Thursday, June 28, 2007

Repairing and Testing Our Heritage Angler Kayak


Sudden Lake
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Dianne and I just got back from paddling at the White Oak Area of DFWR. We wanted to take the Heritage Angler Kayak out to test the patching job I put on it this afternoon. The kayak floated dry like it was brand new. I could not be happier!

It took longer for the folks at Baker Electric to fill out the paperwork to rent me a heat gun than the entire repair job. The plastic welding material that Becky sent me melted and fused with the boat hull very quickly. I thought it might change color after melting but it did not. The patch matches the boat wonderfully.

I even filled a couple of minor scrapes in the hull because it was so quick and easy. If you don't know where to look, you can hardly even see the patches. Renting the heat gun only cost me $5, a fraction of what I would have paid for the two Heritage caps Becky sent me.

I knew that our kayaks could be repaired, but I can't help being surprised at how easy it was. Honestly, I never repair things...I'm a software guy, but this was as easy as drying your hair.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Heritage Kayak Customer Service


Heritage Kayak Caps
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
As I have mentioned in a few recent posts, Dianne's kayak got a hole punched in the stern. Neither one of us can figure out how it happened and we had no idea how or where we could go to get the boat repaired. Some Google searching pointed toward shops in other states to get my boat repaired but nothing local. I have rented many patched plastic boats offered by kayak outfitters, so I know they can be effectively repaired.

I emailed Heritage Kayaks using the address on their website to ask about repair options and they replied the same day. Becky at Heritage Kayaks was kind enough to email repair instructions AND snail-mail the matching plastic to patch the hull. That is rapid, no-hassle customer service that left me feeling like I just spotted a jackalope or some other rare creature!

I got the plastic today via UPS and Becky was kind enough to include Heritage Kayak caps for both of us! That just warmed my heart. We exchanged a number of emails and they responded to every one of them within minutes of me sending them. They are good folks!

Check back on this blog and I will let you know how the repair goes. I found a place called Baker Electric in Henryetta to rent the Heat Gun, so we are all set to give it a try tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pasture Paddling at DFWR


Pasture Paddling
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
The strangely wet summer we are enjoying this year in Oklahoma has created new paddling opportunities. A small lake has formed in what used to be pasture in the White Oak Area of Deep Fork Wildlife Refuge. If you're in the area, while the water is up, it is pretty fun paddling.

I assumed the water would be quite shallow, but it appeared to be well over 5 feet high in most parts. Paddling through these pastures and pecan groves feels real swampy, but I love it. If there is one thing the sport of summer kayaking needs, it is more shade!

Today, we got on the water long past the best morning light and too long before the sunset. However, I needed the excercise and the water was there. Dianne sat this one out as we are waiting for some plastic welding rod to repair a hole in the Heritage Angler kayak.

The White Oak Area of DFWR offers a level gravel parking lot of ample size and even a handy pile of gravel, just above the water, for Slide-Launching kayaks...very fun! I saw several herons and some kind of small bird that was diving in and out of the water. Sadly, I wasn't close enough to get a picture of it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Barn Swallows on Deep Fork Bridge

Dianne and I went for a brief bit of paddling at the new Deep Fork River boat ramp location this weekend. We found the entire bottom of the new bridge covered with bird nests. The nest are teaming with life and there are hundreds of them.

When you paddle beneath the bridge, they fly up and flit around excitedly until you paddle away from their community of nests. Dad says they are likely to be Barn Swallows and they just make a great fishing spot even better!

We had to cut the trip short do to discovering a small hole in the molded skeg on the bottom of Dianne's Heritage Angler Kayak.

I emailed the address on the maker's website and they responded in the same day. They have sent me the instructions on making the repair and materials are on the way...FREE! That is customer service that can turn a disaster into a testimony.

Thinking of buying yourself a Recreational Kayak for Fishing and Photography? Dianne still loves her 9.5 foot Heritage Featherlite Angler Kayak and Amazon.com is offering them now if you can't find one at Academy Sports in Tulsa.

