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Friday, March 30, 2012

Hold Your Water

It began as a little drip.  The Journey had a tiny leak and it increasingly got bigger and bigger, until it was having trouble holding its water.

The Journey has a connection where the fresh water hose attaches, it is not the easiest place to get at and is the only way to put water into the water tank or the fresh water plumbing system.  I anticipated it was not going to get better so I ordered a new connection assembly.  I carried it around waiting for the time when the stars aligned, when the drip got really bad and the weather was warm and sunny.

Today was the day.  The drip was so bad that I would hook up, fill the fresh water tank and then shut off the water hose.  Not the best way to live.  The Journey was embarrassed by its incontinence.

After reviewing the Journey's plumbing system at the Winnebago online plumbing diagrams, I pulled out the old connection,

and installed the new connection. 

 I also added a short extension hose so it is easier to hook up the fresh water hose.

No more leaks, no Depends, no more embarrassment.  :c)

Now, back by popular demand, pictures of baby Anabelle. 

Corey and his little girl having some quality time together.

And Anabelle having a conversation with Mimi Marti.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Home Again

We have an exciting life now that we're fulltimers.  Traveling to exotic locations, seeing the greatest natural wonders, meeting all kinds of new friends, sampling delicious dishes.

Sometimes, however, life can be very mundane, even a little boring.  We're parked through the end of April to help out with the new grandbaby, which is very enjoyable, but posting thousands of pictures of her (and we probably have that many already), or detailing how many diapers she has gone through might just turn off a few blog readers. :cO

So nothing much is going on, just some babysitting, food shopping and reconnecting with a few old friends.  We lived in this area when I was stationed here from 1987 to 1998.  Driving around the familiar roads, seeing places we remembered, it feels a little bit like we're home again.

Don't worry, this is an RV blog and I've a few projects I'll be doing on the Journey and will post about them.  Marti has a few things she wants to write about, too, when I can get her to let go of baby Anabelle for a few minutes, so stay tuned.  We're well and enjoying our stay.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Close But No Cigar

It was hard, but we tore ourselves away and drove the Journey to the FamCamp at Naval Weapons Station, Earle, NJ.  We got ourselves through the gate security, the guards were very friendly and heavily armed, after all, this is a place where they keep those things that go "Boom" for Navy ships.

When we pulled in, we were pleasantly surprised that we were assigned a site in the brand new section of the campground.  No more difficulties in dumping...or so we thought.

The site is wide enough to put two RVs in, and is actually a double cement slab.  We set up in our new home.

However, the designers got the dump connection wrong, resulting in hooking up like this:

I had to route by sewer hose under the Journey to the other side and exit around the right rear tires.  Fortunately, my Rhino Flex sewer hose is 15 feet long and reached the connection with no problems.

I was able to screw the connection in tight, but I still wanted to test it for my peace of mind.  So I had Marti keep her foot lightly on the connection elbow while I sent some grey water through the hose.  That way, if the connection leaked, well, Marti has way more shoes than I do.  Everything worked fine, so we have no worries with the sewer connection this time (Phew!).  :c)

So, we're back to visiting and helping out Corey, Amanda and little Anabelle, our whole reason for being here.  Life is good!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rolling Tomorrow But Not Far

The moochdocking comes to an end tomorrow.  We're pulling out of Corey's driveway where we've been the last couple of days and heading over to the FamCamp at Naval Weapons Station Earle, NJ.

It's about ten or so miles down the road, where we'll have a FHU site for the next month or so.  We'll be close by to help out with baby Anabelle while her mommy, Amanda and daddy, Corey get used to being parents.

This FamCamp is where I had the dumping disaster last April when my dump hoses came uncoupled.  You can be sure that I'll be extra careful this time when I return to the scene of the crime and hook up the dump hose this time.  I can't afford to keep on buying new shoes.

We lived in this area for 11 years when I was stationed here, we have lots of friends that we've kept in contact with over the years so we'll be doing some visiting too.

