Monday, September 25, 2006

Camping at Gentry Creek on Eufaula

Gentry Creek Sunset
Gentry Creek Sunset,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
My boss is out of town this week, so pardon my lack of posting while I try to fill his shoes. This weekend Dianne and I returned to Eufaula Lake for some RV camping at Gentry Creek campground. We were lucky enough to catch some nice weather and enjoy tour choice of campsites. Gentry Creek closes up for the season at the end of October. These days it is practically empty.

The RV sites at Gentry Creek campground are mostly asphalt and rather narrow but shady and clean. Expect to have some leveling issues on a large RV. Hookups are water and electric only and most sites have a BBQ grill, fire ring and picnic table.

One feature Dianne and I look for in a camping spot is not listed in most guide books. We call it 'distance to Wal-Mart'. Gentry Creek campground boasts a very respectable 12-mile rating on the Distance to Wal-Mart Scale. This came in handy when we realized that the campsite we picked was too far from the water hydrant for our hose to reach. If you go to Gentry Creek during the summer, you may want to bring a hose splitter as well, since some hydrants are shared over mutliple sites.

The lake water was extremely wavy on this section of Eufaula this weekend. We had a fun trying to time our strokes with the waves to make the paddling easier. Large waves on Eufaula Lake can surprise you, so wear a PFD. (I didn't but it was hot OK? ) At sundown we got some pretty cool photographs, as usual you can check a few of them out on Flickr tagged 'Gentry Creek'.

Many fishermen in my family enjoy this part of Eufuala due to the ease of catching shad for bait. I like it for the starry nights and the power line poles that seem to grace the background of all my pictures taken there. They make it easier to keep the horizon level.

A friendly reader was kind enough to email me this week describing a trip he and his wife made down the less traveled portion of the Lower Mountain Fork River. It is a trip Dianne and I never seem to find time to take when we are in the Broken Bow area. It is described as a flatwater float, but he said they managed to find a thrill or two...and much more wildlife! I have to get down there soon, but I think I maybe going to the Illinois River this weekend.

-- Keep Paddling

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oklahoma Outdoors Enthusiasts on Tick Watch

Check Yourself and Your Kids for Ticks

More and more Oklahomans are suffering the symptoms of a new kind of tick bacteria that is spreading across the country.

The newly discovered bacterium is called the 'Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness' or 'STARI'. Because of the recent period of unusually hot weather, the ticks are not getting killed off during the winter. This means the ticks are around longer and are breeding faster.

Since so little is known about STARI disease, experts say, look for a tick bite that leaves a red, bulls-eye rash.

More Insect Repelling Clothes from Buzz-Off...

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Tulsa Wave Dedication October 3, 2006

Rapids on Arkansas River (2)
Rapids on Arkansas River (2),
originally uploaded by gdsanders.
Randy Clemens, of the Red Dirt Paddlers organization, just advised me that the Tulsa Wave Park will be given over to the city at 3 pm on Tuesday Oct 3. This is as big as it gets for Oklahoma are paddling news!

Expect a big public event with the Mayor and other officals making statements. If you can ditch work to attend, come on out and show your support for this visionary collaboration between PSO and the City of Tulsa. Cheer for the new hottest new whitewater attraction in the Ozarks!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Is That a Billabong in Your Shorts?

The increased availability of cool, comfortable, quick drying, synthetic fabrics has led to dramatic improvements in swimsuit technology. I recently switched from years of buying cheap, cotton Wal-Mart swimsuits with the net inside to modern boardshorts. Let me tell you my fanny could not be more pleased with the change. For me, this is the end of a condition I call 'Swimsuit Waffle-Butt'.

Simply put, sitting on your butt for several hours on perpetually wet bit of nylon net is likely to cut down on your paddling time.

Major brands of boardshorts that are currently popular include: Billabong, Quiksilver, Reef, ONeill, and Lost. Most swimsuit manufacturers and many designer brands now produce boardshorts, but you have to be careful. Cheaper boardshorts are often little more than extra long versions of regular swimsuits.

Originally popularized by surfers and wakeboard riders, boardshorts offer many compelling features beyond their extra length.

The Billabong Boardshorts from Swell that I recently purchased, hold their same shape and color when wet or dry. They drip dry ultra-fast and they feel great against the skin as they wick away moisture. The best part was saying goodbye to the nylon net. This is critical when you spend hours on your butt in the boat.

My pair even came with this cool little logo-bearing surfboard wax removal tool (and bottle opener) that you see above. I will probably never use it, however, the surf wax comb was attached to the inside pocket of the shorts via a small elastic lanyard. I have already started using it to hold my keys. That is a feature that is as handy here in Oklahoma paddling a river as it is Hanging Ten in California.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Paddle Eufaula Lake and North Canadian River

Dianne On Eufaula
Dianne On Eufaula,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
This week the family to a very short road trip to the Checotah KOA. We are trying to learn the fine American custom of RV traveling and hoping tomake most of our mistakes close to home. Our first two trips in the RV seemed to bring the rain in so i am glad we kept it local. If bringing rain is a feature of this RV, then were really got a bargain!

The Checotah, Oklahoma KOA is unique in that it offers kayak rentals for paddling Eufaula Lake. They have a nice sized stack of Dagger kayaks and they will shuttle you to and from their private put-in on Eufaula Lake.

Kayaks for Rent on Eufaula

Dagger Kayaks at Checotah KOA

This top notch campground also offers shady RV sites, a nature trail, barnyard zoo, pool and restaurant. We spent one day paddling on the enormous Lake Eufaula and the next day we slipped down the road paddled the sandy banked North Canadian River from a put-in at Dogwood Acres.

Although the North Canadian River is very low now, we still enjoyed some great scenery and wildlife. Sadly, the rainy conditions today left me with few decent photos to share.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Get a Job Working For the Wildlife Dept. Act Fast!

LMF Launch
LMF Launch,
originally uploaded by FreeWine.
Ah, to spend my days enjoying the sweet embrace of Mother Nature.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a standardized pre-employment examination Friday, Sept. 29, 2006 at the Tom Steed Development Center Auditorium at Rose State College. If you have considered working for the Wildlife Department as a fisheries or wildlife biologist, technician, game warden, or hatchery manager, I would highly encourage you to take the test.

More details on the Woods page at

Wine Festival in Oklahoma Sept. 16, 2006

Bad Weather Rising
Bad Weather Rising,
originally uploaded by SaintSeminole.
2006 Harvest Festival at Nuyaka Creek Winery

Come on out and join the Jones family for our 2006 Oklahoma Wine Festival. Twice a year we gather together we our friends and vineyard supporters to celebrate the bounty of the annual grape harvest. Come taste the wide variety Oklahoma wines Dad has released from the cellar this year.

EVENT: September Harvest Festival
DATE: September 16, 2006 Noon until 7:00 PM
ADMISSION: Buy one $5.00 souvenir wine glass and taste all of the great Oklahoma wines
INFORMATION: Call the Nuyaka Mall at 918-756-8485 or visit us on the web to see our winelist and print the map to Nuyaka Creek Winery.

In addition to enjoying the usual live music, fun food and wine tasting, take some time to have Dad show you the vineyard. He is always happy to answer questions from budding winemakers and grape growers, sometimes he even has some wine grape plants to sell!

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