24 December, 2008

Seasons Greetings

Whatever your beliefs, and whatever you celebrate -- seasons greetings to you and your family.

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!

Best wishes,


23 December, 2008

Another Great Quote

Read another great quote from Tera Ward - a pro downhill mountain bike racer, personal trainer, and mom - in this month's Bicycling magazine:

"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

Cold? Where?

Positively polar here in Michigan - but it's not stopping me. Went skiing at Caberfae on Saturday and doubt it topped the low teens. I had ideas of fly fishing for steelhead on the Pere Marquette in the afternoon, but about two runs down the ski slope cleared that up for me. Brrrrr!

Beautiful morning though. I got an early start, so I was on the slopes 15 minutes after opening. Got to see the slow arc of the morning winter sun across the Manistee River Valley. Really a pretty morning. Got to run the Line powder skis a little and really enjoyed that. And the South Peak area was open for the first time this season.
The peace that happens when it is really cold astounds me. The world gets just a little quieter. And the crunch in the snow that happens is just about my favorite sound.
But Sunday found me at the ski shop for some warmer gloves!!!!!
Been plotting to dust off my cross-country skis and finally did so on Sunday. Unfortunately, I think the day's high was 13 degrees (that's Fahrenheit...) and wind gusts up to 35mph made a trek ill-advised. I'll wait for a little warmer day.
Happy holidays to you and your family. Hope you're well, safe, and happy.

19 December, 2008

My Review of Line Prophet 100 Skis

Originally submitted at REI

The search ends here for the ultimate off-piste machine—Line Prophet 100 skis cruise fresh glades, tight trees and steep lines with authority.

Surprisingly Versatile

By Seanahee from Ann Arbor, MI on 12/19/2008


5out of 5

Gift: No

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.



Big time snow in Michigan today - the first big one of the season. I cleared 5" off the drive at 7am and weatherman's calling for another 4-7" today. Needless to say, I am happy. I hate gray/brown Christmas.

One thing I'm certainly happy for is the Element. I was thinking as I drove out of my unplowed subdivision this morning that I was really glad to be rid of the Mustang. Snowy days always took too much creativity and effort. Element just chugged right through it all. I was surprised as I thought it a little low -- after owning several Jeeps -- but really no issues.
Still snowing as I write this. Nice swirling flakes. A friend is travelling on business in Miami and was just trying to make me jealous - no way, this is where I'd rather be. I think a little skiing tomorrow and perhaps a little time on the river with a fly rod, too.
Ahh, snowy winter in Michigan. Perfect!

15 December, 2008

Quotable Quote

“I’m not a perfectionist. I’m a serial obsessive... a seventy-five percenter. I get bored with doing the same thing. So, I isolate one thing, study and improve on it until I feel good about it, and then move on.”

Yvon Chouinard
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

Joys of the Season

I love ski season - especially in great snow and conditions. The season in Northern Michigan has sure been off to a nice start, though I hear rumors of temps in the 50s arriving next week. Not a fan of that.

Had an epic ski day Saturday at Caberfae. Drove up through some nice little squalls on and off. Upon arrival in the parking lot it was coming down nicely. The mood was interrupted when I realized I'd left my outer shell jacket on the table in the basement - but no matter, I'm pretty cold-tolerant.

Being a Midwesterner, we don't get a lot of powder days. Especially those of us who don't live up near the northern ski resorts. Why I felt compelled to by my big fat Line Prophet 100's is a bit of a mystery, but I tell myself it's for Utah ski trips. But they got a workout on Saturday -- snow just kept coming down. Really picked up around 3pm. And not just the usual powder on the treeline, but all over. I do love those skis. Every time I get to use them in their element, I'm just floored. And I'm really surprised by how well they handle groomed snow.

Those who know me are aware that while I like to buy toys, I have a love of a deal that pervades. Ski area food is one of my sore spots. It's expensive, usually REALLY unhealthy, and sometimes downright questionable. Last year I started on a more aggressive BYO approach. This year's big addition? A THERMOS -- ah, now it's more than just a cold sandwich. That hot chili tasted GOOD on a cold day! I've also become an afficianado of the convenience store sandwich. It's no worse than anything you'd get at the ski area (and many are quite good) and it's half the price. My favorite is the 7-11 at the entrance to Little Cottonwood Canyon (home to Solitude and Brighton ski areas). Great sandwiches, I can stock up on Diet Dew, and they actually have really nice souvenirs - I got my Solitude t-shirt there for 7 bucks!!!

