Uncertain Revisited: A Tour of Caddo Lake

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.

Our guide, Aaron Applebaum with Mystique Tours
Hanging with Aaron on our Swamp Tour

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.).

A scene from Bald Cypress Swamp in Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake

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!

One of Many Bayous in the lake
Bald Cypress Swamp
Check it out…8 year old Landen driving in the swamp while Aaron looks on.

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!!

I truly enjoyed the one hour tour

Eerie Sunshine through the trees

We enjoyed a lovely February Sky

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.

Caddo Lake, largest Natural Lake in Texas
Daughter Marissa enjoys the tour of Caddo Lake

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.

Another scene from Caddo Lake
Boaters heading out to fish on Caddo Lake

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.

Enjoying time with my granddaughter Joselyn
Old Lakehouse….used to serve as a place to drink on the “Wet County” side of the lake

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.

A blue heron flies by on Caddo Lake
A Great Egret relaxes in the swamp

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.

A Blue Heron caught in the act of swallowing its dinner. Had to be a big fish as it struggled for a while
Another Egret sits in the shallows as the wind blows its plumage
A Turkey Vulture, also called a buzzard, flew way overhead
A blue heron flies into the trees

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.)

A serene capture of an egret in the swamp (photo by Marissa Noe)
Sun shining through the trees
Caddo Lake Institute was founded by singer Don Henley

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.

Uncertain Inn
A typical rental cabin in Uncertain

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.

Swamp Plank Trail near one of the many rental cabins. (Photo by Marissa Noe)
Watch out for Bigfoot in Uncertain (photo by Marissa Noe)

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!!

Cabin Signs…Spatterdock is one rental group
Blue Heron
Yes, there is a Church of Uncertain!!
Bigfoot sighting in Uncertain!!
Panoramic view of Caddo Lake

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Now For Something Completely Different – My Backroads Bucket List

Banff, Alberta, Canada
Banff, Alberta, Canada

So often on this blog I write of where I have been and what I have seen, but, I also have dreams of some huge road trips.  Perhaps my biggest dream is to go to Alaska via Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon Territory.  I have even gotten my free booklet from NorthtoAlaska.com entitled “The Ultimate North American Road Trip“.  If I were to do this trip, the following would be my mapped route:


My Ultimate Dream Trip

Some of the sights I would want to see (all photos taken from the North to Alaska website — since I have not been to these places yet…)

Spirit Island, Jasper NP, Alberta
Spirit Island, Jasper NP, Alberta
Kinuseo Falls, Monkman BC
Kinuseo Falls, Monkman BC
Spectrum Tange in Mt Edziza BC
Denali Highway, Alaska
Denali Highway, Alaska
Seward Highway, Alaska
Seward Highway, Alaska

On the way back, I would also want to go to Yellowstone and on to the Beartooth Highway in northwest Wyoming.  This would be a long and likely expensive trip.  But, it is truly my ultimate dream trip.

US Highway 20
US Highway 20

My second bucket list trip would be to drive the entire length of US Highway 20.  It goes coast to coast across the US and spans a whopping 3,365 miles, beginning in Boston, MA and ending in Newport, OR.  Along the way on my many trips, I have touched on this highway.

US Route 20 Map - from Wikipedia
US Route 20 Map – from Wikipedia

The wonder of a roadtrip like this is that it touches so many small communities along the way and much of it is not freeway.  It would be an awesome trip to document.

US Highway 6
US Highway 6

Another dream trip would be to take old U.S. Route 6, The Grand Army of the Republic Highway, across the country.  After U.S. Route 20, it is the second-longest U.S. highway in the United States and the longest continuous highway.  There is actually a group whose goal it is to preserve the Heritage of Highway 6.  The site, called the U.S. Route 6 Tourist Association is chock full of information about this great road.  It stretches 3,652 miles from Provincetown, MA to Long Beach, CA.

US Highway 6 map - from Wikipedia
US Highway 6 map – from Wikipedia

Like Highway 20, I have touched on parts of this highway in my many travels.  But to drive these roads would be a great adventure.

California Highway 1 - Pacific Coast Highway
California Highway 1 – Pacific Coast Highway

This route is my fourth bucket list trip – following California SR 1 along the Pacific Coast. The highway is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA, leading to its designation as an All-American Road.

California State Route 1 map - from Wikipedia
California State Route 1 map – from Wikipedia

As with the two highways above, this road goes thru numerous communities and eventually meets up with Oregon Highway 101. This is also called the Oregon Coast Highway and I have traveled some of this already.

Oregon Highway 101
Oregon Highway 101

Also known as the Oregon Coast Highway No. 9, this highway goes over the high mountain ranges along the coast of Oregon and offers some breathtaking views.

Oregon US Highway 101 - from Wikipedia
Oregon US Highway 101 – from Wikipedia

There is a great Mile by Mile site that points out all of the locations one can see on this trip.

Living the Dream - Enjoying the Ride
Living the Dream – Enjoying the Ride

For now, I can only dream of taking these trips, but, without the dreams, the reality may never happen.

 

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I am certain this is Uncertain

Uncertain, Texas

Welcome to Uncertain, TX, a small village on the side of Caddo Lake in eastern Texas bordering Louisiana.  This is the home of the largest natural fresh water lake in Texas and is also home to a huge swamp…yes, gators and pelicans and swamp things, oh my…

The Uncertain General Store and Grill

Uncertain derives its name from surveyors who were attempting to delineate the border between Texas and Louisiana and discovered that they were “uncertain” as to which side of the line they were on as they began surveying that particular part of Caddo Lake.  I can imagine why this is.  The swamp always changes.

I got to Uncertain on a cool February morning in 2010.  Fisherman were readying their boats to head to the swamp…all bundled in warm clothes.  The village was quiet, only the sound of birds in the air.  So, I drove around, got a few photos and enjoyed the beauty of the swamp on a brisk, early morning…

The Church of Uncertain

After seeing the unlikely name of a church….A Church of Uncertain…I was hooked into this place.

Uncertain Inn … An Uncertain Place to Stay
Uncertain Department of Tourism

The swamp is quite serene and beautiful.  Here are three photos I took of the swamp.

Caddo Lake, TX near Uncertain, TX
Caddo Lake, TX near Uncertain, TX
Caddo Lake, TX near Uncertain, TX

On the way out of town, you can also stop at:

Uncertain Tavern — Not certain what you can get here


View Larger Map

Uncertain, TX

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