Friday, April 28, 2017

Oklahoma is Closed

Illustration credit to Bill Edgar

If you want something mismanaged, it isn’t like you don’t have options.  You could give the responsibility for management to #45.  Or you could give the project to one of his administration---almost any of them.  Being from Oklahoma, it is with great chagrin that we confess Scott Pruitt’s ability to endanger public health by increasing air pollution, increasing amounts of mercury, arsenic, and acidic gases in the environment, denying climate change, and more.  Or, you can select the State of Oklahoma, and its governor and legislature for their mismanagement prowess.  They have managed to make Oklahoma among the worst states in the country, like 48th of 50 in educational standards, 6th worst obesity rate, 8th worst support for underprivileged children, as well as poor teacher salaries, poor care for the elderly and ranking 49th for the health of seniors, 49th for addressing teen smoking or 42nd for teen suicide, 45th for general population health, 45th worst incarceration rates, 44th worst for addressing mental illness, has one of the most severe shortages of primary care physicians in the country, poor fiscal responsibility, fifth highest rate of occupational fatalities in the country, and we could go on and on.  However, one of the most ridiculous mismanagements is killing the state’s golden-egg-laying goose---you know, the tourism operation that brings 6.2 BILLION (with a B) dollars into the state each year.  Tourism is the third largest industry in Oklahoma.  The natural beauty encountered in the parks is the one thing that puts a good face on Oklahoma, so it’s obvious that the state’s managers should kill parks and tourism!  To the tourist wanting to visit Oklahoma, the state is posting a large “OKLAHOMA IS CLOSED” sign at the state line by considering closing most or all of 16 state parks they have chosen for the chopping block.  Oh, and best of all, since the state is run by the political party that claims to create jobs, this idea would terminate 80 full-time jobs.  Maybe I didn’t understand. Perhaps the claim was for creating the most job vacancies.     

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Lake Quanah Parker & the Wichita Mountains - Pt. 2

Geese love the east end of the lake and dense vegetation.

The lake is very small, with only a 3-mile shoreline.  The eastern half of the lake is shallow, with geese often seen wading knee-deep amidst a lot of vegetation.  The most scenic area is the western half of the lake that lies west of the launch at L34.71265N Lo98.63972W.  Bison can often be seen dusting themselves in the bare area west of Rt. 49, where you first turn west for the lake.  Bison, longhorn cattle, and elk roam free in the foothills of the Wichita.  The lake was created by the damming of Quanah Creek.  Rt. 49 continues east through the refuge, where you can’t miss seeing bison.  Elk are usually only seen around twilight.

There is no formal ramp, but the road from Rt. 49 to the dam on
the south side of the lake has three pull-offs with walk-in access.

For accuracy, it should be pointed out that there is no such thing in the U.S. as buffalo.  A buffalo is a water animal found only in two areas of the world: Africa and Asia.  Early settlers mistakenly called them ‘bufello’, because of their similar appearance, and the name became stuck in the immigrant and settler vernacular.  Some argue that the name goes back as far as the French fur trappers, but there’s one thing for sure.  It is a name given by white men and never used by the original Native Americans. (Note: If you visit the area, do not do something silly like get out of the car to get closer for a better picture.  While they look lumbering, bison can run 40 mph and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.  In Yellowstone, more people have been injured by bison than by bears.)

View across the lake from the launch.

Scenery on the drive to the dam and third pull-off.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Lake Quanah Parker and the Wichita Mountains

Chief Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanche
Leaving Lake Frederick, we were back on the road by 0900.  Because Baseline Road was closed to the east for road construction, we had to backtrack through Manitou.  Going back north on Rt. 183, we turned east on Rt. 62 just south of Snyder.  At Cache, we went north on Rt. 115 through the Wichita Federal Wildlife area.  After the bison were hunted to near extinction, this is where they were reintroduced to the plains. (See post for Jan 12, 2016, Wichita Wildlife Refuge)  This is an interesting area to visit, and Doris Campground is right in the refuge on the north side of Lake Quanah Parker.
Quanah Parker was the last chief of the Comanche, and this area was home to him for most of his life.  He was born between 1842 and 1852 (he estimated in 1850) to Comanche Chief Peta Nokona and Cynthia Ann Parker.  His mother had been taken at the age of nine in a raid on Fort Parker in 1836 near present Groesbeck, Texas, and was assimilated into the Comanche life.  It was from Fort Parker that he adopted the last name of Parker later in life.  His mother was recovered by Texas Rangers after 24 years with the Comanche and returned to her family, but she refused to return to white culture.  She died in 1870 from influenza.

