Finally got off my duff and played some golf this year. First round of the year was up at Butter Brook Golf Club in Westford, MA to celebrate passing the bar with a few compadres from law school, Joe and Justin. We wanted to squeeze in 18 holes before we were too busy with not finding jobs to play. The course was in beautiful shape and is very reasonable price-wise with a weekend rate for 18 holes plus cart for $75. Played reasonably well; 84, but with five three-putt bogeys, so it could have been much better.
The following morning, Saturday, played 18 at Shining Rock, a brand-new course in Northbridge, MA with a few local buddies, Gerry, Jay and Eric. Also extremely reasonable, 18 plus cart on a Saturday cost me $50 due to the member discount (thanks, Jay!) A long, hilly course, typical for New England golf, I managed an 86 with an ugly back-nine. We all had a good time, and this gem of a course will definitely keep getting my money: excellent service and operations + amazing layout and conditions = my home course for the remainder of the season.
These rounds kept my handicap at 11.9. My goal is to get back into the single digits, but with our first little tike due in a mere four weeks, golf may end up being thrown to the very bottom of the "to-do" list for this summer.
My nephew is 6, and like all adventurous 6-year-olds he loves to fish and get dirty and run around and be a "boy." For that, I admire him and am pretty jealous. My parents live on a lake in central Massachusetts, so fishing has been a part of my life for 20+ years. This past weekend, with the whole family gathered down at mom & pops house, my nephew and I spent some time fishing.
Our first adventure was using butterfly nets to catch newly-hatched baby perch, sunfish, and pumpkinseeds (kivers). We managed to catch one little guy and put him in a coffee can filled with water. Jack didn't want to use it as bait, as that would mean ending the baby fish's life, so we kept it in the coffee can while we tried to collect some crayfish. (He never really wrapped his brain around why it's called a crayfish when it's not really a fish, and the same logic applied when I explained to him, that in the alternative, he could call it a crawdad.) He didn't have the same sentiment towards the crayfish as he did the baby sunfish, so on the hook it went. One vicious cast later and the crayfish was deposited back into Lake Singletary. Having not hooked a crayfish in a number of years, I apparently threaded the hook through the wrong section of its exoskeleton. Oh well, in the minutes that elapsed over this occurrence, Jack had lost all emotion towards the 2" long baby sunfish in the Folger's can. No, he didn't want to use it as bait. He wanted to eat it. This brought a tear to my eye, as I can't recall ever being more proud of my nephew. Inside the house we went with our minuscule baby sunfish approaching the end of its short life. Using a boning knife, I deftly beheaded the creature and cleaned out the stomach cavity, rinsing it under cold tap water. Using the smallest dollop of butter I have ever used in cooking, I quickly sauteed the less-than-1" filleted fish. Jack and I each grabbed a fork and took a bite of our "hors d'oeuvre." Needless to say, Grampy was beaming with pride. Mom and dad thoroughly enjoyed this, as well, but were more confounded with his previous disdain for seafood. Fish and chips at a local pub? Nope. Baby sunfish gutted right in front of him? Yes please!
Now that we were thoroughly stuffed from our lunker sunfish, Jack wanted to fish some more. After a few casts I snagged an adult sunfish (my least favorite of all freshwater fish to catch), and released it immediately upon getting the hook out. One cast later and I was hooked up with what I thought might be the same apparently stupid sunfish. This time, Jack's appetite got the better of him and he wanted to eat this one, too. Out came the Normark fillet knife, and within moments I had the sunfish gutted and cleaned in the ankle-deep water where we were standing. Just like before, a few dollops of butter in a hot fry pan, and voila! Fresh fish that Jack and I enjoyed as a side to the main course my mom had prepared.
I can only imagine fishing with my own son (or daughter, whichever we may be blessed with) will be incredible, but for the time being, it doesn't get any better than throwing out a couple lines with my nephew. I think Jack had fun, but I think we all know who had the most fun fishing that day.
With all this free time I have after the bar exam and before the baby arrives, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting back into something I so dearly loved before law school: drinking beer and wine. My buddy Troy runs a wine review blog, City of Troy, and my other buddy Bill has his own blog reviewing craft beers, Bill2me dot com. These two sites have really ignited an old passion, and it has driven me to delve deeper into the back aisles of my local package store (liquor store for non-New Englanders) and try random craft beers from various microbreweries. So far, I have had Opa Opa (from western MA) Red Ale, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, and India Pale Ale, and have to say that all four have been terrific. Dale's Pale Ale from Colorado was less-than-terrific (as in less-than-good), and will chock that up as a lesson learned. (I won't be doing in-depth reviews here...just telling you what I liked. If you want the nitty gritty on craft beers with a great analysis, check out Wild Bill's site linked above.)
As for the wine, Troy is a well-schooled aficionado who points out with clarity things that the layman's palate would gloss over, yet does it with diction that John Q. Public can understand appreciate. His descriptions of wine flavors as they pass over the palate and invade your olfactory senses really crystallize what you might "think," but aren't able to describe.
These are two great sites that are very worthy of subscribing to if craft beer and delicious wine interest you. I have no business attempting to review such complex things, so I'll leave this space dedicated to simpler, more basic reviews such as golf clubs, fishing reels and hiking boots, where the only adjectives I'll need to think of are "comfy," "nice," and "super."
So the membership at Maplegate never materialized, due solely out of guilt...sure, the price was ridiculous, almost too good to be true, but with our first baby due in less than 7 weeks, I figure $348 can buy a good amount of diapers, formula, onesies, etc...when I told Brooke I canceled it (she had supported it all along), she said "that was very fatherly of you." - I guess I'm starting off on the right foot, then.
So back to the fishing trip. I had new gear to try out, and try out I did. I caught around 25 fish spread out over two days, and couldn't be happier with my new stuff.
First to bat is my new Cabela's Salt Striker 7' medium-heavy travel spinning rod. This 3-piece travel rod, which comes with its own hard-shell case, is a perfect spinning rod for any saltwater species under 35-40lbs. The midsection and butt and sturdy enough to fight larger fish, and the tip is light enough to cast and toss lighter baits and lures. The biggest fish I fought with this rod was an 11lb. Redfish, and though the weight might not be impressive off the bat, these fish are renowned fighters and fight pound-for-pound right alongside a bluefish. When my professional guide said "the perfect rod for Snook and Redfish is a 7' medium-heavy spinning rod," I knew I had made the right choice.
Next comes my new reel that I mated to the new rod, my Team Daiwa Tierra 3000. I had read that the best flats fishing reel is either a 3000 or 4000-class spinning reel, and again my guide backed up my purchase. When I told him I was concerned my 3000-class reel might be a bit on the light side, he told me "I'll only use 3000's in tournaments." Awesome. The spool is large enough to hold a few hundred yards of 30lb. braid (and I have 12lb. mono on the free second spool), and it can cast a mile. Its compact size belies a reel that feels like a tank in your hands. I fought some pretty strong fish with this reel, and it never hiccuped once. Daiwa has a great reputation, and I hope that with years of good care this reel can last me a long time.
Hey folks...just got home from a few days down in Punta Gorda, FL fishing for Snook & Redfish in the flats of Charlotte Harbor. The trip report, along with a slideshow, links, and map of the area are up in the Fishing section of the site. The fishing was terrific, as was the company. Getting bit pretty hard by the saltwater fishing bug.
I'm just a guy who loves to hike, fish, hunt, camp, and snowmobile, preferably with my wife Brooke and our three kids, Hunter, Max & Shea. I play the part of a lawyer during the week and try to get outside and get dirty on the weekends.