I would like to welcome you to my personal blog. This is simply life through my eyes. The good times and the bad. Lifes triumphs and downfalls. I have no intention of offending anyone but if that happens there is not much I can do about it. I do not appologize for anything that others might not agree with for this is "How I See It". I hope you enjoy sharing my life and check in regularly.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Been A While

I know it has been a while since my last post but I have actually been very busy. With my new website for my fundraiser, another twitter account, another facebook account, another blog, and getting over my cold I have had little time to think of much else. The good think is I have been so busy with all this and working training for my fundraiser adventure that my mind has taken it easy on me.
It has been almost 3 weeks since my last anxiety issue and I have been sleeping great without the aid of prescription medication. I have had no stress and have been very much at peace with the world around me. I think my mind has so many good things to think about right now that it has no time to dwell on the crazy little things that set it in the wrong direction. And even though the fundraiser to fight cancer is about a bad thing, the fundraiser itself is truly a good thing and is probably helping me mentally more than anyone can imagine.
Maybe the fundraiser was simply my minds idea to keep itself occupied?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scratch That

It only took me 8 weeks to figure out that the reason I was having so many anxiety attacks while I was recovering from my broken ankle surgery was the darn pain meds. Last Friday I kept one of my dear friends up until 3:00am becuase I was freaking out for no reason, and over the 7 weeks prior to that, I have spent many nights medicated because of similar issues.
Well I have not taken any pain medication for my healing ankle since last Friday and my nights have been wonderful. No crazy dreams. No pacing. No up and down from the sofa to the chair and then back again.
It was simply the hydrocodone that was doing it and to be honest with you, it is much easier living with a little pain and getting a good night sleep than it is to take that stuff. It is no wonder so many kids are into those prescription drugs. Not only did that particular medication take away the pain, but it made me so restless. It gave me dreams like I have never experienced, and then when it was combined with the anxiety meds needed to deal with the side affects, it pretty much made me a zombie.
Oh sure, most people like to escape once in awhile but that is ridiculous. Put that stuff in the hands of a minor, or an adult for that matter, who is not strong enough, or wise enough to deal with life head on and you are asking for a problem.
I still had 11 doses left and they are now in the trash. Not for me. BAAAADDD NEWS!
On a lighter note, I have begun working out and training for my Michigan Coast to Coast for a Cure fund raiser, Pedal and Paddle to Fight Cancer. I made some major changes in my eating and began paddling my kayak and using my Total Gym and I feel great. 321 days from now we will see just how serious I was in preparing.
If you would like to know more about my fundraiser check out my blog at
www.micoast2coast4acure.blogspot.com, or go to my facebook page Pedal and Paddle to Fight Cancer, or hit my website www.michigancoast2coast4acure.webs.com.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Proud Day for Dad

With the youth deer hunting weekend now upon us I am reminded of a day several years ago when I took my oldest son, Matthew, and my nephew, Billy, out for the youth deer hunt. My son was not 14 yet so he was restricted to using a bow and arrow, whereas my nephew was 15 so he was allowed to carry a rifle. I had placed two treestands in a nice white pine tree in the middle of a funnel of mixed pine and hardwoods crossing a field between two oak ridges. I had taken many deer in the past from this same tree and figured it would be a great place for the boys to at least see some deer. I placed third stand in another pine tree just 10 yards away. My son and I sat in the tree with 2 stands while my nephew sat in the single stand.
Action was slow for the first couple hours of our afternoon/evening hunt. Aside from the pesky redsquirrel that seems to bark at every deer hunter, the woods seemed lifeless until about 1 hour before dark. As if from no where a deer suddenly appeared just 30 yards away. Matthew and I could see it but it was hidden from my nephews view. We could see right away that it was a decent little spike horn and would be a great trophy for either of the young hunters. We slowly motioned for my Billy to be still and watch, as the deer made its' way directly toward us.
The young buck made a steady walk, on a straight line toward my son and I, closeing the gap to just 10 yards. My nephew was watching the whole time just waiting for Matthew to release an arrow. What my Billy did not realize was that the little spike horn never offered a decent broadside shot for my son to place an arrow. Then came one of the proudest moments of my life.
My son leaned over and whispered to me, " I can not get a shot so why don't we let Billy shoot him?"
Even though the buck was in easy range, my son understood the angle was wrong and that it was actually perfect for his cousin to place an easy shot with the rifle right behind the deers' shoulder.
"Are you sure?" I asked my son, surprised at his maturity and responsiblity in the situation.
"Yep" he replied, and we motioned for Billy to take him.
No more was needed to be said and a shot came instantly from my nephews' tree. A perfect shot put the buck on the ground just 15 yards from where it stood when my nephew pulled the trigger.

Tip: Teaching a young hunter that it is all about the hunt and not about the kill will instill a sense of respect for the game and responsible hunting in their future.
It is the hunt that makes the kill special.
Not the kill that makes the hunt special.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Like a Kid Again

My anxiety level is slowly rising, but it is a good anxiety. Saturday is the opening day of the youth waterfowl and is a day I have looked forward to since my oldest son turned 12 nine years ago. It is a day that is for the kids, all about the kids, and feeling like a kid once again. As the sun rises tomorrw, and our gear is loaded, my son Bryan and I will head north about 50 miles. He will get to play hookie from school tomorrow and spend the day with me at work. I am sure much of the days conversations will revolve around duck and goose hunting.
The day will drag on, seeming endless, much like today is. Tomorrow evening will be one of the longest nights of the year for both of us. Nothing to do but wait. Wait for the 4:30am alarm to sound. Getting dressed in our hunting gear and firing up the grill for fresh grilled breakfast burritos and some sweet rolls that my friend Matt and his niece will be bringing.
Matt and Jordyn will be making a 1 hour drive in the early hours of the predawn morning to meet us for breakfast and the excitement of the opening morning of youth waterfowl hunting. With this being my sons third season and Jordyns second, both kids are well aware of the fact that it will be an exciting morning. Our kayak and canoe paddle in the darkness, trying to avoid getting stuck on one of the hundreds of stumps that fill the reservoir, is always exciting. It is a trek across the lake that often stirs the resident Canada Geese into a few early morning groans. There will be hundreds of ducks and only a few kids, scattered with their adult partners, throughout several square miles of prime waterfowl habitat. Our kids know that when the first hen mallard makes her single "quack" wake up call, the sky will soon awaken with the sounds and sight of ducks from every direction.
Woodducks, literally hundreds of woodducks. Teal, both blue winged and green winged. Mallards, young and old. The possible Redhead, pintail,scaup, or widgeon. And of course, the great Canada Goose. Both Bryan and Jordyn are familiar with the speed at which the little butterball woodducks can zip into, and then instantly, away from the decoys. The flying v wedge of the seemingly supersonic teal is a sight to behold as they buzz by the decoys just to take a glance and be gone, down the lake shore, only to make a big sweeping turn and zip by to take another quick peek at our spread. Once in awhile those little speed demons will drop into the decoys on the first or second pass, but if they are close enough on the fly by "cut em", or "take em" come in a quick shout from Matt or I, in an attempt to get one of the youngsters on the birds and fire a shot before they feathered f14s disappear.
The sound of Canadian honkers waking at sunrise and taking to the air, heading for their morning feeding grounds, will send chills down my spine. Hopefully, a couple hours later, when the geese return from feeding, we can coax them into a small spread of goose decoys and one of the kids can bring down their first goose. Neither my son Bryan or my friends niece Jordyn has taken a goose. I can see the excitement in them just from their body language whenever we hear geese. They are like the 747 Jumbo airliners when it comes to waterfowl, and though they are somewhat slow, they are not always easy to fool, and even harder to bring down.
As I write this my heart races from sentence to sentence as if I were there, holding the gun myself. Having been in these scenarios several times while hunting, I know first hand what a rush it is. I know what it is like to pull the trigger and see that first waterfowl of the season tumble from the sky. It might be the first shot of the season or the 21st shot of the season, either way it is a great feeling. I love the hunt, but I have come to love the childrens hunt even more.
As adults, we are not allowed to have a gun in possession this weekend and yet I am probably more excited then I ever am when it is my time to hunt. It is for the kids, and it is such a wonderful feeling to introduce them to the great outdoors and be there to share in memories that they will never forget.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We'll Meet Again

I was just a child when we first met. You were no more than an infant. 3rd grade for me in a new school and a new neighborhood and you not old enough to remember much of it. Your older sisters and I grew to become good friends while you were still just a happy go lucky, yet sometimes pesty little girl. Then came the end of my 7th grade year and we were moving again, but this time it was not just to another part of town, it was hours apart, and there was a heaviness in my heart.
Over our 4 years as neighbors our families had become like one family. Though you were the youngest, I never forgot you or your brother and sisters. I ofter wondered what you were up to. How was school going for all of you. Always wishing and praying that life was treating you well. A dozen years past yet you were all still in my heart.
One day, in my early 20s, my new wife and I decide to move to the Florida Keys and we were once again neighbors of sorts. Though we were not next door neighbors, Key Largo was small enough that we were able to stay in touch on a fairly regular basis and get reaquainted. Yes the years had changed all of us but you were still that little girl I new in Fenton. It was like being at home all over again and my other family was back in my life. Yet,once again, it was for all to short of a period.
In 1989 my oldest son was born in Key West, and Dawn and I decided it was time to move back to Michigan and raise our kids as we had been raised. I have again thought many times over the past 20 years about how you all are. From time to time, one of you would just pop into my head, without explanation, and I would ponder what your lives might be like. Did you all now have kids? Were there any grandkids for you? What each of you was doing for a living? Did you still have that curly, sandy blonde hair and like to pester your older sisters?
Just about a week ago I thought why not look on Facebook to see if I could locate any of you. Then the day before yesterday I log onto my FB account and see a message from your sister Tonya. She was just wanting my parents to get ahold of your father. I was so excited to hear from her that I probably over loaded her with questions and my personal information. 20 years had past and it was to long, I wanted to know everything.
Shortly after sending Tonya the message, I received one of the most heart breaking messages I have ever received.
You were no longer with us.
I did not want to believe it and still don't.
You were such a wonderful person. Although I did not know you much as an adult it is hard for me to believe that you could have done so wrong to have your life ended so short.
I cried that night, and again last night, and will again.
My heart is heavy for you and your family.
I pray you have found a better place.
You, Traci, are in my prayers and I will always remeber you.
I will see you again some day my friend.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Heaven and Hell

Easing my kayak down the rocky bank and into the river, my mind instantly began to wander. Thinking of the peace and quiet to be had over the next several hours as I glide silently along, no worries, just me and the river.

Shortly down stream a large blue heron wades stealth like through the shallows, searching for an unsuspecting fish or crayfish. Not more than an hour into the float, I round a bend and surprise a doe whitetail deer standing on a shallow gravel bar in the river with her triplet fawns. In between observing the many wonders nature has to offer, I spend some time tossing a fishing lure and letting my mind wander.

It is easy for the mind to wander when there is literally nothing to have to really think about. No traffic, no crowds, just me, the river and peace and quite. The quite might be broken on ocassion by the quack of a mallard duck who is startled by my sudden appearance, or the caw of a crow allerting the rest of the flock of my presence, but these are wonderful and peaceful sounds. Sounds that I can live with day in and day out. My own little piece of Heaven. But like most good things, they never seem to last long enough.

After several hours of what seemed like Heaven, I was suddenly tossed into the midst of Hell. You see, it was the 4th of July and I was now leaving the river and entering the lake into which the river flowed. What had been a quite, lazy float had now become a torrent of crashing waves, loud motors, and people, lots and lots of people. Jet skis race up and down the now 150 yard river, dodging between pleasure boats, pontoons and boats with motors that sound like they belong in Nascar vehicle. Rarely was there a gap of more than 75 yards between watercraft, each creating its own set of waves. Waves, waves, everywhere were waves. Big waves, little waves. Waves with sharp breaking tops. Slow rolling waves. More waves and boats and noise than I had ever pictured on such a small, narrow section of water.

My little 14.5 foot kayak was more like a big fishing bobber than a boat. Tossed up and down, side to side, I keep my attention on the next set of waves or where the next boat might come flying by. No longer could I just let my mind wander. Concentrating on staying upright was consumed every thought for over 1 1/2 hours until I made it to the far south end of the lake, where it was wide enough to allow some of the waves to subside. I pulled up to the shore and beached my kayak for a moment. I stretched my legs and had to laugh about my day. It was like I had been through Heaven and Hell in the course of 8 hours. It might seem strange but that is exactly why I love living in Mid Michigan.

