Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tom Kowalski rembered as nice guy

   Like most of you, I was shocked to learn of the passing of the award winning football writer and Oakland County resident, Tom Kowalski.
   Found unconscious at home a couple of days ago, Tom's death is shocking on several levels the first being his age. At just 51, we immediately think that is too young. And it is.
   It's shocking on another level because of all the people he touched through his writing, TV appearances and radio show.
   To go through life and be remembered as a truly nice guy, one that made a difference, is a real honor. Tom attained that status and then some.
   Last night's news showed veteran news reporters choking up when talking about Tom and the memories they had of him.
   Likewise seemingly tough-guy professional football players from the Lions were on the verge of breaking down.
   A consummate beat reporter, Tom covered the Lions like a blanket. That has to be a tight line to walk. First you try to write positively about a group of people that haven't had a lot of positives to mention for several years.
   He had to be on both ends of the story, sort of friend and foe. But he was well respected by the Lions family apparently from the top right on down for being fair and getting the facts of the story right.
   While Tom and I weren't close, we were friends. He always acknowledged me by name whenever he saw me which hasn't been too frequent the past several years.
   Always outgoing and upbeat, Tom physically was larger than life. I never heard a negative word come from him.
   In a time when our attention is being pulled so many ways, Tom was one of the writers I would turn to when I saw his by-line. For me, there aren't that many.
   I looked to him for not only an accurate story but an entertaining one as well. I hadn't seen Tom in quite sometime and had made a mental note to contact him in hopes of spending a little time with him.
   It's too bad I waited longer than I should have. That opportunity is forever lost. But one thing that isn't gone, even with his passing is his ability to teach.
   Known for new writers to go to for guidance, we can all look to how he conducted himself in life and take a lesson about how to treat people.
   Even in passing, Tom Kowalski continues to teach and leaves a wonderful legacy we should all try to incorporate in our daily lives.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Biking 101 clinics, free

   Learn about biking along with type of bikes, equipment and some of the more popular trails at these free  clinics.
Learn About Bicycling and the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail During Two Labor Day Weekend Bicycling 101 Clinics Sept. 3, 10a.m.-1p.m.

   The Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park will be the setting for two events the Department of Natural Resources has organized during Labor Day Weekend to highlight the state’s rail-trail system. Michigan has the most miles of rail-trails in the country.
   The DNR’s Recreation 101 program is offering two Biking 101 clinics taking place simultaneously from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, at both the north and south ends of the trail. Representatives from the DNR are partnering with local biking experts and vendors to present tips on biking while showcasing the state’s longest rail-to-trail that runs along the former Grand Rapids and Indiana rail bed.
   Tips on cycling basics, safety and different type of biking along with a variety of bikes to try out will end with a five mile ride along the trail.
   Participants are encouraged to bring their own bikes but loaner bikes will also be available. Directions to the Cadillac Trailhead are to take US-131 north to the M-115 exit and go northwest for one-half mile. Take North 41 Road one mile north to North 44 Road. Go west on North 44 Road approximately one-half mile.
   Recreation 101 is a year-round program that recruits top instructors and sports equipment vendors to provide free or inexpensive hands-on lessons. The goal is to provide the novice sportsman with enough skill and knowledge to begin a new activity. For details, visit www.michigan.gov/stateparks.

   The bicycling clinics are free. All levels of riders are welcome. An adult should accompany children under 10 years old. In event of rain, the program will be postponed or canceled. For more details, call the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center at 231-779-1321.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Surgical update

As of this past mid-week there has been a flurry of activity at our house. Upcoming plans have changed drastically that required hotel reservations to be cancelled, trip registrations changed, and the beginnings of getting some of the heavier work done around the home front in prepartatiion for winter.
   The reason has to do with that rotator cuff problem I mentioned last week. Seems as though the doctors and my wife feel the surgery to correct it should be done now rather than later. There is some concern that the tear could worsen if treatment is prolonged. And one doc commented that the tear was quite large.
   So, to keep peace on all fronts the date for the operation has been moved up to next Wednesday. I can hardly wait!
   Seriously, this is being described as kind of major and painful. At least a month in a sling with no movement followed up by several months of physical therapy the kind where the therepast moves the arm.
   I've been told that this is going to be more challenging than the two knee replacements I have been through. The downsise to all of this is no salmon fishing this fall. And no trip out east for a family reunion.
   If all goes well, I'll be sitting in a recliner, watching the world go by. I just hope by ice fishing season I will be up and ready to go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Holding Lies," good summer reading

