Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Home feels good

After being gone for several weeks, we are back home in northern Oakland County. It's always fun and exciting to travel. But the return has it's moments.
We were travelling or waiting in airports for flights for over 24 hours. It will take a few days to put jet lag behind us and get back to some semblance of order.
Two large boxes of mail greeted us when we returned. Then begins the task of sorting; this pile for reading, this one for bills, one for reading later, and of course in our times, the shred pile.
We left Germany withs temps in the high 60's or low 70's. Arriving in Atlanta, it was mid 70's and sunny.
Talk about your large, busy airports, Atlanta-Hartsfield has got to beat everyone, hands down. Delta jets are pushing back, moving for takeoff positions often waiting in line or landing and coming back to the gate minutes ago vacated by another in many flights.
London Heathrow is another gigantic airport. We missed a connecting flight due to a couple of mix ups and wound up spending the night in a very nice, airport hotel, courtesy of British Airways.
It's good to be home, greet Molly and begin the process of settling back in just in time for hunting season.
Nothing can compare to ones own bed and daily habits, no matter how good the trip was.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tree stand safety; important when hunting off the ground

If you plan on hunting from a tree stand be sure you're hunting safe. That begins with a good quality harness.
It's extremely important to wear a harness at all times, when climbing either up, down or engaged in hanging steps or the stand itself. And by all means, were your harness when you are in the stand.
Once you have worn a good quality harness you'll hardly know it's there. And should you have an accident, you'll be able to safely recover without hitting the ground.
Harnesses are designed to keep you from making contact with the ground. Good ones keep you in an upright position allowing you to get back on the stand or onto the steps.
Remember to search out a live tree to hunt from. Once you locate the tree you're going to use, consider the height you'll want to hang the stand from.
Many hunters stay about 15 feet off the ground. Many others don't go as high. But there are still a few that think higher is better, going to loftier heights when they don't need to.
Finally, keep your arrows and the heads in a quiver that offers protection from those razor-sharp points.
Hunters have been known to fall on exposed broad heads causing serious injury.
Leave your bow and other items on the ground tied to a rope. Once you get into the stand and are secure, you'll be able to haul everything up safely.
Harnesses are available in a variety of sizes, colors, styles and prices. Visit cabala's.com or bass pro.com for more information. Read my column in this Sunday's Oakland Press sports section about tree stand safety.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin fest, with sports theme at castle in Ludwigsburg, Germany

The worlds largest pumpkin festival is held each fall in Ludwigsburg, Germany, on the grounds of  the baroque palace or schools, of King Ludwig.
Over 400,000 pumpkins are brought in to be made into displays. This year's theme was sports-centered, including  gigantic Olympic figurines. The castle was built between 1704 and 1733 and is the largest preserved Baroque castle in Germany.
It was commissioned by King Edward Ludwig who wanted it for a hunting retreat. These days tours of the castle and grounds, a gift shop and restaurant are part of the services to be experienced at the castle.
We spent a good part of last Saturday, walking around the various gardens and admiring the huge pumpkin displays of the Olympic rings, ski jumpers, weight lifter, a basketball player, backboard and net, and soccer ball with a goal.
Excellent carvings of birds, ducks, pigs and other animals were located throughout the castle grounds. Because of the popularity of the event and the extremely warm weather with lots of sunshine and blue skies, the grounds were crowded.
We enjoyed pumpkin-flavored popcorn, and pumpkin fries. Though these may sound weird, both were delicious.
If visiting Germany is on your list, Google Ludwigsburg pumpkin festival, put your feet up and read on.
Swimmer decorated with pumpkins at Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blind hunter Dennis Opoka shoots first deer

Royal Oak resident Dennis Opoka, blind since birth, shot his first deer this fall during the Youth and Disabled hunt.
Opoka uses a sighted guide to help him get on target. His friend, Charles Fickeau, Jr. provides the "eyes" for Opoka. He does this by applying light pressure to Opoka's shoulder.
When he's right on target, the pressure increases a little. Opoka has been hunting at Christ's Outreach in Kentucky, a camp for blind hunters and at the property of Chuck VanderWall's in Fountain, Michigan.
What's amazing about this story is proving that disabled hunters want very much to continue their hunting pursuits despite a disability.
That instead of sitting down and saying to themselves that's it, my life is over, many try to figure out ways to continue in their individual pursuits using some sort of modification.
Whether it's a way to get into the woods, onto a board or disabled fishing pier or figuring out how to shoot a bow with one arm, disabled are some of the most dedicated, devoted and die-hard people when it comes to adapting to lifestyle changes.
Congratulations to Dennis Opoka for pursuing his dream, Charles Fickeau for helping to see that the dream is realized and the VanderWall family for having the instinct to see a need and be able to provide the chance.
And that is exactly what disabled hunters are after, just the chance or opportunity to participate, to be one of the gang, and to share experiences and traditions made in the outdoors.
You can read more about Opoka and his deer hunting experience in my column this Sunday in The Oakland Press.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Opportunities for children with disabilities in Oakland County

 Oakland County Parks and Recreation Adaptive Recreation program hosts Youth Abilities Saturday Sports Special, a weekly opportunity for children with disabilities ages 6 – 18 to participate a number of physical activities including floor hockey, kickball, basketball, parachute games and more.
“This is a great way to engage in healthy exercise at a comfortable level for each participant, as the weather gets cooler,” Recreation Program Supervisor Sandy Dorey said.
The event runs on Saturdays, through Nov. 23, from 9:30 – 11 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County. Program capacity is 20 participants each week.
             Pre-registration is required and participants may select which weeks to attend. A downloadable registration form is available online. Call 248-424-7081 for program details.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County is located at 1545 East Lincoln in Royal Oak.
Visit DestinationOakland.com for adaptive recreation programs or find Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Deer abundant in Germany

We are in Germany near Stuttgart, in a small farming village where out son Matt and his wife Petra live. We're surrounded by fields of rape, standing corn, vineyards of grapes, and orchards once full of peaches and plums.
Now, many of these orchards have loads of apples on trees resembling a cross between a full grown apple tree and a dwarf.
Planted just a few feet apart, these straight, almost surveyor laid out rows of trees are seen nearly everywhere we go.
Grapes are just as abundant, hanging in hugs bunches from vines waiting to be hand picked. Vineyards are mostly grown up and down on steep slopes around here making picking backbreaking work.
My son sometimes rides his bike to work in Stuttgart. When he leaves home it's still dark. Up on the hill known as the Lemberg around here-where you can see clear to Stuttgart and beyond- he'll often see different herd of deer, silently feeding.
"Being on a bike and riding by doesn't seem to bother the deer," Matt said. "They go right on feeding." Just like ours back home. Very nocturnal.
But for some reason, we don't see the normal damage to trees and vines that are frequent in the U.S. due to deer grazing.
I'm sure they are in the orchards around here as well. We just haven't heard the complaints or seen the resulting damage.
Grapes from steep hillside in Affalterbach, Germany.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Great entertainment-great price!

The Paint Creek Folklore Society presents the 42nd annual Tin Whistle Concert Saturday, Nov. 9 at Fellowship Hall at University Presbyterian Church, 1385 S. Adams Road, Rochester Hills.
The concert begins at 7:30p.m.
This is a folk music delight for fans of acoustic music beginning with Potter's Field with John Natiw and Rochelle Clark, a Paint Creek Sampler with blues singer and hammered dulcimer player Dotty Decker and Roger Blair, brilliant song writer, cover artist and performer.
Rounding out the program are Annie and Rod Capps joined by Jason Dennie that includes as relaxed and polished performance of songs about broken things and poignant ponderings with a rootsy vibe and a touch of twang with a soulful groove.
Tickets are $15. For information or to reserve tickets call (248) 889-3013.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Travel continues

Trying to keep with the the Tigers and occasionally the Lions has been a shade difficult while travelling out of the country.
"Iffy" internet connections, general travel and sightseeing, all see to add to the mix of trying to keep with what is happening back home. Thanks to emails, even FB, and the internet, when I do have the time and the right connections, staying somewhat in step with Oakland Press readers is a little easier.
One travel experience we didn't figure on was missing a flight from London/Heathrow. That's a huge airport.
Thanks to the British Airways folks, we were put up in a nice airport hotel, given meal vouchers, and promptly escorted the following morning to our gate.
But this time weather was a factor. Heathrow was fogged in. We were nearly three hours late departing
for Germany.
A day or two taking it easy has put us back on track. But the weather here has shifted, becoming colder and rainy.
We'll try to get out in a day or two for some local sightseeing and meeting up with friends we have made over here.
In the meantime, have a safe fall hunting and fishing season. This is a great time of the year to be on the water or outdoors in any respect.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Kevin McCrory, helped bring access to the outdoors

Kevin McCrory passed away this passed July at home, surrounded by his family. Many readers might be wondering who was McCory and why bother to mention him.
Kevin was very much instrumental in helping establish awareness of conditions in the outdoors that would make fishing, hunting, hiking, camping and other activities, possible for the entire population to participate in.
We served together on the board of Outdoors Forever, a group dedicated to making the outdoors accessible to everyone.
In those days, I think it really served as a sort of springboard to make people in general aware of the problems disabled people had when pursuing activities outdoors.
Tim Pifher and Kevin had a term for able-bodied people calling them TAB's for temporarily able bodied people.
"We're all going to be disabled some day," one or the other would say. They were referring to people, well like me, who has both knees replaced, a cardiac stent placed, cataract surgery, and loss of strength in one should due to losing a rotator cuff. I've joined the group that is fortunate to have some of these programs in place largely due to people like Kevin and Tim.
Kevin was a large man, into doing larger things to benefit the public in a variety of ways. He was a very giving person with his time, ideas and ingenuity.
Along with the late Roger McCarville, Kevin will be missed not only by their families but as we all age, by the public in general.
Read more about Kevin McCory in this Sunday's Oakland Press.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shooting and fall sports

We hear the sounds of shotguns being fired near where we are staying in the UK. Apparently, there is a hunt club with a range near here. I hope to visit it before we leave here Sunday.
Usually the ranges in and around Oakland County see a spike in visitors this time of the year as hunters get a little practice in and do some sighting in before the Nov. 15 firearms deer opener.
If you haven't seen your gun since you put it away after last season, at least get it out of it's case and see that it's cleaned, well-oiled, and most important, not loaded.
Run a cleaning rod down the barrel and give everything a light coat of oil. And by all means, spend some time firing your gun prior to going into the woods or field.
Shoot safe, know what your target is and what is behind it. Don't be in a hurry to get that shot off. After all, this is just practice and the time for you to gain some shooting experience since last year.