Some Humor

Came across this one and couldn’t pass it up!


I’ve encountered over half of these. Not sure what I’d do if confronted with the other four, but I probably wouldn’t do anything on this list. Except for the one you’ll read about below.

Yeah, they can be pretty aggressive when you get near a nest. Just keep moving!

Although the wasps weren’t the size of geese I’ve seen some big ones. One time swimming at a lake in New Hampshire with friends we were climbing up a rock face out of the water and our dogs came down to greet us. In the process they stirred up some nasty black wasps that quickly dive bombed us! One of them stung me, and it hurt like heck so I jumped back into the water without hesitation. Needless to say I found an alternate route out of the water, and the welt on my arm stuck around for a couple days.

I generally just avoid them and give them a wide berth. Can’t say that I recommend the balloon approach.

If you don’t want to burn everything, the bottom of your boot, sneaker, or flip flop work well also.

I may have once punted a cat, and by “may have” I mean I definitely did. Walking the dog one evening about nine years ago, and this thing came at us out of nowhere! The dog naturally cowered behind me as the cat charged. She took a claw to the face, and I took one to the calf. Left with no other choice, I went with the punt. Can’t recall what kind of distance I got, but it’s a valid technique!


Tuesday Tips: 17 May 2016

This is the first installment of a new feature here at T&T. On Tuesdays I’ll post a quick and easy tip that I’ve learned, used, or stashed away for future use. This week’s topic, how to manuever your recreational kayak or canoe through a random rapid or wave.

Picture this, you’re out for a leisurely paddle on the river in your canoe or kayak. You come around a bend and find yourself face to face with a couple of downed trees that are channeling the water into a small rapid. We’re not talking whitewater here, but enough to swamp you if you’re careless and hit it the wrong way.

Assuming that you’re not going to exit the river and portage around the rapid, and you can see a clear channel through, the best thing you can do here is to line yourself up and paddle straight through the rough patch. Your instinct might be to approach slowly, but momentum is your friend here. If you keep up your momentum you’re controlling where your boat goes and the river does not. If you have to make a slight course correction by dipping your blade into the water for a rudder stroke that’s fine, but ideally you want to use some power strokes to propel yourself in the right direction.

The same holds true on open water if you encounter the wake from a speedboat or other larger vessel. Turn yourself perpendicular to the approaching wake, paddle strongly into it, and punch through. If you’ve got the space, and are feeling playful, you can even paddle away from the wake to take a little ride. Again, momentum is your friend here because it will keep you in control rather than the water, and it will keep you from turning parallel with the wake and potentially swamping your boat.

That’s all for now!


Enough is enough!


We’ve been stuck in an extended stretch of rainy weather here. Over two weeks straight of measurable precipitation every day. My lawn has been barely manageable, my flower beds needed to be planted and mulched, and frankly I just wanted to be able to take our new canoe for a spin out on the lake!

Well Friday afternoon the weather finally broke and the sun came out. The kids wanted to take the canoe out as badly as I did so it was pretty easy to convince me to head out for an early evening paddle. They were awesome, and it was nice to have both older kids out with me and have some leg room instead of cramming myself and one kid into the kayak! My only mistake, using a standard canoe paddle instead of my kayak paddle. Life would have been alot easier with two paddle blades.

This morning we awoke to an odd sight… The sun was shining through our windows! We took advantage and got the last of our flowers planted out front. The two older kids helped a little while their little sister toddled around, then they lost interest and decided that toys and wagon rides up and down the block were more entertaining than dad. Even if dad was giving them carte-blanche to dig in the dirt.

This afternoon we tried to go to the kid’s festival in Winchester’s Old Town section, but clouds were looming, and as soon as we arrived the sky opened up once again. By this point we’re accustomed to having wet weather gear just laying around the van so we whipped out some umbrellas, jackets, and ponchos, and soldiered on. Most of the fun stuff was a no-go in the rain so we ducked into an ice cream shop in Old Town, ate our ice cream and then invited ourselves over to our friends’ new house outside of town. We gave them a heads-up, but fortunately they’re the kind of friends that you can just sort of show up and always expect a warm welcome. We hung out awhile, and after the sky cleared up, took the kids on a little adventure down to the creek along the back edge of the property. The kids loved tromping through the woods (as most kids do), splashing sticks around in the creek (again, a kid standard), and hunting for turtles and toads (childhood trifecta!). Of course all of this was followed by a thorough tick check before heading inside to clean up, relax, and eat some pizza before heading home.

I guess I can’t complain too much about the rain. Come July, I’ll likely be complaining about temps in the 90s and a complete lack of rain killing my grass, but for now I’ll take advantage of the little breaks in the rain to get outside. I don’t know how people in Seattle do it!


My Saturday Morning Ritual


Almost every Saturday I start the day with a walk around the neighborhood with my trusty sidekick Madden. This isn’t just for pure canine biological necessity, although she takes care of plenty of business along the way. It’s a chance to stretch our legs, get some fresh air, and enjoy the peaceful early morning.

Thankfully the rain stopped by the time morning rolled around today and we were able to make it out for a good long stroll. Here’s hoping for a respite from the rain and some decent weather this weekend!


What Happened to April?

Seriously? It’s May already? That was a fast month. A couple rounds of visitors, some travel, work (both at home and at work), and a few pitched battles with the wasps that have decided to make their home on our deck turned the month of April into a blur!

I did manage to make it out fishing on the lake a couple times. Once on the kayak with my son, and once just from the dock with my nephews. The bass around the north end of the lake, especially the juveniles, were pretty aggressive going after real and artificial worms. Around the dock, the boys had no luck hooking the few nibbles they got.

We’ve gotten a late start to our gardening this year. Mainly due to losing a couple perennials out front this winter, and failing to sit down and come up with a solid landscape plan for the front of the house. We do have some herbs and veggies getting a late start in our reading nook that gets a ton of sun. When it’s not raining at least.

Speaking of rain, we closed out the month with a cloudy and rainy week, and look to be starting off May much the same. We definitely need the rain, but I wouldnt mind a little more nice spring weather. The only plus to the continued rain is that the grass seed I’m putting down this week will have some nice moist soil to start with.

That’s about all for now folks. More to come as spring hits its stride.


Dayhike Essentials and Extras

So you’re not summiting Everest, or thru-hiking the AT, but you want to get outside for the day. There are a few basics that anyone heading into the outdoors (even if that involves city streets instead of back-country trails) should have with them, and even a few extras that I’ve found come in handy.


Water: Because duh.

Snack: Common sense applies here so keep it small. You’re (hopefully) not surviving for days here!

A trail-map: Because you should always have an idea of where you’re going and how to get back. If you’re going to be in a more urban/suburban park then your smartphone and Google Maps might suffice, but don’t take this for granted.

A phone: Yes, I often lament “what did we do before we all had phones?”, but we all have them now so you might as well carry yours in case of emergency. Do yourself a favor, make sure it’s charged.

An extra layer: A spring and fall essential. Especially if you’re in a place with quick weather changes, or gaining/losing significant altitude. Writing this I’m reminded of getting caught in a quick squall atop a mountain in Hawaii that left us shivering! While we were luckily not far from the warmth of our tour van, that could easily have turned a fun day on the trail into a miserable experience if we still had soggy miles ahead of us.

Backpack: Small, but roomy enough to throw that extra seasonal layer in and carry your water. Make sure it’s comfortable on the shoulders.

Some Extras

Knife/multitool: Even if all you use it for is to crack open a post-trip beer with the bottle opener it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

A camera: This can truly be considered an extra now that many of us are packing smartphones with decent cameras that are plenty capable of snapping quick pics along the trail. That being said, there are still plenty of things that you can only capture with a real standalone camera.

Baby wipes: I didn’t discover these until I became a parent, but trust me, when you’re grimy and feeling “not so fresh” you’ll be happy you packed a small bag of them. Especially if you’re feeling hungry and want to stop for a post-trip meal that doesn’t involve a drive through!

