Jacksonville - this week.


A River Runs Through It

I can see my house from here!
Tree Hugger

Here are some photos from today's trek down Wallace Run. My brother and I started on our walk around 7am and finished our walk around 1:00pm. My legs are dead after walking through 6 inches of snow. The pictures above are the sights from our walk today. Picture 1 is my brother pretending that he spotted a bear. In reality, I told him to look interesting - it didn't work. Picture 2 is one of the three porcupines we saw on our walk. And that is about all we saw apart from 2 moths and one hawk. Picture 3 is an Obelisk I built last year just north of Grindstone Gap. I never thought it would be standing a year later. It has survived vandalism, high water and high winds. It goes to show the excellent craftsmanship I put into my work. I have titled this work of art Enduring Hope.
Tomorrow is a hunting free day. Instead I get to play squash with my mother in law. She will likely kick my butt. I welcome any comments here.



A quick update from the Arctic (well, it feels like the Arctic) - No bear seen today. Day one of the hunt was unsuccessful. We did, however, see 1 deer and 1 porcupine. Tomorrow my brother and I will be making a 5 mile trek down Wallace Run looking for anything that may be alive. This will prove tricky with a few inches of snow that we will receive over night - on top of the existing 3 inches of snow.


Venison anyone?

It's not long now until Brandi and I head to Pennsylvania. Back to the land of snow and Hicks. For those of you who don't know, a Hick is the northern version of a Red Neck. I grew up in the middle of Hick Land where my family (including me) would be considered Hicks. As the picture shows we are typical PA hunters.

Let me talk more about this image. First of all, if I've offended anyone by the killing of a defenseless animal, tough. I started my venture into hunting way back when I was about 9 or 10. I can remember going Dove hunting with my Brother Todd and my neighbor Joe. They would let me shoot corn of the stalks with a single barrel/single shot 20 gauge. I took my Pennsylvania Game Commission hunters safety test when I was 12 and began hunting the same year. 

It is amazing how things have changed in 24 years. Back when I was younger, my Dad took good care of me by gutting my deer and then watching me drag a deer that weighed about 20 pounds less than I did. My Dad also watched out for me and my brother's welfare by keeping us outfitted in the best gear money could buy. Yep... Remember the green boots that you could buy at K-Mart with the synthetic yellow fur? Those were my hunting boots for the first two years of hunting. Imagine standing in 8 inches of snow with a plastic bag around your foot and nothing else - that is what it felt like wearing those boots. My brother and I have a plan that when my Dad dies, we will cremate him and store his ashes in a green rubber boot so he will be eternally cold as we were those years of hunting. Oh, and lets not forget gloves. Of course my brother and I wanted the Gore-Tex Thinsulate gloves that made your hands dry and toasty warm. Nope! We got cotton gloves with little rubber dots all over them. I must say, they did grip well.

Now that I can buy my own gear (OK, my wife buys it for me) I go for the adequate gear and my Dad gets my hand-me-downs. I tend to think he enjoys my extravagant tastes. And now that my Dad is old, my brother and I have to take care of him. We carry him in and carry him out of the woods. We give him a radio so he can be in constant contact with us. And he doesn't take the word CONSTANT lightly. We walk the woods and push deer his way. And on the rare occasion when he shoots a deer, we drag it out of the woods for him (as the picture above shows).

In all seriousness, I've felt (and I know my brother feels the same) extremely lucky to have a father that took me hunting. Contrary to what I've written above, Dad has taken great care of us and continues to do so. He will also out-walk almost everyone in our hunting crew - except my brother, who I call the Mountain Goat. I call him the Mountain Goat for two reasons: 1. He can climb a mountain like no other, and 2. he smells like one. 

So this year will be like all the others. My dad will complain that I'm procrastinating getting my hunting gear ready. My brother will pass gas and not roll the windows down. Our hunting buddy Brian will order a pizza while in his stand. Our buddy Greg will likely miss a dear because that is just the way it is (we call him shaky). My brother will hunt until he can't see his hand in front of his face. When asked where we should go next, I will always say "we could go home." And I will enjoy the time hunting with my family and not take if for granted. Regardless if I bag a deer, the experience will better than most could imagine. 


Are you kidding me?

Leave it to Andy D. to select a place for dinner that has Prime Rib the size of my thigh (pictured). This, by the way, is the small portion. Kudos to Keith who ate every last bite of the Prime Rib including most of the fat and gristle. He then proceeded to eat a salad and an ice cream dessert. Those UK boys sure can eat!

If anyone ever tells you to eat at Clarks Fish Camp in Jacksonville, Florida - Trust them!


Weekend Update

Even though it is Monday night, I thought I would quickly re-cap the weekend.

1. Penn State lost to Iowa - That was a tad unpleasant - to put it mildly. You can see the disgust on the faces of two PSU fans (pictured - Andy & Lindsay D.)

2. Steelers lost - After the PSU loss, this was nothing

3. Finished my installation of the 10 sections of vinyl picket fencing - Got the thumbs up from the wife

4. Cleaned the Mazda inside and out - Got two thumbs up from the wife after she nearly fainted from the sight of me cleaning

5. Packed a suitcase for Florida

6. Woke up at 3:50am - out the door at 4:30 to Jacksonville

Pretty much hated this past weekend, one I soon hope to forget.


