Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mechanical Malfunction

Don't you love it.  We're down to the last fifty things we need to get done to start a trip.  One of the last-minute jobs is getting all the laundry washed, some of which we need for the trip, and the washer loses its spin cycle.  The dryer is doing overtime, because everything that comes out of the washer has to be wrung out in the sink, and is still too soaked for full loads in the dryer.  The light fabrics go in the dryer, the heavier things go outside on the line.  Some of the stuff that came in off the line from earlier is still damp, so it's hanging over shower curtains and railings around the house to dry overnight.

So, not even out the door yet, and I've already started a to-do list for when we get back.  Actually, it will just go on the list I'm still working on.  If I'm lucky, maybe it's just a belt.

Goin' Paddlin'

The last job for the day will be getting Buddy scrubbed with hot water, soap, and bleach to prevent carrying any invasive organisms into the St. Croix River. Natural Resources in Wisconsin and Minnesota are determined to keep further invasions out of their waters, and may check boats before they go into the water.

We’ll be heading for Grantsburg, WI, for the 2013 Great River Rumble on the St. Croix River. The planned distance is 111 miles from Grantsburg to Red Wing, MN, on the Mississippi River. I’ll be carrying the SPOT, and the link is in the right margin. Just click on “Follow Ibi’s SPOT Track“ (although I‘ll be in Buddy this trip), and you can follow right along in close to real time.

The schedule is as follows:
Sat. 27 July - gather at Burnett County Fairgrounds in Grantsburg to camp for the night.
Sun. 28 July - put in at the St. Croix Rt. 70 bridge west of Grantsburg and paddle to Sunrise, MN,
18 miles
Mon. 29 July - Sunrise to Taylors Falls, MN, 18 miles
Tues. 30 July - Taylors Falls to Osceola, WI, 10 miles
Wed. 31 July - Osceola to Stillwater, MN, 21 miles
Thurs. 1 Aug - Stillwater to Hudson, WI, 7 miles
Fri. 2 Aug. - Hudson to Prescott, WI, 17 miles
Sat. 3 Aug. - Prescott to Red Wing, MN, 20 miles
Sat. night - Farewell banquet in Red Wing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pine Haven, Milford, DE

Showy Evening Primrose.
We were up early the next morning. We broke camp, got the RV ready, had breakfast, and were still on the road by 8:30. It was a Sunday morning, so I looked for light traffic. The traffic was heavy all day. After ten-and-a-half hours, we finally arrived at Pine Haven Campground, south of Milford, DE. We were to stay there for a week. That completed our 1,770.3 mile run east. I serviced the Ram before we left, and with mileage run while east, and then the travel back home, I arrived home just in time to service the Ram again.

One of the primary reasons for the trip east was so Jean could visit her 90-year-old mother, living in an assisted living facility in New Jersey. It was supposed to rain all day Monday, so we disconnected the RV and headed for New Jersey. I have a cheater pipe I use to cinch the chains up on the torsion bars of the trailer. In the process of disconnecting the trailer, I inadvertently made the mistake of laying the pipe on the rear bumper of the truck. Tuesday morning, I was to find that after 193 miles up to New Jersey and back, the pipe still lay on the bumper. That was a rare stroke of luck.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

God Forsaken Sea

Illus. credit: goodbooks.com
Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World’s Most Dangerous Waters by Derek Lundy
(Beeler Large Print, Hampton Falls, NH, 1999, 323 pp.)
The vast sea area of the Southern Ocean is really the extreme southern portion of the Pacific, Indian, and South Atlantic Oceans. Its official demarcation is forty degrees south latitude. It includes the latitudes sailors long ago nicknamed the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties, and the Screaming Sixties. In storms, the waves build and build until they reach almost unimaginable heights. The largest wave ever reliably recorded, 120 feet, was encountered there.

The Southern Ocean contains that point on earth that is farthest from any land on earth. It’s about 1,660 miles equidistant from Pitcairn Island, the Bounty mutineers’ last refuge, and Cape Dart on Antarctica. Only a few astronauts have ever been farther from land than a person on a vessel at that position. But that doesn’t begin to describe the remoteness of this part of the planet. Some sailors call a large area of the Southern Ocean “the hole.” It’s too far away from even long-range aircraft to get to, conduct a rescue, and return to land.  Ocean racing is inherently dangerous, yet a few have faced an even more extreme danger by challenging both their competitors and the Southern Ocean at once.

In the age of sail, racing was part of operating a successful commercial fleet.  Square-riggers would load and race south on the Atlantic, round Cape Horn, and head for their markets in the Pacific.  Those that arrived first could demand the best prices for their freight.  Ship captains were reported to carry guns for the express purpose of shooting any officer, mate, or crewman that attempted to shorten sail even in the worst of storms.  In 1905’s sailing season, for example, of the 130 square-riggers that sailed from Europe for the U.S. West Coast by way of the Horn, only 52 reached port intact. In history, one large Welsh shipping company owned 36 sailing vessels over the course of its business life. Twenty were declared wrecked or missing, and nine of them ended their lives off the Horn. At 20-30 men per ship, the numbers lost throughout the fleets mounted into the thousands and tens of thousands of souls lost over the years. Crew members rarely survived the loss of a ship. Further, if a man fell overboard, there was no recovery during the age of sail. Few knew how to swim, and even for those who could, all they and their crewmates aboard could do was stare at each other in shock as the ship charged on.  Some of these ships were capable of such great speed that their runs went unmatched for well over a century.  

In the infamous Fastnet Race of 1979, a 605 mile-long run from England to the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, eight miles off the southwest tip of Ireland, and back, a record 303 vessels set out. For 24-hours, the boats were raked by winds gusting to hurricane force and steep, breaking seas built to forty feet. Seventy-seven boats were completely capsized. Another hundred were knocked down at least once. Many boats lost rudders or suffered other serious damage. Several boats foundered. In spite of the largest peacetime rescue operation in British history, fifteen men died in the cold, rough seas.

The old sailors had a saying---”Below forty degrees south, there is no law; below fifty degrees south, there is no God.”

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dillon Lake - 2

Here are some shots not used in the original post yesterday.

Both obviously realized they had allowed themselves to get in a dangerous
position with their flightless goslings, out in the middle of the lake with no
cover.  I was not a threat, as I was still some distance away when this picture
was taken, but just seeing me near made them concerned.  Mom was head-down
and in overdrive.  The gander was determined to stay between me and his
family.  Not wanting to cause them undue concern, and not wanting to get
beaten about the head and shoulders, I veered away to give them room.  They
worked closer to shore and cover.
The blue heron hunting in the shallows, just before I got the shot of it taking off.
Wild wisteria growing along the shore.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dillon Lake, Zanesville, OH

Buddy resting on the shore of Dillon Lake.
The next day was to give us a fairly uneventful drive from Lieber State Recreation Area to Buckeye Lake State Park in Ohio. We were less than pleased to find a large sign meeting us when we drove into the park saying that there was no camping permitted in the state park. Campers are forced to use a private park, a KOA, if they wish to remain, so we continued east. It seems we also stumbled into the middle of a large fishing tournament, so our inability to camp there was softened some by the image of 60-70-mph bass boats tearing about in search of the one remaining fish, always at the opposite end of the lake.

A Canada goose family out for a training paddle.
Our next destination would be Dillon Lake, a 1,376 acre lake. The local address is Nashport, Ohio, but it is only six miles outside of Zanesville. The city was named for Ebenezer Zane, but is best known now for his great-grandson, Zane Grey, one of America’s best known writers of Western tales. A Zane Grey museum is nearby in Norwich.

A large culvert passes through a hill so Dillon Lake and
Poverty Run join.  If the number of fishermen is any indication,
it must be a popular bass fishing spot.
Dillon Lake gave me the first real chance to use Buddy for an extended paddle. The GPS indicated I held 4.3 mph for long periods, which can’t be too bad for a 14-ft. canoe, and once tired, still was able to settle into a relaxing 3.3 mph. I paddled the entire 12-mile perimeter of Dillon Lake, up into the Licking River, which feeds the lake, and into an off-shoot called Poverty Run, where I felt I should be able to feel at home. I had a chance to watch a young eagle in a tree over my head for some time. I took two pictures of the eagle, but the lighting was bad, and no matter what I did to push the light or contrast, couldn’t get a decent picture out of them, so ended up deleting both. All in all, it was just a nice relaxing day---nothing less than what you‘d expect from a few hours on the water..

