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.