Category Archives: Scott Author

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX Lens and Nikon D60 camera test.

Bought a used Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX lens (paid 112.00 dollars) on ebay and I’ve been testing it out. Currently I’m shooting with a Nikon D60 that was introduced in 2008. You can purchase these cameras cheap on the web. This Nikon D60 only had around 4500 shutter clicks. I paid around 120.00 dollars for a complete kit that came with the Nikon 18-55mm VR DX lens. Some of the photos were taken in Sparta, TN on a sunny day and a few where taken on a rainy day in another town.

There was a bike ride in Sparta, TN and this was taken in the Town Hill Bike Shop.

Sparta Tennessee is starting to boom. New brew pub getting ready to open.

Tennessee is all about music.

Another cheap bike.

The town clock.

Walking in a park and I came across this turtle. Slowly or maybe rapidly they are disappearing in Tennessee. Run over by the dozens in my area.

Nice color in this leaf.

Mcminnville, TN

My trusty Panasonic LX-3 that refuses to die. Been through Mexico, Central America and South America. Paid 500.00 dollars for it. You can buy them on ebay for 35.00 dollars now. Great small travel camera. Battery life sucks though. Carry a spare.

The problem with Ebay is you never really know what condition your camera or lens is going to be in. It’s a crap shoot.

This site offers a warranty and sells some good cameras. I just purchased a Nikon D300 and waiting for it to arrive. Free shipping. The Nikon D300 I ordered was listed as well worn with around 31,000 shutter clicks. These cameras are suppose to last up to 150,000 shutter clicks. So will be interesting in what condition it’s in. The pictures of the camera looked good. Just some minor scrapes and bumps.

So the bottom line is this lens and camera make a good combination. You don’t need the latest or greatest gear to get good pictures.


Alley cat mountain bike trailhead in Crossville, Tennessee USA.

There is a little gem of a mountain bike trail tucked away in an inconspicuous corner of Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville, Tennessee. Drive into the park and head toward the restaurant and then take a hard right and follow the signs to the tennis courts on top of the hill. Take a left on top of the hill and you will see the sign of “Alley cat mountain bike trailhead” in the far corner.

Now technically it’s strictly for Mountain biking and not for hiking. But not having a mountain bike what is one to do? So I decided to have a peek.

What struck me while exploring the mountain bike trail was the care that went into leaving a light footprint. The trail is well constructed to prevent erosion and preserve plants and trees. I very much felt I was walking on a nature path instead of a destructive gouge through the woods.

Zig zag down the mountain and back up the mountain. Some gnarly metal and natural jumps to keep you alert on your descent down the trail. Then you get to see if your heart pumps enough blood to make it back up the hill.

The really cool part is when you reach the top of the trail and it’s the final sprint through the woods in a very curvy meadow trail. Some rad corners and then back into the woods and you reach the trailhead where you started.

Now this just using my imagination. A real bike must be way cooler.

Frog Crossing

Andrew of Hurricane Cycles (Crossville, TN on Hwy 70) built the trail with lots of help from volunteers. The trail took about a year to complete.

Seems like a good beginner to intermediate trail to test your metal and see if your bike can withstand the punishment. The trail is easily accessible for folks who live in the nearby vicinity.

Wandering around the trail on foot this old quote came to me,
“Take only memories and leave nothing but footprints”.

One thing mountain bikers have going for them is not having to deal with the dangers of cars on the road. Trails like this serve a purpose to get people back in nature and on a bike and a good cardiovascular workout.

Some random photos in the meadow area.



Peace 🙂


Small town fair in Tennessee, USA.

What is it that attracts people to small town fairs? Fun? The fun consists of carnival rides, food, animals, music and etc…. I met one lady that just liked to watch the people. Fried Oreo’s and other healthy foods to raise your blood sugar. Winning a Guns and Roses framed picture on the dart balloon game. Or is it getting tossed around in circles on carnival rides. I don’t know?

Maybe small town fairs take us back to the days of the simple things in life.

We get to forget our worldly troubles for the day. Take silly pictures and laugh.

Jam out to some music.

Share your kids artwork.

See who can grow the biggest watermelon.

Pet a cow.

Watch  people ride mules.

Stuff like that.

Oldest African-American church still operating in Bledsoe County, Tennessee.

If you ever pass through the small town of Pikeville, Tennessee you will find this church sitting about a quarter mile outside of town. Ask how to find it, because it sits on some back road.

I’ve passed by the church many times and never new the history. I always did like how it looked and the little plot of land it sat on.

The church has always been closed when I drive by it. Finally stopped and took some pictures and learned something.

I tried to save you my friend

Unfortunately you passed away before my eyes. Riding my bicycle one day I came across you in the road. I thought you were just stunned and placed you in the bushes out of harms way. The next day I came to check on you and there you sat beside the road. We made eye contact and you let out a sweet “cheep”. Placing you in my bike bag I road as fast as I could to get you home.

