Saturday, October 26, 2013

Karnack ...

Sundown on Turtle Shell at Caddo; I like slingin'
a few topwaters before I do my slough-stalkin'!
     Howdy!  Hope y’all are havin' a Happy Halloween, and really hope that y’all enjoy this quirky, extremely "trippy" but true installment.  This here is another fine example of things comin’ ‘round full circle in my life.  Call it coincidence, or a small world or whatever; but I always seem to see how sometimes, them puzzlin’ pieces of life start comin’ together.  Y’all have any idea what I’m talkin’ about?  For example: ever had that friend who knows someone that was at this place one time when someone saw that thing?  Okay, I didn’t mean to get-all Twilight Zone on y’all; but read on and y’all might see exactly what I mean.
     Any of y’all ever heard of Karnack?  Now, I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout no temple or village in over in Egypt.  I’m talkin’ ‘bout Karnack, Texas in Harrison County … just off of Caddo Lake.  Karnack is not only famous for bein’ the home of Lady Bird Johnson and the site of the Caddo Lake State Park … but was also the site of the former Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant.  Back in the early 40’s … the Monsanto Chemical Company selected this site to produce Tri-Nitro-Toluene … better known as TNT!  Eventually, the plant was operated by Morton Thiokol, and was used to destroy Pershing IA and II missles.  Talk about gettin’ some bang for your buck; evidently, our government definitely got some outta that place!
     But a little over twenty years ago, the plant was listed as a Superfund site on the National Priorities List.  What does that mean, you ask?  That means that the Environmental Protection Agency spanked ‘em for contaminatin’ the land & groundwater.  Y’all remember, leave only footprints when you’re out there in them woods … that means everyone!  Evidently, solvents such as Methylene Chloride, Trichloroethene, lead and mercury were not only contaminatin’ the soil down to the ground water, but were makin’ their way into Caddo Lake.  So not only did they get their hinnies’ spanked, they are still cleanin’ that sh¡t up to this day!  The land is now managed by Texas Parks & Wildlife, and it’s where they’s breedin’ them friggin’ weevils that’s s’posed to clean-up the giant salvinia problem on Caddo Lake.  Hmmm, interestin’ …
     Well, why would I be tellin’ y’all all this?  Please don’t think that I’m insinuatin’ that them contaminants are the cause of some God-awful redneck mutation runnin’ ‘round out there in them woods!  Even though I’m a sci-fi buff … I don’t wanna start no dang rumors.  Reality-snap, y’all … they’ve been havin’ sightin’s of boogers, Caddo-Critters, the Texas Bigfoot, wildmen, wood apes or whatever long before the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant had established a site out there in them woods.  Now, a redneck mutation might explain my sightin’ of somethin’ tall, dark, hairy & female that I saw lurkin’ ‘round the parkin’ lot late one night at The Lighthouse near Cypress Village!  But, I sincerely doubt that it had anything to do with what my son and I had come across in June of 2009 wadin’ through the goo back in Smith’s Slough …
Spindletop Bass Club in '03
     I’d never even been to Caddo Lake until March of 2009.  As an avid angler, I’d heard about the lake and always wanted to go, but never got the chance.  That is ‘til September 13, 2008, when Hurricane Ike wiped out the best place I’d ever fished … period.  I’d been a bona-fide member of this honey-hole called the Spindletop Bass Club, located just off the Intracoastal Waterway in between Winnie and High Island, Texas.  It was a private, flooded tract (1 mile x 1 mile) of land established & well-stocked since 1956, which offered duck huntin’ as well as some of the best bass fishin’ I’d ever experienced.  My personal best was 13½ lbs. on a certified digital scale, and I had lost much, much bigger fish (on a regular basis).  Yep … more of those “ones that got away” stories, y’all.  Sad to say, Ike washed those trophy bass through them rice fields all the way up to Interstate-10.  It would take years to eradicate the soil from the damages of saltwater & other contaminates … whats-more to re-stock Spindletop.  My son and I are really missin’ the fishin’ there, and are truly blessed with its memories.  I guess that some things happen for a reason ...
     So, lackin’ a place to go bassin’, my son and I booked a cabin on Caddo Lake in early 2009.  I was readyin’ the boat prior to our upcommin’ trip, and had stopped at a buddy’s garage to air the trailer tires and grease the bearin’s.  When I told him that we was headin’ up to Caddo Lake soon, he said that his best friend lives there, growed-up there, and knew every inch of that lake … and that I should call him.  Well, after an hour on the phone with this guy’s friend (and to make a long story short if y’all can believe that I could actually do so) I told him where we we’d be stayin’ and when we’d be there.  When we finally met, he showed me and my son all over that dang lake!  We’ve become good friends ever since, and I’m now privileged to stay in his guest cabin, which he calls his “Poutin’ House”.  The Poutin’ House got its name ‘cause that’s where he stays when he p¡sses his wife off, or visa-versa.  Better than stayin’ in the doghouse (or on the dang couch) which is where I usually am!
