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Tuesday, July 14. 2015
Shortly after our first meeting, we, me and my ex, had Bob Baugh, one of my customers and his wife out to dinner and were enjoying a pleasant evening, when the phone rang. It was Randy, now a Baptist Pastor, and he was calling to let us know he was going to be late for supper, and that he was stuck on our new duck and goose lease and needed help extricating the truck.
Part of the reason Randy was calling had been caused by a low pressure, system that came ashore between Galveston and Freeport, hesitated over Alvin and dumped over 24” of rain in a 24 hours on that small town. This remains a contiguous states record for a 24 hour, period! The low pressure, system also soaked the Katy Prairie and any dirt road travel was limited and additional rains had kept the roads “sticky” for a month or more.
The other reason the truck was stuck was because he and his friend Doug would try to see how much mud it would take to get stuck in. Most times, Doug would have his truck and they would alternate pulling each other out of the mire. Not this time because he and Doug had taken advantage of the early Teal season and gone hunting together in my truck!
Randy told me where he was stuck and the call ended. I sat down and filled Bob in on the details and he said, “Let’s go get him!”
We loaded up in Bob’s 4WD, truck and headed out for the short drive to the new lease. Waiting for us at the main entrance was Randy. He and Doug had found the rice farmer and he had pulled them out with his tractor.
Randy, Doug and the new truck were safe and we didn’t have to wade in the mud to get them out. Our evening was interrupted but Bob’s and my friendship was sealed and lasts till this day!
One more note about Randy and Doug. The owner of the local car wash, a nice man and a Deacon in our Baptist Church, banned both boys from using his facility to wash their trucks, because of all the mud they collected. He said that he knew when they had been there because his main drain was always stopped up, with mud, Katy Prairie mud, of course!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 20:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, February 18. 2015
Putting together a collection of my stories about all of the storms and natural disasters I have been in, one comes to the fore and shows how conditions can quickly move past hazardous and become deadly!
In the early spring of 2005, several months before I retired, I had planned to get an early start on a Saturday morning and drive to Goldthwaite and arrive before lunch. Living in Bayou Vista, Texas, right on the Gulf Coast, I had a 4 plus, hour drive awaiting me.
Setting my clock for 5:30 AM, I awoke with a start at 6:00 AM. I hadn’t turned “On” the alarm. So much for a real early start! Rushing and getting dressed I looked outside toward my boat dock and notice that it was foggy, not unusual for this time of the year.
Nothing to load up so I climbed into my 4WD, Suburban and headed out noticing that there was about 200 yards of visibility, again not strange. I surmised that the farther I went inland, the lighter the fog will be.
Heading north on I-45 the traffic, yes traffic at 6:20 AM on a Saturday was moving along about 45 MPH and the farther inland I got, it seemed the fog was getting thicker. Seventeen miles from downtown Houston, Beltway 8, a toll road, runs east and west. As I was exiting, going toward the toll road, it seemed that the fog almost touched the Suburban”s top!
Clicking on my blinkers, the traffic report came on, every 20 minutes on weekends, instead of the 10 minutes on workdays, and reports of heavy fog on Beltway 8 around Texas 288, The Nolan Ryan Expressway, 5 miles ahead, was daunting Slow going for a ways!
On the “Raceway”, er Beltway, posted speed is 65 MPH, which is ignored, and most motorist clip along a 75 or 80, but today we’re down to 40 and nearing 288, traffic slowed dramatically, red lights glaring, hazard lights blinking and we entered a white world. The radio blared, “There has been a series of major accident on Beltway 8 between Hillcroft and Cullen, and reports from the scene say the Beltway was closed.”
Closed it was and the fog was so thick I could barely make out the reflections of the car’s lights to my front. I have never seen, or even imagined, that fog could be so heavy! Behind me I heard a grinding CRASH, and braced for a hit that never came.
We’re stopped and nothing to do but listen to the radio, that is now getting a better report from the authorities. The Beltway is closed both ways and at least 100 cars are involved in the chain reaction accident on the inbound side and around 1,000 cars are stuck and fogged in. Deaths and injuries are reported and we are still 2 to 3 miles from the accident site.
Sirens were blaring from every direction as police and sheriff’s officers begin to arrive all along the Beltway. They begin moving cars off of the Beltway and soon I’m on the access road, still heading west, but stopped. We creepped along and in some places the fog seems so thick that it must be impenetrable.
After about an hour, we begin creeping along side the scene of the most deadly accidents and then, the fog lifted, just like that! Cars are piled into each other and resemble accordions, reminding me of scenes from “The Highway Of Death” in Kuwait; some cars are upside down on the grades leading up the overpasses, with radiator fluid, gasoline and oil pooled on the road surface, people are milling around stunned and law officers are everywhere. We continued our creep for 600 or 700 yards and up ahead I saw the law directing us back on to the Beltway, in bright sunshine!
