Catch Two Fish And Call Me In the Morning…

For those that know me well and happen to believe in astrology, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I was born under a water sign (Hi, I’m an Aquarius. What’s your sign?). Throughout my lifetime I’ve spent a huge amount of time either on or in the water or taking part in some activity that involves water. Fishing, swimming, boating, tubing, rafting…I love water. When life is getting crazy I often find peace near water. Sometimes it’s by sitting next to a river or stream watching and listening to the water as it makes its way downhill toward the ocean. Sometimes it’s by sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in and breathing in the salt air. Other times it’s by sitting on a pool float with a frosty frothy beverage in hand and just chillin’ or spending some time in my kayak with a flyrod in hand.

Water is my therapy and here lately I’ve needed some therapy. We recently ramped up a large complex project at work. It’s a project designed to be completed in 8 to 10 weeks but someone decided to compress the schedule to 4 to 5 weeks. Tasks that were designed to be completed in series are now being completed in parallel and guess who gets to do all the coordination? Fortunately it’s all coming together but it’s left me more than a little frazzled and short on sleep.

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I decided it was time for some kayak-flyrod therapy. The pond I fish the most is loaded with 1 to 2 pound bass and they’re a blast to catch on a light rod. I grabbed my 2 wt rod, reel and the rest of my gear, loaded up my kayak and headed out.

Why is it that every time I string up my 2 wt flyrod the wind starts blowing? Yesterday was perfectly calm. I drove to the pond and unloaded my kayak without even a hint of a breeze in the air but as soon as I pulled my TFO 8 ft 2 wt rod out of its case the breeze started to stir. As I put the three sections together the wind kicked up a little more. By the time I had the reel locked in the reel seat and the line through the guides there were whitecaps rolling down the pond. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little…there weren’t any whitecaps…but it was a perfectly calm day before I pulled that rod out.

I was a little surprised to find the pond was a little over a foot low…very odd for this time of year, especially when we’ve had a good bit of rain lately. Good or bad, all the houses on the pond use pond water for irrigation, as does the subdivision golf course. Looks like they’ve been pumping a heck of a lot of water lately.

Down

I paddled over to the rock pile in the middle of the pond that’s exposed when the water gets low to make a few casts but no luck. The afternoon sun was overhead so I figured I might do better of I hit the far side of the pond and found some shade. Good call. I found fish tight against the western shore of the pond, just inside the shade line. If you were fishing more than three of four feet from the shoreline and outside the shade you might as well have been fishing in a bathtub.

I picked up 8 or 10 bass in a couple of hours, all just about the same size.

Bass

Nothing big, nothing small, just solid fish that put a nice bend in my rod… I finally called it an afternoon, loaded up and headed out to pick up a pizza for supper. My hydro-therapy helped a lot…just what the doctor ordered. A little pizza therapy was icing on the cake.

Posted in Fly Fishing, Flyfishing, Largemough Bass, Stealth Bomber | 2 Comments

And Then I Changed My Mind…

I really wasn’t planning to write a blog post today. I went to the pond this morning and caught one little bass…nothing to write about really. I spent a little while running some errands with my mom and then shooting my new pellet rifle this afternoon…again, no major story there. I also cooked some wings on the Big Green Egg for supper and threw on some smoked venison sausage for lunches next week. I still didn’t think I had a story to tell until I bit into the wings…and then I changed my mind.

Wings and Sausages

OK, I’ve written about cooking wings on the BGE before…no big deal, right. But these were different. Not so much in the cooking method employed (raised, direct at 400) but in the flavor and heat level.

