On The Road Again

Wow. It seems like it’s been ages since I last sat down to write. Not much to say while sitting still in Dallas. It was great spending time with my daughter, Elissa, and some good friends while there. The rest of my time was spent tackling projects, many of them long over due. There’s still a list of things I did not get to (always a list!), but I did drive away feeling much less burdened.

I headed out before sunrise on Thursday morning with Caddo Lake on my radar… and my new Hobie Kayak strapped to the top of Zippy. Once I got past the construction zone on FM 423 and hit the highway I felt lighter than air… giddy almost, to be back on the road. I watched the sun rise in a blaze of glory as I drove through Greenville on Hwy 380 and spent many miles reflecting on what I enjoy about Texas in the spring. Most of you know that Texas is not my home state, and the northwest girl in me often felt land-locked in the Dallas area… so far from the cool mountains and ocean breeze. Texas does have it’s endearing qualities though, and Spring is my favorite season here. After enduring a dormant winter, (which I didn’t this year), where everything from the ground to the sky is a shade of brown or gray, it’s a delight to watch the world come back to life in vivid color. I love watching the young crops dancing gently in the breeze, and the way the clouds look painted in the blue sky. I enjoy the wildflowers which seem to sprout up indiscriminately along the roadsides. And there’s the newborn calves… always so darn cute! While driving I was tickled to watch three young calves running playfully through a field and it struck me that you never see adult cows at play. Why is that? At what point do they lose their playfulness? As I pondered this I was struck by the symbolism. At what point do us humans outgrow the simple joys of childhood… our playfulness, and innocence, and sense of wonder? These thoughts made me rejoice and give thanks to have found my way back. I love looking at the world through the eyes of the child in me once again!

My mind was racing with thoughts as I drove. Not burdensome thoughts, but joyful and enlightening thoughts, and a renewed excitement about the journey ahead. It occurred to me that this is the time when I am almost overwhelmed with the most poignant, and poetic and often profound thoughts… most of them long forgotten by the time I’m sitting still and can write them down. I have to get myself in the habit of using the voice recorder on my iPhone!

So I’m driving down the highway singing along to the tunes, and thinking to myself that I could probably write some pretty darn good song lyrics on the open road, and Sugarland’s “Gotta Be Something More” comes on. Speaking of poignant! What a perfect song. Pretty much the feelings leading up to my journey! Great song! Listen to the words… Gotta Be Something More

The closer I got to Caddo Lake the more excited I was to take my kayak out for her maiden voyage. I couldn’t think of a more perfect and peaceful place to put this baby to the test than one of my favorite spots in Texas! As I’m mulling this over it dawned on me that I’m going to have to come up with a name for my new addition. Like Zippy (my Honda) and The Beast (my monster size Winnebago) she’ll probably name herself in time. Interesting that boats and autos are thought of as female in gender isn’t it? I’m sure there’s a very good reason behind this that dates way back in history. There is one addition in here that is most definitely male in gender though, and that is the GPS system I researched and purchased for my travels. This bad boy is designed specifically for RV travel. I’ve programed it with a male voice, and more importantly the length, height and width of my RV and tow car, and it (he) keeps me on safe and legal routes along the way. He also warns me of sharp turns ahead, speed limit changes, and steep downhill grades. (Rand McNally TripMaker RVND 7710) It stands to reason he should have a name right? And it just so happened I watched one of my all time favorite movies the other night, The Last of the Mohicans, and there he was! I’m tellin’ ya, if I could have anyone blazing the trail for me, and keeping me safe on my journey, it would be Hawkeye. Seriously! Daniel Day Lewis never looked better!  See for yourself!

