Monday, August 07, 2023

The Best Laid Plans

 After several years of plague induced closure, health concerns (mine), and then fire, our buddies at Caesar's North Camps finally had us booked for a week at Hanotaux camp on the Goin Reservoir. Joe and I have been going up there since our youngest sons were 10 years old. (That would be 30 years ago!) We missed a few years for the reasons mentioned above. One year I took the family (without Joe) and Joe went once with his wife and another time with his eldest son and his daughter, but between us only fire and pandemic kept us away.

To alleviate some of my concerns about possible blood clots in my legs, etc., we arranged to rent a satellite phone from Ollie to be used in case of an emergency. 

We left the Aerie around 6 am Wednesday morning after Joe drove up from just outside of Jersey Shore, PA. The new Tundra (Tilly) behaved like a dream and the GPS app scooted us through Ottawa via a route we had never take before but, considering the amount of new construction going on, was very efficient.The GPS unit must have been feeling either puckish or impish, however. Once we got past Mont-Laurier--our usual final fueling stop--the ole GPS had us go off on a new route it considered shorter than our usual . We were game so we listened and went exploring. We were sent off on some narrow, dusty roads we hadn't seen before and which seemed very sparsely traveled but er persevered. Until we got to one recommended turn where the road was a mere track and the scrub trees were making it narrower than Tilly was wide. Nope we weren't taking that turn! Luckily our current road and some re-calibration by the GPS imps, got us back on tract and we were kicking up a huge cloud of dust behind us as we progressed to Clova and the offices of Caesar's. (When a vehicle came the other way, the dust made visibility impossible!)

We arrived at the new offices around 7 pm after traveling approximately 600 miles in 13 hours. Oliver greeted us sold us our fishing licenses, worms and lures, and collected the rent for the sat phone. Then we went over to get a pizza at the only restaurant in town--which was also the hotel. Actually our room was a block away in what had been Caesar's old office and Ollie's home in Clova. 


We returned to the new office/air base at 7 am Thursday, weighed and loaded our gear in the Cessna that was to be our ride. We had a new pilot, Peter, who spoke seldom and in halting English--not unexpected -- this is Quebec after all. We pushed off around 7:10 and were in the air 5 minutes later. 

Peter had to do some contour flying to keep below the very low ceiling and even then he passed through the lower edge of the clouds on occasion.We were in the air for about 30 minutes when Peter banked sharply and set us down in front of the Hanotaux cabin. 


There a group of four were readying to go out. The oldest of the group (a Dad?) told us they were from Wellsville which is just a stones throw northwest of the Aerie in the Southern Tier of NY. Asked about fishing, they reported fishing was slow but they had managed to find walleye in a couple of spots which they showed to us on the maps. They also helped us get our gear up to the cabin and we helped them get their down to the dock for loading on the plane. Since three of them looked to be fine strapping farm boys we asked for help in launching the boat they said was the better of the two with motors attached (Good thing we did, too. They had hauled the boat so far out of the water I doubt Joe and I--two oldish guys with four fake knees--would have gotten it into the water.)

We made the mistake of telling Peter we knew about all there was to know about changing out a propane tank and relighting the propane refrigerators, hot water heater, and stove pilots. And Peter believed us and hurried on his way with the Wellsville folks.

Joe and I packed our food away, chose our bunks and spread out our sleeping bags. Then we unlimbered our fishing gear and headed out to try our luck. That morning, afternoon and evening we had sparse luck but managed a few keepers which would be saved for dinner on Friday. The wind kept shifting and was producing 3-5 inch rollers with the occasional whitecap. Combination made jigging difficult. But we know we were holding on or close to the bottom. We lost more jigs in one day than we have on some entire trips.

The water was calmer and the winds light when we went out Saturday morning heading off in a southerly direction. There was a haze in the air which we learned later was due to fires miles to the north. Again we struggled to find the walleye under the direction/scorn of a pair of loons who thought we were trespassing. 