Blue Heron on take-off.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cagles Mill Lake & Lieber State Park

One of the local residents enjoying his lakefront property.
After losing so much of the day in Terre Haute, we had to modify our plans for a night’s sleep, and chose Lieber State Recreation Area near Cloverdale, IN. Our paddling destination at the state park would be Cagles Mill Lake, a 1,400 acre lake created in 1952. This area was in the Wabash River Valley, and had been home to the Miami, Shawnee, and Potawatomi tribes.

There's that old question about whether a tree falling in the forest makes
a sound if there's no one there to hear it.  It undoubtedly can cause a lot
of damage.  It was a blessing that this huge oak decided to crash through
a children's playground in the middle of the night when no kids were there.
The tribes began to feel the crush of white Western expansionism as early as the late 1700’s. Frequent conflict culminated with the Battles of Tippecanoe and Fallen Timbers. The unique Ten O’Clock Line Treaty was signed in 1809 as a way to assign lands separately for whites and Indians. The shadow cast from a particular tree at 10 O’Clock on treaty day would put settlers south and west of the line, and the tribes north and east. That line crosses what is now Lieber Recreation Area.

The lake was still flooded, but you can see the lines along the
surrounding hills as the levels dropped.
On Mill Creek at the head of the lake is Cataract Falls, the largest waterfalls in Indiana. This explains why some locals call the lake Cataract Lake. Below the dam at the opposite end was Cagles Grist Mill, for which the lake was named. It was destroyed by fire in 1975, but the low-level dam that was at the mill still remains in place.

The marina store and piers are on floats, but all the fixed walkway
is under water, as were the beach, bathhouses, and parking lot.
It was late when we arrived, only 45-min. before the check-in gate was closed for the night. It would mean setting-up camp in the dark, but I was concentrating on paddling. I told the girl we’d stay a couple days so I could paddle the lake. I asked where we should launch, and she said, “Well, the marina is closed. It’s underwater. We’re at 16-ft. above flood stage.” I tried to sympathize, saying how horrible that was. She said, “No, that’s great. We were at 40-ft. above flood stage.”  The storms that had brought devastating tornadoes to Oklahoma, dropped heavy rains on the Southern U.S. as they moved east.

The Herbert cemetary, established by the pioneer settlers that came
to farm this area.
We were camped in Poplar Grove Campground. We were to learn that the lands were the former farmlands of the Herbert family. Their family cemetery is located about a hundred yards behind the restrooms and showers. The stones that could be read introduced us to a number of generations of the Herbert family. Maria, wife of Joseph Herbert, was born five months after the beginning of our War of Independence in 1812. She died in 1890, having out-lived Joseph by four years. Homer Herbert died there in 1879 at one-month of age.

Maria Herbert.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Waldo's Complete Mississippi

If you haven't been following right along as Rick and Dale Waldo paddled the Mississippi River, source to sea, you may not know that they arrived at the Head of Passes, at the Gulf of Mexico, yesterday.  The link to their blog is in the right margin, "Waldo Mississippi Trip."  They had an amazing run of 2,300 miles in just 8 weeks. You may find the account interesting, and the pictures equally enjoyable.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Save Longhorn Mountain

Credit: Nancy Mace
I have never understood the logic in destroying something beautiful, something that has existed for millions of years, and in this case something sacred to the Kiowa Indian tribe, for a short-term monetary gain.  This has happened so often, like Bell Mountain, in Georgia, where the Corning Glass Company destroyed the mountain by tearing the top off the mountain, and then they walked off and left the mountain defaced forever once they discovered the mountain didn't contain the right quality of silica.  No jobs, no profit, and an important part of the beautiful mountain scenery destroyed for all generations to come.  Here, Stewart Stone wants to do the same thing by dynamiting the mountain and crushing it for stone.  I would be most grateful if everyone reading this post would go to the link and sign the petition trying to protect this part of the Wichita Mountains in Southwest Oklahoma.  You don't have to be from Oklahoma to sign the petition.  All you need is a desire to protect our natural landscape for furture generations.  Thanks, jim

A Taste of Indiana

Robert Burns was a very smart man. It was he who said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an men often go awry.” Our plan was to kind of paddle our way to the East Coast by camping by rivers and lakes along our route, and paddling their waters before moving on. Our plan was definitely awry, and our experience getting to, and staying at, Cagles Mill Lake was not going to help.

