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...