Sports and Hobbies

Scoop It, Dump It, Pick Out the Goodies

Fri, 18 February 2011

Our February Pack meeting was our first “Skit Night” during my tenure as Cubmaster of Pack 107. So many of our scouts LOVE to perform skits at campfires, and Scout camps. I also know that the scouts love to see the scout leaders get goofy and do a skit of their own. So, I rallied my leaders together to learn and perform the ‘If I Were not a Scout Leader’ song. Some of my leaders are shy and others outspoken, but when it all came together, we all had a blast embarrasing ourselves. Parents reported mass outbreaks of kids singing “Give Bessie Give, Daddy’s Gotta live!” after the meeting.

Have a look…

Posted in: Kids, Life, Rochester, Sports and Hobbies | No Comments »

The Rz-Team Deer Hunt 2008

Sun, 23 November 2008

Last weekend was one dedicated to our friend the white-tail deer. With an amazing buck adventure already behind me this season, I was really looking forward to helping my Dad bag a deer, and Uncle Terry get some action. He flew up from Florida to the frozen tundra to enjoy the changing of the seasons – archery to gun season that is.

Terry came into town on Thursday, so he’d already had an entire day in the woods by the time I got to Conesus Lake, where we hunt. That night he told stories of watching a buck in the woods mill around all day long just outside of bow range. The only shot he took was this nice photo.

Apparently this buck was more interested in napping than grunt calls and rattles

With visions of bucks dancing in our heads we all turned in awaiting our first day.

Friday’s Balmy Bow Weather
I took Friday, the last day of archery season off from work. We were in the woods at sun up in what turned out to be a 60 degree November day. The deer agreed with us that it was a better day to sit out in the sun in shirt sleeves than to be walking around the woods. By 10am we had seen nothing, so we called it a morning. For the rest of the afternoon we played with guns – always a manly activity. We went down to my Dad’s barn and sighted in our shotguns for Regular season. I was the only guy to hit the paper plates consistently at 50 paces. While I thought that was a good omen, it actually was not a predictor of what was to come. In a critical strategy move, we also threw up a small ladder stand right where we’ve been seeing deer come in and out of the woods all season. THAT ended up being our best decision of the weekend.

Our Friday night hunt came soon enough as the days don’t last too long this time of year. For the 4th straight session, Dad didn’t see anything in his stand. We were all shocked at how his stand went cold after we kept seeing SO many deer there earlier in the season. At 5pm on the dot I scooted off to a volleyball game at Hot Shots. Terry was conspicuously silent on the radio when I told the guys I was leaving. When I came back to the lake later on, I got the scoop on a miss that caused Terry a sleepless night. At 4:45pm, before the radio call, a doe had meandered toward the ladder stand VERY slowly. It took until 5:05pm for it to get close enough for a perfect shot. As Terry recounted it, the shot was completely dialed in to the heart. Our resident master of the perfect shot was getting pretty cute with his technique, no doubt wanting to show us how an arrow can be put into the size of a silver dollar from 25 yards. When he let the arrow fly it went straight and true directly…into the ground. As Terry put it, the hunting target he uses is flat and a deer’s underbelly is round. It likely took off a couple hairs from that round part of the real deer, and that was all. That little incident has Terry thinking about larger target areas for next season.

Freezing Cold and Driving Rain. It Must Be Opening Day!
The opening of Regular Season was upon us Saturday morning and I knew the weather was going to be awful. Unlike most opening days, we saw no deer activity, and heard very few shots. By 9am my blaze orange cotton jumpsuit was soaked and bloated like the Michelin man, and Dad was wringing out his gloves.

Kris exiting the woods after a lovely morning in the rain

We headed in to dry off, and Terry-of-many-gadgets stayed out in the woods underneath his umbrella. At about 3pm Dad and I returned toasty and rested. The rain stopped, and you could hear a pin drop for most of the afternoon. Then, right about 5pm BOOOOMMM! Terry’s 20 gauge rang out from the lower stand and then a second shot. I quickly flipped on the radio. Terry said “Look out in the bean field, the doe’s coming your way!”. I didn’t see it, didn’t see it, then I saw it…a deer came out of the woods into the field. I radioed “I see it, what do you want me to do?”. Terry said, “Is it down?”. In that time I had lifted the gun and put the sight on the deer. I squeezed the trigger and KABLOOM my 12 gauge rang out. The deer dropped in its tracks. I observed for another few seconds, then got on the radio and said, “NOW it’s down!”.