On the way back to the cabin for lunch, I managed to hit a couple of submerged rocks that were a good 15 meters off the shoreline. The motor ceased up and stopped--in forward gear. The winds, which had kicked up again blew us to the shore about 400 yards for camp.On the opposite side of the water. I put the oars (thankfully they were in pretty good shape!) in the oar locks and put my back into it.

First I crossed the water to the shore that was a bit more protected from the breeze. Then I turned and rowed along the shoreline until we reached the camp. It took a little over an hour and my back and shoulders were feeling the workout's effect. 

We made a satellite phone call to report our problem, Asked if we could still fish, we said yes because there was another boat and motor. We were told Oliver would be there the next morning. Ours wasn't a medical emergency. We went and left the red board on the dock (a mistake we were told as every pilot flying over reported an emergency at Hanotaux which is what the red board means). 

We fished that afternoon and evening while fighting the wind the entire time. We did manage to boat a few keepers that went into the freezer to be taken home. Nothing was too big to throw back and none of the handful of pike we hooked were big enough to keep and filet. 

During the night the propane ran out. While I slept, Joe went and changed out the propane tank and start the process of relighting the  hot water heater and the pilot lights on the stove and refrigerators. He got the burners on the top of the stove (not the oven) going but was frustrated on all the others. I managed, some how to get the hot water heater going but the fridges didn't want to cooperate. I put a second note on the door (there was already one there for the motor) and we went fishing. 


We weren't out more than ten minutes before we heard a plane heading in so we pulled our lines and scooted back to listen to Oliver who was trying to his temper while showing us how to light the damn pilot lights. (I think he was just as mad at Peter for not insisting we listen to his instructions as he was with us for brushing Peter's spiel aside because we had been coming here for 30 years and seen everything. Well we've seen it, but we didn't remember it!)

Ollie went on his way and we went back to our poor fishing. 

Sunday morning Joe wakes me up with words I didn't care to hear, "Rich, I've got a problem." Joe has been dealing with an issue with his right eye (retinopathy?). Sunday morning he had a large, yellow circle in the middle of his left eye. His ophthalmologist had told him that if he experienced any change to his vision--either right or left eye--he should get into the office/emergency room ASAP. 

The sat phone came out again and Joe called headquarters to request immediate extraction. We were told someone would be flying out that was around 10 am which gave us time to have breakfast, clean the cabin, and get our gear stowed and stacked on the shore. 


10:15 Jean-Luc set down to fly us out. He had to stop at another camp to deal with a motor issue (leaking oil). That stop let us see the multitude of skills a bush pilot like these guys have. They can pretty much deal with everything and, while it may not be perfect when they finish, it will be serviceable. 

Back at headquarters we told Jean-Luc thank you and to let us know if we owe Caesar's for the motor. 


It was about 11 am when we hit the road south with a huge cloud of dust rising behind us. We made stops in Mont-Laurier for a fill-up for Tilly, at the border for some beer and booze for us, and finally in Troy, PA to refill Tilly's tank. It was just after midnight when I pulled into the Aerie's driveway. Appropriately enough it was raining cats and dogs.

Joe shifted his gear into his truck and he was on his way. He texted me when he got home. Then again this morning he texted to say he had an appointment with the doc on Tuesday.

Maybe Mother Nature is trying to tell us older guys with infirmities that we should rethink our recreational choices?

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

It's the End Of May!?

 Well, another month has gone by and as wet as it had been in April, we are super dry in May. On the positive side most farmers have gotten their first cut of hay baled and in storage. The trees are all green and everything looks alive! (Well, except for the ash that have been killed by the borer.) 


Terry had surgery on her spine mid-month. A partial laminectamy where the surgeon took out a bit of bone and cartilage that was pinching a couple of nerves. She now feels much better except for the weakness she had developed in the months prior to surgery. She complains of muscle aches and pains in her thighs after walking around Wally World for a bit. I can empathize as I have had similar but more extensive back surgery (2015) and two by-passes in my legs 2019 and 2021 that have left me feeling anything but A-OK. But she's getting better!


Planted our veggie garden the other day. Pretty much the same as previous years with zucchini, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, Early Girl tomatoes, bell peppers, and string beans. I had planted lettuce and onions earlier in the month as they could tolerate cold better. Some of the lettuce didn't germinate so I reseeded those rows and a cut worm got one of our peppers so Terry bought a replacement. With the  dry weather we're having, I need to water every day.


I mowed the lawn again today. Third time this year. Most of the lawn is either flat (horizontal) or I can follow the contour of the land (also horizontal). I switched the mower to mulch and that meant I didn't have to stop every 10 minutes to empty the bag.

When I got done, I decided to mow the trail. Some of that is horizontal but a goodly portion is sloped in such a way that I had to go up and down. The grade is approximately 20 degrees Thank goodness, the mower is motorized and I just had to hold on--sorta. I did about 150 yards of trail.

Finished with the mowing I decided to take the ATV and chainsaws up the trail to the place I stopped mowing. Not much sun and very little weeds or grass in that spot but I had spotted some tree tops that had come down and they were solid enough to cut into firewood lengths but first I had to go up the slope to get them down to the trail. Walking on shale/slate covered hillside that angles about 40-45 degrees is no picnic. Especially going downhill. My toes push into the metal of my boots and are soon hurting like hell.

But I got them down to where I could work on them. Luckily, the chainsaw started right up and I cut two 15 foot poles into 18 inch lengths. While retrieving the two poles from the slope, I noticed that they had come from the tops of trees that were still standing but which must be dead as they had no branches. I'll have to go back and fell them and cut them into firewood lengths--another day.

My Fitbit says I did 19,200 steps for a distance of 8.5 miles. Good thing I road the ATV out to play lumberjack! I think I earned a nice hot shower this evening.


Sunday, April 30, 2023

Wet but Busy, Busy, Busy!

 It's been raining, raining, raining here at the Aerie. I barely had enough time to get out and mow the lawn on Thursday before the rains returned with a vengeance. The farmers who are growing pasture or hay must be ecstatic. The first mowing of hay will be exceptional and those cows turned out to pasture are certainly enjoying the new grass.

Don't worry. Cutting the grass only required my walking behind the self-propelled mower. Even the gas can was down to about a gallon so it wasn't a case of heavy lifting.


Terry got to see a neurosurgeon on Wednesday and they discussed her MRI. It clearly showed two pinched nerves and one old herniated disc. His recommendation was surgery as soon as they could. She goes for presurgery tests on this Tuesday (May 2nd) and is scheduled to go under the knife the following Tuesday. The Doc seems to think she will only have to be in the hospital overnight. We shall see.


I go for a follow-up with the vascular team on Thursday of this week--May 4th. I haven't noticed any complications from the angioplasty. I do wish Robert Packer Hospital was a tad closer.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Aah, Spring!

 We've gained over 10 minutes of daylight each day since the Solstice. Most of it has come in the afternoon which suits me fine. The grass has definitely enjoyed all the extra sunshine--and the rain. We had a quarter of an inch the beginning of the week and approximately half an inch Friday night and Saturday night. You might call those last two Camelot rains as they occurred at sunset. Anyway, the grass is really green and the dandelions, violets, and wild strawberries are blooming. The oaks and maples have followed the aspens in their flowering as well.

The forecasters say we may flirt with frost and/or freeze Monday and Tuesday mornings, but after that there are no low 30's in the future. 

I managed to plant some lettuce seed and onion sets last Saturday before my surgery. The onions seem to be doing okay and the lettuce should germinate sometime later this week.


I had my angioplasm/angioplast performed on Monday. Everything went well and, except for the small opening on my right groin where the surgical tool entered my body, I would never have known that Dr. B. had done anything let alone push a tube across my groin and down my left leg past my knee and into my calf/shin where he inflated a tiny balloon just below the previously installed stent to widen the vein he used as a by-pass. Oh, and there's now a pretty strong pulse down there in the left foot which was the whole reason for this particular procedure. I go back the first week of May for a follow-up and to have the pressure tested. Until then I'm sworn to do know heavy lifting. I was told to do some walking, however, and being behind the self-propelled lawn mower might be considered walking, no? I'll leave that for later in the week, however.


Terry got the results of an MRI she had the week before my surgery. Seems she has TWO pinched nerves in her spine which is why the shots she had been getting weren't exactly working. One shot managed to hit one of the pinched nerves and relieved pain in her hip but not her knee, then the next time the shot worked on the pain going to her knee but not the hip. She goes to meet with a neurologist/spinal surgeon this week to discuss her options.


Currently, Terry is enjoying a weekend at Greek Peak with her stitching pals. I don't recall if this is a set of classes or just a sit-and-stitch weekend, but either way she's got a girls weekend to herself while I hold down the fort here at the Aerie.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Spring/Summer Is Here

 Or at least the temperatures so indicate. We are enjoying a burst of warm (80 degrees) temperatures this week. 

Our local garden store opened on Wednesday with some trepidation, "Last year, when we opened at this time we gt 3" of snow!" Not this year! 

The aspen trees have burst into leaf over night and the hillsides are covered with a mix of red and white haze as the red maples and oaks match them. The flowering trees won't be far behind. Hay fields and pastures are suddenly very, very green. 

That reminds me: I better check to make sure the lawn mower runs. Electric start and all, the battery may have run down over the winter.

I've added a layer of fresh garden soil to three of the vegetable beds and bought some white onion sets to put in the ground ASAP. Except for the lettuce, seeds will wait for Terry's birthday (May 3rd) or Mothers' Day (May 14th). The pepper and tomato plants won't get planted until the first week of June. 


Paid a visit to Dr. B, my vascular surgeon yesterday. It was my six month check-up on the bypasses I've had in both legs. Testing showed the right leg to be A-OK but a reduction in flow on the left side from 96% to 87% and ultrasound showed a constriction downstream of the stent. This was sufficient for Dr. B to order another "angiogram with possible angioplasty/stenting" to be done on Monday morning. This will be the sixth (?) such procedure since TSHTF back on June 2, 2019. 

Dr. B, once again and with lots of eye rolls, said that I should limit my activities for a month after surgery. No heavy lifting, no strenuous work, yadda, yadda, yadda. Looking at the calendar, there's nothing I've got planned from April 17 to May 17 that might fit those categories. Heck, I usually let at least one generation of dandelions flower and got to seed before I mow the lawn so I should be able to obey this doctor order--this time.


Terry had an MRI done to try and determine what has been causing the crippling pain she has been having in her back/hip/knee. She's had shots in her back that have produced mixed results. The first provided relief for nearly a year. The second lasted less than a month. She has also had shots in her knees as well as fluid removed from those areas. Those treatments have been good for about six months.

The MRI was a precursor to a visit to a spine specialist (neurosurgeon) and possible surgery for her. All this is reminiscent of my experiences culminating in 10 hours on the table back in 2015. (I still have pain in my lower back despite the scraping out of bone spurs, stenosis, and fusion performed back then.)



Fishing trip to Caesar's is once again on the calendar. June 20 is the departure date for Joe and I. We got Ollie to agree to rent us a satellite phone for emergency usage so I would feel better about being out in the back of nowhere for a week. Looking forward to it since my last trip was back in 2018. 


Terry and I booked a five day visit to Disney World for November. She's been wanting to go to EPCOT for a long, long time and I finally caved. We will also be visiting the Animal Kingdom while we are there. 

Hopefully, what ever medical problems we are experiencing now will be cleared up by then. If not, we may be renting either a wheelchair or a motorized cart--or two.


That is all for now! 


