The Tranquility of a Wilderness Lake…or Not?

My wife, daughters and I were blessed with the good fortune to enjoy the tranquility of a wilderness lake for the better part of twenty years. We built our dream house on a lake in southern Virginia in 1991. Back then, we could traverse the lake in a small Johnboat with 4 HP motor, or sail on a tiny 12-foot catamaran in peaceful serenity (and not get swamped). The water appeared so clean and clear we could see the bottom in 20 foot of water off of our dock, and that water was teeming with small fish. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Such a peaceful time, a ride on the lake brought a sense of serenity and the nights were so quiet I sometimes thought I had gone deaf. We often took a relaxing swim or float off of the dock, without being run over by boats or jet skis. We could sit on our dock, anytime night or day, enjoy the spectacular views, grill and enjoy a meal, sit and read, catch some rays…it was heavenly. But, apparently all things really do come to an end eventually. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

For the last ten years, the realtors and developers went into overdrive, and the lake got “discovered.” Condos, townhouses and single family home developments sprung up everywhere. We had this beautiful small wilderness cove just around the corner from us where my young daughters and I would take the paddleboat or kayak; nothing there but a couple of old houses and lots of wilderness. We visited with muskrats, snakes, birds, turtles and fish, a glorious time. In those last ten years that cove filled up with 30-40 new homes and docks, and with all the boats a person would have to be crazy to paddleboat there. Even the snakes ran away. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The problems started with the appearance of whole herds (flocks? schools?) of jet skis. I blame the jet skis (why not? It’s as good an explanation as any). All of a sudden one summer the lake went from quiet solitude to the constant buzzing of what sounded like giant bees. The things were everywhere. Tranquility of a wilderness lake 

One July afternoon I was swimming no more than five feet from our dock, when a crazy man on one of those giant bees came very close to running over me. He actually did bump into our floating dock. I’m guessing there was alcohol involved, but he buzzed away before I could thank him for not killing me. After that point, we swam off the dock at our own peril. If memory serves, I once saw an old Sci-Fi movie named Attack of the Killer Bees, but I don’t think it had anything to do with jet skis. Perhaps they should do a remake. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Then came the fifty-foot offshore racing boats. I don’t know what genius thought it would be a good idea to introduce a fifty-foot ocean racing boat with 2000 HP to a lake, but they showed up. I could never understand why anyone felt the need to get from one end of the twenty-mile-long lake to the other in five minutes, but apparently some people are in a big hurry. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

One of these giant boats ran over the back of a cabin cruiser, killing the elderly couple and their dog who were just trying to enjoy the lake. Another one ran over a jet ski and killed that person as well. I got a special kick out of an interview I saw on the local news in this regard. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Some guy that owned one of these beasts was being interviewed about the appropriateness of allowing these boats on a lake. His response was that only certain “special” people, such as himself (of course) were capable of driving these boats safely. As Governor DeSantis would say, don’t piss on my leg and then tell me it’s raining. More clearly stated, this guy was…how can I say this without being offensive…an idiot. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The lake used to include lots of so-call speed boats or ski-boats; Chris Craft, Cobia, Wellcraft, Sea-Ray, etc. You could ski, tube, and wakeboard behind them, and while they produced some wake, it was not destructive. Then one day, my wife and I were sitting on our stationary dock with our youngest daughter playing on the floating dock with a life jacket on. That’s when we got our first taste of the new (at the time) wakeboard boats. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

These are special (there’s that word again) speed boats with ballast in the back to push the stern of the boat down so it makes a large wake, giving the wakeboarder something larger to jump. The boat was probably 30 feet from our dock, and when the giant wake hit, the entire stationary dock shook like we were having an earthquake. The wake flowed over the floating dock, and washed our daughter into the lake. A traumatic time was had by all. From peace and tranquility to man-made tsunamis in one summer. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Next summer, the surfing boats showed up. These boats were similar to the wakeboard boats, but even worse. They were designed to create sufficient waves/wake for someone to actually surf behind the boat. Now, I’ve been to the ocean, and I lived on a lake. Seems to me a rational person who is into surfing might go to the beach, you know, where the waves are. And, if you fall off your surfboard, you’re not likely to get chewed up by a propeller. Only thing I could figure out was these particular tsunami boats were created for people who wanted to surf but were afraid of salt, sand, and sharks? Curiouser and curiouser. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Bottom line, after these two types of boats appeared, we could no longer sit peacefully on our dock. These boats create their gigantic tsunamis which would shake the entire dock, creating a less than relaxing environment. Keep in mind, those dock posts were steel girders driven deep into rock. Furthermore, for four summers in a row the tsunamis created by these boats hit our floating dock so hard that it broke away from the stationary dock. It’s not particularly relaxing when people feel they have the right to destroy your property over and over, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

