Kingpin? Mules, Mike & Wajid

“She don’t lie. She don’t lie. She don’t lie. Cocaine.”-Eric Clapton

Thursday, November 6th

A foggy morning.  A spectacular afternoon.  After a long two days dealing with dreary rain, the skies cleared to a perfect day on the Red.  It was a bit windy, but that was palatable given the warm afternoon sun.  I had to stop in the late morning to dry everything out, all my gear was still wet.  Often times, in the morning my tent and rainfly are wet due to condensation, I will typically dry it out in the afternoon sun.  Today, much of my gear required drying.  I didn’t want to spend too much time hangin out in the sun but I’m not a fan of musty clothes and gear.

You can definetly feel fall in the air.  The trees are really starting to turn and the weather has that fall feel, deep blue skies, crisp wind, warm sun.  Days like these are meant to be paddled.  The river hasn’t really changed, it is getting a bit more shallow, but for the most part the scenary has been pretty similar since Shreveport.  I am not sure what I anticipated but thought it may have a different “feel” once I turned west in Fulton.  The Red doesn’t compare to the beauty of the upper Missouri, but it is great in it’s own right.  I can honestly say I consider myself a Red River and Missouri River paddler.  It almost seems like I was a visitor on the Mississippi.

My buddies Michael and Wajid are coming to visit me on Saturday, the plan is to meet at the 37 bridge north of Clarksville, TX.  I should make it there late tomorrow or early Saturday.  They want the “Red River” experience. I hope I can deliver.

foggy morning

foggy morning

nice day

nice day

told you so

told you so

stuff drying

stuff drying

pelicans

pelicans

shadows

shadows

Friday, November 7th

Another glorious afternoon.  I arrived at the 37 bridge just before sunset.  I spent the day enjoying the fall scenary, I had a really good stretch of deep water with little current which allowed me to make it to the bridge.  When there are long straight stretches, usually, you can find a good paddling groove.  This has proven difficult with all the bends but I had a couple nice long straight stretches today.  It’s the little things in life that make me smile.

I had another rock crossing today, this one only took about 15 minutes to get around but it is strange how they seem to come out of nowhere.  The bed of the river is almost rockless but every now and again on a severe bend rocks will emerge.  I also had to drag my boat for a distance on the stretch prior to the 37 bridge.  Good thing I had some nice straight stretches beforehand.

I stashed my boat under the bridge and walked to the gas station on the OK side.  I brought my electronics bag with me (as I typically do) and once I walked in the door the clerk took one look at me and wanted me to reveal the contents of my bag.  I’m not sure if it was my odor (or my beard) but she wanted to make sure my goods were on the up-and-up.  Once I told her my story she seemed almost apologetic about asking me to see me contents.  I don’t blame her for checking….especially given my appearance.  I enjoyed a nice cold drink and made my way back to the boat and camped across the bridge.   The  37 bridge is under construction and there are trees and construction debris all around it, not really ideal for a meeting destination.  I hope Mike and Wajid like mud.

sandbar

sandbar

river

river

bigger sandbar

bigger sandbar

good times

good times

Saturday, November 8th

Today the voyage ended.  For 15 minutes.

I awoke to a crisp fall morning and paddled back to the bridge and enjoyed a nice breakfast at the gas station.  I charged all my electronics and headed back to the boat (under the bridge).  With Mike and Wajid coming around 3:00, I scouted out a nice sandbar upriver about a bend away.  I didn’t want to camp across from the bridge since it is somewhat of an eyesore and loud from all the traffic.  I found the perfect spot upriver and established camp around 10:00am.  The campsite had an elevalted sandbar with a beautiful view of the river.  I emptied my canoe since I would have to transport Mike and Wajid’s gear.