A long trip from Florida ended up providing a big smile

After no action for 3 straight days that was quite a flurry of excitement. I was happy to be Uncle Terry’s wingman and put in the finishing shot. We had to do NO tracking. THAT would have been a great result of the day that was yet to come. We field dressed the doe then took it back to the house where we hung it on my Dad’s car hoist.

“Hanging around” the doe prior to our fish dinner at deer camp

There, I gave lessons to the guys who taught me to hunt on how to undress and quarter a deer. We had it in the fridge by 8pm. I finished off the night be frying up some walleye from our 2008 Cabonga Trip.

Gale Force Sunday and a 5 Hour Odyssey
Sunday, we were all somewhat pessimistic on our prospects. 40 MPH gale force winds and 25 degrees rounded out our weekend of weird weather. I went out to the ladder stand before sun up with Uncle Terry in the high stand 100 yards away. At ten to seven with the light just getting bright enough, and a stiff wind in my face, I saw 2 deer crossing the bean field behind me at what must have been 60-70 yards. With my knees knocking I braced myself in the tree and took aim. The deer which I thought was a doe inched closer and came into the opening that I considered to be in good range. I squeezed the trigger and the cold morning air was split open with the crack of my 12 gauge. The deer moved a few more feet and I took a hurried second shot which apparently missed, and the deer scooted off into the woods.

The best part of the shot was that it came right after Terry had radioed me that it was OK to shoot into the woods (the other hunters around us had not shown up for the day). It seemed to him that I was waiting for his permission to shoot, and BOOOMMM I wasted no time.

I was hoping that Terry would come down out of his tree in time to get a shot at the second deer which was still hanging around 5 minutes later. Unfortunately he and his Fall Guy had a fight in the whipping wind causing him to get stuck in his tree. By the time he arrived on the scene, the trailing doe was gone.

It didn’t take us too long to pick up a heavy blood trail into the woods. We radioed my dad on our progress after we followed the doe an initial 100 yards. He stayed in his tree until 9am after we already tracked the tenacious doe through thick brush, pines and a meadow. The blood trail went from large pools of blood to pin-head spots and back again. We thought for sure I had gotten a really good shot because of the ease with which we could follow the trail at certain points. After 2 hours we kicked up the deer in a heavy golden rod field, and for the first time found out it was a spike buck. We saw the antlers and a pronounced hobble in the deer, but it managed to scurry away. Getting increasingly frustrated from what was already 2.5 hours of tracking, we asked my dad to make the long journey from his stand to where we were in the field. We thought for sure we would stalk the deer for only a few more feet and would find it. Not so much!

Thank Goodness for Dad’s Fresh Set of Eyes
When Dad arrived, we trailed the deer another 300 yards across another meadow, into new woods, and down into a gully to a stream. The last blood was right before the stream so we thought for sure it had crossed and went straight up the other side. No blood. We searched 3 fresh trails near the river’s edge. No blood. We back-tracked the trail, no blood. For 1 hour we looked for any sign of blood, ultimately ending with a grid search. What was a steady trail suddenly vanished. Tired and inexperienced on these long trailing expeditions I had pretty much given up. Not my dad. Some 50 yards down the stream bank, suddenly he yelled “BLOOD!”. The deer had walked downstream and exited the water there. No sooner did we follow the trail another 30 yards, and we scared up the deer again. This time Uncle Terry trailed the deer aggressively, trying to tire it out. Finally, he got on the radio and said he could see it and get a shot. I told him to take the finisher just like I had done for him the night before. BOOM! At noon the tracking was over in a reedy bog, deep in the woods. We were probably a mile or more from my first shot.

What a relief to have caught up to this buck; a magnificent animal.

When we examined the deer we found 2 unusual things. The first was what a crummy shot I had taken. I got the deer in the back leg which caused plenty of bleeding, but is not a vital hit. The second was the fact that the deer was missing one of its antlers after I had seen 2 earlier. Apparently the world’s most fluky finishing shot had sawed off the second antler.

Dad went down the road to get the truck and in the meantime, Terry and I field-dressed the deer – only my second buck ever. We had to get permission from a farm well down the road from our hunting grounds to allow us to drag it out. I’m not proud of the poor shot I took. I am however very proud and grateful to my Dad and Uncle Terry for helping me fulfill the promise of being good sportsmen in the field.