     Now, remember … this is the same buddy that I had called right after Our Encounter.  So on about my third or fourth trip back to Caddo, my buddy took me to Karnack and showed me where he used to work … as a fabricator at the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant.  We drove around for a good hour or so and looked at what was left of the facility.  Even though it seemed that there wasn’t much to see drivin’ around out there through them woods, my buddy is like this historical tour guide, so I learned things most folks won’t.  Uh, oh … now just wait a dang minute; bein’ that the game warden will probably be readin’ this … let me clarify what I meant by “drivin’ through them woods”.  Seriously, what was left of the old plants’ asphalt roads were severely overgrown, so it ain’t like we was technically off-roadin’ or makin’ our own trails.  And what was left of that site reminded me of an episode of The History Channel’s Life After People.  My buddy told me some war (work) stories, showed me this & that … and I was abso-friggin’-lutely amazed at what-all used to be out there.  So, even though we were drivin’ on what was left of them overgrown roads, them woods done took over everything else.
     I’m goin’ to switch gears again, so y’all hang-on and try to keep up.  A little over twenty-five years ago … I met the love of my life!  She was a farm girl from Arkansas, and while she didn’t come from a large family like mine, she had an extended family; namely her college buds from the University of Central Arkansas in the quaint little town of Conway.  Her friends are really cool, and they’ve always reminded me of that movie, The Big Chill.  Hell, one of ‘em reminds me of Kevin Kline (my wife says William Hurt); but when she and I first met … it wasn’t long before I was introduced to “The Crew”.  One member of “The Crew” is a guy who they affectionately call “Dad”.  He and I immediately hit it off and killed some serious brain-cells together over the years, mainly at weddin’s (he even attended ours).  As we all started our own families, “The Crew” calmed their wild partyin' ways and saw each other a lot less frequently than we should have.
     Now things are goin’ to get weird.  Y’all remember what I said about things comin’ ‘round full circle?  Last year, “Kevin Kline” come to visit us while we had rented a cabin outside of Chico, Texas on Lake Bridgeport.  While kickin’ it on the porch and knockin’ back (quite) a few beers, I brought-up “our encounter” on Caddo Lake.  He obviously realized that I was serious, ‘cause he eventually shared our experience with some of “The Crew” from Arkansas.  So a couple of months ago, I get this call outta the blue from “Dad”!  He was wantin’ me to join him on a fishin’ trip on the White River in Arkansas with “Kevin Kline” and some other good-ole boys.  He evidently knew all about my son and I fishin’ at Caddo Lake as well as “our encounter” ‘cause he tells me, “Hey, man … I was country ‘fore country was cool!  Back when I was a kid in the early 70’s, my daddy worked out near Texarkana at a place called Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant.  He was a mechanic, and I remember him comin’ home one night and tellin’ us about this trucker that saw this thing early one mornin’ out at the plant.  Well … that got my-dang attention!
     After listenin’ to his story, I was amazed.  This was a genuine “Bigfoot” account from someone that I knew, and it was from the same general area that we had “our encounter”.  Now, I’d heard a few stories from the locals ‘round Uncertain, but this was from someone I’d known personally for quite some time.  Well, the first thing I had to ask him was, did this incident take place before or after the movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek come out?  If I remember correctly, he thought that it prob’ly was before.  The next thing that struck me was that I’d never mentioned the guided-trip by my buddy to Karnack and the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant to anyone.  The only thing that I had ever told “Kevin Kline” was just the details about “our encounter” and that I had placed some game-cams out there in them woods to try and film whatever it was that we had seen.  But “Dad” was callin’ this place, the “Lone Star” Army Ammunition Plant, not “Longhorn” Army Ammunition Plant.  Hmmm?   Coincidence?  Yep.  Weird?  Yep, yep! 
     What I recall “Dad” sayin’ was that he remembered his daddy comin’ home from work one evenin’ ... and tellin’ the family that this trucker had come in to the plant with a load real late the night before.  While the trucker was waitin’ for the mornin’ shift to show, he evidently fell asleep in his cab.  At some point, the trucker was awakened by somethin’ prowlin’ around his rig.  To his horror, this thing was a large, hairy biped that walked outta them woods and peered into his cab.  The trucker was so rattled by this, he quit his friggin' job!  Holy, sh¡t ... if I’d have been that trucker, somebody would've had to have been cleanin’ the inside of that cab; mainly the driver’s seat!  What a story ... I wished that “Dad” would have elaborated more, ‘cause evidently this is somethin’ that he clearly remembered hearin’ from his daddy as a kid.  Maybe I can coax him into givin' a more detailed account sometime ...

     As it turns-out, my buddy from Uncertain was in town this past Monday; so to clarify matters … I asked him if he knew anything about a “Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant”.  He said, “Yeah, that was up there somewhere ‘round Texarkana. But I worked for Morton Thiokol at the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant.  Really?  Okay, let me try and get this straight; so we got a Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant near Caddo Lake where folks have been seein’ the Caddo Critter.  And then there’s a Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant near Texarkana which is close to where people’s been seein’ the Fouke Monster?  Holy sh¡t … this really was gettin’ weird!  And when I done my homework on that-there internet, I found out that the Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant was also listed as a Superfund site on the National Priorities List!  Hmmm, interestin’; and both of these places are within an hours’ drive of each other. 

