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Pinging PK: Cutting A Wake Away From Wireless

June 13th, 2017 · Tags:Sports

Texas has many lakes.  But Texas has one real lake.  You see, all of the lakes in Texas, barring one, are man made.

The one real lake, Caddo Lake, is described in native legends as a miracle of the earth opening up and taking on water with help from the creator.  The rest of the lakes are the result of some well-placed dirt and concrete to hold back the natural flow of various rivers headed ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico or the Gulf of Oklahoma:)

Thinking of water, I am reminded of a recent photo from a small-town, end-of-school celebration in which the seniors pooled their resources and made a “redneck swimming pool” from bales of hay for the walls and a waterproof tarp liner, all assembled in the school courtyard.  Redneck kids know how to hold their water, so to speak.  They grew up ushering irrigation water down dusty furrows to the thirsty crops on their ancestral land.  They splashed in it after the crops had had their fill and the waters ran on out of the fields and gathered at the end of the rows in the tailwater pits of their youth.

For those who make a living raising crops up from the dusty Texas tabletop, water is life — whether it falls from a thundering sky or bubbles up at the foot of a spinning windmill or sprays from a pivot irrigation system.  There’s no better sight than the heavens watering a young stand of green wheat.  There’s no better taste than cold windmill water, pure, pumped up through rusty pipes from the mighty Ogallala Aquifer beneath the farmers’ feet.


To the boys and girls of summer, water is the fount of eternal youth — for boating on the lakes.




What I wouldn’t have done for just a cool drink of bottled, clear goodness as I flew back to Fort Worth Monday on the Triumph motorbike … flying over the hot, hot asphalt in a ride from about a hundred miles west of the city.  But, it was time to get home.  My “pony smelled water,” as we once said on the farm. Meaning, there was no stopping the steel horse on the return journey.


Biker's Tan

Biker’s Tan

The ride to the lake had been a slower pace, however, filled with the beauty of cedars and mesquite trees, magnificent rocks jutting out from the ridges, the twisting road passing ponds and crossing rivers … alongside country estates … horse farms and cattle operations … over The Brazos … Dry Creek … Keechi Creek … Rock Creek … Salt Creek and more.  The smell of cedar, fresh mowed clover, a blanket of wild flowers …

The destination for this ride — Possum Kingdom Lake.  Such a simple, folksy name, harkening back to frontier days.  The reality — a water sport destination … a pretty lake lined with chiseled cliffs, expensive real estate and top-shelf vacation homes.  Love it.  PK was legendary in my youth — the place where the FFA kids went wild on their annual getaway.  My fraternity friends also frequented the lake for adult shenanigans, and since moving to Fort Worth, there have been several outings on the lake with more of a family orientation.  My children first tried their hands at waterskiing there at about the same time I was hanging up my limited skiing skills.


Texas Lakes Ranked

It has always been a special place, although I don’t get to PK as often as I would like.  Possum Kingdom is only about the 18th largest lake in the state by water volume, although I always thought it was top three or four. (Can that be true?)  Definitely, PK could swallow up my first ski lake, not unlike one big fish gulping down another, and it is often considered to be the best of the man-made Texas lakes.  As mentioned previously, the area around the lake offers many farm-to-market roads and backroad highways that are a treat on a motorcycle.  These days it is that ride that draws me to this special place.



But, a few years ago, for me there was a more productive attraction to the lake.  It was a cool assignment to develop the annual report for The Brazos River Authority  … a project that included a fun photo shoot at PK’s iconic rock formation “Hell’s Gate” and even a tour under the massive dam.  That was fun and interesting and more than a little eerie. I digress …

But the foaming waves and the glassy, smooth water in the mornings and evenings on the lake provide the best of times.  There is nothing like speeding across the water with little resistance, hydroplaning with only limited risk of injury from falling on the water.

I will daydream of lake memories forever, but I also think my Monday trip to Possum Kingdom was  inspired by this:

Most recently PK channeled some lake magic my way via some Fort Worth friends.  The friends had “rescued” a vintage yacht years ago, restored/repaired/loved the vessel and created an amazing legacy on the water with their family.  Their good fortune is not one of those things that creates envy  … it is more of a source of happiness to know that they had this special craft.  It was family.  Their PK memories sound like a bit of heaven to this former dirt farm farmhand, a hand so pitifully watersport-deprived as a youth.


The Helm

The Helm

Very cool.  Anyway, I was lucky enough to tour their boat last year and sort of realized vicariously the times they must have had … All while appreciating the vintage quality of the craftsmanship … the beautiful woodwork of the interior and the deck … the classic hardware … even  time pieces designed specifically for this … it was luxurious cruising from a different era … the classic look of the helm, from a time when more attention was given to the steering wheel than the instrumentation.  And it was apparent that such a craft requires so much upkeep and maintenance and ongoing TLC … especially a vessel well past its fourth decade of service.  It’s a 1971 Chriscraft Constellation, one of only 10 produced that year, I am told. About 10 tons … by some estimates.

And now it’s gone.

Though the ship has not outlived its usefulness, sadly, it no longer is a good match for my friends.  As if some member of the extended family were coming of age and leaving the fold, they sought suitors and interviewed potential new captains, and found a younger couple ready to pour even more love into the operation and enjoyment of the boat.  … So happy to know that its legacy will continue, soon to be reinvigorated, on the waters of PK.

I hope to see it on the water soon, even if my vantage point is a motorcycle on a nearby cliff across the harbor, or even from a younger, speedier boat cutting across the old yacht’s wake.  Hope you will watch for this well-seasoned yacht at PK too.

Know what I sayin?