A great deer hunting team. This day tested the mettle of all of us

The first few days of the week I spent processing the results of our productive weekend. My father-in-law was great to help me out with that task which I’ve now begun to enjoy. We already have our sausage back in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m bummed my Dad didn’t get one this year because he certainly put in his time. It was a great hunt nonetheless, showing how great team work leads to a memorable experience no matter who takes the first shot. I’m looking forward to next season already.

Posted in: Hunting, Life | 2 Comments »

My First Buck – a 7 Pointer!

Tue, 28 October 2008

Archery season for deer started last weekend in Western New York, and my dad and I have spent a lot of time already chasing after our white-tailed furry friends. This past weekend, Dad decided to take some time to spend with Mom (a smart idea). Since Tricia and I weren’t doing much after our High School Musical 3 fun with the kids, she told me to go sit in the woods. So, that’s just what I did early on Sunday morning. I saw plenty of deer – even a couple of bucks – 100 yards from my tree stand. Frustrated by everything being too far away, I took a trip to Gander Mountain to get some “attractant”. Literally some doe pee.

Yep, they bottle deer urine. I don’t want to know how they collect it.

Sunday Night Special
Sunday afternoon, I gobbled up some golabkis while watching the Bills lose to Miami, then headed for the woods. I decided to sit in my dad’s tree stand for the first time because he’s been talking about all the deer he’s seen at night from there. I dragged some attractant around the area and hopped up into the stand around 5:00pm. It was a windy afternoon, but temps were in the 60’s, so I didn’t even need my cold weather gear.

At around 5:45 as I was standing there bored, probably singing a Rascal Flatts song in my head, I turned over my left shoulder and my eyes bugged out! A buck was standing broadside in front of a row of corn about 20 yards from me. I froze. Then the deer put down its head to munch on some grass. I slowly raised my bow and drew back the arrow. The deer took a few more steps beyond a fencepost that was obstructing my shot, and I let it fly! I saw it hit a little bit high, but I knew it was a good shot nonetheless. That’s how fast it all happens…from bored to shot in the air within about 20 seconds.

Tracking in the Dark and in a Thunderstorm
Since I was all alone, my first call was to my dad who was 40 minutes away. He said to get down out of the tree and see if there was a blood trail. If so, he’d make the trip and help me track the deer. Sure enough, there was a blood trail. When I called my dad back, he was already on the road. I called my wife and father-in-law next to give them the good news. I got out my surveyor’s tape and began marking blood every 20 feet or so, listening and watching closely for any activity. At about 6:15pm I saw a deer jump up and bound away from where the blood trail led. I thought for sure I had spooked the deer I shot – never a good thing.

I was mad at myself for being over-eager, but at the same time I was kind of worried. It was getting dark and a black thundercloud rolled in. I told myself to stand still until my dad would arrive in a half-hour. During that time it started to pour, freaking me out that the blood trail would wash away. Not to mention lightning streaked across the sky which didn’t seem real safe. Luckily, after about 10 minutes, the rain passed, and the skies cleared.

My dad got to the field at around 6:45 coming from the direction where I had last seen my deer bound away. It was dark, and we both started looking for blood again. For about 15 minutes I followed the trail, and my dad looked further up the trail. When I reached the point where I thought the deer had bedded down I asked him if he was picking up the trail. At that point he said “I don’t see any blood, but I DO see YOUR deer!” “Really?”, I said because I thought for sure the deer would be 50 yards away or more from the last spot I had seen it. AWESOME! I was so excited.

7 Points of Bliss
When we finally found the deer, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was my first buck, and a much bigger one than I could tell from my vantage point so far up in a tree. We counted 7 points – 3 on one side, and 4 on the other. I called the family to give them the good news, and let them know I wouldn’t be out all night in a thunderstorm tracking the deer. Then we got to work on field dressing and dragging the beast to the truck. After all that sweat and energy, I asked my dad to take a picture. His ‘uh oh’ reaction gave me a sinking feeling. See, I purposely had not brought a camera with me so as to not ‘jinx’ my hunt, but in all the commotion I forgot to ask Dad to bring his. All we had was my iPhone without a flash and we snapped this blurry pic in the headlights:

I thought this might be my only proof

Getting the Photos and DIY Deer Processing
I had intended to bring the deer over to Steel Sausage, our favorite deer processor in Avon, but Tim wasn’t open Sunday night. So, we trucked it to my Dad’s garage and hung it from his car lift. That thing can hold 5 tons – and was probably the most overkill you’ll ever see for a deer hoist. For us, it worked perfectly.

