It Wasn’t Just a Fluke…

Go ahead and call me a heretic. We might as well get it out of the way because we all know you’re going to sooner or later. Those that were readers of my old blog might know what I’m talking about but for my newer readers, here’s the deal. A few years back I was reading an entry on Randy ‘the River Pirate’ Vining’s about casting soft plastic bass lures on a flyrod, specifically Zoom Bait Company’s ‘Fluke’ plastics, and I had to give it a try…so I did…and it worked! Then I wrote a blog entry myself and let’s just say it caused a little commotion. OK, maybe not a ‘the dead rising from the grave’ commotion but, a few folks voiced their opinion about the matter and about my sanity. To be honest, I didn’t argue either point too much and just went about my own business.

So what’s this got to do with anything? Don’t tell anyone but I’ve been at it again, just on a smaller scale…literally. You see, last time around I was casting a standard 4 inch Fluke on an 9 foot, 8 weight flyrod. They casted reasonably well but you had to remember to really open up your loop and incorporate a casting style commonly called ‘chuck & duck’. Not pretty but it worked. Well, I was talking to Randy again recently (hey, us heretics have to stick together) and he told he me was actually using a Super Fluke Jr. on a 7 weight. I started looking at Super Fluke Jr’s on the Bass Pro Shops website and noticed that they made an even smaller 3 inch version that I suspected might cast reasonably well on a 5 weight rod so I figured that I’d pick some up next time we were near a BPS store.

Flukes

We were in Savannah over the weekend to take our youngest daughter Jenna to visit the Savannah College of Art and Design. We passed a BPS store in Macon on the way down and back but unfortunately it was closed. Fortunately there is a store in Savannah so we made a little side trip between our activities at SCAD and supper. I picked up a couple of packages of the 3 inch Tiny Flukes in colors that imitate a threadfin shad and a baby bass…

Package

Colors

Randy rigs his flukes on a Gamakatsu Skip Gap hook.

Hooks

I previously used a 3/0 hook with the 4 inch Fluke. The smallest Skip Gap hook that BPS has in stock was a 2/0. It looked a little big but would probably work.

It was overcast when I got out of bed this morning so figured it would be a good day to fish. We didn’t pull in from Savannah until about 3:00 this morning and I was moving a little slow once we got out of bed and started moving but I made it to the pond and was ready to slide my yak in the water by 2:00. Once rigged I had to make a couple of casts to see how the smaller Fluke would cast on the 5 weight rod. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually was a bit better than the bigger Fluke on my 8 weight. I still had to adjust my cast a little but not enough to be a problem. This little bass seemed to approve of the smaller bait…

Bass 1

Once actually on the water I paddled over to favorite stretch of shoreline. I picked up a couple of bass fairly quick and then got a surprise when this nice bream decided to join the fun…

Bream

I spent the next three hours catching bass like these…

Bass 2

Bass 3

…and tearing up nearly half a package of Tiny Flukes. Good thing they come in packages of 20.

So if you want to call me a heretic, go ahead. You won’t be hurting my feelings and I’ll be the one catching fish

Posted in Bluegill, Fly Fishing, Flyfishing, Largemough Bass, Super Fluke Jr, Tiny Fluke, Zoom Bait Company, Zoom Fluke | Leave a comment

All About That Bass

No, not that kind of bass, this kind of bass

LMB

The weather was beautiful yesterday and I had planned on going fishing but I needed to finish up a yard project that I started last weekend. I knew the weather was going to crap out today and while fishing in the rain isn’t that big of a deal, doing yard work in the rain is a pain in the butt so I decided to wait. OK, yeah, I know, fishing should always take precedence over yard work but I needed to get this little project wrapped up before it dragged on another week or three.

I wasn’t surprised to wake up to a rainy morning. As I looked at the weather radar on my laptop it appeared that we might get a little break sometime during the early afternoon. I kept an eye on the radar picture and the sky and as soon as the rain started to slack off I headed for the pond.

