Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home Again...

Definitely wonderful to be back in Chicago.  Well, outside of my cab ride from the airport, that is.  But, nearly running another car off the road, and stopping in the middle of one highway and then again in a four lane road due to missed turns is to be expected.  

Sat on the couch and watched some TV and chatted with my dad last night.  Was really nice.  Hook up with some old friends later in the week, and then up to Madison on Saturday.

I did write a recap of the hunting last week on the plane, or at least a good portion of it, but I'm having trouble connecting my computer at my parent's condo, so I'm going to have to find WiFi somewhere, so it'll be updated more then.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Much Needed Break

After three straight months of fishing and hunting (yes, I know, very lucky), we're all some tired folks here and are ready for a much needed break between Archery season and Rifle season. It's been a tough week especially this past week with a group that's never been out to Idaho before. In addition, Sid's mom suffered a slight stroke and has been battling pneumonia, and of course our thoughts and prayers have been with her all week. We're all hoping Grams makes a full and speedy recovery.

I'm really excited to be going home. With all of the excitement and run of emotions of the summer, as well as looking forward to the upcoming adventure this winter, one of the hardest things is not getting to see my parents and sisters as often as I'd like. I'm very fortunate to have been adopted into a number of surrogate families in my life, and I'm extremely grateful for all of their love and support, but there's still nothing like the love of your immediate family. I'm really looking forward to getting to Chicago to spend some time with them.

I know Little Ricky is especially looking forward to the catch up on the last couple of nights of archery season, and I'll definitely do some writing on the plane tomorrow. But now, it's time to get my dirty clothes into a bag so I get get home and do some laundry tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get the downloading problem with my camera squared away as well and share some more images soon. Maybe even a shot of the bull moose walking right up the hill behind the lodge tonight.

Talk to you all from sweet home Chicago tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Two Very Cool Nights

Two great nights for different reasons. Friday, just because because sometimes you're reminded how cool nature is, and tonight, well, because sometimes nature is just phenomenally unreal. The bugling we heard tonight, a close encounter with some elk, just way too spectacular.

Of course, I slipped in a minor case of the dumb ass along the way. But, I get a reprieve because it only turned out to be minor.

I'm going to expound, I promise, but long day today, and up early for an airport run tomorrow, and then I head out myself to Chicago on Monday to see my parents. I'm really excited for that. I was kind of excited for the Wisconsin-Ohio State football game next Saturday night, but that's dissipated a bit, I'm afraid. Still looking forward to spending some time with Ryan and Megan in Madison, though.

Hope every one is well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Blog Post I Can Be Proud Of

I slowly wandered out of the woods just before sunset on Tuesday. It had rained most of the previous day. The ground was still wet. I was sitting near water, but it wasn’t that warm, no real reason for an animal to come drink, and I wasn’t really hearing anything. My brain just wasn’t there, either.

It was a pretty sunset, though. It’s a shame I think my camera might have crapped out on me and I can’t share it.

I’d been thinking a lot about Wednesday for the previous two days. It had been kind of a “drop dead” date for me. The absolute last date that I should have been back east. A celebration, so to speak, that it turns out I was uninvited to.

But Wednesday morning came, and I headed into town to the Chevy dealership.


If you own a 2008 Chevy Suburban, if you intend to leave the keys in the ignition, do not remove the key slightly to stop the dinging that indicates the driver’s side door is open. If you do that, and then close all the doors, the car may lock itself automatically, and subsequently lock the keys inside.

Should you happen to do this with a rental car, after a 15 minutes on the phone with them, advising that no, you have neither the rental agreement number or your driver’s license number because both are locked in the car with the keys, they’ll politely tell you there’s not much you can do. “Maybe the Sheriff’s Department can help you out.”

Ah, but before you call the Sheriff’s Department, or a lock smith, call your local Chevrolet dealership with the VIN number. There’s a chance they’ll cut you a key to open the door.


So, I got the key for Sid, got back to the lodge, and the guys in hunting this week decided they wanted to go fishing for a couple of hours between hunts. I put on my quick dry nylon pants, my long sleeve t-shirt and sweatshirt, threw on my polarized glasses, and boy, I was like a new man.

Got licenses for everyone, headed out to the stream, laced up my wading boots, grabbed my fly rod, and we headed out. It was a bit of a cluster----, as only one of the five had fly fished before. Everyone went straight to a different spot. Fished downstream. Just cruised the bank looking for fish. Basically, buggered a whole stretch out of excitement.