The next morning before work, I tried to take it to the processor again, but I wasn’t hitting his hours of operation. So, we decided to bring the deer back to Webster and find a processor closer to home. And finally I was going to get my pictures! My lovely wife helped my pull the deer from my truck for some poses on the front lawn of my house. I like to let my neighbors know that I keep it real. Here’s some glamor shots:

What could be more American than a Bills flag, my daughter and a buck in my front yard?

Gary convinced me to process the deer myself (which we’ve done together before), so we decided to use my bike hoist in the garage for something other than what it was intended for…

This is a great way to get bikes out of the way…

…and a convenient way to process your deer

Mason wore a tribute shirt to school in honor of the buck, and got an anatomy lesson when he came home. He was really excited about the deer – making a request to keep the antlers. I gently told the boy, that those antlers are DADDY’s, but that he’s very welcome to look at them whenever he wants to 😉

I’m willing to bet not many of Mason’s buddies get a sight like this every day when they come home from school

Tomorrow night Gary and I will finish processing and grinding the meat. I can’t wait for my trip to Tony Costanza’s to get some of the best sausage on the planet made. If you are ever at my house ask for a sample, you won’t believe how good it is!

Thanks to my dad for helping with the tracking, hauling, and for use of the stand that I used to get this guy, and to my dad-in-law for the processing. It was great to share this with you guys. Getting my first buck was an awesome experience.

Posted in: Hunting, Life | 8 Comments »

A Salmon and a Dancing Hula Girl

Sun, 21 September 2008

Yesterday was a beautiful September morning. I convinced my friend Scott to get up early and join me for some salmon fishing off the mouth of the Genesee river on Lake Ontario. While Scott drove the Fish Fry I worked on setting the lines. As I was choosing which fishing rods to use, I saw the rig I took from my grandfather’s basement earlier this summer after he passed away. Even though it had 15 year old line on it, I asked grandpa if he’d help me out this morning with some luck. I put onto that rod, the lure I affectionately call “the dancing hula girl“. It’s a green Spin Doctor with an Atomik Fly (like this guy used) trailing behind it. It is a weird rig that I’ve never caught a darn thing on. I put down a good variety of other spoons and had the lines set by 6:45am.

Scott and I were chatting and not paying attention, and I looked over his shoulder from the drivers seat at about 7:15. I said “Hey, Scott!!! That’s a fish, could you go grab that?!” So he jumped up and grabbed the rod. With the line zipping out, I cleared the rest of the downrigger lines, then I grabbed the camera and shot this quick video:

Scott Ingraham catching his first big salmon

The fish fought for about 15 minutes, and at one point was more than 200 feet off the back of the boat. It was good to see Scott start to fatigue a bit as he got his first taste of horsing in a big one. Finally we tired out the salmon more than Scott, and unlike last year, I actually had a big enough net to get the fish in the boat.

Scott’s Salmon
15 lb. King Salmon

Kris with salmon
Striking a pose with the catch of the day

It was awesome to find out that the fish came on grandpa’s rod, and the ‘Dancing Hula Girl’. Thanks gramps, that was pretty cool! Scott and I both had a big smile on our face the rest of the morning even though we never got another hit. I went home and cleaned our fish, then Tricia and I cooked it for dinner on the grill. Grilled salmon marinated in Santa Fe Marinade is mmm…mmm…good.

This was enough excitement to last me until next year. I think Scott was pretty pumped because when I dropped him off his vacuum packed fillets at church today (good charter captain I am) he still was sporting that grin. Thanks for a fun morning Scott!

Posted in: Fishing, Life | 1 Comment »

Thousand Islands Mini-Vacation

Wed, 30 July 2008

For our 10th anniversary weekend we headed off to Chippewa Bay in the 1000 Islands for a couple days of fun with our friends Marc and Janet and their kids, Mia and Lucas. On Sunday morning we hooked up our boat and left the house at 9:45. We took a really nice drive east on 104 through all of the eastern Lake Ontario fishing towns like Sodus, Pulaski, Oswego, and Mexico. We arrived at around 12:30pm at the public boat launch. There, we left our boat trailer locked up and drove the boat over to the cabin which was less than half a mile away.

