Monday, April 25, 2011

Canoe Camping, Take Two

The Neches River.

This past weekend, we went on our second canoe camping trip along the Neches River. (The first trip was back in October, before it got too cold to camp.) We spent two beautiful (though very hot - it was in the 90's and humid!) days paddling down the peaceful river and camping on the sandy banks. Let's enjoy some photos as I re-acclimate to Life At a Desk, shall we?

Loaded up and ready to roll!

We left late on Friday afternoon, after borrowing a canoe from a friend and loading up the car with our backpacks, our cooler of beer (very important) and lots of snacks. The dogs were spending the night at Amy and David's, because they are not trained to sit in a canoe for ten hours without tipping it over or being scared and miserable. Nathan has grand plans to teach them the art of canoeing; I have my doubts that he will be successful. At any rate, we had to squeeze them into the car so we could drop them off on our way out of town.

Happy dogs.

Despite ending up in Amy's backyard (also known as Dog Paradise) they were very excited about the car ride and life in general. This is why I love dogs.

After the dogs were secure, we met up with our friends J and L and began the drive to the section of the river where we would put in our canoes and begin our adventure. We had chosen an 11 mile stretch of the river and planned to drop one car off at the take-out point, leaving the other at the put-in. Little did we know our adventure would start early - specifically, while coming to a stop on the highway. A huge gust of wind blew past us just as we reached an underpass and it was so strong it yanked the canoe off our car, ripping the roof rack along with it and flipping it on to our hood and then the road. No one was hurt and the canoe was (mostly) okay. Some cosmetic damage but it could have been much worse - for us, for the canoe, and for our fellow travelers. I gasped so loudly when it happened that Nathan said I sucked all the air out of the car. What can I say - I'm not a fan of surprises!

A reenactment. We were too busy getting the canoe out of the road to take a real photo.

Luckily, the rest of our trip was uneventful. We put our canoes in the water at around 4pm on Friday afternoon and paddled about two miles down the river before camping for the night on a river bank. The river looks brown in many of these photos and that's because it is - the water runs muddy and is full of animals, fallen trees and strange little house boats that are used for cleaning fish (that, or meth - we couldn't be sure). The Neches River is one of the few truly wild rivers in America - during our two days we didn't see another human, house or boat, but we saw plenty of fish, birds, turtles, snakes and nutria.

That wide brimmed hat - only $9.99 at Tractor Supply! - saved my life. As you may have noticed, I am a pale, pale woman who can acquire a sunburn in less than 15 minutes. Between that hat and regular applications of sunblock, I managed to stay just as pale as when we started. Success!

You don't even want to know how many Modelos I drank, or what time of the day we started cracking them open. I don't care if Modelo is the Bud Light of Mexico - on the river, in the sun, it was the perfect canoeing companion.

We say three of these makeshift house boats along the river, all of them nearly identical. They were floating on empty oil barrels that had been lashed together. We thought about checking them out up close, but decided to stay in our canoes and snap photos instead. It seemed the safer choice.

Saturday afternoon we had lunch on the riverbank and then took an epic two hour nap while the sun was highest in the sky. Then it was back in the canoes for more paddling and more lifting our boat over fallen trees. We're experiencing a nasty drought in East Texas so the water was lower than usual and we were in and our of our canoes a lot, ducking under trees whenever we could.

We decided to let our friends go first. ;)

And that concludes your latest tour of the Neches River! Thanks for coming and I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the some of the wild wonders of East Texas.