When we mentioned this on the local social media site for the lake, another of those “special” people responded with “if you don’t like the wake, get off the lake”. When I responded by suggesting that this person should drive their tsunami boat back and forth in front of their own dock, it turned out that they didn’t have a dock. We spoke to the local government, and they told us they were “doing a study”; interpretation, “you’re out of luck.” Again, curiouser and curiouser. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The lake became so crowded on weekends that it was no longer safe to take our boat out. We originally had a Chris Craft bowrider, but the waves were so bad and the bowrider bounced so much that we asked our chiropractor if he would please move into our spare bedroom. He declined, but he was sympathetic to our plight. Apparently his business had boomed with the advent of these tsunami boats; lots of injured backs and necks that needed adjusting due to all the bouncing. We traded our bowrider in on a pontoon boat that didn’t bounce as much, but even that was unbearable on weekends. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Also, the appearance of the jet ski made skiing a much more exciting sport, a death sport. People on jet skis like to jump wakes, and you find wakes behind speed boats. So, at one point it was no longer safe to take my kids skiing. We’d go out on the lake, one of my daughters would be up on her skis, and almost immediately someone on a jet ski would appear like magic, intent on jumping our wake. You know, the wake behind our boat, where my daughter was skiing. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

I became adept at driving the boat with one hand while shaking my fist and screaming obscenities at people on jet skis trying to run over my daughters. Finally, we gave up skiing altogether. Better not to be run over by a giant buzzing bee, and I eventually ran out of four-letter-words. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

For the last five years that we were at the lake, we were still living in what appeared to be wilderness. But, there were actually more people there than in the nearest city, over an hour away; seemed like a person hiding behind every tree. First, there were the renters who had no reason to care about the neighborhood. They obviously came to party. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The place two houses over from us was a rental with a dock on the same cove as ours. One lazy Sunday afternoon I was sitting on my dock, holding on tight to keep from being knocked off by an oncoming tsunami. Suddenly, two young women who had drunk one too many alcoholic beverages stood up, dropped their tops and did a little shimmy-shake in my general direction while giggling wildly. They waved at me and laughed. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Since I was in my sixties and they were no more than 25, I concluded that they were trying to kill me; murder by heart attack. When I told my wife about this incident, she was convinced I had gotten too much sun, or perhaps had lapsed into complete senility. It was strange, to say the least. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Then, one Saturday morning my daughter came looking for me. “Dad, there’s a man sitting on our lot down by the water fishing and drinking beer.” Thinking she was pulling my leg, I went along. To my surprise, when I walked out onto our deck to take a look, there was a man sitting on our lot down by the water fishing and drinking beer. Apparently, he was renting the house two doors over, and we had better access to the lake. I calmly explained to him that this was our home, and not a State Park, and asked him to go back to his rental. He argued, I started dialing the police, and he left. The lake just kept getting stranger and stranger. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Then there were the fishermen. My family would be sitting on our dock, having a nice Sunday cookout, and a big-ass bass boat with two or three fishermen would invariably come by. There must have been some fisherman’s code that you just didn’t give the homeowners any privacy. It was clear that the lake belonged to the fishermen, by the fact that they would invariably use their trawling motor to move slowly an inch or two from your dock, often bumping into it. And, it was not uncommon for a fisherman to try to cast under the dock, and instead manage to hook your boat cover. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

If you mentioned to them that this was not appropriate, they would become irate and launch into a tirade about how they had the right to be on the lake. I had no problem with that. It was the bumping into our dock and trying to reel in our boat cover that I took exception to. So, I often expressed my feelings that their behavior was not appropriate; I couldn’t help myself. It’s kind of entertaining to watch a guy have a tantrum while standing in a rocking boat trying to reel in a boat cover. It wasn’t particularly peaceful, but there was some entertainment value. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

