Pics from Blue Hole, in Tennessee, June 2000

(Please see my Blue Hole information page for info, directions, etc.)

These pics are like a chronicle of our little journey. My friends Brian and Brad rode along, since both are Blue Hole veterans from last year and had a great time back then. :) Some of these photos were taken because some of my overseas friends wanted some pics of America. So, we took a few, like this one, from the "scenic overlook" on Ga Hwy 5 between Jasper and Ellijay, and this one from the same place.

Then Brian took a pic of me, but turned the camera sideways. I have no idea why. :)

I call this place the "Apple Barn." Photo isn't that great, but it's an obvious landmark along Hwy 5.

Brian took a lot of pics of mountains in the distance, for my overseas friends, on the assumption that they don't have mountains overseas...or something. :)

Scenic McCaysville, GA. Actually this is the back of someone's vehicle in front of us descending the hill toward McCaysville and the bridge.

This is the trestle bridge over the Ocoee in McCaysville to your left as you cross the river. This also features my face, from the side. Oh, well.

More mountains.... and more (along the way through Copper Hill and Ducktown).....

...and more....

..and more....

..and more... (This is on US 64 heading from Ducktown to the Ocoee Whitewater Center).

"Welcome to Cherokee National Forest!"

We're there. And Brad is still tired.

I got a season parking permit; still only $15.

Here's a pic of me and Brad just after arriving, and here's another one.

Here's a pic of the "tourist tunnels" where we usually drop off our stuff; and here's another.

This is looking downriver from the tunnels...

Here's the suspension bridge over the river near the Ocoee Whitewater Center.

We swam for a while. The water was pretty cold and Brian and Brad weren't in the water for too long. :)

Later on during the day my friend Dirk showed up, with his friend Scott, Scott's wife and Dirk's cousin. We hung around by the tunnels for a while, grooving on guitar, tossing a frisbee and just relaxing. Here are some shots of the group.

  1. Our group....
  2. ..and again...
  3. Brad
  4. Dirk missed the frisbee :)
  5. Brian, looking like he's been chosen by God or being beamed up. :)
  6. Our group again
  7. Brian throwing the frisbee
  8. Some "river rats" (rafting guides) who showed up; Dirk knew 'em from Cleveland, Tenn. (yes, the guy's hair is blue)
  9. Brad again
  10. Brad playing guitar
  11. Brian
  12. Dirk's hair being braided
  13. Brad yet again
  14. Another group shot
  15. Dirk juggling three stones
  16. Dirk's friend (and bassist) Scott, with Brad
  17. Dirk again
  18. Dirk juggling
Since the riverbed is rocky, it's kinda fun to throw small rocks and see where they ricochet (and shatter)....
  1. Brad throwing
  2. Brad throwing again
  3. Looking upriver
  4. Looking downriver
  5. Brad throwing again
Eventually as darkness began to descend we headed to Cleveland, Tennesee, so we could get a motel room and get something to eat. (Dirk's mother had offered to let me stay there, but with two friends along for the trip, I decided it was too much of an imposition). We ate at a really excellent all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet close to the motel (we were HUNGRY!), then went over to Dirk's to hang out and watch him and Scott practice in Dirk's basement. I didn't bring the camera in, but I should have; they're really good in a Hawkwind/Ozric Tentacles vein. I brought my doumbek drum inside and everyone jammed together (Brad on classical guitar, Brian on bass, etc.) It was fun!

Then it was back to the motel for Brad, Brian and me, and we were TIRED.

Next morning we got up and went to Waffle House so Brad could get some breakfasty food. Brian and I didn't want tp eat much before going up to Blue Hole. Brian took this shot of the Waffle House with my car in the view (right foreground). Here's a shot of the famed Waffle House sign. :)

Then we headed up to Blue Hole along "The Old Copper Road," US 64. Brian took another shot of mountains in the distance -- our destination. Along US 64 there are a number of cool and unusual sights, like places to take helicopter and ultra-light plane rides, and of course Mrs. Bee's Purple Bus (beads and stuff), which looks like this....