   The title, "Holding Lies," sets the stage for this 250-page novel by John Larison. Published by Skyhorse Publishing, as the title implies, the book centers around river fishing.
   In this case it's steelhead at a time when they ran wild and large. It's a novel in every sense with all of the twists, turns, and background that go into any good read.
   A story about a river guide that is trying to establish contact with an estranged daughter in the midst of guiding clients (sports), trying to keep a healthy respect for the ecology of the river and resource, and all the while proteting it's sevrets.
   Just before guide Hank Hazelton's now-grown duaghter comes for a visit, the guide discovers an empty  guideboat with blood smeared on the inside.
   Come along as the local sheriff begins a murder investigation that eventually directly involves Hazelton, who is considered a prime suspect.
   Painting a picture of the past where anglers took large amounts of fish to the present where older, experienced guides try to maintain what is left of the river's majesty and integrity against a backdrop of clients and guides who make a living "catching" instead of just "fishing." High Recommended.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall Backpacking program for women offered by BOW

   Women wanting to learn to be self sufficient in the outdoors might want to take up backpacking. A three-day, two-night backpacking trip will be offered Sept. 30 - Oct. 2 at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising in the Upper Peninsula.
   The program is part of the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program or Beyond BOW as requires participants to have had previous backpacking experience.
   Backpackers will hike about five miles daily along trails that follow the Lake Superior shoreline. They will see waterfalls, limestone cliffs and miles of sandy beaches.
   Each participant will help with camp duties like set up and break down, meals, and water filtering.The trip begins at noon Friday with a gear check and trip orientation in Munising.
   After travelling to the Little Beaver Lake trailhead, hiking begins before setting up camp and enjoying the evening.
   Following Saturday morning breakfast you'll hike before setting up camp. Hiking will continue on Sunday, with an ending time of 3 p.m. in Munising.
    Be prepared to hike on trails with varying terrain and to proceed rain or shine. That time of year in the U.P., plan on anything from cool to cold, so pack accordingly.
   Pack with the newer lightweight camping items available. Cost is $100, which includes breakfast, dinner and dessert each day, plus group gear, such as tents and cooking utensils.
   Each participant must provide their own personal gear (sleeping bag, hiking boots, backpack, etc.) and should pack their own lunches and snacks. Enrollment is limited to eight, so early registration is encouraged.
   For more information about this BOW event, and to get the low-down on what  is needed to feel comfortable camping on the trail, call 906-228-6561.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The packing list grows

   As I explained in Wednesday's blog, packing for a trip, whether with a list or on the fly presents problems for me.
   If I have part of my trip packed-rods, reels and other assorted equipment-I still need to get clothing, rain gear, safety equipment and food into the mix.
   Take clothes. I'm forever taking way too much. Sometimes I think that's why airlines have begun charging for luggage. It's due to guys like me that take everything on a two-day trip including that proverbial kitchen sink.
  This time of the year I take clothes for warm weather. Shorts, T-shirts, sandals and water shoes. But what happens if the weather gets cold up north off Sleeping Bear sandunes?
   So I add long pants, heavy socks, a vest, Polar-Tec, a couple of caps, boots, gloves, and while I'm at it, a lightweight jacket.
   It could rain so I'll need rain fishing stuff. Should I take my Frogg-Toggs, light rainsuits, or the heavier gortex for wind, cold and rain?
   How many T-shirts. Will I be going any place that might require slacks and a button down shirt? How much underwear and socks will be enough?
   Will the light sleeping bag be enough or because seasons are beginning to change should it be some of the heavier stuff?
   And so it goes. If there is a solution I don't know what it is. I try packing the very minimum then find I left things out I needed.
   If you have a suggestion send it along. In the meantime, hand me another suitcase and while you're at it, that small duffel bag. Just in case I may as well throw in....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Early Packing not a plus for me

