December 2015

Friday -- December 4, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 46

Hear ye, Hear ye Hear ye, The Canoe Cruisers Association is having it's annual Holiday Party, Swap Meet tonight!
Friday, December 4th From 6:00 to 9:00 PM Bring a dish to share. CCA will provide beverages. Bring your old gear to swap or sell. You may also bring new items to sell.
Bring your friends. All are welcome.
Bring your money. We will be taking membership renewals and new memberships at the party.
Save time. Fill out your membership form in advance at
I organize this party every year. It's a lot of fun and it would be great to see some of my Islander friends there. Plus, we'll be showing the environmental documentary "Dam Nation"
See you tonight!

If you can't make it this year, be sure to be there next year!

Monday -- December 7, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 46

The river got real close to five feet on Saturday but it's slowly dropping back to a more reasonable level.

I'm glad I was here when the relief caretakers showed up on Saturday. I haven't had a chance to meet a lot of the waitlisters, so it was fun getting to know Sarah Fraidin and her kids. I'm also glad I was here to show them how to run the ferry in high water.

It's a nice warm day today and the sun is out and the birds are singing. The gold finches are busy at the thistle feeder. We're not sure how much longer they will stay here before they fly south but we'll keep feeding them and hope that they stay all winter.

We had the pleasure of watching a flock of cedar waxwings yesterday. The birds were busy eating the ripe berries from the hackberry tree that grows next to the old metal bridge. The bridge is high up in the canopy, making it perfect for birdwatching. We got so close to the waxwings that we could almost touch them!

Tuesday -- December 8, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 46

I just got this thank-you note from Jeff Kveck of the USGS.

"Hi Joe, Just wanted to thank you again for letting us launch from the island yesterday. It was a big help to us."

Always happy to help our friends at the USGS. They wanted to do a river survey while the river was at 14000 cfs. They had already done a reading earlier in the summer when the river was only 4000 cfs. Their next target is when the river is around 20000, or 5 feet at the little falls gage.

I asked Pepco to come down this morning and check on a power line that's sagging. The guy seemed reluctant to hike down the hill but he eventually came down to take a look at the problem. He determined that it was not a serious problem and that there was nothing that could be done to tighten the wire at this time. OK, works for me.

Sunday -- December 13, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.6     Water Temperature: 46

Pretty warm for this time of year but I really don't expect the Island to get over-run with visitors.

Boy Scout Troop 1441 camped here last night. They were hoping to do some winter camping but I don't think they were disappointed about the weather. They came to camp but they also came to do a community service project. The project that I chose for the kids was to clean up our upper and lower parking lots, and they really did a bang-up job. We trimmed the tree branches, bushes and vines, we raked and shoveled the leaves and we picked up all of the beer cans and other trash.

I was really proud of what we got done and I'm sure that the visitors of the Club will appreciate having a nice, clean parking lot that is so much more inviting. Thanks Scouts!

I saw another bunny. Maybe it was the same one I saw last week, it's still cool.

I'm happy to report that so far this Fall, there hasn't been the usual Autumn beaver rampage. Historically, this is the time of year when the beaver get busy cutting down our trees to stock-pile food for the winter, let's hope they stay away.

Wednesday -- December 16, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.4     Water Temperature: 46

All of this warm weather has warmed up the river but it's still too cold to use the Club canoes and Kayaks.

The air is warm today but there is a strong wind to contend with. I got hit with a big gust just after dropping Gerry. I could see that a big gust was coming by the way that the river suddenly became wavy and agitated upstream. Then the bell rope went horizontal and then, POW, the power of the gust hit me and the ferry. All I could do was crouch down low and hold on with all my might while the ferry fish-tailed behind me.

I forgot to mention that Waitlister, Rodolfo Casto, came down on Sunday to stain the swim float and swim dock. We put new plywood on the docks back in the Spring so it was time to put a protective coating on them. We owe him a debt of gratitude for doing a great job putting on the first couple of coats. I hope the stain helps preserve the plywood, I must say that I'm disappointed about how the new plywood is holding up. It seems a few of the new boards are already splitting and coming apart.

Wednesday -- December 23, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.5     Water Temperature: 48

There is lots of rain predicted but they don't expect any serious flooding. The river may rise above five feet (ferry closes at five feet) on Saturday, but we'll wait and see.