Forgot to mention:

I started on next winter's firewood. Dropped a big ash tree and cut it up into firewood lengths. Still have a couple more to drop but they will have to wait until mid-May per doctor's orders. They are clearly standing dead, however, since the bark is peeling off. As a result they won't need much seasoning.


Friday, February 10, 2023

Is It Spring Yet?

 So Joe and I got down to Harrisburg yesterday for the Great American Outdoor Show. Our primary goal was to book a fishing trip with Caesars North Camps. We've been going there almost every year since 1994. Missed a few because of health or other commitments or the border being closed but we've been to nearly ever one of the lake/cabins surrounding Gouin Reservoir. 

After an uneventful drive down and a near perfect timing for arrival, we managed to locate Oliver and the rest of the crew at the same place Caesars has occupied for a number of years. We'll be going back to Hanotaux on June 22 for seven days of fishing for walleye and pike. 

Our business concluded, we than strolled around for an hour or two. (Well, Joe strolled. I kind of hobbled. Totally different walking a hard floor than shoveling snow or cutting grass. Even with the cane, my feet were killing me!) I picked up some summer sausage (wild boar and elk), some jerky sticks, two hundred feet of paracord, and a new pocket knife. Thinking back, that was my usual shopping at the show although I think I got rope and a canvas duffel bag last time.

Joe got some paracord, too, but that was the end of his shopping.He said his wife would skin him alive if he bought another knife. Neither of us wanted anything from the archery or firearms areas. (Though, I did look to see if they had an across the chest holster for my Redhawk. Just in case I should run into any bears while walking out back. I'm getting too old to stand up and scare 'em away.) Nor did either of us want to drool over the ATVs, boats, or trucks.

We departed the show after going back to Caesars' table to say hi to Jean Luc, Ollie's partner who had to shuttle his wife to the airport earlier. It was only a little after two in the afternoon when I headed back to the Aerie from Joe's home and around 3:30 pm when I pulled into the driveway. 

In all a fairly productive day. And a reminder that I need to do some serious walking on hard surfaces to harden the nerves in my toes so they don't interfere with my mobility.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Spring Is Right around the Corner

*tap* *tap* Is this thing still working? Yes? Okay then. Where to begin... 

Ground Hog's day has passed with Phil forecasting six more weeks of winter. That's actually a pretty safe bet for Ground Hog's Day--or Candlemas as it is also known--is half way between Winter Solstice--the first day of Winter--and Vernal Equinox--the first day of Spring or the last day of Winter. 

We had a second blast of super cold air last week (minus 8 F) to match the not quite as cold air we got around Christmas time, but things are warming up! The day after the low of minus 8 things got up to the low 40s and then the 50s for a day. We won't see the 60s anytime soon, but there's no snow in the forecast for the next twn days so there's that. We still have a scattering of snow on the ground around the Aerie, but if we go down the hill to Route 6 there's nary a flake to be found. 

With the warmer temps, I'm getting itchy feet. I've spent the last three (?!) years sitting around the house doing not much except mowing grass, cutting firewood, shoveling snow, and assembling jigsaw puzzles. To say I've got a touch of cabin fever is an understatement. Some of my reluctance to get-up-and-go has been due to my peripheral vascular disease (PVD) that has seen me get a bypass in each leg so there's only one artery feeding blood to each foot. Should either get blocked, I could lose a foot. 

But now, my vascular surgeon has given the okay to take some chances to get out and about. With that in mind, I'll be attending the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg on Thursday. Joe and I will be looking to book a fly-in fishing trip with Caesar's North Camps in northern Quebec Provence. We've been fishing with them since 1994 and have missed very few years. In fact, while I've not been fishing for four years, Joe has gone with his son and granddaughter, and his wife. (I think he wants me back because the ladies out fished him!) 

In addition, Terry and I have been thinking of doing some traveling together also. The travel trailer has been woefully underused. But Florida may be calling too. 

More to come.