Chief Parker became a very successful farmer and
business man.  In these meetings he would most
likely be seen in his white man's dress.
Quanah was recognized as the natural leader of the Comanche, but had never been elected chief by the tribe.  He was a tribal representative at Medicine Lodge, but refused to sign the treaty and led the Comanche on an 8-year battle against the whites and the Army.  He is recognized as the only warrior leader to have never lost a battle to the whites.  The Army tried to starve out the Native Americans by killing off all the bison, and then in 1874, they killed 1,500 Comanche horses, the tribe’s most valuable resource.  Quanah finally gathered the Comanche and led them to the reservation in 1875.  Because of his leadership with the tribe, the rank of Chief was granted to him by the U.S. Government for their own convenience.  The Comanche had never had a central chief, as each tribal band had its own chief.  Designating a sole chief gave the government one person to negotiate with.  Chief Parker, through wise investment and shrewd operation as a rancher near Cache, became recognized as the wealthiest Native American in the U.S.  He built Star House at Fort Sill to finally move his five wives and children out of tipis.  Star House still stands, but was moved to a property at Cache where efforts are still being negotiated to save it.  He was visited a number of times by Theodore Roosevelt, and he led the President on hunting trips in the area.  He died in 1911, at the age of about 66, and is buried on Chief’s Knoll at Fort Sill. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Energy Industry

Photo credit: Damien Ch'ng

There is indisputable proof that energy drinks don’t work.  The evidence is along both shoulders of any road you walk down.  How else can you explain people gulping 16 or 20 ounces of liquefied energy and still having too little energy to drop the empty can in the trash?  They can just barely drag the .57 ounce of heavy aluminum to the open vehicle window and shove it out.  Twenty-percent of all energy consumed is used to power the brain, more than any other organ of the body.  If there was really any energy in that drink, the consumer would suddenly have the brain power needed to remember that there are garbage containers by the pumps of every gas station, by the doors of nearly every convenience store, a half-dozen around every fast food restaurant, lining the sidewalks of every town, and inside every store and office. Before reaching home, they will undoubtedly pass a hundred or more half-empty garbage cans.  When they arrive home, they will probably even find one or more trash cans there.  So why does the road shoulder or ditch seem to be the smartest place to leave that empty can or bottle?
One day's collection from a short walk around town.  Amidst the
pile of soda and beer cans are a large percentage of "energy" cans
with all their energy gone to waste.
We need to think more about trash, and more about how we properly dispose of it.  Maybe part of the problem with roadside littering, besides laziness and stupidity, is the assumption that “out of sight, out of mind.”  While the litter does seem to blur a bit the faster we drive, it’s still there.  It’s there at least until the wind and rain force it into the ditch, flush it into the nearby stream, creek, river, bay and ocean, where it kills birds, pollutes fish, poisons bottom vegetation, and otherwise destroys the beauty of nature and all it touches.  It doesn’t decay and disappear.  Most of it continues to destroy everything it surrounds for decades, and some of it, forever.  If nothing else, it enters the food chain and returns to us as poison to give cancer to us and our children.  How is this a good idea?


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Paddler's Birthday

Many of us tend to scale back celebrations when our birthday
candles risk violating fire codes.  This was my last birthday
"cake", and no I didn't eat both of the ├ęclairs.