“Hawkeye” got me to Caddo Lake State Park safe and sound, and once settled I wasted no time getting my kayak on the water for the first time. I’d been wanting to get a kayak for quite some time, and as is my habit when purchasing most anything these days, I researched at length before taking the plunge. After a test drive with my new friends at Oceanside Dive and Kayak, and a thumbs up from my photographer friend Randy Jay Braun in Hawaii, I decided on the Hobie Revolution II. This kayak is genius! And one of the benefits is that with peddles and a paddle I can work the lower and upper body every time I go out! Plus it’s stable enough that I can take my gear and get shots I couldn’t touch from shore! More on the kayak later. In the mean time I have some visual treats to share.

I was very impressed with the Caddo Lake State Park, very clean, spacious and peaceful. I had one whole corner of the campground to myself until Friday night.

Zippy and The Beast with my new Hobie Kayak in Caddo Lake State Park

I didn’t have to peddle very far before I spotted this Great Blue Heron. I spent about 30 minutes following this guy along the shoreline, where he mostly walked… doing his best to hide behind the trees.

Great Blue Heron taking flight

Only one sighting of a Great Egret that night which I found hard to believe since I’ve seen them in abundance on my other two visits here.

Great Egret in flight

The next morning I put in at Johnson’s Ranch boat launch and headed for “Turtle Shell”. This is a maze of Cypress Trees so thick it is impassible to most. There are a few narrow channels that only the shallowest of boats can get through. Even in the kayak I often had to pull up the flippers and rudder and paddle my way over the hidden roots, and through the thick quagmire of Lily Pads. Paddling across these was like paddling across a sheet of rubber, and a great upper body workout! Sadly I was pretty much skunked when it came to the bird sightings I was hoping for… (too early in the season)… but I found it beautiful just the same.

This may have been a lucky catch as I read online that the Yellow-crowned Night Heron is uncommon at Caddo Lake. This guy was sure trying hard to catch someone’s attention and I don’t think it was mine. I have to assume this was some sort of matting display, and he repeated it numerous times while calling out with a loud high-pitched quawk!

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Wish I could take my girls out on the kayak!

I’ve always thought Caddo Lake was a rare Texas gem. Interestingly it’s the largest natural lake in the state.

Most of the Lily’s weren’t yet open, but I did find a few along the way.

I was so baffled by the lack of bird sightings that I did some research after my morning on the water, and ended up driving out to the Caddo Lake Wildlife Refuge to get some advice. The gals I spoke with there were very friendly and helpful. They explained that the birds are busy building their nests as opposed to feeding along the shoreline and hanging out in the trees as they do much of the year. Makes sense. And the only other times I have been here were in October and June. For those of you wanting to check this place out, and I would highly recommend it, those are two great months to be here!

It was suggested that I might want to try putting in from the Wildlife Management Land’s launch site, so after a bite of lunch and a walk with the dogs that is where I went. I’ve gotta say that launching here and setting out through the dense bog of Cypress trees alone was kinda eerie.

Right before taking this video, only yards from the boat ramp, something BIG slammed into my kayak right under the bow. I have to admit it scared the daylights out of me. First thought… alligator. It was more likely just a large fish, and they continued to jump as I paddled through this swamping scene.

IMG_1200 (This is a small portion of the video clip I did on my iPhone. You may have to click on the link twice to pull up the video. Here and again on the next page.)

I’m still in awe of the mystical beauty of this place…

They mark the "trail" through this place with old license plates.

The only other folks I saw in three hours of peddling/paddling.

And just when I started to think I’d been completely skunked by the birds once again I hear the unmistakable “whoosh” sound of a large bird flying very close by…

With chills running down my spine I pulled up the flippers and rudder and followed this guy deep into the thick marshy bog. Sooooo worth it!

Barred Owl

The next morning I pulled up stakes before sunrise I set out once again. Next stop… New Orleans! Stay tuned for more on that, PLUS, I’ll be changing things up a bit here. Soon to come… healthy RV recipes, my new workout routine, what I’ve learned along the way, things that make living in an RV easier for me, favorite campgrounds, and more. I asked for feedback and suggestions in my last post. I’m listening!





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