A large group of black vultures (Coragyps atratus) roost on a power line tower along the Waring Welfare Road this past Saturday. It appears that there were about two hundred of the birds. I had to convince them that I felt quite healthy.
An hour and 29 minutes after the start of the race, Zoltan approaches the bridge at Westerfield Crossing on the San Marcos River. For some reason, he finds it necessary to duck. Anyway, six miles down and only 259 miles to go.
Eleven paddlers participated in the trip from the I-10 crossing at Comfort to James Kiehl River Bend Park. Although the park is very nice, the new bridge at the road crossing there has made access for boaters much more difficult and strenuous. The old low water bridge was not removed, but access to it by vehicle has been blocked. Canoes and kayaks must now be carried some distance up a steep incline to the parking lot at the park. The new bridge at Seidensticker Crossing, the first road crossing upstream from the park, is even worse from a boater's perspective. It almost appears that the highway department was acting in concert with the "friendly" landowner there, basically blocking all access from the public right-of-way to what is supposed to be a public river.
The Guadalupe River was low, registering 46 cfs at the Comfort gauge. This made for a lot of scraping of hulls against river bottom, but it was only at the three portages along our nearly seven-mile route that I had to actually get out of my canoe. The sun never quite made its promised appearance, at least not while we were still on the water, so the temperature did not reach its forecast high. But the journey was quite pleasant for a Texas winter day.
Nancy W., Scott, Joline, and Cynthia prepare to launch their kayaks.
Ed was very easy to spot.
Susan and Cynthia made it back into their kayaks after the portage as the small dam a short distance downstream from our put-in. No one tried running the dam. Where is Steve Fiedler when I need him?
Nancy G. and Amy maneuvered past the overhanging tree limb. It was nice having another canoe to keep mine company.
Joline is in the lead as she and Nancy race down the river.
Jon treated us all to champagne, complete with festive glasses, at our lunch stop. He had a unique method for opening the bottle, as shown in this video:
This second video shows some of the crowd reaction to Jon's trick:
Note: No glass was left behind in the making of these videos.
Reiko displayed her martial arts moves. I was afraid -- very afraid.
Some watercress (Nasturtium officinale) growing in a small spring next to the river.
After our river had ended and the excitement about Nancy G.'s lost car key had subsided, four of us stopped for dinner at the Welfare General Store & Cafe. I had driven by this interesting establishment on the Waring Welfare Road several times before, but it had always appeared to be closed. There is a historical marker out front with information about the old German community of Welfare.
The "Battle of Nueces" mentioned on this marker is perhaps better described as the Nueces Massacre. It appears that Ernst Beseler, who settled this area with his parents and brother in the 1850's, was among the thirty-four German conscientious objectors to the Confederate draft who were killed along the banks of the Nueces River on August 10. 1862. I previously referred to this event at the end of my blog post on December 8, which features some photos of Brownsboro Cemetery, located a short distance from James Kiehl River Bend Park.
Note: Click on any photo to enlarge.
Joline, Amy, and Nancy prepare to order from the cafe's surprisingly sophisticated and varied menu. The food was quite good. I plan to stop there again the next time we are in the vicinity.
Two of the local farm girls admire their chickens. I was tempted to flirt with these innocents, but knew that their protective father was somewhere close by.
Nancy attracted a new friend.
Behind the General Store is a huge oak tree and the "Goat Barn," which can be used for hosting events.
The front of the Welfare General Store & Cafe faces the Waring Welfare Road.
A nice sunset, viewed here from the front porch of the cafe, greeted us as we were leaving.
I enjoyed two different views of the moon on this trip.
Note: For all 46 photographs from this outing, click here for my Flickr page, then click on "Slideshow."
Zoltan and the other racers paddle away from the starting line on June 11, 2011.
There is a mad dash across Spring Lake at Aquarena Springs.
About 27 minutes after the start, Zoltan powers past the Power Olympic Outdoor Center a short distance downstream from the crossing of the San Marcos River under Interstate 35. He has already portaged over Spring Lake Dam and around Rio Vista Dam. The dam at Thompson's Island is around the next bend. Only 263 miles to go!
Zoltan prepares for the start of the 2011 Texas Water Safari, the "World's Toughest Race," at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos. His destination is the town of Seadrift on the Texas coast - a distance of about 265 miles via the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers and San Antonio Bay.
Some masked and caped crusaders were warming up at the start area.
The starting horn sounds and Zoltan digs in with the first of countless paddle strokes that will propel him down the river.
Zoltan makes a clean run through Cottonseed Rapids on the San Marcos River during the 2011 Texas Water Safari. He didn't look quite as fresh four days later when he successfully arrived at the finish line in Sea Drift on San Antonio Bay. Congratulations!
On the second day of our trip, we explored Chinle Wash. After locating the cliff dwelling ruins on the west side of the creek, we crossed the stream and climbed out of the wash. We wanted to explore the high sandstone bluff and alcoves a short hike to the east.
Cynthia and I attempted to scale the steep face to reach one of the alcoves, but were not successful.
Did I happen to mention that we ate very well on our San Juan River trip? Our dining experiences were particularly exquisite the first three days, when Mike was responsible for our evening meals. The photo above was taken at our campsite at Chinle Camp on our second day on the river. Zoltan helps himself to a serving of jambalaya, expertly prepared in a cast iron Dutch oven by Mike.
Michael, Zoltan, and Mike relax with some cold beverages after dinner at Tabernacle Camp on day number four. I swear they usually weren't quite so gloomy looking.