We left Meramec River behind at 9 the next morning. Rounding St. Louis, we continued east on I-70. Making good time, we were within a couple miles of the Illinois and Indiana state line when traffic suddenly came to a dead standstill. We’d move a couple car-lengths, and then walk around on the highway talking with other motorists. From a truck driver we learned that a couple hazardous materials trucks had rolled over at Mile 11 in Indiana, just across the line. We only saw one. It was forever before traffic began to just creep, and eventually we were waved onto US40 and 150 into West Terre Haute, then Terre Haute. This experience was totally mind-blowing. It was like diverting the Mississippi River into your local storm sewer.

Then make mine a Snickers.  Trapped with us in Terre Haute,
this Milky-Way was going to curdle before getting anywhere.
Before we were done, it would become obvious that we had been dispatched from the interstate for no reason but to get rid of some traffic from the highway. There was no disaster plan, no traffic plan, no routing plan. Thousands of vehicles were sent off an exit ramp with no design as to where to go or what to do next. We were just supposed to disappear. In the town of West Terre Haute, we saw only two policemen, both of them standing on the sidewalk watching the same intersection. In Terre Haute, we saw only one, who was investigating a tractor-trailer accident that all too obviously would never have occurred if there had been any traffic direction. Whenever I’ve encountered such apparent incompetence, I’ve usually felt it’s because the local, county, or state leaders have failed to lead, and have denied the frontline personnel the needed direction, training, funding, or equipment. No one goes out to do a job for which they are so obviously ill-prepared. The public turned out to watch the spectacle of a parade of vehicles operated by those of us creeping along like lost, forlorn, lemmings. We finally struck off on our own, having no idea if where we returned to I-70 would be accessible to us. We did get back on the highway, having taken five hours to travel nine miles. That did not mean we were in the clear. We were still moving at the rate of 30 minutes per mile.  We had but one saving grace.  With the RV, we were towing our own toilet with us.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Back to Bull Shoals Lake

I just found some information from the Army Corps of Engineers that Jean had picked up. If you’re a numbers person, you’ll undoubtedly find this fascinating.

In the post, I had talked about water releases from the lake for electrical power generation as a 3-generator release, or 5-generator release. There are actually eight generators. I can’t imagine that much water running down the river, as I was awakened from a sound sleep one night by the sound of rushing water. I understood that to be a 5-generator release, but our camp was 32-miles below the dam.

There are 16 lake outlet conduits. Each generator is fed by two water conduits, each 4 X 9 ft. That’s a lot of water. In the event of flood conditions, there are also 17 spillway gates, each measuring 40 X 29 feet.

As for the dam itself, it rises 256 feet above the streambed, and is 2,256 feet long, or roughly a half-mile. There were 2.1 million cubic yards of concrete poured in its construction. The spillway is 808 feet long. At conservation pool level, the lake has a 740 mile shoreline. At flood pool, that increases to 1,050 miles.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Meramec River & State Park

On Wednesday, we enjoyed a ride over the twisting, but very well maintained, roads that took us north through some beautiful countryside from Arkansas into Missouri. We joined I-44 at Rolla, and then proceeded east. We decided to stop for the night at Meramec State Park, on the Meramec River.

Spider Milkweed.  The ride through the Ozarks gave
us a chance to see a lot of wildflowers.
The Meramec is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in Missouri. It flows 218 miles, and its watershed covers six Missouri Ozark Highland counties. In that distance, it drops 1,025 feet before reaching its confluence with the Mississippi River at Arnold, MO. There are eight recognized spellings or derivations of its name, but the original Algonquin name meant “the river of ugly fishes.” It was the catfish they didn’t find all that appealing. However, the Meramec is a popular fishing destination that yields several species of trout and bass, as well as walleye, and crappie in addition to the cats.

Indian Paintbrush
The Meramec State Park is a 6,896 acre park on the river near Sullivan, MO, or 60 miles southwest of St. Louis. In a word, it is HUGE. It is also beautiful and serene. With our recent experiences in Oklahoma, one of the first things we ask about at a park is what facilities there are for tornado shelters. They use both the restroom buildings, and the inside of a cave just across the road from the check-in gate at the campground.