Unfortunately, around 4pm the 30+ mph winds rolled in. About this time that earlier issue of forgetting my jacket becomes more of a problem. Top of the hill was like being sandblasted. Great fun skiing the bumps that have formed from the traffic and the heavy snows. I had my fly rod and gear for steelhead fishing (yes, I forgot THAT jacket, too...) in the truck. But with that kind of wind, time to scurry back downstate.


04 December, 2008

Flakes & Flies

Saturday may have been the best possible combo for winter fun. My main ski area Caberfae opened the Friday after Thanksgiving. I was suspect of the snow and crowds, but wanted to check out my new boots after some custom fitting work.

Friday night, I decide to pack up the trusty Element with ski gear, and fly fishing gear. Caberfae is only about 25 miles from some great steelheading on the Pere Marquette river -- one I'd never fished before.

Turns out Saturday is BEAUTIFUL skiing -- blue skies, few traces of those nice fluffy clouds you see in ski area brochures, and surprisingly good snow. Didn't see a single rock or stump. Just a great morning.


I now had visions of those cartwheeling chrome beauties on my mind. And fishing a river that's legendary, but that I've never tried. That's when the lift lines suddenly got REALLY long. Even skiing as a single, it was crowded. My cue to exit to the parking lot and trade ski boots for waders!

A short drive, with a stop at Baldwin Bait & Tackle for some suggestions, and I'm at the Green Cabin access point on the PM. Still sunny skies and almost 40 degrees. What a stunningly beautiful and peaceful place. I can see now the appeal of that river. Nice gravel flats, sandy tailouts, and lots of nice holes. Relatively easy wading, and great access. I hiked a mile or so upstream and waded back down to my starting point.

Saw a few jumps and splashes, but didn't hook up with anything. Well, except a few logs and snags. Lesson learned for the day -- I need to brush up on my knot and rigging skills if I'm going to do this. I ended up with some sort of half-ass rig after making do with what was in my vest, and in my memory from a quick demo at the local fly shop.

Fished until the sun hit the horizon and saw only one other soul -- a guide who floated past me in a drift boat with a client and some sort of cockapoo kinda' dog. Odd sight. But you see all manner of stuff when you get out...

This weekend, they're calling for snow in that area and I don't have commitments on Saturday, so I think I'll repeat! Flakes and flies seems the perfect wintertime combo - at least for me.

Tight lines!


24 November, 2008

Winter's Coming

While I seem to have really increased my enjoyment of summer in recent years, I'm still a winter animal.

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

Changing Times

First and foremost -- I'm very excited about the prospect of change in the White House. I think President-elect Obama will bring a fresh perspective. I'm thoroughly fed-up with the results of the past eight years. And I think Mr. McCain would have been more than likely much the same.


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

First Flakes

Well, it's here. First snow that stuck fell last night. It's cold (and dark) in the mornings. Stopped in at ski shop over the weekend. Now comes that LONG few weeks until skiing gets rolling. The anticipation is palpable - and contagious. All of my skiing friends seem to have it - newbies and old schoolers like me. We know it's coming, we just don't know when.

Heard this morning that areas around Traverse City got 6" of snow. Only a matter of time now. In the meantime, I'll get boot fit tuned up, get skis waxed, double- and triple-check all my gear. And watch the weather forecast every day.

In the meantime, I learned that there's a decent steelhead run in the lower reaches of the Huron River. An hour from home is MUCH better than 3-4 hours. May need to run down this weekend and check out that action!


28 October, 2008

In Praise of the Hundred Dollar Shotgun

Always had good luck with the hundred dollar shotgun. My first was a vintage Winchester 1200 pump, bought from a friend. A little cleaning (ewwww - gritty!) and it's been a great all-rounder for clays and hunting. Then a Stoeger Uplander side-by-side for upland birds. It's a little fussy (likes to be CLEAN) but comes up super-fast and shoots where you point it.

Recently my buddy Paul picked up a Remington 11-48 for a hundred bucks at a gun shop. A little rough, and needed some parts and some love. But it's built like a truck.

I'd been thinking about a semi-auto for clays. Was really eyeing the Beretta 391's. But even used, they're a grand. Plus, you whack them into a tree ducking under a fence or something, you feel bad.

Sure enough, I'm in Cabela's a couple weeks back and they have not one, but TWO 11-48's. The cheaper one ends up around a hundred bucks. It's in VERY nice shape. A little clean-up, some attention to the wood and VOILA! Looks like a TWO hundred dollar gun.