With our remaining stationary for the longest time since we've been on the road, I have some projects to do, like polishing the Journey's aluminum wheels after it gets a good top to bottom scrubbing.  I have a day/night shade in the bedroom that needs re-stringing, too.  Not a fun job but it has to be done.

I might even find time to get moving on the novel I've been working on for the last several years and get it finished.  Then I have to see about getting it published.  Yes, I enjoy writing and have a number of ideas and stories floating around in my head.

Hopefully we have enough to keep us busy so we don't get a bad case of hitch itch.  Holding our new granddaughter makes it all worth while.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To See Anabelle

When we were making our mad (happy) dash North to see our new granddaughter, Anabelle, we had to stop for the night.  What better place to stop than Cracker Barrel?  We had a great supper and asked and received permission to stay overnight in their lot.  We went to bed with visions of a Cracker Barrel breakfast dancing in our heads.

The next morning, we made that vision come true and had another great meal.  Going back to the Journey, we started getting ready to go.  Started up the Journey, pulled in the slides, then I went out to the Element and checked everything out with it and got it ready, too.  Part of my pre-flight departure routine is to take a complete walk around the Journey and the Element, double checking everything, slides, awnings, jacks, TV antenna, tow hitch, tires, lights and so forth before we actually move.

As I was doing my walk around, an official looking SUV, with decals on the side pulled up alongside us.  My first thought?  "What did I do to get in trouble this time?".

The driver put down his window and said, "Are you Paul?"  That surprised me, and my mind started a slide show of all the people I know, trying to recall who this gentleman was and where I knew him from.  In a split second, I came up blank.

The gent said, "I love your blog, I read it regularly."  Wow!  A blog reader who I had never met had found us and stopped by to meet us.  He introduced himself as Gary, a fellow RVer.  We had a quick chat and agreed to keep in touch and meet again one day on the road. 

It made my day!  We enjoy writing the blog for a variety of reasons, to keep friends and family informed of where we are and what we're doing, documenting our travels and helping other RVers get an idea of the fulltime life so they can know what it is like.  Meeting a reader is icing on the cake. :c)

Yesterday, little Anabelle arrived home.

In no time she was unbuckled from her car seat,

and the passing her around and her grandma's cuddling began.

The pediatrician recommended 15 minutes of "tummy time" several times a day to help Anabelle develop and learn to crawl, so she was put on the kitchen table with a circle of happy admirers watching her every breath, wiggle and sigh.

Even Cooper, Corey and Amanda's Golden Retriever laid on the floor, close at hand, and little Madison, their pug, stood, ready to watch over their new charge.

Meanwhile, Mike, Amanda's dad and I worked on the Element.  It needed new front brakes, so we took on that job in the driveway.  Corey also pitched in and lent a hand.

We figured we'd stay out of the way.  Smart men know not to get in the way of grandmas and babies.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dissecting A Baby

Women.  I don't get them.  Even though I've been married to a lovely one for almost 35 years.

You see, women get all gushy over babies.  Marti couldn't wait to see Corey and Amanda's baby, Anabelle after she was born yesterday.  Causing our marathon run from South Carolina to New Jersey the past two days.

We arrived at Corey's house in NJ and parked in the driveway (moochdocking) for a couple of days until the nearby FamCamp opens this Sunday.  We met up with Amanda's mom and dad (Mike and Vickie) and drove over to the hospital to see our new arrival.

The oohing and ahhing began.  After a few minutes of passing Anabelle from grandparent to grandparent, the baby dissection began.  Marti and Vickie started comparing notes.

"Her nose looks like a Dahl nose" or "She has her uncle Chris'  (Amanda's brother) shaped face".  Then began a litany of each body part being dissected off the baby and listing which relative that part resembled.

To me, she looks just like a baby, a cute one. 7 lbs, 15 ounces, 20 inches of cuteness.

Grandma Vickie and Anabelle.

Even I was trusted enough to hold her.

Corey, Amanda and Anabelle, the "after" picture.

"Pa, when are you taking me to Disney World?"