Jesse’s Island
The cabin is at the end of a steep road to the water’s edge. On the land where we stayed was the owner’s cabin, and a guest cabin that the 8 of us stayed in. The cabin is on Jesse’s Island, which I would suppose is one of the 1,793 islands that make up the area.

Mia and Anna on Jesse’s Island
Mia and Anna on Jesse’s Island

Here Fishy Fishy
The 2 boats at the dock
I brought the Fish Fry, but the best “yacht” in the place was the pontoon boat
We took the boat out fishing while Marc’s family went on the 24 foot pontoon boat they had rented. We spent a good amount of time out on the water drift fishing with worms. We got tons of small perch. As we peered over to the fishin’ barge we saw Janet hook a nice 3.3 pound walleye, and a small Northern Pike. We knew who we were fishing with the rest of the trip for sure. The pontoon boat worked out much better to get the whole crowd of us to have fishing fun together.

Anna pets a Northern Pike
Anna pets the nice Northern pike lovingly.

Island Hopping
Perhaps the best part of going to the 1000 Islands is island hopping. There was a nice state park right by where we fished every day, so it gave us a chance to explore. The island had a few tent sites and a beautiful picnic shelter. Someday, it might be fun to camp there.
Cedar Island State Park
We parked the boat on shore and poked around the island.

Mason and Anna Go Down the Tubes
On Monday afternoon the weather was kind of crummy and we had been fishing all morning. Rather than sit inside, I thought we could try a water activity. Heck, we were going to get wet anyway. I had purchased an inexpensive tube and tow rope from Dick’s to bring with us on the off chance that I might entice one of the kids to hop in the water and get dragged around by the boat. Sure enough, Anna was game for the adventure, but Mason wasn’t feeling well.

We took out the pontoon boat, hooked up the tube, and I hopped in for a trial run. Anna saw me getting dragged around having a good time, but was a little concerned when I flipped off the tube after doing some tricks. Nonetheless, she hopped into the tube giving me explicit instructions not to go fast or do tricks to flip us off. Well, I had Marc start off really slow. After a while we sped up a bit more, and Anna was having a blast! We talked the whole time together about how much fun we were having. Then I had Marc goose the throttle a bit more so we could get the tube on plane and get my legs out of the water. That’s when Anna had enough. She started to scream like she does on a kiddie coaster, “This is a nightmare!, This is a nightmare!”. I just thought that was priceless. So, we slowed down and congratulated Anna on her first tube ride. (The pictures are still on Marc’s camera). It was awesome!

Mia and Lucas both had their first turn on the tube as well (with Marc and Janet riding along). They both had a blast in their first experiences too. We went in after the first round of tubing to pick up Mason and Tricia. Luckily Mason was feeling better and he wanted to give tubing a whirl. Tricia was the first to take him out. She had the boat up to full speed, and had Mason outside of the wakes! He loved it. Then it was my turn to go out with the boy. I got even more aggressive with it at full speed, and he just never wanted to quit. Nothing beats the smiles that the whole crew had on their faces.

Mason and Tricia Tubing
Tricia takes Mason on his first tube ride

Kris and Mason tubing together
Kris and Mason go outside of the wakes

Tourist Fun
We also had a chance to check out a few spots in the tourist mecca of Alexandria Bay. My favorite, of course is the 1000 Islands Bait Store, the ultimate fishing shop. My kids really liked our scavenger hunt at Mazeland. Mazeland is a labyrinth of bushes that you try to find your way through. You go through it looking for letters that make up the word of the day. If you get the word of the day right, the kids get a prize, and the adults were entered into a drawing for one too. Mason enjoyed the life sized chess board in downtown Alex Bay. When we got back from the trip all he wanted to do was learn to play chess. That is one of his new favorite things.

Krolczyk family at Cedar Island
The Krolczyk clan in their favorite part of the world

Thanks to Marc, Janet and the kids for sharing their yearly family vacation with us. It was a lot of fun.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Fishing, Life, Travel | No Comments »

4th of July 2008: Fireworks, Family and Poppy in the Sprinkler

Sun, 13 July 2008

For the fourth of July, we had some good times at Conesus Lake. Much of the Rzepkowski clan came into town to enjoy the Ring of Fire on the 3rd. Wendy and Ian even drove up from South Carolina, and with them came both of my grandmas and Barb Polasik, my grandma’s cousin from Virginia, who is just a terrific lady.