The older we get, the more painful birthdays become, and the less likely we are to celebrate birthdays or make any fuss about them, like having a party or receiving gifts.  Where did this idea of celebrating a birthday come from?  That question prompted some searching.  Celebrating birthdays was a pagan ritual that dates back to at least ancient Greece.  Because of the birthday being linked to paganism, Christians were slow to warm to the idea of celebrating the day of their births.   Evil spirits were believed to linger about days of important change, like the day you turn a year older, and from this eventually sprang the idea of incorporating candles in the celebration to bring light into the darkness. The Germans were credited with starting the tradition of celebrating children’s birthdays in the 1700’s and having a party, called a kinderfeste, and incorporating a cake or torte with a candle for each year of life.

Somewhere around the time the candles are blown out, everyone usually starts singing “Happy Birthday to you,” the most commonly sung song in the English language according to Guinness World Records.  This music was written as a song for school children.  The original lyrics were “Good morning to all.”  In 1893, two Kentucky school teachers, Patty and Mildred Hill, wrote the song and incorporated it in a book of songs for school teachers.  No one knows when or how the lyrics were changed for birthdays, but it first appeared publicly in a 1933 musical by Irving Berlin.  One of the Hill sisters sued Berlin for copywrite infringement and won.  The copyright is believed to remain in force until 2030, and the Hill estate still receives roughly two million dollars a year for its use, so make sure there are no copyright attorneys at your next birthday party before bursting into song.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Leave Nothing But Footprints

These pictures were not staged, but were taken as they occurred
on no particular day in a municipal park in Oklahoma.

A Missouri paddling club had a large annual party on a river’s sandbar.  It was a huge affair with tables, chairs, and large coolers all floated in.  The sandbar was packed with people.  Everyone enjoyed having a good time throughout the afternoon, but kudos go to these folks who respected nature and the environment enough to insure that Mother Nature wasn’t the victim of their good time.  The code of conduct for all of us venturing into the wild is to “take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints,” as well as “carry in; carry out,” and these were followed beautifully by these paddlers.  Every scrap of waste was picked up to be carried out, the campfire was dismantled and the ashes buried, and the bar was swept with branches so even the footprints disappeared.  After dozens of people had left, it was impossible to tell a human had ever been there.  Not only should such conduct be a source of pride for all the members of the paddling club, but their behavior will be enjoyed even more by those who follow.  This does not just apply to paddlers though; this should be proper conduct for anyone ever raised by responsible parents and teachers, and the most positive use of peer pressure.

So, the question is:  Why is such conduct so foreign to most of the general public?  Why are humans seen to be such selfish, oafish clods more often than not?   How can they conceivably think it is okay to throw bottles, cans, aluminum foil, plastic, and all kinds of waste into every stream and bush, or throw trash out the vehicle window when driving to and from their destinations?  Here are a couple pictures to illustrate.

Drinking straws and their paper wrappers on either end of a park
bench a mere ten feet from a trash can.

It would have been at least a 15-foot walk
with that soda can to the trash can.

Maybe there’s something wrong with my thinking.  I just don’t get it.  Here in Oklahoma, sports are the largest and most reverently followed religion of all.  So, where is the logic that people will support, follow, cheer, buy booster shirts, flags, fingers, drink cozies, seat cushions and all manner of stuff emblazoned with the name of the town or state the team comes from only to then go out and trash the community the team represents?  Why cheer “Rah, rah, rah Oklahoma State,” and then bury the State of Oklahoma in garbage?  There’s a definite disconnect there.  It would seem that the best way to show team pride would be to take pride in the communities the teams represent.  Another disconnect is having every road shoulder littered with drink cans emblazoned with the Oklahoma City Thunder team emblem.  Why would a sports franchise spend millions of dollars of publicity money to have their team’s name and reputation transformed into highway litter?  You would think they would at least put a banner on the can saying, “Respect your community. Dispose of empty containers responsibly.”  Of course you can transpose these team, community, and state names with any other without changing the message.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Report is in on Oklahoma

Pumping Oklahoma oil 24-hrs. a day.

