Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Caddo Lake Texas State Park

Morty rolls south a paltry 37 miles to Caddo Lake State Park right on the road to Uncertain, TX [I'm a little uncertain of the spelling, some maps show a capital C]. The ride itself was a stunning study of life in northeast Texas. Gently rolling hills and creek valleys with some grand homes and more subsistence-level dwellings, albeit all with big fleets of big personal vehicles. The February temperatures are pushing through the upper 70s now, and sitting shirtless taking in a few rays of vitamin D, I'm thinking this might be a really good place to live.

The state parks have an annual Pass that covers your per-person admission fee, and comes with four coupons for half-off stays of two nights or more. The big improvement from last year, is that the pass has now gone electronic, and the coupons are no longer mailed to your residence. That means that you can use them right away resulting in a substantial discount on the $60 price even before considering the waived admission fees. Especially with the magnificent quality of the Texas Park system, this is an absolute no-brainer, “Highly Recommended”. Still the office rangers, at both parks this trip, seem mildly surprised when non-residents ask for the $60 Park Pass – something to wonder about, or is it just saying something about the current state of economics education?

Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the entire state of Texas. It was formed by a natural damming of trees and logs, which man promptly removed to drain the swamp. The lake then disappeared. The solution was to build a dam. Yeah! civilization!!!

Caddo Lake is a small park, with about 60 RV sites and a dozen cabins. Total occupants on this Presidents' Day weekend, amount to about a dozen individuals or six of the sites. We are camped in a grove of mostly oaks and live oaks which are all bare for the winter, so the Sun shines through with nearly full force raising the temperatures. It's now too warm for the long sleeve shirt I've been wearing, so time to change to short sleeves, then off to explore on the bikes.. We even put on Morty's vinyl wheel covers on the south side to protect the rubber from two days more of the ultraviolet rays [most RV tires are killed not by miles or road hazards, but by sitting in direct sunlight.]

We see the cypress swamp and the livery where the canoes, paddles and life vests are all available on the honor system – $11 an hour, or $20 per half day, deposit in the hole in the wall. The array of colors and textures cried out for some photography and I tried to oblige. The swamp is alive with turtles, some of monstrous size sunning themselves on every available log, while others swim on by the fishing pier. The locals are besides themselves with the abundance of sand bass, but we not only don't see them, we also do not see any fishermen with their catch.

Some sections of the forest are thick with lob lolly pine and others are exclusively oak – hard to tell what makes one win out over the other, but the hilliness may have something to do with it.

There is only one camper within viewing range, and that is at a cabin up the road from us over 200 feet away. Yet there is a Verizon MiFi device showing up in the wireless connection of my computer. I can't even get a Sprint phone signal to call on. So I've been wondering if maybe it's time to sign up with Verizon – just a thought.

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