A Flame Lit for Lefty
At dusk we started off the fireworks show by writing messages to grandpa on a Chinese lantern. We had a lighting ceremony with some prayers and then sent it off into the sky. We expected it to go thousands of feet into the sky and see its way to heaven. Instead it went about 100 feet, then came down like the Hindenburg. It was still very touching, and beautiful.

Neal with Chinese Lantern
Uncle Neal lights the Chinese lantern. If you look closely you can read the messages to Lefty

Ian also brought with him about $300 worth of fireworks that we lit off at the end of the dock, adding our own personal show to the thousands of crazies trying to outdo each other.

Fireworks at the lake
One of the many fireworks shot off at the lake

The children’s ahhs tell the whole story

On the 4th we made a HUGE breakfast of Belgian waffles and egg casserole. Then, Ian, Dad, Mike and me went to Livingston Country Club for a round of golf. I was on my way to my goal of breaking 100 for the first time. But, at hole 15 my stamina went out the door, and I had 7’s and 8’s for the rest of the round, leaving me with a 111. Luckily we are all in the high-scoring club so that was good enough for second place.

Golf at Livingston Country Club
Dad “executes” a 60 ft. putt while Ian provides the typical hi-jinx

Th rest of the weekend we had great weather, so we took the kids swimming in the not-so-warm water and went on a nice long boat ride. There was plenty of drinking and fishing to keep us occupied too. As is our tradition, we topped it off with our yearly family photo in the Old Navy flag tees.


At Nana and Poppy’s House
After our trip to the lake we went to Nana and Poppy’s house for some more relaxation and Mush for dinner. It was hotter than blazes on that Sunday, so the kids convinced Poppy that they should all go in the sprinkler. That set us up for some ideal photos of grace and beauty in action. Have a look:

Poppy and Mason in the Sprinkler
Poppy and Mason having fun in the sprinkler

Poppy and the kids in the sprinkler
Grace in action: Poppy and the kids jump through the sprinkler

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Posted in: Golf, Holidays, Life | No Comments »

Cabonga Reservoir Fishing 2008: Family, Fun, and Foibles

Fri, 20 June 2008

Kris Netting Fish Cabonga
Kris nets nice walleye for Uncle Neal

From June 9-13, 2008 I spent a week making a trek up to Canada with my uncles, my cousin, and some family friends to Cabonga Reservoir, for some great walleye and pike fishing. More importantly though, it became a great way for us to unwind and connect in a positive way after spending the previous weekend doing something very hard for our family. I always provide the entertainment for the group with my knack for idiocy. This year was no exception.

Kris’s 2008 Cabonga Fish Story
It was prime time fishing in the evening, ’round about 7pm. I was in a boat with Phil and Duane. We had just found out the secret to the best fishing lure from the local Indian guides. We trolled Thin Fins so fast that the boat was putting up wake and we were nailing the fish. Alas, as is typical after buying a new lure, I got it well snagged on the bottom after only about 10 minutes using it. Duane offered to use a Snag-away to release my lure from the bottom. He monkeyed with the contraption for 5 minutes unsuccessfully.

Now, I was getting frustrated. I was wasting valuable fishing time with this snag. I told my boat mates I would snap the line. What was really going through my head was “I’ve got one more shot to save my lure if I yank REALLY hard on the rod”. So that’s what I did. Suddenly I heard a twayayayanggggg….noise, and then a sploosh! It took me too long to realize that the top part of my Ugly Stik rod, that was always loose to begin with had just flung 50 yards behind me. Since I was the driver of the boat, I quickly grabbed the tiller, flung it into reverse and went after the tip of my rod. Of course they don’t float, but I wasn’t bright enough to think this through. Instead I proceeded to gun the engine and take on water into the back of the boat. At this point Phil and Duane calmly suggested that I step away from the tiller until I cool down a bit. They also stayed pretty quiet for a while as I grumbled about losing half of a good rod to the fishing gods. All I can say to everyone in attendance is, “You’re Welcome! Tip me at the bar, I’ll be here all week.”

