Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fishing in Clearwater

I'm not trying to catch up. I'm not trying to show off what I've done. I'm just blogging. Here goes.

A few months ago, I was on one of my last business trips (with my then employer) in Florida. I had been there countless times since 2011, and I had never been deep sea fishing. Also, one of my "bucket list" items is to be on a boat and look around 360 degrees and not see land. So I guess I was due for a fishing trip.

A quick Google search helped me find Queen Deep Sea Fishing from Clearwater Beach. A red flag went up for a tourist trap, but I didn't care because I wasn't looking for the authentic deep sea fishing (and I was playing tourist). I just wanted to polish some items off of my list. There were 4 hour and 8 hour trips, the latter being far more deep sea than the former. However, I was with coworkers and they weren't up for a full day of fishing (or getting up at 5am to get to the boat for an 8am launch). So off we went. I GPS'd the adventure, even though they asked us not to. Rebel Canadians...

Pelicans from the docks at Clearwater Beach

I'll bet that this boat went pretty quick.

These lucky bums get to live right on the harbour!

Sailing always has appealed to me. Luckily, I don't have to go all the way to Florida to sail.

First catch, and it was a yellow tail, I think. I'm not a fishy guy.

We mostly caught grunts. They were good eating :-)

Easy fishing. Toss in a hook with some bait, pull out the fish. It restored my faith that you can actually catch fish in the water.

Mighty hunter can provide for his family now.

We were about 7 miles off shore, so....

....the coast was still visible. Bucket List item: Incomplete.

This bird's name was Furuno. I think...

Fishing trawlers off the gulf coast.

I thought it would be deathly hot and humid out, but it was a pleasant day. We had shade on our boat, which was really nice to keep from dehydrating.

The community fishing catch. There were about 90 people on board, and there were lots of fish caught, most of which NOT by me. Someone even caught a pufferfish!

The three of us caught about 12 or 14 fish! They fried up nicely.
This was my catch!

These were the fish that the 8 hour trips caught. Much bigger (and possible next time).

The crew from the boat cleaned all of the fish for us! That was really nice, but I would have liked to do it myself.

The next day, we had a fish fry.

The fish fried up really nicely with blackening spices. It was super tasty, made all the more tasty by the fact that I had caught the fish myself!
All in all, it was a fantastic experience with delicious results. I didn't knock the items off of my bucket list, I just whet my appetite even further. I'm always glad for new experiences, and I now believe that fishing and actually catching something is possible. It had been probably 15-20 years since I had last caught something...


Monday, February 17, 2014

XC Skiing in Bragg Creek

Well, I finally made it out to do something interesting. Not that everything I do is uninteresting, but I'm sure most blog readers do not want to hear about my day working at Solidworks, or what I had for lunch, or driving to Edmonton to attend an association meeting. Yesterday, a friend and I headed out to West Bragg Creek to do some cross country skiing. GPS data can be found here

I have not been out West Bragg for some time. I've actually not even been out to Kananaskis since prior to the June floods. Gack! I need to get out more. This is so close to where I live, less than 30 mins. This is the road just west of Bragg Creek, and Moose Mountain is in the background.

There weren't many skiers out yet, as we had an early start. But there were tracks set in the snow (for the most part). 

This is along the Crystal Line trail, a straight cutline with some great downhills and challenging uphills. It was a lot of fun.

Outside and loving it!

The snow was fantastic. I had not yet been out on my skis yet this winter (gack!), but my former skills came back quickly. I only "inspected" the ground 3 times at key moments.

Along the trail back, the winds really picked up and it made for some interesting skiing. There were eddies of snow everywhere and with the wind at our backs, we were pushed back to the start.

Upon returning to the trailhead, the parking lot was filling up with lots of people.

Lots and lots of people!
 It was a good jaunt out in the snow. Temperatures were around 0, so nice and warm for high output activities. The wind was a factor, and if you stopped, you would get cold. But the beauty and thrill of skiing kept me moving! It was a great outing, and I cannot wait to get out again!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Moon Joggers - Blast off to Venus

So a friend of mine referred me to a group that is collectively running to the planet Venus. Yes, you heard correct. Venus. The lovely planet of toxic gases, extreme temperatures and goddess of beauty. Last year, this group, aptly named MoonJoggers, decided to run to the moon, and together they pooled 557,000 miles (896,770 kms) in less than a year. So they made it to the moon and back in less than a year. That's pretty cool. Check out their video below.

This year, 2014, they are trying to collect 25,000,000 miles (40,250,000 kms) to run to Venus. I have opted to take part. Why not hey? After all, running is all about community. At least it can be. There are several membership options and you get some pretty cool swag, but I opted for the free membership. If you do pay, money goes towards Little Heroes Foundation charity.

So sign up, why not? There are many different distances to commit to. I committed 1000 miles, and I know that is achievable as I am training for my first ultra marathon this year. Yeah, I've said that before, but I want to complete this goal before I turn 30 (this June). I have a few races picked out however I have not registered for anything. I want to get my training at least a month in before I do register.

 See you all in outer space :-)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Running in Mukluks, Update!

Since I posted a few years ago about running in Mukluks, I have had thousands of hits on my blog from all over the world. Yes, that's right, I can see you and what you are reading. Big Brother aside, I would like to post an update to running in Mukluks in our cold, Alberta climate. I headed out this morning for an easy 5km around my neighbourhood. It was about -10C outside, or 14F for you American friends.

I borrowed a GoPro3 Silver for this photo shoot. I accidentally set it to take a photo every 0.5s, so I ended up with about 4800 photos at the end of the run which I had to sift through. Below are the photos from the run.

