Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Winter Waterfowl and Eagle Watch Jan 5, 2008

Winter Waterfowl and Eagle Watch at Jan 5, 2008

Explore Greenleaf Lake and the Arkansas Waterway to search for wintering waterfowl and eagles. Tours will depart from the Nature Hut at 8am and 1pm. Admission is free!

Greenleaf State Park
Braggs, OK 74423

Event Contact: Steve Evans
Phone: 918-487-7125
Fax: 918-487-5406
E-mail: naturehut@onenet.net
Web site: http://www.oklahomaparks.com/

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kayaking at Nichols Park in Henryetta

Nichols Park Beach House
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Yesterday, I took a vacation day to run some holiday errands and sneak in some time in my kayak. At first we had planned to hit the North Canadian River near Pierce, Oklahoma, but the wind and current were a bit forbidding and there wasn't any sunshine.

Since one of my errands took us to nearby Henryetta, Oklahoma, we decided to paddle at Nichols Park.

Nichols Park, a National Historic Site, encompasses more than 300 acres and features a low traffic 10-acre reservoir lake. The lake has rather high banks on the North side and thick forest line on the south side that makes for some nicely wind-sheltered paddling. Fishing is free at Nichols Park.

Manually-powered water crafts are allowed on the lake, however all other vessels are strictly prohibited.

Nichols Park also offers the Living Legends Rodeo Arena and the Henryetta Little League Complex. On Labor Day every year, over 1,500 spectators gather at Nichols Park to watch The Living Legends Rodeo. The park is located about a mile and a half south of Main Street on Lake Road in Henryetta.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

A Red State Turns Blue - Frozen Oklahoma

Well Right Here is Your Problem
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
The water level is finally up in the Illinois River. With Oklahoma still struggling through our historic power outage and snow in the forecast...I have stopped planning kayaking trips for a bit. I hate being stuck at home, but at least I have power!

Meanwhile, I've been shopping online for 2008 kayaking calendars and other seasonal goodies. I think a new electric generator will be the hit gift of the year here in the Sooner State! Amazon offers an enormous variety of power generators for sale, even if you don't want a generator delivered today you can explore the wide variety of options for home standby power. I'm still struggling to decide between a Portable Generator, RV Generator or Home Standby System.

Once the crisis is over, I can probably hire a local generator expert. I was able to find this lead to a Tulsa company offering home generator installations. Drop us a comment if you know their work or that off other Oklahoma providers!

Clifford Power Systems
9310 East 46th Street North
Tulsa OK 74117
Phone: 918-836-0066
Fax: 918-836-0094

Dianne and I were only without power for two days. Since we bought cellular internet cards, our network was up as long as we could keep our laptop batteries charged. I was pretty worried about my water freezing since our home is all-electric.

We stayed home and kept the house warm using a simple, low cost, propane construction heater. Just clamp one to the top of the propane tank from the BBQ grill and you have a simple heat source.

Of course, you have to be careful using one of these heaters indoors. Bundle up, keep a fresh air source going and only run the burner when you absolutely need it. Poisonous gas build-up has killed far too many Oklahoma folks already.

Stay warm, Oklahoma!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Where to Kayak as the Climate Gets Colder

Flying South for the Paddling

This time of year, many Oklahoma kayakers start seeking more southern destinations for their paddling adventures. Southern climates tend to be warmer as winter settles in on my part of Oklahoma. Even today's forecast calls for Okmulgee to slog through a misty 50 degree day while Broken Bow, Oklahoma is expecting to enjoy a 73 degree day of warm winter sun.

Oklahoma's new Flatwater Paddlers Group is discussing some cold water paddling trips. So far, the suggested sites include Caddo Lake in Texas and maybe even a three day trip to Lafayette, Louisiana.

Caddo Lake in Texas

Both sound like great trips to me. I have long wanted to visit Lousiana and I have been planning on making a trip to Caddo Lake for awhile now. I even went as far as starting a Texas Kayaking Page listing canoe and kayak rentals, cabins and the Texas paddling spots I long to visit. Caddo Lake sits on the Texas and Louisiana border in North East Texas and North West Louisiana. The Cypress tree thickets and Spanish Moss on Caddo Lake make it very different from the lakes here in Northeastern Oklahoma. It sounds perfect for some Kayak Photography.