Gray Day

OK, so it’s still drizzly and about 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday but I figured I might still be able to find a fish or two. I started out trying a few of my favorite topwater bugs like Stealth Bombers , crease flies and a foam popper but got no interest. After half an hour or so, the rain picked up a bit to a heavy sprinkle so I ducked into the gazebo to wait it out. A look at the weather radar on my phone told me the next round of heavier rain was getting close. I thought about calling it a day and heading on home but I decided to change flies and fish a little longer instead. Since topwater wasn’t producing I decided to switch to a subsurface pattern and tied on a Cowen’s Something’ Else.

After a few minutes the rain slacked off a bit so I walked down the shoreline a bit and had only made a few casts before got a solid bite and hooked up. A few minutes later this nice bass came to hand for its photo op and was released.

That Bass

Shortly after the rain picked up again just as expected so I decided to pack it up and call it an afternoon.

BTW, if you like Meghan Trainor’s version of “All About That Bass”, and even if you don’t, check out Kate Davis’ cover here:

I kinda dig it…

Posted in Crease Fly, Fly Fishing, Largemough Bass, Stealth Bomber | Leave a comment

I Love a Rainy Night

“Well, I love a rainy night
I love a rainy night
I love to hear the thunder
Watch the lightning
When it lights up the sky
You know it makes me feel good”

Eddie Rabbitt got it right and he’s not the only one that loves a rainy night. I always have…well, almost always. I’ve never been too keen on those nights spent swimming around the inside of a flooded tent. OK, to be real, we’ve usually been pretty good about pitching tents so that we didn’t have too many water problems. Between picking good locations and using ground cloths properly we’ve largely managed to avoid water inside our tents…but, as happens with tents, occasionally the rain would find its way inside, and on a couple of occasions, rather dramatically. Now, by switching to hammocks for most of our camping, water on the tent floor is pretty much a non-issue.

Last November I posted an entry titled “Goin’ Topless” about how my youngest daughter, Jenna, once asked me why we never hung out in our hammocks when it was raining even though we always put our tarps up. We’ve hung out a few clear nights without our tarps…but the question still bugged me.

We’ve had a wet winter. I like winter. I like cold. I like snow and can even tolerate ice. But I don’t care for cold and wet…and it’s been cold and wet for the past two or three months. Fortunately, we’re at that point in our annual trip around the sun that our hemisphere is beginning to warm and winter is beginning to give way to spring…and the wet is becoming a bit more tolerable. And Jenna’s question still bugged me…

I’ve been watching the weather forecasts pretty closely for work the past couple of weeks and by Thursday I began to notice that things were shaping up for a possible night hanging in the rain this weekend and the weather folks got it right for a change.

We took advantage of a break in the showers to put our hammocks and tarps up Friday evening before dark. As usual, I hung my Wilderness Logics ‘Big Daddy’ tarp over my hammock. It was a bit breezy and I was a bit worried about rain getting up under the edges of Jenna’s asym-pitched rectangular tarp so we hung my big Blue Cat hex tarp over her hammock for better coverage. I’m a bit concerned about getting that tarp back from her now, but I guess that’s not a bad thing.

Big Daddy

Blue Cat

We turned in around midnight and it wasn’t long before we began to hear the patter of raindrops on our tarps. If you think the sound or rain on a tin roof is soothing, you should experience the sound of raindrops on a silnylon tarp, or even a blue poly tarp, especially when you’re high and dry in your hammock up off the ground.

It was still raining when I woke up this morning. I took a look at the radar picture and could see that we had a bit of heavier rain coming so I decided I could wait a few minutes and enjoy it before answering nature’s call.

Radar

So how did we fare? After a daylight inspection this morning…no runs, no drips, no errors…we stayed warm and dry under our tarps and quilts. And now Jenna’s question doesn’t bug me anymore.

Selfie

Posted in Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hex Tarp | 1 Comment

Cachin’ The Night Away

I was heading to work Friday morning, listening to an episode of the PodCacher podcast as I drove. The hosts were talking about night caching and they gave me the itch to go. We cache after dark occasionally but it’s been a while so I texted Jenna to see if she was interested. As I suspected she wanted to go but we would have to wait until Saturday instead of Friday…huh? Wait till Saturday, what’s up with that?