Reliving a Ride.

At 20 minutes till 8:00 in the morning it actually hit me that I was about to attempt a 100 mile bike ride after only training for about 3 1/2 months. I figured I could do it but was skeptical about doing it in the course of a day. My goal was simply to finish, but I really wanted to do it in 10 hours or less, which is actually quite slow considering that more than half of the 300 bikes to enter would be finishing around 5 hours. As I looked around at all the bikes lining up, it become apparent to me that I might be the only one crazy enough to try it on a mountain bike with offroad tires.

At 8:27 I lined up with nine other bikes and began the journey. A steady pace was all I wanted and was not brought down as bike after bike that started behind me made their way past me. In fact it was quite a sight to see some of the better riders all lined up, front tire to rear tire, drafting as if they were on a nascar track. One line of bikes that went past was about 12 bikes long and sounded like a car coming up behind me as they pushed the wind in front of them and made their way past, giving the biker at the end of the line a free ride for a short time before that individual would pull out and make their way to the front of the pack and let someone else have their turn in the draft. As they past the wind from the pack shook my handlebars like a car on the expressway when a couple semis go by. Simply amazing.

Approaching the first feed stop, about 30 miles into the ride, I felt great. The steady drizzling rain helped to keep me cool and the training was definitely paying off. My legs and back were holding up great and the couple hills so far were not even a challenge. A couple pieces of melon and a muffin and I was on my way.

The next 15 miles or so were up one hill and down the other and I realized that the hills were not as challenging as I had expected. In fact they were my strong point. On the flats the people in front of me would slowly pull away, but when the hills came, the crest of the hill would put me almost even with them again. And though there were only a couple riders as far back as me, it really felt good to know that I could keep up with a couple.

As I closed in on the 57 mile mark it was a welcome sight to see my mother in law coming down the road to offer some encouragement and some fuel for my body. A quick gatorade and a stretch of the legs and away I went.

My legs were now starting to get weary and I knew there was a giant hill to come. My mother in law had informed me that a big percentage of the riders walk a portion of this particular hill so I should not be to concerned if I needed to do the same. I was hoping to not have to walk any of the hills but would not feel bad if had to be done, and at just 80 yards from the top of the monster at Alcona I had to get off the seat and walk it the rest of the way. I still can not figure out why my body would let me push the bike up the rest of the hill but would not allow me one more pedal. Huh?

After cresting the hill I was able to enjoy a nice coast before having to continue pedalling. My next break would come with about 25 miles left, where my wonderful wife and son were waiting for me with a couple of the volunteers. I indulged in a couple more muffins and some fruit, stretched once more and off I went. Now wearier than ever and wondering what I had gotten myself into. I was sure I could make it now, but my legs and butt were really starting to feel the ride and I started to question myself as to just how sure I was that I could make it.

Just 8 or 9 miles down the road wife and son waited again, and wished me well as a grabbed a drink and a couple crackers before heading off on the last 11 miles.

The final 11 miles was by far the hardest 11 miles I have ever spent on a bike. I could sit not more than a minute or two, then I would have to stand and pedal. Alternating between sitting, stand, pedalling, and coasting, that last section seemed like an eternity. I was never going to make it. Then out of nowhere a car came by and slowed down by my side. The passengers of the car cheered me on and said I could do it, only a few more miles, great job. That was all I needed and before I knew it I could see my family and the timing lights at the finish line.

8 hours 59 minutes and 56 seconds after starting I crossed the finish line. Legs aching, neck sore, and fingers numb, but I made it. As my son kindly loaded my bike into the truck and I sat in the car a chill came over me. I had not really paid any attention to the fact that it rained, a cool rain, for the past nine hours, and now that I was not moving it was actually quite chilly. Or maybe it was just the simple fact that my body was drained.

A motel room was calling, and do not get me wrong about this because I am definitely not a bath man, but the next twenty minutes soaking in the warm tub was one of the most wonderful feeling I have ever experienced, and was enough time to convince myself that I really did it and was definitely going to do it again next year.

Thanks to my wonderful family and friends for all the support.