Placing you in a clean box with a soft towel, water and food. You seemed content and drank. The night came and the lightning cracked and I was sure you left this earth. The next morning early I peeked under the blanket and there you stood breathing. My heart rejoiced.

You fought, but the odds were against you. I watched you fight to survive and then suddenly you were gone. I’m sorry. The world is a tough place for a little bird.

The little Nuthatch just died in this photo. He/she still looks alive.

Your buried in my backyard beside a little pine tree.

Rest in peace!

100 dollar bike adventure. Schwinn old school.

Well I was looking for a used road bike and I had a budget of around 500.00 dollars. Though I did not want to part with that money (cheap charlie!) One day I was dreaming in a bike shop. Checking out the latest in Carbon Fiber ultra lite road bikes. Nice.

Up on the second hand top shelf sat a red thing with a price tag of 100.00 dollars, so I took it for a ride around the parking lot. Felt like a Ferrari compared to my other clunker. Paid and gently put my new baby in the back of my truck bed.

Got home and took it for a spin. My butt ached and I discovered the brakes needed replaced. So I bought a new saddle and updated the brake lines and pads for a total of around 70.00 dollars. Not bad.

This bike is a Schwinn Chicago Super Le Tour (around 34 years old). The frames paint is pretty much kaput, but everything else is pretty good shape. Seems like this was a project bike abandoned. New tires, rims, rear cassette and chain. Bike store mechanic said the previous owner put about 250.00 dollars in it.

Reading up on this frame I discovered it’s bomb proof. Steel and solid. Hand crafted. Suntour components still shift smooth as silk. Took some getting used to though. Old style shifting levers mounted on the frame. Not indexed. Funny how the body adapts quickly.

Can I hang with the big boys and girls on the new carbon fiber bikes? Nope!

All I can tell you about the 2000 dollar bikes is they are fast. So fast they disappear ahead of me. The good news is we usually end up in the same place.

Now I treat my Schwinn like a 2000 dollar bike. Wash it and wax over the scars from 34 years of use. Dry it off after coming off a rainy day ride. Make sure the tire pressure is correct. Lube the chain. You know.

I’ve been having a blast on this Schwinn Chicago bike. Even stopped and rescued a turtle on one ride. No helmet for me. It seems the only time I’ve ever wrecked on a bike is when I had those fancy pedals that you clip in your shoes. This bike has the normal steel pedals that you wear tennis shoes with. I like that!

The point of this article is about joining the fun on the cheap. Yeah, it’s nice having the latest and greatest equipment, but you can still join the fun on the cheap.

Who knows I might even buy an obnoxious horn for giggles.

Turtles need our help.

So far this season I have rescued 5 turtles crossing busy roads in Tennessee. By rescue I mean placing them on the other side of the road in the direction they were heading. That makes me feel slightly good, but I’ve counted 19 dead on the road this season.

I’ve read up some on boxer turtles and here are some interesting facts:

  • Boxer turtles lay eggs at around 10 years of age.
  • Boxer turtles usually spend their life on 2 to 10 acres of land where they hatched.
  • Boxer turtles removed from their birth place will wander aimlessly until they die.

So if you find a turtle in the road. Just place the turtle on the other side of the road in the direction the turtle is heading. Seems that is all we can do. Don’t take the turtle and relocate it far from it’s home.

I’ve noticed some turtles that reach the other side of the road and can’t climb over the curb. So the turtles follow the curb until it either finds an opening or falls in a storm drain. Curbs are a good place to scan for turtles when you are driving.

Above all be careful when you rescue turtles. Find a safe place to turn around and pull over. Then look both ways when crossing the road to place the turtle out of the way.

Seems as people are buying bigger SUVs it’s making turtles survival harder. Plus the loss of habitat. Maybe in the future smart cars might be able to navigate around small animals. My fear is the turtles might not see the future.

Smoky Mountain Newfound Gap Road.

Driving through the Cherokee reservation in Tennessee after attending a week-long course at John C Campbell Folk School. I stopped at McDonald’s for a cup of coffee and a value meal chicken sandwich. Entering McDonald’s I held the door open for a nice Cherokee Indian lady and said hello. She said hello back to me. It’s best to tread very lightly in Indian territory, just in case some war party comes riding through looking for fresh scalps.

I was seeing how far 500mb of data on my google maps would get me and Newfound Gap Road looked like a good drive, plus I was trying to avoid society that day. The road was semi-cleared of snow and ice. Really I didn’t give a shit if I got stuck, since I had my sleeping bag and some dried nuts. Plus the creeks were not frozen over. Figured I could survive for 3 days until I started the hike back to McDonald’s.

