The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Boat Names

Cruise through a marina or walk along a boat dock and the names on the backs of the boats are bound to get your attention.

You see one like "Drift Away" and you know this was someone looking for escape. Nothing too fancy there.

But they can be sooo clever.

Aquaholic, My Wake, Three Sheets to the Wind -- now those took some thought.

Lots of people use the word "Miss" in front of a woman's name -- usually a woman in their life. Thus we get, Miss Monica, Miss Mary, Miss Belle.

But take it one step further into the gray matter and you get, Miss Behaven. I like that.

All of this was so intriguing to Linda Sturgill that she bought a camera and started taking pictures of boat names, and interviewing the owners who coined them. Spending half the year at Smith Mountain Lake and the other half in Florida, she has ample opportunity. (Or should i say a Boatload?)

She took 4,000 pictures and put 2,000 into the book, with as many of the stories as she could gather.

The book is called: Boats, Their names & Why.

There is a long list of stores that sell the book -- many around Roanoke and Smith Mountain Like.

You can contact Linda directly at

We had a great time shooting this story thanks to George Blosser and the members of the Smith Mountain Lake Antique and Classic Boat Society. They showed up in four gorgeous boats and took us around to get some b-roll and to talk about boats.

The best story I heard from the group is in the TV report. It's the story behind Bill Goold's boat, Firewood. Though it's gorgeous now, it was a heap when he brought it home -- complete with dry rot and holes in the side. His buddy told him it was nothing but firewood. The name stuck.

At any rate, thanks to everyone who took us for rides and shared the stories about the names on the back of their boats.

If nothing else I now have a yearning for an wooden boat so I can name one. But it's Ashore Bet that it won't happen anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Ponies of Mount Rogers

We had quite a hike up the side of Mount Rogers in order to get to the wild ponies. I'll write more later about the trek and my thoughts about the dangers they face in the winter. But as promised here are the links to some more info about the ponies. If you want additional information or photos there are plenty to be had. Simply Google "Feral Ponies Virginia" and you'll get a screen full of quality hits.
Click here to watch the story.


Running Wild

Feral Ponies of Virginia


Here are a few observations about the ponies and their plight. I'm actually torn as to what is the best way to handle the situation. There's something significant about letting the ponies be "wild." Letting them live and forage as their ancestors did before they became domesticated. We are used to the notion of deer being wild. Same for bears, rabbits and everything else in the woods.

Ponies are different. Here we have an animal that's been domesticated and returned to the wild. Low and behold -- it worked! They reverted to their instincts. they paw through the snow in the winter, they bed down in swamps and naturally seek shelter from the storms. Last winter, the snow was just so deep they couldn't move. What's amazing is that any of them survived.

The Wilburne Ridge Pony Association is supposed to give them some help when things get tough. I asked them repeatedly to meet me at Mount Rogers for this story, but my phone calls went unreturned. I was told by several people that the association is made of of about 12-15 people who are getting on in years and may not be able to really handle the adverse conditions that winter at 5,000 feet can dole out. Again -- I don't know for sure -- because I only had a brief conversation with one member who said he wasn't comfortable talking to the media.

What's clear is this. Wild or not -- the ponies are comfortable with people. Deer don't spend the night in your camping area, like the ponies did with one of the hikers I interviewed.

There is an enormous number of people who come to see these ponies, care about the ponies and want what's best for them.

Should they be rounded up and kept safe in a barn somewhere during the winter, or does that defeat the spirit of the "wild" herd.

Is there a better way to care for them in the winter? Could a more concerted effort be made? (I didn't say "should" because by many accounts it may not be possible despite the best of intentions.)

I don't have the answers. But I hope that by shining a light on these creatures in this story on FOX 21/27, that we all continue to talk about it.