Weekend redeaux

Another great weekend. Simon came up on Friday armed for a rematch with me and the bass at the lake. This time he brought his full tackle box so had everything necessary for success. My only concern was the weather which was forecast to be rainy due to a tropical something or other – wave, depression, storm – something without a name (yet). The forecast was 70% rain chances Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

We went out Friday night and luckily for me, Simon lost the first fish. Shortly thereafter I got one and nailed that critical first position. I lucked out and came in with a clean sweep – first, most, and biggest. Sounds like a big win but he was just that first fish from a much closer score. We came in and he was explaining his loss when he blew me away with his analysis. Seems that I had an advantage because he’s left handed and we were fishing on a shore and in a direction that was particularly difficult for left handers. Played the lefty card!

The next morning we were up and at’m fairly early. Check Simon’s blog for the exact details of who caught what but if memory serves, he caught the most this segment. I know I caught the biggest since it was the biggest for either of us in a couple of months. We had fished the exact same shore, in the exact same direction but “lefty” caught the most fish. We went out again that evening and Sunday morning and each time caught fish. I think I probably ended up with a couple more points than Simon for the whole trip but it was at most one or two fish away from him beating me. In other words, a close contest that could have gone either way. He landed more fish this weekend than last and is definitely pressing me hard.

On the first Friday night, we got chewed on a little by the local bugs – some mosquitos, some nats, and some yellow flies. Simon always sprays himself with bug spray but these critters were a bit nastier than his spray – particularly the gnats. Turns out that “OFF” does nothing for gnats or yellow flies. I remembered that we had bought some special stuff last year to fight a gnat swarm and decided to give it a test. Nobody is more sensitive to bug bites than Simon so if this worked on him, it would be really great. Well it worked. He suffered almost no bites on the morning trip and very, very few that night. So if you’re looking for something to try, find an Avon person or go online and find “Skin So Soft”. They have an oil product and a bug spray with some sun screen functionality built in – I think SPF 15. It beat the socks off “OFF” – even the strong DEET version.

And regarding the rain – I think we got about 7 drops the whole time. We fished when we wanted and for as long as we wanted and never had a weather concern. So much for 70%.

Great Weekend

What a great weekend – and not just because it was Father’s day. And to think it followed the Thursday from hell – see Tow Squared report.

Simon spent the weekend with us and we had a blast. He and I fished our little hearts out and we did some nice eating! To top it off, we joined the rest of the family including Joey and Mark, at a Tourist event in Orlando, Arabian Nights on Sunday night.

It started Friday morning when Joey and Mark came up to the Lake and did a job I had been dreading – going up into the attic to run the generator cable. It went smoothly and in just a few hours we were cranking up the generator and verifying that all the wiring was correct and that the house would actually run! I count that as a great Father’s day gift.

We picked up Simon at a halfway point Friday afternoon about 3:30, came home for some grub and then out on the lake with the Kayaks to clash with the lake’s fish. Naturally I expect to outfish Simon because, of course, I do have home court advantage – but it soon became obvious that this wasn’t going to be quite so easy. In the kayak, he could position himself exactly as he wanted and could make the most of his casts. He was using his Christmas tackle, which is first class stuff, and he was using it like he’d been fishing for 100 years. Perfect casts and excellent lure control. I knew I was in for it. We went out each morning and evening and I can summarize by saying I won by a razor’s edge and I can honestly say it was pure luck on my part rather than superior skills. I predict that if he comes back a few more times this summer, he’ll clean my clock big time on one of these outings.

On Saturday we headed over to Port Orange to one of our favorite spots, DJ’s under the bridge. Nancy had lusted after a guy’s meal when we were there last time and only her strong self control kept her from moving over to his table and abandoning me. It was the steamed clams. Not big for me but when Simon was there, we ordered the bucket – 3 1/2 dozen. That along with two bowls of the best fish gumbo I’ve eaten – spicy and loaded with chuncks of fish, shrimp, scallops and who knows what else. Simon and I topped it off with buffalo shrimp sandwiches so that Nancy could work on the clams. At DJ’s you sit about 5′ from the Halifax River and watch the mullet jump, the pelicans dive, and the fishermen on the nearby pier catch trout and crabs. Certainly nothing fancy but a most relaxing lunch for sure.

Sunday morning we concluded the fishing with some great action, polished off a gourmet breakfast, and then just hung out for a few hours listening to jazz and working Sudoku puzzles. Simon and I each had our own books and he was working out the puzzles by himself and in fairly good time. I managed to dunk one labeled “ Beware – very challenging”. About 3 we packed up Simon and headed to Lake Mary where we hooked up with Tom and his brood. Then off to the Arabian Nights in Kissimme. That was a fun dinner show featuring mostly horses and trick riding. The food passed muster and the wine flowed freely so it capped off a great weekend. For the record, the Arabian Nights event was part of our Christmas present from Joey and Mark along with the Mystery Dinner Theater last month. It’s totally happenstance that they end up being celebrated on Mother’s day and Father’s day.