Uncle Neal’s Rock Split Incident
My fish story only barely beat out Uncle Neal for Best in Show. His entry was more ballet than my slapstick, but still high quality nonetheless. The boats had split up for the afternoon, and my boat was 100 yards from where we saw Uncle Neal’s boat approaching some large boulders. I knew that they were stopping by these large rocks to have a snack and rest. When I looked over my shoulder to see them dock at the rock, all I saw was a splash, and what I thought was Uncle Neal going into the water. I cried “Man down!” to my boat mates, and we quickly went over to see what happened. When we arrived, there was Neal with one soaked pant leg all the way up to his butt. Apparently he had tried to prevent the boat from making too hard of a landing at the rock. He put one foot on the boat bow, and put his other out to fend off the boat from the rock. When the boat lost its forward momentum it quickly left Neal with a “Split Decision”. The boat moved away from the rock and he had to make a quick call to jump back to the boat, onto the rock, or into the water. He chose the boat, but he lost his balance and dunked his leg in the water.

It’s always those great stories that makes the trip so fun. There was plenty of great walleye fishing too. In fact, the last night the fish were hitting from 5pm all the way through 8:30. It was one of those perfect nights. Warm, calm, quiet, and the fish were in a frenzy. Our stringers were full by 7:45 and we spent the rest of the night upgrading our tonnage to only the bigger walleye.

I enjoyed the trip immensely, and the time off is always good for a recharge. Here’s some more photos from the 2008 Cabonga Fishing Trip.

Posted in: Family and Friends, Fishing, Life | 1 Comment »

Bright Sunshiny Skiing at Swain

Mon, 03 March 2008

Sunday was Mason’s final ski lesson for the season. The weather was heading toward perfect all week. A snow storm on Tuesday and Friday gave us 6 inches of fresh powder, while the Saturday temps in the low teens headed toward midday highs of 35 yesterday. With bright sunshine and no wind, there could not have been a better day for skiing ever. We went down as a caravan – the Rzepkowski’s and our friends the White’s as we had done earler in the year.

When we arrived at the mountain, the trails had just been groomed and Mason was psyched to try out his new skills on the real slopes. He started out his 10:15am lesson on the magic carpet, and quickly advanced to the real lift. He was now able to ski Swain completely on his own which was a huge difference from the first time this year.

Mason Magic Carpet Run

While Mason took his lesson, Tricia, Anna and I went up the lift for some skiing together. Anna did very well with the help of an outstretched pole, or some between my legs skiing. Had the magic carpet not been packed with lesson kids, we should have had her ski there all day so that she could learn to stop. I can’t wait till she’s old enough for lessons next year at Powder Mills because I know that she’s going to pick this skiing thing up quick, and be racing by year’s end.

Anna Skis at Swain

When Mason’s lesson ended, his instructor, Ron told me that he just wasn’t able to give Mason any instruction. There was another kid in his class that was over his head and needed to be carried down the hill. Ron offered to give Mason another lesson at noon. So, we went back to the lodge for a break and some lunch and convinced Mason that getting some more one on one ‘professional help’ would be great for him. In fact his second lesson was good for him as Ron told us that Mason made a lot of progress. He also said Mason’s legs were popped out by the end, and he needed a break.

Tricia kept the boys and Anna in the lodge so Andy and I could hit the perfect conditions for some real skiing. We took a couple of GREAT runs, and then somehow I let Andy convince me to do a Nastar race. I’ve never raced in all my years of skiing. All you had to do was pay 5 bucks at the top of the hill and you could ski the course for time. I was definitely nervous and my first run didn’t calm my nerves at all. I fell on the second to last turn which cost me 15 seconds to end up at 45 seconds. We went up the hill again, and on my second run I managed to finish with a turtle-slow time of 35 seconds, but at least I stayed on course. Andy’s best time of the day I think was 29 seconds which awarded him a bronze medal. Racing was really fun, and I could have done it the rest of the day, but alas we wanted to get back to skiing with the kids.

In retrospect the second lesson for Mason wasn’t the best idea because it cut our family time short. Our second run together up to Mile Sweep, Mason skied awesome at the top of the hill. But his legs and mind were so shot, that he melted down somewhere in the middle and wanted me to carry him the rest of the way down the hill. I coaxed him down the rest of the way by holding a pole next to me. That was at the end of this highlights video – a summary of a day of great family fun and great times with great friends.

I hope we might get out one more time skiing this year if our busy schedules allow it. Otherwise, I won’t be sad if this perfect day of skiing is the exclamation point on a terrific 2008 at the slopes.