A couple of fish were caught, though. As for me, I realized that I’m certainly more comfortable as an angler than a hunter. I think I’ll still carry a bow out a few times, as sticking an Elk or a Deer with a traditional archery rig still seems like it would be quite an accomplishment, and the process is fascinating to me. I also realize that I don’t share the passion for it that Sid or others I’ve met harbor. I’m definitely more comfortable with a fly rod or a camera in my hands.

But, that didn’t stop me from getting back in the woods last night after dropping everyone else off where they needed to be. I had to go back to the lodge and change, and probably missed out on some of the excitement because of it. Sid and Joe, who by the way is the first cow inseminator that I’ve ever met, got out of the car, and found themselves right in the thick of elk less than 200 yds from where I dropped them off. They spooked one big bull that ran right past where I was to be sitting when I got back in 45 minutes.

The rest of the time, Sid basically just sat and talked with the elk, from all reports. He’d cow call, a “meeewwwww” type sound, and then they’d “meeewwwww” back. He’d even rustle some branches to try to get some of the cows to move out who were making some warning type sounds, but to no avail. They just wanted to stay and talk to Sid.

About 45 minutes after I got back, unknowingly about 500 yds from Sid and Joe, if that. I heard a few cow calls, and then a big “AOOOOOOFFFFFFFF.” I proceeded to hear that same sound, in different levels of volume and force at the rate of about 1 every 30 seconds for the next 15-18 minutes. I had thought it might be a big bull, and when the sound suddenly stopped, I was hoping it might have been because Joe shot it.

About 15 minutes later, just before dark, Sid called on the radio to tell me they were heading back to the car. I was concerned that I may not have been hearing what I thought. Maybe it was just a big sheep dog somewhere, so I decided I’d try to feel out where they were and what they’d seen before I relayed my experience for the evening.

As I got down to the car, they were both there already which surprised me. They each stood with their hands in their pockets and sheepish grins. I looked in back of the truck to see if an Elk was loaded, or just their gear. Just gear.

“You guys see anything?”

“Bunch of Elk.”

“No shots?” I asked.

“Nope. Saw a big bull, though, and some cows.”

“Was it making a big AOOOOOOFFFFFFFF type sound?”

They both bursted out laughing. Apparently, it was a big cow who was basically barking out warning, because she couldn’t figure out what Sid was as she couldn’t see him, but all the other cows in the area were basically having a conversation with him. They even had a small calf come up to them so close that when she went “mew” they could see her lips moving.

Pretty neat. I only wish that I’d been standing beside them with a video camera. But it was a great evening of stories and recounting the experiences and sounds we had surrounding us.

And as I reflected on my day, it turned out to be great. Just as the last three months have been. There’s still some ache and disappointment in the way things turned out, and wondering what I’m missing, but at the same token, you realize that everyone comes into your life for a different purpose. Some might take you all the way to your final destination. Others might just help guide you onto the right path.

In this case, what I thought the original purpose ended up not being the case. But as it turned out, it was an important contributing factor in my having the courage to leave the life that I knew, and take the leap to get where I needed to be. I wake up each morning, and step into my shoes more confident and comfortable with myself and where I’m headed than I have been in a long time.

I don’t know if you still read the blog anymore, but I thank you for the tremendous role you’ve played in my life. I hope your day turned out to be a special one. No hard feelings.

Hope everyone else is doing well, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Elk Hunting Catch Up

The better part of the my last week has been a bit of a feeling out session with the woods. There's a lot to learn, and it seems that there's a little something different each day. Picking up on this different aspects can make everything a bit easier, from simple navigating to hunting.

Visual cues are clearly important. Taking stock of fallen trees, game paths, or other unique brush will definitely help in navigation. Tracks, dung, and bark rubbed off trees can indicate who or what else may have been moving through as well. As you see those things over and over, you can pretty quickly begin to distinguish and learn what you're looking at.

Audible cues, however, definitely are important, as you can't always see through the brush and forest. Without paying close attention to what you hear around you, you often won't be prepared, especially as it relates to hunting.

That said, most of last week I got to the point where I was convinced that there weren't Elk or Deer around, but rather that there were actually 50 pound flying horned squirrels hopping from branch to branch and banging their horns against the trees.