     Y’all hearin’ that Twilight Zone music yet?  I am ... ‘cause now, I got this friend who knows someone that was at this place one time when someone saw that thing; and, that place is near a similar place where another friend worked which is near the place where my son and I saw a similar thing!  Got all that?  Is this friggin' trippin’ or what?  Like I said, please don’t think that I’m insinuatin’ that these contaminated sites are the cause of somethin’ that’s runnin’ ‘round out there in them woods.  I ain’t into none of them conspiracy theories, the paranormal or any of that other stuff … but ain’t this a weird friggin’ scenario?  So, when I said that sometimes, things seem to come ‘round full circle, was this not some sort-of ab-friggin’-normal coincidence?  It kind-of gives me the doo-doo chills!  Does Karnack have karma?  Maybe for me … as far as this twisted little narrative is concerned.  What these areas around Karnack & Texarkana do seem to have is some-sort of enigmatic attraction for them bipedal mystery critters that's been runnin' 'round out there in them woods.  Really?  Think about it; have a Happy Halloween ... and y’all come back now, you hear?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Old School ...

     Howdy-do; hope all is well with you and yours, and the fall weather has everyone excited.  October has always been a magical month for me; bow season, the tail-end of the bull-red spawn and Halloween are just a few of my favorites for this time of the year!  Even though I haven’t yet bow-hunted ‘cause of that government shut-down, I’ve been shootin’ my recurve in the evenin’s for “therapy”.  Ever since OPERATION: Pull-Out I’ve been gettin’ pretty-dang stir-crazy as far as my lack-of sloughstalkin’ goes.  I really wanted to post a cool story about a buddy of mine from Arkansas … but today is a very special day if you’re a “Bigfoot” enthusiast.  October 20th, 2013 marks the 46th anniversary of the Patterson-Gimlin film.  Yes, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin saw and filmed an animal that them skeptics have not been able to prove is a hoax.  I have always thought that the PG film was legit; and unless you can prove to me otherwise, I ain’t changin’ my tune … period.
Bob Gimlin tells-it like it was
at the 2009 TBRC conference!
     I was five years old, but remember seein’ the PG film on the national news.  I ain’t sh¡ttin’ y’all … I have an incredible memory.  I remember all kinds of stuff on the news; from bombin' North Viet Nam to NASA missions, so I'll rank the filmin' of an unknown biped pretty-dang high.  Hell, when I was five I even remember watchin’ Jonny Quest durin' prime-time, ‘cause it was deemed too violent for Saturday mornin’ cartoons!  I’ve always been a science fiction buff and started collectin’ Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine in the first grade.  I was 6 years-old and saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in a theater.  The “Dawn of Man” scene was my favorite, but those Hollywood primates didn’t look anywhere as authentic as “Patty”.  I really hadn’t thought much about it ‘til my son and I had our encounter in 2009 and I started readin’ and watchin’ everything I could find on the subject.  If y'all pay close attention to nature, Hollywood ain't really come close to gettin' a man in a costume to look like an "authentic" anything!  And explain to me how someone in a costume and mask is goin' to traverse that kind of terrain without trippin'?  Does anyone out there have the stones to call Bob Gimlin a liar?  I’ve had the privilege of meetin’ Bob twice, and I honestly don’t think he’s tryin’ to bluff anyone about Bluff Creek!

My man-cave "Wall of Fame" ... my poor wife wants
us to have a one of them yard-sales real-dang soon!
     I’m old school, and was one of them kids that mowed yards for extra money.  I spent most of my allowance at the Western Auto on Heddon & Fred Arbogast fishin’ lures, Daisy BB’s, Benjamin pellets & darts and Remington .22 cal. bullets.  If we got to go to a Sears or a Woolworth’s, I’d make a b-line for the Fred Bear bows, Daisy & Benjamin air-guns, the slot-cars and Aurora monster models.  But I always saved enough for Warren magazines and movie tickets; Hell, I prob’ly saw two movies a week … anything from James Bond to Hammer horror Films.  Somewhere in-between ‘72 and ‘73 was a memorable time for me at them theaters; I saw Big Foot: Man or Beast and then The Legend of Boggy Creek.  The latter film made my trips into the woods a little intense, but over the years … maturity blinded me.  Once a boy starts gettin’ a little hair on him, he starts feelin’ invincible.  As a teen, I figured that if somethin’ like “Bigfoot” existed around my neck of the woods, some Coonass would’ve done had a recipe for it!  Ahhh, to be young and stupid …
     In my teens, I could remember huntin’ with my first cousin in the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge, just off the Little River outside of Jonesville, LA.  I stalked around into some pretty thick stuff … and started gettin’ that feelin’ that I wasn’t alone.  We used to call that the “doo-doo chills” … and wanderin’ around through the kudzu, I definitely got spooked.  I started to parallel the bank of the river to try and get back to our entrance point and meet-up with my cousin.  I can remember hearin’ somethin’ fairly large move off to my right, and as I swung around … caught a glimpse of somethin’ large and brown movin’ up the bank.  I remember it bein’ muscular and looked kinda like the shoulder of a horse, but it was really too-dang thick to tell what kinda animal it was.  This incident has always stuck in my mind ‘cause it had startled me; but I never gave it too much thought … that is, until after our 2009 encounter.  I really don’t think a horse would be out in the middle of nowhere walkin’ up a blanket of kudzu-covered riverbank, but stranger things have happened.  Now I ain’t sayin’ that it was one of them mystery bipeds, but that incident still has me wonderin’ …
     I used to bow-hunt every season until a little over a year after my son was born.  I would walk through them woods alone at 3:30 a.m. and not have a worry in the world.  Neither thoughts of spiders nor big cats concerned me, and never once thought of lookin’-out for any bipedal mystery-critters!  But as much as I loved bein’ out there … it just didn’t seem fair that my beautiful wife was stuck at the house every weekend from October through January with two toddlers.  I think the last straw was one mornin' up in my tree stand, waitin’ for first light ... hearin’ the sounds of wrens, squirrels and other critters startin’ to stir; then, my ADD kicked-in.  I sh¡t-y’all not … I couldn’t get the friggin’ theme from Barney to stop playin’ in my head!  Now if that wasn’t a sign … tell me what was?  Guilt-trippin’ … I decided to do somethin’ that would keep me closer to the house, so I got myself a boat and started to fish more.  At least I could get home in time enough to be a better father and husband.
