Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eye of the Beholder

What a peice of junk!
-Luke Skywalker upon seeing the Millennium Falcon for the first time.

Mal: Ship like this, be with you till the day you die.
Zoë: Because it's a death trap.
Mal: That's not— You are very much lacking in imagination.
Zoë: I imagine that's so, sir.

Zoe to Capt. Mal in Firefly

So...Seeker's Fate...
-Long time reader LoneStar-C upon seeing Seeker's Fate in real life.

Proudly I paddle.

I've had and epiphany.

I think sometimes I can be somewhat..irrational.

No, really! In reflection, it's the only explanation I have for certian choices I've made in my life. This was made apparent to me this last weekend as a group of us paddled down Spring Creek. It was me, long-time reader LoneStar-C, his wife Valkyrie, and his dad Fuzzy Buster.

LoneStar-C and Family

We met under the I-45/Spring Creek bridge and talked for a bit before launching. LoneStar-C said he felt a little weird as he's been reading this blog for 18 months and felt like he knew me really well while I didn't know anything about him. Personally, I thought that was pretty cool, like I was a celebrity or something! Valkyrie then gave me a breakfast taco, which in my book makes them friends for life! It was a really good taco, I think from Whataburger. Man, just thinking about that taco makes me want to put on some clothes and go get another. Uh, but I digress...

One of these things is not like the other...

We hit the water at 10am. The air temperature was 49F and the water was 54F with a flow rate of 305cfs. Perfect! We'd only been in the water a few moments when a beaver-ish looking creature jumped off the bank and swam under our boats. I didn't get a good look at it other than it was brown, bigger than a nutria and not an alligator. Anyway, it was definately a good sign of things to come.

Of course, reader of this blog know that one thing coming up was "The Strainer", the remains of an old railroad bridge.

Old Bridge
Stay on target...

The above picture is from a previous trip. The only difference this last weekend was that recent high water had deposited a wall of branches across the widest channel and we were forced to shoot through a narrower path off to the left.

It was a blast! Whoosh-bang-chunk-chunk and we shot through! It's the closest thing to whitewater on the creek so we make the most of it.

After that it was just hours of thick woods, big sandy beaches, birds, turtles, and the usual feral hogs. LoneStar-C and Valkyrie saw a pack of seven pigs but by the time I reached the spot they were gone. Bummer.


More perfection.

And the perfection continues...

Astute reader may notice that in the previous pictures my canoe wasn't pointed in quite the same direction as the kayaks. A small wind had come up which continually blew my raised front end off track. Meanwhile the kayaks were sliding through the water like Corvettes on a lonesome praire road.

It took us an hour to paddle to the Peckinpaugh Nature Preserve off Riley Fuzzle Road. Two more kayakers we getting ready to launch but they held off for a while so as to have a less crowded trip. Also standing on the shore was a man with two small girls. They waved and the man called out, "You must be Merriwether!".

Wow, I'm a SUPERSTAR!!

Actually, the man was Wildcat who I know via an internet forum and as a commentor to this blog but have never met in person. Still, it's nice to be recognized by strangers. Sorry Wildcat, I wasn't able to get a picture of you to add here. Hopefully next time, then you too can live the life of an internet star! Fame! Um, I'm still waiting on the "Fortune!" part but I'm sure it'll be here soon. Heck, I'm averaging over 200 hits a day! Some company has got to see the potential of me hawking their wares! C'mon! Sportsman's Guide? Major Surplus and Survival? Sierra Trading Post? Somebody, please?


Uh, anyway, back to Spring Creek.

We beached our boats for lunch on one of the many sandy shores. Driftwood, dry grass, and dead branches wer lit to cook our food. I had brought along some Zatarain's Jambalaya with Sausage Complete Meal which I heated up in boiling water then spooned into pocket bread to eat. Yummy! Then Fuzzy Buster loaded me up with polish sausages cooked over our campfire, making me his friend for life. food will get you a long ways with me...

The world's most perfect lunchroom.

Build a fire.

Our kitchen.

We kicked back eating, talking and soaking up sun for an hour and a half, then quenched the fire with water and buried it in sand. It was sometime after 2pm and our take out point, Jesse H. Jones Park, closed at 5pm (winter hours). The river was flowing at a good clip but the wind, coupled with my ancient, heavy beast of a canoe kept blowing me off course. I had to paddle twice as hard as the kayakers to keep up with them.

It was great! Doing something easy is, well, too easy. For me, it's not an adventure unless it's hard. Seeker's Fate, in many ways, is a complete pain in the ass. She's a B**ch to get loaded up on our Honda Pilot, especially if it's just me doing it. She weighs almost twice that of modern canoes/kayaks so carrying her down to the water is a back-breaking chore. She's battered and leaking from fifty years of abuse. She's ugly as sin. Many times I dream of having some sleek, fast, LIGHT boat, especially as she scratches up the side of Misseswether's Pilot as she crashes to the ground while I try to load her on the roof...