Fortunately, as Jeff proved in the picture in the previous blog, that's not really the case, but I'm still fine tuning my ears each day to get a better understanding of my surroundings.

Last week was fun, though, especially to see the excitement of the pursuit, as well as the accomplishment of taking the animal down. Wednesday afternoon I walked Sid and Jeff up to the water that I'd stumbled on the afternoon prior. When Sid got there, he just stopped and stared. It was like an 11-year-old boy finding free porn on the internet for the first time.

He was literally giddy four hours later, and all day Thursday and Friday morning he was confident that something had to happen in that water hole, as it was the most beaten up water he'd seen by elk all summer.

Fortunately he was correct, and as a reward for helping find the water hole, I got to carry the right rear quarter, weighing roughly 75 pounds out of the woods about 1/2 mile, and then got to assist in carrying out a severed Elk head with antlers. Nope, never thought I'd write that about myself in a million years, either.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Nice Elk with a Compound Bow and Arrow

Congratulations to Jeff Bowles, pictured below, who shot this nice 5 x 5 Elk on Friday with a compound bow and arrow.

We spent Friday afternoon hauling this beast out of the woods, Friday night celebrating the feat, and Saturday recovering from the celebration, which turned out to be perfect to accommodate the rainy conditions that rolled in. Most of today was consumed with the airport runs to Jackson Hole to take Jeff out and bring a group of new people in to the lodge.

Hopefully I'll get caught up with details about Jeff's accomplishment, and more of my own nature walks in the next couple of days.

Hope every one's doing well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bow Hunting--Day 2--morning

Tuesday started out a bit earlier for our long hike in to an old favorite spot of the lodge. It was probably only in the high 30s when we left the vehicle, and no matter how much hiking I'd done for fishing this summer, the cold air seemed like a 20 pound weight against my chest.

Fortunately the hike wasn't as steep as it was long, so it turned out not to be too bad once my body adjusted to the air. We spotted a doe on the way up, but it was looking straight at us by the time we saw it, and off it went.

It was a very quiet morning for me. I didn't see or hear anything. Jeff saw a few deer and an elk bull, but wasn't in shooting range. Sid turned out to be the closest to having a shot. He was sitting between Jeff and I, and was watching Jeff's bull when he felt some eyes on him. He turned and saw a spike elk that had nearly walked right up on him, straight up the trail that we'd used to get in.

He wasn't holding his bow, and when he shifted just slightly to turn to pick it up, the elk turned and walked out the same way it had entered.

Sid recalled the story as we were all walking out, and seemed generally perplexed that of all the routes the spike could have followed to get to where he was intending to go bed for the day, he walked right up the same path we'd just walked over. Jeff was in moderate disbelief as we were walking when Sid said, "Well, look, these are his tracks."

"How can you know that for sure?" Jeff asked.

"Well, there's an elk print right on top of that boot print. And that's your boot print, so that means it came in right behind us."

"Shit, that is my boot print. How can you know that?" Jeff responded.

"I know what my and Jeffrey's boots look like, which means that has to be yours, and since the elk print it inside it, that means it came after us."

And there you have it. Sid notices everything that's going on. It's really amazing to behold.

Sid sent Jeff and I on a "shortcut" back to the lodge while he went back to where he left the car. Jeff and I were cursing him most of the way. If that was a shortcut, he must have been going through some heavy shit. When we got back to the lodge, of course well after Sid, we told him that in the future, shortcuts shouldn't involve anywhere that us mere mortals might break an ankle.

After some breakfast and relaxation, I decided to head into the woods at about 1pm to see if I could find the GPS radio that I'd lost the day before. I had a decent idea where it might be, and one of the other GPS radios that hopefully I could use to track where the one I lost might be. I figured I could get in and out and be back by about 3 so that I could rest an hour before we went back out for the evening.

I decided that I'd carry my bow with me just in case I could scare a grouse or something up, and hopefully avoid any more encounters with bees. I worked my way up past where I'd thought that I'd lost the radio while running from the bees, but no luck.

As I got a bit further up, I followed the path that we'd taken down to the best of my ability, and of course, not exactly on track, ended up walking right into the water hole that we thought we were looking for the day before. We must have been within 30 yds of it, but just never saw it through all the thick timber.

Even to my novice eye, I could tell that the water hole had been trampled by all sorts of deer and elk. There were fresh muddy prints all around, and 4 or 5 well defined paths in and out towards all directions.

