So, what’s the skinny? As of today, I’ve paddled 23 trips on lakes, rivers, bayous, and bays across the Texas Gulf Coast, Hill Country, Pineywoods, Prairies and Lakes, and the South Texas Plains. Along the way, I’ve seen bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, feral pigs, deer and turkeys, alligators and owls, copperheads and conchs, and other animals enough to fill a fleet of arks. And, I’m just getting started.
This week I have a few trips near the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands. The cold has set in so I expect to have the water mostly to myself. And, the fishing forecast gives me hope for a distraction from the cold. We’ll see.
I hope to hit 39 trips by the end of February, with the 40th being a big four-day trip down the Rio Grande through Big Bend National Park in the first week of March. Keep an eye out for the video of that one. I think our crew is getting a GoPro to help us do it right.
The goal is to keep each paddle to a budget of $50. That includes gas, food, camping and launch fees, shuttles, etc. That’s no problem with trips right around Austin. Luckily, there are a ton of those. For the Rio Grande and a few others, that’s just not going to happen no matter what. So, those are the outliers and they’ll just cost a little more.
Most trips, though, will fall somewhere in the middle. For those, I’m camping in state parks and making day trips to the surrounding waters. And, I have to say that I’ve really been impressed with the state park facilities. I say this with a straight face: They offer amenities I dreamed of in the Peace Corps.
Lots of tent sites even have running water, electrical plugs, a picnic table, a fire pit with firewood available–and best of all– a bath-house with a mirror, a sink, a bench, lights, and running hot and cold water. They even have drains. What!? I’m half considering selling everything and moving to a state park. And, here’s the deal, a State Parks Pass gets a carload of folks free access to the park and discounted rates on campsites. I really encourage everyone in Texas to get one.
So, to meet the $50 goal I’m keeping to the gear basic. I could find an excuse to buy several boats, but I’ve resisted the urge. Sure, boats these days are designed for a given set of conditions; but, for now, my old canoe and kayak hold the surface. So, I’m just going to float them and see what happens. As for the rest of gear, I’ve done my best not to get carried away. (Read more about packing for a paddle trip.) For now, most of my pennies are going to fishing gear. And, I’m happy to spend the money on new lures when redfish, stripers, specks, largemouth-, and Guadalupe bass have knocked the paint off the old ones. (Read more about packing for a fishing trip.)
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Until next time, follow the water.