     I’ve stalked through woods, swamps & flooded timber all over Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas for over forty some-odd years.  And until June 8, 2009 … I’d never thought that I shared the woods with somethin’ like the Fouke monster or the Caddo Critter.  I’ve never been scared of anything out there, except for big cats and poisonous spiders.  Yeah, you pull a gun or a knife on me … and we’ll talk about it; but, if you show me a black widow or a brown recluse … I’ll get into a raggin’-friggin’ sprint and scream like a woman!  No offense, ladies … I got a fairly deep voice; but if you show me a spider, I’ll give you a high-pitched yell that’ll curl your hair!  We got these big brown spiders ‘round our place that build their webs in the evenin’s and drop outta the tree-line.  I’m pretty-dang sure that they’re harmless, but I’ve been known to leap off a movin’ ridin’ mower while screamin’ and make it clear-across the back of our property in just a few strides!
     Lotsa folks like spiders, creepy-crawlies, monsters and such … especially around Halloween!  I love movies, especially monster movies!  I ain’t into them slasher-flicks; I’m old school and stick to the classics.  An acquaintance of mine is an outdoor writer and we share a rabid-fandom for The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  I’ve got models, figurines and vintage magazines … but that boy’s done got himself a Gillman tattoo!  Another monster fan that I’ve corresponded with lately is a musician and the author of a fantastic book about the Fouke monster.  He definitely has more memorabilia than I do; so recently, I sent him a photo of my custom “Redneck diorama”.  It’s a modified The Mighty Kogar gorilla kit … which I customized into my version of the Caddo Critter.  I proudly display this shadow-boxed abomination on the wall of man-cave curios in our game room.  My wife definitely ain’t a happy camper when it comes to me displayin’ anything “Bigfoot” or Sasquatch related.  She shrieked in horror when she caught me tryin’ to hang my Greys Harbor recast from Jeff Meldrum!  Hey, I’m just a fifty-year-old kid that likes to display his toys.  I’m sure she’d rather us have the Southern Living style of décor in our home, but she married an artist … and us “creatives” tend to have kind-of weird tastes.

     I’m also old school as far as my readin’ materials go, and I’ve accumulated quite a library of “Bigfoot” and Sasquatch related books … the majority of them since our encounter.  I do have a few of my original, vintage paperback books from the 70’s such as Sasquatch by Don Hunter and Rene Dahinden; Bigfoot: On The Track Of The Sasquatch by John Green and The Search For Bigfoot, Monster, Myth Or Man by Peter Byrne.  I ain’t much on readin’ fiction lately, but I did thoroughly enjoy No Return by Pete Travers, and would highly recommend a true southern gem called Ol’ Scratch by Cracker Irvin.  My books keep me both occupied and amused so I’m off that-there internet as far as the world of “Bigfootery” goes.  I’m also a documentary freak, and have collected quite a cache of DVD’s on the “Bigfoot” and Sasquatch phenomena.  The only thing I haven’t found for my personal collection is Bigfootville, which I watch in re-run from time to time.  I’d add MonsterQuest to my DVD collection if they offered only the episodes on our hairy friend.  My son makes fun of me every I watch the Creature from Black Lake or The Legend of Boggy Creek.  Dad … that’s so lame!” Really?  This comin’ from the kid who was scared to friggin’ death of the “bug man” from the first Men in Black or those mummies in them Brendan Fraser movies.  And the martians from Mars Attacks! had both our kids runnin’ for their rooms and under them covers.
     Y’all must think I’m some sort of couch-potato with all this talk of movies, model kits and books; but, this October is the month that I decided to really go old school.  I’m shootin’ my recurve more, I quit smokin’, laid-down the beer & the booze and decided that I was goin’ to get my fat-ass into some shape.  I realized this past summer that carryin’ around a 45 lb. hydration-pack full of gear, cameras, castin’ equipment, a machete, a side-arm, extra magazines, back-up pistol and knife as well as my 40 lb. “beer-tumor” was gettin’ to be quite a bit cumbersome.  I saw some pictures of myself that my wife took at that weddin’ in Jigger, and I looked like some sort-of bipedal, grayin’ boar-hog with saggy teets.  I’d actually say that I was lookin’ a lot more like “Patty”, but she was taller and her gut wasn’t as big as mine!  It’s now been 20-days without carbs, sugar or alcohol and I’ve lightened my load by 12 lbs.!  It’ll damn-sure make paddlin’ a kayak through giant salvinia a whole lot easier, and I bet I’ll cover a lot more ground scoutin’ new terrain for my cams.  So this huntin’ season, if y’all see somethin’ large and orange easin’ through the brush while y’all are out there in them woods, it ain’t The Great Pumpkin; it’s just Oldsloughstalker!  Until next time, be safe … and y’all come back now, you hear?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pray ...

     Hi, y’all … please don’t think I’m still Trippin’ but I would like to ask y’all to do me a favor, and pray.  Now I’m a Christian, but I personally would never push my religious beliefs on anyone.  I believe that everyone should have the right to believe or not believe in whatever they want.  I can remember as a boy, this one religious group would come ‘round knockin’ on doors in our neighborhood on Sunday afternoons … about the time that our family would get home from church.  My daddy had already changed into his robe, shorts and house-shoes and was camped-out in front of the TV set watchin’ football.  The doorbell rang, and I heard a bunch of folks congregated in the foyer at our front door.  As daddy answered the door, they started talkin’ … but daddy interrupted them, held-up his hand and said, “Hey, y’all … I really appreciate what you’re doin’ … but we just got home from church.  Now I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe; but I believe y’all are interruptin’ my football game.  then he promptly closed the door!  This is a true story.
     Now, some of y’all may be greatly offended by this and are fixin’ to hit your “Back” button or delete me from your “Favorites” … but I’m not tryin’ to get y’all into a religious debate.  The two topics that’ll fire-up a heated debate amongst most folks are Politics and Religion.  I take both very seriously … and this entry to my blog will touch on both.  If you don’t think that you can stomach this, please move on and God bless.  But what I am askin’ for is for some good-old fashioned prayin’ for what’s been goin’ down at Caddo Lake and the little town of Uncertain, Texas.  They are facin’ a problem of biblical proportions; and for lack of government funds, the future of Uncertain is, well … uncertain.  Short of a miracle, I don’t know what anyone can do to save ‘em.  But I am sure that your prayers will help!
     A plague has taken over most of Caddo Lake; giant salvinia.  If anyone doesn’t know what giant salvina is … I can best describe it as Hell on water!  Giant salvinia is an invasive plant from Brazil that can double in weight every 2½ days.  This aquatic floatin’ fern is chokin’ the life outta one of our national treasures.  Once the plant establishes itself in a body of water, it blocks the sunlight and deoxygenates the water … killin' all other plants, algae and most of the aquatic life.  That greatly affects the food-chain and environment, and the Texas side of Caddo Lake is almost completely covered!  Not only is it covered … but it’s piled-up so thick … you need an airboat or a go-devil to get through it.

     There are three things that can kill this plant: the first one is the herbicide fluridon, which can be sprayed topically … but any sudden influx of rain will dilute it and render the treatment ineffective.   Well, Hell (and speakin’ of) we’ve been under a severe drought for the last couple of years, so what’s the dang problem?  It seems that it all boils down to one thing … money.
     Again, due to the current state of our government (and/or the lack-thereof) or the misappropriation of our tax-payer’s dollars (not) at work … the sprayin’ of giant salvinia doesn’t seem to be on a lot of folks priority list!  So are we just goin’ to let Caddo Lake and Uncertain, Texas choke to death?  I tell you who I’d like to choke are some of them greedy-ass do-nothin’ and spend everything politicians who are smotherin’ this country!  Now, that might not be a very Christian thing to say … but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em!  And I ain’t sayin’ that all of our elected officials are to blame, but who do we need to call to get these folks some help?  I read that the spray budget for 2012 was only $75,000.  Really?  I’ve seen that kinda money cruisin’ around most boat ramps … in the form of a pick-up truck pullin’ a bass-boat!  But if y’all have seen Caddo over the past couple of years, a measly $75,000.00 is pretty-dang insufficient, as far as fundin’ goes!
     The sad thing was that only $27,500 of that budget went towards the actual herbicide … the rest went for labor, maintenance, fuel and supervision.  Okay, I can understand that you cain’t get somethin’ for nothin’; the labor, fuel and maintenance I can understand.  But if only a third of the budget goes for the chemical, and it takes the other two-thirds to spread it, can our powers that be not see that they need more funds?  Am I missin’ somethin’?  Is someone insinuatin’ that us country-folk are remedial?  Hell, I’d bet the farm that Jed Clampett, Granny and Ellie-Mae could’ve figured-out that somethin’ ain’t quite ain’t right! They'd prob'ly make Jethro redo his dang “goesintas” when it came to askin' Mr. Drysdale for a more money to purchase them chemicals to clean the cement pond!
     From what I've witnessed around that lake and from what-all I’ve been readin’ in the Marshall News Messenger lately, them folks are fightin’ a losin’ battle.  Businesses are shuttin’-down or have been relocated, and the locals cain’t go nowhere by boat unless they live off of larger bodies of water such as Big Cypress.  The marinas had already been hurtin’ due to the drought, and the low water-levels combined with the overabundance of vegetation limits the launchin’ sites drastically.  I’m sure the fishin’ guides are feelin’ it, as well as the bed & breakfasts and lodgin’ surroundin’ the lake.  Combine that with an already crappy economy and things are lookin’ mighty bleak.  But, wait … have no fear … ‘cause weevils are near!  Weevils?  Yep, yep … that’s what I said … weevils!  Brilliant!  But read on, ‘cause it looks like things might be goin’ from bad to worse.  This ought to bug the sh¡t outta y’all (pun intended)!
     The second thing that can control this invasive weed is Cyrtobagous salviniae, a weevil!  Did I spell that correctly?  ‘Cause I dang-sure cain’t pronounce it … “Cyr-to bogus” … hmmm, sounds about right!  I hope the Hell I’m wrong … but somebody done decided that it’d be a good idea to put our tax-payer’s dollars into raisin’ frigginweevils!  Holy, sh¡t!  Let’s look at the logistics of this: weevils that you gotta spend money on to raise … then you gotta spend more money on to disburse.  Them weevils better do a whole buncha eatin’ and plenty of dang breedin’ to rid that lake of them weeds; hence the fraise, friggin’ weevils!  Brilliant?  I think not, ‘cause there’s one factor that will wipe-out this whole weevil idea …
     The third thing that will kill the giant salvinia is a freeze.  The main reason that the weed got so outta control is that Caddo Lake hasn’t had a hard freeze lately.  But guess what else won’t survive the freeze?  Weevils!  Brilliant!  And … as an added bonus … accordin’ to the Farmer’s Almanac, we’re s’posed to have a hard winter this year.  Oh, my God!  Now do you see why I was askin’ y’all to pray?  Have any of y’all ever read the book or seen the movie Catch 22?  Hmmm … I remember somethin’ about “ … a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule.  Really?  Is any of this soundin’ familiar to y’all?  Yep, yep ... I’d say these folks need some serious prayers!
     I hope I’m severely wrong about them weevils, and all of that money and hard work from our elected officials and government employees pays off.  But from what I’ve read, most of the release sites had dried-up and them weevils done died!  That really bugs the sh¡t outta me (pun intended)!  Now I’m sure that my mini-man rant is just exacerbatin’ the situation … but just maybe it will help get the word out.  Caddo Lake is one of our national treasures, and if there is anything that I can do, I’d love to help!  I’d volunteer my time or help with some fundraisin’ if someone would just gimme a shout.  I made some calls after my spring trip to Caddo, but no one ever got back with me.  First I called Austin … and they referred me to the Caddo Lake Institute, who referred me to someone in the district who never returned my friggin’ call!  Sounds like a Catch 22 to me!  Maybe someone will read this and forward it to Don Henley, who has both the money and the influence to rock somebody’s friggin’ boat!  Until then, I’m goin’ to ask y’all to pray …
     I have witnessed the power of prayer and it works!  I have also witnessed the power of our government at work; and if the right people with the right intentions actually work, the job will get done.  So I pray that the right people read this, and can light a fire to get the appropriate fundin’ to get this problem under control.  When I make a call to our government … I don’t wanna get shuffled around; I wanna talk to someone who’s got some dang answers.  Ever heard of customer service?  If my boss asks me a question about my work and I couldn’t answer him, I’m sure he’d hire someone who could!  I pray that I never get that complacent with my position.  And I pray that the majority of everyone who reads this blog votes.  And if I’ve touched any nerves out there … I’ve done my dang job; and as for our government … I’ll keep on prayin’ that you’ll do yours.  In the meantime … “big brother” needs to realize that we’re watchin’ you, too!