OK, I was a little bit disappointed but it gave me some time to take a good look at the map of our area on the Geocaching.com website and pick out a few good caches to hunt. I didn’t want to go look for a bunch of parking lot lamp post skirt caches just to say we went. I tried to pick a dozen or so that would give us a good mix of container types and difficulty and terrain ratings. Being that we would be caching after dark I also had to keep safety in mind and pick places we wouldn’t be apprehensive about going at night. Once satisfied I downloaded the cache info to my GPS…yeah, GPS, caching old school (OK, we took the smart phones too).

Saturday evening finally rolled around. We grabbed our headlamps, phones, pens and the GPS, laced up our boots, bundled up and headed out into the night. Our first stop was for a quick ‘park and grab’, a lamp post skirt cache just to get us on the board for the night and to get our geo-mojo jump started…or so I thought.

Cachers

As it turned out our first cache wasn’t a lamp post cache at all. Once we got to the cache location we found there wasn’t a lamp post anywhere close. There was, however, another feature that I zeroed in on. Looking back, I shouldn’t have. I circled the feature, looking in all the nooks and crannies. Jenna had walked off and come back, and circled the feature a couple of times herself before she says “Found it.” I circled the feature several more times, trying to scan every inch before finally giving up and said “OK, give me a hint.” Jenna’s response: “It’s not there.” Me: “Wait, what? Whaddya mean it’s not there? You mean…oh crap!” After turning my attention elsewhere I had the container in hand in pretty short order. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the only time she pulled something like this during the night. She’s like that…

After finding the first cache we moved along from cache to cache fairly quickly and had a lot of fun. We ended up in the woods a few times …

Tube in a Tree

Signing

And we spent some time on the pavement. The cache sizes we found were mostly small and smaller…

Found It

We found some animal bones at a couple of the locations we visited…

Bones

And had a great view of one of the local car sales lots…

Car Lot

And saw a coyote in the headlights while driving between caches.
Around midnight we decided that we’d reached a good stopping point and that it was time to head back home. We ended up finding nine of the ten caches that we looked for and decided to save two others for another time.

So by now I know there is someone reading this that’s thinking “OK, so just why would you want to go caching at night? After all, it’s dark and it seems like it would be a lot harder and…its dark…and…aren’t you afraid?

OK, sure. Caching at night is a bit more difficult simply because it’s dark and we don’t see as well in the dark as we do during the day. To some this is a deterrent. To us, it adds to the challenge. Some of those 2 and 3 difficulty caches become 3s and 4s.

Another good reason to cache at night…there’s less people around. Many caches are intentionally placed in high-traffic areas to make them more challenging to find without being noticed. Hunting those caches late at night when there are fewer people around is much easier.

As for being afraid…well, no, not generally. As I mentioned earlier, when selecting caches to hunt at night, we try to make sure they’re in petty safe areas to begin with. We’re not going to go caching in a ‘bad’ section of town or near the edge of a cliff at night. ConnieLou likes us to come home alive and mostly in one piece.

So that’s it. Get Out…and try cachin’ in the dark!

Posted in Geocaching, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back to the Bend

Chattahoochee Bend that is…

Free weekends that haven’t been rainy have been pretty scarce lately. On the weekends it hasn’t been rainy we’ve either been busy with life or have been lazy and enjoying what little downtime we get. We’ve wanted to get out and do a little hiking but just haven’t found the opportunity to fit it in or have been too lazy to get out and go…yeah, it happens.

Ashley has applied to the University of Florida’s vet school for admission in the fall and was scheduled for an admissions candidate interview this weekend so she and ConnieLou were headed to Gainesville, leaving me and Jenna to get into whatever mischief we could find to get into. I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do this weekend but Wednesday night, as we were getting ready to go to bed, Jenna said “Daddy, can we go hiking somewhere Saturday, that question was answered.

Now the big question was where to go. We wanted to be able to walk three to five miles and try some trails we haven’t hiked before, yet stay relatively close to home since we had plans for the evenig. Add to the list of criteria we wanted a place that we could look for a few geocaches while we were out. We knew of a few possibilities that fit our list of criteria but it didn’t take long for Chattahoochee Bend State Park to begin to emerge as our destination.

Bend Sign

I spent a little time during lunch at work looking at trail maps on the Georgia DNR’s Chattahoochee Bend website, the Friends of the Bend website and Geocaching.com to figure out just which trails we wanted to walk. Ultimately we decided to make a ‘loop with a lollipop’ consisting of the Wild Turkey Trail from the Visitor’s Center to Trail Head 1, the Flat Rock Trail and the Brown Thrasher Trail.

Chattahoochee Bend Map

Saturday morning started off cold and clear so we weren’t in a huge hurry to get going. We waited for the world to warm up a little but then loaded up our packs and walking sticks headed to the Bend.

Packs and Sticks

A little side story here… Jenna and I usually each use a pair of store-bought ‘trekking poles’ when we go for a walk in the woods but this past Christmas my Uncle Robert surprised me, Ashley and Jenna with hand-made wooden hiking sticks and we’ve been itching to try them out.

Jenna Stick

Did we like ‘em? Oh yeah!

OK, back to the Bend…

We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, paid our parking fee, shouldered our packs and headed east on the Wild Turkey Trail.

Visitor Center

VC Trailhead

Hiker Dude

The trails are well marked with different colored blazes. The Wild turkey Trail is marked with blue rectangles, the Flat Rock Trail with red rectangles and the Brown Thrasher Trail with blue diamonds…

Blue Blazes

Red Blaze

Blue Diamond

Sounds sort of like a bowl or Trix cereal doesn’t it?

The Wild Turkey Trail starts off in a pine forest then drops down into a hardwood bottom. There were a few creeks to be crossed via small wooden bridges of stepping stones…

Bottomland Trail

Creek

Crossing

The trail then turned back uphill into a mix of hardwoods and pines

Rocks

A large pair of oak trees parted ways with one of the trunks blocking the trail. I elected to go under and Jenna went over. We stopped for a swig of water and took a selfie.

Hiker Gothic

I stopped to re-tie my bootlaces and noticed a pine cone on the ground nearby that was just a little bit bigger than the average pine cone around here.

Cone

The Wild Turkey Trail ended at the trailhead to the Flat Rock Trail which crossed the road and headed south to a large area of pavement outcrop from which the trail gets its name.

Trailhead 1

Flat Rock Trail

Many of the blazes in this area were painted on the rock outcrops themselves. One has to pay careful attention to the blazes out on the rocks as it’s very easy to lose the trail. One could get pretty distracted at some of the overlooks too…

Flat Rock 1

Red Blaze Rock 2

Overlook

Once back at the trailhead we stopped for quick snack and a swig or water before heading down the Brown Thrasher Trail and to look for a couple of nearby geocaches.

Hiker Snack

The Brown Thrasher Trail runs more or less parallel to the Wild Turkey Trail on the opposite side of a creek valley. We found one of the caches we intended to look for in this cluster of rocks but realized we’d passed the other two as the trail wound through the woods.

Cache Here

Not really having time to double back and find them we headed on back to the car and the end of the trail at the Visitor’s Center.

Onward

At the end my GPS app on my phone told me that we’d walked 4.96 miles in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Too bad I didn’t notice we were that close to 5 miles or we would have taken a stroll across the parking lot and back to get there. Most of the trail reviews I’ve read rate the three trails we walked as easy to moderate with a few short strenuous stretches and I would have to agree. It’ll be fun to walk these trails again during the spring and fall to see the woods with leaves on the trees and again with fall colors…and besides, we still have a couple of caches left to find.

Posted in Chattahoochee Bend, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, Day Hike, Day Trip, Geocaching, Georgia State Parks, Hiking | 2 Comments

Ya Just Never Know…

Sometimes ya just never know what you’re going to find…

I had to go to Gainesville, Georgia for a meeting this morning. I got into town early and had a little time to kill so I decided to take a walk around the town square and then hunt for a cache or two.  As I was walking around the park in the square I noticed a large silver orb sitting on top of a stone monument which was engraved with the word ‘SUN’.

Sun

Unfortunately I didn’t pay close attention to the plaques on the side of the monument.   I thought it was an art installation so I gave it a quick look and moved on. As I was walking back to the car after finding the two caches I picked to look for I noticed a stone monument inscribed with the words ‘ASTEROID BELT’.

