Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pecos River of our Past....Pandale Pt 1

About 60 river miles north of the Pecos and Rio Grande confluence lays a tiny town called Pandale. A hot spot in the spring and summer for canoeists and the crowds that live within 60 or so miles of the area. The river is narrow in most parts, and swift moving. I first came to Pandale in the nineties, and just like Highbridge, have kept coming back ever since. Even when the drought had nearly all but strangled the lower river sections, you could always count on the Pecos at Pandale. Although if in canoe or kayak, there might be more dragging some years than others.
Pandale Crossing Mid-1990's

Down river, maybe a mile from the bridge in Pandale


A lot of years were spent fishing, exploring, and camping on the river back then. It was another world I was fortunate to find. Strangest thing,  it was a different world than just down river a ways.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pecos River of our Past....Part 2

 Through the nineties and into the early 2000's, the beautiful Pecos River began to dry up due to the long and much hated drought. One foot lower, then another, then another, then another. The Pecos portion of Lake Amistad was slowly getting back to it's original shape before the dam was completed back in 1968. Of course, I wasn't alive back then, and didn't know that the river was once ever that narrow and shallow, so I saw it as a travesty.
 When I first laid my eyes on her it was close to sunset and she was over 80% capacity. I just stood there in awe at the top of the overlook. From that moment on, I was smitten with this river.

Pecos River Overlook 1994
Pecos River 1999ish

It wasn't long after that first meeting, the drought started. For many years we kept coming back, hoping and praying for rain.

 We still attempted to get up river many times with many crazy ideas, but it was nearly impossible. The silt was so deep, it was like quicksand the closer to the water we got.

Boat Ramp and Parking Lot on left

Shot from under the bridge

Another Boat Ramp shot

In a cave near the boat ramp

Cave View of Boat Ramp and River

The water has come back up again.....then went down again....then back up....then down. It's currently up enough to still get power boats in at the Pecos ramp. Will it every get back to the deep waters of my youth? Who knows. Just have to enjoy it whatever level she's at.

One of the first things that comes to mind when going to the Pecos is the long, seemingly never ending road down to the boat ramp. It was the old highway that connected Del Rio with Langtry, Sanderson, and just about anything west.

Work car on the ramp mid-2000's

The ramp is on the top left. You can see the difference in levels from the pic below.
Close up of the boat ramp from the above picture just a few years before.

What a place. It was during all this time we started to get very familiar with Pandale, 60 river miles north. She was always running great up there.

to be cont........

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pecos River of our Past.....Part 1

I started my great love affair with the Lower Pecos River back in the early nineties. Straight out of high school and full of beans, adventure, and stupidity. Great recipe for fun. Two buddies and myself rented a 14 foot aluminum boat with a 9.9 horse on the back. We got to the Pecos Highbridge, thirty some odd miles west of Del Rio Tx, after dark and extremely windy. We were not going to be deterred by anything. After unloading and packing the boat we take off in the darkness of the canyons headed to the confluence with the Rio Grande. Not even a quarter of a mile in, we noticed the wind was getting worse. We were getting hit by 2-3 foot waves. Biggest I have ever seen outside the coast. We were getting battered and soaking wet, and a bit on the nervous/scared side of things. At one point, we felt as though on air in between white caps until the hit of the next wave that threw everything everywhere. We turned back quickly between waves as best we could and got back to the dock. Wet and still white knuckled, we loaded up as fast as possible and headed to Seminole Canyon State Park. Humbled and still a bit shaky, we laid down to a restless night full of thoughts of our near demise at the hands of the Pecos River.
  I wish I could say that was our only "time to meet your maker" experience on the Pecos, but she is not to be trifled any time, for any reason. If you show weakness or an ounce of disrespect, she will deliver harsh discipline with no remorse. I should know, I was sent to her office on a few occasions. :)
 Most of those stories are reserved for campfires and God. But that trip actually ended with sunshine and a windless weekend. Sun-burnt and a ton of fish behind us, we headed on back home with some awesome memories.

Below Train Bridge, Pecos River 1993

  From that point, I was in love. Her beauty was absolutely amazing. Closest to Heaven as I could get at the time. I had known my girlfriend (wife now) about a week before I took her down there to see it. I've spent a lot of years planning trips, studying the history, and daydreaming of every opportunity to get back down there.

 It was a very special place.

Pecos River Highbridge 1993

Then she fell on hard times..... Drought. It began to wear on the old gal. Her forty feet deep and hundreds of feet wide body started to slowly wither away. She was going back to her past, before the dam, before the water filled her.

Pecos River Highbridge 1997

......Part 2 to come.....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dutch Oven Pizza Casserole

 I love looking for recipes. Especially ones I can convert to my Dutch Ovens. I cook more at the house with these big boys than I do while camping, but i'm trying to change that. With the boy in scouts we have been trying all sorts of new recipes. I found this one a few months ago that we did. It was his first try at the ol' D.O., and it turned out great. But then again, you can't go wrong with pizza!

It was an easy recipe that he could do by himself. (minus the fire part for right now) Let me tell you it was tasty! Not the healthiest supper out there, but a keeper for the campsite.
 There's just four of us and we were stuffed. With tons of leftovers that lasted several days.
 Two Thumbs Up!

Pizza Casserole

Ingredients: 2 pkg. crescent rolls
8 oz. cheddar cheese
1 can pizza Sauce
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1-1/2 lb ground beef 

Instructions: Shred all cheese.
Brown ground beef, drain.
Let dutch oven cool, then line with 1 package of rolls.
Spread pizza sauce on dough.
Add browned beef.
Add all cheese.
Form a crust on top with the 2nd package of rolls.
Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serves 6-8 guests

We seasoned the beef with garlic and onion powder, and Italian blend seasoning, salt and pepper in a different skillet to save some time. We also added a layer of pepperonis between the cheeses. Yum! 


Monday, March 4, 2013

Ham and Cheese Pockets in the Dutch Oven

I was trying to find some quick and easy camping recipes that the kids would like a while back and stumbled on this one again. We did this a few months ago out at the state park. It's a quick and tasty recipe that worked perfect in the dutch oven for lunch. I used parchment paper for a quick clean up since we had other things to do that afternoon. It was just what I needed. Another goto lunch recipe for camp.  The original recipe is here. I just made it work for the D.O. Two thumbs up.

Ham and Cheese Pockets
I used a 12" D.O. with 19 top 9 bottom
  • 1 tube refrigerated biscuits {we used Jumbo Flaky, Walmart brand}
  • Sliced Ham
  • Swiss Cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg white to seal the biscuits
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing on the top {optional}
  • Sprinkle of oregano {optional}
  1. Slice ham and shred cheese, set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray
  4. Flatten out biscuits with your fingers, until about double in size
  5. Lay ham on one side of biscuit, add some cheese
  6. Lightly brush egg white on one side of biscuit, fold over and seal with fork dipped in egg white
  7. Lightly brush on melted butter and sprinkle with oregano {optional}
  8. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown