February 16, 2018

It all started so innocently. Photographer Jenny Sathngam reached out and said that she was heading to Caddo Lake for a magazine assignment with her friend Danni. She wanted to use some wooden paddle boards for the shoot. I'd only met Jenny once a few years back when she photographed our wood SUPs for Texas Monthly, but had never met her friend Danni. Caddo Lake in Uncertain, TX had been on my radar for paddle boarding for years and I was scheduled to be relatively close by so I said, "let's do it."


As I pulled in on an unseasonably cool May afternoon, I immediately began questioning my decision. You know those scary movies where everyone dies? That's what this place looks like. It's the kind of place where if you screamed bloody murder, your nearest neighbor two miles away would turn the radio up louder to drown the noise out. I'm always in for fun so I figured, let's stick around and see what Uncertain, TX is all about. Before breaking out the wooden paddle boards and paddling through the swamp, we figured let's get a boat tour to explore the place. Immediately the true beauty of the Caddo Lake became apparent. It's unlike anywhere else in Texas or anywhere for that matter. 14 foot gators? Check! Abundant wildlife? Check! Interesting characters? CHECK!


I'm not going to lie, this place was starting to grow on me. It's just so peaceful, remote and unexplainably beautiful. Post swamp tour, we made our way down to the "end of the road" to the general store for a beer run. We had been told that the general store serves as a jumping off point for fishermen heading out on the lake. As we head to the store, Jenny slams on the breaks jumps out of the car and yells over her shoulder, "drive the car!" As it turns out, Jenny is not only an amazing photographer, she also has a soft spot for turtles crossing the road that need a little help getting back to the water.

The town general store did not disappoint. While we only planned to visit for a few minutes to get a 6er, all three of us fell in love with this little country store/bar. We cursed as the storm clouds rolled in and it started to rain. "Ah shucks" I guess we'd better stick around until the rain lets up. During this torrential downpour, we met some of the most interesting people ever. Some came for beer, while others came for bait to go fishing. All of them, and I mean all of them were some of the nicest people I've ever met.

As the sun started to go down, I noticed a "tip" jar for fireworks on the counter. I honestly can't remember what I said, but the next thing I know the lady behind the counter was saying, "bring me my fireworks key!" CJ in a cammo onesie shows up and cash is exchanged for fireworks. This is where traveling with talented photographers really pays off. A torch was retrieved from my truck and as the sun set, the fun began!

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Chloe Photography. What does any of this have to do with wood paddle boards? Well, Jenny's assignment was to photograph me paddling our wooden SUPs, but the weather so far hadn't really cooperated. Post fireworks night, we woke at 6 am to a crisp, clear morning. This was truly a photographers dream. Clear skies, early morning light, and this epic steam rising off a swampy lake.

That morning, we watched the sunrise, paddled some, took lots of pictures and mostly sat in silence staring in amazement at this magical corner of Texas.


Moral of the story? If a "stranger" says let's go on a road trip. Say yes. Especially if the destination is Uncertain, Texas and paddle boarding is involved. You won't be disappointed.

By Tony Smith.

ee more of Jenny and Danni's work below: