Saturday, May 10, 2014

An Unexpected Wonder

Village Creek State Park in the Big Thicket of East Texas was our January trip.  Since I received a metal detector for my December birthday I reviewed the "laws" regarding their use in state parks and other areas.  I learned their use is not allowed without permit in state parks due to the National Historic Preservation Act.  So upon arrival I decided to ask how to obtain a permit.  First I assure the the lady rangers that I had not brought my metal detector but wanted to inquire as to how to obtain a permit.  The first ranger started raising her voice and level of enthusiasm saying, "metal detectors and not allowed, ever!"  I repeated the ordinance said by permit only, and asked again.  The second ranger Kathy Smith ironically agreed the ordinance did say by permit.  She said she could check with her boss and get back to me when I stopped back in the office.  The first ranger reintegrated the rule was absolutely no metal detectors and said my boss goes nuts when he sees them!  Just the the boss appeared through the back door.  Hello I introduced myself, "Your officer was just telling your nuts about metal detectors!"  I didn't say that!  She snapped as she left the room saying I'll let you address her question.  I began again, I'm Joy Nyberg, I was just asking about the ordinance regarding metal detectors, I assure....he interrupted you cannot use them, they are not allowed in any state parks.  The ordinance says without permit so how does one go about obtaining a permit.  The ordinance does not say that....they are not allowed period.  Officer Kathy Smith grabs the pamphlet with the ordinances with a grin and handed it her boss.  He opens it abruptly and point straight to the the line that says metal detection is not allowed...without permit.  So I'm asking how to obtain a permit...oh that's not for the general public and your the general public...that's for professors and historians....ok, I said I'm an educator, how can I obtain a permit.  You have to contact state headquarters.  Ok I'll do that I said as I walked out of the office.

Set up was a breeze, Kathy backed in and the site was nearly level.  It only took a few levelers under the front tires to get the bubble in the circle on the leveler for the fridge.  Now what?  I'm always ready to go, don't want to waste time.  We call EastTX canoe outfitters for a quote.  Forty five for a hour canoe rental and twenty five for a ride.  We'll drive you 20 miles north let you float three miles and pick you up there and then drive you back.  The landing site at Village Creek is too hard to get in because it's a steep cliff to drag the canoe up.  Walk down there and see and then call me back if you want I can drop off a canoe there and you can use it there for just the fourth five dollars but I don't recommend it.  Let's call the next one on the list....piney woods outfitters quoted thirty five ca should pick up us at our site, how about 10:00 am?  Great, we'd better walk down to the landing site and check out if we'll be able to get the canoe out of the water.

A nice bike ride down past the parking lot seeking a place to beach the canoe...our first possibility would be portaging the canoe through the woods for about a half mile back to the parking lot.  Other shore areas didn't seem much better.  Finally we found the actual canoe landing site with a sandy hill.  Steep but not impossible...we're going canoing tomorrow, yeah!

After desert, fire roasted marshmallows we watch old TV reruns and are in bed by 8:00 pm.  The train horns and children kept us awake until midnight or so but the electric heater and the dogs sleeping in the living room allow us to sleep until 5:00 am.

Amazingly the weather was near perfect but we dressed in layers just in case the wind would get at us on the water.  Both dogs properly walked our driver David was right on time.  A quick drive to the drop off point and we we launched down a canoe down the boat ramp.   The glassy river bent back and forth every other curve opening up to pristine virgin white beaches amongst the cypress edges along the rust colored waters. What an unexpected wonder!

The current carried most of the way so we didn't have to work hard to paddle except when trying to avoid dead fall or cypress islands.  The only challenge should have been choosing each area of the bridge to go under when they all appeared to be blocked by vegetation or rocks.  After about an hour we finally came upon fellow river travelers.  Soon we spotted the state park sign and a third canoe.  This canoe slightly out of sight rounded the bend to the landing and were out of the river quickly.  We spotted the landing as the paddled hard into the sandy beach, a man on shore stated we may want to try the other side of the point as it was an easier place to pull out.  As he did, I jumped into the loose sand from the front of the canoe.  I held tightly unto the short rope tied to the bow.  I fell into the sand and pulled the canoe forward.  The sand too soft I slipped and the canoe pitched and I turned toward Kathy rising from the back of the canoe yelling I'm going over.  Sure enough it did and she fell into the icy water grabbing the backpack with my phone from the water.  She didn't yell.  Three men ran to our aid.  The canoe half filled with water too heavy to drag out.  We had to dump the water before we could pull it up the beach.  Kathy drenched and me full of sand headed to the bathhouse so she could take a hot shower.  She didn't laugh she didn't cry.  I apologized and waited.  She was ok and said it was too soon to find amusing.  After a dry afternoon and romantic al fresco dinner of a creole and rice, she at least smiled.  A wonderful campfire and marshmallows eased the humiliation while the aches began to set in.
Kathy's wet clothes

Early to bed and late to rise made our MLK Day a quick departure from Village Creek State Park.  It allowed me to snap a few more photos of the areas unique landscapes and historical features.
Keila, The Hangdog

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