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Needed: A Rocket Powered RV

We rolled as fast as we could this morning, heading to NJ from SC.  I even drove a little faster than normal, 65 mph, give or take a mph.  One small rain squall was the only bad weather we hit, the rest of the day was sunny and warm.

At 4:30 pm, after getting blow-by-blow texts from son Corey, he sent the one we were waiting for:  Amanda delivered a healthy, 7.15 lb, 20" baby girl, Anabelle Marie.  We have one cell phone picture, but when I upload to blogger, those kind of pictures are blurry.  So ya'll have to wait 'till we take some.

I drove the Journey 625 miles (new record for the Journey).  We finally stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant just North of the Delaware Memorial Bridge in NJ.  After dinner, we checked with the manager and we have been okayed to stay here overnight.  Good thing because my butt is flat, my eyes are crossed and my brain is mush.

Tomorrow we'll head out after a nice Cracker Barrel breakfast and do the rest of the trip, only 165 miles, a walk in the park for us. ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, March 19, 2012

This Blog Has Been Interrupted By...

...the phone call we've been waiting for.  Corey called today and said tomorrow the doctor is taking our daughter-in-law in to deliver baby Anabelle, their first child, our fifth grandchild and third granddaughter. 

We've packed the Journey up and are ready for an early morning departure from South Carolina.  We'll take two days to get to their home in New Jersey, just in time to see them in the hospital.

Many of you have asked for pictures, here is a a "Before" shot.

Stand by for the "After" shot(s).  I'm sure there is going to be more than one. ;c)

We apologize in advance if we miss a couple of posts, we might be a little busy Oohing and Ahhing.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Time Is Growing Short

Our stay here in South Carolina is running out.  Even though we've loved every minute with grandsons Andrew and Owie, we will have to "pull chocks" and head North on Wednesday for a two or three day trip to New Jersey.

It is a trip we're looking forward to.  Our son Corey and daughter-in-law Amanda are expecting the arrival of their first child, a girl, who they plan to name Anabelle.

Due date is March 28, so we want to be there and set up to lend a hand in whatever they might need, dog sitting comes to mind.  They have two, a pug (Madison) and a golden retriever (Cooper).  Hospitals frown on canine visitors.

We're booked at the Naval Weapons Station Earle FamCamp for at least the next four to six weeks.  It is about ten miles from their house.  Reasonable $20/night cost for FHU. 

We are going to start organizing things tomorrow, packing up the outside, moving some things around in the basement storage and removing a few items we're going to store in our daughter's attic. 

Being retired and full time RVers sure is nice to give us the flexibility to move around when we want and when we're needed.  It was worth all the effort to get on the road.

Plus we're going to have a new granddaughter to spoil rotten! ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shopping For The Next RV?

After owning four motorhomes over the years, you'd think we were satisfied with the one we have.  And we are.  However, looking down the road to the future, we know that there will come a day when we need to come off the road and buy another house.  That doesn't mean we'll be done traveling, we intend to have a much smaller motorhome so we can still travel to places without carrying everything we own in it.

Today we looked at our appointment schedule and found it to be like just every other day - clear.  So we wandered down to the South Carolina RV show in nearby Columbia, SC to look at smaller motorhomes, kick some tires and be a pain-in-the-butt to RV salesmen drooling to sell us a shiny new motorhome.

We looked at some Class Cs.

One thing we are not too happy with on our Journey is how hard it is to make the bed.  Looking at this Class B, it appears you have to make it from the outside.  We've quit complaining about our bed.

Then a motorhome caught Marti's eye.

It was an Entegra Aspire (by Jayco).  All 45 feet of it.

It was really (really) nice.  The inside was quite something to see, too.

The price point was amazing.  Hmm, we had to pause and think about it for a minute or two.

We eventually passed, even though the salesman was doing the high pressure routine with the "Show Only" price tag.  Maybe we'll visit the factory someday and look again.

Bottom line, looks like the future might hold a bigger, not smaller motorhome someday before the return to a sticks-n-bricks.  For now, and for a long time, we'll enjoy every mile we drive and every night we stay in our Journey.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Odd Ball RV Use

Back in my working past as a special agent, I was involved in a wide variety of criminal investigations. Drug smuggling, illegal alien human smuggling, environmental crimes and many others.  Often, these types of investigations had a common thread (besides bad guys).  They required hours and hours of surveillance.

