Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lake Perry

Buddy, my 14-ft. Hornbeck Adirondack pack canoe, waits while
a disabled fishing boat limps back to its trailer.

Anyone that has ever done any type of construction, or just stood there and watched the construction being done, knows Ditch Witch.  It has been the go-to machine for trenching to lay pipe, cable, telecommunications lines or anything else that has gone underground since 1949.  Perry is the birthplace of Ditch Witch by the Charles Machine Works Company. 

On September 16, 1893, 100,000 men, women, and children would rush west from the county line when the gun fired at noon in order to lay their claim to Indian land the U.S. Government had opened for settlement.  By nightfall, 40,000 tents were erected in the new town.  The record for both speed and entrepreneurialship goes to Jack Tearney, who arrived on the town plat in 31 minutes.  By 4 p.m., he had erected the “Blue Bell Saloon,” and was selling beer for a dollar a bottle, a price he justified because of the lack of water.  According to inflation, that glass of beer would now cost $25.64.  He sold 38,000 glasses of beer.  The blossoming new town became known as “Hell’s Half Acre,” and within short order, others hoping to cash in on Jack’s success had erected about 110 saloons and gambling houses.  Most of them were within the half block east of the current town square.

It's no surprise that Lake Perry is ringed by oil pumping rigs.  It is
powered by that huge one-cylinder engine behind it.

Perry’s second historical name was Wharton, named after the train station built in 1886 by the Southern Kansas Railway as part of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.  After the land run of 1893, the U.S. Government established a land office in Wharton to oversee this and other land office towns.   The office administrator was J. A. Perry, so thus Wharton became the town of Perry, which remains as the smallest town in Oklahoma with its own newspaper. 

For those with an interest in the Old West, Perry played its part as the target of both the Dalton gang, and the Doolin gang, when they wanted to rob a train.  After one such foray by the Dalton gang, Charlie Bryant fell ill and was taken 52 miles WSW to Hennessey to see a doctor.  Deputy Marshall Ed Short spotted Bryant and arrested him.  During an escape attempt, Bryant and Deputy Short ended by killing each other in a gun shootout. 

When anything is seen on shore, it is usually just another head of cattle.
This time we chanced to catch a head of donkey.

If you wish to paddle Lake Perry, you may be confused to find two of them.  Google Earth gets confused too.  Perry lies on I-35, half-way between Oklahoma City and the Kansas state line.  There is the little Perry Lake south of town on 4th Street in the town park, which is east of I-35.  Then you will find Lake Perry south of town on Cty. Rt. N3180, which is west of I-35.  The names get used interchangeably.  The confusion could be avoided, and the names more descriptive, if the first was called the Perry Park Pond, but no one has ever called to ask my opinion. 

Lake Perry was built in 1937 as part of a Civilian Conservation Corps work project.  The lake and facilities remain much as when they were first built, which will be most evident in the restrooms.  The lake has a 13-mile shoreline, is a haven for bass and trout fishing, and has RV and primitive camping available.  The fees are $5/day for boating, another $5/day for fishing, $5/day for tent camping, and $25/day for RV camping.  Questions can be directed to (580)572-9465.  There is one small single-lane concrete ramp at L36.25014N, Lo97.33616W on the east side of the lake.

Do I stay, or do I go?  Do I stay, or do I (splash)...

I was anxious to get on the water both because recent high winds have left me sitting at home, and because the next 9-day forecast is full of non-stop severe storms and tornado threats.  I found the day to be full of surprises.  The first was the unusually high water level resulting from the recent heavy rains.  This left the water the color of tea with milk, and a visibility that only went to a depth of 4-inches if you really strained your eyes.  The water came all the way to the top of the ramp, and also flooded a bit of the loading float.  By comparison, the sky was crystal clear and blue with only tiny puffs of white cloud, and the wind was between 5-12 mph. 

Others were equally anxious to take the chance to get on the water.  I never see other paddlers with their canoes and kayaks in Oklahoma.  While on my 161-mile round-trip today, however, I spotted an SOT kayak on a trailer while I was enroute to the lake, and on the trip back home I saw a canoe on top of a Jeep.  Both were headed in the opposite directions.  Unusual for a Saturday, I only saw one other boat on the lake.  It was about a 12-foot aluminum deep-vee power boat that only ran in reverse because of the broken transmission in the outboard. 

