Sunday, July 30, 2006

Two Days in a Hochatown Cabin

Dianne in the Rock Garden
Dianne in the Rock Garden,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.

This week I took off a couple days to enjoy one more road trip with Dylan and Dianne before the start of the school year. With the current low water conditions, we decided to head back to the Mountain Fork River. For the first time, my mother-in-law was joining us on the trip, so we decided to spend a little more money and rent a cabin in Hochatown.

Normally, when we paddle the Mt Fork River, we just grab a motel room but on this trip we also wanted to visit Beavers Bend Resort. Last Resort Cabins managed to find an available cabin for us right off of the road to Beavers Bend that had enough beds for Dylan, my mother-in-law and ourselves.

Our Cabin - Lucky Star Cabin

We stayed in the Lucky Star Cabin, just inside the Southern Hillls addition off Hwy 259A. It is a lovely cabin newly built and opened this July. The western-styled log cabin has a jacuzzi, large comfortable beds plus a fully equipped and supplied kitchen. A heat pump keeps the cabin comfy and if you can't find enough fun outside there is a big screen satelight televison with more channels than we could ever watch! We rented it at the last minute from Last Resort Cabins in Broken Bow. They were very easy to work with and we would definately consider renting from them again!

Paddling The Lower Mountain Fork River

As always, we had a great time paddling the lower Mt Fork River. Since it was mid-week, we saw almost no on else on the river despite getting a late start. Why did we get a late start? I have decided that cleanliness may be next to godliness, but it is the enemy of morning paddling. It seems that anytime we stay someplace with cable tv and showers, we don't make it onto the water until well after 9am.

If we camp out on the riverbank, we can put our boats on the water closer to 7am in the morning. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT a morning person. However, the early morning light on the water is absolutely magical from about 7am to 9am, especially on a scenic river like this one. Although I have had little in the way of photography training, I have become absolutely obsessed with taking pictures of the Oklahoma I love and sharing them with the world.

We enjoyed excellent weather and water conditions on the river. Our new kayak spray skirts worked well again in keeping either of us from sinking our boats. After dropping our boats off at the put-in, I headed up to WW Canoe & Kayak for a shuttle ride. Here's how it works if you have your own boats. You drop off your kayaks at the put-in, then drive back to the outfitter. From there you follow the shuttle driver to the take-out of Hwy 70 and drop off your vehicle under the bridge. Then you load up in the shuttle driver's vehicle and he takes you back to the put-in. After paddling the river at your own pace, you find your vehicle waiting for you at the take-out. This service usually costs you anywhere from $5 to $15.

The Shuttle Driver

One of the perks of this method is that while riding back to the put-in, you get to visit with the shuttle driver. In my experience, shuttle drivers are all very interesting people to talk to. This one was certainly no exception. After talking for awhile abut how photography had become my latest favorite type of 'hunting'. He whipped out a photo he had taken of the deer he killed this season. I wish I had a copy to show you as it had a very interesting (if slightly gruesome) story with it.

The Deadly Aggression of Bucks

Bucks establish dominance among their peers by way of intense head-butting contests that grow more frequent as the mating season progresses. Sadly, in is not that unusual for the two dueling bucks to lock their horns together during these contests. Many times hunters will walk up on two bucks that have died of thirst, trapped on the ground due to being 'hooked up' like this.

My shuttle driver had the rare experience of seeing one of these unlucky bucks that was luckier than most. It was dragging the head of the buck it got hooked up with through the woods when he shot it! His picture showed a 10-point buck with the head of a nine-point buck hooked to it's antlers. That is one way to get yourself a 19-point buck.

Oklahoma offers hunters some of the best deer hunting action in the nation. For more info on hutning options in the woods of Oklahoma, stop by Currently, you can read about the special Elk Hunt lottery Oklahoma conducts each year.

Beavers Bend Resort Park

The last day we were in Hochatown we decided to visit Beavers Bend Resort Park. It is a small family park offering bumper boat rides, canoes, kayaks, snow cones, paddle boats and swimming in a small portion of the river just below the lake dam, but above the dam we put-in for paddling the lower Mt. Fork River. Since the water is faily still here and not as technical as below the re-regulation dam, we put Dylan and my mother-in-law in our boats for some flatwater kayaking. It was the first time my mother-in-law Juliene had ever been in a kayak. Thankfully, our Heritage Featherlite Angler Kayak is as 'safe as houses', so she could confidently paddle without the sort of scary tippiness of other kayaks.