On TV, the cop shows often have scenes of surveillance, usually the cops or detectives are sitting in a large, police type car right across the street from where the bads guys are.  They are drinking coffee and having a pleasant day out of the office.  In no time, the bad guys walk out and never see the cops and quickly find themselves in handcuffs.  Case solved.  Reality?  Not a chance.

Reality, sitting in as non-descript type of car you can get your hands on.  Weather?  You are either freezing to death because you can't run the engine to keep warm, or you are slowing becoming a roasted chicken because the summer day is hot and humid, really humid.  Yep, you can't run the engine to keep the air conditioning on.  Why can't you run the engine in either of these circumstances?  Bad guys are not stupid and you'd attract their attention with the engine running.

Then there is the large thermos of coffee (or a large cup of Diet Coke).  That creates its own problems.  Remember, what goes in must come out.  Where do you find a bathroom when you need one?  Answer:  You don't.  That is what a large bottle is for.  You use the bottle...very carefully.

Then there is the technique called "Hiding in plain sight".   Use something that is so unusually normal that in plain sight it is invisible.  A taxi cab, a mail truck, or a pickup truck with a flashing yellow light on top and a couple of orange cones around it while you slowly strip the paint off a nearby fire hydrant.  If the surveillance takes long enough, you might even have time to give it a fresh coat of red paint...very slowly.  After all, you are simulating a city worker. ;c)

I was the proud owner of a new Four Winds Class C RV.  It had all the comforts of home.  Comfortable seats behind the front seats offering a clear view out the windshield.  A refrigerator for all those Diet Cokes.  A propane stove to heat some soup or stew, a propane furnace to keep warm with.  Best of all, a bathroom.

It was a cold October night.  We were conducting surveillance of a nightclub to ascertain its use as a drug distribution point.  We had identified some suspects and we needed to observe them going in and out of the nightclub selling drugs to customers that would drive up to the door.  We also needed to get photographs of the action.

Being that it was going to be a long night, it would require me and my surveillance team to be on this location for hours.  What did I do?  I drove my RV over to the nightclub in the afternoon, parked in the parking lot almost directly in front of the nightclub door and watched all the action that night from real comfort.

 I was nice and toasty, when the temperature dropped, I turned up the heat.  Cooked some food on the stove.  Sitting in the dark behind the front seats, I was invisible to anyone looking in. I took all the pictures we needed.  Best of all I drank all the Diet Coke I wanted because I had my own handy bathroom, no bottles needed this time.  I almost felt bad for the other members of my team sitting around the nightclub in cars (he he).

 Yes, it all worked out and we built a great case that led to many arrests and convictions.  I hid in plain sight and no one took any notice of me.

I only used my RV that one time, but you can bet there were many other surveillances when I wished I was using it.  Because the bottle was full... :cO

What out of the ordinary ways have you used your RV?

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Campgrounds - What's Your "It" Factor?

Some campgrounds have it, some don't quite, others never even come close.  Today we went exploring the area around our daughter's house to look at other campgrounds, just in case we can't get a spot in the Wood Smoke campground (2 miles from her house) when we need it.

We've stayed at all kinds of campgrounds and resorts in the more than 20 years we've been RV owners.  Our absolute favorite place to stay is Disney World's Fort Wilderness Resort in Florida.  Of course, it is expensive so we seek out the value seasons when the prices are more reasonable, usually January and the first half of February.  Fort Wilderness is beyond clean and neat, immaculate comes to mind.  For us, it has the ultimate "It" factor.

Today, we looked at nearby campgrounds that when we drove around them, sadly, we found them to be on the other end of the scale.

Most of the campgrounds were not campgrounds at all but were long term trailer parks with old recreation vehicles and trailers instead of mobile homes.  They didn't have any transient sites.  Many of the trailers that were there were of ancient vintage, covered with leaves and pine needles and were various shades of green from the moss growing on them.  All kinds of items were laying around the units, old toys, grills and various trashed boats or dead cars.  It's a shame to see places where old RVs go to die.