I canoed back to the bridge (about 7 minutes downriver, 15 upriver) and waited for Mike and Wajid.  They arrived around 3:00 and we loaded up my canoe with their goods. The plan was for me to take Wajid to the campsite, paddle back to the bridge and bring Mike to the campsite.  Wajid and I set out to my campsite on a beautiful late afternoon.  I think he enjoyed the paddle upstream to the campsite.  As I approached the campsite, I didn’t see my tent, probably not a big deal since it was behind a series of trees.  I paddled closer and closer and still didn’t see my tent.  Oh no.

I approached the site and my tent was definetly gone.  I hoped out of the canoe and walked to the campsite-everything was gone. Everything. I am left with my canoe and electronics, everything else has been taken.  The trip is over.  On the campsite grounds someone wrote a note in the sand “Keep the heck out!!!”  I knew I was cooked.  This was not really my shining moment of the trip (a few expletives were shouted-think Animal House). Wajid and I were shocked at this unfortunate turn of events.  I scoured the area looking to follow four wheeler trails. They all came up cold.  It’s difficult to describe my feelings knowing the trip was basically ovah.

I heard a motor in the distance and eventually a four wheeler arrived with the sheriff and a private citizen.  I immediatly explained that someone took my belongings and the sherriff explained that I was on private property and they had my gear. I apologized and explained my trip and that we were going to camp there this evening.  Eventually, the sherriff realized I was MC Hammer (2legit2quit) and agreed to meet me back at the 37 bridge with my gear.  The land owner explained that he thought I might have been a squatter or drug runner.  The sherriff indicated there have been Mexican Nationals growing pot onRed River lands.  Turns out they thought I could have been a kingpin.

I did leave behind a video camera in one of my bags and they watched on of my videos and the Sherriff had a hunch I was a river floater.  They had mixed signals when they found my Yo Soy Fiesta jersey and some Singapore Dollars (don’t ask, right Norm?) They didn’t know what to make of me…until they met me.

Wajid and I returned to the bridge (Mike was confused why we still had all the gear) and they arrived with all me gear.  Nothing was missing.  For this, I am grateful.   Mike, Wajid and I camped across from the bridge and had a great time.  Mike built the best fire of the entire trip and we enjoyed a memorable evening by the 37 bridge.  A bridge that will not will be lost on this voyage.

I’m camping river left.

The Sandbar where the "incident" occurred

The Sandbar where the “incident” occurred

It was a great plan

It was a great plan

site in the distance

site in the distance

37 Bridge

37 Bridge

Stuff is returned

Stuff is returned

Mules, Wajid & Mike

Mules, Wajid & Mike

sunset

sunset

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17 Responses to Kingpin? Mules, Mike & Wajid

  1. Christopher Reagh says:

    Man that was a close call. If you were in the banks of the river it was not private property, but that is somewhat of a mute point. All in all, I am surprised and pleased that you have not run into this problem more often. Things are about to get real cold, but hang in there and keep paddling.

  2. Michael Callaway says:

    What is odd is in Oklahoma it is private property, when you are on the water it is public, when you touch down on the land it becomes private. Who knew? Besides, I have always wanted to camp next to a road (really I have) so it was the perfect spot for me.

  3. bacaruda73 says:

    Wow Keith, what a intense bit of drama for the day. I am very glad that it worked out. That’s scary to think about having that element on the river to where land owners have to be on constant alert.
    The Cold front started last night. Be careful out there and dress accordingly.
    Praying for safety, friendly currents and warm refuges.
    Keep paddling

  4. Michael says:

    Wow! I’m surprised there isn’t a “right of way” area around the edge of the river. Super glad you got your gear back. That would have been a disappointing end.

  5. Donald Zinter says:

    What a cold and desperate feeling that must have been to find your campsite vacant and all your gear gone after traveling so far without incident (except for the indians in South Dakota). You have certainly had your moments during this journey (both good and bad), and I’m sure you will remember and cherrish them forever. Keep on paddleing little river rat.

  6. Norm says:

    I told you those Singapore dollars would cause you some problems!!!

    Glad it all worked out! Even if it didn’t, you know so many people would have shown up the next day with a new tent and bag don’t ya?

    Canoe Canoe!!!

  7. "Flipper" of Michigan says:

    Keith Sir !!!
    Your posts have been excellent all along – and very inspirational to many, including me – keep the drive to the hive alive – You’re doing great. It’s snowing up here today, I wish I was on The Red & Just Ahead to get the biscuits started. Enjoy it AllWays Man !!! Great Job !!!

  8. don says:

    Crossing under 271 in the morning! Great progress! Stay warm. It’s 35 at 11pm on the river at highway 37 and forecast for 27 at sunrise. Godspeed man!

  9. Wajid says:

    Keith’s version of the 37 bridge adventure is the PG-13 version. Believe me the language being used when his stuff was taken was not safe for primetime!!! But all’s well that ends well and I am just happy the voyage did not end on our watch. Keith stick to river left as the Lone Star State is warm and welcoming and Oklahoma is not “Ok” in my book!!! It was a great honor to be a part of the adventure and yes we will always remember that 37 bridge!!!

    Stay safe and paddle hard my friend, see you back in Big D soon.

  10. bboktimss says:

    Please dont judge all ‘okies’ by one bad experience. We have our share as well as others. As a previous canoe/kayak livery here in SE Oklahoma we missed saying hello at the 259 bridge. Did see you paddling away though…congrats and you rock! Thanks for letting us watch.

  11. Michael Callaway says:

    And Wajid, AKA Johnny Switch Blade, was ready to rumble

  12. Norm says:

    Glad Wajid and Mike were there to calm Keith down! Yeah too bad that after 4000 miles of paddling and about 15 states with all good people he had to run into some paranoid Okee. People like that sure do sour a lot of dreams. If I owned that land I would put a big sign out on the river that said–“Welcome Paddlers and Friends….come camp here and enjoy the view. I’ll come by later with some cold beer and you can tell be about your adventure.”…….. People miss so many opportunities in life because they are so afraid! Paddle on Keith!!!! Canoe Canoe!!!

  13. Michael Callaway says:

    In the land owners defense, they do not get a lot of paddlers like they do on the Missouri and Mississippi. The people that they have been getting are drug runners and people growing pot along the banks of the Red River. Good news for Keith is this is not the season to grow pot, too cold. He should be free of Mexican Drug Lords for the rest of his trip. When they saw his Yo Soy Fiesta and Singapore Dollars they were convinced that they had a drug king on their property until they watched Keith’s videos.

  14. Don says:

    A little more info on the Oklahoma-Texas state line. Little known facts that make a world of difference, all determined YEARS ago….

    Ever since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, there has been controversy over where Oklahoma ends and Texas begins. In layman’s terms the boundary is the vegetation line on the south side of the Red River. (Which is not correct)
    Over time the river moves. This movement north toward Oklahoma is the sticking point. The sandy soils erode in a process called accretion, which wipes out the bank. So the property line follows the river. (Most Texans think…)
    The Bureau of Land Management claims that the river moves by another process called avulsion. With avulsion, the land may be changed by flood or currents, but the property line isn’t. So BLM claims that when the river moved back north the property line stayed put.

    It doesn’t help that Oklahoma defines avulsion differently than Texas and the U.S.

    In many places the river was out “there” where it is now and it eroded and accreted up to “here”, and then it eroded and accreted back. Oklahoma’s interpretation is that it eroded up to here but avulsed back. So when you listen to them it is always erosion to the south because the property line follows it then, but it’s always avulsion when it goes north. So the boundary can move south but it can NEVER move back north! Hard to believe one day in the distant future we will be living in Dallas, Oklahoma!

    If you look closely at the map and blow it up you will see what is considered to be the permanent state line established decades ago. In the area just west of highway 37 you can see there are areas of the river where it has shifted north or south entirely into either Oklahoma or Texas. So if in the river and you stop on either bank you may be in Oklahoma on the south bank or Texas on the north!

  15. TG says:

    You ARE a kingpin. Keep paddling!

  16. Jay says:

    To steal a line from Jase Robertson, this sounds like another case of facial profiling.

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