The Brazos River Expedition of August 9, 2000


Something about the stretch of the Brazos at Dennis, Texas keeps drawing me back. For one thing, there's an intriguing mixture of sandbars and mudflats to be found. Also, a friend once told  me that quicksand often forms in a river around bridge pilings, and those could be found here, too.

I wanted to go back and head on down towards Patrick Creek, which flows into the river on the north bank, about a mile downstream from the bridge. I didn't think I'd really find all that much, but there was a deep "hole" where the creek meets the river and we could spend some time there swimming and taking photos.

Where's the quicksand? Where is the sand packed hard and salid? Often, you can't really tell just by looking.

I happily explored the banks while my companion traipsed the sandbars. I was enthralled by the low mudflats, a fascinating mixture of clay, mud and sand. I have a habit of criss-crossing from one side of the river to the other, investigating here, stomping there, testing, testing, testing. My friend, having been with me on several previous expeditions, knew that it was best to just let me dash off on my own, like some sort of mud-sniffing Beagle. She knew I'd eventually hold up and let her catch back up to me.

We met up at a spot just to the downstream side of Patrick Creek, which flows into the river from the north side. I stepped onto a very small sandbar close to the mouth of the creek, and immediately sank about ten inches in some very soft, muddy quicksand. I stood there, grinning, enjoying the mooshy sensations. My friend hustled over with the camera. It was an amusing little game we played—when one of us would find a little bit of a soft spot and sink any deeper than shoetop level, the other would come running over with the camera, laughing and snapping pictures.


I stood there for a moment or two, sunk less than a foot deep, then tried to take a step forward...but couldn't. The quicksand had set around my feet like cement! Losing my balance, I sat down hard. My butt hit the soft, clay-laden sand with a noise I'm certain was probably discernable from the bridge a mile away. I thought to myself: " my butt and my legs are gonna sink, and in the photos it will look like I'm sunk to my waist, whereas in reality I'm only sitting down in the damed stuff." My butt didn't sink. Probably too much surface area on that part of my body. Hehe. Perhaps, some ancient Greek mathematician/natural philosopher like Archimedes had already explained this phenomenon centuries ago: Yen's butt is too big to sink. Ipso facto.

It took me a couple of minutes to extract my feet. My friend snapped away happily, delighted at my predicament.

We stayed there at the mouth of Patrick Creek a while, resting and floating in the five-foot hole in the river channel cut by the water entering from the creek. It was nice and cool.

As it was an extremely hot day, and I was getting sunburned like crazy, we decided to call it a day.


Map of this expedition

(On to the Year 2000 Wrapup!)