     I pray that in time, my grandkids can see the kinds of things that I’ve seen out there in them woods and waterways around Caddo Lake.  I don’t want ‘em seein’ pictures about what the lake used to look like … I want ‘em to see and feel and smell and experience all that one of our national treasures has to offer.  And I’d like ‘em to meet the friends and acquaintances that I’ve made out there durin’ the past few years.  These are good, hard-workin’ genuine folks … and it’s sad to see their home and livelihoods get choked-out by some damn invasive!  God forbid, if that does happen … I pray that the wildlife can either adapt or move on.  So again, I’m askin’ y’all to do me a favor … and pray.  Pray for a freeze … or pray for our government to put a freeze on needless spendin’.  Pray that they’ll appropriate more funds to the Cypress Valley Navigation District and that it’s not too late to save Caddo Lake.  Thanks, take care and God bless!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UPDATE: Bragg Road

     Since my last post concernin’ Bragg Road, I’ve received 3 calls from the folks of Hardin County!  Earlier this afternoon I spoke with County Commissioner Ken Pelt, who filled my ears about the ongoin’ litterin’ and vandalism problems they’ve had out there on the Ghost Road.  I told him that I would be happy to volunteer my time, graphic design and public relation abilities to spark an annual volunteer clean-up effort.  Ken said that he would give my name and number to the folks at the Big Thicket Association … whose annual meetin’ happens to be this Saturday!  So, if those folks get back with me … again, I’ll definitely let y’all know.  I’d be willin’ to spend some time properly organizin’ and promotin’ an event such as this, and would get back out there in a heartbeat if it would help clean up one of our national treasures!  Hey, have truck & trailer … will travel!  Any creative ideas or folks who wanna volunteer would be greatly appreciated!  Y’all can always gimme a shout at

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Trippin' ...

    Hi, y’all … the family and I had to head to “the motherland” for a weddin’ in Jigger, Louisiana this past weekend.  Say, what?  Y’all ain’t never heard of Jigger?  Well, Jigger is just outside of Fort Necessity.   C’mon … really?  Y’all ain’t never heard of Fort Necessity?  It’s just a ways southeast of Monroe near the Boeuf Wildlife Management Area.  We were actually just off of Turkey Creek, which was fittin’ … ‘cause a few of us was hittin’ on a bottle of Turkey after that-there weddin’!  Our families worked like dawgs to get everything done, and thank God the weather held ‘til after the festivities were over.  Everyone kept in check, but the only wild things that we couldn’t control were the skeeters.  When you’re out partyin’ in the country with them Louisiana skeeters … you might be a guest, but you’re always a host.

"Mullet gets a ticket" ... notice the trooper's license plate!
My girlfriend (who is now my wife) took this in 1988 ...
     The trip up there started on a Friday afternoon, so thank God we got outta Houston ‘fore rush hour started.  I abso-friggin’-lutely detest drivin’ on I-10 … period.  Even though I tend to have a heavier right foot, folks was passin’ me like I was peddlin’ a dang bicycle!  Once we exited I-10 to 165 North, the drive was a less stressful, but then I had to watch my speed.  Them Louisiana cops love stoppin’ folks with Texas plates, especially when you get near the sprawlin’ “hamlet” of Woodworth.  That place was once designated as the speed-trap capitol, and I started havin’ flashbacks of the last three tickets that I’d accrued there.   I set the cruise control a hair below the speed limit ‘cause I’d figured that Rapides Parish already had enough of my family’s money.  I was still doin’ below the speed limit just outside of Columbia (thank God) when a fox hauled-ass across the road while tryin’ to inspect the underside of my Chevy!  I think that I might’ve squirted a grape tryin’ to avoid runnin’ over it, and my defensive drivin’ skills kinda woke-up my wife and son …
     The return drive was much more relaxin’ ‘cause I took a bunch of them scenic back-roads.  Even though it was rainin’ … I didn’t have to worry about heavy traffic or the congestion of them larger highways.  Once we got outta the Fort Necessity Recreational Area and drove through the Boeuf WMA, I headed south for the El Camino East/West Corridor … which cuts through the Kisatchie National Forest.  My wife asked, “Why are you takin’ us down all these back-roads?  Are you lookin’ for Bigfoot or somethin’?  I really wanted to answer, “Why, Hell yeah!” but decided to explain to her that the scenic route would be safer due to the weather conditions, as well as bein’ quite therapeutic.  Suspicious of my now apparent ulterior motives … she kept on fiddlin’ with the GPS on her dang smart-phone.  After our Google vs. Bing discussion, she tried her hardest to get me to go this way and that, but I had already planned-out my route a few weeks prior.  I headed south to Natchitoches, and she changed her tune when she started seein’ all the cute little antique stores and bed & breakfasts they had there in old-town.  Now that was the kinda scenery that she was interested in.

      It was rainin’ pretty steadily about the time we got to Toledo Bend State Park, and it didn’t slack-up ‘til we was out of the Sabine National Forest and were headin’ through the Angelina National Forest.  We passed the Martin Dies Jr., State Park, drove past the John H. Kirby State Forest and headed for the Big Thicket National Preserve.  It was at that point that she and my son probably thought that I was trippin’ … especially when I told them we were goin’ to drive down the Ghost Road.  Ghost Road?  What the Hell is the Ghost Road?” my wife asked.  My son exacerbated the situation by chimin’ in with, “It’s probably got somethin’ to do with Bigfoot!  Really?  Thanks allot bro!  So I tried to diffuse the situation by relayin’ the story of Bragg Road, otherwise known as the Ghost Road.  I explained to them that this almost perfectly-straight, 8-mile long dirt road has thick trees growin’ real close on both sides which arc overhead, givin’ it the appearance of drivin’ through a heavily-wooded tunnel.  I told them that for years, folks have claimed to see a floatin’ light or glowin’ orb at night while travelin’ down that road.  I further explained that, legend has it that a railroad employee was decapitated in a horrible accident, and his headless body roams Bragg Road at night, carryin’ a lantern lookin’ for his head … if you believe that sort-of stuff.