The last point on the GPS radio that I was carrying that showed the radio I'd lost was further up the mountain, so I continued on. I climbed about 20 more minutes, but when I arrived, realized it was essentially the spot where my last transmission was to Sid the day before, so it had locked on that point, and not the actual current location of that GPS radio. No luck.

I headed back down, made sure I came across the water hole one more time so I'd have a decent bearing on it, and then went back and reported the good and bad news. Oh, I did manage to scare up a grouse, but when I did, it actually scared me more than I scared it I think, and never had a chance at a shot.

When I got back, I told Sid the good and bad news, and his eyes lit up at the report of the water hole. He'd had a different spot picked out for that afternoon, but we'd definitely head back that direction the following afternoon, since I'd already trekked through there and had made a bunch of noise looking for the radio.

to be continued.....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hunting--Day 1--Afternoon

The afternoon session of my first hunting experience was eventful, but not for the reasons that we'd have hoped. I was out with another Jeff who is staying at the lodge this week. He was here last year, and we were hiking up to a water hole that Sid had sent him to last year.

It was a spot that we can basically see from the landing where we have a bunch of our cookouts, but seeing it from a distance and trying to navigate to it while walking through thick brush amongst Pine and Aspen trees is another story.

We set out early so that we could slowly climb the hill to avoid sweating as much as possible, since you don't want a lot of scent in the air while hunting, as well as try to get there a bit earlier than normal since it was hot, and we knew the elk and deer would need to get to water at some point.

On our way up we saw a grouse, and since I had an arrow with a "judo point" with me (a head used for practice and small game, and not the traditional broad head arrow for larger game) I decided I'd try to shoot.

Well, I learned a couple of good lessons from this first shot at a live creature. First, don't pull back 1/2 way and quick shoot. Better to get yourself fully set, and if need be, wait a second for the animal to be still if they're not fully spooked. The second is patience, which is really the same as the first lesson, just fewer words, and it was worth reiterating.

Either way, I shot about 2 inches low and bounced the arrow up between the grouse's legs, effectively neutering the grouse if it were male, and sending it on it's way. Either way, though, I had good "towards," so all wasn't lost for a first effort.

By the way, for those who are curious, I'm hunting with a beautiful stick bow, long bow style, that Craig left with me, which was given to him by a dear friend of his. It's a Kim Sha Mattawoman II. A beautifully handcrafted bow. I think the arrows are also handcrafted from Cedar with Steel broad head tips which we hand sharpen with a file. I've been practicing and can shoot fairly accurately from 15-18 yards, and am still working on my accuracy from about 18-25 yards, if that gives you any idea how close we need to get to the animals. I'm not sure that I'd ever want to hunt with a compound bow or rifle, but that can be another ramble for another time.

Anyhow, we continued up the mountain and reached it's peak, at which point, we were at a loss for where the water was supposed to be. We saw a couple of dry spots where there may have been water, but it has since dried out. Sid tried to direct us via walkie-talkie, but no luck.

At that point, Sid was off scouting other areas, and time was passing before we'd totally ruin the afternoon. We couldn't get Sid back on the radio, and no water hole, so Jeff and I evaluated the wind and adopted a Plan B to head where we knew there was water, and thought we wouldn't bugger ourselves too badly.

As we headed down, Sid contacted us, I told him our plan, and he was in agreement. Little did I know that would be the last I'd see of the GPS Radio I was carrying. About 15 minutes later, a few steps ahead, I hear Jeff yelp "Ouch."

"What happened, a tree stick you?"

"No," he responded, "a bee."

"Ow, ah, shit," was my response, as I felt myself starting to get stung. Jeff started running and I followed until it seemed we were clear. I don't know what he stepped on, or what got them agitated, but those bees weren't happy to see us. When the dust cleared, I'd been stung twice on my right hand, and once each on my left elbow, side, and stomach. (Most of them are still irritating the crap out of me two days later) Jeff somehow only ended up getting stung twice, which I guess is an endorsement for having someone slower and beefier following you in the woods at all times.

After that little jog was when I realized that the radio was gone. I went back up 30-50 yds to look for it, but after our long hike up and down, and the threat of seeing the bees again, I decided I'd grab one of the other GPS radios the next day and see if I could track it back.