Well, the reports are in for Oklahoma.  The report released by U.S. News and World Report recently should have had Governor Mary Fallin doing cartwheels around her office.  It was, in my opinion, exceedingly rosy.  Oklahoma normally ranks at or near the bottom in every category, but this year it ranked 44th out of 50 overall, but still received a 48 for healthcare.  Nursing home care for the elderly ranked 48th two years ago, but dropped another point last year to 49th. (CBS)

The report by Oklahoma’s own “Oklahoma Watch” gave the state a D+ in education, ranking it 48th out of 51 (including District of Columbia) in 2015.  This new report by U.S. News and World Report ranks the state at 30th.  The odds of it beating out 17 other states in one year when it continues to underfund everything is in a word---inconceivable.  The bulk of the problem comes from the state prioritizing the oil and gas industry for lucrative incentives and tax breaks at the expense of pretty much everything else.  While the state couldn’t fund better teacher pay or educational programs, it handed out $645-million in incentives for FY2010-FY-2012.  (  The standard tax rate of 7% on oil production was instituted in the 1970’s.  While taxes on everything else continue to go up, taxes on oil production have gone down.  Legislation passed in 2014 dropped the tax rate to 2% on new wells for the first three years, and to 1% for 2 years for wells drilled before 2015.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

CLC Teardrop Camper

Credit: CLC

We saw this camper last year at Canoecopia right after they had completed the prototype and put it on the road for the show tour.  It is beautiful and amazing.  This is especially so if you are young and active and don’t have a thousand pounds of kids, grandkids, and cages of birds to haul around as part of your touring entourage.  If building a boat has been floating about in your mind, this is the obvious follow-up to provide economical and carefree traveling and camping.  These are the links for both the construction video, which CLC just finished, and the Chesapeake Light Craft site.

Friday, March 3, 2017

3-P-100 for February

After recovering from the broken tail bone, I only walked and paddled 42.2 miles in January.  My 3-P-100 program got me to 83.0 miles for February, so I’m looking to get back on track shortly.  The unseasonal warm weather has suddenly brought the flowerbeds alive, so now I have my hands full.  We had one paddle day yesterday, but I decided I needed to stay home and get a handle on some of the yard work.  Actually I didn’t decide; I didn’t feel I had any option.  My wife’s flowerbeds actually feel like a flower farm when everything needs to be done by hand and all 2,520-plus square feet suddenly demand immediate attention.  I have dreams of paddling again.  Honest.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Just Around The Pointe

I’ve tried to keep you abreast of major paddle/camping expeditions, and we’re about to take off again.  Scott Warren just finished his Florida Saltwater Paddling Circumnavigation Trail trip with his finish at Fort Clinch, Florida, on 19 February.  He is now writing a wrap-up report with helpful hints and reviews of his expedition gear, which he will publish shortly.  That may be interesting to check back for. 

On March 9, Traci Lynn Martin is starting off on an 8,600 miles trip in the attempt to set a new world record for the most miles paddled in a year.  That will be another exciting trip to follow.

This link will give you the intro video:

Here are some links to add to your favorites list.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lake Frederick Follow-Up

I'm standing there guarding cattle.  Psych!
It was an early departure, and the ranger was waiting for us to clear the gate so he could get in with a truckload of maintenance materials, so I just had time to grab a couple quick pictures.  That accounts by my shadow in the picture.  Anyhow, I chuckle every time I see one of these any more.  This is a cattle guard.  For those not familiar with them, it is a pit across the drive where a gate would otherwise have to be.  It is to keep cattle in a field where they graze free, but where vehicles have to frequently travel without always having to open and close the gate.  The pit is covered with a bridge of pipes that have spaces between them.  The spaces are narrow enough that a vehicle can drive across them, but wide enough that the cattle fear getting their legs trapped, so they rarely attempt going out of the opening in the fence line.  The humor comes from a line budget hearing Pres. George W. Bush was having with the Department of the Interior.  They have a lot of open public lands that cattlemen are permitted to use for grazing, but which have to be open to public access, so all the roads have cattle guards in the fences.  Pres. Bush saw the line for cattle guards, and wanted to know why the government had to pay men to guard privately owned cattle.  Having a farm in Texas, famous for its cattle industry, one would think he would have known what a cattle guard was without having to have it explained, but……oh, well.

