Tuesday, August 27, 2019

From Ontario to South Dakota....

When I woke up Tuesday morning it took me about a minute to think about and process where we were. After being up at Pasha Lake for so long I was expecting to look at the window in the bed and see a familiar sight so when it wasn’t, I was just a little confused.

There was a lake outside our camper but the wrong lake. And there was a house. A huge house.

Not a bad view!
After leaving Pasha we headed for the border which went smoothly. Well almost smoothly. During the routine questioning the agent started asking Barb about her big fish. How does everyone know or why is it assumed that she catches the biggest fish?!?!? Frankly, it is getting irritating!

At any rate, we landed that night in the driveway of our good friends Mike and Mary Jo who have a place outside of Gordon Wisconsin, We have not seen them since we hit the road. What would have made it better was if they were there. You see, they were somewhere in Ontario fishing.

After spending the night in their driveway we were on the road again with two more passengers. An antelope and a whitetail deer that Mike and Mary Jo were nice enough to store for us. Now we were traveling with two dogs, a deer, an antelope, a 40” northern mount and a bear rug. The last two were being stored up at Pasha for the last couple years and it was time for them to come home as well. To say our little camper is getting crowded is an understatement!

Our next stop was at Doug and Connie’s outside of Somerset Wisconsin. Coincidently, Doug is the taxidermist who mounted several of the aforementioned mounts. We spent the afternoon visiting with Doug and Connie before going to dinner at Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse.
Parked in front of Doug and Connie's

They raise some pheasants as well!
An interesting side note about Doug and his son Brian. They are working on developing solar water irrigation and purification systems for remote African villages. They have several demo units set up on their property to show investors.
Their sun tracking solar systems
The following morning we were off to my sisters in Balsam Lake. Where we got caught up before heading to The Thirsty Otter for their Thursday night rib special. Ribs two nights in a row? You bet when they are that good! We had a great time. One of us a little too good of a time as Barb paid for it later that night and most of the next day!

Friday was errand day. Our first stop was the ATV repair shop where we had dropped our Polaris Ranger a few days earlier for some repairs. Oh boy, was it in rough shape! It needed a new clutch, belt, ball joints, U joints, A arms and some welding for a cracked differential mount.
As you can see it was not ready yet. The other reason we stopped by was to drop off our flatbed trailer as we had worked out a deal for a new enclosed trailer when we dropped the Ranger off!  We knew we wanted one and when we were offered a deal on one that some hail damage on the roof we could not refuse!
Our new setup
Later that afternoon, with our wallets a lot lighter, we picked up the Ranger, arranged everything in the new trailer and we were off to dinner with 5 of my brothers and sisters! It has been one and a half years since this many of us have gotten together.
Mike, Barb, me, Greta, Carol, Becky, Bob, Rachel, Rod and Judy
It was great seeing everyone and getting caught up. It was over too soon and once again it was time to hit the road. We got back to our truck and trailer. Flat tire on our new trailer! The problem was easy enough to see as there was a screw staring me right in the face. Thanks to a plug kit and a portable air compressor we were on the road within 30 minutes.

I will pause here to talk about the results of my “skinny jeans” experiment I talked about in our last post. After asking several women if they were wearing their skinny jeans I would categorize my results as “inconclusive”. There is either something in the water in Wisconsin or I stumbled upon a Tourette’s convention as each of the women I asked scream expletives at me and walked away immediately upon my asking one simple question.  At any rate, further analysis is needed.

Now the long trek back to South Dakota. We stopped several times over the next 12 hours and 700 miles to check the plugged tire as well as how the hitch was holding up with the new trailer. I am a little leery about the hitch extension on the truck as it is just a 4’ extension that bring it beyond the back of the camper. All the literature and reviews say it will hold up to 600#’s tongue weight and 6000#’s towing and the online reviews have been positive but I was still a little leery. I must say I am very impressed, it seemed to take the bumps on I90 and looks as good as new!

When we arrived in Pringle we went straight to Kevin’s house as he was wrapping up a weeklong visit and was heading back in the morning. He had invited Dan and Bonnie over for dinner as well so it was great to hear what has been happening in the area since we left. We spent the night in Kevin’s driveway and pulled into our place at 6:30am Sunday morning. Whew! That was a lot of stuff in just a few days.

Everything was as we left it at our place. (Thanks to the Jordan’s who watched over our big rig and filled several bottles of propane). Now it is time to get back into “Building mode” as the steel for the roof and the shower/tub surround arrives tomorrow! Oh, and did I mention we have visitors coming as well?!?!? Very “special” visitors…….

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ice Cream and Whiskey

It happens every year, after a few weeks in the Canadian bush you start to crave something you cannot get up here. Usually it is food related; ordering a pizza, Chinese food or even something as simple as your favorite salad dressing. But this year? Yup, you guessed it ice cream and whiskey. You see, earlier this year Barb switched from rum to whiskey, I will reveal why later in this post. And ice cream? Well, it is ice cream! She had brought up some whiskey but evidently it was not enough as one day I found Barb at the dinette crying. This is not all together that unusual as just living with me will bring a tear to your eye but when I heard her mumbling I started to get concerned. As I leaned in closer I heard her say “It’s all gone, all of it” It was then that I noticed that she was cradling the empty whiskey bottle in her arms like a new born baby. It was indeed all gone. I think the air up here makes alcohol evaporate at a higher rate. I recalled thinking "Oh oh, this is not good”. That night, like me the week before, she was wandering from cabin to cabin looking for anyone who had whiskey to spare.

Chad and Michelle must have felt really bad (or were in fear of losing good customers) as they rolled into camp the next day with not only one but two bottles of her favorite whiskey. And we are not talking the puny 750ml bottles, they went all out and got two 1.75’s! With only 4 days left until we return to “The States” we hope that these will tide us over, if not, it is going to be a long couple of days!
One happy girl!
There are other things we crave as well. Just the other day Barb said “I want some ice cream”. Which is unusual for her as her “diet” does not allow her to have ice cream. She is on this low carb, no sugar diet (which is why she switched from rum to whiskey). Personally I think it has nothing to do with low carbs or no sugar. I would call it “the build your own house diet”. Works wonders on the body, hell on the marriage. (just kidding, it is going amazingly well)  At any rate, whatever you call it must be working because the other day she exclaimed “I fit into my skinny jeans!” Skinny jeans? What are those I asked. I come to find out that she has “normal jeans” “fat jeans” and the aforementioned “skinny jeans”. Interesting. I am not sure if this is something all women do or if it is just Barb, but now I am curious. I think I will start asking women I meet if they are wearing their fat jeans or skinny jeans. I will report back later and let you know how this works out.

Barb is not like a lot of women when they are on a diet. Meaning that when the momma is on a diet, everyone is on a diet and suffers just like she is. If she has to eat kale of her diet, everyone eats kale. You get my drift. Barb is just the opposite. I think she likes to eat vicariously through me. She can’t eat carbs? Jim get carbs. She can’t eat pancakes, Jim get pancakes. Just recently it was likewise with waffles and a blueberry pie. I think she likes to see me eating the stuff she cannot. Just the other day she was craving spaghetti so what did we have for dinner? Spaghetti. Oh she did not have any but she kept spooning it onto my plate telling me to eat more and asking me over and over again “Is it good?” Not that I am complaining mind you!

With just a couple days left here the camp if in full bear hunt mode. After 7 days all 8 bear hunters in camp connected. Two of the hunters have been coming up here for years while 6 others were from Texas and were not used to the Canadian bush or the cooler weather. You know how to get 6 Texans running in the bush. Yell "He still alive and headed our way!" They will scatter like crazy! I thought it was funny, they....not so much.

“Hutch”, who has been coming up for years got the first and biggest bear for the week at just over 300#’s. Barb and I took him and his wife Mary out fishing on Onaman one day. This was the one and only time Barb got out on Onaman this trip so we were not able to make a video this year. Barb caught her personal best for both a walleye and a northern for that lake. A 29” walleye which I think would have measured over 30 had she taken the sag out the belly and a 37” northern. Neither were her overall personal best but they were for that lake.
29" Walleye

Nice 37" pike

Me with a puny 22"'er
So with our Pasha time behind us it is time to move on. We are headed to Wisconsin for a few days to visit family and friends. It has been over 2 years since we have been there and are looking forward to seeing my brothers and sisters. I cannot wait to ask my friend’s wife if she is wearing her fat jeans or skinny jeans!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

As The Old Proverb Goes......

There’s an old proverb; Give a woman a fish and it will feed her for one night, teach a woman to fish and she will make you look bad the rest of your life. That right there is the story of my week, or should I say the story of my life. Truth be told, I probably cannot even take credit for teaching her how to fish either. That credit would go to her dad. With Barb back the world is whole again and life is good. She is the love of my life and I never want to go three weeks without her again.