We made it down to our Plan B spot, and after all of that......well, nothing. About 15 minutes before it was dark, Jeff said "that was the funnest miserable hunt I've ever had." I asked him if that was a compliment, and he said it was. I'm sure I said some pretty funny shit over the course of that adventure, and I remember getting him laughing pretty good a few times, but for the life of me I don't remember what I said. Well, except when Jeff then followed up with, "And heck, you're not supposed to kill anything the first day anyway. It's bad luck."

"Shit, if I'd have know that, I'd have just sat my bow next to me by the car with some beer and a lawn chair and skipped that hike."

Sure is beautiful country, though, and boy the beer tasted good when we finally did make it back to the lodge.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hunting--Day 1--morning

Yesterday morning began with a 5:15 wake up. Dressed, enjoyed a Diet Pepsi to kick start the day, and then got ready to head out. Was a relatively simple trip, straight into Sid's back yard. Not really that far, but pretty well straight up hill. Despite all of the fishing hikes this summer, the straight uphill coupled with the cold mornings still sent a shock through the system.

Chest ached. Legs ached. And trying to keep up with Sid as well as be quiet while moving is a complete contradiction.

As we got closer to the top of the hill, you could see Sid switch gears. His pace slowed. He'd move measured distances at a time. He seemed to sense something was ready to happen. Just then, he noticed a forked-horn mule deer about 80 yds ahead of us. It was watching us, and would move when we moved, and stop when we stopped. It kept itself just safely out of shooting range each time.

At that point, it was just starting to get light, and I was pointed to a spot just off the trail to settle in to and wait for deer to work through. I quickly heard some snorting and huffing behind me, which I've understood to generally be an elk trying to announce it's presence and push something else out of the area that it smells. A few minutes later, I saw another forked-horn mule deer pop out of the trees near where I heard the noise, and bound up the hill over the ridge.

I was worried that maybe I'd spooked it out, but Sid later told me that he wouldn't have moved to my side of the tree line had it been me that scared him. The rest of the morning was very quiet, and we returned to the lodge around 9:00.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hunting--Day 1

Yes, I said hunting. I was a bit surprised too, but sometimes you just get sucked in.

I'm exhausted from the hikes today, and we've got a long early hike in the morning, but needless to say, it's going to be a learning process. Fortunately, I've spent two weeks absorbing many conversations between numerous talented hunters, and feel like I'm starting to get a grasp of the basic concepts.

That said, Day 1 summary:

Morning-- saw 2 fork-horn Mule Deer bucks, but both well beyond shooting range with a bow.

Afternoon--5 bee stings, 1 lost GPS walkie-talkie, and a neutered grouse.

Yep, tomorrow's blog will be a good one.

But for now, good night.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fun at the Ticket Counter

Picking up a guest at the lodge from the Jackson Hole airport today, I go to the counter to inquire about an updated arrival time for the delayed flight....

Delta Ticket Agent (DTA): Twenty minutes late.
JD: Pardon me?
DTA: The question you're about to ask me. It's 20 minutes late.
JD: Um, I was going to ask about the flight due in from Salt Lake City.

The DTA gives me that, "Do you not speak English, or are you just stupid" look.

DTA: 20 minutes late.
JD: Yes ma'am. Thank you, but it was supposed to arrive at 12:45, and it's not 1:25, so if it's 20 minutes late, then it should have arrived 20 minutes ago.
DTA: Uh.....hmmmm.....let me check....(little fingers pecking away at the keyboard)....ah, here it it....Estimated time of Departure, 1 pm, estimated time of arrival 2 pm.
JD: So there's no way to know if it left Salt Lake yet?
DTA (giving me that look again): Estimated time of departure, 1 pm, estimated time of arrival 2 pm.
JD: Yes ma'am, I understand, but since it's nearly 1:30, it seems like they wouldn't have to estimate 1pm any more. It either left or it didn't.

DTA consults with a fellow ticket agent, and they decide that's all they can confirm for me at that time.

Was a nice day, so I just sat in the car enjoying watching the beautiful private jets swoop in and out in front of the Grand Tetons and listened to some football on the radio. A shame that my ignorance caused that wonderfully pleasant lady at the counter so much strife, though.....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cultivating Votes

How do you garner votes for Homecoming Court in Soda Springs? Ride out front in the parade on a combine, of course.

Sid's son Alex (top right) recently moved to Fullback riding in the parade getting ready for the Homecoming game of his Junior season on Friday night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall is in the Air....

...and on the trees as well. Sure, football has started, but not even officially fall on the calender and the crimson and orange is starting to burst amongst the pines.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Elk of 2008 at Trail Creek Lodge

Shot last night by Bruce Holt, pictured here with Sid and the spike he shot directly through the heart with a compound bow. (photo by Bruce's son Rob)

Turns out it was the same Spike Elk in the same draw that was chronicled here in Craig's Blog. Definitely check it out. As if you were sitting right next to Craig as it unfolded.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back in the Saddle Corralling Cutthroat

"What's been happening? Got any pics?"

When I got that e-mail from a one of my new and well respected friends yesterday, I quickly came to the realization that I was losing focus. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself for a few reasons, but I've spent a wonderful summer in Idaho, I'm getting ready to go fish in paradise for 8 months and actually get paid....it was the kick in the butt in needed to help me refocus.

Heck, everyone for three counties is Elk hunting right now, which means I've got hundreds of miles of streams all to myself.

Crisp fall mornings lead to beautiful clear skies and 73 degree sunny afternoons. How can I waste this wonderful opportunity? Shame on me.

Fortunately, as soon as my waders broke the surface of the crystal clear river water, I quickly remembered why I'm so lucky to be here. Sure, the fishing started slow, and I felt a bit rusty and complacent as I started making my way upstream, but I soon found a groove.

Caught a few beautiful Cutthroat trout, including this beauty from Kirby Korner....

...and his big brother just up in the next bend.

Rumors of another Elk down. Hopefully stay tuned for good news.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Love it When a Plan Comes Together!!!

I found myself saying that a lot while I was on the stream this summer.

See a rise, or a really nice cut bank that undoubtedly would be holding a fish.

Turn to whoever you're out fishing with....point your rod to identify a spot for them to see....

"Hey, drop a cast right over there."

The fly lands on the water, slowly starts to drift just down from where it landed....

POW! Fish on!

"I love it when a plan comes together!" I'd exalt.

But plans come in all shapes and sizes. Some are momentary, like casting to a fish. Others are five or ten year plans for one's life. Some work, some don't, but it's all a matter of how you adapt. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Last year around Christmas, Craig gave a number of us a book that really resonated with him called Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. Fortunately, I haven't fallen into any grave life or death survival situations, but there's still a number of parts that have seemed timely to me as I've read portions of the book throughout the summer.

The author notes:
The human brain is particularly well suited to making complex plans that have an emotional component to drive motivation and behavior... The difficulty begins when reality doesn't match the plan.
Well, my plan was to be leaving Idaho this weekend and moving across country, but as I sit here typing this blog, anyone whose read the previous blog knows that's not the case. My reality has changed from where I expected it to be when I started this blog back in April.

But, I came to the realization that I could either wallow in heartache, or I could forge ahead. Renew my focus on the spirit of the journey which I'd set out on, and continue towards the ultimate happiness and fulfillment that I planned to create for myself.

The author's father was a pilot, and as a pilot myself, the lesson his father instilled in him seems an important one.
Plan the flight and fly the plan. But don't fall in love with the plan. Be open to a changing world and let go of the plan when necessary so that you can make a new plan. Then, as the world and the plan both go through their book of changes, you will always be ready to do the next right thing.
Ironically, a lot of my plan for myself revolved around being in love, but as that has unexpectedly unraveled, I've had to work to formulate new plans to keep myself motivated towards the ultimate goal.

As my book has changed, so has the plan. I'm doing my darnedest to continue on the best path, and keep my sights open to all available options, while still staying true to myself and loyal to those who have been so generous and supportive along my journey.

I outlined my general plan for the next year in the previous blog, and slowly but surely, I'm formulating my short term plan as I finish my summer in Idaho and prepare to head to Islamorada.

Bought a ticket today to Chicago for September 29 to October 6. Planning to take in the Ohio State vs Wisconsin game in Madison on Saturday night the 4th. (GO BUCKY!!!) The trip is during the week hunting in Idaho is closed between Archery and Rifle seasons for Elk and Deer. I'm not hunting at all, but doing my best to help Sid shuttle people wherever needed and work on a few other projects we've been discussing.

I'm also working on scheduling a couple days of fishing in up in Montana, which I'll hopefully have worked out in the next couple of weeks so that I can go after I get back in October.

Then, at the end of October, I'm looking forward to shooting some birds with Little Ricky from Little Rock, and then I'll head to Islamorada. The current plan would route me through Denver, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, and then to North Carolina for a few days to make arrangements to get what I have in storage south.

Certainly, nothing is set in stone (well the ticket to Chicago is non-refundable), but it's certainly nice when a plan looks to be coming together.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Deep Thoughts, By Jack Handy

You know when you roll over, and you see water rolling off the roof, but it's bright, and sunny, and hasn't recently rained? Yes, that's the frost melting. You quickly come to the realization that you'll be here for two more months, and you'll either need to a) learn to use your nipples as weapons to fend of wildlife, or b) buy some warmer clothes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's Like I've Graduated College All Over Again....

Well, after working for ten years, I feel as though I graduated again when I left my job in June, I've had a bit of a summer break while working some, and now I'm about to head into the real world.

Instead of repaying tuition loans like the first time around, now I've got some travel and excitement debt to contend with, but I feel like I'm starting fresh again, only with an opportunity to really pursue one of my passions.

I'm staying with Sid to work at the Lodge through hunting season at the end of October, then I've been invited to hunt Huns, Chuckar, and Quail with Little Ricky from Little Rock (glad to hear you're doing well, Cindy), at which point I'll head east to see my parents in Chicago for a few days, and then down to Islamorada in the beautiful Florida Keys to start my new job as a mate on the Cloud Nine with Capt. Greg Eklund. I'm pretty excited to say the least.

Sailfish in the winter, Cobia, Snapper and bottom fish in the spring, and then April and May fishing out of the Bahamas. Fishing fishing June back in Islamorada mostly for Dolphin, and then back out to Idaho to work at the Lodge with Sid again for the summer. I don't know if I could write it up any better.

I feel as though I'm getting a second chance, and my goal is not to waste it. Hopefully I'll get to stop and see some friends as I drive across country, and though I don't think I'll be able to keep Whiskey and Snoopy along with me on my journey, there's a chance that I've already found a perfect home for them, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Oh, and I fished today with a wonderful family, the Jennings. They caught a bunch of fish and had a blast, and then I actually left them a bit early to go with the hunters and watch for a bit. I'd planned to go with Sid and watch Craig's stand since today will be his last day before he heads east to try to beat Hanna to Ponte Vedra Beach, but I was then recruited by Greg to watch a second stand in the canyon he'd been hunting.

If you'd have told me 5 years ago that one day I'd be sitting suspended 18 feet up in a pine tree in Idaho just watching squirrels and birds go by I'd have thought you were crazy, but there I was for about 4 hours, just keeping an ear and eye out for anything the slightest noise or movement.

Pretty neat. All of it. With the exception of a little heartache along the way, this has been a very fortunate summer for me.

Mom's hoping that she'll be out of her rehab facility by the weekend, as she can almost fully transfer herself from her bed to her scooter, and she's been standing during therapy as well. We hear from Little Ricky that Cindy's recovering well, too.

Hope everyone else that I haven't been able to speak to is doing well also.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Cold and rain was the theme of the past few days. Unfortunately for the guys out elk hunting, it basically just left them cold and wet, and the elk weren't moving much.

It was chilly again when we woke up this morning, but fortunately the sun shone through and it got a bit warmer. Hopefully, they're out cutting up an elk right now.

The fishing today seemed a bit slow. Not sure if the fish were sluggish due to the drastic temperature change, or if the waters were just a bit overfished after the holiday weekend. It was actually the first time that I've worn waders since I've been here due to the chill in the water. We've been wet wading the entire rest of the summer. I fished with some wonderful people, though, and had a great time. I'd show you some pictures, but unfortunately, my camera wasn't wearing waders when I half dunked it into the water. I'm really hoping that it still works after it dries out. I'm not excited about buying a new camera.

I'd also have a pretty sweet picture of a large moose drinking out of the river, not far from where my friend Rob did his best moose imitation to get us out of the willows, if I hadn't dunked the camera, but I don't have that either, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was pretty cool.

In a strange twist of irony, it looks like I'm going to end up in Florida after all, just a bit later in the fall, and about 450 miles further south. I'm pretty excited for the opportunity, though, and I'll elaborate in a few days when I'm sure every thing's finalized.