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Trip shot: Lake view

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(c)2017 J.S.Reinitz

  View of Roosevelt Lake, Arizona, from the trail to the lower cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument.

Video: Marsh kayaking

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(C)2016 J.S.Reinitz

Rivers around here have been a bit too harsh as of late. A massive storm unleashed flash flooding with creeks and streams overrunning their banks, covering roads and washing away cars, cattle, towns.

Amidst the devastation, I happened across a few unscheduled hours. And the one thing I wanted to do was take the kayak out. Luckily, there are a few lakes nearby that weren’t troubled by the downpours.
At one, I skimmed across the main pool and maneuvered into a backwater marsh where I cut through sometimes thick vegetation and floated past partially submerged trees to follow a small army of Canada geese.

Gator Hike, in comic form

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We took the kids on a short hike at Lake Apopka. A boardwalk trail leads from the Oakland Nature Preserve, past ferns, palms and Spanish-moss laden trees to the lake. Our 12-year-old son spotted three baby alligators swimming around by the dock.

Dry lake exploration

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Walking on the dry lake bed. (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

Walking on the dry lake bed. (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

I always knew there was a car sunken in the depths of the old sand pits. I just took a late-season drought to drain the murky lake enough to reveal it.

The pits were dug decades ago to quarry rock and sand for local construction. When the digging stopped, it became a litter-strewn, out-of-the-way drinking spot for teens. For law enforcement, the lake was also a regular go-to place for dragging when someone went missing.

More recently, the pits have been transformed into a “recreational area.” At least that’s what the sign says. The city named it after a long-serving council member, put in a picnic shelter and a sandy beach (although swimming is verboten) and paved some bike/walking trails. It’s a stopping place for migrating geese and a winter home for eagles.

Even so, people still call it “the pits,” and cops still visit when they are looking for bodies or ditched guns. I figured there should be a stolen car down there somewhere.

This fall has been dry, and the lake has receded, exposing much of the sandy bed. So, on Christmas afternoon, we headed out to explore.

What water remained was covered with patchy ice, and the kids took turns hurling rocks that crashed through or skipped cross the frozen surface with cartoonish twangs.

My son, age 12, dug a piece of quartz the size of his fist from the lake bed, and my daughter, 8, drew pictures in the mud with a stick. There was a collection of rocks and charred logs where other explorers had built a campfire.

And sitting upright, partially encrusted in sand was Matchbox’s rendition of a 1971 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon. Its wood panel decals were still intact.

 

Inaugural journey

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Canoe on the lake (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

Canoe on the lake (c) 2014 J.S. Reinitz

We took the canoe out  on its inaugural voyage last weekend. Along the way, we saw geese and ducks and found a beaver lodge.

Dam trail

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Taking a break during a ride. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

Taking a break during a ride. (c) J.S. Reinitz 2014

Photo: Frozen Lake

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Frozen Lake. January 2014. (C) J.S. Reinitz

A few months ago, we posted a panoramic shot of a lake with fall foliage. This week we returned to the same spot following snow and low temperatures below minus 10 degrees (F).

Photos: Fall lake

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Panoramic shot of lake during foggy morning.

Panoramic shot of lake during foggy morning.

A few weeks ago, I had some time between assignments in the morning and pulled into a nearby lakeside park to shoot the morning fog.

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Lake Mead body could be missing airman

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In June, an Air Force crew chief from Creech Air Base disappeared after going for a swim while boating on Lake Mead. This week, a dive company located and recovered a body believed to be that of Antonio Tucker.

Below is the National Park Service release on the operation.

For more background, check out this Air Force News piece.

BODY RECOVERED AT LAKE MEAD
April 17, 2013

BOULDER CITY, Nev. – The body of an adult male was recovered from Lake Mead April 17 during a permitted search and recovery operation. His identity has not yet been confirmed by the Clark County Medical Examiner.

Earth Resource Group, a Las Vegas-based search and recovery organization, obtained a permit to search for Antonio Tucker, a 28-year-old airman who presumably drowned at Lake Mead June 23. The group’s search efforts began April 15 within one square nautical mile of the point where Tucker was last seen in the Boulder Basin.

At around noon April 16, the group identified an object that appeared to be human using side scan sonar. After notifying National Park Service rangers, they deployed a remote operated underwater vehicle equipped with a camera and again located the object at a depth of 280 feet.

The National Park Service and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department planned to recover the body April 16, but strong winds postponed efforts.

Law enforcement officials returned to the scene around 9 a.m. April 17. The permitted crew and divers from LVMPD Search and Rescue brought the body to the surface at 10:48 a.m. where it was confirmed to be an adult male.

The Clark County Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy.