24 December, 2008
I hope the holidays afford you the opportunity to experience the outdoors in some way. For me, I hope to do a little skiing, some fly fishing for steelhead, break out my old cross-country skis, and perhaps spend a little quality time on the shooting range.
And, make plans for next year's outdoor antics!
23 December, 2008
"Do what you can, when you can."
Perfect. I like to be active, but other commitments sometimes prevent it. But this quote speaks to me. Take advantage of the opportunities you have when you have them, don't beat yourself up when you don't. For me that sometimes means being creative, or doing household chores or work tasks in advance so I can take advantage of good weather -- but it's worth it.
Enjoy life. Snowing here now. Freezing rain, sleet, and a variety of other fun on the way.
22 December, 2008
19 December, 2008
The search ends here for the ultimate off-piste machine—Line Prophet 100 skis cruise fresh glades, tight trees and steep lines with authority.
Pros: Good Carving Ability, Great Flotation
Cons: Some chatter on groomers
Best Uses: Downhill, Powder
Describe Yourself: Advanced Skier
An amazing ski - purchased it for the occasional Michigan powder day and for trips to Utah. Have been surprised how good it is even on groomers with some ice. For a big ski, turns over well.
Mine's an 07/08 model. Graphics rule. Skis get lots of comments. Bought this over K2 Seth and I think I'm glad I did.
Only complaint is that there's some definite chatter on really hard-packed groomers. But this ski really wasn't designer for them.
15 December, 2008
Founder , Patagonia
January/February issue, Fly Rod & Reel
This quote spoke to me on an elemental level. It seems like I'm always moving from learning one thing to another. And once I get pretty good at it, I move on. Some things persist in my life, others don't.
Friends who know me well would say this quote seems to embody me. Always picking up something new. Looking to get out of my comfort zone and when I find something that connects becoming a bit obsessive about learning it.
10 December, 2008
04 December, 2008
24 November, 2008
Been out fishing for steelhead on flies a few times lately at the Flat Rock dam on the Huron River. No results yet, but I'm still figuring it out. Two hooks means twice as much opportunity to snag stuff. But being outside in the cold, crisp air along the river sure feels good. Drives an energy that really doesn't come from anywhere else.
Finished up final bootfitting with Rob of Sun & Snow just in time for snow arriving and Michigan ski areas opening up. I'd always thought that ski boots had to be a little uncomfortable -- being rigid plastic boxes and all. After Rob pushed, pulled, tugged, twisted, and deformed them I was 110% wrong. Wow. Difference is ASTOUNDING.
And really enjoying the onset of cold and snow with the Mustang out of my life. While it may look like a toaster, the Element is so much better suited to my lifestyle and interests.
20 November, 2008
I joined the NRA the next day. And that's odd because I've had my issues with them in the past. But a friend asked after the election, "Are you concerned he'll take away your guns?" My reply, "No, that'll never happen." But then I got thinking about it -- why won't it? Well because of the power of groups in Washington that will prevent it. And then I realized that one of those key groups -- the NRA.
Don't get me wrong -- I have some strong issues with allowing things like assault rifles, as well as the loose regulation of gun shows, and even a belief that ALL guns should be as closely regulated as handguns. I think it would be just fine to require proof of legal registration at public shooting ranges. And I've shot an AR-15 and can completely see why they should be restricted to the military and law enforcement.
But, someone needs to stand up for regular folks like me and my friends who safely use and store their firearms who own responsible and reasonable guns that are suited to the activities they participate in. Does the NRA defend a lot of whackos? Yup. But they're also the only group that defends the regular guy, too.
Oh, and while we're on the topic -- instead of punishing those who legally own and use guns, how about expending that same level of effort on getting the illegal ones off the street? A much greater return on effort, in my humble opinion.
10 November, 2008
28 October, 2008
Picture above is a portion of Paul and my collection of hundys. My new 11-48's in the center, with his 11-48 and Model 31 pump (SUPER smooth!).
Moral of the story? Don't need to drop a grand to bust clays!
22 October, 2008
A little cold, but not so bad. Beautiful time with leaves just past peak color and sunshing. Decent action on the river, especially in the morning.
Jim hooked and landed the first, so he won that honor. Lots of juveniles, but they're still a great fight. I learned a lot more about the relationship between steelhead and spawning salmon, how to find them, and what to do when you find them. If you want to learn, fishing with an outstanding guide like Jon is a really great way to do it. Plus, he's a good guy who makes the day even more fun.
Thanks again to Jim and Jon for a great Fall day! And, if this sounds like a plug for Jonny Ray -- it IS! Check him out!!!
13 October, 2008
29 September, 2008
For almost 14 years, he's been right at my side all the time. I remember so many great things. Teaching him to be off-leash in Delhi Metropark and in the UP. How much he LOVED riding in the truck, especially off-road adventures. Snowshoeing in the deep snow at Fayette Peninsula. His persistent "smile" that always said he was enjoying himself.
One upside - he passed on Saturday. As did Paul Newman. Which I think is fitting - I've decided that he's now Paul Newman's dog. Living at Sundance in the Sky and eating Newman's Own Organic Dog food.
So, if you have a companion like Otis, give him or her an extra pet, maybe a treat, and tell them it's for Otis.
24 September, 2008
This really resonated with me. In the past several years, I've been able to experience some new things through the kindness of friends who provided a gentle introduction. I owe Dan (pheasant hunting), Andy (sporting clays), Paul (target shooting), my Dad (fly fishing), Nick (rabbit hunting) a hearty thanks. And that's not even including businesses like Colton Bay, Old AuSable, and BBT (fly fishing), Great Lakes Cycle (bicycling), and Sun & Snow (skiing) who are always willing to offer helpful advice that fosters learning and improves my outdoor experiences.
And, I feel like I'm returning the favors. Got Paul the "trout fever" of fly fishing. Helped Dan be a better cook with the wild game he hunts, even taught Dad some new fishing knots and easier ways to tie them!
So whether you trout fish, ski, dogsled, hunt grouse, mountain bike, geocache, or whatever -- take the time to introduce someone new. Unless it's golf. But that's another blog...
10 September, 2008
Saturday afternoon we decided to to check out Thompson Creek - just west of Manistique. Dad and Paul hiked in downstream, I went a little upstream. As I poked my head through an opening in the cover I see a stunning brown trout -- probably 20" with spectacular markings -- just hovering in the current. The stream was crystal clear with a sand bottom, probably less than a foot deep. This majestic fish was just swimming enough to stay in place. A ray of sun shone through the canopy onto him.
After a few minutes, I meet my companions back at the truck. After a quick stop at the fishery up the road to check legal status of fishing this section, we head back. This time Dad and I hike to the same upstream spot. Sure enough - that beautiful fish is still there. I point him out to Dad, and he gently swims off. I think he was waiting for me to have a witness.
People talk about "near religious" experiences they've had in the outdoors and this was mine. It was like someone put that fish in that setting at that moment just for me to experience. No camera with me, but no matter -- the image will be forever fresh in my mind's eye.
P.S. Trout opener, next April, UP. Great streams!!!!
02 September, 2008
Friday got an early start on the weekend after Jon invited me out on his new boat. We took his kids out on Portage Lake, and some connected lake I don't know the name of. Great time - was fun to fish with kids. Ended up out on the water until dark. Caught a nice little pike and a bass. Everybody else got skunked. A really peaceful, perfect Michigan summer evening. Thanks to Grace and Daniel (oh, and Jon...) for letting me play on the family boat.
Then Sunday went with Andy to Post 46 Hunt & Fish Club in Pinckney for sporting clays. Have wanted to check this place out with him for a while. Great setting on Silver Lake. All kinds of things to do - fishing, campground, nice clubhouse, target range, archery. And just the nicest, most down-to-earth people. Really made me feel welcome. Clays course was great fun, wandering through the woods with lots of challenging shots. I'm very intrigued with this place. Membership is very affordable and lots to do - plus it's only a 20 minute drive.
Nice ride Monday morning -- about 30 mile loop to Dexter and Hudson Mills Park. Got back JUST as wind was starting to come up. I think every weekend should be a 3-day weekend.