Early powered thresher.  The large pipe turned back over the machine
was turned out over open ground and discharged chaff from the threshing
This is a very nicely preserved steam thresher.  Harvesting grain involves three steps: reaping, threshing, and winnowing.  Reaping is cutting the grain.  Originally, all of this grain would have to be bundled and carried back to the barn.  There it was beaten on the threshing floor, which knocked the grain loose from the plants, but a lot of bran, or chaff (broken plant bits), remained mixed with the grain.  This had to be winnowed.  A basic process would be to throw shovels full of grain into the air.  The breeze would carry the chaff and dirt away, and the heavier grain would fall back onto the threshing floor to be bagged.  In 1789 a Scottish engineer devised a mechanical thresher that allowed the operations of threshing and winnowing to be done more quickly, but since these were stationary threshers, the grain still had to be carried back to the barn where the thresher was set.  Here is a steam-driven mobile thresher.  Before gas tractor engines were common, farm machinery was powered by steam engines.  The long tongue in front was used to pull the threshing machine into the field with a steam tractor or a team of horses.  Allowing threshing to be done right in the field permitted farmers to follow the grain cutting operation through the fields and do the threshing and winnowing on site without having to haul all the grain back to the barn.  A steam engine would be set nearby, and long belts, which you can see rolled and carried in a rack on the side of the thresher, were run between a power wheel on the steam engine and the drive wheel on the thresher.  Steam engines are extremely dangerous for those inexperienced in their use, and boiler explosions frequently injured and killed farm workers.  My father was a fireman on steam locomotives on the Pennsylvania Railroad, so being an expert in steam power, he always had non-stop employment every harvest season.  The threshing work is now done by the combine harvester, which is engine powered, and as the name implies, now performs all three harvesting operations simultaneously.
Credit: Google Images
A steam engine driving the belts to power a thresher.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lake Frederick

Once the sky cleared, the Falcon Sail drew us across the lake
toward the foothills of the Wichita Mountains.
When we got the granddaughters home, Jean, to my great surprise, said we should take advantage of the good weather and strike out again, this time on our own.  After Lake Tom Steed, the next lake south would have been Lake Frederick, so after stops at the post office and to top off the gas, we headed south.  With the wind strong out of the south, we were burning a lot more gas, but arrived at 4:30 pm.  We continued down Rt. 183 past Tom Steed, through Mountain Park and Snyder, and turned left at Manitou on Baseline Road.  Manitou was so small, and Baseline Road so nondescript that we had passed both, and had to get turned around to go back and search again.  Baseline Road is being rebuilt, but it had little to recommend it during our visit.  We could only go about 30 mph, weaving across both lanes to avoid potholes, some of which were hidden under blowing grass and straw.  The road was closed for construction right at the entrance to the park.  With such a humble beginning, we were happily surprised by what we found.  The campground was open, picturesque, and well maintained.  There is a ranger living on the property, and he was out mowing grass as we came in. 
I prepared to set out for a paddle the next morning.  It was a foggy, dreary, and dismal morning.  There was so little light that the landscape had no contrast or color.  The water was the color of coffee, as were the dirt and rocks along the shore.  The sky looked like lumpy clam chowder.  Everything appeared to have a flat, featureless appearance.  It wasn’t worth wasting time taking pictures, so I just started out on my circumnavigation of the lake. 
I followed the west shore into a small bay past the campground and ramp.  It then opened into a large bay that trended northwest.  The sky finally started to lighten.  I pulled the Falcon Sail up and glided across the bay.  It led into a creek, and the creek ended in a grassy, marshy finger that bifurcated the stream.  Stranding right there was a huge buck, which took one look at me and darted into the grass along the shore and up a bank. 
I paddled back out to the east and rounded a point that opened to the north where I was able to set the sail again and paddle/sailed up the west shore.  The breeze was light, but still gave me a good starboard broad reach.  Along the way, Ibi and I encountered a blue heron, and several osprey and hawks.  During the nearly decade-long drought, the lake must have been mostly dry, for I now paddled through thickets of brush and stubble.