Never Mind

Whatever I said below, forget it... Although what ever bowl game we get to play, I'm confident we'll win it.

We were terrible!


Penn State Hopes

It's certainly not over. I'm worried that Iowa will put up a great defensive game and slow PSU down this Saturday. Nonetheless, there is a lot of talk about PSU going to the national championship game. There is also a lot of talk about PSU losing in the title game. A few weeks ago 6 of 8 CNN SI writers had PSU in the title game, all had them losing. The title picture has changed as of late but I'm sure the attitude towards PSU hasn't.

I don't think you can write off PSU so easily. Keep in mind the following items. Penn State is 9-2 in the past 11 bowl games. Joe Paterno is 23-10-1 in bowl games as a head coach. In the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, Penn State was a huge underdog to Miami who was supposed to kill PSU with their Vinny Testaverde high powered offense. Needless to say, Penn State prevailed 14-10. We would face a similar underdog scenario this year with Alabama, Florida, Texas or Texas Tech. All I can say is defense wins championships. Speaking of defense, Alabama has the 4th best defense in the nation, Texas Tech 55th, Penn State 6th (4th in pts. allowed), Florida 15th, and Texas 64th. So right now, Alabama is PSU's biggest threat. Penn State is 11th in the nation in the offensive category. Will this be enough?

All this said, Joe Paterno obviously prepares well for a bowl game. Penn State plays better as an underdog and the statistics favor the Nittany Lions if you forget the conference they are playing in. I don't care who you are, there would be nothing better than an 82 year old Hall of Fame Icon winning a Championship. If they do make it to "the game" then I'll be placing some money down on PSU while I'm in Australia (at the legal casino - the largest casino in the southern hemisphere).

We Are - Penn State


Live Election Coverage

For my 5 loyal readers, I will be providing you with live election updates. But first, let me reveal a famous face Brandi and I saw earlier in the day during lunch at Dean and Deluca in Charlotte center city (Pictured). Yankee's superstar Derek Jeter.

Back to election coverage:

6:30 - I ate dinner (left overs and veggies with dip) - Brandi is on a recruiting trip to Chapel Hill for work.

6:40 - My nerves are already frazzled waiting for some results to come in. Indiana and Kentucky are filtering in now with Obama having a slight lead in Indiana and McCain with a huge lead in Kentucky. The experts say that if Obama can take Indiana it's pretty much over for McCain.

7:01 - No shocker here, Obama takes Vermont, McCain takes Kentucky. Keep an eye on Indiana, it is very close at this point.

7:40 - My state (NC) has closed its polls, but as with a half dozen other states... It's too close to call! I'm already sick of hearing that tonight. 

7:43 - It is almost time for a snack... Tastykakes!

7:57 - I just completed a straw poll with my two dogs... Riley the elder female Black Lab pulls for McCain and Chase the younger male Black Lab pulls for Obama. Margin of error is +/- 1 dog. A load of states are just coming in!

8:00 - MSNBC just calls Pennsylvania for Obama. I'm proud of my home state! I'm definitely digging into those local Tastykakes now. However, FOX News has not called PA for Obama. Let's wait and see.

8:33 - Current Electoral Vote total - Obama - 103, McCain - 43. I'm starting to get bored - Switching back and forth between college football on ESPN2 and MSNBC and CNN.

8:54 - I just saw where Kay Hagan (Dem) beat out Elizabeth Dole (Rep) for the Senate Race in NC. Could this be an indicator for the Presidential Race?

9:01 - New totals. Obama - 175, McCain - 70. No surprises just yet... Still waiting for some of the toss up states to go one way or the other.

9:07 - I'm starting to pick up some negative comments (via my Skype account) about my blog from some of my "so called" friends. I think it comes down to jealousy over the quality of my blog and the live updates.

9:24 - Ohio to Obama. An MSNBC conservative commentator (Joe S.) just said the thread has broken for McCain. Is it over?

9:35 - That's it... I'm calling the election for Obama (the first Internet site to do so). He's got 200 Electoral Votes at this point, he'll win CA with 55 votes along with Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. It's over.

This live election coverage was brought to you by TastyKake, Rolo's, and the Apple MacBook. Correspondent credit goes out to Glyn Williams, Erich Geisler and Andy Doremus.


My Weekend

There is no Penn State game this weekend so my days will be filled with installing vinyl fence. The Breadwinner (my wife) recently bought 10 sections of vinyl picket fencing to finish the one side of our yard. So, that will be 10 holes 24 inches deep by 12 inches wide through clay and cedar roots. My hands are already blistered.

It does make the yard look a whole lot better. Our current fencing is old wood posts that are rotten with wire mesh fencing that is rusted. I guess anything would look better than what we have. 

It is important to note that my Dad was going to come down and help, but he decided he had something better to do. I'm definitely the #2 son - my brother has it so much better than me. My brother gets his yard mowed, his driveway snow-blow'd and non stop handyman support by my father. I should probably mention that my brother only lives 2 blocks away from my Parents. I live 532 miles away. In all fairness to my father, he has installed about 30 sections of fence with me already. Nonetheless, I will still make fun of him.

But I wasn't alone today. I had my helper (pictured) with me all day. Although his attention span quickly erodes when there is a squirrel in the yard. Tomorrow will be another fun filled day of fencing installation. Measure, mark, dig, plum, back fill, cement over and over and over.