Our morning began as usual: waking up, stumbling to the kitchen, stumbling around the kitchen and waiting for some coffee to brew. After making our lunches and getting enough coffee to start to
function, we set off for J Percy Priest lake. We began the day meeting rangers Matt and Carter at the boat ramp. The plan for the day: this team was getting it's first boat ride for the summer. For two months we've been interviewing boater after boater. We've been tantalized by their pontoons, motorboats, and occasional kayak. Plus, each day we've had to hear Tyler sing “On a Pontoon,” with no
opportunity to actually get on one. As you can imagine we were ecstatic to finally get a chance to experience the lake from the water. After the five of us strapped up with lifejackets, we set off … on our first pontoon!!!
Usually used to carry buoys, the pontoon was transporting us to an island that was in desperate need of trash pickup. We made one quick stop at a marine fuel station, and then we were off to the island. Well,we started on our way to the island, however the pontoon was not willing to carry us all. Our tour boat started to lean to one side, getting a little too low for comfort in the water. After some quick checks Matt and Carter decided it was best not chance it, with the possibility of us swimming back to shore. After motor boating back to the boat ramp, Matt and Carter went on a search for another boat for us. Unable to find an available boat, our tour of the lake from the water turned into a tour on land via a Chevy Tahoe. Matt and Carter took us to some great sites that none of us had thought to venture to yet. We saw Walter Hill, Mona boat ramp and West Fork, to name just a few. And along the way we were entertained by story after story from Matt and Carter. Here are but a couple of the stories for your enjoyment:
Patrolling the lakes everyday, the rangers encounter a variety of people. Some a little more colorful than others. One of Matt's more colorful experiences came when a camper approached him, complaining of a 'coon in the area. The camper bellyached the 'coon was running around drinking people's chocolate milk. The camper said he saw the 'coon open up his cooler, take the chocolate milk out and drink it. When the camper confronted the 'coon, the coon replied “not 'til I'm done drinking.”
One of the more tragic events the rangers encountered occurred the day before this conservation day. While Matt and Carter were patrolling West Fork, a recreation site with a parking lot and boat ramp, they spotted off the side of the road a body in the ditch. It was later found that the person was shot and killed not on site, but dumped there after. The police quickly identified and arrested the assailants. Luckily this is a rare occurrence for the area.