Entering Deep Red Creek with a small gravel bar to starboard.
At the north end of the lake, I entered Deep Red Creek, and the wind began to build from the south.  The brush became so thick that I took the mast down for fear of damaging the sail.  There was every indication that the creek was ending, but then the nicest surprise.  After continuing to push through, within a half mile the dead growth ended and Deep Red Creek opened into a beautiful placid stream that continued for another mile or more before ending at a low concrete culvert.  The pipes were too small to paddle through, and both the scenery and map indicated the open water ended right on the other side of the land bridge.  There was one spot where a two-man tent could have been accommodated on a gravel bar, but much of the rest of the shoreline was impenetrable.        
By the time we came about, the treetops were dancing in the wind.  Paddling speed dropped considerably, but we were still protected within the wooded stream.  When we were back in the open water of the lake, however, the lake was covered with breaking whitecaps that made me glad I had a decked canoe.  I was now heading toward each piece of dead stubble breaking the surface of the water as a way of marking my progress and insuring me that I was still making headway.  I saw one piece of crooked branch floating nearby, so I headed for it.  When I got right alongside, I realized to my surprise that it was a water snake.  He seemed so out of place in the open water that was so rough, but it just floated there with its head up, riding the waves, as it remained quite unconcerned and watched me pass close by. 
I stopped in a bay along the east shore for a break and late lunch.  The wind was gusty, but once I had a break, I continued the rest of the way around the lake.  Once I got back to the campground, however, I took both an Aleve and a nap. 13.4 mile paddle.  This was a day well lived.
(Note: For Falcon Sails, see  For details for Frederick Lake, see DeLorme Atlas & Gazatteer, P. 49, grid I-10 or P. 50, grid I-1.  The lake falls on the edge of the page, so you may have to flip from Pages 49-50 depending on how you want to approach.)   

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Roughing It at Canton Lake

Having the campground all to ourselves.
Well, I have to qualify ‘roughing it.’  The granddaughters were off from school for a four-day weekend, so we decided to take them camping at Canton Lake.  Roughing it meant that the girls had to leave their phones at the house (OMG), and the campground that we were going to had no electric nor water at the sites, though there were water hydrants every few campsites from which to jerry jug the water we needed  With no power for heating, they would have to rely on jackets and quilts.  We went to the Longdale Recreation Area on the east side of the lake.  It was cold enough that we had the entire campground to ourselves, except for the company of billions of sandburs that got tracked into the RV’s carpets and floor mats, and occasionally, flesh.

Our stay was windy, but the wind usually died down in time for a campfire.
Once we got settled in, a modest dinner featuring hotdogs and mac and cheese was cooked on the grill.  It had been breezy, but the wind settled just enough at sunset to allow a campfire.  We all grabbed jackets and folding chairs and settled around the crackling fire.  It was a beautiful evening with the occasional sound of coyotes in the background as the girls roasted marshmallows and built s’mores.  As we allowed the fire to burn down, the breeze returned just enough to cause the rustle of leaves in the cottonwoods.                                  
The recreation area was shy on campers, but we had a consistent stream of people coming through to run their dogs.  One truck load of several dogs kept yapping until after we went to bed.  We feared they would be at it all night, but thankfully, it wasn’t too long before they reloaded all the dogs back in the truck and left us in peace. 