 Here I am, setting up the GoPro and getting the oblivious selfie of me wondering if I am doing this right. Well, I guess I was, sort of...

 There was cloud cover, so GPS was slow to pick up. It did eventually, but I couldn't wait to start running.

 Here I am, ready to go. Green toque, blue jacket, grey pants, tan shoes. No colour coordination or fashion points for this run. For the mukluks, I had to tie them up with hockey tape and tuck them under my ski pants. They do still bunch up around the ankle, but ground feel and contact still remains on par with VFFs or my NB Minimus.

 Running along and trying to get photos of your feet is tough. These mukluks provided great grip and feel on snow, but not so much on ice. It is what I expected, and if you are sure-footed, you should have no problems handling the icy conditions.

 My concern about soft-soled footwear is obviously warmth and true-to-feel ground contact. Here I am, still happy, so my feet weren't cold. The plush lining of the boots is really comfortable.My feet now, however, feel a little warm to the touch where my foot strikes the ground, a sign of chafing and potential blistering. It could be the sock I am wearing though (Wigwam foot liners).

 At the "apex" of the run you could see the beautiful Rockies. Yeah, I know it is a neighbourhood and not a wonderful trail, but from my front door, it is pretty decent.

 Feet still good, so I am happy :-) . My feet stayed warm throughout the entire run.

 My wife calls this my sad whale eyes. I was not in pain or anything, but I was more caught off guard at how hard it is to run at altitude (again). My home is at 4000 ft, and I had pretty much spent the last month at sea level. So my needs are to readjust.

 More beautiful mountains to the west. Gosh I love it here! My next run should be on a trail. You know, I may just do that.

 My run is complete! My feet were happy and body was sore. My lungs were a bit chilled from the winter running (and altitude), but I would call it a success.

5.23km in 36 mins. Not a blazing pace, but a run nonetheless. I was trying to figure out the GoPro and re-acclimatize to my area. Hey, at least I was out and running :-)

Overall, the Mukluks still perform as expected. I wish they would stay up and not need hockey tape every time. A lacing system would be ideal, like a corset with stretch lacing along the calves. The hockey tape holds at first, but as soon as your calf muscles start to work, the hockey tape loses it's function. I had to make sure to wrap the tape around my ankle to hold the boot on. The plush lining would likely cause blisters on anything longer than a 10km run, but given the right sock that may be avoidable. I have a 10km run on Tuesday to do, so I will see how they hold up then.

These are the mukluks here. Their original design has leather laces at the cuff, but mine broke after a few uses. Pssst, I think they are decorative. Maybe these would work with a new lace., if you want barefoot feel and still want to run through winter, Manitobah Mukluks are the way to go.


Friday, December 27, 2013

And the Curtains Came Up!

Continuing our adventures in Florida, I thought I would post a few more photos of said adventures! I hope you all enjoy :-)

 The curtains come up on the Mermaid Show. At Weeki Wachee, it is okay for a grown man to be excited for the Little Mermaid!

Mermaids! It was so cool to finally see the show!

Some of these mermaids performed for almost 30 minutes under water. I say that is quite a feat! No pun intended.

 The Mermaids have been performing since 1947. I'm sure it has captivated many people over all of those years! I know it is something I will never forget.

 The waters of the Weeki Wachee river are crystal clear. It was amazing. I had never seen water like that before.

 And in the river there are manatees! Some of these sea cows get up to 1200 lbs. I want to swim with them, which you apparently can. Another item for the Lorne list of adventures.

 Playing with my son at Clearwater Beach. The water was not super warm, but we still had fun anyways. Beaches are an excellent way to spend a December afternoon.

 There were street performers at Clearwater Beach. It was a lot of fun watching them do their thing and entertaining. They reminded us all that this is how the entertainment industry started hundreds (or even thousands) of years ago. Street theatre is a dying art they said, and I couldn't agree more.

 The father-son duo did some impressive performances with juggling and entertaining. The final act was the son doing a Houdini-style escape from a straight jacket and padlocked chain. He had two audience members cinch it down super tight and managed to escape in less than 3 minutes. Impressive.

 Lounging by the pool at the house. The water was cold, but it was still fun to be there.

 My wife caught a brown anole and took some photos. These little guys are everywhere and it was fun chasing them down.

 A view of the back of the house from the golf course. Houses in Spring Hill are so much nicer than those in Calgary (and cheaper!). It was so nice to see green space between houses and not be able to jump from roof to roof as we can here in Calgary. Not that I do that, heh heh.

 We headed back to Weeki Wachee for Christmas lights! They had a petting zoo, and what better time to get acquainted with tomorrow's lunch.

 Looking out over Buccaneer Bay in Weeki Wachee (at night).

 It is so lush in Florida, and there are so many trees I do not recognize. I did learn that the Cypress tree sheds its needles in the winter season, the only coniferous tree to do so.

 We spend a day at Fort DeSoto park in St. Petersburg. It was a beautiful and remote park with stunning beaches, wind blown sand (gets in to everything) and warm, shallow waters. It was awesome to watch the waves come in and in those waves you could see schools of fish swimming and jumping.

A view from Fort DeSoto park's south beach looking towards the Sunshine Skyway. And yes, I really enjoyed watching the kiteboarder's do their thing. Another thing to add to my Lorne list of things to do. My wife approves of the sport, so long as she can take photos.

My next trip to Florida will hopefully involve the following:
1. Bringing my family
2. Swimming with manatees
3. Kayaking in a crystal clear river
4. Kiteboarding lessons
5. Running on the beach
6. Probably working, but oh well.