Understandably many people could be down on their luck and these accommodations are all they can afford.  Not to be judgemental, but it makes you wonder why the campground owners let their parks deteriorate to these levels, when simple things like cut grass and litter being picked up would go a long way to making things much nicer.  It may be a pig, but at least it could be a clean pig.

The campground we're in has many long term residents, but it is clean, neat with no trash or non-running vehicles around.  They have a good standard and they stick to it.

We prefer full hook up sites, preferably with 50 amp power.  We do enjoy a little shade, but like a clear shot of the sky for our satellite TV (I loathe having to set up our portable dish and avoid it whenever possible).

If we have a cement pad, that is a plus, but a nice, level site works well, too.  The showers and restrooms don't mean much to us because we never use them.  Occasionally we use the campground laundry if we have such an overload of dirty clothes that overwhelm our little washer/dryer.

Pools are nice, but for us a hot tub is the icing on the cake (with a cherry on top).  That combination is pretty rare.

Price is another factor.  We budget $750 an month ($25/night) because we have and will spend much of our travels east of the Mississippi River, where things are more costly. 

One gem for us has been military FamCamps.  They are usually very nice, have good amenities and  often are located in killer locations, like San Diego, right on the bay, or Key West just a block or two away from Duvall Street.  The prices are very reasonable, too, we save money on our budget by using them.

Location is always important, but for us, location is a little different.  We like to be close to our spread out kids and grandkids.  Since we've hit the road full time, we've been able to spend much more time with them than ever before.  That's a major "It" factor for us.

As we progress further into our full time life, we'll be able to visit the National and State park campgrounds, the Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds and enjoy all they have to offer.

Right now the world is our oyster.  :c)

What makes a campground have an "It" factor for you?  We're always looking for other's ideas and opinions. 

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marti's Musings: Connections

Wow, with all the response to our Verizon woes, this may be a really lame post.  :-)  One nice thing about this campground is the FREE WiFi, and it is fast!  So, we have been enjoying that the last couple of weeks.... 

The campground, as we mentioned, is really nice.  It is not big, it isn't flashy, and it isn't any where close to an RV resort.  There is no pool, the sites are average/small and primarily have semi permanent residents here - there are some sad stories of folks that lost their homes, too.  So, the flavor is different.  However, the owner keeps it impeccably clean.  The laundry room, the sites, the pond area, the public restrooms, the grounds - all well maintained, but still with a 'camp' feel.  There is one area that is tree-less, but I do prefer the shaded sites, and we still get our DirecTV signal, no problem.  Of course, the grandsons love that we can fish and have campfires ( a rarity, it seems).  There isn't an "it" factor, except for the fact it is 2 miles from our daughter/sil/grandson's house.  THAT is our 'it' factor.  :-)

Being so close to family has some added benefits: connections.   We know the best place to get a haircut, get the car repaired (twice!), shop for food  (or anything else), attend church - on and on.  There is little else I enjoy more than worshiping with my family. 

We will be here about another week, before we head north to greet the newest grandtreasure.  That is, unless she decides to make an early appearance.  :-) 

We are getting our rhythm for this lifestyle, although, admittedly I still have moments that I feel somewhat guilty for not doing the daily grind of work anymore.  We both wonder what to do with the knowledge and experience we have locked in our heads... sometimes it feels like a waste....   Mostly, however, we are in awe of this blessing called retirement.  We know that we are young for this lifestyle, which makes us all the more grateful to God for this time.  Life isn't guaranteed, so we plan to make the best of family time and time with each other. 

Thanks for stopping by, feel free to leave a comment.  ~Marti

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Little More Verizon MiFi Info

We were not expecting the feedback and hits to our blog over yesterday's post concerning our Verizon MiFi problems.  Along with many thoughtful comments and emails, we were even referenced on a couple of notable blogs.  Seems like we are not alone and Verizon knows they have a poor product on the market.