Long Lake Resort in Poteau

Another spot that I have been considering is Long Lake Resort in Poteau, Oklahoma. I still need to give them a call and find out what their policies are on allowing kayaking on their two private lakes. The two private lakes, Long Lake and Terrell Lake, are natural lakes stocked with fish. Each lake is approximately 45 to 50 acres in size and the cabins (some with a jacuzzi) are apparently right by the water. It sounds like some nice sheltered water nestled in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains.

If you have paddled these areas or have some other southern paddling destination to suggest...leave us a comment on the blog!

Of course another winter paddlers option is taking some small pleasure from Kayaking Books like this Texas Paddling Guide: Paddling the Wild Neches (Texas A&M Nature Guides) of course paddling books are only cold comfort and can't compare to actually getting out there!

Happy Paddling!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Paddling Around the Deep Fork River Bridge

Deep Fork River Bridge
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
I have been told that the Deep Fork River bridge pictured here was moved into place around 1928. Originally, it was on Highway 75 between Okmulgee and Henryetta. I think it is cool the way Oklahoma used to recycle bridges

I mentioned yesterday that the Deep Fork River bridge near Nuyaka Creek Winery is a pretty good place to put-in for some flatwater kayaking that muddy old river. What I forgot to mention was that there is a particularly good opportunity for visiting the winery coming up this month.

Mom & Dad will be hosting a Christmas Open House on Thursday, December 20, 2007 from Noon until 6:00 PM. Free home cooking AND Oklahoma wine tasting for all! You can also see the new underground facility Dad has been working on.

The Deep Fork River is an Oklahoma tributary of the North Canadian River. It flows from Oklahoma City and meets the North Canadian River at Lake Eufaula about 200 miles away. It has taken me quite awhile, but I have begun to see more and more glimpses of the beauty that this river hides so well.

At first, I could see nothing at all to love in the almost monochrome redness of the river. However, in time I started to find the gnarled trees, twisted roots and sinister looking logjams as a secret source of dark beauty. It only exposes its sweetest attributes during the magical few hours just after sunrise and just before dawn.

Many Oklahoma Rivers seem prudish in the very same way.

Dry Suits for Kayakers...keep paddling all winter long without enduring a clammy wetsuit

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Don't Lay That Crap on Oklahoma

Former Arkansas Governor, and current presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee spent years fighting attempts by Oklahoma to institute stricter pollution controls to protect their waterways. Huckabee opposed efforts to reduce the amount of phosphorous in the Illinois River that threatened fish populations, changed the color of the water and caused foul taste and odor. Huckabee thinks that any Okie seeking to protect the Illinois River is suffering from a 'Crazed Obsession'.

I hope that Oklahoma voters have the sense to recognize that placing a common shill for Big Business in the White House will only lead to a river of crap for Oklahoma.

Deep Fork River Kayaking in December

Warm Winter Sunset
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Yesterday afternoon's low wind and warm temps coaxed me and Dianne to launch a sunset paddling trip on Deep Fork River near the Nuyaka Creek Winery. I like paddling this part of Deep Fork because it is close to home, close to the winery and close to a classic old antique metal bridge that makes for nice photos.

If you ever happen to be making the trip to visit my parent's winery, you may want to consider taking a kayak with you. The River bridge, just a mile or so down the road from the winery, offers some interesting water for kayaking either upstream or downstream.

From the main river bridge, you can paddle up stream for a couple miles until you reach a low water bridge and then turn around and head back or portage around the bridge.

The biggest drop that I am aware of on this part of Deep Fork is right at the main bridge where you put-in. If you are paddling downstream from the bridge I DO NOT reccomend running the small rapids at the put-in. The rapid used to be another low water bridge so it is loaded with old chunks of cement and rusty sheet metal.

However, just under the Deep Fork River Bridge is a large rocky area that makes it easy to put-in the river and go up or downstream while avoiding the rusty rapid.

Deep Fork River Paddling Tips:

Dress for mud, extreme mud! The Deep Fork River is full of, covered with and surrounded by sticky, slippery, red clay mud. Watch your step because the stuff is very slippery and tends to stain clothing. You may want to bring extra shoes.

Deep Fork River fishing is usually quite good because it is loaded with catfish. However, you may have some trouble keeping your fish. Both turtles and aligator gar are also present, so fish trapped on a stringer are likely to not make it to the take-out. We always considered a wire fish basket to be vital for bringing home dinner from old muddy Deep Fork.

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