Monday, November 24, 2014

Lake Carl Blackwell - 2

An egret seaching along the shore for breakfast.
Lake Carl Blackwell is beautiful. It lies 6.8 miles west of the west edge of Stillwater, OK. It can be found on P.32, Grid D-5 of the DeLorme Oklahoma Atlas and Gazetteer, or P. 47 of the Lakes of Oklahoma map book published by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Department of Wildlife Conservation. The lake, facilities, and surrounding lands are owned by the Oklahoma State University. It was built in 1937, is 3,370 acres, with a shoreline of 59 miles. The ravines or canyons the lake filled created a half-dozen fingers that not only give the lake its long shoreline, but also a number of havens for fish and wildlife. All the facilities are concentrated in the southeast corner of the lake, leaving all the rest of the shoreline natural. The surrounding lands are used by OSU for agricultural research. The shoreline is quite varied from mud, gravel, rock ledges, bluffs, reeds, and prairie grass.

There are many obstructions at or just below the surface.  Here
a spine of rock ran a hundred yards or more out into the lake.
The day paddling west along the shoreline was wonderful. I was hoping to get all the way to the bridge at Perry Road. If I could find a way to launch there, I could continue exploring the shoreline without having to backtrack. Unfortunately, with the lake being down about 6 feet, the headwater stream, Stillwater Creek, dried up and left me stranded in mud before the bridge came into sight, but I was close.

In the photo above, as I worked along the shore, I came around a point and found a spine of rock extending a hundred yards or so out into the lake. Rather than running all the way around, it appeared there was a small break between the boulders and the shore. I approached ever more slowly as more and more rocks came into view. I figured I could just inch my way through as I found an opening between the rocks. I was looking into the sun, so my vision was not the best, but proceeded, knowing I could always change my mind and go around in hopefully deeper water. I was half-way through when the rocks all around Buddy suddenly exploded. Some hit the canoe, one came half-way into the canoe, some slid beneath me as I felt them thumping my butt as they squirmed between my thin hull and the bottom, and they all threw a wall of water into the air that thoroughly soaked most of my upper torso. The dozens of rocks turned out to be carp bottom feeding in the shallow water. These fish fascinated me, as they would push themselves further and further into water only a few inches deep. I found one that had dried itself out so much that its gills were out of the water. It would lay over on one side to wet gills on one side, and then roll over after a bit to wet the other side.

A carp feeding in shallow water.
I was on the lake for six hours, but only went 12.5 miles, so obviously enjoyed plenty of time exploring, taking pictures, and even enjoying lunch and a couple rest breaks ashore.  A few flat boulders on the shore gave me a nice place to eat lunch. While there, I wanted to get a picture of Buddy, but I had the 400mm lens on the camera, so had to walk a good distance down the shore to get enough of the canoe in the picture. As I was walking back up the shore, I started hearing someone walking in the water behind me. I turned around to find some cattle that had materialized out of the tall weeds.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving for Good Videos

You will inevitably decide that there’s nothing good on TV. That’s by design. The worse the programming, the more programming packages you will buy in search of something that isn’t there. If you really want something rewarding, here are two videos you should enjoy.

Missouri River Canoe Trip at

And John Sullivan’s Canoe Voyaging Southern Wisconsin at

Both have some beautiful music.  We'll get back to Lake Carl Blackwell tomorrow.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lake Carl Blackwell, Stillwater, OK

Looking across the lake from a pocket of grass along the shore.
When we left Guthrie Lake on Saturday, we stopped in Guthrie for a few more days of provisioning at WalMart, since it was right on Rt. 77 (Division St.) and easy to get to. We had planned to make a stop at Langston Lake, but no camping was indicated. We knew camping was available at Carl Blackwell, so off we went.

Juvenile yellow crown night heron.  I wish I had gotten a better
picture, but I got one chance and it was gone.
When we arrived, the office staff indicated we had picked the worst weekend of the year to visit. OSU is reputed to have the largest homecoming in the United States, and we had pulled in for homecoming weekend. Of course she also said Oklahoma has more lakes than any other state in the country, and we know that isn’t true. Oklahoma has 177 lakes, which doesn’t start to compare with 11,842 in Minnesota, or 15,291 in Wisconsin, or 64,980 in Michigan, or 3,000,000 in Alaska. Now, if she had said we have the most artificial, man-made lakes of any other state, bingo. Anyhow, in spite of all the hoopla, Oklahoma lost to West Virginia 34-10.

On a related educational topic, a report was recently released naming Oklahoma as having the 49th worst educational standards in the country, losing only to Tennessee. (This number varies with the report being referenced. One placed Oklahoma as high as tenth worst.) Several of the lowest hanging fruit from the Bush of Knowledge had taken up residence in a campsite near us. I’ve never understood why campgrounds seem to increasingly discriminate against tent campers, or forbid them entirely. If this group was representative of tent campers, my inability to comprehend such dislike should be satisfied. Campground literature clearly states “quiet hours are to be observed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and the message is repeated with a sign at the entrance to each camping area and in front of about every third campsite, yet these miscreants kept the ruckus up with loud talking, hooting, screeching, and imitating coyotes until 1 a.m.

Finally able to lay its beak down for awhile, a pelican
pauses for a rest.
They began raiding every campsite looking for firewood by pulling into sites and scanning with their high-beam headlights, and then gathering anything they could carry. One log they picked up was 8-inches across at the small end and about six feet long. It was heavy enough it took three guys to carry it. This was the “kindling” with which they planned to start their bonfire. One of the girls yelled, “You’re on your own. I’m not going to help. I’m not going to jail for arsenic. Ew! It’s got ants all over it!” Apparently enough beers make arson and arsenic the same thing. The biggest shocker, however, came in the morning. One of the guys took a plastic bag and walked around their campsite picking up their beer cans. Giving credit where credit is due, I erased a black mark from their camping score. Then they made breakfast and threw egg shells on the ground all around their fire ring. Oh well. Here’s your black mark back. So close and yet so far.

The paddle down the lake will follow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Many of you would argue, with some sound reasoning, that it's January rather than November, but happy thanksgiving just the same.  Here's a wreath for the season that Jean and the granddaughters put together.  Several wild turkey feathers were used that we gathered during a walk through the woods.  I won't say where, since I don't want them all shot.  Their discarded tail feathers make a nice colorful addition for decorating.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Travels With A Kayak

Credit: Author's website
Travels With A Kayak by Whit Deschner (pub. by Eddie Tern Press, 1997, 251pp)

This is an unusual book, but one that you would enjoy. As far as the paddling is concerned, the author writes about his whitewater trips around the world. The locations span 30 years of international paddling and sound like at least a semester of geography---Nepal, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Great Britain, Alaska, the Everglades, and on and on. The writing style is back-handed, tongue-in-cheek, humorous. He strikes me as someone with a life-long subscription to Mad Magazine and with Saturday Night Live programmed on DVR. His facts are humorous, his humor is---ah, nope, the reverse won’t work. He has imaginary conversations with people long dead, and some with people that never lived. In short, the author could keep you simultaneously enlightened and entertained around a campfire anywhere. The book will do the same thing without you having to spend years dragging bags through airports.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sawbill Journey

The above link is for My Sawbill Journey by Jerry Vandiver.  The music is as wonderful as always, and the photography by Paul Sundberg is stupendous.  You'll love this.  Please check it out.