Early this morning I gave the raw wings a coating of ranch dressing mix (powder) then coated them again in the afternoon. When I begin to cook I cooked the wings for about 10 minutes on each side then began to baste them with the wing sauce. Here’s where things changed a bit. Normally I simply baste the wings in a mix of butter and Frank’s Red Hot…but I ran out of Frank’s. Soooo, I decided to supplement it with a generous splash of sriracha sauce. I’m not sure if that was a bad good idea, a good bad idea, both or neither. The wings had a very interesting flavor and I liked it. OK, I like sriracha, if you don’t, you probably won’t like these wings. While the flavor was quite interesting, the heat level kicked way up compared to Frank’s. I can tolerate a good bit of heat and these wings were well within my tolerance range. Had I made them for the family I can say without a doubt I’d be the only one eating more than one. Unfortunately the heat level in the wings made the Strawn’s IPA I had with supper go down a little too fast…but it was mighty good too.

Now about the smoked venison sausage…those are supposed to be for my lunch next week. Well, three of the links are anyway. I hope the rest make it…but I can’t make any promises. I had to test one tonight and now my lunch plans are on jeopardy. Yeah, they’re that good. The sausage was made by Dorminy’s Processing in Carnsville, Georgia from a deer my Uncle Robert killed last fall. Hope I can talk him out of some more.

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You Got to Know When to Hold ‘Em…

“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run”

This piece of advice given in Kenny Rogers hit song The Gambler can apply to many situations in life. Surprisingly, it can even apply to airguns. A few weeks ago I posted about the new air rifle I had purchased. Anticipation and optimism turned into frustration and dismay as I tried not only to sight in the scope but just get a decent grouping of pellets. At times my best grouping at about 20 yards could best be described as 8½ by 11. Hey, at least I stayed on the paper.

I cleaned the barrel, tightened every screw I could find to tighten, tried several different pellets and tried a few other things that seasoned airgun shooters recommend to get a gun to shoot its best, all to no avail. I finally came to the conclusion that I was either going to have to soak some money into it or return it and try something else. I learned after I made my initial purchase that Gamo’s triggers are known for being just shy of terrible but can be replaced with a good after-market trigger for about $35. Having the gun tuned by a pro airgun tuner was another option, of course that would involve even more money. After doing some research on my favorite airgun forum I finally came to the conclusion that it was time to fold ‘em and to RUN…straight to the Academy Sports store to return that sucker. Somehow it didn’t come as much of a surprise that when I returned the gun the girl at the customer service desk commented that “We’ve had lot of these returned lately.” Hmmmmm.

Now that I was once again without an airgun, there was only one thing to do…more research to see what might be available at about the same price point as the Gamo. It didn’t take long to find out that Ruger’s AirHawk, BlackHawk and BlackHawk Elite were good options. Most forum comments described them as good shooters right out of the box with minimal need for tweaks. I was set to order the AirHawk model online when I happened to be in WallyWorld in Blairsville, Georgia and noticed a BlackHawk Elite on the shelf.

Blackhawk EliteBased on the forum comments, both the AirHawk and Blackhawk Elite seemed to have a slight edge over the standard models with respect to accuracy. With that in mind I grabbed one up and headed for the checkout line.

Like most kids with a new toy, I was anxious to try mine out. One problem…it was Friday night – the first night of a 4-night trip up to Young Harris College and I was staying on-campus. Not too many shooting opportunities there. It wasn’t easy but I resisted the urge to give it a try and waited until I got home Tuesday evening. It was probably a good thing I did too since the first 6 or 8 shots sounded more like a .22 rifle instead of an airgun and somebody probably would have freaked.

Once home I gave the barrel a good cleaning to get the factory and shipping gunk out, wiped the metal parts down with an oil cloth and tightened the bolts in the stock then took a few shots at my target board to get a feel for the gun and to see if the trigger was better than the Gamo…and it was better, much better. Once satisfied I mounted the scope that came with it.

Despite it being about dark outside I set up a target to give it a try. Despite the fact I could barely see the crosshairs against the target and I was simply leaning against our basement doorframe for a rest, it shot a respectable 5-shot group at 20 yards practically right out of the box.

