Monday, February 23, 2015

Staying in or Going Outside

On my two days off this week I caught up on a lot of tv. I watched two movies that I rented and watched some of my favorite shows On Demand. This was planned. The weather was brutally cold and I just didn't feel like dealing with it. By mid-afternoon the second day, I was going stir crazy. I was cussing the cold and the fading sunlight. I made a decision that for me spring had come. Despite the three feet of snow and the 18 inches of ice, damn it, I was not going to waste away in the house.
Then I looked up the ten day forecast. Other than yesterday, just about everyday has a high around twenty degrees. Most mornings when we wake up will be around zero. This put a huge damper on my new plan to get outside. Lets face it, there is a huge difference between 35 degrees (roughly the average high this time of year) and the temps we are experiencing.

All last week I was shoveling roofs. Some for work, mine, and my best friend's Laurie. Laurie's roof is slanted. I was up there for three hours scared shitless of falling the twenty feet to the ground. It occurred to me that I was shoveling these roofs in below zero wind chills. Not once can I say I was cold. Of course on Laurie's roof, I concentrated each step. Shoveling is tiring, so I built up quite a bit of body heat.

So I decided that despite the below zero wind chills and the single digit mornings, I am not letting the weather stop me. Today I went snowshoeing at an RI Audubon Sanctuary after work named Caratunk. The weather was 18 degrees, wind chill of 4 degrees and cloudy. I hiked for about 90 minutes. I had more fun than if I sat home or went to the gym. I built up a sweat, but never enough to unzip my jacket, however I can say I didn't get cold.

My friend Dave and I talk all the time about how a 25 degree day with a bright sun can be down right pleasant. We agree that our bodies adjust to the cold if out in it enough. I have noticed that by the end of a winter striper fishing I'm just wearing a sweatshirt on thirty degree nights.

This year a sunny 25 degree day or a 30 degree night are nothing more than a pipe dream. So for this Arctic cold spell, I have not done much outside , thinking it was too cold. To Dave's credit, he has been out skiing and instructing all winter no matter the temperature. By no means had a been a couch potato, but I was selective on which days I'd "play" outside.That was until I shoveled those roofs. So even though I can't wait to fish open water or hike on dirt and rocks instead of the fluffy white stuff I'm going outside anyway.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ronnie's first iced fish

I went ice fishing today with my young
Ronnie's second iced fish, but first
that didn't flop back in the hole
friend Ronnie. I've gone fishing with him a few times. He caught a 24 pound carp on his first attempt to catch one.

Ronnie had never caught a fish ice fishing. Today's high temp was near forty degrees so I cut out of work an hour early, picked Ronnie up and headed out for some icing.We bought a dozen shiners and set them up on some traps. He drilled a bunch of other holes for jigging.

Within 10 minutes we had three flags and no fish to show for it. On the jigging rods, we couldn't buy a fish. I feared Ronnie would leave without catching his first fish. Then another flag went up. Ronnie pulled in a decent yellow perch.  As he pulled it out of the water it spit the hook. It flopped on the ice for a second then fell back into the hole. It certainly counted as his first ice fish but we did not get a picture.

Luckily a few minutes later the jigging rods started bending. We got a couple sunfish and some perch. I didn't keep count but we ended up with ten to fifteen fish. We got all of them jigging except that first perch. I got the big fish of the day. It was a pickerel of about 14 inches. It swallowed my Kastmaster and somehow it did not cut me off. All in all fishing was only okay. I was just happy Ronnie caught some fish.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

AC/DC and disposable income

On August 22 my favorite rock band is playing at Gillette Stadium. My favorite types of music are classic rock and country. AC/DC is by far my favorite musician/singer that I have never seen live. I just looked up tickets and the cheapest seats are 54 dollars after all fees. I didn't even worry about the more expensive seats.

Like everyone else, I have a certain amount of money at the end of a pay week to pay for things they want. Some people buy a case of beer. Some go to a nice restaurant. There's obviously many hobbies and there is no shortage of people that want to separate us from our money. Obviously, I spend a lot of money on fishing gear, hiking gear, and mostly on gas.

I will end up going to AC/DC. I really can't pass up seeing my favorite band. However, the day will cost over a hundred bucks if you add up tickets, parking, tailgating, and a drink in the stadium.

Here's the thing, maybe I am cheap, but I look at what else I can do with a hundred bucks. I can go to New Hampshire for a weekend for about seventy five dollars. I can have a great time for sixty hours for less than I can spend on a three hour concert.

 Before you get on me for whining, these are just thoughts. I will have a great time at the concert.  The point is I am careful what I spend my money on. I am always analysing money spent compared to fun had. I used to go to a couple Red Sox games a year. I realized, it just isn't worth it to me.I also used to go to a lot more concerts than I do now. I am a lot more judicious with my money.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Today's Ice Fishing Trip

Due to extra hours at work and
snowshoeing, I have't gotten out on the ice as much this year as I did last year. Yesterday my friend Eric asked me if I wanted to go today.