Wrapped in blankets and making s'mores.
While we had plenty of bedding, I was up in the middle of the night closing windows and vents.  The 20-25 mph cold wind whistling through the RV finally got to be a bit too much in spite of enjoying the evening sounds.  As daylight returned, the wind refused to let up and stayed with us for the day, which meant the canoes would spend the day on the truck rack.  With plenty of time to walk, read, and nap, the girls seemed perfectly content. 
The next night, the mercury dropped 30-degrees to make for a chilly jump out of bed.  Running the stove for cocoa, tea, and breakfast had us nice and toasty in no time.  The sudden cool-down had the wildlife scurrying.  In spite of the cold, Lucie, the younger granddaughter, decided that   heated showers or no, she needed a hair wash.  She gathered shampoo and a towel and went out to one of the frost-free hydrants, and washed her hair.  She wrapped her head in a towel and began to dry her hair as she stood and turned to find a coyote standing right behind her just watching with keen curiosity.  Satisfied with what it had seen, the coyote just turned and trotted away. Jean, meanwhile, was having her own encounter.  She was walking around the parking lot along the shoreline when an osprey came off the lake and over the reeds with a fish in its talons.  Being surprised to find Jean there, the bird tried to climb with its freshly caught breakfast, and just cleared Jean as she was streamed with water trailing from both the bird and fish. 
Woodpeckers and blue jays abounded, but it was the squirrels that fascinated us as we watched them out the window over breakfast.  We usually had the antics of one or two to watch, but with the cold this morning, we counted at least seven scurrying about, rushing from tree to tree with great determination.  The water had been flat calm at sunrise, but it wasn’t long before whitecaps returned to the lake.  That was okay, however, as we had an activity planned for the day. 
The older granddaughter was 8 weeks away from her 16th birthday.  She already had her driver’s permit, but had no knowledge of cars or their care, so we spent the morning and part of the afternoon on a big orientation.  We checked and talked about all the vehicle fluids---oil, transmission, water, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, power steering, and brake fluid.  Then we went into where to find circuit breakers and how to replace them, how to properly adjust mirrors, how to read tire wear, how often to rotate tires and check air pressure, why the oil needs to be changed and when, and where to find the spare tire, jack, and tire-changing tools.  She had no idea how to change a tire, so before she was done, she had changed a tire twice, once with me and once on her own, and figured out how to read a tire-pressure gauge without letting all the air out of the tire.  You would think driver’s education would include some generic practical knowledge, but no.

A beautiful sunset by the lake.
The paddling had been a bit disappointing, but on the third day, we finally got the canoes wet.  We had a nice breakfast of sausages, toast, pineapple omelet, and fried potato patties made from the mashed potatoes left from the evening before.  The wind was down, so we decided to launch and get on the water.  It wasn’t to be.  Within an hour the wind was back.  The girls were not able to keep control of the canoe and started squabbling in their frustration.  The water was both cold and suddenly getting rougher, so rather than having to do a water rescue and have them chilled through, it was decided to get them off the water.  The time unloading the boats and getting them on the water, and then stowing the gear and reloading the boats on the truck was nearly identical with our time underway, but at least we made the effort.  In the evening, we had a nice long campfire, our last.  It was deadly quiet and peaceful.  There weren’t even any coyotes around.  One of the most satisfying parts of the trip was the way the girls took to no-amenity camping.  I anticipated the idea of not being able to charge their phones and tablets would have them screaming into the night, but such thankfully wasn’t the case.  In the end, they said they actually preferred camping this way, but I think it being a novelty played a part in that.  The test would be if they still enjoyed it after a fourth or fifth time, or after a couple weeks.  Starting a new experience gradually is helpful.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Celebration of Heritage

As a bagpiper, I know first hand how much of an investment can
be made in regalia, and the care that is taken both in protecting and
showing one's pride in our cultural heritage.  We can only begin to
appreciate the beauty, and more importantly, the hidden meaning of
these presentations. 

In both of these, we can see not only the pride of heritage, but
the importance of passing that to the generations to come.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these.  Please enlarge the images
on your computer to see the magnificent details.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Next to Last Set

Two Tribal Princesses, Ponca on left & Pawnee on right.

The Comanche Tribal Princess

The Apache Tribal Princess

A fancy dress dancing competitor.  With the cell phone
in his right hand, it seems technology spans all cultures.  I've added
a You Tube clip of a fancy dance competition.  Watch the
intricate footwork, and note as the fatigue level increases, so does
the dancing tempo. 

Father and son competitors. 
"Drum" refers to both the instrument, and the gathering of ten drummers
and singers in the circle.  This was the same drum performing here and
throughout the evening.  When watching the video above, note that their
performance is so finely tuned that it seems only one drummer is playing. 

