Tag Archives: OUTDOORS

Poor Puerto Rico, Still!

Late last summer the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was struck by two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Along with the US Virgin Islands these American territories were devastated. The physical infrastructure and economies of these islands remain far from recovery.  NPR recently reported:

“Puerto Rico still has areas contending with terrible living conditions following Hurricane Maria and the lackluster response to the storm from the mainland United States. Even the deadly effects of the storm are far from over: With many still living without power or their lives otherwise disrupted, particularly elderly populations, the overall suicide rate in Puerto Rico increased 27 percent in 2017 compared to 2016 levels.”

These people are American citizens yet, in many ways our government has turned its back on them. Somehow America’s president appears to think that flying into the scene and tossing a few rolls of paper towels is all that’s needed. It gave him his photo opportunity.


Stick Snakes & Grizzlies

Back in the 1960s me and some guys I worked with took a hunting/camping trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Fresno, CA.

We spent Friday and Saturday nights in a very primitive campground at about 6,000 feet. On the first night we built a nice fire and sat around until pretty late drinking beer and telling lies. None of us had a tent so we slept out in the open with nothing but sleeping bags.

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Tips on Makin’ Smoke

Most people know that the secret to turning tough cuts of meat into tender, juicy, and delicious barbecue involves cooking it in a smokey, low heat environment for a long time. Low and slow as the saying goes.

Over the years I’ve tried lots of different smokers and seen many more being used by others, including competition BBQ teams. Just about anything can be used if the temperature can be controlled while introducing smoke. At the Georgia State BBQ Championship I even saw a guy using the interior and front trunk of a VW Beetle for a smoker. You couldn’t see what was inside, however, because the windows were blacked out by layers of smokey residue.

Several years ago I got tired of tending to hours of charcoal and wood fires and began trying to create smoke with my Weber propane grill. The problem is, wood won’t smolder and smoke at the low temps needed to cook a pork butt slowly.

My solution turned out to be creating a separate “hot” fire for the wood chips, and a “low” fire for the meat. I took an aluminum pie pan, punched some ventilation holes in it, built a small charcoal fire in it, and once the coals got hot enough I piled on the chip. I then lit off the gas burners, adjusted for a temperature of about 225 degrees, and let it do the low and slow magic while the charcoal kept the smoke rolling.

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Notes on Fishing

fishing lineBeen a couple of years since I dug out a rod and went fishing. But in late May a friend and I dragged my boat to the ocean and fed the fishes a little.

I was so busy getting the boat cleaned and ready I had no time left for packing a tackle box. Luckily my rods were still in my van from the last time I went to the saltwater.

During the week I had to stop at a tackle shop a few times and was floored over what has happened to the price of terminal tackle. Lead sinkers are triple what I remember, hooks double, and a spool of good 8 pound line that commonly sold for around $6 was not $15.

Making matters worse, I had everything I bought, and much more, back home in my garage. Where in my garage is another question but before the next trip I’m digging it out.

MHS Band Booster’s Annual Duck Race

duckWanna buy a duck? Well you can buy one duck or six hundred for this years McClain High School Band Boosters annual Duck Race. Tickets are on sale at Jett’s Embroidery and the Corner Pharmacy for $5 each. First place pays $300, second $200, and third $100. The race, which is part of G3’s annual Paddle on Paint Creekfest will begin at 2:00 pm at Greenfield’s Felson Park on Sunday, May 17th.

Advanced reservations for kayak and canoe trips during the Creekfest may be made at…

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Our Bald Eagles

US 50 Eagles
Resting pair of bald eagles near Bainbridge, OH.

My wife and I were near Bainbridge this past week and spotted a pair of bald eagles perched in the top of a tree along Paint Creek. We’ve seen a single eagle in that area on several occasions but this was the first for a pair.

Today I sat in a meeting with representatives of the Army Corp of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The topic of our area’s eagle population came up and it was reported we have three nesting pairs and a fourth that “may” be trying to nest.

Specific locations weren’t revealed but one pair is near Bourneville, another near Bainbridge, and the third at Rocky Fork Lake.

A truck driving friend of mine reported being along the upper Mississippi River and spotting a grouping of around seventy-five golden and bald eagles. Wouldn’t that be a traffic stopper?

Are you ready for some mushroomin’?

morel mushroom pileIf you live in our area of Ohio you know that every spring many locals come out of hibernation and proceed directly into the woods in search of morel mushrooms. The morel chasers will begin showing up in coffee shops with great tales of shopping bags full and pictures of large finds will fill the social media sites. It’s worth noting that mushroomers aren’t as big a liars as fishermen but only because their season is so much shorter.

I’ve never been good at finding mushrooms. When I was building my house in the woods a woman walked through the woods and told me very pointedly that I was destroying one of the best mushroom plots known to humanity. In following years I and friends walked these woods and came up empty every time. I’m pretty convinced I couldn’t find a morel if one walked up, kicked me in the chin, and barked.

Continue reading Are you ready for some mushroomin’?

Eagles over Rocky Fork Lake

Earlier in the winter my wife and I were on our way to Bainbridge and saw a mature bald eagle sitting in the tops of a sycamore tree, surveying the waters of Paint Creek. It was the first time either of us had seen eagles in the wild in Ohio. A week later we saw it again, sitting in the same tree top.

Today on Facebook a friend posted a couple of photos of eagle activity around Rocky Fork Lake. I don’t know who took the photos but I’m pretty sure they were taken very recently. I knew there were eagles at the lake but wasn’t aware there were so many.

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Greenbirds for Christmas

My friend Dave Allen is a commercial artist and operates a Cincinnati company named Greenbird. His specialty is environmentally safe products for increasing bird and butterfly habitat around one’s home. I recently received an email from Dave about a new line of products that would make a wonderful Christmas present for the birder or gardener in your life. For further details about these new products click here. Dave’s complete business website is at Greenbirdhouse.com.

This Ain’t Mickey Mouse

My wife came in the bedroom last evening carrying a Tupperware bowl containing a bizarre looking mouse and insisting I get up and take some photos. Living in the country we’re quite use to capturing field mice in our have-a-heart traps but we’ve never seen a mouse that comes close to this one. Check out the photos and any information would be appreciated.

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The Pitfalls of Tent Camping

rock bridge
Years ago this was a narrow one-lane concrete crossing. The water flowed over it anytime the creek was up.

I posted a photo of the Rock Bridge bridge that crosses Paint Creek in Fayette County. That photo prompted several people to start talking about camping along the creek and the times they got soaked by torrential downpours.

I’m pretty sure anybody who’s ever spent much time in a tent can recall waking up in a pool of rainwater and spent the rest of the night wishing they were anyplace else on earth. When we were kids we spent lots of summer nights camped somewhere along Paint Creek and its tributaries. The tents we used were surplus WWII Army tents. Each soldier was meant to carry half a tent, one pole, and a few wooden stakes. At night a couple of guys would buddy up and put their halves together to attain a little shelter from the elements.

These canvas tents had no flooring and keeping dry required digging a diversion trench around the perimeter of the tent to carry away run off. If it rained too hard the trench

Continue reading The Pitfalls of Tent Camping

A Seat at the Summit

Several weeks ago we met some old friends at Pike Lake State Park for a reunion. For many years our families spent the same week there each summer and their kids sort of became our kids. During the day we walked around the park reliving old memories and checking out the current state of the place.

pike lake toiletWhile many things have changed one constant is the presence of pit toilets throughout the park and camping area. Where such facilities were once the norm they are rapidly vanishing into the pages of history.

I posted a picture of one of these toilets just to evoke some memories and it did just that. It also got me thinking about a reality TV program I was watching about a family living in the wilds of Alaska and relying on a pit toilet.

Living in the Alaskan wilderness requires that in a short span of three months of summer you waste no time getting done all the things necessary for survival once the snows begin to blow. It requires utmost attention to the detail since there is little room for error.

While preparing for winter the one thing the family didn’t notice was the filling up of their pit toilet. The normal procedure is once the toilet has filled a new hole is dug some distance away, the outhouse that sits over the pit is moved t the new hole, and the old hole covered with dirt from the new hole.