The most evident thing for anyone wanting to paddle all the way around the lake is the absence of any place to stop for a break.  This may change at lower water levels, but I found two types of shoreline.  There was flooded vegetation that made it impossible to land or to reach the water from the land.  I did hear a sudden crashing and splashing that was obviously a deer that I had flushed out but never saw.  Where there was the rare gradual shoreline, it had all been fenced off with barbed wire.  This made it possible for cattle to cool themselves in the water, but impossible for a paddler to reach shore.  Every arm of the lake was blocked or constricted by barbed wire.  Most of the land around the lake has been taken over by livestock and oil pumping pads.  When I saw a sign forbidding waterskiing in any of the arms of the lake, I was mistakenly impressed.  I thought how nice it was that they were insuring the peace and tranquility for paddlers and fishermen.  After going around the lake, however, it was obvious the prohibition was to prevent skiers from having limbs amputated on the steel and wood posts and barbed wire. 

It was an enjoyable day in spite of the barbed wire, at least until I returned to the take-out.  There I found a group of about 15 loud ‘trumpian’ juveniles from about 5 to 16 years of age.  The total and continuous use of vulgarity, even with an adult woman in their midst, revealed the absolute absence of any parenting or guidance in their lives.  I always felt it was imperative for adults to monitor their language and behavior to provide a positive influence on youth.  I now feel perhaps the opposite is true: the young should avoid shocking their elders.  None of the group was capable of making a sentence, clause, or exhortation that didn’t contain a minimum of at least one four-letter F word.  There are nine parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, and articles.  I never realized until now that f—k can be used in place of any or all of these.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough to avoid having my 73-year-old sensibilities negatively assailed.  The environment made me both sad and disgusted.  For someone that has spent his career associating with the dregs of society, that is indeed saying something---something sad for the future of our civilization.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

How Our Planet Dies (Starvation?)

Credit: pinterest
This is a bee garden too beautiful for words, but the
same ends can be accomplished with a much more
modest beginning.
There can be little doubt that we are on the wrong track for our own survival.  Here’s a good indication.  The story on CBS that I heard stated that we have lost 80% of our pollinators in North America in the last 20 years.  Pollinators, for the most part, are bees and butterflies.  In real understandable terms, pollinators are responsible for one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat.  Without them, we cannot produce enough food to feed ourselves, let alone the rest of the world that we have historically exported to.  Between being on track to lose crops and potable water supplies from other causes, we all are looking at the foreseeable day when our children will suffer from both insufficient food and water.

Beautiful blossoms burst into bloom from new milkweeds
started this year.  There are annual milkweeds, but these
are perennials.  To tag them as weeds certainly doesn't fit.
I went looking for more data, and the picture gets more complicated depending on the species of bees or butterflies we are talking about.  For example, commercial beekeepers lost 44% of their hive populations in one year, 2015-2016.  Plus, not all pollinating bees live in hives.  Many species live their entire lives individually in plants and in the ground, but they also raise our crops.  Their numbers are estimated to have dropped by 96%, that is 96%, in the same 20 years.  Some species are believed to be already extinct.

This is our small beginning.  There are four o'clocks
in the background, orange milkweeds in the middle,
and bee balm in the foreground.  As they propagate, we
will continue to transplant further down the swale.

So, what can we do?  The current approach is to stop waiting for our governments to do anything.  We could start a whole on-line battle on what administration is eradicating the EPA, FEMA, the Food & Drug Administration and so on, and planning to destroy more efforts to protect food supplies, protect us from pesticides, etc.  And, the federal government isn’t the only problem.  Here in Oklahoma, the state is owned by the oil and gas industry.  There are ongoing problems with fracking, with water quality, with earthquakes, and too many other problems to get into, but the point is that the state has no intention of taking any measures to protect our citizens over the desires of the oil and gas industry’s demands for more tax gifts (otherwise called incentives), more tax breaks, more land rights, and so on.  They just won’t do it.  So if we can’t count on the federal government, and we can’t count on the state government, where do we turn?  The answer to that is the current move underway to get every homeowner to make a difference individually.  Here’s an example.

The four o'clocks are going gang busters.  They reseeded
from plants we had there last year.  The pollinators
love them.
We have a small swale (little gully or ravine) that runs down our back yard.  It is a mess to mow, and serves no useable function in our yard or lawn.  We are turning it into a bee and butterfly garden.  People are being encouraged to turn small tracts of ground into feeding stations for bees and butterflies.  Most people are familiar with the monarch butterfly, for example.  Twice a year, they migrate from between 3,000 and 5,000 miles to get between their summer and winter ‘homes’, with the difference in distance depending on starting and finishing points.  No single butterfly survives to make the entire trip.  Four different generations will be born, breed, hatch, and die before the great, great, grandchildren reach their destinations.  They feed and pollinate along their flight paths as they move.  Between insecticides, human lack of understanding, and loss of habitat, the monarchs are losing the ability to find enough food to keep going.  Our part comes in not understanding that many plants are essential, and spraying to kill anything that is not lawn destroys vital biodiversity.  Milkweed, for example, has been widely eradicated for this reason, and milkweed is what monarchs almost exclusively feed on.  People are being asked to dedicate poor areas of property, fence lines, back corners of yards, or fields not being actively used, to natural regions where they establish plants that are of value to bees, hummingbirds, ladybugs, and butterflies.  It reduces the property owner’s maintenance costs and time, provides critical plants for nature, and can be beautiful.  Many people think such an ignored area will look ratty, unattractive.  However, there are many plants that bloom for most of the summer, are beautiful, and like milkweed, for example, come in a wide range of colors and growing patterns.  Many folks call these areas bee gardens.  Here is one small link to explain this idea, but once you get started looking, you will find hundreds of such sites, and pictures of beautiful, not ratty, bee gardens.  They can vary between ‘left to nature’ and exquisitely fancy.  Please get hooked on this effort and jump right in.

Nibi Mocs update

Congratulations to Larry Ricker.  His NibiMocs site reached 500 subscribers today.  I'd like to think that some of you helped him reach that mark, and for that I say thank you.  If not, you still have the chance to join the ranks.  His links are in the original post.  You will really enjoy his videos, and you'll fall in love with Sam the Faithful. 

On my own front, I know I've been lazy in getting new posts out.  I've just been so depressed from not getting going myself that I've hardly had the motivation to move.  Again, I'll try to remedy that here shortly.  I just downloaded a bunch of pictures, and will start today on processing them and writing the narrative to accompany them in the posts.  Come back!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Help Larry Reach His Goal

Larry's campsite on Alder Lake.
Credit: LHR Images
Larry Ricker, who has a few aliases, like nibimocs and LHR Images, is an avid canoeist, photographer, and videographer.  While traveling with his sidekick, Sam, The Faithful, he paddles and camps throughout the Northern U.S, especially The Boundary Waters.  He has amassed a treasure trove of videos and photography that have to be loved by any paddler and nature-lover.  His work reveals his great love for what he is doing, and his gentle giant demeanor makes him easy to enjoy watching and listening to.  He’s what most of us would describe as the perfect paddling and camping companion.  If you aren’t familiar with his work, you need to do yourself a favor and check out his You Tube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/nibimocs.
Larry also likes sharing his work, meeting people on line, and hearing their comments and questions.  He would love to have you subscribe to his video channel.  At the sight above, just click ‘subscribe’ in the upper right corner, watch, like (if you do), and comment.  As of now, he has 485 subscribers, and is pushing to make 500.  Please be one of his 15 friends to help him reach his personal goal.  Subscribe, then sit back and enjoy.  Although, you may find that after watching a few videos, you’ll find you have to grab the boat and gear to hit the water yourself.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


One of Jean's babies on the backyard feeder.
Oklahoma is being Oklahoma.  For us or the squirrels, outdoor life is on hold while the wind holds at 25-30 mph, where it is supposed to hold day and night for most of the next week.  At least with the bird and squirrel feeders, they don't have to depend on climbing and jumping through the treetops.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

An Ounce of (footing) Protection

Here's the idea in progress.  It looks a bit nicer when the loose
gravel is removed, and isn't hard on the bottom of the canoe
as I had feared.

I reported back on January 2nd, how I had broken my tailbone on New Year’s Day while trying to start the year off with a bang.  It wasn’t quite the kind of bang I had had in mind. 

I tried to use one of the steepest ramps in the area, because the shoreline wasn’t accessible due to riprap.  The ramp was covered with slime after not being used for months.  While trying to step from the canoe, my feet flew out from under me faster than if I’d been on ice.  While forced to endure a forced period of inactivity for healing, I tried to explore how the injury could have been prevented. 