Monday, February 6, 2017


Great news---for me anyhow.  I finally got out paddling yesterday.  I'll do a post on yesterday shortly.  Today, however, while the warmer weather is great for many of us, I'm really feeling sorry for the birds.  While out riding the bike, I had two large flocks of geese fly over, each with a count of a couple hundred, all headed due north.  We're having weird April weather in February---60 and 70 degree days.  The poor birds will suddenly find themselves several hundred miles too far north when the winter door slams shut on them again.  Meanwhile, here's a few more of the pictures I promised.
This one is clear to see---the Cheyenne Tribal Princess.

Here's a young lady displaying some entrepreneurial skill.  The shade
comes later, right now, it's the better to catch the candy with.

Again, their beading work is amazing.

This one I think takes a little justification on the girl's behalf.
The temperature was 100 degrees.  Blanket or no, hop up on
the hood of a truck that has been sitting in the sun for a couple
hours, then crank up the engine, and stay there for two slow trips
through town, and while she still has her princess wave, I feel she's
totally justified in losing her princess smile.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Anadarko Powwow

It is popular in rural areas to celebrate the town's past with murals
on the sides of buildings.  The quality of work by local artists on
rough brick and concrete is outstanding.

On a personal note, my broken tail bone has come a long way.  I only got in 42.2 miles of walking in January, but with a broken bone in my butt, I will call that passable.  Anyhow, while it’s still tender, I no longer have to sit on one cheek or the other, and am looking forward to some paddling time shortly.  Until then, share our trip with us last August to a powwow.

An afternoon cruise through town.  What else should we see but
an Indian motorcycle.

With the many Native American tribes that were forced to the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, it remains a rich center for passing on and celebrating their cultural rituals and heritage.  Much of this is done through the powwow.  There are many powwows held throughout the state, and around the country, for feasting, singing, socializing, competing, and even holding council meetings.  In late July, we had the opportunity to take the granddaughters to the Native American powwow in Anadarko, Ok.  It was day-long event that started with a parade, then broke into a number of activities such as singing, and dancing competitions that usually run well into the night.  There are also a number of vendors at any of these events that offer Native American jewelry and art.

The powwow starts with the parade.

After the parade, we attended a singing event.  The drum was set in the middle of the large room.  I say room, because in this case we had the use of an air-conditioned event building, which was welcome in the sweltering heat.  The drum refers to both the huge instrument, which must be four feet or more across, and to the group of drummers and singers that gather around it.  All the participants and spectators then ring the drummers.  One person will begin a song, which is drawn from well over a hundred songs, some contemporary, but many that have passed down through generations.  Then the entire group will join in.  With a dozen drummers in perfect unison on the drum, and all of them singing, it is an auditory experience that will not only fill a large room, but an entire arena later for dancing.

The regalia are beautiful.  I'll identify the
tribe where it's apparent.

The dancing begins as evening comes on and the day’s heating begins to cool.  The men’s fancy dance regalia are a sight to behold, as is the gorgeous and artistic beadwork used by both men and women.  The regalia, never called a costume, is not only beautiful, but the dancing is so energetic that it can’t be considered anything less than an athletic event.  Other dances include the stomp dance, shawl dance, jingle-dress dance, traditional dances, and the men’s fancy dance.  One of the most enjoyed events by all is the tot dance, when the smallest of children get to show how much they’ve learned of their rich cultural heritage.

The Arapaho Tribal Princess

Non-Native Americans are welcome to attend most of these events.  However, anyone attending should be sensitive to their customs and beliefs.  Some things reach almost a religious connotation, such as making the mistake of picking up an eagle feather that has broken off a headdress and fallen to the ground, or walking through the middle of a dance ring.  At most events, the program that is distributed usually warns of such cultural missteps, but if not, most Native Americans attending the event are welcoming and happy to take a visitor under their wing and explain what is going on.  This is a great opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation for the meaning behind the dances, songs, and activities.  You will undoubtedly wish to take pictures of individuals in their regalia, but again, be courteous and ask permission first.  This is simply good manners anywhere and with anyone.  I came home with a lot of pictures, and will share some of these for the enjoyment of many who have never had the chance to share in these events.