Close-up of Indian Paintbrush
The river is a Class I, with occasional Class II spots, that offers limestone bluffs, caves, and bubbling springs. You will see a theme developing here, as it didn’t offer us anything. It was above flood stage and was closed to all paddlers. We at least wanted to walk down to the boat ramp to see the river, and had almost gotten there when it started raining. We returned to our camp to shed our wet clothes. Later, it stopped raining, so we struck out again only to have the rain resume before we had gone much over 200 yards. The rain continued most of the night.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Micmac's New Home

17-ft. Micmac
The Micmac stripper canoe that has been part of our family for 39 years has found a new home.  The best news is that it still is part of the family, as our son, James, has given it a home.  I built the boat many years ago with a co-worker, and long-time friend, David Sockrider, of Milford, DE.  It was one of those two to three week projects that turned into three months.  My hope is that he, Tammy, and the girls get to enjoy it often.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

White River - 2

After watching the activities on the river and striking up a conversation with a local for awhile, we drove south toward Cotter, AR, a small town situated on a tongue of land surrounded by the White River. We stopped just north of town at Wildcat Shoal Access. I was surprised to find that as hard as the water was running at the state park, it had not reached Wildcat Shoal yet, and the river here barely moved. I decided to wet Buddy in the White River for as long as the current would allow.

The Ozarks are filled with wildflowers, like these
blue and purple bachelor's buttons.
Jean asked if I was going to paddle south, and I said that I’d paddle upstream to meet the approaching water. If I got downstream, I may have trouble getting back if the current was too strong. By the time I got Buddy off the truck and into the river, I could already see the current beginning. As I paddled north, I took note of the position of rocks and shoals so I could watch for them when running back south. The current continued to build as I paddled north to the next rapids at Tucker Shoal. I tried to climb the east side of the stream to no avail. The water was shallower on the west side, but also faster. I made a couple attempts before the water just grabbed my bow and swung me around out of control. I could still paddle upstream once away from the rapids, so floated downstream and paddled back up a couple times before turning south to return to the take out. All the boulders and shoals I had carefully scouted on the way up were submerged, most of them deep enough they didn’t even disturb the surface. The river had come up at least two feet in roughly an hour. Wildcat Shoal is just on the upstream side of the access, so I had to descend on the opposite shore and then ferry across to the take-out. It was a short paddle, but it was nice to see Buddy on the water instead of on the truck.

The White River, looking at the confluence of the Buffalo River
in the distance, just right of center. Click to enlarge.
I had made a mistake in carrying only Buddy. I left Buffalo Gal home because the Buffalo River was obviously out of the question for paddling. Had I brought both, I could have run the White. It is 32 miles from the state park to the White Buffalo Campground, making a comfortable two-day trip with a stop in Cotter after 18 miles. With a shuttle, you can continue to Reds Landing, a run of 49 miles, with an overnight stop at Rim Shoals Lodge after the first 24 miles. I bought a river map that shows all the obstructions, landings, and facilities. I shall return! (I picked Rim Shoals Lodge off the map just because it was half-way. I have not called to confirm that staying or camping there is possible. I learned the hard way in Florida that just because a place is called a campground, it doesn’t mean you can camp there. Go figure!)

In building the dam and flooding the valley for Bull Shoals Lake, the workers had to laboriously move the remains of those that had called the valley home. At least seven family cemeteries and 20 large cemeteries had to be carefully relocated. In spite of how much the waters and dam project would bring to the area, it would cover, perhaps forever, the places they had called home. One of the facts of life in the valley was always the White River. To get anywhere on the other side of the river, to even just cross the river for the day, the ferryman was a critical part of life. In their lives, money was not as plentiful as other things they could barter, so it was not uncommon for a chicken to serve as the ferry toll. Often, the ferryman would be asked to just trust them for the toll, and a sign posted by one ferryman told his experience with that. The sign read,

“As man to man is so unjust,

And I know not in whom to trust,

As I have trusted to my sorrow,

You pay today, I’ll trust tomorrow.”
Our last sunset this trip on the White River.
Back at the campground we got into a conversation about the Buffalo with one of the locals. He agreed that the Buffalo is beautiful, but not to be taken lightly. He informed us that two people had lost their lives on the Buffalo in the last two weeks, and that was before the recent heavy rains. One was drowned when caught in a strainer, and the other broke his neck and drowned after trying to dive off a bluff into the river.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

White River

The areas around the Ozarks are beautiful. Besides the rolling hills, mountains, and streams that are often breathtaking, the wildflowers put on a glorious show. A big tip of the hat is due here to those who spend huge amounts of time documenting all the wildflowers as they appear in different regions. To identify some of the blossoms I find, I continually refer to internet searches like Oklahoma Wildflowers, Arkansas Wildflowers, and so on. Throughout the collections you can see gorgeous displays of nature’s colors and shapes.