Only issue is it's got one of those awful PolyChoke adjustable chokes. Looks like a snake digesting a rat and totally distracts sight picture. But that's an easy enough fix. Shot clays with it last week and worked great!

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

Feelin' the Steel

Outstanding day yesterday fly fishing for steelhead on the Big Manistee with friend and colleague Jim, and Jon Ray from Hawkins Fly Fishing (http://www.hawkinsflyfishing.com/).

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!!!

Tight lines!


13 October, 2008

Random Stuff

Took a great Fall ride yesterday with neighbor Mike -- about 25 miles and kept up an 18 mph pace. So nice to ride with someone to push me. But can feel the season winding down. Need to find something to maintain that aerobic fitness. And, yes, I know I can ride when it's cold, but I WON'T. Strangely I love all these cold-weather things and am very cold-tolerant when skiing, fishing, hunting, etc. But, for some strange reason, I turn into a wuss on my bike in the cold! Just hate it.

Did review summary data yesterday from my Garmin computer and I've ridden over 1,200 miles this season, and (if you believe these things) burned over 90,000 calories! That was kind of cool to see.

But I was eyeing my super-cool, super-fat Line Prophet 100 skis that I picked up at season's end yesterday and I think I started to drool a little. Yes, ski season's coming. Sure hope for another epic snow winter like last year! Had some beautiful days in Utah (like Alta, at left) and in Michigan, too!!! Hope for more of the same this year.
Steelhead fishing next week with Hawkins Outfitters. If you're eager to try for this challenging fish, even if you're a newbie, spend a day with Jon Ray. I learned more with him than in a whole season on my own.

29 September, 2008

Lost My Best Outdoor Companion

A rough weekend. After a brief illness, I lost perhaps the best outdoor companion I've ever had - my dog Otis.

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

Share Your Passion

Was reading latest copy of Ducks Unlimited magazine and they had a sidebar article on how to help out with conservation and environmental awareness. One item resonated with me -- they suggested you introduce a friend or family member to an outdoor passion of yours. They further added that in our increasingly "outdoor averse" world of Wii, wireless Internet, and on-demand cable TV it's getting easier for people to WATCH rather than DO. And we've increasingly become a culture that's lost touch with the outdoors.

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

Church of the Sacred Trout

Wonderful weekend of fishing in UP with friend Paul, and Dad. Lots of great things, but one story stands out.

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

With A Little Help from My Friends

Great weekend of fun outdoor stuff, courtesy of some good friends.

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

Only a Matter of Time

As expected, headed back to Great Lakes Cycle to see Steve. He wasn't surprised to see me, and I was greeted with, "So, liked that back wheel and you're here to order the front now, huh?"

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

Lessons Learned

Learned some interesting lessons while camping and fishing in northern MI last weekend.

  1. Waterproof matches are better than lighters. They never run out of butane.
  2. 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.
  3. State Park campgrounds aren't free because they're patrolled and maintained, unlike County campgrounds.
  4. A $12 tent will have a weakest link. It would appear that mine are the stakes. Easy upgrade.
  5. The Mustang was a dumb idea. The Element was a good idea.
  6. New rod loft rack ROCKS. What a great product.
  7. Trout streams are COLD. Dang!
  8. I need to work on my knot skills.
  9. There are too many rich people in Harbor Springs. And they need to show this wealth off too much.
  10. I don't understand golf.


25 August, 2008


So much to say about the amazing weekend, but I'll start with some bite-sized chunks today -- that work thing is getting in the way.

Headed to the Petoskey/Charlevoix area for friend and co-worker Keith's wedding. An area I've spent very little time in, so I was excited. Plus a little camping, a little fishing...

Friday was perhaps one of the best days I can remember. After a late start (chores, work, ugh...) I got on the road with a loaded down Element. Decided on the drive up to try and fish the Jordan River and possible stay at Fisherman's Island State Park in Charlevoix.

Checked out a campground on Jordan at Graves Crossing. First spot occupied by an RV with 46,000 empty Bud Light cans. Yeah, on to Charlevoix. Why do people need to do that? But river looked great, so headed in to Charlevoix. What a gem Fisherman's Island SP was. Rustic, beautiful sites, and very well maintained. Snagged a nice site and proceeded to set camp.

This was the maiden voyage for the $12 tent. And it was GREAT! Of course, the weather was beautiful without a spot of rain, so that helped.