     Now, wait just a dang minute … seriously?  Whoever come-up with that story must’ve really been trippin’!  Just think about it … how in the Hell is a headless corpse goin’ to “look” for anything?  A headless horseman … maybe; but that’s a different story.  That I could comprehend, ‘cause the horse is doin’ all the dang navigatin’!  Chuckle-chuckle, y’all!  So I elaborated on how the light was probably just swamp gas; but immediately had to stop my son from emittin’ any audible examples.  I told them most likely the ghost lights were just headlights from other vehicles.  I dared-not mention the fact that there’s been a considerable amount of “Bigfoot” sightin’s comin’ from that area, ‘cause I’d never live it down!  We took a short-cut just past Village Mills and continued west onto County Road 1293 at Honey Island.  A couple of miles ahead we noticed a heap of mud in the middle of the road, comin’ off a trail to our left that you could’ve stuck a bulldozer in.  I warned my wife & son that if Bragg Road was in anywhere near that bad of condition, we’d be findin’ us a different route home.  My Chevy has 4WD, but I ain’t nearly as dumb as I look!
     In another mile or so headin’ west, we found the north entrance to Bragg Road.  It was straight-up 6:00 p.m., and even though it wouldn’t be dark for another hour and a half, it was quite gloomy due to the overcast sky and the thick trees.  We stopped, took some pictures and read the Hardin County kiosk at the entrance.  We noticed that even though it had rained most of the day, the road actually looked fairly dry and passable.  As we proceeded, we were horrified as to what we saw all around us!  Bragg Road was lined with beer cans, bottles and discarded fast-food cups, bags and containers; the amount of litter along both sides of the road and ditches was inexcusable.  There were even beer cans and bottles stuck on the tips of branches on of some of the trees.  As beautiful as the rest of the scenery may have been, the amount of trash both detracted and distracted our 8-mile excursion.  We noticed that one kiosk had either been shot or somethin’ had been thrown through it, was burned … and was spray-painted or “tagged”.  Really?  I wish that I could catch someone out there taggin’ in them woods.  I’ll guaran-damn-tee y’all that someone would have to be payin’ my bail … ‘cause I’d be teachin’ them taggers physical dangers of “huffin’” that spray-paint right then and there!
     Why in the Hell do people feel the need to litter or destroy our national treasures?  Are they trippin’?  Have they lost their friggin’ minds?  Was there some huge party out there, or some gatherin’ of gonads who didn’t know how to friggin’ act?  Had the Hardin County folks just not made it out there to pick up trash lately?  Or are those Hardin County workers on shut-down?  Well, thanks to the current state of our government (and/or the lack-thereof) or the misappropriation of our tax-payer’s dollars (not) at work … that may very much-well be the case.  Did y’all get all that?  All of this makes me very sad.  Nope, I take that back; I’m not sad … I’m mad as Hell!  I think people that litter or vandalize need a good old-fashioned country ass-whippin’!  If folks get caught litterin’ or vandalizin’… to Hell with makin’ ‘em only pay a friggin’ fine; make ‘em get out there in the Texas heat, trudge through the fire-ants, swat some skeeters and clean that sh¡t up!  Like I said, I’m originally from Louisiana … and over there, we utilize “road crews” or “guests of the state” for stuff like that.  That’s how to put your tax-payer’s dollars to work!  So, how’s that for a rant?  See, I done got all worked-up again; my little-man syndrome has kicked-in to overdrive and my ADD has got me off the dang subject!
     Well, until this point, things on our little road-trip were pretty relaxed.  Bragg Road just ain’t what it used to be; the canopy was severely thinned-out from Hurricane Rita … and then again by Hurricane Ike.  But all that debris in the trees and the trash on both sides of the road weren’t deposited by any storm.  And I’m sure that any mystery bipeds that lurk around out there in them woods ain’t the animals that’s been doin’ all that dang the litterin’!  Our family lives just off of Clear Creek, which runs from the Friendswood/Pearland area all the way to Clear Lake and eventually into Galveston Bay.  Several years back, an old hog-huntin’ buddy of mine organized an annual clean-up on the Creek … and they actually fill entire barges full of debris!  And our neighbor is a restaurateur who caters this event for the locals who show-up in droves to help-out.  Hmmm, maybe that’s what’s needed for Bragg Road.  Hold an annual event startin’ on one end of the road with a caravan of pickups & trailers and have a party for the volunteers on the other end after it’s all said & done.  So I called a couple of offices listed on the Hardin County Web site to see if any such event has ever taken place, but so far … no one has returned my calls.  If someone does get back with me, I’ll definitely let y’all know.
     Out there in them woods, leave only footprints; in a boat, don’t throw-it … stow it.  And, there ain’t s’posed to be nothin’ plastic in leaf-litter!  Our environment ain’t goin’ to clean itself, so do your share to keep Texas wild.  Maybe the next time someone’s out there trippin’ … it ain’t goin’ to be on someone else’s trash.  Y’all come back now, you hear?