Again, these poor folks didn’t notice it was time to dig the new hole until after the freeze set in. On one very chilly fall morning one of them walked down the path for a sit and found themselves poised on the pointed summit of a frozen mountain of poo. Just imagine experiencing an ice-cycle of poop trying to penetrate your porthole!

To solve their problem they had to build a huge fire on the ground where the new hold would be dug by hand, lay sheets of tin roofing over the hot coals, and allow the make shift oven to thaw the frozen ground so the dig could begin. When soften the new pit was dug and their very ornate outhouse moved to its new location.

I really don’t know why I thought any of you should know about this, it will probably never be the answer to a Jeopardy question. Nevertheless, I just think these things are inherently interesting and I enjoyed the challenge of writing about something many people don’t commonly talk about, let alone want to picture in their mind.

A Few Raccoon Tales

Larry 'n NassauOn a deep dark night many years ago my wife and I were sitting in our living room watching TV. It was summer and the windows and doors were mostly open. Suddenly, from somewhere in the [pullquote]By the way, my next article about fishing is going to be about the thirteen pound blue gill I caught at Rocky Fork Lake.[/pullquote]woods nearby our house, we heard the most indescribable scream imaginable. It was a sound neither of us had ever heard before and within a few seconds we heard it a second time.

I quickly grabbed a shotgun and a bright powerful flashlight and we headed into the wood in search of whatever was being torn to shreds. Long story short, whatever it was must have been scared off by our presence and we never again heard such a sound.

Last week a friend reported on Facebook what seemed like a similar experience. She posted a YouTube sound track of two raccoons fighting and after twenty years we now think we know what it was in our woods.

Continue reading A Few Raccoon Tales

Youthful Summers Along Paint Creek

Larry 'n NassauThe 1950s were a much different time for kids to grow up in. Our parents didn’t keep us on a leash like today. From a bowl of cereal in the early morning until we fell through the front door for supper, our mothers didn’t see us. They seemed not to be overly concerned about what we kids were up to. I think they just accepted that we were boys doing what boys did, which was pretty much live a Huck Finn existence during the summer months.

Much of our time was spent hanging around bodies of water, either fishing, seining for bait, skipping rocks, building rafts, of swimming. To my knowledge there was only one privately owned swimming pool in Greenfield in the 1950s and the freshly completed Rocky Fork Lake was too far away. The bodies of water we could reach by foot or bicycle included Paint Creek and its many tributaries along with a few farm ponds.

Continue reading Youthful Summers Along Paint Creek

Dammed Catfish!

Topsail catfish.
Topsail catfish.

There are two types of saltwater catfish common in the waters of Florida. The most common is the hard head catfish and is so common and easily caught it is often called the “tourist” fish. The other specie is the topsail catfish. It is larger, more common in the evening, a good fighting fish, and considered good eating by lots of folks.

Both fish come with a generous covering of slime and unlike freshwater cats their slime includes a venom that simply hurts like hell if you get stabbed by one of their very sharp barbs.

I’ve been poked many times but several years ago a hard head got me twice, the thumb of my right hand and deep into the palm of my left. I ended up going to the ER where the best they could do for me was have me sit by a sink and run hot tap water over the wounds to neutralize the toxin. Later I read where Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer will break down the enzyme in the toxin and if you don’t have any handy, simply urinate on the wound. The ammonia in urine works the same as Adolph’s.

What brought this to mind is even though it has been five years or more, now and then my palm, exactly where I got stuck, will begin itching and no amount of scratching will make it stop. I’m going through one of those episodes at the moment and hope it doesn’t last too long.

I had never eaten one of these catfish but the next year I caught a topsail and decided I’d get even with all saltwater cats by carving out a couple of fillets for the frying pan. It was an excellent eating fish but it will be my last. Ever since getting stabbed I’ve simply cut the line at the hook and not tempted fate. The price of a few hooks is nothing compared to what I went through and still have to contend with.

In writing about this, however, I’m now faced with the question, “If you urinated on a slab of tough beef would it become more tender?”