Blackhawk No 1

Unfortunately I had to wait a few days to begin to sight in the scope from a bench (if you can call a folding table with a Rubbermaid container and four sand bags on top a ‘bench’) but I finally got there. Typically it takes a few hundred shots to ‘break in’ an airgun and for it to begin to shoot fairly tight groups. Needless to say I was thrilled when the Ruger began to tighten up after less than a hundred shots.

Blackhawk No 2

Once I can build a proper shooting bench to have a more stable rest, add a better scope and mounts and try several different types of pellets to figure out what kind this gun likes best, I don’t see any reason that I shouldn’t be shooting dime-sized groups off the bench at 30 yards or so.

I’m one happy camper here.

BTW folks, I use the word ‘toy’ only as a figure of speech here. Airguns like this are not toys by any means. They may not burn gunpowder but they can still be dangerous and even deadly if mishandled.

Posted in Air Rifle, Pellet Gun, Ruger, Ruger Blackhawk Elite | Leave a comment

Break Out The Ibuprofen!

Once upon a time there was a small college in northeast Georgia named Young Harris College. Many years ago when I was a young lad I was a student at Young Harris and I was a member of the outdoor club which was named Quantrek. Quantrek provided many opportunities for the students to have fun in the outdoors. We went hiking and camping and rafting and caving in the beautiful mountains surrounding the college. On our very first hiking trip, during our second weekend on campus, I think they were trying to kill us.

Not exactly the fairy tale you thought I was leading into, eh? OK, they probably weren’t really trying to kill us but they almost succeeded. It was one of those trips that had I really been thinking I might have decided to pass. Our death march took us UP the Arkaquah Trail from Trackrock Gap near the Young Harris campus to the top, yes, I said the top…of Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia. And the adventure didn’t stop there. After taking in the view from the observation tower on top of the mountain we hiked down the Old Wagon Road from Brasstown back down to campus. Unfortunately I don’t remember much about the trip down the Old Wagon Road. After the trip UP the Arkaqua Trail I was pretty much in survival mode and was just trying to get back to campus alive and more or less in one piece.

I had to be back up at Young Harris on Monday to help out with a fly tying workshop for the students so I decided to head up a couple of days early and make a weekend of it. I asked Ashley, who is a student here at Young Harris now, if she would want to hike Old Wagon Road from Brasstown back down to campus and do a bit of geocaching along the way. She wanted to go and since her boyfriend Jared was also planning to be on campus this weekend for the Spring Formal, she decided that he wanted to go too.
Ashley convinced her friend C.J. to get up early Saturday morning and give us a lift up to the Brasstown parking lot.

CJ

Instead of heading straight for the visitors center and observation deck at the top of the mountain, we headed down the Jacks Knob trail a little ways to find a cache owned by one of my friend Dr. Paul Arnold who is a professor at Young Harris.

HikersJacks Knob Sign

After we found the cache and signed the log we headed back to the trailhead, across the parking lot and up the half-mile summit trail to the mountaintop to take in the view and get the details needed to ‘find’ the earthcache at the top of the mountain.

Lot and TowerBrasstown View 3Brasstown View 2Brasstown View 1

Once we had enjoyed the view enough and gathered the earthcache details and photo necessary to claim the earthcache find we headed back down the path to the Old Wagon Road trailhead to begin our 6 ½ mile walk back down to campus.

Wagon Road SignTrail

I’ve read several different accounts about the origins of the wagon road but the account posted on the trailhead marker seems most plausible. Along the way we could see signs of the road construction efforts including rock cuts with remnants of holes drilled to blast away rock and even a drill bit that has become stuck in the hard bedrock and was abandoned.

Wagon Road Rock CutDrill Bit

Ashley and Jared got more than one history lesson during the day. They were surprised to learn that the mountains that are so lush and green today (OK, they’re not completely green yet but spring is here so it won’t be long) were nearly completely barren around the beginning of the 20th century due to the widespread logging practice of clearcutting.
We found our third cache of the day about two miles down the trail then stopped for lunch at an overlook where we could look back and see the Brasstown tower above the trailhead.