The problem was that I was using Crocs for water shoes.  Crocs have taken some recent steps to remedy their reputation for having no footing.  While they would appear to be a perfect solution to the need for water shoes, they in fact have been cited countless times by actual users for their failures in not providing foot protection or surefootedness.  I had begun to use them just in winter, because they fit well over the feet of my drysuit.  During the summer, I use proper Stohlquist Tideline booties.  So, the question remained as to what could be used in winter over my drysuit booties.  I wrote to REI with that question.  They recommended three solutions:
In all of these, they recommended going a size larger than normal to accommodate the drysuit.
Now that you’ve been given the ‘right’ way of solving the problem, the Scotsman in me has to admit that, as always, I went looking for an ‘economical’ solution to the problem.  This comes from my habit of NEVER throwing anything away if there’s a way of redeeming some remaining value from it.  To begin with, in fairness to Crocs, while they lack good footing even when new, these were several years old so were even more slippery than normal.  I wanted to add non-skid to the bottom of the shoes.  As most men, I believe that many of the world’s ills can be cured with either Duct tape or epoxy.  I couldn’t make a solid coating of epoxy on the sole of the shoe, because that would lead to cracking of either the epoxy or the shoe’s sole.  If I put non-skid only on the highest treads, the rubber in between would allow the shoe to perform normally while the non-skid would provide good traction.  For the non-skid, I went out on one of our country roads and scooped up a few pounds of gravel.  After a few screenings, I was left with something a bit more course than 36 grit sandpaper.  I brushed epoxy onto the shoe treads and then rolled the soles in the grit.  After I was able to be up and about somewhat comfortably, I went back to the ramp and tried out my new ‘slime busters’.  Now you have two options.  If you don’t have any water shoes, by all means get proper shoes. However, if you have old shoes that you think you can redeem, this solution actually works quite nicely.  I would still never try using this approach while trying to walk on or over rocks, but for just making it down a slimy ramp in one piece, it works.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Response to Trump

In response to Trump's short-sighted, unenlightened, and destructive
withdrawing from the world's efforts to protect our planet and our
future generations, many local governments and businesses have
stepped forward to make their own commitments.  This response
from the CEO of NEMO, manufacturers of camping gear, is very
responsive and well-reasoned.  I would encourage you to take the
few short minutes to read his response.
A Letter from NEMO Founder Cam Brensinger in Response to the Paris Agreement Withdrawal

Yesterday’s decision by the President to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is very disappointing to our team at NEMO. 

As passionate participants in outdoor activities ranging from mountaineering and backpacking, to skiing and climbing, surfing and paddling, and hunting and fishing, we are keenly aware of threats from receding glaciers, extended fire seasons, more extreme storms, weakening winters, rising sea levels, expanding tick populations, shrinking cold water fisheries, and much more. The outdoors is part of our identity and livelihood and a cherished asset we hope to preserve and pass along to our children. We can disagree about the solutions, and the climate agreement may not have been perfect, but its measures were voluntary and embraced by nearly every country in the world, not to mention so many of the world’s most informed scientists and biggest businesses. 

The business community knows addressing climate change is not only a moral obligation, but also the biggest economic opportunity of this century. And the U.S. military knows climate change is one of the top threats to our national security. If we care about our way of life, our economy and our security, tackling the difficult problem of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and rising surface temperatures should be the patriotic endeavor of our generation, much like putting a man on the moon and winning the cold war was for our parents.

Solving this problem as a nation could unite us together, heal some of our internal wounds, and provide the economic foundation and boost to our national morale we need to retain the mantle of the world’s only superpower for another hundred years. Failing to step up to this challenge will signal our inadequacy for that privilege and responsibility. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

Today we promise to double our own efforts toward sustainability. And because we are eternal optimists, we believe the historic misstep made by our government yesterday will ultimately have a paradoxical effect. Americans have a long and proud history of coming around to do the right thing. We aren’t always the first ones to embrace progress, but we usually finish strong. Let’s not let a lack of federal leadership dissuade us. And let’s not point our fingers at each other. Let’s instead come together, regardless of our other differences, and tackle this threat so our children can someday speak proudly of us and enjoy the same wonderful adventures outdoors we have enjoyed.