Asteroid Belt

Also on the monument was a bronze plaque that said that the marker was part of the “Gainesville/Hall County Scale Model/Walking Tour of Our Solar System.” The plaque also said that maps of the model were available at the nearby Hall County Library. Needless to say, I hot-footed it over to the library to pick up a map then headed back to the Sun, passing Mars, Earth & Moon, Venus and Mercury on the way.

Earth and Moon

According to information contained on the map, the Scale Model was part of the North Georgia Astronomers’ Millennium Project in the year 2000 “to commemorate the two major astronomical discoveries of just the PAST Second Millennium, while providing an educational resource for FUTURE generations in the Third Millennium.”

The Scale Model was installed in 2000 and 2001, the last year of the Second Millennium and the first year of the Third Millennium and is 1.8 miles long, stretching from the square in downtown Gainesville through greenspace and parks to Longwood Park on Lake Sidney Lanier. In case you’re wondering, the model’s scale is 1 foot equals 2,000,000,000 feet (yes, that’s 2 Billion feet…Billion, with a B). At this scale the sun’s diameter is 27 ½ inches. The Earth, located 264 feet away, would only be about 0.25 inches…smaller than a dime.

Unfortunately I had to get to my meeting and didn’t have time to walk the whole trail today but you can bet that I will the next time I’m in town.

Want more information about the Scale Model? Check out the North Georgia Astronomers website at http://northgeorgiaastronomers.org/scalemodel/.

Now GET OUT! and walk from the Sun to Pluto!

Posted in Astronomy, Day Hike, Day Trip, Hiking | Leave a comment

Oaxacan Chicken Fajitas

I can’t remember the last time I posted anything Big Green Egg related on this blog. Honestly, we’ve been in a bit of a rut…burgers, boneless skinless chicken breasts and the occasional pizza have occupied the cooking grid more often than not lately. OK, there have also been some wings, baby backs and a Boston Butt or two…but nothing really ‘different’. It was time to change things up and two seemingly unrelated events came together to make that happen.

The first event occurred the week after Christmas. ConnieLou and I were in our local Home Depot store to buy some new blinds for our bedroom and I had received a HD gift card for Christmas that I needed to spend…no, not on blinds. I was actually planning to pick up that sack of coal that I had asked Santa to bring me. OK, maybe not exactly coal, but a sack of Royal Oak lump charcoal. While we were on the aisle with the charcoal and grill goodies I noticed a stainless steel grill pan on the shelf. At the time I was thinking we could use it to cook some fish and veggies. ConnieLou knew I wanted it so she told me to go ahead and get it…and I did.

The second event occurred last week when I received my monthly newsletter from Steven Raichlen’s Barbeque Bible website and saw his recipe for Oaxacan Pork Fajitas. The ingredient list for the marinade sounded good so I sent a link to ConnieLou to look at and mentally filed it away for future use,

The two events came together this weekend when ConnieLou gave me the task of coming up with something new to make for dinner one night this week. I knew we had some chicken in the freezer. I also had a pretty good idea that the marinade would work just as well on chicken as it would on pork . All we needed was a bell pepper, an onion, tortillas and some OJ and we were good to go. About then it occurred to me that I could cook it all in the grill pan on the Egg. A plan was coming together…

I worked from home today and got an early start so I was able to slice up the chicken and veggies and make up the marinade during a mid-afternoon work break while ConnieLou was off running a few errands. Once close to supper time I fired up the, dug the grill pan out of the grill box on the deck and got everything ready to go.

The veggies went on first…

Veggies Before

And cooked up nicely.

Veggies After

Then the chicken went on…

Chix Before

And cooked up equally nice.

Chix After

I wish I’d had a chance to take a photo of the finished product dressed up and on a plate but it disappeared before I could. I knew we had a winner when ConnieLou told me to make sure that I bookmarked the page or printed the recipe so we could make it again. In hind sight I did have one issue with this meal…I didn’t have a good Mexican cervesa to wash it down with. Bad planning on my part. Can’t let that happen again.

Posted in Big Green Egg, Fajitas, Grilled Chicken, Marinade | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Hope for the Next Generation

mrbream:

Susan nailed it…read on.