   I'm known as a list maker. Make em' for all kinds of things. Give them titles then stick them in my calendar, lay them on my desk or workbench and forget about them until I get the energy to look at them. By that time they don't make any sense.
   I've tried to keep a packing list on my computer for trips. That way I just have to look at it, pack what's there and I'm all set. The trouble is, I don't follow the list. There is always some variation for whatever reason, then like an out-of-control-train, I'm off the tracks and headed in another direction.
  The outcome of that is I wind up taking more of everything but leaving essential items at home. For instance, the last trip found me in Roscommon without a cord to charge my laptop. Try finding a cord up north in a small town for a computer.
   Luckily I found a computer repair shop that had as second-hand cord that was quite reasonable to purchase.
   My reason for mentioning any of this is preparation for my upcoming fall salmon kayak fishing trip on Lake Michigan.
   First, I need to get the boat set up. I've ordered some new features for it that are slowly arriving. Once everything is here, I'll set it up. But that isn't the final step. On the water, that set up might change.
   Next is tackle. What to take for salmon, which rods, plugs, line, leader material and planer boards. I haven't gotten to my marine radio and other safety items yet.
   Then there is the tackle for other use in the event we get blown off the big lake. What to take for rivers and inland lakes?
   Clothing is another part that takes room. What to take and what to do without? And finally, what food to bring for sharing with other hungry anglers?
   I'll add to this blog later this week. But I have found that by packing early I always second guess myself wondering if I put this or that in. Then I have to unpack to be sure it's there.
   Guess it's still a bit of a last minute thing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Missing dominant arm a pain in lots of ways

Never has anyone looked forward to physical therapy as I have. I begin tomorrow at Accelerated Physical Therapy in Clarkston. Here's hoping they are at least as accelerated as the name seems to imply.
   Being right-handed, I'm definitely missing the full use of that hand and arm for so many things we take for granted.
   Daily activities, some very personal, are almost impossible to accomplish and using the left hand just makes things worse.
   Remember last week I commented that I would have to learn to fish differently in order to land one of those hog salmon on Lake Michigan, mid-September from my kayak.
  Several members and followers of Kayak Fish the Great Lakes.com will be in attendance. No doubt there will be a couple of skeptics who will show up just to see what this is all about.
   It won't take them long to catch on and get into the flow of things, trying to get one of those heavy fish to hit a bait being pulled through the water at a perfect speed using paddle power only.
   That's where I may have another problem. In the propulsion or paddling department. I can get help loading and unloading the boat but handling fish and paddling is all on me.
   That's why I'm excited to be starting PT. I just hope that excitement carries over to my therapist when she lays out the treatment plan.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Learning to fish all over

   The medical folks say I have a pinched nerve that is causing pain and numbness from my right shoulder, down through the arm and into my hand.
   So far, it's left me with a big loss of strength in the right hand, numbness in the hand and a couple of fingers and not much grip.
   I found myself in the emergency room at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital last night. Not being able to get any relief in any position I have tried, sleep has been difficult, and normal activities have ceased.
   Meds and a prescription to begin physical therapy are on the front burner. I hope they all do their respective jobs by mid September.
    That's when a bunch of us get together to kayak fish for salmon in Lake Michigan. The first time I heard about this kind of fishing from a yak I was hooked!
   Two years ago I went on my first trip and never had a bump. Boats all around me were continually hooking up but nothing was coming my way.
   I'm thinking I wasn't down deep enough to attract or catch them. That all should change this year with a variety of stuff to try.
   Yes, I'll use the crankbaits that go deep but will add some spoons with a weight system from Off Shore Tackle a little ahead of the lure.
   Learning to fish all over? If I do get something on the line I'm going to have to learn to fight it left handed while trying to reel right handed.
   I still haven't figured out paddling. Guess I will give that a dry run so to speak in a couple of weeks. Look out salmon! Dutch is coming.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keeping mosquitoes away; always a challenge

   My son-in-law Jeff Minns is a mosquito magnet. He's fair complected and from England. I don't know if being a Brit has anything to do with it or not but if there is one mosquito in Oakland County and Jeff is visiting, he'll get bitten.
   This year when he visited with my daughter and their new little boy, Ewan, I had him try a new product called TermaCELL.
   The unit resembles a TV remote, making it compact and easy to handle. After inserting a butane cartridge and repellent disc, switch it on and the heating element starts up.
   In a few minutes it begins activation which means protection for you. The repellent, once heated, rises into the air to drive off mosquitoes.  Ten minutes later the mosquito-free-zone is established
   ThermaCELL is available as a lantern or all-purpose swivel light. There is no open flame, messy oil or lotion, and the portability makes this a must-have for camping, fishing, hunting, or just sitting in he backyard.
   Lasting 3-4 hours, the ThermaCELL also wards off black flies, and noseeums. For the most effective use, place it on the ground. That  way the repellent spreads over a larger area.
   For more information visit http://www.thermacell.com/. Jeff commented that " The ergonomics are good, the design is simple and the units are very easy to use. They are lightweight, compact and perfect for travelling/camping/hunting, etc."

