I Enjoy the Ride by traveling and seeing the world around me. We are so busy speeding down the freeways of life that we miss out on the back roads and all the wonderful little stories that every place offers. So, I try to take the less beaten paths and see the real world.
Father of five, grandfather of 9 and happily married to my sweetheart for nearly 35 years. Fluent in Japanese. Happy and well traveled. See details at http://www.sumoflam.biz/SumoflamBio.htm
I occasionally write about unique eateries that I come across in my travels. In the past I have written about Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage, WV (see link), Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, OR (see link), Lambert’s Cafe – the Home of Throwed Rolls in Sykston, MO (see link), the Wigwam in Ravenna, KY (see link), Fat Smitty’s Burgers in Port Townsend, WA (see link) and dozens of other unique places. Last week (Feb. 8, 2017) we were introduced to another fabulous place called The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, TX. Much like Fat Smitty’s in Washington or Hillbilly Hot Dogs in West Virginia, this is a quirky themed eatery (or in this case, a resort…).
The place is huge and includes a giant playground for the kids, which includes two old school buses and more. Funky art and rustic decor surround the resort. Its setting in an almost rural area of Houston makes it even more fun.
Of course, decor and quirkiness are a great draw, but if the food is so so, one may not want to return. Not the case at The Shack. Their burgers are huge, flavorful and there is a great variety to choose from. For those that like to imbibe, there is also a full bar. And their Fried Pickle Chips are to die for!
As I noted above, the place is quirky. For instance, the Men’s Restroom is totally quirky/rustic. A really nice touch…
The Men’s Room had wooden Saloon Doors for the stalls and an old rustic sink for washing hands. There was art on the doors and on the walls. No themes….just quirky all the way!!
Everywhere you look there was fun art and unique kitsch. Here are a few more shots of this fun place. Definitely worth a visit if in the Houston area.
It was a few years ago when I first visited Uncertain, TX (You can see my March 2012 Post here.). As a matter fact, it was on a cold day in February 2012 when I stopped by to see it for my first time. The real draw for me initially, was the name of the town, but the bigger draw ended up being the beautiful swamp-like setting of Caddo Lake.
This past weekend (Feb. 10, 2017) I had an opportunity again to visit this beautiful setting, this time with my daughter and her three children. Unlike my visit to Uncertain before, we had bigger sights set on seeing Caddo Lake and some of the swamp.
Upon arrival, we noticed that there was a group of people in a boat taking a tour of the lake and that looked very appealing. We continued driving around until we got to the main dock area and the tour had just arrived back and we were able to talk to the guy that ran the tour on the boat, Aaron Applebaum (see more at on their Facebook Page.).
Now, I am not one that usually will spend $25 per adult for any kind of thing as I consider that to be fairly expensive. But the opportunity to take a ride into the swamp on a boat and see the beauty of the swamp, birds in their natural habitat and to hear some of the history, coupled with my daughter wishing they could do it was a little bit too much and so we decided to pitch in and we took a boat ride into Caddo Lake with Aaron…just my daughter, my three grandkids and me. This is one of those instances where it was well worth it!
Our guide and boat driver Aaron grew up in this area and currently resides in Uncertain. His father was also a boat guide on the lake for many many years and so he knows the lake very well. Not only was he informative, he was also courteous, and fun. There was one spot where he even let the three young children drive the boat in the lake. And that without him touching the steering wheel!!
Eerie Sunshine through the trees
Honestly, the views from the shore are pretty impressive, but once you are in the midst of the lake and floating through the various bayous and channels amidst the bald cypress trees, there is nothing that can express the awe and intrigue.
This lake, Caddo Lake, is the largest naturally formed lake in the state of Texas. Scientists believe the lake formed when floodwater, blocked by massive log jams on the Red River, backed up into the Cypress Bayou watershed. Caddo Lake was artificially dammed in the early 1900s, when oil was found, and for flood control in 1914. A new dam replaced the old one in 1971.
The lake covers about 26,810 acres of cypress swamp, depending on rainfall. According to the Caddo Lake State Park Website, the lake’s average depth is 8 to 10 feet, while the deep water in the bayou averages about 20 feet. Aaron tells us that much of the lake only has a depth of around 4 to 5 feet.
The lake has its own “roadway” with marked signs that guide and direct those taking their boats and pontoons through the lake. These are areas where a dredge has cleared all of the stumps so there is room for the boats to pass and not scrape bottom. Having been on the lake for many years, Aaron knows the route very well and was able to traverses without any problems whatsoever.