Wild blue violets.
The other couple that had done the Buffalo River described their paddle out into the confluence of the White River. They said there was only one way to go---downstream. Even though the White Buffalo Resort Campground was only about 200 yards upsteam on the White from the confluence, trying to paddle against the current was impossible.

Ozark Glade Purple Coneheads.
When we arrived, however, the White River was dead calm, and any current movement was difficult to discern. On day two of our visit, we were off to learn a bit about the White River and its various personalities. Our trip took us up through Mountain Home, AR, and then on to Bull Shoals Lake and State Park.

The Bull Shoals Visitor Center at the north end of the dam.
Many very interesting displays are found here on the White River
System, the history and construction of the dam and lake, the river
valley before the dam, and wonderful presentations on fishing and
the record catches here.
Bull Shoals Lake is part of the White River system, which also contains Beaver Lake, Tablerock Lake, and Taneycomo Lake, all under the control of the Corps of Engineers. Bull Shoals covers 70,000 acres, and encompasses a 1,000 mile shoreline. The dam, built between 1947 and 1951 and dedicated by President Harry S. Truman, is the 5th largest dam in the world.

This observation patio looks down on the dam and is a great
place to catch a breeze.  The transformer station from the
electrical generators can be seen below the dam on the
opposite shore.  Click pictures to enlarge.
Bull Shoals Lake serves several functions. The first is obviously flood control. Secondly, the lake provides the power to run a hydroelectric plant. Lastly, Bull Shoals is a prized fishing destination with several state, national, and world catch records, like a 40-lb, 4-oz. brown trout. Since the hydroelectric plant draws cold water off the bottom of the 75-ft. deep lake, rather than the top as is normal, the releases create two different fishing environments---warm water fisheries in the lake, and cold water fisheries downstream of the dam. Fishing, of course, is just part of the huge economic impact on the area from tourism and recreation of all kinds.

The White River valley as seen from the observation deck.
The boat ramp at the state park is located just below the foot of the dam. Releases of water through the electric plant are on an as-needed basis, but a recorded phone message can be called for the times and size of upcoming releases. The electric plant has five generators, so current and water volume can be guessed at by whether the next release is a three-generator release, or five-generator release, and so on. When we first visited, there were a number of bare reefs, shoals, and rock beds. Water flow was a relaxing little stream that flowed right in front of the ramp and dock store. We decided to drive into the town of Bull Shoals for lunch while we waited for the next scheduled release.

Everyone enjoys their stop at the Visitor Center.



Monday, July 8, 2013

In The Process

Besides a run to the hospital today for an exam, I spent quite a bit of time working on the blog and processing pictures.  It's too late to post tonight, so here are a couple pictures to hold you until tomorrow.  Thanks for checking in.  Cheers, jim

A close-up of wild prairie primrose.
As it appears in the fields.
An approaching storm crosses the prairie from the West.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Off to White Buffalo Resort

We just returned from another week’s outing, but as promised, I’ll now go back and cover our three-week trip to the East Coast.

As you recall, early June was when Oklahoma saw the rash of tornadoes in numerous communities around Oklahoma City, Moore, El Reno, and elsewhere. The entire area was seeing disturbed weather, as seen out our backdoor the night before leaving for Arkansas. No, this is not Photoshopped.

Looking mean as the thunderheads climb.  The color
is coming from the sunset on the opposite horizon.

We had made reservations to stay at the White Buffalo Resort and Campground near the confluence of the Buffalo and White Rivers in Arkansas while I paddled the Buffalo. One thing after another required cancelling or changing the reservation, and each time involved a $25 change fee. When we left on this trip, the Buffalo was running at 14.5 feet. Anything over 5 feet is considered expert class, and while it was dropping fast, it was going to be nowhere near negotiable by the time we were scheduled to start the 100+ mile descent on Monday, June 3rd. Jean had been wanting to make a trip east to see family anyhow, so we decided to start the trip by camping at the White Buffalo Resort Campground to get some use out of our deposit before it was eaten away by change fees, and stayed two days.