Posted in: Life, Skiing | 1 Comment »

The Rope Tow Has Been Conquered

Sun, 10 February 2008

Saturday was Mason’s first ski lesson of 2008. We have him enrolled in a 4 week program at Powder Mills Park where I learned to ski when I was his age. Powder Mills is a small hill in a local park with nothing but a rope tow. The instruction there is first rate though, as the staff from Swain comes down and teaches beginners of all ages and it is VERY reasonably priced. The great news was that Mason had been skiing 2 times (week 1, week 2) at Swain already this year. When we arrived in the morning, we got Mason’s skis and boots that we have rented for all of the session. He immediately wanted me to pull him up the bottom part of the hill for some practice. Before the lesson even started, I knew he would have a great day.

Mason gets warmed up for ski lessons at Powder Mills Park

Mason skied with so much confidence on the bottom part of the hill that the instructors took our little 6 year old straight over to the rope tow. THAT was when the flashbacks really started for me. I remember shimmying over to the rope that was speeding in front of me. We were told to take our leather-palmed mittens and slowly grip the rope. As the rope zipped through trying to set my hands on fire, I can recall finally catching hold. I started to move, first from the shoulder joints where my arms were nearly pulled from the sockets, my upper body that absorbed the shock, then finally the skis from which I was removed and plunked straight on my face. It was with this fond memory as I watched Mason’s first experience. He did SO great!

Mason gets his first taste of the rope tow

After Mason made it to the top of the hill, his instructor named “Hoppy” took him on one run holding onto a stick next to him for stability. The very next run, Mason was skiing on his own for the first time, down terrain that was far steeper than before.

After the last run of the day, we went into the lodge to have hot chocolate to celebrate victory over the rope tow and look forward to next week.

Posted in: Life, Skiing | 1 Comment »

SkiWeek #2, Mason Completes the Ultimate Challenge

Mon, 28 January 2008

Saturday, we had perfect conditions for another ski trek down to Swain. This time it was just Mason and me plus Andy and Nolan. The day started off a bit dicey as Mason must have thought he could hop right on the hill after only one week of skiing and be able to shuss right down. Well, he got a little frustrated and took off his skis at the top of the hill, refusing to put them back on. We talked about that not ever happening again in a not so patient voice from me. Andy and 5 year old Nolan kept skiing on their merry way. Luckily, they got tired, so we all went into the lodge for some much needed lunch.

Andy and the kids take a ski break by the fire
Andy and the kids take a ski break by the fire.

There, I issued Mason the Ultimate Challenge which was to complete 10 runs on the magic carpet. Mason always responds well to challenges. Sure enough, he made it through 7 runs on the carpet before he got bored with it and the entire ski school that kept blocking our way. He asked me “Dad, if we go up the big lift once, does that count to complete the Ultimate Challenge?”. I said, “Of course.” and we took our first lift ride of the day. We skied down Round Top with Mason to my right holding an outstretched ski pole.

Then he was primed up. We decided to go down lower Robinson, a slightly wider hill, where the snow was just perfect. For the first time, I could tell the light bulb was turning on. Mason, tipped his legs in the snowplow in just the right way to keep his speed under control. Then he found that he could turn his head in the direction he wanted to go, and his body would follow. He’s so perceptive for a little kid. He said “Dad, look how my body follows where me head goes!”. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

We were both tired after that run, so we went inside to rest again. It was mostly for mine and Andy’s sake as we both were towing the kids around the bottom of the hill like we were Clydesdales. Then Mason asked to go to Mile Sweep. Wow! From whimpering quitter, to Braveheart in 2 short hours. So, we went up a full chairlift together to the top of the hill for the very first time. How rewarding. Mile Sweep is definitely…well…long. My back was about to break in half after skiing down it doubled over to keep Mason from going too fast. We made it to the bottom, and both celebrated with a picture.

Mason finishes his first run down Mile Sweep
Mason finishes his first run down Mile Sweep

It was a terrific day. The kind I was dreaming about when becoming a Dad. To see my son learn such a challenging skill really is rewarding. He and I both can’t wait to do it again. Thanks to Andy and Nolan for being patient with us, you guys are awesome.

Trails skied at Swain 1/26/2008
The trails we skied at Swain 1/26/2008

Posted in: Life, Skiing | 5 Comments »



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This is my Life as a 37 year old husband and father of two and my Work as Executive Director of Marketing at Bennett International Group in Mconough, GA relocating from home in Rochester, NY.
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