In terms of seeing wildlife, February is probably not the best time to go see the lake. We were fortunate enough to see two or three blue herons, a couple of egrets, some turkey vultures and even caught a glimpse of a cormorant, which they call water turkey in the region.
Apparently, in the summertime, there are opportunities to catch glimpses of alligators and other wildlife on these boat tours. But the benefit of our trip in February, was low humidity, cooler temperatures and no mosquitoes! Doing without those skeeters was probably the best part of the tour (besides the expert guiding by Aaron.)
We learned during the tour that the famous singer Don Henley, of the Eagles, owns a house on the lake and we got to see that. Apparently it’s been used for a couple of music videos. Henley is originally from the area and actually caught his first fish in Caddo Lake while a youth. He loves the lake and the natural habitat in the area and has provided funding to help conserve the lake. The Caddo Lake Institute (CLI) is a non-profit scientific and educational organization founded in 1992 by Henley with the mission of protecting the ecological, cultural and economic integrity of Caddo Lake, its associated wetlands and watershed.
The village of Uncertain also has a number of little resort cabins that can be rented and one can drive around and see all of them. Many of them have themes. One section had four cabins all with Moon in the name. Others had frogs in the name. But they are all very unique and would be a fun place to stay for a week sometime.
Overall, this was a wonderful adventure for all of us. Thanks to Aaron for the tour and thanks to all of the residents of Uncertain that make this place a worthy destination. you can be certain of a good time in Uncertain!!
This is the fourth post in a continuing series of Bike Trail posts. Like the back roads of America, the recent interest in bike paths and rails-to-trails paths provides a new insight on “back roads”. Each Bike Path post will include surrounding information, vehicle support info and trail ratings as provided by my wife Julianne. One bike pump equals a “poor” rating while five pumps equals an “excellent” rating. We’ll also provide links to the RTC TrailLinks overview of the trail. Complete Trails Overview Post is HERE
Dawkins Line Rail Trail – Swamp Branch, KY (Click here for Trail Post with photos)
Kentucky’s longest and best Rails to Trail Bike Trail is the Dawkins Line Rail Trail which runs 18 miles from Royalton, KY (near Salyersville) to Hagerhill, KY (near Paintsville). The trail also has another 18 mile extension currently under construction.
This was the first trail that Julianne rode on her own. We ventured out ot this trail on a weekend in early June 2016. It was kind of scary as it is in an area that, in many places, is void of cell service. The roads for a support driver really meander away from the trail as well. But, according to Julianne, it is a beautiful trail to ride on.
Our drive from Lexington took us southeast down the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway from Winchester through Stanton and Campton and then into Royalton, just a few miles south of Salyersville, KY. This is a beautiful drive through the mountains of Southeast Kentucky. Royalton is on Kentucky Highway 7 which runs south from Salyersville.
Royalton is the main trailhead for this 18 mile trail. It is also home to the Rail Trail Festival, which we just missed the day before. There were still remnants of the event remaining in the main park area in Royalton. These included the “Got Muchies” Food Truck. I got a kick out of it and asked the owner of the truck if he knew it was misspelled and he said yes. He also said it was the painters’ mistake, but he was in a hurry and needed the truck and so decided to keep it as is. Too dang funny!
The main trailhead, as noted above, is in Royalton. The route has three or four places along the way with parking lots and trail information.
The trail is predominantly crushed limestone but smooth to ride on according to Julianne.
The trail has a number of nice trestles and bridges and the first one is only about 6 miles down the road for a driver. Basically, I had to leave Royalton and take KY 1635 west and up a hill to KY 867 which follows the Licking River. I traveled east on KY 867 to SE Licking River Road (KY 7/KY 867) and turned right toward Ivyton, where it turns into Gun Creek Road. A couple of miles down the road, Gun Creek heads northeast and there is a point where the Dawkins Trail crosses over the road.
KY 867 after Ivyton eventually meets KY 1888 (Burning Fork Rd.) and I headed north on that road. I then made my way to Riceville, KY(via KY 1867) until I got to KY 825. From there, KY 825 follows Dawkins northbound for quite a way eventually getting to Swamp Branch, Leander, Old Ratliff Rd. and then into Denver.
At one point 825 crosses under US 460/US 23 near Paintsville, near the Lower Greasy Post Office and into Collista. The trail ends just past Collista where KY 825 intersects with KY , near Hager Hill.