28 August, 2008
New rear wheel made a surprising difference. Stiffer, lighter, and the Shimano 105 hubs roll SO much better. If you're in the Midwest and was an amazing set of wheels for your ride -- he does road and mountain bikes -- go see Steve at Great Lakes in Ann Arbor. Awesome wheel builder.
27 August, 2008
- Waterproof matches are better than lighters. They never run out of butane.
- There's a reason my friends recommended a shorter, lighter weight fly rod for tight trout streams. My 9' 6-weight was like trying to sweep a coat closet with a push broom. Whack. Thwap. The sounds of me fishing the Boyne, smacking every tree in sight.
- State Park campgrounds aren't free because they're patrolled and maintained, unlike County campgrounds.
- A $12 tent will have a weakest link. It would appear that mine are the stakes. Easy upgrade.
- The Mustang was a dumb idea. The Element was a good idea.
- New rod loft rack ROCKS. What a great product.
- Trout streams are COLD. Dang!
- I need to work on my knot skills.
- There are too many rich people in Harbor Springs. And they need to show this wealth off too much.
- I don't understand golf.
25 August, 2008
21 August, 2008
20 August, 2008
I'm a firm believer in giving back to your community, and finding ways to help those who are at a disadvantage. But, I'm certainly not playing "holier than thou" -- I spent FAR too long not doing this stuff. My point is, once I took a little time, and made a commitment to do this, it became easy. Then it became an important part of my life. I was off this gig for a few weeks as they were trying to absorb some new staff and didn't need a lot of volunteers on routes. I really missed it and the sense of peace it brought to my life!
This stuff won't find you. You have to find it. And make time for it. Once you do, you'll find how easily it meshes into your life and becomes a part of your world. I know so many people who are "fixin to..." do something like this. Today's the day. Take the step. Speech over.
18 August, 2008
15 August, 2008
13 August, 2008
I couldn't be more happy!!!!! It was a teeth rattler. Hooray for Washtenaw County Road Commission! Looking forward to Saturday morning long ride with Mike. Shooting for another 30-miler.
12 August, 2008
Spent Saturday at the Manchester DNR range shooting some targets with rifles and then clays with buddy Paul. Recent maintenance to side-by-side 12ga. made it smooth as butter. Busted about everything I pointed at, so I'm ready for bird season!
Tonight -- bike ride? Or fish the hex? Hmmmm......
11 August, 2008
On Saturday, I had two experiences that reinforced that mantra. On a visit to my local bike shop to pick up new rear wheel, the mechanic happily fixed a couple of nagging problems. After that I stopped by the fly shop, where one of their guys helped me with some knots I've been having trouble tying. Both experiences got me back outside and enjoying pursuits!
Try that on www.costsless.com...
08 August, 2008
04 August, 2008
31 July, 2008
I've had the wheels trued and tightened a couple of times in my Giant OCR's life. After listening to it, learn about my mileage, and observing that I'm a "bigger rider" the shop manager at Great Lakes Cycles (good guys -- check 'em out if you're near Ann Arbor) said my wheels are the issue. Machine built wheels just can't achieve the uniformity, tension and precision of a hand-built wheel. Plus, their hand-built wheels are lifetime guaranteed, and they'll re-true them anytime at no charge.
But OUCH, not cheap. We'll be doing the rear wheel now and perhaps the front over the winter when finances allow. On the upside, I'll get a better hub, stronger rim, and far better spokes.
Meanwhile, he got current wheel tuned up so I can get another week or so out of it while I'm waiting on the new one. Good, since I'm looking forward to a ride tonight and targeting 40+ mile ride on Saturday, weather permitting.
So, I guess I "wore out my wheels". Or maybe I'm just a monkey on a tricycle...
25 July, 2008
Quick aside, the 1-mile stretch between Huron Mills Metropark and Mast Rd. does NOT. I can't wait until the road repairs hit that stretch which is some of the worst in the County. Literally feels like it rattles your fillings -- especially on 23mm road tires!
At any rate, within a couple of miles had nicely settled into a 15 mph groove. Minimal traffic, and the river up high made for a very pleasant evening. But the ride back was the highlight. Hitting that zone where the muscles just loosen and it becomes pure muscle memory is such a great feeling. There's one stretch between Wagner and Foster that's super smooth, tree-lined, and right next to the river that just invites speed. Cranked through at over 20 mph and enjoyed every second!