  As far as effectiveness Jeff says, "I do however, genuinely feel they worked and allowed me to keep my British "blue" blood for myself.
   "In a nutshell, I would purchase these products and also recommend them to other people. Please tell the manufacturers that they saved me from a lot of itchy lumpiness and I am gratefull."
   Anything that keeps mosquitoes away we all would be grateful for. Check out the ThermaCELL products at KD Outdoors, Gander Mountain, Wal-Mart and other establishments where outdoor products are sold.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rela\x, there is still plenty of summer left

   There is still lots of time to get to your favorite campground, hike a new trail or try a new fishing technique. (Like that wacky style I mentioned a couple weeks back!)
   In between, how is your tackle and hunting organization? Does it need a tune up? Mine certainly does; the organization part anyway.
   Try some peg board and hooks to hang extra plastics or lures. Hang tools that are specific to fishing or hunting up. Hopefully you'll be able to find them.
   I have been working on this on and off since the weather warmed up. It's a matter of trying something then refining it to what will work for you.
   With the annual kayak salmon fishing trip coming up, I want to be ready when the time comes to pack. Instead of guessing where my pfd is I want it in one spot so I can load it along with other gear without a lot of fuss.
   Another idea was to take a large plastic storage bin with a lid to carry most kayak fishing stuff I'll need. It's labeled "Tripper" as in a day tripper.
   It too needs refining, but it's getting close. With fall sports right around the corner, hunting clothing, guns, bows and other related items need to be found and organized in a similar way.
   That brings me to ice fishing gear and sorting all that out. So, the message is there are ways to stay busy, hang out in the garage while the weather is nice and be productive with the time you have now.
   It will pay off in the long run. Happy sorting!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Third annual Anchor Bay Charity Kayak fishing tourney set for 8-6 and 8-7

   A kayak fishing tournament to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-day walk for the cure is set for Aug. 6 and 7.
   Tournament headquarters is Great Lakes Decks and Docks, 7427 M-29, Algonac, (800) 292-DOCK.
A CPR format (catch, photograph, release) prizes will be awarded in various categories such as longest fish. Raffles for prizes as well as a final day raffle for a new kayak are part of the program to help raise funds for this import and worthy cause.
   Ticket holders for the kayak need not be present to win. Entry fee is $25 or $30 the day of the event. For more information and to register, visit http://www.michigankayakfishing.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1222.
   This is a great chance to get out and have fun while helping out a worthwhile cause. Newbies to kayak fishing will have fun meeting others with like-minded interests.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Feral swine-by any name they are a menace

Wild boars, feral swine, wild hogs. Whatever you choose to call them, these critters are rapidly becoming a menace and are on the "shoot" list.
   Hunters don't need to book a trip for a boar hunting trip someplace down south. We've got em' right here, sometimes in our backyards.
   Originally brought here years ago as a food source, some have escaped becoming wild. Others were imported to be hunted in private preserves.
   When it comes to breeding these animals are on a par with rabbits, breeding several times a year and producing large litters form 4-12 piglets.
   Damage to farm crops is costly. So is damage to wildlife in the form of less food to ear. Ground nesting birds are fair game for hogs as are fawns.
   The rule is if you are out hunting and see a wild hog, take it. Just notify the DNR and Department of Agriculture so they can get blood samples. Good board hunting!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Politicians slow to respond to Asain carp problem

   For some reason elected officials in Washington take their time when it comes to taking action on potentially devastating invasive species like the Asian carp.
   Some say these fish are poised to enter the Great Lakes from the Chicago barge canal while others say they have already arrived.
   Whether they are here or not remains to be decided. What is a sure bet is the devastation these fish will cause once they are established.
   The impact here in Michigan will be economically huge. That's because these fish devour anything they come across leaving no food for game fish.
   Scientists, ecologists and DNR experts all agree that these fish are indeed unwanted and need to be curtailed before they reach any of the Great Lakes.
   What remains a mystery is why it takes Washington so long to act.