Fishing with Eric has been epic three times I fished with him. Last June he took me on his boat and we caught sea bass and blackfish. I got my first black sea bass ever and Eric and his son put on a blackfish clinic.
A month earlier, I took Eric carp fishing where we had an amazing evening catching many carp up to 26 pounds. It was the best day of the best spring I have ever seen.

However, the day I will most remember with Eric happened two decades ago (F, I'm getting old). When we were in high school, he took me ice fishing. I was woefully unprepaired. I wore sneakers. My winter coat wasn't thick. The ice was slushy. Basically I froze and had probably my most awful fishing experience of my life. It was so miserable, I gave up ice fishing after that first time for twenty years.

Luckily, over the past few winters I learned how to keep warm ( hint: do not wear sneakers walking through slush). I learned about ice fishing and fell in love with the sport. So when Eric asked me to go fishing with him, I took a deep breathe, repressed those memories and said yes.

We fished a big pond off of I-495 with tilts. I brought my jigging rod but left the waxworms at home (dumbass!). We took a while to set up, but before we had all the shiners in the water, I got my first flag. It was a 13" larry. It would turn out to be the only bass of the day. We used large shiners. Although we had tons of flags for the most part we were teased by pickerel too small to take the bait.

We fished for about five hours in a light snow. Total we got about four or five fish. We had a fun time because of all the flags. Even though most of our flags ended up having nothing but a chewed up shiner on the other end, it kept us busy and excited that each one could be "Walter". It was a good time. And, any time I go ice fishing with Eric and I don't want to give up the sport for the next quarter century, it's a good trip.

p.s. yes, I know Walter was a trout.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My First Time Snowshoeing

This fall I bought a pair of snowshoes. Until this week we had not had any measurable snow. Then Mother Nature decided to dump two feet of snow in 24 hours.  I had to shovel snow at work today. I got out of work about 3:30. I went home and scraped my driveway one more time.
I decided to take my snowshoes on their maiden voyage. I went to Wrentham State Forest because the parking area was plowed. I put on my gaiters and my snowshoes. Saying there was two feet of snow was no exaggeration. As I started down the unbroken trail, I was sinking down about a foot.

I hiked for about an hour. I had fun. It was a pretty good workout. It was getting dark as I came out of the woods. All in all, I had a good time. I plan on going again Thursday. I certainly plan on making snowshoeing part of my winter hobbies.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

River Bend Farm and Lookout Rock

As usual on my day off last week I went for a hike. I chose one of the prettier areas I know of. The Blackstone River State Park has many small parcels. One of them is the River Bend Farm area in Uxbridge, MA. The area is very scenic. There is a canal along with a path that goes a mile or so. There is a small pond. Laurie and I go there a couple times a year. We look for turtles and frogs. One year we saw a four foot long northern water snake sunning itself.

This trip, I wanted to hike places I had never been. First up was a place called Lookout Rock. I parked on Quaker Street.  I didn't know how long the hike would be from the parking area. Turns out the walk wasn't much of a hike. It was maybe a five minute walk. The view overlooks the Blackstone River in a marshy area. It is really pretty.

From there I walked the couple of miles back towards the Stone Arch Bridge on Hartford Ave. The walk is relatively flat after coming down from the rock. It is a really pretty woods. I enjoyed it. There was a cove that was partially frozen in the river.

The walk back and forth took a couple hours. After I got done with that hike I drove back to Hartford Ave. I parked at the Medical Center by the waterfall. I crossed the street and walked into the field. There is a trail that goes over Goat Hill. There is a loop that counter clockwise follows the river to Goat Hill lock. Then it turns around and goes back toward the car by going over Goat Hill. The hike up Goat Hill is mildly strenuous but there isn't any views that I could find. The walk towards the wooded summit follows some really well preserved stone walls.

 I spent about four hours in the area. I highly recommend checking this area out. It is a nice area in the spring. I am looking forward to the view from Lookout rock once the trees have leaves. There are picnic tables at River Bend Farm and along the path from Quaker Street to Hartford Ave.
The View from Lookout Rock

This is Lookout Rock. The view above is from the
top of the rock

These woods of White Pines
were very inviting

These tables are a ten minute walk from the parking are
on Hartford Ave, Uxbridge

Goat Hill Lock was used to get barges through the
canal in the 1800's

Monday, January 19, 2015

Great Meadows and Author's Ridge

One New Year's Day after a hike in Blue Hills, I went to Great Meadows in Concord, MA. Great Meadows is a National Wildlife Refuge. I love Great Meadows. The scenery is beautiful and it is loaded with wildlife. The day before, there was a sighting of a bald eagle.

I did not see a lot the day I went. I didn't see the bald eagle. My highlight was seeing some coots.

After my walk of two miles ( I was limping by the end because of a sore hip, because I hiked five miles then jogged four miles around Ponkapaug Pond) I went to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Concord during the 1800's was the site of more brilliant minds than possibly any place before or since. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau not only were neighbors but friends. They are all buried next to each other on the appropriately named Author's Ridge. There are usually flowers or tokens at the graves of them author's especially Thoreau. I was there only a few minutes but could feel the genius in the air.


Muskrat Lodge