LunchLunch BreakDistant Tower

Finally after 6 ½ miles we could see the backs of the college residence halls where the trail ends.

Almost There

I have to admit, I had forgotten just how difficult hiking downhill could be. While the demands of hiking uphill are pretty obvious but downhill is a different story. One has to keep an eye on the trail and pay close attention to foot placement to avoid rolling an ankle, a faceplant or an unintended detour off the edge of the trail and the side of the mountain. Building up too much momentum has its own problems. Keep all that up for 6 ½ miles, OK, actually a more like 8 ½ to 9 since we had already walked part of the Jack’s Knob trail and the Brasstown summit trail, and you end up with three tired but happy hikers at the end of the day. Break out the ibuprofen!

Posted in Backpacking, Brasstown Bald, Camping, Day Hike, Geocaching, Hiking, Old Wagon Road, Young Harris, Young Harris College | Leave a comment

Frisbee Anyone?

The weather is finally starting to warm up and sunshine and blue skies have us wanting to go outside and play.  What could be more fun on a nice spring day than getting out in the yard or going to the park and tossing a frisbee around?  How about instead of just tossing a frisbee around turn it into a friendly competition?  Or maybe make it a serious competition?   Or how about a game of Ultimate?  

What the heck is Ultimate?  Until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure myself so I asked Kaleb Swanda, a student at Young Harris College and co-founder and Captain of the YHC Ultimate Team, and Deven Siesel, YHC Residence Director and team coach, to write this guest post to teach me a little about the game and to spotlight YHC’s Ultimate team.  Here’s what Kaleb and Deven had to say:

What is ultimate?

Ultimate is a way of life. The spirit of the game encourages us to take responsibility of our actions, but also to learn to coexist with others in a mutually respectful manner. It is something that you can do and feel so at peace with oneself and escape the emotions of the day. It is one of the things I most enjoy doing in life. It also has a very different feel than other teams sports in that allows anyone of any talent level to come out and play. All you need is a Frisbee and people.

Why Ultimate at YHC?

It’s always been a dream of Captain Kaleb Swanda to play for a college team. When it was made apparent by God, that YHC was where he belonged, he realized there was no team. His options were to start one up himself or to deny his love for the game. He has always loved it and had some interest from but just not enough to get a full team until this year. This was the right year to start because the overwhelming interest from the student body. The guys really rallied and placed Kaleb at the forefront of the process of creating a club team. Within a month the pegs and pieces were in place and forty people showed up for tryouts. Twenty-five die hard students stuck with it and became the nucleus of this new sport on campus. Now it is just a matter of getting into tournaments and keeping the guys together and improving. The guys are all excited and ready to go and have stepped up to the challenge. The faculty, staff and administrators have also rallied behind us and allowed for the excitement to spread even further on Young Harris’ Campus

Goals?

The goal for the team is to try and make nationals our first year in existence and have a birth in Ohio. It is a great dream of many of the guys on the team too. Another goal is to see the guys, who come from very diverse cliques of campus, to a unified team that is cohesive in every way. Yet another goal is to prepare the team to try and allow the professional level to be a true option and dream of everyone on our team. Kaleb would personally love to play for Chain Lightning, an Atlanta based professional team, that is the best in the state and one of the best in the country.

Name of team: Dies Irae

Basics of the game:

