Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Monday Morning in the Woods (or why I do what I do).

The tree was four feet across yet it had been shattered like the proverible matchstick. I'm not sure what had done this. The broken wood looked too fresh to be a remnant of Hurricane Rita yet what else would have had the force to tear it in half like that?
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I was in the woods of Roy Cambell Burroughs Park between Tomball and The Woodlands. This park is under 400 acres, but whoever designed it knew how to lay a trail. At the front of the park are soccer and baseball fields, assorted playgrounds for kids of all ages, and even a fishing lake with trout, bass, and catfish. A third of the way into the park the asphalt and wood chips disappear and Texas pine woods take over. There's about five miles of trails cut through these woods and each step is beautiful. This is why I blog. In my adventures I find a world different from the normal and I want to share this world with others. "Dudes, check this out!" is my favorite phrase (and according to some, most likely to be my final words). I want to inspire you to leave your comfy life for a while and follow the trails I've blazed into the borderlands.

These woods are a mixture of pine, oaks, and underbrush. Game trails weave through the tangles and I saw signs of deer, coyotes, raccoons, flame beavers, and possums. An owl hooted in the distance while woodpeckers rat-tat-tatted above me. A rabbit ran off and a cardinal came to scold me. I hadn't seen a woods this alive since the snakes and hogs of Lake Houston State Park.
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Deeper into the woods lay sloughs. Some look at muddy water and go "yuck". I look at muddy water and see this:
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Beautiful, no?

Eventually the paths hit Spring Creek, one of my favorite waters. Clark and I had hoped to take Seeker's Fate down Spring Creek from the west side of Tomball all the way to the San Jacinto River, but here in the park I could see that such a trip would take either a really good chainsaw or lots of dynamite.
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I'm voting for the dynamite.

As far as monsters, this park also has them. Marks of flame beavers could be seen on some trees. These creatures are facsinating though poking one may result in 3rd degree burns! Native to areas high in natural gas, the flame beaver is one of only three animals known to "belch" fire.
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Through a combination of chewing and burning, flame beavers can tackle trees much larger than a normal beaver. I'm hoping to someday find the flint-like tooth of a flame beaver to add to my fire kit. That would be awesome!

Flame beavers are pretty cool (uh, you know what I mean) but mostly harmless as far as a fire-breathing herbivores go. The real monsters of Roy Campbell Burroughs park would have to be the giant Texas Clay Worms. These beasties reach fifteen feet in length and can swallow an alligator (or an unprepared adventurer) whole. The detris-rich, clay soil of Texas pine woods is home to these cousins of the smaller West Texas graboids. They may tunnel through the dirt, but these beasts are meat-eaters through and through! They are also currently on the endangered species list, so harming one is a big no-no. Even just poking one with a stick is punishable by a fine (and perhpas loss of an arm). This one seemed to have just finished eating a cow and so it was quite passive. Still, it was probably for the best that I didn't have my monster-poker with me.
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Molted husk of another giant Texas Clay Worm.
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Eventually it was time to leave the woods and return home. A long, straight path led along the side of the park back to the parking lot, my RAV4, and reality. I walked it slowly.
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Adventure! Excitement! Exploration!

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