When we met in the fall of ’85 there were a lot of things that attracted me to her. But one thing above all else was the hook. Was it her beautiful hazel eyes? Her infectious smile? Her long flowing dark hair? Her glowing personality? Or her perhaps it was the fact that she owned a fishing boat. Only I will know the true answer to that question. One clue was that we met in November and were married in February well before fishing opener. This was one catch I was not going to let get away and there is no one else I would rather fish with.

From day one I have always treated her like one of my fishing buddies. I don’t tie her jig on the line, I don’t bait her hook, nor do I take the fish off. In fact it is funny when another male fisherman joins us in the boat and tries to do all those things. Sometimes she will give me a wry smile and let them do it while other times she politely refuses their help just saying “I can do it”.

Oh it has its drawbacks. For one I cannot come home from a long day on the water and spin yarn after yarn about how many fish I caught and the one that got away. She refuses to “go” over the side of the boat like all my other fishing buddies so we have to stop by an island once in a while. And of course there is always the “she out fished me again” issue.   

But it is all worth it. She was itching to get on the water when she got back so bright and early Monday morning we hit the road and headed to Northwind where she proved she has not lost her touch landing walleye after walleye. It was good to be on the water with her again.
I also had the opportunity to take another group out this week. Ralph, his son Ralph and his son’s friend Jay flew in from Baltimore to spend the week up here. Ralph Sr. had never fished in his life and I mean never….. Ralph Jr. and his friend both 16 had some fishing experience but had never been to Canada fishing so I offered to take them out.

During our outing, Sr. caught not only the first, the most but also the biggest fish with a 26 ½“ walleye! It was fun to see father and son rib each other as they caught fish but Jr’s mood definitely changed when his dad reeled in that monster. I have a feeling that dad will be teasing his son about that for years to come….”Hey, remember that one time I went fishing and totally out-fished you?” If I were Sr. I would just hang up the fishing pole and rest on that the rest of my life!
Ralph with his 26 1/2
We have also been busy wandering the bush looking for bear sign as bear season opens in less than a week! I have yet to see a bear but thereis plenty of sign in both tracks and scat and based on the size of some of them, there are some monsters out here!
It takes a big bear to make a pile that big!!
They have 9 hunters coming in for the first week of the season and I can honestly say this year as the most bear sign that I have ever seen up here. I put on over 600 miles on the ATV looking for just the right spots and I think it is going to be a great season!
Nice, but not huge
I was reading a magazine article the other day (yes Dino, I can read, not just look at the pictures) and it talked about how important bear hunting is to the Ontario economy. According to the Ministry of National Resources a 2017 study showed that bear hunting brought in over 15.6 million dollars into the economy. If the other resorts in Ontario are anything like Pasha, they as well as many of the local businesses depend on this aspect of their business as much as the fishing to make ends meet.

Our last fishing trip this week involved a small remote lake 9 miles back on logging roads. You can get your vehicle to within ¼ mile of the lake but then you have to carry everything in from there. Motor, gas, poles, bait. The boat is stashed on the lake so basically everything but the boat. I bet this lake sees less than a dozen fisherman a year. Since I was scouting bears in the area Barb met me at the lake when I was done. We did not have a lot of time but within 3 hours we had our limit of 8 fish and had fresh walleye again for dinner. I know, it is a burden but someone has to do it!
Ready to hit the remote lake with a motor and gas!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Missing Barb

18 days, 5 hours and 12 minutes. That is how long is has been since I dropped Barb off at the airport in Rapid City South Dakota on July 17th. Man, I miss her! 13 hours 38 minutes, that is how long it is until I pick up her at the airport in Thunder Bay Ontario!
Sunrise at Pasha

Our Pasha Lake home
Week one I kept myself busy fishing with my friend Bob and his crew, week 2 has been a lot slower. It is just not the same up here without her. While Bob was here I ate well, breakfast, lunch and dinner. But when he left I found myself wandering the camp aimlessly with the dogs and a plate going from cabin to cabin begging for food; “Please sir do you have any food to spare?” At first they were more than happy, I got enough food to feed not only myself but the dogs as well. But as the week went on fewer and fewer doors opened as I walked by. I would knock and could hear hushed whispers inside but most would not answer. There were a few that must have felt sorry for the dogs and opened their doors but even they gave out after a few days.

By the end of the week I was walking around with my plate, cold and hungry. My hair was disheveled, my shirt was on inside out and backwards and I only had one sock remaining which was flopping around only half way on. Thinking back, maybe my fly was down, but then again I was so despondent, I don’t remember if I even put pants on at all half of the days.  

Even the diehards who had fed us all week long had stopped opening their doors. Instead they would throw stale buns and other scraps at us as we walked by. Between me and the dogs there was a mad scramble for the scraps. Dakota, being so timid was easy to scare off. But Daisy was another story. She and I got in a stare down more than once after a stale piece of bread was thrown on the ground between us. Growling with teeth gnarled I was able to scare her off most of the time but twice the look in her eyes had me backing down for my own safety. Man, I miss Barb!

I went out fishing once with a couple we met up here 4 years ago. Mark and Deb hail from Winsor Ontario and have been come up here 4 of the last 5 years with their two boys. Now 21 and 19, the boys have jobs and other commitments and could not come up this year so Mark and Deb decided to book two weeks up here instead of one! We had touched base throughout the year and were looking forward to fishing with them. Unfortunately Barb did not make it back in time to see them. We went to Northwind, another one of our favorite lakes. 11 miles long, about a mile and a half wide in its widest spot. And deep, we are talking over 100’ deep in some spots where trophy walleye, northern and lake trout lurk in the depths.
That is one long lake!
It was dark and overcast but the rain held off. We were targeting walleyes that day and started out at a spot called “The Tourist Trap” and for good reason…… everybody fishes there. But it was changeover day at the resorts in the area. Outgoing guests leaving, incoming guests have not arrived yet so we had the entire lake to ourselves all day!
Mark piloting the boat to the hot spots!
We caught lots of fish, if I was to guess… probably 30ish each with the biggest one being Mark’s 25”’er.
Mark and Deb waiting for a lunker
Mark with his 25
We enjoyed a shore lunch on one of the islands and called it a day after 6 hours as I needed to get back and let the dogs out. All in all a great day and for once I could fish without worrying about Barb out fishing me!
They even fed me shore lunch!
A loon looking for a meal
The rest of the week I just not feel like going out fishing. Just not the same without Barb. Man, I miss her.

Instead I read books, played with the dogs in the water and went out in the bush and played with Chad’s new Kubota clearing trails to the bear stands. I love being out in the woods!
Daisy and Dakota on one of out ATV rides

The girls, enjoying a day at the beach

The brush clearing machine!
This grouse refused to give up the road
Tuesday night is Fish Fry night here at the resort. Yet another opportunity for a meal! Everyone brings fish and a dish to pass (I brought a beer but did not pass it). Chad and Michelle fry up the fish and french fries. It is our favorite day of the week here!
Chad frying up some fresh walleye!

What an awesome team!

Fish, fries, cupcakes and beer, what else does one need?!

Mark and Deb eating some Northwind walleye!

Solving world problems around the fire

Michelle finally gets to sit down and eat
"Please sir, may I have a scrap? I will even eat watermelon!"
I of course called Barb everyday but she was so busy that the only time she could talk was at night and with the 3 hour time difference I had to call her at 10 or 11pm to get any quality time with her. Man, I miss her. She has had a very hard couple of weeks. Besides the emotions of losing a loved one she was executor of her stepmothers estate. Taking care of all the financial obligations, arranging the service, listing the house as well as selling a vehicle and remaining assets. Barb being Barb got it all done but not without overwhelming hardship. The hardest thing was telling her stepsister and kids that they had to sell the house. Apparently they had been told that they would be able to keep it and live there once the estate is settled. Unfortunately the bank had another opinion. One of the grandsons had been living in the house the past several years and he needed to find a new place to live. I cannot even imagine how difficult those 18 days were. We both learned a lot about setting up estates and making sure we have everything laid out as efficiently as possible. On her last day there Forrest drove down from Klamath Falls, helped her pack up a Uhaul with some of her dads possessions she wanted to keep and drove them back to Forrest's where he will store them for us. Today she hops on a flight that will take her from Medford Oregon to San Francisco to Toronto and finally to Thunder Bay. 13 hours, 7 minutes if everything goes smoothly.....fingers crossed, she has not had a lot of luck with the airlines recently.

Well, I better post this blog and get to cleaning the camper, only 11 hours and 53 minutes until I pick her up! Did I mention I miss her?!?!?!?