Monday, December 20, 2010

Off We Go… The Maiden Voyage! (Or So I Had Hoped…)

Such foolish expectations... Just Say'n. And yes, it has been since August that I wrote. Finishing grad school and working full-time killed a semblance of a life.

So it is Friday!  The day I have decided the boat hits the road on a camping trip and maiden voyage! This week was an insane week! Jim worked on the motor that probably had not seen action in maybe 10 years. Luckily, it isn’t a use it or lose it item!  The boat rebuilding triad had worked on the boat at night, in the heat, and the humidity. Those couple of nights I sweated like I have never sweated before – in my daytime office-work clothing! It was hot and the humidity, I swear, was 4 million %.  I was tired.  I had wanted, dearly, to go pick the boat up Friday early, but Jim was still working on the motor AND I was still at work running around like mad. We had a special event that day which had been planned for long time and I could not leave as it ran longer than I had hoped.

My best person volunteered to go get the boat from Jim’s and that made things go a little faster.  Actually, it probably made them go a whole lot faster.

When I met up with my person, I noted we had A LOT of gear for two nights of camping, fishing and golf.  Wow, how had we managed to stuff all this gear in the vehicle on previous camping trips?  Ok, the golf clubs normally did not go and the fishing gear was not a normal addition, but still?  The boat and the vehicle were packed full!  What was the one thing I could not find that morning – when ready to go?  My life-vest.  Tired, now grumpy and bummed because I have a NICE vest somewhere…  No fear, WallHell will have them! Right?

We get on the road at maybe 5:30p with the plan to go to General Burnside Island in Kentucky. Some of the best fishing is on the Cumberland – so I hear… We get gas, a quick bite to eat on the road and drive, drive, drive.  We are not even out of Knoxville before my exhausted ass has a complete and utter internal (and sooner than later external) meltdown.  It is the after work Friday traffic and we are towing my little boat. Yea, this boat might as well be worth a million dollars because I have emotional stock in it. Weaving in and out of traffic we go.  All I can think is – I don’t weave in and out of traffic when towing (because as you have probably read in an earlier post, I have SO MUCH EXPERIENCE in towing)!  Why are you weaving in and out of traffic?  Why can’t we just stay in one lane? Why?  Why? Why? Whine…

‘Nough said on that part of the trip…

The plan now?  Stop at WallHell and pick up a cheap life vest on the way. Two WallHells later and nadda! Seriously? WallHell has everything…   But not a vest in even remotely my size. I made the command decision to give that up and decided to get one the next day.  Great plan!

We did not get to the campground until maybe 10:00p, got unloaded, got the tent up and I, by cracky, am in my “going to cook the baked beans with beef and onion mixture that has been the first meal of each camping trip if it kills someone” mode.  It must have been midnight or later before that was done and food was eaten.  Dishes?  Not happening tonight!

At somewhere between 1:00a or 2:00a I realize there are still kids playing and making noise and also a camper moving in next to us – noisily. I have never experienced such campground noise in Tennessee.  Is it a cultural thing in Kentucky? Kentuckians are not concerned with reasonable quiet hours? Say, oh, I don’t know, Midnight? It took awhile to get to sleep.

We get up in the late morning, drag around and eat leftovers after not getting a lot of sleep due to the seriously loud and rude late camping arrivals one space over. We managed to get up a little too late to hunt a life vest, try the boat in the water or go fishing before the heat strikes - so we decided to go play golf.

Uh, little background with me and golf – I have played very few rounds of golf:
One round at Dead Horse Lake in maybe 1997
Two rounds at Silver Lakes in Alabama around the same time
One round at Dead Horse in about 2002
One round at Millstone in Morristown

Now I have this set of golf clubs, new, fresh out of the box – for a lefty.  Note, I am now and have always been a right handed person.  But my thinking is – golf is a foreign activity no matter which team I bat for (insert obvious crude joke here) so why not go left-handed. When trying the clubs out, I tried a left and a right handed club.  With the left-handed I was consistently bad. Right-handed I was inconsistently worse!

Let me just say, 9 holes of golf in 90+ degree heat wore us out. I think par was 32 or so.  I shot 96.

We are done, it is maybe 3:00p and I STILL need a life-vest. We drove to 3 places and finally, after a marina made a couple of calls, we found ONE store open that had vests.  Who knew that boating places were either closed on Saturdays (in a heavy boating region) or closed early. So, while I am no fashionista, I am not overly excited by my “man-vest.”

We get back to the camp-site and hook up the boat trailer. Off we go to the park ramp.  All 40 football fields’ worth of ramp.

Flash-back in grand southern style to follow.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fishing Tackle Shopping?

Yea, so I am a girl and by that I should like shopping, right?  Well, I don’t…

On that note, Bass Pro Shop rocks when you want to look at fishing gear! Apparently I DO like Tackle shopping.  No, not full contact football-esk ‘tackle’ shopping, just shopping for fishing tackle!  I have zero clue what fish are found where, what bait they require, what bait goes with what – but I can tell you my reel is pretty…
It’s July 3rd and my daughter and her fiancĂ© have come for a visit. Future Son-in-law wants to go to Bass Pro Shop.  I am secretly like – YAY!  A little group of us are on the road, in Old Blue, rolling with the windows down!   Everyone takes off in different directions – “ooh, guns!” – “ooh, boats!” – “ooh, fishing gear!” – “ooh, Starbucks!!!”  Yea, I can sniff out a venti iced caramel macchiato at 2 miles!

At this point I got a little bonding time with my daughter (who I do not see nearly enough).  She went to the fishing ISLES with me. Aisle after aisle… Fishing rods, bait and reels as far as the eye could see.  Ok, I was blinded by it all and could not see past the tackle and my macchiato…

I start shopping and my daughter starts saying things like “do you have sinkers?”  “Do you have bobbers?”  “I remember fishing with these and they seemed to work well!”  And I am thinking – how does she know all this?  I never took her fishing.  She fished with her PopPop Delaware (her name for GrandPa Carson).  I think she may have fished with Wiley as well.  I am not sure.  At any rate, we tooled through the isles and found me all manner of tackle, a little RED tackle box and even a small tape measure to measure the fish by (her idea - such an optimist!).  My idea in bait shopping?  If the lure was pretty, I bought it.  Yea, daughter and my best person can attest to this.  All in all, it was well over $100 which is sad because I did NOT get that much!

Later that week I went to Bass Pro Shop with my best person and we looked around. Drooled over fishing rods and reels, purchased a trolling motor, fishnet (no, not the stockings I wear - and proof of optimism again) plus a bevy of things that I cannot even remember now.  That was a large bill.

So no one ever told me the incidentals for getting a boat onto the water (even a little nothing boat) would be so costly!

Lesson learned?

  1. Motors are expensive.
  2. Batteries are expensive (thank you 'best person')
  3. Boats are a lot of work, no matter how small, how old, or how simple they seem.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Boat

Along with Old Blue came “The Boat.”  A 1970 Wolverine <14’ aluminum “V” hull with a 15hp Gamefisher motor and a somewhat rusting trailer to tote her with.  The trailer was white and rusting a bit, the boat was tinged in green paint splatter from some DIY adventure and the motor was surprisingly clean!
The boat was towed from Wake Forest NC home to Tennessee without incident and put away.  Now, by “put away” I mean my then husband thought it sufficient to put the motor in the garage (reasonable assumption), the trailer beside the garage (in the weather uncovered?) and the boat upside down behind the garage (fairly reasonable idea – or so it seemed at the time).

A Ladder? Seriously?

There the boat sat. And sat… And sat…

Life got in the way of living – or is it living got in the way of life?  I don’t know, I just know the boat sat for well over a year, unused, unloved and uncared for  before I said “dammit, this is a waste!” 

This year I was in the midst of my infamous divorce and clamoring for projects to keep me busy. I had gone camping a few times and got the bug to go fishing (more on fishing later). I started talking to my friend/Saturday Boss and found out he had resources for helping me get the boat up and running.

Out she came.  My then soon-to-be ex-husband had to help me get the boat up on the trailer and I towed her with “Blue” to my Saturday job at a drag car builder.  No – not a builder who wears ‘drag,’ a genius who builds dragsters and motors. I always seem to manage to ‘drag’ him into working on one thing or another…

Now, something you have to understand is – I have towed a trailer only a few times in my life.

  1. I towed a U-Haul trailer with my ’89 Integra from Morgan County Tennessee to Pennsylvania filled with a bedroom set and appliances.  I could not pull the trailer up a hill in the rain very easily – that car was NOT meant for towing anything!
  2. I towed a Sea-doo personal water craft twice with the Integra. That went well enough.
  3. I towed my ’89 Acura Integra on a tow dolly behind the biggest U-Haul truck I could find – from PA to Knoxville TN in the middle of the night. Yea, same bedroom set and appliances and everything else I owned were in that truck!  I should never have moved to PA!
  4. I towed a triad of dirt-bikes on a shade-tree mechanic trailer behind a Chevy 2500 from Windrock Mountain after a ride.
  5. I towed a 14’ utility trailer loaded with my daughter’s dirt-bike behind a Lincoln Continental – from Mom’s to the farm (all of 5 minutes away) and back.
  6. I towed, I towed, wait, that was it…  The sum of my towing experience from about 1993 until this year.
After getting her loaded up behind Old Blue, I took off down the road and made it maybe 3 miles when the stress hit!  Questions were flying about like flies on cow manure! Are the lights hooked up? Is the tongue locked down properly?  Will the trailer come flying off? Is the motor really screwed down? Will there be mass casualties on Pellissippi? Am I going to be on the news? Will there be ambulances involved? 

Yea, it got all ugly up in my head!

I stopped on the side of the road and did a quick inspection to make sure all was right in my little world. A quick check of the light connection, tongue and motor proved to me that all I had to do was drive, carefully.  In the mean time, as I was readying to pull back out into traffic, a semi-truck pulled over up in front of me.  All I can figure is the driver was concerned that I was having an issue because as I drove past him, I waved, he waved, he pulled back on the road and we were never to meet!

When I arrived at my Saturday job, my boss/friend, Jim, came out to see what the noise was.  Me, my truck with no muffler, and a boat – a poor sad little boat, trailer and motor had arrived. I pulled in facing away from the roll-up doors and hopped out of the truck.  Jim looked, shook his head and asked just exactly how long this contraption had been sitting dormant.  He walked around, poked about and popped the motor cover.  Sweet mother and all that is holy – the stench was horrific!  The motor had developed an “odd smell” that brought tears to my eyes.  It did not take long to figure out it was from the MOUSE’S NEST that had been built in it.  I am still working on cleaning that…

After the quick inspection and  not so kind comments aimed at the poor little unloved boat, Jim told me to back the trailer up to the doors and we would roll it into the bay. Yea, back it up.  Me.  It seemed like a simple enough job.  I had managed to get the boat to the shop unscathed – so backing it STRAIGHT should not be a problem. Right?  Let me just say, I was wrong.  The driveway is rutted and slopes heavily and THAT, my friends, was a problem for me.  I tried to back that puppy up 3 times before I jumped down out of the truck cursing like a sailor and 2 seconds from throwing things.  Jim climbed in (he is all of 5’5” maybe?) and backed it right up to the door.


We unhooked the trailer and rolled it into the bay. I was hot and went home. Done for the day.  I guess I missed telling you it was Sunday. I did not have to work that day!

Two weeks passed and I showed up at work to find a trailer-less boat in the bay – all up under a car-lift with an old school flip-top dragster over top of it.  I wish I had taken a photo of that!  The trailer was gone. Jim had stripped it and taken it to a buddy to sandblast the paint and rust off. He then had moved it to another guy to powder coat it. It was in process. 

Another week goes by and I drive to work – and what should come into view? The trailer, white powder coat, red and blue hand painted pin stripes to match the wheels from WallyHell and the wench reattached. I took one smiling look at the trailer and told Jim the trailer was so fancy looking, it would probably pass the truck up. More aerodynamic with all that pin-striping you know!

That day we worked on cleaning the grunge and tarnish off the aluminum on the boat.

During the next weeks, I went over and worked on the little boat’s interior – trying to make it cleaner and prettier. Used some semi-trailer chemical to clean the metal. Used the air sander to scrape out the loose old anti-skid paint. Used lacquer thinner to get the bulk of the green paint off (still need to work on that more), applied more anti-skid paint to the floor in medium grey (not to dark which collects heat and not to light so it doesn’t reflect light up into your eyes). Jim worked on not killing me as I used his air sander on it and I worked on not killing him as he wired the new trailer lights on. My best  “person” came by and worked on wiring the battery for the new trolling motor and on the light wiring.  He even  brought a battery, battery case and a new light bar as a donation to the fishing cause! I was determined to take that boat that weekend.  We did a lot of sweating.  I guess we call it sweat equity?

What did I learn from this adventure?
  1. Know the chemicals you are using and wear gloves.  Lacquer thinner hurts!
  2. Always wear safety glasses when using a sander! Luckily I have Oakley sunglasses that are ANSI rated!
  3. Anti-skid paint takes a long time to dry when the relative humidity is 4 million %!

"Old Blue"

I have to preface these posts with one about “Old Blue.”

“Old Blue” is a truck. Not just any run of the mill truck but instead a thing of mechanical beauty – rust spots and all.  “Old Blue” is a blue (duh!) 1986 Ford F350, dual-tank diesel, 4 door, manual transmission, long-bed behemoth of a girl who will not get anywhere quickly, but she will pull a house off its foundation in the process of going!  It takes the proverbial football field to turn that lady around in.  She is pushy, loud and takes up space.  Oh, wait – that’s me.  No, it’s her. No, wait…  Oh hell, not sure – I guess it is both of us.  Blue is roomy (unlike me)!  Two (count them) two large bench seats. Any human I know can sit in the back seat and their knees come nowhere near touching the front seat-back.

My cousin-by-marriage, Wiley, bought her new back in the day. He ordered her special out of Canada because Ford had just had some form of union issue in the US and he was worried about the craftsmanship. I always liked the truck - even though I hated Fords at the time. I had planned on telling him if he ever wanted to sell her to let me know.  Unfortunately, he passed away before I ever remembered to tell him.  I miss Wiley nearly as much as I miss my Dad.  I ended up buying it from my cousin Charline, his wife. This purchase was coupled with the old boat – and the prompter of this blog.

As it turns out, Blue needed a new vacuum canister (yea, try to find one of THOSE for an ’85 Ford truck), batteries (it takes two), A/C work, a new muffler, new plugs and her speedometer and odometer did not work. Lucky for me I have a friend who is “Mr. Ford” and was able to replace the gear needed to make the speed and mileage run right and who could replace the glo-plugs without sending me to the poor house.  We replaced the batteries. The rest will come in good time.  I personally hate loud cars – but the truck just sounds right as she is. The A/C is only a problem when it rains (fogging issue) or if I want to keep my hair looking nice (55/4 is windy you know!).  The vacuum canister was “repaired” by the now ex-husband who thought liqui-weld was appropriate…  ‘Nough said there.

Anywho – Wiley would have enjoyed watching me drive Blue about town, cursing the congested city streets and their small size.  At that point he would be assured that I was, in fact, related to his wife, my cousin, Charline.  No matter where Blue is driven, it is entertaining to notice how many drivers avoid a wild haired woman in a truck of that size and age.  Blue has just enough rust to indicate I am unconcerned with whether or not I bump their little vehicles.  There are also the occasional man stares…  That’s right – “I” am driving this truck. A woman. I drive her – and make no mistake – she is woman –both truck and driver.  And no, you cannot buy either one. You can stare, drool, cat-call, flip me off or anything else you want, just as long as you get the hell out of my way in the process!  In this truck I am large, in charge and have places to go!

Me at the farm - gardening!
Hell-a sexy happening there!
Yea, girl hands!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fishing - If It Were Easy, It Would Be Called Catching...

Coming soon for your reading enjoyment (or at least a blog that will provide you with someone to point fingers at, shake your head toward and poke fun at) will be a series of posts chronicling my spiraling fall into pleasure fishing.  I call it pleasure fishing because I have no expectations of catching anything except a case of heat exhaustion, a sunburn, and maybe a hang-over while in pursuit of relaxation and happiness with friends on the water...  Wait!  Which part of that was pleasure?  Hummm...  Well, I am sure it will be an adventure rife with misadventure at the very least and fun bonding with a bud.

As a mid-life woman in the midst of a BOAT LOAD of change, I found myself needing to find ways to relax on the weekends. I fell into camping, when I could, which I had not done really since I was a child. I LOVE it!  The natural progression in my mind was to start fishing since I have an old boat collecting dust…

I have a sneaking suspicion it will not stop there.
  • I have already begun searching for a camper to put near water – a little get-away really… 
  • My old boat is being overhauled (oh yea, story and photos to follow in the very near future).
  • Fishing rod/reel and tackle collection started (and yes, you may well be subjected to an inventory of said items).
  • Trolling motor ready (no, I never thought THAT would excite me - but it does).
  • Cedar scraps collected to start making fishing lures like my Grandfather did and had my brother and I doing at one time as kids.

This adventure promises to produce stories including shellacked fingers, trailer backing disasters, fish-bites, blowouts and bloodshed…

If I manage to produce a fish now and again - or my person does - so much the better.  I can re-learn to clean them and I definitely know I can cook them!

Stay Tuned!

~ Cookie Galore
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