All you need to play is a Frisbee and people. However, in competitions you need a specific certified Frisbee and 14 guys, enough for 7 on each side. You need a field that is 70 yards long and 40 yards wide with 25 yard deep end zones. You have to abide by the spirit of the game policy, which includes a love of the game and having a mutual respect for those playing it and the game itself. Another rule involves the beginning with a term called a pull, which is compared to a kickoff in football. Teams must stay in their end zones until the disc is in play. In order to maintain possession of the disc you must continuously pass it down field to your teammates without it hitting the ground. If the disc is dropped it is equivalent to an interception and the roles of the teams swap. After a catch you are allowed up to three steps in order to come to stop but may never cross the line to the end zone by walking. Stall counting is also a major part to the game. Typically stall count is set at 10 and is similar to a blitz count in backyard football, but if stall 10 is reached it is a turnover rather than the defense being able to blitz. The first point of contact of a player’s body and the ground is what is used to determine where the play is marked, if something was inbounds or out of bounds, and if it was a score or not. The biggest rule of ultimate is that it is self-officiated and there is no referee other than the players on the field. Fouls can range from unnecessary physical contact to swearing and over excessive taunting. Fouls do not always result in turnovers, but rather typically just restarts the play from the point where the foul was called. In most tournaments when the first team hits 8 points it is halftime and first team to 13-15 is the winner. There is also typically a 90 minute time cap that can end a game before a score limit is reached.

Ultimate 1

Ultimate 2

Ultimate 3

Ultimate 4

Ultimate 5

Ultimate 6

Posted in Frisbee, Ultimate, Ultimate Frisbee, Young Harris, Young Harris College | 2 Comments

Growing Up is Overrated…

I turned forty-nine the other day and I’ll admit it, I still like playing with my toys. OK, I’m not talking about Lego’s or Hot Wheels cars. No, I’m talking about big boy toys…like knives and guns and backpacks and fishing rods and other such things.

One of the benefits of birthdays is that one often ends up with a little extra cash that is expected not to be spent on paying bills or buying necessities but, instead, is to be spent on something fun…like toys. This year was no exception. I had a little birthday money burning a hole in my pocket and I was having a heck of a time deciding what to do with it. It wasn’t enough to retire and move to the Caribbean but it was certainly enough to find something fun to play with. I had several really good ideas but couldn’t decide which one to choose. I finally got my inspiration from a post by my buddy Randy V. on Facebook. He’d just pulled the trigger, literally and figuratively, on a new air rifle. Not a BB gun like a Daisy Red Ryder, but a nice break-barrel pellet rifle. Now I love to shoot and a nice air rifle has been on my want list for quite a few years. By coincidence, I was looking at the air rifles at our local Academy Sports store just before Christmas and was thinking that it would be a lot of fun to have one. So I decided “What the heck, Randy is older than me and if he’s not too old for an air rifle then then I’m not either!”

Once I had decided on my general ‘what’, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and come up with a more specific ‘what’. My budget narrowed the selection considerably and it was narrowed further by eliminating pump-up pellet rifles and BB guns. Normally I like to buy from a local specialty shop if possible but gun shops, particularly good gun shops, are getting harder and harder to find these days and good gun shops that carry air rifles in my price range just don’t seem to exist close by. As I wrote this post in my head I intended to say something at this point like “‘so back to Academy Sports I went with a list narrowed to five or six models and home I came with a Gamo Big Cat 1250 and a couple of tins of pellets”. However, I decided to take another look at Academy’s website and noticed that they had that model on sale for $30 less with free shipping. Now I don’t normally like ordering stuff like this online but that thirty bucks was enough for a couple of tins of pellets and a cleaning kit…I pretty much had to do it.

gamo-big-cat-1250-177-caliber-air-rifle

So I placed my order and the waiting began…and I waited…and waited…and waited some more. If you ask ConnieLou she’ll tell you that I’m not all that good at waiting. I’m not really impatient, but anticipation just gets the best of me sometimes. Try hanging around me the week before vacation or a camping or fishing trip and you’ll understand.

OK, so it was only two days until I came home from work and my package was waiting for me beside the front door.

Box

Needless to say I didn’t waste any time opening the package to get to the prizes inside…or should I say the prize inside…

Box 2

But…wait…what happened to the other stuff? There should have been a couple of tins of pellets and a cleaning kit in the box too. As it turns out, one of the two cans of pellets was back ordered.  The cleaning kit and other tin of pellets were to be shipped separately, not with the rifle. What’s up with that? It’s not like there wasn’t any leftover space in the box with the rifle. Heck, there was enough room for another rifle and then a bit of room to spare. So why weren’t the pellets and cleaning kit shipped with the rifle? The world may never know. Fortunately I was able to pick up a tin of pellets locally so I didn’t have to wait several more days, weeks or months for the rest of the order to arrive and to actually be able to shoot my new air rifle.