Monday, June 18, 2007

2007 Okie Noodling Tournament June 30


A Good Day on the Lake
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
A group of noodlers will gather at Pauls Valley June 30 for the Eighth Annual Okie Noodling Tournament, Festival and Fish Fry.

Noodling is the sport of fishing by hand rather than rod and reel, and those who are willing to try it will have their chance to compete for over $5,000 in cash and prizes.

The annual Okie Noodling Tournament held in Pauls Valley has become quite a tradition for many Oklahomans. In fact, last year the event drew about 120 participants and 3,200 spectators to the south-central Oklahoma town. Once again, Bob's Pig Shop will host the event, which starts at 5 p.m. The event will feature a fish fry, live music, a noodling queen pageant and plenty of monstrous catfish.

For more information about the tournament or to download an entry form, log on to okienoodling.com. For more information about the event, call the Pauls Valley Chamber of Commerce at (405) 238-6491 or log on to their Web site at paulsvalley.com.








Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oklahoma Ghost Busters Haunt the Illinois River


Summer!
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Paranormal investigators from all over the country will be converging on the Illinois River, not to investigate any strangeness, but just to talk about investigating the unexplained.

The Oklahoma Paranormal Research and Investigations is sponsoring the 2007 'Para-Float' this Friday and Saturday at Diamondhead Resort. The event will include lectures by Patrick Burns from Court TV's 'Haunting Evidence' deals with the allegedly haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky.

According to Christy Selfridge, founder and director of OKPRI, this won't be the first visit the Oklahoma City-based organization has made to the area - just the most publicized.

Who Ya Gonna Call?
Anyone who thinks they might be experiencing paranormal activity is welcome to contact the OKPRI about an investigation.

The weekend'seminar on the river is free, but Diamondhead will be charging the normal rates for camping and floating. A campfire will be built both Friday and Saturday nights, and the two guest speakers will begin around 7 p.m. Saturday.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Kayaking, Photography and Flickr


Sunset Boat Wake
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
Kayaking, Photography and Flickr have given me a new love for my home state. Of course, I mean recreational kayaks, not the adrenaline fueled, whitewater variety. Oklahoma is a fine state for recreational kayaking.

Dianne and I decided to try recreational kayaks instead of a canoe when floating down the Illinois River a couple years ago. We loved the fun of solo paddling and we needed to get outside more, so paddling seemed like a perfect fit. A trip to the Lower Mountain Fork River in Broken Bow, Oklahoma convinced us to buy our own boats, but it was Flickr that really got me hooked.

Flickr is an online photo sharing community that is highly populated with talented photographers willing to share their knowledge. Through comments from my Flickr Friends I've learned to take much nicer photos. More importantly, I have learned to see more beauty around me.

I've learned that an area that seems ugly and dull can come alive for a brief window and display a secret beauty only known to the few that are there to see it. I've learned composition tricks and to look for framing elements, patterns and contrast. These lessons, that I owe to help from my Flickr Friends, got me more and more interested in taking pictures.

Taking pictures more often also helped me realize that I was doing all my paddling after Lunchtime and before Dinner. These are the worst hours for photography. By planning my paddling trips with this in mind, I have enjoyed kayaking more than ever before.

For me, Kayaking, Photography and Flickr blend like rich coffee, sweet sugar and creamy milk. Separately, I would have only a small interest in any of the three, but together they are...MAGIC!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Floating The Upper Buffalo River

A couple of fellow Oklahoma kayakers graced Arkansas with their presence over the holiday weekend. Check out the great Buffalo River Trip Report I just got from OKC paddlers Al and Donna!

Road Trip Report: The Upper Buffalo River in Arkansas
Pruit put-in to Hasty Landing take-out (71/2 miles)
paddled by Al and Donna Want.

The Ponca area (Upper Buffalo) is an easy 4 1/2 hour drive from OKC straight up I-44 to Tulsa and then onto US412 to Ark 74 at the intersection with Ark.43.