After getting camp set, grabbed fly fishing gear and headed back to Jordan River for an evening fish. In a word, "WOW". Clear, sparkling, cold, just a stunning setting. Even got a nice little 6" brown trout for my troubles. Sent him on his way after thanking him for some fun. After a mile or so downstream, hiked back to the truck and sat on the tailgate with a well-earned beer as the sun began to sink.

Back to Petoskey for a quick dinner (and, uh, a few more beers -- I met some cool locals sitting at the bar...) and to camp for a nice fire.

About this time, the catharsis of all this starts to sink in. I've just spent the majority of my day accountable to no one but me. And doing what I alone wanted to do. At my pace. But more importantly, it's a return to my roots. As a kid, my family camped all the time. And as a Boy Scout, I camped even more. I always loved it, but for a lot of reasons, I stopped. As I sat by the fire, I realized how good the connection to nature really felt. The persistent knot in my neck seemed to be gone. And I was truly at-peace. More on this amazing weekend later...

21 August, 2008

The $12 Tent Test

Well, headed to Petoskey, MI area tomorrow. Going to fish the area rivers, and attend a friend's wedding on Saturday. So I thought this the perfect opportunity to test out the $12 tent. Gotta' love www.sportsmansguide.com for bargains. Report will follow!



So, the profile says photographer... some recent pix of sunflowers along US-12 outside Clinton on a beautiful summer evening. Shot over 350 images. Here are the highlights.

20 August, 2008

Do Good - Now

Spent yesterday afternoon on pick-up/delivery run for Food Gatherers. In addition to a beautiful sunny day, it was a good reminder that I'm glad I took the time to get started with this organization.

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

Take Me out to the Ballgame...

Outside means lots of different things. One of my faves in the summer is a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park. On a pleasant summer day, very little makes Detroit look as alive.

Yesterday, Dad and I took niece Emma and nephew Owen to their first game. They seemed decidedly underwhelmed, but uncle Sean and Grandpa enjoyed! Outcome could have been better -- 16-8 final. But no matter the score, always a fun time.

Food is key. If you don't have time for Slows BBQ (on MI Ave by old Tiger Stadium), I recommend the grilled Hebrew National hot dogs with grilled onions. Wash down with a cold Blue Light. Repeat as necessary!


15 August, 2008

Just around the corner?

Last night I arrive home after a business dinner to the first Fall edition of Skiing magazine. Didn't really sink in. This morning, I awake to thoughts of waist-deep Utah blower powder. Now begins the anxious pre-ski-season cycle. Summer's winding down with shorter days, cooler mornings, etc. But we're a LONG way from snow. Thoughts turn to how cool those new Line Prophet 100's are going to be in the steep and deep (they got a really good review in this same issue, btw).

Of course, I will still be found wading the Huron fly fishing the hex hatch tonight. And I've got a 30+ mile ride planned for the weekend, a Tigers game on Sunday afternoon, and maybe some more fishing that night. But visions of sliding the frozen are firmly fixed in my mind.

13 August, 2008

No More Road Rage

In an earlier post, I mentioned what a mess Huron River Drive (where I usually cycle) was west of Zeeb. On the way out to fish at Hudson Mills the other night, I found they're tearing up that stretch and fixing it.

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

I Love This Time of Year

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. SO much to do -- great cycling weather, hex hatch is on the Huron so fishing is good, nice to shoot outdoors. But never enough time to do it all, so have to choose carefully!

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

Value of Buying Local

In the era of costs spiraling and easy access to products and services over the web, I feel compelled to put in a plug buying local, even if it costs a buck or two more. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of local places with poor service, but when you can seek out and find the good ones, it's worth supporting them with your $$$.

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

It's Element(al)

After years of owning Jeeps (4 Grand Cherokees and a Cherokee) I made the 40-year-old misstep into a 2006 Mustang. Don't get me wrong -- they're great cars -- fast, handle great, comfortable. But, when you do the stuff I like to do, not so good. This past snowy winter I vowed would be my last with the silver bullet.

But what to drive? With gas over $4 a gallon, my dream F150 Quad Cab didn't seem wise -- nor even smaller SUV's. I'd always eyed the Honda Element as cool, quirky, functional, and most importantly something my Dad wouldn't drive (sorry, Dad...).

One quick look at the super functional interior sold it. Rubber floors with rubber mats. Back seats that fold flat and then flip up to the sides individually. Lots of great storage. Ass-kickin' stereo with subwoofer and iPod hook up. Easy mounting for my Yakima racks. Done.