We couldn’t get out of our vehicles and help since we were being herded along. All I could do was say a prayer for those involved and thank the Lord that I was 15 minutes late. If I had been on time, I would have been right in the middle of it.
Final tally was 110, cars and trucks involved, with 7 deaths and a myriad of injured.
I was in Houston last year and traveled along this stretch of the Beltway (at 75 MPH) and there are still skid marks on the road surface and on the median attesting to the speed and violence of the crashes!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Weather at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, February 2. 2015
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, October 26. 2014
In 1953, the early November opening of goose and duck season was hailed by hunters for the rain and high winds that back, to back, to back, weather systems fostered. Blow from the southeast for two days, then blow from the northwest for a few days, the cycle repeating it self continuously. Me, and my group of hunters, using the term loosely, “sneakers” would better apply, took full advantage of the weather to try the patience of many of the rice farmers and our parents.
The area west of Highway 6, along FM 1091, all the way to Fulshear on the Brazos River was prime goose country, part of the Katy prairie. All of this area now is subdivisions and shopping malls and the geese have vacated it. Back then, after a driver passed Post Oak Rd. street signs changed from Westheimer to FM 1091. Now, Westheimer extends for miles, out past Highway 6 and is the center of commerce for west Houston!
Four of us were heading home around 11:00 AM from a reasonably
successful goose hunt, success being measured by; a vehicle not being
stuck beyond retrieval, not one of the hunters injured, not being stopped by the law and, maybe, even, a few geese. We were coming in, heading east, on FM 1091 and wishing we could get permission to hunt on Cinco Ranch, a large ranch, twenty sections or more, laying north of 1091, all the way to Highway 6. The ranch now sports country clubs, shooting ranges and some very, large, ritzy, subdivisions.
Probably four hundred yards north of the road, inside the fences of Cinco Ranch, we spotted a huge gaggle of geese. Immediately, one of our group said that we should sneak ‘em. A quick uwey and we stopped on the soggy shoulder, donned our hip boots, hooded parkas and grabbed our shotguns. Going over the barbwire fence, hitting the ground, we started our sneak.
Four hundred yards is long crawl, shotguns cradled in our arms, military style. Keeping our heads down we inched along with each inch the noise of the geese grew louder. No alarm calls so we were doing OK. Inches turned into feet and feet into yards as we reached the hundred-yard mark, only sixty or so, more to go. Then raise up and let fly!
Hearing a strange peeping sound, I knew it wasn’t a rattler, then, the whirring of twenty or more quail bursting into the air startled me so much that I leaped to my feet and shouted a few choice expletives! That’s all it took for the thousands of geese to spook and get airborne. Standing, we could only watch as they gained altitude and “honked” their way to safety.
That was our first, and last, “sneak” on Cinco Ranch!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hunting at 14:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, August 4. 2013
My dad had grown up outside of Marlin, Texas and my mom, a Drâ€™s daughter, grew up outside of Abilene, but as we looked for a house far outside the city limits of Houston, far at the time was over 5 miles, we finally settled on a 3 bedroom bungalow 6 miles from the western city limits. Moving in to the new house in October of 1939, everything was fine until August of 1941.
We had moved in without any problems, the â€œnewâ€ wasnâ€™t even off the house and we had moved into a brand new, incorporated, subdivision. Being west of Rice Institute (now University), the subdivision was aptly named West University. â€œWest Uâ€ as we called it had, and still has, its own fire, police and water departments.
Houstonâ€™s urban sprawl now has encircled â€œWest Uâ€ and driven prices sky-high! Our 3, bed room, frame, house and lot, had cost $3,900. Today lots are over $200K and homes over $500K. Back then, the streets were paved with oyster shell, drainage ditches lined the streets, but on calm and still days, when new shell was applied to the streets, the smell was overpowering! Now â€œWest Uâ€ is a model, pricey, yuppie haven, not the almost country place of my youth.
The radio had alerted us of a storm thrashing around in the Gulf of Mexico and apparently headed for landfall on the upper Texas coast, back then storms weren't named. It hit between Galveston and Freeport and unknown to us, was headed our way. Now, with satellites and radar we can tell within miles of where one of these monsters will hit, but back then it was just an educated guess. To me, not yet 6 years old, it sounded like a lot of fun, but looking back, I just donâ€™t know how we survived without the TV weather folks, with their foul weather gear on, telling us what to do, how to pack our survival items and not to drive our cars into the deep water!
The storm made landfall and bored inland. â€œWest Uâ€ is about 60 miles as the â€œcrow fliesâ€ from the coast and we received almost the full fury of the storm! The rain was first, beginning in mid morning, then the wind, strengthening and making noises that I had never heard before. By early evening the lights went out, the telephone was dead and we had lost all power. Lightning flashed, thunder roared, the rain came down in sheets, but our new house held together! Then everything stopped!
The hurricaneâ€™s eye was passing right over us my mom and dad explained to my sister, H.R., and me, as they took us outside for a quick look around. It was dark but we could tell that there were no clouds above us, the stars were out and there was no storm, wind, rain or lightning. Our parents hurried us back inside and we waited for the onslaught to begin again, and it did with a vengeance! More wind and heavy, rain, not as much thunder and lightning, but the storm pounded us until morning.
The hurricane had moved away and following my dad outside, we both heard a tiny â€Mewâ€ and looked under the edge of our house (it was built on a block foundation and raised about 18â€ above ground level) and found that the source of the â€œmewâ€ was a tiny, yellow kitten. Picking it up, I discovered later that it was a male, and as I ran back inside, yelled, â€œMother, can we keep it?â€ She replied, â€œIf your Dad says so.â€ He was easy on this one and "Tom" lived with us for the next 14 years.
Not knowing it then, but we had a much bigger and deadlier â€œstormâ€ coming our way on December 7, 1941!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Weather at 12:42 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 5. 2013
â€œUnkieâ€, G.A. Pyland, of course my uncle, had been telling me about this new â€œsuperâ€ place for speckled trout and redfish, not 2 hours from our homes in southwest Houston. Taking the short drive down to the coast, gas was only $.30 a gallon then, we, my dad and Dub Middleton, met â€œUnkieâ€ and my cousin George at the specified bait camp in Port Oâ€™Conner. It was still dark and weâ€™d have a 20, minute boat ride to our destination, a place Unkie called the fish trap.
With the tide coming in all morning, we cranked up our boats and headed down Matagorda Bay towards Pass Cavallo, the fish trap was located just north of the pass, with a small channel leading into a hundred acre lake, the trap. Arriving, we anchored the boats, jumped into the water and started casting. Our lures of choice were silver spoons with a treble hook, with a pink attractor attached to the hook. Each of us was using a black, Ambassaduer reel, with a 7, foot, popping rod.
Bump, bump, â€œFish onâ€, I yelled out, as the rod bent with the strike, soon, not using a net, I grabbed the small red behind the gills, not big enough to keep, unhooked and released it. First fish of the day, but soon we were all catching small reds and if weâ€™d kept them all, weâ€™d had a good mess! The small reds finally quit hitting and we remarked that funny, no big reds and no speckled trout either.
After almost 2 hours of this fun, we told Unkie and George that we were going to try our hand in Espiritu Santo Bay and see if any birds were working. Knowing that late spring was a little bit soon for bird action, but these little reds werenâ€™t putting any fish on the stringer! We pulled the anchor, and since Unkie and George were still fishing, we crept out of the fish trap and once in Matagorda Bay, headed north. Rather than going all the way back to Port Oâ€™Conner, we took a short cut into Espiritu Santo, a small pass that led into the east end of the bay.
Not 2 miles into the bay, we saw a bunch of birds hovering over the water, a sign that something had driven the shrimp to the surface. After changing to do nothing, slow sinking lures, we coasted up to within casting distance of the birds and Dub was the first to let fly and he immediately had a hard hit. What was it, spec, gafftop cat or ladyfish, but circling the boat the fish soon identified itself as a nice trout and when we netted it, a 3 pounder.
Dad and I cast out below the birds and both had hard strikes that proved to be identical fish to Dubs. The birds would break up and 5 minutes later, here came the shrimp back up to the top, we could see them hopping about evading the trout below, but the birds would converge on the hapless shrimp and what the specs missed, the birds would get.
We stayed with this school of fish for almost 30 minutes and boxed a dozen then they quit. For a while we stayed around, but we noticed the tide had changed and was going out, probably the reasons for the fishâ€™s lockjaw. No more bird schools that day and we headed home around noon. It was a fun trip and we caught 12 nice specs, along with a lot of small reds (that we didnâ€™t keep).
The fish trap is no more because several years later a hurricane rearranged the coastal area around Pass Cavallo!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, July 6. 2012
Houston was hot, hot and more hotter, humidity and all, when Richard Foster called me one evening and said we should go out to Lake Houston, rent us a boat and try and catch some bass. A little background, the next week, the summer of 1958, I would be going to ROTC summer camp and the week after that, Richard, a newly commissioned 2/Lt. would be reporting to a basic training company at Ft. Hood.