So some follow up to a couple of questions that we've received.  First of all, we bit the bullet and bought out most of our contract.  We received a credit of $40 towards the $170 early termination fee.  With a $141 bill for the first month when it should have been not more than $80 (tax not included), we could see it was a wise choice if the contract was going to be this costly, along with the slow service in many places and the lousy customer service help.  We were also refunded the cost of the device($106.99).

We had some connectivity problems with out Sprint aircard out in the Southwest, on the East coast and the Northern states, it worked very well for over six years.  Being we are going to spend most of our traveling time in the Eastern U.S., we decided to switch back, it will work well for us.

For the Verizon MiFi password, which is a series of numbers on the back of the MiFi, the first two numbers are a key to the day the device was manufactured, the next two numbers, the month of manufacture and the next two numbers the year of manufacture.   That leaves the remaining four numbers as the actual password.

On the hacker websites, there are several programs that easily discover the date of manufacture, leaving the last four numbers easily broken, the four numbers give only 100,000 possible combinations, child's play to break for the computer hacker programs.

To make a really strong password, all the numbers should be changed to a mixture of numbers, letters (both upper and lower case) and well as punctuation marks mixed in.  No words, names or patterns from the keyboard (like QWERTY or 12345678) should be used.

No one carrier or device is fool proof, no carrier has perfect service, either (except maybe McDonald's free WiFi, I can get a Diet Coke while I surf the net...he he).  Hopefully, changing a password will help protect Verizon MiFi users from having huge, unexplained bills.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Verizon MiFi Woes

We became very frustrated.  Our Internet connection had become a lifeline for us, from news, email, travel directions, and of course, blogging.  As we traveled to the great American Southwest this winter, we had poor to non-existant coverage with our tried and true Sprint aircard that we've used with great success for the last six years.

In the Southwest, Sprint's coverage is spotty, so we decided to upgrade to a Verizon MiFi while we were at Quartzsite this past January.  Even with Verizon's much vaunted great coverage ("Can you hear me now?"), it wasn't all that great.

We figured that the slow Verizon service was due to the tens of thousands of RVers around Quartzsite during the January RV and Gem shows all trying to get online.

After eight days, we received an email from Verizon saying that we'd already used up 2.5GBs of our 5GB monthly plan.  Huh?  We had a similar plan from Sprint and we never exceeded 3GB in an entire month.

I need to 'splain our confusion.  We don't game live on line, nor do we stream music or videos or watch TV on line.  No downloading movies.  Just some net surfing, blogging and emails.  At this point we figured it was a fluke.

A couple of days later, another email arrived stating we were at 90% of our 5GBs.  Not being familiar with Verizon and wondering if maybe the times we had a 4G connection, maybe that was eating up our plan.  So, along the way, we stopped at a Verizon store and upped the plan to 10GBs/month.

Imagine our surprise when we received the bill for our first month with Verizon and they said we used 11GBs!  Some calls to Verizon resulted in some really (really) poor customer service.  Needless to say, they couldn't explain our overage, and instead of the old "The Customer is always right", they became very accusitive.  In no time, we dropped them, returned our MiFi device and switched back to Sprint, with a new upgraded MiFi unit.

We had some grief with trying to even get a copy of our Verizon contract, at the RV show, the rep couldn't print off the contract, but promised to email it to me.  Along with the contract was to be a form to send in for a $50 rebate.  Repeated calls to Verizon and stopping in to six Verizon stores along our way to South Carolina were all in vain, no one could help us get the documents.

Finally, a call ending up with a supervisor resulted in getting in touch with the original salesman, who adamently claimed he had emailed us the contract and rebate form.  When I asked him what my email address was, he looked back at his emails and read off the address.  He got it wrong.  He then became very apologetic and wanted to do anything to help us out and keep us as a customer.  Sorry, way too late.

Looking into the huge amount of GBs we used, and doing a search online as suggested by our IT guru pal, Jeri, I researched Verizon MiFi hacking.  Seems that this unit is one of the easiest and most widely hacked devices on the market.  Their password is easily defeated by a hacking program.  I found step by step directions on how to do it.   That explains the overages on our plan.