And, I love it. Great mileage. Fun to drive. I think it will be good in the snow. Need to take the bike somewhere? No problem - fold one seat up and put it in the back. Want to flyfish? Drop the tailgate and sit on it to put waders and boots on. After you're done, just throw the wet slimy gear in. It holds, it hauls and it's cool. I've included a few pix of mine (I'll get better ones soon) -- doing a little customizing to make it me and/or functional. Now I look forward to winter. Bring it on!!!

04 August, 2008


Just when I was thinking I was all in great shape -- Saturday I go for a long bike ride with my neighbor, Mike. He dropped me like a bad habit. Then I remembered, he's started doing triathalons this year. It's possible he just might be somewhat more aerobically fit than I am...


31 July, 2008

Badge of Honor?

Evidently, you can "ride the wheels off" of your mid-level road bike with machine-built wheels. After a few weeks of progressively worsening clicking, then pinging, then outright racket on Tuesday night's ride it was off to the bike shop.

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


Got a reminder last night of one of the reasons I'm starting to really enjoy Michigan's summers (I was always mostly a winter guy) -- really nothing better than a nice long bike ride on a summer evening. Rolling out I was a little stiff after a week in the office, but loosened up quickly. The sounds and smells of Huron River Drive between Ann Arbor and Dexter make it a marvellous ride.

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


Was outside at lunch briefly. Man that cuts down the productivity in the afternoon! Just want to be out in the river, on my bike, or at the range! Oh well, 5pm's not so far away!

21 July, 2008


Heat finally broke after a week of A/C (ugh -- I hate the stuff). But after some long, hot bike rides in tropical heat and humidity, it got me to thinking. I've always liked cold weather (I was born in February in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, so I think that explains it), but the past few years I've gotten to really enjoy HOT, too. My favorite time to ride my bike is when it's over 90! Shot clays on Friday with friends in the 92 degree heat and loved it!

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

A different sort of outside...

Yesterday was my first shift as a food run volunteer with Food Gatherers, Ann Arbor's local affiliate of America's Second Harvest. I've been looking for some activites to try and give back to the community and stumbled onto this one after seeing a feature on ABC News. The story detailed how some stable middle-class families have ended up needing assistance due to the failing economy and gas price increases.

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

New Addition

There's a new addition to the family this weekend - a CZ 452 Lux .22 bolt action. I've wanted a good bolt since I started target shooting. And now I've got one. It's beautifully styled (very European, especially in the forearm) and feels wonderfully constructed.


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

Time Flies

Jeez -- last post June 18th? Wow. Looking forward to the long holiday weekend. Trying to decide what I want to do. With all the rains, rivers may not be feasible for fly fishing. But might be perfect for kayaking! And, of course, time to get the bike out on the road once these storms clear out today. So many things I could do! Summer may be the best time to live in Michigan!

Enjoy your Holiday and be safe!


18 June, 2008

Ruger 10/22

Having great fun with my Ruger 10/22 "project rifle". A friend gave me this neat little gun and now I've been introduced to the world of tricked out Rugers. So far, replaced the AWFUL factory sights with fiber optics. And tore it down and replaced the dumb magazine release and goofy bolt lock/unlock method. The results were GREAT. After a little sighting in at the range, nice tight groups. And SO much easier to use with tweaks to the action.

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


As my description says, I make my living in marketing and advertising. I find the outdoor space really interesting. Some truly great marketing and some truly awful.

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


It's been over 85 degrees much of the past two weeks and quite humid. So, why do I keep thinking about ski season?

10 June, 2008

I Love Outdoorspeople

At a business networking event today, I'm chatting with the guy next to me. Turns out he's a fly fisherman and when he finds out I've recently discovered it we have a very interesting chat. With a few moments, he's sharing some suggestions for places on the Huron River, near where I live.

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!


.22 and the Price of Everything

I think one of my outdoor favorites is my discovery of .22's for target shooting. As ammo costs skyrocket (bought a box of .45 rounds lately? Yikes.) the .22 remains a bargain. After shooting a friend's .22 rifle last year I decided in January that a Browning Buckmark needed to get added to the collection. Then a friend gave me his old Ruger 10/22 rifle.

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


OK, so gotten all interested in this whole social media thing. On LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. And it's all very intriguing and connecting. So, I notice that people seem to have blogs. I have one for work (www.pwb.com) but we all contribute there.

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.