Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fish Fry

Last week Louie managed to entice me out of bed at the crack of dawn one morning to go white bass fishing.  (White bass are different than regular bass.  They are more like stripers.)  When we're at the lake, I don't usually get up before the sun rises, but on that particular morning I was glad I did.  Here's the view as we pulled away from our dock.  It was worth getting up early just for a view like this of God's handiwork!

We met a friend of ours out on the lake in the "secret" spot and started fishing....

Within an hour we had a nice bucket of fish....

We took them back to the dock and Louie cleaned them up right away.  He uses an electric knife and he's quite good at it!

The dogs like to come down to the dock and inspect things....

But our little guy always likes to try to steal the fish...

We soak the fish in cold water all day and then that night we had a fish fry.  We bread them with Louie's homemade breadcrumbs and then fry them up, nice and crispy....

We also take some fillets, season them, add a little margarine and some lemon juice and cook them on the grill for about 20 minutes....

Either way, they are ummm ummmm good!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Magic Rod

We've named Chablis' pink rod "The Magic Rod."

Some of you may remember that we had a fishing rod custom made for Chablis for her graduation present.  If you missed that post, you can go back and read about it here.

She couldn't wait to get to Kentucky and try it out.  We had barely pulled into the driveway before she and Kyle dragged out the little boat and headed into the bay in search of blue gill...

She's thrilled with her new rod!  Like I said Magic!!

If you're interested in having a rod custom made, I can recommend Ed over at The Four Season Angler.  I just can't promise it will be a magic rod!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rotary Club Charity Bass Tournament

Last Saturday, June 23rd, The Murray Rotary Club held a charity Bass fishing tournament.  Louie and his son, Lou Jr. fished it together and had a nice day on the lake.  Together they caught the limit of 5 bass and Louie won 1st place for biggest bass of the tournament.

Here they are pulling up to the weigh in....

Weighing in the big fish....

Collecting his check for big bass!  The bass weighed 6 lbs, 7 oz.  It was a nice win - $ 500.00.

We were able to catch the interview on video.  They got a big kick out of Louie and his "northern accent" and gave him some ribbing about how they landed the fish.  You can watch it if you like....

The Murray Rotary Club put on a really nice tournament.  While the fishermen were weighing in, they had ice cold water bottles, freshly sliced watermelon, hot dogs, chips and sodas for the fishermen and the spectators.  They also had a ton of nice door prizes, including gift cards, marine batteries, tee shirts and fishing caps.  We won a tee shirt and a cap.  It was a fun day for the fishermen and it was an even better day for us since we won Big Bass!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Post - Life Outside My Door

Please give a warm welcome to Sonny from over at Life Outside My Door.  I really enjoyed one of his posts from back in February and he gave me permission to re-post it here.  I enjoyed it because it was so nicely written and involved 2 of my favorite things - hiking and geocaching.  I think you'll enjoy it too!

Geocaching on Seminole State Park's Gopher Tortoise Trail

Having an opportunity to finally get away for a long overdue Geocaching adventure, we decided to traverse 90 miles west from Valdosta to a remote corner of Southwest Georgia.  Located about 20 miles off of US 84, and just prior to entering Alabama, you'll find Seminole State Park in the small town of Donalsonville, Georgia.  The drive was a relatively easy one for us and we were all eager to find another one of those beautiful green ammo cans with the highly sought after "state park stamp" inside (those who are familiar with Geocaching will understand what I mean).  Joining us for our adventure would be our two trail dogs, Walker (left) and Spencer (right).

At first glance, the park seems to be a bit undersized.  And though we didn't spend much time exploring the park itself, it was typical in that it was beautifully maintained.  If you haven't been to a Georgia State Park, excuse me while I unashamedly boast about them.  With that in mind, I will not spend much time critiquing the amenities of the park, instead, I will focus on our experience on the Gopher Tortoise Nature Trail.