But...I love every square inch of her.

I love the looks of disdain she gets from unknown paddlers as they fly by in their $$$, NASA-designed kayaks. I love the exasperation of forum members as they try to convince me to dump her and buy some kelvar wonder-canoe. I love the feeling of success I have after struggling her over logjams. I love the bragging rights of saying, "Yeah, things didn't turn out as planned and I ended up having to carry her half a mile..."

It's totally irrational. Why do I want such a pain in my life? For a few hundred bucks I could have something thirty pounds lighter. Something easy to throw up on the roof, carry down to the water, or paddle by myself...

But...I love Seeker's Fate.

When I look at her I see all the miles we've gone, all the beauty we've passed, all the danger's we've struggled through, all adventure's we've had. I don't see her dents, globs of JB Weld, or the damage she's done to the wife's Pilot...

It's totally irrational.

Oh well.


Those golden hours of a life lived well...

We paddled and talked. It was great. Fuzzy Buster, Valkyrie and LonStar-C are some of the nicest adventurers you could hope to meet. We swapped paddling and hiking locations, stories of adventures, and views of the world. This made the time go by far too fast. At 3:30pm we reached the new boat landing at Jesse H. Jones park. Now instead of a dirt path up the straight up the side of a 20' cliff there was a long, gentle cement ramp. SWEET!!

Way easy, except for the incredibly heavy canoe.

"Wow...it made it."

Fuzzy Buster offered to ferry Seeker's Fate home on his incredible, home-built kayak trailer. In doing so he also won the heart of Misseswether who could then let Mambowether continue to nap rather than load up the girls and drive half an hour to pick up a muddy, smelly Merriwether. We loaded up the Kayaks and the canoe, strapped everything down and headed home.

Built by Fuzzy Buster! Note Seeker's Fate place of glory on top...

On the way home we crossed over Cypress Creek where it crosses under the Hardy Toll Road. I mentioned someday I want to paddle Cypress Creek from there to Hwy 59. In my searches I could find no record of anyone nuts enough to try that.

They all offered to make the trip with me. I think this was the start of a beautiful friendship...

Adventure! Excitment! Irrationality!


wildcat said...

Wow! My name in lights on Merriweathers Blog! Cool!

Enjoy that old, dented, heavy dinosaur of a canoe. Some of us don't have anything. We have to just stand on the bank and watch....

Maybe i can find an inner tube and float down the creek with yall. hahaha


Merriwether the Adventurer said...


I've made the 13.7 mile trip from "The Strainer" all the way to Jesse H. Jones Park in "Kon Texi", a $20 inflatable raft purchased from Big Lots. It was an absolute blast! If you want to try it some time I can lend her too you.


Wildcat said...

i might have to take you up on that offer on the next trip. when is the Cypress Creek trip?

sandbasser said...

As always your blog is entertaining to read. As a Southern California native, I think I've missed out on the joys of rivers, streams or creeks with water in them. Speaking of which, the photos are great - the color of the water reminds me of a quote "too thick to drink, too thin to plow" - don't know who said it, but it sounds something Mark Twain would say. But, I digress - thanks again for an interesting, entertaining read.

- sandbasser

Merriwether the Adventurer said...

Thank you very much! You are right about the water, it's like paddling in a thin quicksand. I grew up on the waters of Minnesota and this Texas paddling is so completely different...


Anonymous said...

The 'strainer' picture brought back so many memories! I am not from Houston, but did live there for about 1.5 years when I was around 11 yrs old. Just so happens we lived on Lazy Lane which is the road that leads down to the 'strainer'. Man, I used to swim, shoot sling shots /bb guns, explore, fish a little, and float down that section of creek in a cheap 1-man Academy inflatable raft! I would float and then have to hike or swim back up stream (that was the sucky part!) Thanks for putting tha picture up. Now that I live in H-town again I will have to take my kayak on a trip down memory lane.....with a car waiting at the end!


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, that was about 18 years ago too. It doesnt look like much has changed. Another cool thing I found in that area were a bunch of clear/yellow tinted crystals around the big bolders that support the current over-head railroad bridge there. About the diameter of a pencil and 1" long. Not sure what they were, but I guessed the fell off a cargo train. Thought I was rich. lol.


Bramble said...

I realize this post is "old" but I was reading through your trips on Spring Creek, San Jac, etc. and came across this entry. We have two Old Town Trippers that we (we= me, Ben and fam) are rather nostalgic about. Not sure I could give them up.