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  The Houston Canoe Club
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P.O. Box 925516
Houston, Texas

The Houston Canoe Club 

is a Paddle America Club

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Use Winter Days to Prepare for Next Paddling Season
Mary Ellen Zaborowski

January and February cold winter days are upon us in East Texas. Deer Season is coming to a close, with plenty  of meat and sausage in the deep freeze for Spring/Summer BBQ's.

Looking out from my back porch, with the gentle rain coming down across the pine trees in the woods and the cold North East wind, gives me a shake and encourages me  to get ck into the warm kitchen. Yes, I smell the freshly baked cinnamon rolls and fresh brewed coffee to bring me back to the reality that winter is here for the next few weeks.

Up in Pennsylvania, the Ground Hog known as Phil or Punxsutawney Phil can stay in his hole for the next weeks for winter and dream.  As for me it's planning time. Yes, dream with sleep during the nights, yet the days are busy surfing the Web for outfitters on the Buffalo National River, talking to other clubs throughout the United States on the e-mails, and looking for dried food in various places, like the Essential Elements Web Site. Planning a trip down the Buffalo National River for about 6-8 people takes time and  this time of the year, that keeps one indoors, working on things is valuable for a good trip.

Looking at menus, finding out what dehydrates the best and how long, researching companies that sell this kind of food possibly cheaper then doing it myself, looks better and better in my planning stage. Average  cooler winter days, and staying out of the cold wind, can be rewarding in getting cooking and camping equipment ready for the warm weather ahead.

Going to the city or local towns for a day outing can be profitable for searching for discounted equipment you saw on the various Web Sites of Cabela's in Plano, REI in Dallas, and Gander Mountain in Corsicana.  Magazines from LL Bean, Canoe/Kayak  and the Sportsman Guide have colorful sticky notes over them to mark the bargains you think are good or to comparison shop.

Calling up old paddling buddies can help one to remember what worked, or what didn't!!   Questions of "How many days did we do this in?", "What was the name of the outfitter we used?", and "Now since we are a 'little older' and retired, when can we leave for this trip", and the reality of "How Many Days do you think we can paddle or stay in camp on the river?" "Will we have down time to rest and enjoy the paddle...?" "How many miles to paddle or travel in ONE DAY?"

"Since I'm retired and past a certain age, is my fishing license reduced or free?"  "Can we camp on the way up there in the National Parks or State Parks for a discount... I have a  Senior Citizens pass!!!"

The questions and answers go on forever... Hey like the miles on the paddle!!!  So my utilization - to make use of the winter time, will pay off in a well organized  and rewarding trip or vacation this spring and summer.The winter months can be used to plan and not to hibernate.

Hey wait a minute!!!!, maybe Phil the Groundhog doesn't have a bad idea after all for the winter... sleep, ok at least 1/2 of it anyway, then start to plan the paddling/camping season with the rest of it.  My new phrase since I've retired from Public Service as a School Teacher/ Administrator... "THE ROAD/PADDLE GOES ON FOREVER AND THE PARTY NEVER ENDS!!!!"

See ya on the warm Rivers of Texas or whatever River in the United States that has water, with sandbars/gravelbars to camp on.