There were also the workmen. During those last ten years, when the lake was booming, houses were springing up everywhere. At one point a builder was working on a house located somewhere between the main power line and our house, and about once a week the nincompoop would manage to cut the power lines. We and several other houses on that power line would lose power for a day or so until the power company could get out to repair the damage. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Then, the lot on one side of us decided to renovate their dock. We had a workman come to the door and ask if they could use our electricity to run their power tools during that project. Fortunately, I’m large, crotchety and capable of saying no. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The people on the lot on the other side of us hired a contractor to do some indoor renovations. I came home on a couple of occasions to find the workman’s pickup truck parked in the middle of my driveway so I couldn’t reach my house. I spoke to this man about it, explaining this was private property. He kept telling me it wasn’t a problem because he would be happy to move his pickup truck any time I needed to get to or from my house. Finally, I politely told him that if I found his truck in my driveway again, I was going to accidentally mistake it for a deer. And believe it or not, you were allowed to shoot those in the neighborhood (see two paragraphs ahead for more). Problem solved. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

One of the neighbors on our cul-de-sac insisted on feeding the deer, squirrels and geese. Several other neighbors complained to the local game warden, and he told the guy it was not a good idea, and actually illegal during deer hunting season. But, this guy fit into that “special” people category. He refused to listen to anyone, and kept on feeding the animals. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

As a result, all of the docks in that immediate cove were covered with goose poop from the massive numbers of geese who came for the daily smorgasbord. Also, when my wife and I tried to leave our cul-de-sac, we often had to wait for several minutes for a herd of deer to cross the road in front of us. And, the squirrels got so used to being fed by a human that packs of them would literally follow you around waiting for food. It was both disgusting and creepy. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

I especially enjoyed the squirrels, because they liked to eat things, like plastic chairs, kayaks, brake lines and fuel lines. Silly me, I thought squirrels ate nuts. Instead, they chewed through the fuel line to our boat, which I discovered one fine morning when the engine died about a mile away from our dock. They chewed through one of the brake lines of our Honda Fit, which I found out when the dealership told me during a service appointment. And, they almost killed our neighbor when he came for the weekend, got into his pickup truck to go to the store and gas leaked from the chewed-through fuel line onto his hot manifold. Those squirrels didn’t want us around, and they weren’t all that subtle about it. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Ironically, the solution to some of these problems turned out to be worse than the problem. For example, someone got the idea to allow bow hunting on private property in our development to cull the increasing deer herds. So, you’d be taking a walk in the neighborhood, and there’s a crazy person with a loaded crossbow sneaking up on a herd of deer on a lot right next to the road where you’re walking. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

Someone else got a similar idea to handle the massive numbers of geese. All of a sudden, there were hunters driving around the cove shooting at geese from their boats. Once in a while, one of them would get especially excited, approach several geese on someone’s dock, and start blasting away. Just one more reason to forget that cookout or swim at the dock. If you did venture out to take a walk or to your dock, it was a good idea to wear a bullet-proof vest. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The final straw appeared when the lake went from a beautiful blue to a dingy green most of the year. This occurred as the result of pollution from 50-year-old leaking septic tanks, massive goose poop, pesticide and herbicide runoff from beautifully maintained lake front lots, pollution from boats and jet skis, and did I mention goose poop. I’m sure someone will say it’s actually due to cow farts (please refer to quote from Governor DeSantis above). But, I don’t actually think cow farts had anything to do with this problem. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

The algal blooms got so bad you couldn’t swim in the lake without getting ear and eye infections. But, the good news, it wasn’t safe to swim anymore anyhow, what with the deer hunters, goose hunters, tsunamis, jet skis and boob flashers from nearby docks. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

We were blessed with twenty glorious years of solitude on that beautiful mountain lake, followed by ten years of watching it sink into chaos, insanity and pollution. I had always been a lake-kind-of-guy, no sand, sharks, jellyfish or hurricanes. But, when my wife and I retired and she informed me that she wanted to be a beach girl, for once in my life I didn’t argue with her. Tranquility of a wilderness lake

If you liked this blog, and you like to laugh, you’ll enjoy MURDER BY ROAD TRIP, available on Amazon at and PLEASURIA: TAKE AS DIRECTED on Amazon at

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