So was it worth all the wait and anticipation? Oh yeah. So far I’ve killed a few of cat food cans and punched holes in some paper…

Target

Have a little ways to go to get it dialed in tight but that group isn’t too bad considering I was shooting from a wobbly rest on a rolled up towel. Guess this means I’m gonna have to build a proper shooting bench and make up some sand bags for the back yard.

Yeah, I’m having fun here. For what it’s worth, growing up is overrated. Fortunately I’ve heard that if you don’t grow up by the time you’re fifty you don’t have to…I’m almost there!

Posted in Air Rifle, Gamo, Pellet Gun | Leave a comment

Priorities

It’s February 2nd, sunny and 70 degrees. Should I stay inside and work or enjoy a little hammock time? Easy answer. Work will wait.

20140202-145711.jpg

Posted in Hammock, Hammock Camping, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lessons Learned…

Unless you live in another country and don’t pay attention to US news or in a cave without internet access, you’ve probably heard about the little snowstorm which brought life in most of the southeastern US to a near standstill and paralyzed the city of Atlanta and the surrounding area. This post will be related to the storm but will not discuss the preparedness or response by state and local officials. There are enough of those types of discussions going on already and besides, no one wants to read a bunch of political crap on my blog any more than I want to type it. I have my opinions, you have yours. They may or may not be the same…let’s just leave it at that and move on.

So…if you’re still with me, you’re probably wondering what this post is actually supposed to be about. Well, I’ll tell ya… It’s about the lessons I learned about my own preparedness for an event like this…or lack thereof.

Honestly, as Tuesday morning started to unfold, I wasn’t all that concerned about the storm. Yeah, we knew it was coming. I received a notice on my phone announcing a Winter Weather Advisory sometime late Saturday or Sunday another announcing a Winter Storm Warning late Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. But…all the forecasts that I’d seen prior to Monday morning called for the worst of the storm to be south and east of Atlanta with minimal impact to Atlanta and the counties north of town. Unfortunately, as we all know now, that wasn’t the way it happened. Anyway, ConnieLou and I went to work like it was a regular Tuesday morning with a vague plan to leave a little early if things started to look bad.

At the office Tuesday morning I kept an eye on a couple of different weather and news websites in hopes of having a chance of getting out of town early if it actually did hit the fan. I started hearing reports of snow in Moreland, Georgia, about 50 miles south of Atlanta by 10:00 and started seeing flurries outside my office around 11:30. The snow started coming harder and by 12:30 I noticed it was starting to stick on the ground and not just on the cars, bushes and other elevated surfaces…time to get ready to get out of Dodge. I had to round up a couple of things to take home to work on and take care of a few last minute things but at 12:50 I was walking out the door…too late.

My good friend Beth T. posted the following graphic on Facebook that gives a pretty good summary of how the traffic situation unfolded:

Time Lapse

To make a long story short, I left the office at 12:50, picked ConnieLou up at the Atlanta airport where she works around 3:30 (OK, to be fair, she wasn’t able to break away early so I waited for her for about 30 minutes in the Cell Phone Lot) and we finally arrived home at 5:30. As one can see on the graphic, traffic around Atlanta, particularly to the west and south was pretty much screwed by 1:00 and, of course, we were headed southwest. By most accounts, we actually made pretty good time. I traveled the 10 miles from my office to the airport and then the remaining 25 miles home in a little over 4 hours total driving time. For comparison, the same trip takes just over an hour most days under ‘normal’ traffic conditions. By mid-afternoon, well, I think this pretty much sums things up.