The Newfound Gap Road is like 35 miles from Cherokee to Gatlinburg bypass. Coming around a corner I saw a sign for Mingus Mill. So I hit the brakes and pulled into the parking lot. It was rather chilly and immediately I had the urge to take a piss. The bathrooms were closed, so I opted for the gender neutral bathroom in the bushes.

So the Mingus Mill in the Smoky Mountains is where the local community used to grind their wheat into flour. Imagine that.

Here are some photos of the Mingus Mill.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Then I proceeded up the mountain in my vehicle. On the top of the mountain it was very beautiful. A crow flew over my vehicle and I snapped this shot with my LG G4 phone.

The trees were glittered with snow crystals and children ran around with glee. Their buxum moms attempted to climb the ten steps for the little overlook observation platform. I said a prayer, because I new if they slipped on those stairs it was going to be an ugly slid down and they might skid across the paved road. Tangled in the guard rail and scuff that nice North Face jacket. Plus my CPR skills are rusty. I usually go for the chest compression’s first. Just to see if they are worth saving. Sorry.

Some History of Newfound Gap (Click Pic)

Good pic of the road on top of the mountain.

So pretty

So this is the easy way to see some of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee from the luxury of your vehicle.

Google maps used very little data on my phone plan. Recommended if you don’t have a GPS in your vehicle. I used around 6 Megabytes of data.

Cheap DIY folding sleeping pad.

Name brand folding sleeping pads can cost a lot of money. Make your own fast and cheap. Forget perfection.

Supplies you need:

Monkey math (your brain)

Cheap blue camping sleeping pad

Razor knife


Carpenters square

I needed a folding sleeping pad to insert in my G4 ultra-lite backpack. Not being sure if my pack would even hold together on a hike, I just decided to make my own folding sleeping pad on the cheap. Why spend the money when the pack might fall apart. Plus I had an old mat in the moonshine camp wrapped around some old copper.

There is a video online that shows you how to make one using a hot knife, but I don’t own a hot knife.

First do the monkey math and figure how many folds you want in your mat. My monkey math ended with 7 folds. If you can’t figure the monkey math, then turn yourself in at the local zoo. Maybe they will free a monkey. Exchange type program.

So use a razor knife set so that it will not cut through the sleeping mat.

Then make your marks with a carpenters square. My marks were every 10.5 inches for a total of 7 folds. Your marks and cuts will alternate from front to back, so that the mat folds.

You need to make several passes to get a clean cut. Be sure you do not cut all the way through the mat. Set your razor accordingly.

These cheap foam mats are durable and hold together even when you cut 3/4 of the way through the material.

Here the mat is folded out and it has a total of 6 cuts.

Here is the camping mat compressed after all cuts were made. Not perfect, but will get the job done.

The DIY folding mat inserted in the G4 ultra-lite pack ready for the trail.


G-4 ultra-lite backpack kit quick review.

Though I have fantasies about tromping through the wilderness naked with a bowie knife clenched between my teeth and sleeping in trees. Gear is good.

You can buy a kit online to make your own G-4 backpack for under 50 dollars, drop some extra cash for foam to fill the shoulder and hip straps (unless socks will do for you). Maybe some extra thread for fun.

The G-4 ultra-lite backpack is old school. A cult like following with lots of history (Google it). There is a sense of manly or womanly pride in making your own gear. You understand your gears strengths and weaknesses. You need patience to make your own gear. Days when you turn the sewing machine off and walk away in disgust, yet you return the next day with determination. Days when you scream and laugh out loud.

This pack is for 18 lbs or less. The bare-bones minimalist backpacker.

As you can see in this photo there is plenty of outside mesh storage space.

The side view shows also more mesh storage space.

In this photo you can see where your z-rest sleeping pad would go. That would be your support for your back. Both shoulder and hip straps have the foam inserted.

Mesh fabric holds your sleeping pad in place.

The kit does not include foam, but calls for using your socks as padding. Hardcore.

Shot of the foam in the shoulder straps. Velcro holds the foam or your socks in place.

Hip pads with foam inserted. Also have Velcro.

Very important to pay attention on this buckle that attaches the shoulder straps to the bottom of the pack. Make sure the buckle is oriented in the right direction before you sew it on to the strap (test it). Or you will have a big headache in removal.

Hip buckle is very small compared to heavy pack.

Nice hand carry strap to move your pack around.

Two ways your can close the top of your pack. One way is fold the flap and Velcro on side.

Velcro that holds the fold together. Rather confusing in the directions.

Here you can see the cinch line if your just wanted to do a traditional closure.

It’s your pack you can do what ever you like. You are given two options.

This pack is not waterproof. You need to stuff your gear in a garbage bag to keep dry.

Final thoughts. Pretty good directions, but more pictures would help. Difficult for the beginner sewer. But take your time and you can do it. Don’t worry about little mistakes, you can always make little repairs to fix your oops.