Here's another shot of mountains....

This is the sign when entering the Cherokee National Forest from the Cleveland side.

We stopped at the big Ocoee #1 power dam (which forms Parksville Lake) and took some pics. Here's the map of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dams in the area, and here's the dam itself, seen here also. Here's another shot of the lake.

Our next stop was at the powerhouse for TVA's Ocoee #2 power plant. Here's the powerhouse itself, here are the two blue pipes that channel water from the flume down into the powerhouse, and here is "Thunder Rock," where overflow water is sometimes channelled down the mountainside. Not too common, but apparently it's loud. :)

During the day the river is allowed to flow over the Ocoee #2 diversion dam and down the river, for rafting and kayaking. Here's another pic of the dam, and another. It looks really awesome when the water is flowing over it. At night, the great gates to the wooden flume are opened and the water flows down the flume instead of the riverbed for three or four miles until it reaches the blue pipes and the powerhouse, where it drives a turbine. Free electricity, just add gravity. :)

The dam is also the site of the put-in ramp for all rafting and kayaking on the Middle Ocoee whitewater run.

Blue Hole itself is not too far past the Ocoee #2 diversion dam. Just as TVA's Ocoee #2 dam and powerhouse control the flow for the Middle Ocoee whitewater run, the Ocoee #3 dam and powerhouse control the Upper Ocoee run, in which Blue Hole itself is located. The #3 dam, which I've never seen except from a Chicago-bound airliner (!), is further up the river and usually diverts most of the river flow through a tunnel driven through the mountain, and out through a single pipe into the Ocoee #3 powerhouse. The powerhouse is maybe a mile past the #2 diversion dam on the way to Blue Hole. While the river is being diverted for power generation, the flow through Blue Hole is fairly slow, and this is when we can go swimming there. When the water is allowed to flow over #3 dam instead, the water level is 4 or 5 feet higher through the Upper Ocoee run, which is when kayakers and rafting companies can brave the whitewater. More information and the whitewater schedule are available on my main Blue Hole page.

We arrived at the Ocoee Whitewater Center (right near Blue Hole) at around 12:30. Here's a pic of the small bridge near the parking lot, with the big suspension bridge in the background.

Here's another pic of Brad and me, and here's a shot of the smiley face painted on one of the rocks in front of the Whitewater Center. (It forms a rapid when the river is high.)

Here's another pic of the bridge.

And from the bridge, here's a nice shot of Blue Hole itself. The tunnels are beyond the first wide, deep, circular basin. This is the OWC as seen from the bridge, and looking downriver, this is the reshaped. Olympic slalom course that was sculpted out of the original riverbed, downriver from the bridge. The riverbed upriver from the bridge wasn't modified. Whew!

When we got to the area by the tunnels, there were some girls sunning themselves on the other side of the river, which Brian was sure to record for posterior-- err, posterity.

Forewarned by yesterday, this time we brought my two wetsuits down from the car, and since Brian and Brad are both a lot skinnier than I am, I let them use the wetsuits first. Here's one shot of them, and here's another.

There were some younger girls there who Brian and Brad befriended. Here are Lydia and Katie, Brad and Lora, and here's Lydia again.

We spent much of the day in the water and left at around 5pm. Two guys found me and mentioned they had found the area through a webpage...turns out it was mine. :)

Brian tried to take this shot of a hawk circling over the parking lot as we were leaving, but you can't see much. :)

On the way through Copper Hill, Tenn. Brian took two shots of the big copper-smelting plant, here and here. The Boilermakers' Union is still on strike there, and has been since before the Olympics. Sheesh, give it up, guys!

This is a pic of the "Art Studio" along Hwy 5 in McCaysville where this cool kid named Neil lives (or lived). It's been three summers since I met him up at Blue Hole.

Rebel's Pantry. "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy...." Well, it's probably okay, just another example of silly Civil War imagery. :)

Here's a view from the southbound side of the "scenic overlook" on Hwy 5, this time; and here's another one.

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