Sorry Folks

As we drove along, I had some time to think about things that I could have and probably should have done…along the way. For lack of a better term, let’s call them ‘lessons learned’ even though none of them are new at all…

Lesson #1 – Keep a Weather Eye…

A sailor’s saying. Sailors throughout the ages have kept a close eye on the weather which can change fast on the ocean and conditions can turn deadly very quickly. In this case we probably should have had a better plan to leave earlier. The only problem…snow that actually causes problems is relatively rare here in our area so we probably don’t pay as much attention to it as we probably should have.

Lesson #2 – Be Prepared…

Yeah, I was a Boy Scout and, yeah, I should have been better prepared. As I said, we headed off to work just like it was a normal winter Tuesday. For me, normal winter Tuesday attire usually consists of a light long sleeve shirt, a pair of khaki pants or maybe jeans, office shoes, a regular pair of socks and a fleece jacket. Looking back, I probably should have tossed a heavy coat, a heavy pair of socks, some gloves and a stocking cap and a pair of waterproof boots in the trunk…just in case.

Lesson #3 – Take a Ditch Kit…

Sorry, I didn’t have a cute name for this one but the message is clear…there was no ditch kit in the car in case we got stranded. What’s a ditch kit? It’s simply a bag or box that contains a few survival items in it such as a blanket, a couple bottles of water, a couple of granola bars, a spare pair of socks, a pair of gloves, a stocking cap and a flashlight and spare batteries. One can get much more elaborate but those few items can keep one relatively warm and alive for a little while when stranded until help arrived. Over the next few weeks a ditch kit will be put together for each of our vehicles.

Lesson #4 – Don’t Rush It…

Aside from everyone in Atlanta leaving at almost the same time, one of the biggest problems is that people were in a hurry to get home to their families to make snowmen and throw snowballs or to put a pot of chili on to cook. Snowmen and snowballs won’t be much fun and chili won’t taste all that good if you try to merge your vehicle with someone else’s because you got in a hurry or were being careless in less than ideal road conditions. Don’t rush it…slow down and put some space between your car and others on the road.  We actually did pretty good on this one.

Lesson #5 – Charge It…

Pretty simple, keep a charger for your cell phone in your car…not just one with a cigarette lighter plug but one that can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet as well.  Most folks keep a charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter in their car but that may or may not do you much good if you have to abandon your car and need to charge your phone somewhere later.  Keep both in your care and take both with you of you do decide to abandon the car and hoof it…its good to have options.

Lesson #6 – Sometimes its OK to Litter…

But only when we’re talking about keeping a small bag of kitty litter in the car for a source of traction when things get slick.  A little kitty litter under the wheels might not get you home but it can help you manuever out of a slick spot if need be.  A word of caution here…after reading this one may think it might be a good idea to spread kitty litter on your sidewalks and steps for traction as well for getting a vehicle out of a slick spot…DON’T DO IT!  Kitty litter is typically made from dried and pulverized bentonite clay.  If its allowed to absorb water as snow and ice melt it will become an unbelievably slippery mess (don’t ask how I know this).  If you want to put something on your sidewalks or outside stairs for traction without harming your landscaping…just use sand.

All in all we got lucky. We traveled 35 miles in the same amount of time it took many folks to travel just 4 or 5 and we got home before dark on the same day we left from work. Thankfully we were in a front wheel drive so we didn’t slip or slide at all on our way home…which is more than we can say for many of the vehicles we saw around us. Yeah, we got lucky.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sorry Folks…

I wasn’t going to write a post about today’s winter storm but I saw this picture on a friend’s Facebook page and just couldn’t help myself.  Sums things up better than anything I’ve seen or heard so far.  Enjoy…

Sorry Folks

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Trippin’ Down Memory Lane on I-75

I had to make a trip down to Quitman in south Georgia for work today and I took a major trip down memory lane along the way.