Haven't been riding as much as I'd like the past month - rainy weather seems to always occur when I have the time to ride. Sure was nice to re-connect. Even fueled my workout at the gym this morning! Hope to get in a longer ride this weekend, weather permitting.
24 July, 2008
21 July, 2008
So now it seems what I enjoy most are the extremes -- very hot or very cold! Guess it's good that I live in Michigan, as we now seem to get plenty of both.
09 July, 2008
I rode with one of the drivers and delivered groceries to a local church for distribution, to a substance abuse treatment center, to a halfway house for people with psychiatric illnesses, and a few locations. Then we stopped at some local businesses to pick up items for re-distribution.
It was hot, humid, and hard work. And one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. I actually got to interact with the people I was helping. I've now signed up for a shift every other week and hope to expand this. A truly fulfilling, humbling experience -- and one that got me outdoors!
07 July, 2008
Went to Johnson's Sporting Goods in Adrian. Great folks, and seem to be one of the few CZ dealers who carries much in rimfires. Was ALMOST tempted by a used Savage with thumbhole stock and a scope. But held out for the CZ and am glad I did. Finely crafted firearm.
Of course, had to stop at the range on the way home to shoot it a little. 2" groups on first outing -- not bad for a new one. Also shot Ruger 10/22 project gun. Can't believe what the trigger modifaction did. Though I think the new CZ will be my most popular shooter.
03 July, 2008
Enjoy your Holiday and be safe!
18 June, 2008
Up next is a trigger kit to get the pull down from the current muscleman 7# to a more manageable 2-3#. Should make a nice difference.
Was at Cabela's the other night looking for a .22 bolt action (they don't stock much -- why?) and ran across a tricked out 10/22. Stainless fluted barrel, composite stock, all the tricks. And for $600. A pretty cool little gun. Perhaps my goal!
13 June, 2008
I must say that at the moment, one of my favorites is Simms -- a leading maker of fly fishing gear. From their website (http://www.simmsfishing.com/) to their print ads, to product literature they have this great brand going. Very consistent use of an unconventional look with black-and-white photos of rough-hewn experienced river guides combined with the "Simms orange". They're consistently subtle and tasteful with their use of the logo -- even on clothing and other products. Personally, I'd put this up with Apple as one of my favorite brands.
Contrast this with Orvis, who I think makes great products, but has this sort of L.L. Bean-influenced mass-marketer brand going. By trying to appeal to everyone, they appeal to no one. The brand just seems really unfocused.
Now, it may help that Simms does one thing (fly fishing) while Orvis has a broader set of applications. But I don't think that's a foregone conclusion. Effective branding is about taking appropriate risks -- something I think Simms has done really well. Truly one of my favorite outdoor brands.
11 June, 2008
10 June, 2008
This is something I truly enjoy about outdoorspeople -- they're always willing to help a newbie. I want to go duck hunting. So I ask a couple of people, and BINGO, I have an invite from an experienced hunter. I ask about places to fish in the Upper Peninsula and within days I have some recommendations. Same goes for skiing, cycling, kayaking. It's great. And it helps me have the new experiences I want to try.
Thank you to all of these people!
Beyond the benefits of being able to shoot .22 without taking out a second mortgage, I've found lots of other things to love about this caliber. The ability to really focus on key aspects of marksmanship like breathing, point of aim, trigger pull, etc. have really helped me. And not anticipating recoil is a real bonus. Plus, last weekend I was able to dial-in the new fiber optic sights on my rifle without consuming an entire paycheck.
The only downside so far? Man, that stuff shoots DIRTY!
So if you thought .22's were only for kids plinking cans, think again. I'm certainly enjoying!
09 June, 2008
But a blog seems to need a theme. So mine's about how to spend scarce free time. Seems I have more interests than time lately. The whole day job thing gets in the way. But I thought I'd use this space for ramblings on what I'm doing in the outdoors, while somehow managing to hold down a day job and not let my house go to h*ll.
Here we go.