels..!
13) Unstable balance…
I was then about 4 or 5 miles from where I could turn around. And this is where things got fun..! 😀
A hundred yards away, what did I see? Three large trees across the road, separated from 150 yards away! From all evidence, Vivalavida could pass underneath! But what to do? 5 miles back in reverse, with the scabrous place described above? No, I was not really tempted … Cutting trees to open the passage? This is the choice I made.
For the first one, clearing the vegetation on hill side, deflating air suspension and tires while squeezing as much as possible the left of the road, I managed to get underneath with one inch clearance.
14) First tree with few clearance…
No way for the second one. Clearance was about 3 feets less thant VLV. So I took the axe! 😀 I neede about 1:15 hour to manage to make a first cut (dry wood his hard !).
15) Woodcutter work…
16) The tree after the first cut.
I then used the winch of VLV for the first time, trying to rip the tree in the direction of the road. But the weight of the tree was such that when I tried to pull the base, it got into the ground. No other way than cutting the main trunk above again. Three quarter of an hour later with the axe, it was done! I was able to winch the main trunk to put it parallel to the road and then to rip it to the edge ; handy winch by the way!
Remained the third tree to pass under! The measure seemed to indicate that VLV should just go below to the nearest inch. I moved inch by inch, going out every moment to gauge the clearance between tree and roof rack. 5 iches, then 3… then 1. I deflated the tires to 0.5 bar upstream to win half an inch or so, advanced 15 iches… It was still about 15 inches to pass Under while the right front wheel came in a big hole, about 20 inches deep. Despite taking some of the ground out to get some more clearanceg, VLV’s rack hds contact with the tree in front of stunned two guys arrived in the other direction aboard two Jeep, amazed to see such a van on a 4×4 road. They helped me pushing up a last small tree, allowinf VLV to go underneath. Finally, the rack is solid, VLV escaped without any scratch, leaving a big bleeding under the tree…
17) Third tree…
Finally, I needed almost 6 hours to drive less than 5 miles, a great speed average, isn’t it? 😀
18) GPS statistics…
The two guys took some pictures when i was winching the second tree, I hope to receive it and will post it if.
No need to say that it was much to late to go hiking Mount Yonah. I then find another nice boondocking place to spend the night and
Pas besoin de vous dire qu’il était bien trop tard pour aller gravir le Mont Yonah. J’ai donc trouvé une autre jolie place pour passer la nuit et and rest the Pschitt a little tired..! 😉
19) Another nice sunset
That’s it for today. My next update will soon show you my day at Mount Yonah…

North-West Georgia…

I let you when I headed to Georgia to continue paperworks to obtain VivaLaVida registered Under my name. I first obtained several documents and went to the DMV office to ask for my driver license. Happy to produce all documents needed, My joy was short since immigration didn’t confirmed me again ( similar to my North Carolina episode…). After more than 100 miles to go to immigration services, then to Custom and Border Protection in Atlanta Airport, nothing else to do than waiting for a call of DMV in the next 5 to 30 days..!
I then decided to go to North-West Georgia to discover that part of Appalachian.
1. Leaving Lake Lanier in a cold and sunny morning.
2. Pancake time! 😉
3. First night in Talluhla Primitive Campground, just next to the river. I was alone there…
After a ford river crossing, I drove a forest road mentionned 4WD on the map. Some places were quite washed out by rain, so VivaLaVida had occasion to proof her capability! 😉
4. First axle crossing
5. Steep part!
6. leaning curve and Wheel without weight…
7. Real axle travel! Even so, no need to lock differentials, quite impressive!
8. Nice hike to the le Rocky Knob…
The I went to the highest point of Georgia, the Brasstown Bald. Not really exceptional since it’s “only” 4’600 feets elevation. A twenty minutes hike from the parking lot to the summit. There is a small museum presenting some elements of pioniers of that area and wild life information. The sighting is gorgeous all around.
9. Pastel…
10. Visitor Center on the summit
11. Nice trout river on the road…
After spending the night in a glade, I went to visit two nice waterfalls.
12. Ice next to the road
13. Ephemeral curtain…
14. Dukes Creek Falls
15. Beautiful vistas East…
16. “Who is that guy..?”
17. “Well, I prefer to eat befor snow comes again!”
18. Horse Trough Falls, far away in Upper Cattahoogee River, a remote wilderness. Since the road was washed out, I hiked the last 6 miles…
19. Spending the night in the Upper Cattahoogee River wilderness, I found a nice boondocking site up a small forest road…
20. Still better with campfire, isn’t it? 😉
Since that night, a lot of rain came down and the downhill of the small forest road was scabrous since very slipery muddy surface. I neede two an a half ours to drive 1.5 miles and 1’550 feets down. But I finally arrived safe down.
21. Safe down in rain and fog! 😉
Next to come in some days… 😀

Tennessee (4 and end)

Here it is, the new Title of Vivalavida arrived! So I’m back to Fletcher to pass technical inspection by the seller – Chris in this case – necessary for subsequent registration. I will then be able to go to Georgia where the following steps are still to be done: get proof of residence, a certificate stating that I am not “eligible” for social security, obtain my Georgian driving lisence (it will be easier since I already have a US driver license) and finally register VLV Under my name. Still many steps, hoping they will not be as long as the previous…
I take this opportunity to update the blog with some of the last images brought from Tennessee. I left you at the Big South Fork …
The next morning, the snow had whited the country and the clouds were very low. I went to see the Angel Falls on the Big South Fork River, flooded after two days of almost uninterrupted heavy rains. A beautiful wild atmosphere …
I saw two pileated woodpecker, too fearful that I could photograph without a tent.
1) Flooded Big South Fork River
3) driftwood…
4) Angel Falls transformed in powerful rapids…
I then did a bit of road eastward to explore two beautiful natural arches the next day. Arrived when the night was well fallen, I declined to pursue the trail marked on the map which was washed out and completely frozen by the ambient 16°. I stopped near a small lake to spend a night.
The next day, I was somehow baptized by that winter! 😉
First by a really frosty morning: 7° to the outside thermometer, 27° to Vivalavida’s dash thermometer, behind the front curtain. First night that the heater, set to 40° to protect the bowels from freezing, has started at 3.30 am.
5) Morning at my campsite with 7°: cold! (taken with my iPhone…)
In the daylight, I was able to continue the snowy trail and I stopped at the hiking trailhead. After having equipped myself for “cold” weather, with my waterproof pants, my jacket on three polar layers, I started the trail. After a little more than a mile, I discovered a river to cross! Not very big, probably 20-25 feets wide, but deep enough for the water to enter in my shoes, which was excluded given the temperature. So, no other choice than taking my shoes off and cross barefoot! believe me, it was an exhilarating experience! 😀 A beautiful baptism, isn’t it?
After walking a few feets in the snow to dry my feet, I puted socks and shoes again and had good warm feet for the whole hike! A little more than one hour later, I discovered Primroy Arch, beautiful in that snowy day. I don’t know if it’s because of its name but it is unfortunately widely tagged with lovers names … A shame for such a great natural monument even if the symbol is pretty…
6) Primeroy Arch
7) Primeroy Arch (2)
8) Thanksgiving decoration..! 😉
9) Pretty colors under the arch, portion that taggers didn’t reach…
I continued the hike to the beautiful “Drive’in Triple Arch”, rather sought my way through the forest, which was a little difficult to find with the recently fallen snow…
10) do you see the trail..?
11) end there..? 🙂
In fact, it was more a GPS navigation than anything else .. I also had some trouble finding the arch nestled at the bottom of a long cliff, or more exactly to access it. I made ​​several attempts to down the cliff of about hundred feet, finding me every time over a impassable sheer. In the end, I made a detour of nearly an hour to reach the end of this long cliff, then walk down of it the other way. I discovered this beautiful arch which is actually a double arch. It is a good example of how these arches appear: water seeps into cracks of the cliff and the frost breaks the rock above, the keystone of the arch preventing it from breaking below. Ice present that day highlight water infiltration.
12) Dirve’in triple Arch
13) ice stalagmites under the arch…
The return went without particular problem – in recrossing the river of course – and when I found Vivalavida at about 3PM back, the roads were still frozen by 26° ambiance…
14) winter on the raos…
15) narrow passage…
16) small Church on the road
I then spent two days next to an artificial lake, enjoying watching the birds. First, a large group of Canadian Geese, about 80 individuals. What a noise they make! 😀
17) Canadian Goose
18) this was a little worried about my presence…
19) an American robin
20) a plower killdeer, quite difficult to approach…
21) seagulls..
22) my campsite thèses two days. Nice, isn’t it?
At the announcement of the arrival of the Title, I took the road back to North Carolina, stopping to visit some relics of the past…
23) muddy road…
24) One of the first l’un des premiers weight-mill, a column of water driving a turbine. This one was built in late 19th century.
25) old preserved house, a relic of the 19th century (1860 for it)
26) construction details…
27) traditional barriers; durable and which don’t need nails to build..!
28) traditional birdhouses made ​​in calabashes and an apples house in the background.
29) And finally, a photo taken by Eric during our meeting in Maryville. It was he who advised me to visit the Big South Fork, many thanks to him!

Still in Tennessee

Here is the following of my Tennesse trip., with a poor light because of the not very pleasant weather.
I went to Kentucky to visit a natural Bridge, just North of the Big South Fork area.
1) Natural Bridge
2) Temp was about 16°, difficult to show without these icy formations!
3) Natural hanging gardens…
4) Along the road, I sometime see nice traces of the past…
5) Small house rebuilt as it was in 1850…
The next night, Vivalavida was entitled to his snow baptism. I woke up Under the rain by 29° and went to discover Northrup Falls, probably one of the falls that are my favorite so far.
6) Freezing rain…
7) Pine forest Under the rain…
The fall jumps a high oberhanging cliff about 200 yards long. Athmosphere was really wild, with rain and fog, and a deafening noise, reinforced by the echo of the cliff as I approached the falls.
8) The overhanging cliff…
9) Discover of these amaising falls
10) Details…
11) Northrup Falls
The rain still heavy, I went to visit the Bunkum Cave, not very far away.
12) Nice last fall colors in this wet forest
13) Entry of the cave, with the surprise to discover that a small river is coming out of it…
14) Exploring the cave is forbidden to protect endemic bats from a parasite killing them. So I couldn’t venture beyond daylight…
15) Holly…
There are still some pictures of my discovery of the North Tennessee to come soon…
Great week to all! 😀