Up a Creek with a Paddle

By Bruce Felps

Well that was cool.

I saw White Rock Lake and creek yesterday from a completely different perspective — from White Rock Lake and creek.

I’d never been on the water out there until a friend invited me to go paddle boarding. It involves a surfboard and, because, you know, there’s no surf out there, a paddle. Hence the name.

My friend, Gigi Ekstrom of Lakehill Preparatory School, rented the boards from White Rock Paddle Co., and we met about 11 Sunday morning for a one-hour tour.

After about 48 seconds of instructions from Amy — the paddle company co-owner whose last name I didn’t get, and bad journalist, bad — and 15 seconds of anxiety attack, we smoothed onto the water from a point not far from Boy Scout Hill and started easing up White Rock Creek.

Please be seated

The technique, near as I can tell, of paddle boarding is to stand on the board and work both sides with the paddle. I doubted my sea-legs and took a kneel-on-the-knees-and-shins posture. That’s when my toes kinda cramped.

So I switched to a kind of half-cross-legged-half-sideways position. Yup, I rode side-saddle to paddle, like a girl.

Ekstrom, though, stood up immediately and propelled herself gondolier–style. I asked for a chorus of “O Sole Mio,” and she declined to oblige.

Make it stop, please, God, make it stop

Conjuring mental images of my forefathers paddling the waters of southwest Louisiana bayous — While Rock Creek is vaguely similar only without the alligators … and moonshine stills — I belted out a little “Jambalaya on the Bayou.”

Amazing how fast people can maneuver paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes away from unpleasant situations.

Philistines.

Friendly folk

We encountered a half-dozen or so water craft along the trip, and every single — and married — person we met was as friendly as the cruise was pleasant.

One canoe contained two ladies, a black Lab named Bella — I always get the dogs’ names first to the exclusion of the humans — and two little pups I think might have been Pomeranians. The Poms, it seemed, wanted little to nothing to do with the water save look at it, while Bella sent 99 percent of her time swimming. Good girl.

Don’t mess with Texas

We cruised under Mockingbird Lane to a point under Northwest Highway. Remarkably, the trash accumulated along the route appeared rather sparse. Oh, sure, the intermittent flotsam such as Styrofoam cups, plastic Coke bottles — I’m from Texas, so who knows what kind of soda the bottle once contained — and plastic grocery bags floated by and hung from branches, but all in all, pretty clean,

Then again, it hasn’t rained since 2003, so a good gully wash hasn’t carried a bunch of crap downstream for quite some while.

Underneath the Northwest Highway construction zone the petroleum pollution got thicker, the water shallower, and our hour shorter. We swung around, tried a smaller tributary a bit downstream and to the west but it turned out to be a bit on the shallow side, too, and you don’t want to get a rudder stuck in the mud.

Open water ahead, captain

We navigated toward open White Rock waters, crossed under the Mockingbird foot-and-cycle bridge, and got, oh, about 50 feet. The wind and waves had picked up, but really, my internal clock, which is preternaturally correct, told me our time was about up. I’ve been in therapy and know an hour when I feel it.

I arrived back at the launch-retrieval slip — really a muddy indention in the shoreline, but whadda need? — first but screwed up my approach and turned the wrong way. Fine, I’d piloted my little ship near flawlessly until the people on shore and the proprietors were looking.

Still, I’m sold — pretty cool, and sad, most of us live within about 10-15 minutes of this aquatic tranquility and rarely experience it — and ready to go again. Who’s with me?

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times. He didn’t even fall in the water. Came close when he tried to stand upright but the gravitational pull of his butt plopped him back on the board.

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  1. LK Pierotti

    I’m SO ridiculously interested in this. I wanted to try it this summer while we were traveling, but alas…

    I do have one question, which I’m assuming you can answer because you know all: isn’t swimming in WRL illegal? So if I fall in, can’t I get a ticket? It’s all very concerning for this rule-follower.

    • bfelps

      oh, LK, you rule-follower you. i think they’ll overlook swimming to save your life. it might cost ya, though. c’mon. snag Mr. LK and let’s go. i’ll cover your citation.




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