Like many of the parks that we've visited before, there is a small parking area at the trail's head, and at the initial entry point you can find typical information/warnings such as the one above.  Since I didn't have a trail map, I was careful to create a 'waypoint' on my GPS just in case we had trouble finding our way back.  Most trails that we've visited this year are clearly marked, but from time to time we've noticed that fire-breaks and service vehicle trails can cause a bit of confusion while attempting to stay on the trail.  If there be one semi-negative critique that I have about the trails at our Georgia State Parks, it would be this.  At Seminole State Park, however, we found only one instance of this and it may have been resolved had I had a trail map.  Thankfully, our initial decision to go left was the correct one.  For your future reference, I am referring to the direction that you should take after ascending from the "wetlands" and you approach a bench.  At that point, the trail goes off to the left and right.

As far as the difficulty of the trail goes, it was 2.2 miles and we found it to be easy to moderate.  We encountered a few instances where the trails ascend slightly, but there really wasn't much of a need to exert any extra energy.  We found it very manageable.  We did encounter a fire break, or two, along the trail, but they didn't seem to interfere with our ability to stay on the trail.  I would suggest, however, that there be just a few more directional signs, or directional blazes.  Again, we probably wouldn't have had an issue if we had a trail map.  (Note:  the Park Ranger had posted a sign on the Welcome Center door that he/she was at lunch and would return at 1:00pm.  Therefore, since we arrived at 12:45, we did not wait around to get a trail map.  There were none located at the trail head.)

Perhaps it was the time of year (January 28), but the wildlife was non-existent.  In fact, the only thing that we witnessed worth noting was a cute little dog on the trail that seems to have wondered off from his owners.  He did make things interesting, however, since we had our two trail dogs with us.  Thankfully, there wasn't much cause for alarm, but we did have to hold Spencer for a while since he wasn't particularly pleased with our new trail guest.

I previously stated that we didn't spend much time exploring the amenities of the park, but we did notice a nice size RV camping area that seemed to have quite a few guests.  Additionally, we passed by some great looking cabins/cottages along the lakeside.  Along the trail, we came across a pioneer camping area, and we also observed a treehouse camping site.  According to the website, it will sleep 15 people.

Other opportunities for enjoyment at Seminole State Park are a children's playground, a beach, and plenty of fishing docks and a boat ramp.  Picnic tables are also abundant throughout.

In case you are wondering, somewhere along the path, we were able to locate our prize.

So if you find yourself down around the Southwest corner of Georgia, or the Southeast corner of Alabama, I'd recommend that you take the time to visit Seminole State Park.  In fact, I'd recommend that you take the time to visit any of our State Parks.  It's a great way to spend the day having fun, enjoying family, or just 'plain ole relaxing'!

Sounds like a winner to me and makes me want to plan a road trip.  Thanks again for sharing your story Sonny!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Q & A With Standing Bear 6-26-12

 Mike & Brooke have hiked over 1461 miles and have now reached Connecticut!

Mike tells me that so far he's lost 50 pounds on the trail.  That's one hell of a way to lose weight.  I think he looks great, don't you?

Brooke taking a snooze.....

This week's Q & A covers animals in the wild, Mike's hiking equipment and his boots, which believe it or not, are also my favorite brand - Vasque.....

I heard you saw a bear last week.  What other animals have you seen so far?
We saw the bear as we were approaching route 206 in Branchville, New Jersey.  It was exciting because the bear was quite large and not that far from us.  It just looked at us though and went in the other direction. 

As far as other animals go, we have seen many chipmunks, deer, and snakes.  We have been really surprised by the number of chipmunks, since squirrels are much more common everywhere we've lived prior to the Appalachian Trail.  The deer are the same as those at home, except for the deer in Shenandoah National Forest which had no fear of humans (I literally almost bumped into a deer a couple of times!).  Snakes are very common when it is sunny, as they will lay right on the trail.  It is very easy to accidentally step on or near a snake.  Usually, the snake will just slither away, but some hikers have had bad experiences with rattlesnakes, especially in New Jersey where a rattlesnake refused to budge from the trail and sat there coiled up rattling like mad!

What piece of equipment is your favorite?  What do you wish you didn’t have to lug along?
The most crucial piece of gear has been my Aircast.  During the first couple weeks of the trail, I sprained my ankle twice and rolled it countless times.  I tried many ankle braces but was not able to adequately protect my ankle until I got the Aircast.  The Aircast makes it virtually impossible to twist my ankle; I would literally fall down before my ankle would move, as the Aircast keeps the ankle locked in. 

