Recreation

Fishing in Canada

Last week I didn’t post at all because I was busy roughing it in the Canadian wilderness. Mike and I spent the week fishing with his parents, who have been driving around the country for three years now in their suped-up RV (talk about a HeSo project!).

Now let me make this clear: I had never been fishing before. The thought of impaling a worm on a hook so that I can sit around for a few hours and wait for a bite filled me with anxiety and guilt. Yet, fishing was an important part of my husband’s childhood, so I really wanted to get a better sense of what draws people to this past time.

I am not a morning person, but waking up at 5 am, trudging through icy water to get to the boat, and holding on to your thermos of coffee like it’s your lifeline, was surprisingly  fun. Being a New York City girl, I hardly ever feel alone when I’m outside. If I want a taste of nature, I end up in Central Park where a three piece bands is playing Take Five, kids are screaming, tourists are asking me for directions, and some guy is trying to sell me $4 water. Out on the lake, the water was absolutely still, we were the only people out, and it was blissfully quiet.

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The sunrise as we readied ourselves for early morning fishing

I really wanted to prove that I wasn’t a sissy, but the truth is I am a sissy. For the life if me, I could not bring myself to put the writhing worm on the hook. Mike and his mom took turns hooking my bait. At first I caught a bunch of these little guys:

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Perch number 15

We had to throw these back in the water because they were too small. Then we caught some bigger fish. I tried with all my might to hold the fish for picture time, but they were too gross and unpredictable. My father-in-law had to hold up the fish in each of my pictures:

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Can you tell how uncomfortable I am?

Mike was a natural at fishing:

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Mike and his fish

Eventually I got the hang of it:

My 25" Bass

My 25″ Bass

The best part of this fishing trip was that we got to eat fresh fish every night. The worst part about eating fresh fish every night is that you have to gut and skin the fish. Yuk! I have a whole new appreciation for the perfect fillets of fish in the supermarket.

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Skinning a bass

So now that I’m back home, and no longer smelling of fish, would I do it all again? I quickly realized that fishing is not about the fish at all – it’s about slowing down your pace, your expectations, and your thoughts. One day you can catch 20 fish, and the  next day you can catch nothing but seaweed. While the underwater tug-of-war is exhilarating, it’s the hours of staring off into the wilderness that felt like an exotic experience for me. Having nothing to do but just observe, and relax, was  a vacation in of itself. So, yes, I would go fishing again.

 

Strangers in the Woods

This past weekend, I met three strangers at a Dunkin’ Donuts, got in the car with them, and drove up to Bear Mountain. When I told people what I was planning to do they thought  I was crazy, and most certainly would end up involuntarily donating some of my vital organs to the black market.

Just when I was starting to get fed up with this asphalt paradise I live in, I found a group on the website Why Leave Astoria that was for people in my neighborhood who want to take day excursions to the many hiking trails outside of Manhattan. Some friends thought it was sketchy, but then I had to remind them that I met my husband on a dating site, so I’m willing to take a chance on strangers from the world wide web.

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The popolopen creek.

We hiked the Popolopen trail on Bear Mountain. It was steep and super muddy from all the rain, but absolutely gorgeous. I can’t believe it’s only an hour drive from the city – it felt like a different world.

A 360 degree view of the Hudson Valley.

Honestly, I was surprised at how well we all got along. Lynne, our fearless leader, researched the trail, and was well prepared. The other two woman had been on hikes with her before, and we met up with her friend when we got to the trail. There was none of the awkward small talk of getting to know strangers because we already had so much in common: a love of nature, living in the same neighborhood, and a willingness to try new things.

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Third time I’ve used the timer on my camera. I’m glad it didn’t fall down the side of the mountain.


I had been planning to do a hike for a while now, but I wasn’t in the mood to rent a car and balance my friends’ busy schedule to find one weekend four month from now where everyone’s available. This trip was so easy, and had the unexpected benefit of introducing me to awesome people in my neighborhood.

I’m taking away two lessons from this hike:

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel. There is a group on the internet that is planning to do whatever you want to do. Don’t wait around trying to plan it yourself, join a group and start doing it!  If you don’t have a neighborhood based website to find other people than I suggest browsing MeetUp for groups, and How About We which is more of a dating site but is based on doing activities together.
  2. In this day in age, we seem to focus on the worst of humanity. We hear one terrible story about a stranger murdering someone and then every stranger seems capable of murder. These sensationalized stories are so rare that they overshadow the best of humanity. You are more likely to be hit by a falling tree branch than be attacked by a serial killer. Don’t let fear control your life.

That said, please also use common sense. I don’t want to be the reason why any of you loose an organ 😛