It's been a quiet week. I had one party visit on Sunday but since Gerry left on Saturday last, no one has been around to ring the bell.

I did notice a couple of squirrels coming and going along the over-the-river power line, but that's about it as far as visitors.

I did some work on my mailbox up on MacArthur Blvd. Last year someone plowed their car into the shrubs and mailboxes along the boulevard there. My neighbors talked of redoing the boxes in some kind of fancy combined brick mailbox but since I never heard any more about it, I went ahead and sturdied up my existing box.

The woodpeckers have been busy digging into the wood trim of the work shed. I didn't understand it until I looked and found what they were after, the larvae of the carpenter bees. Every summer, the carpenter bees drill perfect 1/2 inch holes into our wood trim. (usually on a south-facing surface, out of the wind) They burrow into the wood and lay their eggs to be hatched the following year. Somehow the woodpeckers know this and dig into the wood the find the bugs inside. This, of course, is not good as the wood trim gets drilled by bees and then splintered by woodpeckers. The solution? Paint. Bees do not like to chew through paint to get to the wood and without the bees and their eggs, there will be no woodpeckers either. I patched all of the holes and I put a primer coat on the south-facing wood trim of the tool shed. I'll paint it as weather allows.

The woodpeckers were also pecking near one of my windows and made me realize that we have a spot of rotted window trim that needs replacing. Always something.

Saturday -- December 26, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 48

Sorry folks, but we decided to close the ferry for today. The river is so close to five feet that we decided to play it safe and close the ferry. The good news is that it looks like I will be able to run the ferry again tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday -- December 27, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.4     Water Temperature: 54

The ferry is open!

I'm sort of expecting a busy day on the Island since it's supposed to be our last warm day for a while and it might be the only day this week that the ferry will be operating. 5.2 feet predicted tomorrow.

The beaver have claimed their first victims of the year. One victim was the spice bush that was growing right next to the stairs to the Club house! Mary and I walked down to the bottom of the Island last night after dark and watched the carefree beaver swimming around and slapping their tails on the water. I counted four.

Monday -- December 28, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.9     Water Temperature: 52

Wow, seventy degrees in late December and not one member or waitlister showed up all day yesterday.

Mary and I wanted to make sure that the nice Sunday weather did not go to waste, so we took her tandem canoe out for a spin. We sort of feel like it's our unspoken duty to get out and enjoy the river for all those members that couldn't make it down. The current was a little strong but the high water can be a good thing. When the river reaches this height, about four feet, there is a little surfing wave that forms up by lock seven, near the Maryland shore. It's a tiny wave but perfect for some class II action and it makes for a nice destination. We paddled up, surfed a while and then paddled back against the wind. The whole trip only took forty minutes, but it felt like so much more.

I'm currently reading a book about Daniel Boone and the settling of Kentucky. Apparently, when the settlers first arrived at the banks of the Kentucky river in the 1770's, they found sycamore trees that were thirty-three feet in circumference! That is just incredible! The biggest sycamore tree that I found here on the Island was only a mere sixteen feet in circumference, and I thought that was big.

Tuesday -- December 29, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.2     Water Temperature: 50

The river is over five feet and the ferry is closed.

It's unclear right now as to when the river will go down again. It's rare when our gauge is at five feet and rising and the gauge in Paw Paw WV. is also rising. Usually if the river is going up down here, it means that it's going down up there. The old up-down, down-up.

We can't really complain about the river this year though. There have been very few days when the ferry was closed because of high water. We've only had five incidents when the river went above five feet! All year!

Happily, I finished my anti-carpenter bees project and did all caulking and painting on Sunday before the cold set in. I decided to paint the trim black, looks pretty good.

Thursday -- December 31, 2015
Water Level at Little Falls: 5.5     Water Temperature: 50

Happy End of 2015!

It looks like the ferry will be closed until the morning of Sunday, January 3rd. Luckily, I didn't plan any big New Years Eve Party.

And no need for a relief caretaker on Saturday.

Why is it so hard to start a chainsaw? I'm done trying, I'm bringing my electric chainsaw back down here on Sunday. I wasn't able to cut any wood but I did restock the firewood inside. I heard that it's going to get cold.