We didn't know that we should have changed the device name and used our own password with the Verizon MiFi.  We made it too easy and got hacked.  We did get a little credit back on our bill from Verizon, but we're done with them, it still was an expensive mistake.  Live and learn.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why I Don't Fish

In our campground, there is a large pond, allegedly with large mouth bass, among the other wildlife that lives there, turtles, ducks and minnows.  The pond just calls a siren song to little boys with visions of catching a great big fish.

Our grandsons, being normal boys, couldn't wait to answer that siren's song.  Armed with fishing poles, they came to catch that elusive monster fish, Andrew with two fishing poles, an old one and a new one, still in its blister packed wrapping, and Owie, with a seriously professional Spider Man pole.

We walked down to the pond, boys, poles and various little boxes of lures, rubber worms, bobbers and of course, hooks, very sharp hooks.

Owie got the hang of casting his line very quickly.  The Spider Man pole shot the line out just like the real Spider Man cast his web. 

He concentrated very hard.  He watched the bobber for signs of the slightest wiggle, all the time repeating out loud, "You have to be patient, you have to be patient, you have to be patient."

It turned out I was the one who needed to be patient.  About every fourth cast, the line tangled into knots on the end of his pole.  "Pa, my line is tangled!"

So I'd take the pole and wind the line this way and that way, keeping an eye on that sharp hook, until the line was freed and everything was back in working order.  Occasionally, I didn't keep as good a lookout on that hook as I should have and stuck the hook in in my hand, my thumb, my fingernail and pants.  Fortunately, the hook didn't go all the way in, it was just a bunch of small pricks that I felt later that night as I was in bed.

Andrew had a fancier rod.  It had none of the fancy Spider Man decorations on it, it was all business.  He worked on casting it just as well as his little brother could.  He was even demonstrating his talent to Marti.

Just like his little brother, every couple of casts, the line would get tangled.  I'd barely get one boy's line freed up then I'd be working on the other's.  Finally, Andrew's reel got a bad tangle inside it and jammed.

I sat on the dock trying to see how the reel even worked before I could try to fix it.  When I was a kid, these fancy reels were beyond what I could afford.  My fishing gear was a stick with a line tied on it with a hook on the other end.  I didn't catch much.

I had to cut the tangle apart and open up the reel to see what was wrong.  While I struggled with this, Marti opened the blister packed rod and put it together.

I had to admit defeat on the reel and turned my "fishing talent" to the new pole.  The reel was a much better quality and after reading the directions, we figured how to cast with it.  Andrew got the hang of it quickly and began casting away.  Just like his little brother , he tangled the line every third for fourth cast.

My little pocket knife got a work out.  Sometime, the tangle was so bad, the only cure was to cut away the tangle and reattach the hook and bobber to a fresh piece of line.

Owie decided not to fish from the dock, he and Marti went around the pond and he tried casting from the side.  He did pretty good, until he caught the line on a dead tree sticking out of the pond.  Marti lucked out and was able to pull it free.  Good thing, because no way was I going to wade out and pull the hook free.

Go figure, Andrew's new reel got tangled.  As I was working on that reel, Marti took a look at the other one and got it working...Saints be praised!  Good thing, because as I took Andrew's new reel apart, the knob that holds everything together slipped out of my hands, bounced once on the dock and plopped right into the water.  Now I owe Andrew a new reel.

He wasn't too upset because he was able to continue fishing with his other pole.  Phew!

And so the fishing went on, cast after tangle after cast after tangle.  Pretty soon my pocket was bulging with discarded, knotted fishing line that I had cut off to get the rods back in operation  (Didn't want the discarded line to end up in the water where it could fatally ensnare a duck or a turtle).

Finally we called it a day.  The score?  The boys - 0, the fish - laughing their tails off.  Mimi and Pa?  Exhausted, with Pa feeling like a pin cushion.

You just can't beat quality time spent with your grandsons.  :c)

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