Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Caddo Lake and Uncertain, Texas - A Little Creepy

From Austin I traveled to Houston. 
While in Houston I had the chance to visit with family and hang out with some friends that I've known since childhood. My friends and I were at a gymnasium just sitting around and talking as good friends do. We started talking about old times and old basketball games we played. Amazing how much we could still remember about specific games and gamesmanship. There were some college aged guys on the other side of the gym shooting around. At some point, somebody thought that it would be a good idea to challenge the college guys to a game. We had 5 and they had 5... perfect. We let the other guys take out the ball first. One of the guys made a crossover move. One of my friends ended up on the ground. It was at that moment I realized... I think we all realized... that we were no longer the athletes that we once were. The game continued and we were able to score a number of baskets. There were also a number of airballs. We may have won, they may have let us win, I'm not sure. It was still great fun to hang with the guys. 

From Houston I planned to visit Caddo Lake State Park. Caddo Lake is a 25,000 acre lake and bayou on the northeast border between Texas and Louisiana. The lake is named after the Southeastern culture of Native Americans called Caddoans or Caddo, who lived in the area until their expulsion in the 19th century. It is an internationally protected wetland and includes one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the United States. Caddo is supposedly the only naturally formed lake in Texas. All the other lakes in Texas are man made. I've known about the lake for quite a while and always wanted to visit the area. However, the lake and state park are in the north east corner of Texas which is an area that I seldom visit.

I filled up my vehicle with gas.
My vehicle is a Scion xB. It's not a 4x4, caravan nor RV. However, I've taken this vehicle on many road trips and it's great. It is compact on the outside, but spacious on the inside. And it gets great gas mileage - 30+ miles per gallon. I took a road trip a few years ago when the gas prices were about $3.50/gallon. Money spent on gas adds up when you plan to travel thousands of miles. Luckily, the price of gas this summer was hovering around $1.75/gallon. Half the price = Double the adventure!
I headed north and east. The highways in Texas are often long and straight. This particular section of highway passes through forest of pine trees. I hadn't driven through this section of forest in quite some time. It made me a little nostalgic. When I was a kid my parents would pack us into the car and drive up this stretch of road toward Lake Conroe or Lake Livingston. We'd spend time camping and fishing around the lakes. Great memories seldom fade with time, they only get better.
After about 4 hours I reached the Caddo Lake State Park. There were not many people around and I had no problem securing a campsite. 
I pulled up to campsite right next to the water and parked. This is what I saw outside.
Caddo Lake is surrounded by cypress trees that grow along the banks. It appears to be part lake and part bayou. A bayou is a French word that refers to a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area, and can be either an extremely slow-moving stream or river, or a marshy lake or wetland. 
The cypress trees often have Spanish Moss hanging from their branches. Some might think that this area looks like a swamp, but I've always heard of this type of body of water referred to as a bayou. It certainly has a unique look.
After securing a campsite, I thought that I would explore around the area and visit the nearby town of Uncertain, Texas. Yep, that's the name of the town... Uncertain.
The first place I pulled into was a place called Johnson's Ranch.
Inside Johnson's Ranch there was a little store and bait shop. It certainly had an unique vibe. The lady behind the counter mentioned that earlier in the spring during some heavy rains that the building was three feet under water. Their business was just getting back to normal operations. The store sold some basic necessities, bait for fishing and seemed to be a gathering spot for the locals.
The store also rented canoes, kayaks and flat bottom boats to explore the lake.
It seems that there was an artist in the town. Or a humorist at least.
I drove around the town for a while and found the Caddo Lake Tourist Information office. There were some informational bulletins posted inside the shack, but I couldn't tell if this was really the tourist information office or if the locals were just having fun with the tourists.
I passed by this building that housed the Uncertain Flea Market. No real fleas...
I was hoping to find some strange stuff, but the market was actually closed. I believe that it only opens on the weekend.
I passed by the Church of Uncertain... a church where even skeptics would be welcome.
This is the place where old tractors go to retire.
Uncertain times or the American Dream?
I returned to the state park as the afternoon began to turn to evening.
The sunsetting over the lake was a calming sight. However, after the sun set the mosquitos came out to feed. I ate dinner quickly and hunkered down for the night.
The next morning I woke up early and found this fishing pier. I tried my luck for about an hour, but did not have any luck. 
The lake was amazingly calm and a little bit creepy. I think that it was so quite and peaceful, that it was disturbing.
Along the banks of the lake I found these cypress tree roots. They appeared out of the ground like fingers reaching out of the dirt - kind of weird. While I was walking through the forest to take this photo I realized that I was walking through an area filled with poison ivy. I took the photo and scampered out.
I got back on the road and headed north. More asphalt and more pine tree forest as I departed Texas.



4 comments:

  1. If you ever come back to Caddo again...go for a tour of the lake with one of the tour guide companies that will take you out so you can see more than what you see from standing at the waters edge. You could visit the site of the wreck of the Mittie Stevens (google it).....the site of the old town of Port Caddo where the steamboats used to dock, the Government Ditch, Big Lake.....Did you know that the town of Karnack ( you drove by it) is the hometown of Lady Bird Johnson and her parents southern colonial mansion is still there ? Beautiful place. Next time talk to some of those locals that live there and learn some of the local history of the lake and yes, it is the only Natural lake in Texas. Did you go to the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge area and check out the info they have there ? No, oh too bad.....you missed a lot with your quick trip. And by the way, saying the Church of Uncertain is a "church for skeptics" wasn't funny and I don't even belong to it. Yep, you missed a lot.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tips. Yes, the area does deserve more exploration.

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