As important as the Aircast is, however, I wish I did not have to lug it along!  Anytime I want to take my shoes or socks off it is a big hassle.  In the morning, I typically put on the Aircast, socks, shin sleeves, gaiters, and of course shoes, which is a cumbersome process I refer to as "putting my battle gear on."  On a hot day, hikers enjoy taking their shoes and socks off and dipping their feet in a creek, but I don't bother with it because removing the Aircast is more hassle than it's worth.  Plus, the Aircast is additional weight, and any added weight on your feet slows you down significantly because you have to lift the weight with every single step. 

I couldn't do without the Aircast, but I wish I had stronger ankles and didn't need it!

Did you bring anything initially that you’ve decided you could live without and have shipped home?
I have shipped lots of things home.  Many hikers dump a lot of their gear at Neels Gap, which is the first outfitter you run into along the trail (it's just 30 miles into the trail).  I sent home a big knife that I had carried because I was initially worried about bears, other hikers, or people named Cletus who lived in the mountains :)  After a while, however, I realized that hiking the trail entails risks, and I was willing to send home the knife in order to have a lighter pack. 

How are your hiking boots holding up and what kind are you wearing?
I'm wearing a pair of low-cut Vasque hiking shoes.  I started with Vasque Breeze high-top boots but sent them home when I got the Aircast.  I've hiked over 1,000 miles in these shoes and they look tattered.  They are supposedly waterproof, but pretty much all "waterproof" shoes or boots are not 100% effective.  I like my shoes because they are still holding together and they fit well with my Aircast. 

Which do you like better- being on the low ground in meadows and forest or being high up, on the mountain ridges?
Being on a ridge is beautiful.  It's a wonderful feeling, especially because being on a ridge typically means you just finished climbing a mountain.  When you make it up to that ridge, you know you've accomplished something and it feels great.  There's typically more of a breeze, the temperature is cooler, and you sometimes get treated to an awesome view.  The climb to Mt. Kittatinny in New Jersey, for example, was rather long, but once we got to the top we had a beautiful 360 degree view and a nice walk along the ridgeline.  It feels like you're walking on clouds as your legs just glide along. 

Visit the Hike4Kids FB page for more comments and some great video's this week of Mike getting caught in a hail storm, sleeping bag tips and going through the Lemon Squeezer.   You don't want to miss this!

If you'd like to make a donation to the Hike4Kids Fund, visit the Hike4Kids page.

All photo's courtesy of Mike McLaughlin.  Do not re-print without permission.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Waterskiing Lessons

We spent 2 mornings this week working on water skiing lessons.  Chablis has been able to ski on 2 ski's for awhile and Tony just learned to ski last summer.  Kyle has never even tried, so we decided this summer everyone was going to learn something new.

Day 1

Tony just practiced his technique on 2 ski's....

Chablis worked on dropping a ski and managed to go a little way on 1 ski.  She did have one spectacular wipe out tho!

Day 2

Chablis decided that today was the day she was going to become an official slalom skiier.  She started on 2 ski's.  We used one adult ski and one child ski for her since she's so tiny.  The child ski is much smaller and shorter and therefore easier to drop.  Here she is practicing...

Dropping the ski....

Finding her balance....

Sliding her back foot into the stirrup...

And officially slalom skiing.....Yeah!!!!

 Tony was up next.  He started on 2 ski's....

Loosening the ski he's going to drop....

Dropping it and finding his balance.....

And managed to ski for about 2 blocks...  Success!!

Kyle joined us on the 2nd day.  Believe it or not, we've never had the opportunity to get him on ski's.  But I had high hopes for him because he's very athletic and has always played a lot of sports.

Here's Tony explaining what to do....

3 tries and Kyle was up on ski's.  The kid is a natural.

 Learning how to whip outside the wake....

And then Mr. Fancy-pants tried dropping a ski.  He almost did it too!  He skied on one ski for about 100 ft.

The three of them declared the morning a huge success and the best day of the trip.  I have to agree!  I think I'll have all 3 of them slalom skiing next trip!

Linking up with Sunny Simple Sundays!
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