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HomeNL-2011-05 Ratcliff Lake

Ratcliff Lake
April 15-17, 2011
Paul Woodcock

 Kayak & truck
I was the only member of the Houston Canoe Club to show up for this weekend paddle and camp out.  It was windy so I took my Kayak.  I included this picture so I could show off the body work on my pickup - for years I have been trying to to fix dents and I had a huge one in the side of the truck,  Ratcliff Lake is a small beautiful lake, the campsites are excellent, and the shower facilities are some of the best I have seen in the parks (see photos below).  The National Park Service has changed their policy and most sites require a reservation two days in advance. This caused some problems at check in as some of the new rangers were not familiar with the policy.

 Ratcliff Lake Campgrounds

As with most campouts with Mary, food is a very important focus, and unlike most times she had bought barbecue from a new place that was started by one of her neighbors.  They had saved me some baby back ribs, potato salad a green salad and birthday cake.  If you pass through Slocum on your way to paddle the Neches River be sure to stop at the Boondocks Barbecue. It is great food.
 Tent setup
 Spin around the lake
I did get the tent set up before dark on Friday Evening and early the next morning I took the kayak out for a spin around the lake.  There are three artesian springs feeding Ratcliff Lake.  It was formed to power a saw mill and the remains are still there at the park.  Later on in the morning we needed ice so I took the 17 foot  explorer and soloed across the lake, as the winds had returned, it was a real challenge.  That afternoon was spent taking newbie’s on canoe trips.  The evening meal was grilled
Steak & potatoes  Sunset 
steak and baked potatoes, with a tossed salad.  At sunset I saw the water ripple like an alligator was swimming, but the other campers said there were no gators. Then later with the binoculars I discovered that it was a nutria.  As we were sitting around the  campfire that evening we heard a rustling in the brush and they had approached close to the camp. A few of her friends from Palestine came that evening to paddles a little and cook for her Birthday Bash. Nice to sit around the campfire and talk to new people enjoying the wonders of Ratcliff Lake.
 Sunday paddle
Mary and I were the only ones who stayed and camped Saturday night.  We woke up Sunday and had a breakfast of steak and eggs and decided to paddle the lake.  When we got to the east end we found a winding path through the the grass and trees It was a beautiful little paddle.  When we got back to the camp we packed up and took one of the prettiest drives in the Davy Crocket National Forest back to her place, so I could see her improvements. Yet of course there were a couple of honey-do's involved.  She has trained the herd of longhorns, donkeys and horses to come up to get food out of her hand (see photos below).


It was a great weekend and the paddles were short enough  that I could do them with ease. The woods, great food, good friends and a chance to get in a canoe.  Life is good.

the earth is my mother.
the sky is my father
the animals are my brothers
the canoe lets me get closer to them 

   Paul Woodcock