I know this list isn’t all encompassing, but it wasn’t intended to be. What am I missing? What would you ditch? What’s your number one essential?

We Cut the Cord!

Well, kind of…

You see, when the wife called our provider to get rid of cable it was actually cheaper to just keep the “local package” rather than to just keep phone and internet. So we still have a bunch of channels, but cut about $30 a month off our bill.

We tried going fully sans cable and just streaming a few years ago, but it turned out to only save us a few dollars, and the addition of streaming services pretty much wiped out that savings. This plan seems like the perfect mix though. We’re not paying for a ton of content we don’t consume, but still getting local networks and a fair amount of cable, including household staples like CNN, HGTV, and NatGeo. (Yes, those might be the lamest networks ever to be excited about, but I accept my lameness and embrace it!)

Now we have the flexibility to add and drop premium streaming services as shows we watch go in and out of season, and make use of the services we already pay for, all for less money.

If you’re like us and frustrated by paying exorbitant amounts of money to your cable provider because you don’t feel like you’re getting your money’s worth then give it a shot!

What’s the worst that could happen?

Tips for Planning an Outdoor Adventure

I’m a planner. It’s one of the qualities my wife finds most endearing about me. She’ll have the great idea, and I’ll take over from there. That being said, below are just a few things I do before just about any trip, especially if it’s my first time going to an unfamiliar destination.

1. Look at a Map

There’s really no excuse for not looking at a map anymore. Gone are the day when you had to rely on picking up a trail map at the trailhead, or digging the one from your previous trek, before you could get a good idea of what lay ahead of you. There are tons of trail maps available online, and if that fails, many trails are even depicted on Google Maps.

Get an idea of the distance you’re going to cover, what the terrain looks like, and any interesting things you want to see along the way. This doesn’t just apply to hiking, as even a quick overview of a river can at least give you an idea of the distance you’ll have to paddle. Sure your put-in and take-out points might be 10 miles apart by road, but if that river serpentines for 20 miles you’re in for a much longer day on the water!

This tip also applies to your drive to your adventure! Don’t just rely on your GPS to guide you to the right spot, especially if you’re going through some backroads.

2. Do a little research

Some quick online searches should find you at least a little additional info on your destination, and a little bit of knowledge about what to expect might be the difference between an enjoyable trip and a experience you won’t want to repeat. Websites, magazines, blogs, guidebooks etc are all wonderful resources. Use them!

3. Tell someone about it

Don’t just wander off alone without telling someone where you’re going. Have a friend or family member who’s your designated check-in person before and after your adventure. Even if you’re going with other people it’s prudent to have someone outside the group who knows where you’re going, and when to expect you back.

This is by no means an all encompassing list, but at least these few steps lay the groundwork. One of these days I’ll get around to writing about a particularly epic misadventure in Alaska where I’ll point out some of the various points in both planning and execution that led to a crazy day on the river.


Looking Forward to Spring

I’ve always considered myself a winter guy. I like cold nights, a warm fire in my fireplace, and snow on the ground. For some reason though, I’m really looking forward to spring this year.

Maybe it’s because this winter has been relatively warm and snowless around here, aside from the three-feet of snow we got a couple weeks back. Maybe I’m looking forward to taking the kids out on the lake to use their fishing rods to catch their first fish. Maybe it’s the possibility of some changes at work that have me feeling hopeful.

Maybe it’s all of those things rolled into one.

This bit of reflection has made me reconsider though, am I just a winter guy? When I stop to think about it, every season has things that I enjoy. Spring brings the prospect of fishing, kayaking, and exploring. There’s also planting new flowers and maybe even some veggies for the kids to watch grow.

Summer brings more of the same warm weather activities. Plus things like roasting marshmallows on the patio, BBQs, and fireworks.

The fall will bring apple picking, hikes through colorful trees, and maybe a warm October day to get in one last kayak trip.

Let’s not move ahead too quickly though. It’s still only February, and I should savor my lake view and the sun setting over the Blue Ridge a few more times before the trees sprout their leaves and take it away!