In Richardâ€™s jeep, the next morning, before the sun was up, we pulled into the parking lot of the main bait camp at the lake. For $2.00, a princely sum then, we rented a 14-foot boat, then attached my 5-horse motor, loaded our gear and were off. Just as the sun was coming up, our first stop was at a likely looking point and dragging our artificials, we were using Bomber baits, the first bait that under the water would crawl down a slope.
Richard connected first, a 2 pounder that jumped twice and it wasnâ€™t long until I duplicated his feat. Lake Houston, at the time a 5, year old impoundment on the San Jacinto River, northeast of Houston, was the cityâ€™s primary water supply, now this has been supplanted by Lake Livingston. Lake Houston was about 15 miles, as the crow flies, from San Jacinto Battleground, where Sam Houston and his small band of Texians whipped Santa Anna. More casts and no luck, so we moved along to another likely looking place.
This one was along a bank that we could drift down, we hadnâ€™t thought about a trolling motor back then and changing baits to a Pico Perch, an under water bait that you could vary the retrieve and it would change depths. We were using a medium retrieve that would run the bait at about 2-3 feet and we hit the fish here. Connecting first, I landed an estimated 3 pounder and on to my stringer it went, then Richard nailed another 2 pounder. Several fish later, the action stopped.
The sun was well up, probably around 8:30, so we switched baits to yellow, Piggy Boats, this spinner bait has been around since I started bass fishing in 1950. The company was bought out by H & H Company, but is now owned by Academy, a regional sporting goods company. This change of baits worked well for us and we picked up 4 more bass.
It was getting steamy so we motored on in, cleaned the fish and headed back home toward southwest Houston. Back then, we didnâ€™t have fish finders, trolling motors, live wells to keep the fish in, fancy baits that would run at certain depths, but we still caught fish. In fact, TV was still in its infancy, no PCâ€™s, no cell phones, no internet, no freeways, but we still made do!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, June 30. 2012
Having had a lot of boats, 16 at last count, spanning 40-years, from 1965 to 2005 I could almost be called an authority on the subject. This is the story on how I moved up from a small 14 footer to my second boat, a 16 footer. The old story is true in my case, that as you grow older, â€œYour toys only get bigger!â€
Carrying a load of firewood into my garage, I didnâ€™t see the garage door wasnâ€™t raised all the way. Bam, I ran into it and dropped the load of wood all over. A month later, as soon as my concussion was healed (some say it never was) we took my first boat out for a try at water skiing. The boat was game, but the 40, horse motor was insufficient to get me up on skis, my ex, being 80 pounds lighter, popped right up, but something had to be done about the boat and motor. That something happened the next weekend. Bill Priddy, one of my old West University friends, worked with me and invited us to go water skiing in Lake Houston with him and his date.
We showed up on time, but Bill and his date and Norman Shelter and his date were sitting in the boat. Wouldnâ€™t 6 be too many, I thought as we loaded up everything? Billâ€™s boat, a 16-foot fiberglass, lap strake, packed a 65, horse motor and turned out to be a skiing delight. A little strained for getting me up with the crowd aboard, but nice.
It was dead calm as I finally cleared the water and began skiing, nice conditions, flat water, no wind and the thought came to me, Why am I being pulled behind this boat when not over 20 miles from here I could be fishing for trout in Trinity Bay? The thought nagged at me, but wore off as the morning wore on.
While Norman was skiing, we noticed a cloud building up over the south end of the lake and soon, pop-crak, thunder, as the lightning hit. We quickly picked up Norman, headed for the launch ramp and were all thinking, That was too close. Before we got the boat loaded, here came the rain and more lightning. Very exciting, but anyway, we were already all wet!
We decided to wait this storm out and sitting in Billâ€™s car he thought out loud, â€œIâ€™m going to get rid of this boat and stick with bass fishing.â€ The boat seemed to be just what I was looking for, a bigger boat with more horsepower and within 2 weeks, Iâ€™d sold my first boat and bought Billâ€™s for $900.00. The price was a steal, 3 years later, when I bought my third boat, an 18-footer, I got a $1,200.00 trade in for it, even with 2 new motors and all, the cost for the new one was only $2,500.00.
Even though we used it for some water skiing, for the next 3 years, this one became my first real, fishing boat. Just learning about where to fish, when to fish, how to fish, boating safety and boat handling, I finally found my second love, fishing! Brad was getting old enough to fish with me and I had ample opportunity to take my dad, â€œUnkieâ€ and Dub Middleton, each one of the older guys drilled safety into me! My younger friends Bill, Norman, Dewey Stringer and over 10 years later, Bob Baugh all were eager participants too, that is until moving to Arizona and finding about the wonders of quail hunting!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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