Closing on Father’s day – really got some nice things. The aforementioned attic job; two great books from Chris; and a Bass Pro Shop Gift from the Lake Mary Carbone’s.

Tow Squared

We were driving back from Ormond Beach today after some fishing and a nice lunch at Greggs. We were west bound on 40 about a half mile east of 95 in nominally heavy traffic and I put on the brakes as we approached a traffic intersection. The brake pedal continued on to the floor as I pressed, stopping the truck ok but clearly failing. We were in a line of traffic with no option other than to procede on, virtually brakeless. The traffic was such that you could never really get any speed up so by using the gear shift, the clutch, and the emergency brake, I was able to get us safely to Walmart, a couple of hundred yards east of 95. We knew they had an auto center there. What we didn’t know was that they only did tires. I took this opportunity to figure out what the problem was – a ruptured brake line was my best guess and a roll under the truck proved that to be exactly the problem. So now we have to navigate that parking lot without crashing into anyone. Of course running stop signs all the way. We were told there was a Mobil station with a repair shop a few hundred yards west of the Interstate on 40. That meant some interesting navigating across lanes and thru a series of traffic lights to get to the garage. Not sure how, but we managed to make it – only to find that the guy was too busy to deal with us for a couple of days – that was unless we paid an added $100 to move to the head of the repair line. I think it’s illegal to punch a guy like that but I was fairly close. Instead we called AAA for a tow. The game plan was to find a local garage, a Goodyear place, and have the brakes repaired. A call there found that it was too late in the day and we’d have to leave the truck overnight and figure a way back home. Instead we opted to have AAA tow us to a local garage in Deland that we’d used before.

The tow truck eventually showed and we took off westbound on 40. We got a couple miles past SR 11 when the tow truck started whining and within a few minutes, jammed up totally. The transmission failed. The driver said he had been concerned about the noise the truck was making for a few days and called back to the base station for assistance. They sent two flatbed trucks, one for us and one for the tow truck. That left us sitting on the side of 40 for about an hour. After loading the truck on the new tow truck, we headed for the house where we dropped off Nancy and then headed to Deland to drop off the truck at the mechanic. Nancy came to pick me up just a few minutes after all the transactions at the garage were completed.

I guess, all things considered, we were lucky to get out of the whole thing with just some inconvenience. I’m guessing that if that brake line had given up a few minutes later, we could easily have been in a position where the failure could have had nasty consequences.

Paul Bunyon

My neighbor George has been on an extended camping/vacation trip since mid April. He probably won’t be back until mid July. Turns out, his absence has been a good thing for me. I rely on George for lots of things because of his general purpose knowledge of how to do things and the fact that he has collected tools to do most of it. That complements me well since there is quite a bit I don’t know how to do and have very few tools. Since he’s been gone and I undertook the shed projects and the hurricane prep project, I’ve done things that I never would have undertaken myself and along the way bought tools that made many of the tasks simpler if not achievable at all.

A good example is that I determined that I needed a couple of dead trees that were in proximity to the sheds cut down. When the new shed was positioned I noticed that three oaks were dead, dead, dead and would crash into at least one of the sheds if we ever got into a serious wind situation. I figured my main tree man, George, would be back before the hurricane season got real. At the same time I got to thinking that having a chain saw was not a bad idea since it’s not impossible that we would have to cut ourselves out of the driveway at some time or another. So I bought a chain saw, a 16” Remington electric saw that was on sale at Lowes. I hate gas saws and since I now have a generator and only plan to use it in an emergency………….Still, I had no real intention of using it unless a real emergency arose.

Alberto was a bit of a breeze, nothing serious, but it brought down a few old, dead branches. The trees threatening the shed didn’t topple but I think maybe we were lucky with that. I studied the trees and figured it was possible to drop them without hitting the sheds; possible but not necessarily guaranteed. In fact one was pretty tricky with a big lean and hangover in the direction of a shed window. These were 20-30′ oaks with maybe 6-8” diameters. Not major trees but not saplings either. Without a doubt, if George were here he’d be the one cutting them down. I read the book carefully a couple of times; specifically the section tellling you how to make a tree fall where you want. I started with the easiest of the three and it dropped exactly where I wanted. I felt pretty lucky about that and decided to press on to the next one. A bit trickier but not the scary one yet. Same result – dropped exactly where I planned. The last one was scary. It seemed to me that the physics of the fall almost assured it would topple towards the shed but so far the placement of the notch method had not failed me. I needed it to fall between two other trees so that the one right next to the shed would act as a bumper. In other words a precision drop. I attacked it just like I knew what i was doing and, oila! it fell right on the mark – richocheted off the tree I had designated for that purpose and dropped a foot from the shed. Yes. Paul Bunyon could not have done a better job. Eat your heart out George.