Originally posted on Teach with Class:

nativity

(Brian Kershisnik’s “Nativity”)

iphones, ipads, boots, boot socks, gift cards, concert tickets – The younger generation is flooded with all kinds of gifts at Christmas. In the midst of all of the wrapping paper, bows, and gift bags this Christmas, set aside some time to think about not only giving physical gifts (books and Starbucks cards if you’re shopping last minute for me) but gifts that feed the soul. The older generation is quick to criticize youth for being shallow, purposeless, and narcissistic, yet we (I’m officially admitting to being in the older generation now) choose to overload our kids with things and overlook being intentional about giving to a young person’s heart.

This next year I want to give the gift of HOPE to the next generation. I came across a quote by Carl Henry several months ago that has stuck with me. He says, “The early church did…

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View From The Cache – Hart Family Cemetery, College Park, Georgia

I had a little time to kill the other day before I could pick ConnieLou up from work so I decided to hunt a cache or three. As I was driving around the perimeter of the Atlanta airport, heading from one cache to another, I saw a sign at the side of the road that made me do a double-take. The sign read ‘Access to Hart Cemetery’. When I looked down the access road I could see a parking area, a few trees and a white picket fence. I guess I just wasn’t expecting to find a cemetery literally adjacent to the taxiway to the new, southern-most runway.

Cemeteries tend to be interesting places and I wanted to check it out. Unfortunately I’d already passed the access road by the time everything had sunk in so I went on to find the cache I was heading toward then doubled back. When I made it back I found a little hilltop cemetery that’s now almost completely surrounded by earthen berms and fencing separating it from the airport property.

4 - Airport

3 - Airport

According to the signboard at the edge of the parking lot the cemetery is owned by the Hart family. According to the sign, the first burial was that of the family matriarch, Ellender Hart, in August, 1860 and the most recent was in May, 1969.

1 - Sign

A paved walkway led up to the cemetery itself where I found a couple dozen graves dotting the hilltop along with a few old magnolia trees.

2 - Hilltop

6 - Markers

5 - Markers

The little cemetery is way off the beaten path but to my surprise bootprints in the dirt told me that it had been visited by someone else in recent days, at least since the last good rain…

7 - Bootprint

As I learned later that evening the cemetery is at the first stage of a multi-cache and so there’s a pretty good chance that the last visitor was also a geocacher.

Gotta love having a hobby that will get you off the beaten path to discover a little known place that you otherwise might have never knew existed.

Posted in Day Hike, Day Trip, Geocaching, Hiking | Leave a comment

Goin’ Topless…

Got your attention, didn’t I? OK, now get your minds out of the gutter. Nobody’s gettin’ nekkid on this blog. If you haven’t noticed it’s a family friendly place.

Not too long ago Jenna asked me why we never hung out in our hammocks when it was raining even though we always put our tarps up. For the most part that’s just the way things have worked out. I’m one of those folks that actually enjoys hearing rain on my tarp, as long as there’s no lightening or high wind involved. I’ve hung through both. More than once. Not fun.

On the other side of the coin is another question…why do we always hang our tarps up if there’s no rain in the forecast. I can think of three reasons, the first being to practice and become proficient in setting up your gear, day or night…yeah, sometimes we wait until dark to set up, even though it’s easier and more convenient do it while it’s still light out. Reasons two and three are dew and frost. Dew is always an issue here in the deep south. Well, except for the nights the temperatures get below freezing then we have to deal with frost. Waking up coated with either isn’t much fun and results in having to dry gear out for a while before it can be put away. However, every now and then we get a night or two when the humidity is low and the leaves on the trees keep the little bit of dew that we might get from making to the ground in our hangin’ spot out back.

This past weekend conditions were almost perfect for hangin’ out and goin’ topless…errr, tarpless. We hung up our hammocks early…

Tarpless

We waited until moon was high in the sky to climb in for a night’s sleep under the stars.

Hangerz

Too bad I didn’t have a camera capable of taking a good shot of the moon and stars through leaves and limbs. We woke up the next morning dew-free and able to see the sun peeking through the trees.

For some reason it took longer than usual to take our hammocks down, but I was able to get a nice shot of the fall leaves. Still haven’t quite figured out why it took so long to get our hammocks down…

Up

Posted in Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hex Tarp | 3 Comments