Dylan only paddled briefly. If there is a chance to swim, he would much rather swim than paddle. While watching Dylan enjoy the swimming hole, Dianne, her Mom and myself all had fun taking pictures of kids leaping wildly into the water. If you swim there with kids, try to park yourself well away from the snow cone stand and trash cans. We were a little too close to a trash can whose sugary snow cone leftovers attracted quite a few bees. One of them stung Dylan on the hand, instantly making itself his main memory of this trip.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Oklahoma Kayaking at Dripping Springs Lake

Beer Yoga at Dripping Springs Lake
Beer Yoga at Dripping Springs Lake,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
Dianne and I are still planning and preparing at top speed for our Broken Bow trip this week. However, the weather change this weekend was too wonderful to pass up without a little bit of paddling.

To take the edge off of the week, we went paddling at Okmulgee's Dripping Springs Lake this Saturday. Since it is just a few miles down the road from our home, we planned a sunset paddling session. The evening worked out great and we really enjoyed it.

Dripping Springs is Okmulgee's 'New Lake'. As you can see from the picture, the lake is full of old partially submerged rotting trees. The pictures also shows the somewhat choppy waters we had on Saturday evening. Paddling through this leafless forest is pretty fun, but the best scenery is near the shoreline until sunset when everything turns golden and beautiful.

We saw a beaver and several cranes, but not much other wildlife. Our arrival was at about 4pm and spent an hour or so just checking out the camping area. It looks like and excellent spot to camp offering clean functional shower rooms and bathrooms. Visit the full sized image on my Flickr page to learn about Dianne's Beer Yoga demonstation in the picture.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Broken Bow Lake Trip Planned

Dianne Tours the Rock Garden
Dianne Tours the Rock Garden,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
No paddling trip to report on from this weekend as I was stuck inside dealing with a technical problem for my day job. Normally, I don't have to work on the weekend but when things are is my schedule.

I am hoping to resolve these issues this week as my wife has an extended family vacation planned. The vacation will only be for two day, but the extended family will be there. My Mom and Dad, plus Dylan and Dianne have comitted to making the trip so far and I think my Mother-in-law may attend as well.

Since this is the last chance to get away before the school year begins, Dianne reserved a cabin for us near Broken Bow Lake. It is just ten minutes or so away from our favorite Oklahoma paddling river, The Lower Mountain Fork. We hope to paddle the river and lake both. It should be a great trip!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bald Eagles Grace the Oklahoma Skies

Oklahoma Eagle Population Growth
Eagles Returning To Oklahoma

This graph indicates what an outstanding success the Sutton Center's Bald Eagle reintroduction program has been in Oklahoma. The recovery goal for Oklahoma was 10 eagle nests, a number that has actually been quintupled in just over a decade! -- The Sutton Center for Bald Eagle Restoration

The Sutton Avian Research Center is dedicated to finding cooperative conservation solutions for birds and the natural world through science and education. The Center carries out many projects for research, conservation and education about birds. Here's one way that you can help:

Wild Brew 2006 set for August 12
This annual beer and food tasting event in Tulsa will benefit the Sutton Center again this year. Last year over 1000 people attended.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dylan and Dad Canoe The Kings River

Dylan and Dad Canoe Kings River
Dylan and Dad Canoe Kings River,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
Occasionally, we park the kayaks and go canoeing. The Kings River near Eureka Springs, Arkansas is an excellent Oklahoma road trip for those who love to canoe. Clear water and lovely scenery abound on this well outfitted and easy to paddle river.

Mostly, I have to enjoy this activity with my son Dylan, as Dianne prefers to paddle solo. She rented a kayak for this trip. Considering the fact that I flipped the canoe over about three seconds from the launch on our first canoe trip, it is little wonder that she is reluctant to share my boat. Don't even ASK about our experience in a tandem kayak.

I've traveled about a bit in my time
And of troubles I've seen a few
But found it better in every clime
To paddle my own canoe.

My wants are few. I care not at all
If my debts are paid when due.
I drive away strife in the ocean of life
While I paddle my own canoe.

I love our kayaks, but I think I might like to own a canoe as well. For me, kayaks and canoes are kind of like trucks and cars. A kayak is quick, nimble and very responsive, however they are less than ideal for carrying either cargo or passengers. My favorite thing about a kayak is the ease of paddling upstream. The ability to paddle upstream, if the water isn't too shallow means we can paddle without arranging shuttles.

Although kayaking tends to draw a younger demographic, it is still a lifelong sport that anyone can get into. It's a sport anyone can enjoy, because it's not about strength, it's about technique.

A canoe is primarily driven by the paddler sitting in the back of the boat. The paddler sitting in the bow (front) of the boat is then free to take pictures, make sandwiches, fish or whatever. Also, canoes tend to be longer than kayaks and they ride a little higher in the water. Finally, I think that canoes are a bit easier to get into and out of without an 'incident'.

"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing". - Henry David Thoreau