Impressive even from a distance.  The White River runs between
the line of trees in front of the cabins and the bluffs.
It was a 389-mile run across Oklahoma and into Northwest Arkansas, and we were able to make the entire trip on Rt. 412 until Gassville, Arkansas. We had left at 8:30 am, and arrived at 7:30 pm. Google Maps said it was a 7-hour trip, but that didn’t take into consideration towing an RV, nor being parked on the highway in Tulsa for an hour for highway construction.

As the sun sets, the colors soften, and just a few rays of sunlight
touch the cliff face and trees.  Buddy looks out over the White River.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Hardest Way Possible

Credit: Google images
While I have the chance, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, enjoyable, and SAFE Independence Day.

It hasn’t been a goal or part of any plan, but I always seem to excel at doing everything the hardest way possible. Sometimes it’s planned. If one is inflicted with a bit of a perfectionist trait, and a certain effect is desired, it means voluntarily putting in the extra effort to get the end result you want. However, most of the time, the ill-fated stars and planets align, and it just happens.

For example, you know we were planning to get a tornado shelter installed. The company assured us we’d have a week’s notice. We also had a trip with the grandkids planned for the last month, and that meant there were two things in the wind with the potential for a conflict. With a week’s notice promised, we felt safe getting off with the kids for a few days. On Monday, we had the RV and grandkids all loaded, the truck adorned with two canoes, and hooked-up. We were making the final checks of the hitch, lights, etc., when the phone rang. The installer said, “I know this is short notice, but we were planning on making the trip up tomorrow morning.” There’s a custom here in Oklahoma that if you cause a contractor any delay, rescheduling, or problem, you go to the bottom of the list. Wanting to get the job done, and having no idea when we’d get scheduled again, I said, “Sure, I can make that happen.”

We drove 169 miles to a lake campground, got the trailer situated, had an early dinner, and then I drove back---an extra 338 mile round-trip just to “make it happen.” The good news, while yesterday was a long day, we got the job done, and now I’m ready for the second half of that round trip back to the lake. When the next tornado comes threatening, we can now make like gophers and crawl underground. I have some interesting photographs to share that show the entire process, and I’ll share those as soon as we get back. Along with the pictures will be, as Paul Harvey always said, “The rest of the story.“ Until then, keep it safe. As for me, I’m still goin’ paddling.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Waldo Father & Son Mississippi River Trip

On May 20th, Rick and Dale Waldo started something that rarely happens in real life, a long father and son canoe trip. The trip is the 1,338 mile run of the entire Mississippi River. On Day 1, they started from Lake Itasca. They are now on Day 41, but there is still plenty of time to jump aboard and share the trip with them. They are mounting some massive runs of 60-70 miles per day.

On their blog are the pictures they’ve taken to share about their experiences. I’ve put the link to their blog in the right margin. Under Favorite Blogs, just click Waldo Mississippi Trip. I’ve just taken a glimpse at it so far, but it’s a nice blog I think we’ll all enjoy sharing. Cheers, jim

Monday, July 1, 2013

Painted Prairie

South and west of the Glass Mountains in Northwest Oklahoma is an area locally known as the Painted Prairie, a collection of buttes and mesas. These are reportedly formed by up-thrusting tectonic activity, and the resistance of the different rock layers to erosion by wind and water create their unique shapes. Because of either size or unique shape, some were used as landmarks for explorers, miners, and settlers moving west.

In usage, the terms become confused, but geographers define a mesa as a hill with flat top whose width exceeds its height. As erosion continues, and the sides wear away. First the table becomes smaller than its height, then the flat top gets smaller and smaller, eventually appearing to be little more than a button, or even a point or peak. It’s not something worth getting a headache over, beyond mesas being bigger and flatter than buttes. Oh, for the nature enthusiast, it’s supposed to be great country for hunting rattlesnakes. Watch where you’re walking.
Here's one with just a button left on top.  There was one where
the cap had gotton so small, it broke off and slid down the side
of the hill.  This is called Teepee Mountain.
Teepee Mountain with the ubiquitous Oklahoma oil well.
The Chevrolet Oklalhoma Edition.