To set the stage, my granddad’s sister and her family lived in Pinetta, Florida, a few miles southwest of Valdosta, Georgia. When I was little I made the trip from Tucker, Georgia, where we lived, to Pinetta with my grandparents to visit many, many times. Typically we’d leave Tucker between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning to get to Pinetta before lunch. Our route took us down I-75 from Atlanta to Valdosta, then down Highway 31 into Pinetta. Along the way we might make a stop at one of the rest areas to ‘rest’ but more often than not we’d pass on the rest areas to stop at the Honey Bear Restaurant on the Ashburn/Fitzgerald for breakfast.

When I was really little I usually rode in my grandma’s lap and as I got older my granddad had a wooden box made with a swivel seat on top to put between the front seats of his van for me to sit in. Hey, this was before most folks would wear seatbelts and before car seats or booster seats for toddlers or young kids were even thought of.

I always enjoyed those trips. At the time Pinetta was a one-horse town that you’d miss if you blinked at the wrong time as you passed through. Aside from the houses in the area, the town consisted of a filling station and store (think Mom & Pop country store…not Quick Trip) and a post office in the same building. My great aunt’s place had a great yard to play in and lots of woods and swampland to explore. Some trips were made to go fishing and some were made just to visit.

During the ‘just visiting’ trips my grandma and great aunt would ‘go to town’, meaning go to Valdosta to shop for shoes or whatever else womenfolk shop for and they’d take me with them. They’d promise me a trip to the dime store to see what kinds of toys might be in stock in return for me being patient and behaving myself while they looked at and/or tried on three or four thousand pairs of shoes while searching for the perfect pair. I don’t know that they ever found the perfect pair of shoes but I dang sure found a strong aversion to shoe shopping with womenfolk that I carry to this day. The fishing trips were more my speed. My granddad and I would go to Cherry Lake nearby or drive over to Stephen Foster State Park on the edge of the Okeefenokee Swamp to fish and explore the swamp.

We lived next door to my grandparents when I was little but between 6th and 7th grades we moved to Snellville and a few years later my grandparents moved to Buford on Lake Lanier, about an hour to an hour and a half further from Pinetta…on a good day. After the moves and as time went on, the trips became less and less frequent and finally stopped.

I’ve driven down I-75 several times since those days but rarely have experienced the time trip like I did this time around. Maybe it was because I had the radio off, leaving more brain cells to focus on what I could see around me…or maybe not, who knows. What I do know is that it was a lot of fun picking out the things that I remember that are still in place and yet, it was a bit sad realizing that some of the things that stick out in my memory are now gone.

A few notable landmarks along I-75 that have stood the test of time include the Titan I missile at the Cordele exit…

Titan

The Big Peanut at the Ashburn exit…

Big Peanut

The Plantation House near Arabi…

Plantation House

And the Magnolia Plantation near Tifton.

Magnolia Plantation

Landmarks gone but not forgotten include:

The Big Peach near Byron. The peach was simply the top of a water tower painted up to look like a peach. Kinda makes sense since Byron is in peach country and especially since Georgia is ‘The Peach State’. Those that remember The Big Peach might also remember that if you looked at the peach right angle it looked like it was mooning the travelers on the interstate.

Stuckey’s Restaurants and Gift Shops. If one believed the billboard signs that lined I-75 back in the day, there was a Stuckey’s at every other exit. In reality there were probably only two or three between Macon and Valdosta. All but one are gone now and the remaining location is just a shell of its former self. If one believes the billboard signs that line I-75 now, the former Stuckey’s locations (real or imagined) have been replaced with ‘spas’ (modern term for massage parlors), adult toy stores and strip joints. Personally, I liked Stuckey’s better.

Last but not least…The Honey Bear Restaurant is gone. That one saddened me the most since it was our usual breakfast stop and they had a fine breakfast back in the day. But…time has marched on and the Honey Bear and its neighbors have been replaced by fast food chain restaurants and gas stations.

As I wrapped up my trip I couldn’t help but hope that in 25 or 30 years my own kids have such fond memories of trips taken with their parents and grandparents.

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