Although we planned to put in at Ponca and paddle the uppermost (and most beautiful) section of the Buffalo, the water levels were to shallow for that section as is normally the case. Using the Buffalo Outdoor Center for shuttles, we put in at Pruit and they drove our car to the Hasty parking area ($40 shuttle fee). BOC also rents canoes and some kayaks. There are several other outfitters in the area (mostly out of Jasper) but we were already renting a lovely luxury cabin ($165/nite) from BOC at Ponca so it was easiest to make arrangements with them. There are also campgrounds at Steel Creek and Kyles landing as well as Pruit and Hasty.

If you rent a cabin, be advised, there's no tv reception and almost none of the area cabins have satellite or cable. Bring plenty of dvds. Also, there is no reliable cell phone service anywhere within 30 miles so leave the outfitter's number with family for emergency contact. There are no restaurants in Ponca and the choices in Jasper (population 498) are a bit limited. There is also no gasoline in Ponca so fill up before you get there and again in Jasper.

Being a holiday weekend, there were lots of kayakers and canoers on the river but it was never too congested and the company was, for the most part, very congenial and welcomed. The water was a cool 65 degrees and relatively clear and the water flow was an easy Class I (probably about 200cfs most of the way. There were paddlers on the river from 10 to 70 years old and everyone seemed to be enjoying the terrific scenery.

The Upper Buffalo is lined, much of the way, with tall stone bluffs (limestone I think) sometimes towering 300-500 feet above the water. They were quite impressive and at some places the water was deep enough to swimmers to jump off feet first to cool off. As with many Arkansas rivers, the river was punctuated every half mile or so with willow strainers around which the river would bend and pick up speed as it dropped off a foot or two in elevation resulting in easy rapids with some sharp turns.

As a general rule on rivers of this sort, always look for the the swiftest water and follow the current. Most strainers have a calm side which looks inviting and a side chute with small rapids. The calm sides almost always dead-end in a pool and you'll either have to portage over to the other side or paddle up-river to get back to the rapids.

We saw several canoers make this mistake but the river was really rather easy to read and paddlers were free to relax and enjoy the vivid greenery and the gentle flow of the current. There were lots of wide gravel bars which easily lend themselves to either a picnic lunch or overnight camping.

Paddlers should remember that NO GLASS IS ALLOWED ON THE RIVER AND ALL ITEMS MUST BE IN FLOATABLE CONTAINERS. The rangers were out on the river making check-point inspections and the fine for one lady with a jar of pickles was $130 plus a mandatory court appearance.

It's easy to see why the Buffalo was the nations first river to be designated a National Scenic Waterway. The view from the water is gorgeous and the river speed allows for a lazy enjoyable float. Be sure to take a camera. There will be lots of photo ops along the way.

The 7 1/2 mile float took us about 3 hours including a short lunch and socializing break on one of the gravel bars. The river could certainly be run faster but you'll really want to take it slow and enjoy every calming stroke of it. We intend to return as soon as possible and try out the middle sections of the Buffalo.

Spring is a great time to run the Upper Buffalo as it's the only time of year when the water levels are sufficient. You may get a little intermittent drizzle but don't let that keep you off the river. Throw a poncho in the kayak but you probably won't need it. It rained mostly at night and the intermittent drizzle on the river wasn't even enough to get my hat wet. The cloud cover kept the temps in the upper 70's and it couldn't have been much more pleasant.

The Buffalo is one river that bears visiting by all paddlers. You'll want to return to it often.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Blue Twilight Paddling at Dripping Springs


Blue Twilight Paddling
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
We hauled sand rock in to build up the banks at our river lot today, but yesterday I got to catch the sunset at Dripping Springs Lake.

Clovis Point is quite near our home so we sneak out there often to grill dinner and paddle the lake. The trick is to paddle out a couple hours before the sunset begins and then chase the light back to the place you started.

For Oklahoma kayakers, the drowning trees on the lake provide vital protection from speeding boats and PWC. The hidden slender arms of trees just beneath the water's surface snatch at boat props but offer little danger to the paddle. Maybe it is because a tree can aspire to become a boat paddle, but never a boat prop.