4 Down; 9 To Go

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Adventure 4 in our 13 in 13 proved to be a success. We attended all three of the weekend games in the series between Florida State and the University of Miami baseball teams. Also on the to do list for the weekend: indulge in the famous shakes at Mark Light field. If the team doesn’t win…no problem…so long as I can enjoy a Ragarm, their famous milkshake made with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and strawberries.

Friday night got off to a late start waiting for the rain to clear out of the area, but by 9:00 we were cheering the Canes with a milkshake in hand. Saturday evening brought an earlier start and an earlier milkshake since the weather was clear; and since the home team proved victorious with a 6-0 win, it was a near perfect night.

It’s quite a drive for a milkshake, but good baseball topped off with the world’s best shakes make it worth it!

Did you notice that 4 Down; 9 To Go is published on 4/9?

 

3 Down; 10 To Go

Our third adventure from our 13 in 13 list occurred during a Spring Break trip to Fort DeSoto. It didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but flexibility is one of our strengths.

Our plan: camp at the state park on Wednesday and Thursday night, enjoy the beach, go out in the boat, ride bikes.

Our reality:

1) We launched the boat and had a picnic on Sand Key Preserve. The cool temperatures in the 60s with 15 mph winds eliminated the possibility of bathing suits or beachwear. In fact, we dressed in jeans, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, and I had a blanket wrapped around my legs to stay warm. With the increasingly rough water, we returned to the ramp after only a couple of hours on the water – a cold but good start to the trip.

2) We rode our bikes from the campground to the beach and on down to the pier. No one ventured into the water and only a few people walked on the beach. After about an hour and a half we headed back to the campground.

3) We relaxed at the campground reading and lounging in the hammock (wrapped in a blanket) before going to dinner at Billy’s Stonecrab, Seafood, and Steaks. We stopped along the way to take some pictures of the sunset but almost missed it since we sat in the car waiting until the last minute to avoid to cold.

 

4) We celebrated John’s birthday with a gift certificate from some of his coworkers and feasted on bang bang shrimp,  grouper sandwiches, and pineapple upside down cake – all delicious!

5) As a result of the cold temperatures and the weather report we saw while at dinner predicting record lows in the mid thirties with possible frost and winds of 20 mph, we made the decision to return to the campground, pack up, and return to the lake. Last year when we decided to begin tent camping again we agreed that these trips were for fun. We said if the weather was bad (we were thinking too hot or rainy), the mosquitoes unbearable, or if we weren’t enjoying ourselves, we wouldn’t stay. A cold night in the tent followed by a day too windy to go on the water…why stay?

6) We packed up the tent, sleeping bags, hammock, bikes, and the boat while listening to the snores of a camper in a nearby site.

7) By 1:00am we climbed into bed ending adventure number 3 on our list. Not exactly what we expected, but we had a good day and prepared for a good night’s sleep.

Hopefully, adventure 4 proves more successful!

 

2 Down; 11 To Go: Operation Big Bass

When we developed our list of 13 in 13, I included “catch a big bass” to the list. John asked my definition of a big bass and when I said an eight pounder, he suggested that I might want to reconsider since a bass of that size would be considered a lifetime catch by most fishermen. Since I don’t claim to be a fisherman, I took his advice and modified my definition to “at least six pounds”. (However, if you refer to the original 13 in 13 post I said – catch a big bass of at least six pounds, but hopefully closer to eight.)

Three weeks ago in my first attempt at this challenge, I caught what I thought at the time was a pretty big bass only to be told that it was “only” 2 1/2 pounds. I needed to catch something almost three times the size of my current record. This may be more difficult than I anticipated.

Spent much of the day watching the bobber
Spent much of the day watching the bobber

Yesterday we took the day off to make a second attempt at catching a big bass. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. The 45 degree temperature and cloudless sky guaranteed a great day on the water with or without fulfilling the big bass requirement. We returned to the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau since Dad reported that he and his guests caught several big ones throughout the week.

After about three hours, we started planning the next attempt since not only had I not caught a big one neither had John. And, in fact, we hadn’t landed a single bass. In an effort to help me meet my goal, John sacrificed catches. He handed me his rod on three occasions so I could set the hook and reel in the catch…no success…I lost all three. I finally announced that I thought I should change my goal from catching a big bass to being in the boat when a big bass was caught.

Then it happened. I actually saw the bass hit my line only a few feet from the boat. John talked me through the process…let it take some line…now reel in slowly to take out the slack…jerk hard to set the hook and start reeling. I guess I followed directions pretty well. I maneuvered the bass around a stump and reeled it up to the boat so John could scoop it in the net and lift it into the boat.

Time to collect the data…24 inches and 8 pounds! I’m pleased to announce I caught a BIG bass! Yes, I even caught the once in a lifetime version.

Mission accomplished - 8lb., 24in. bass caught on 2/15/13.
Mission accomplished – 8lb., 24in. bass caught on 2/15/13.

 

Not only was John there to support my efforts by guiding me to the best spots on the lake and talking me through the process of bringing in the fish once I felt the hit, but he was also there to document the event with a quality picture. Thanks, John! In addition, thanks Dad for your scouting reports and the trip with Max to the far ends of the county to locate the shiners needed for this adventure.

A bald eagle - quite a bonus!
A bald eagle – quite a bonus!

As a bonus, we noticed a bald eagle in the top of a snag as we headed back to the boat ramp so I not only caught a big bass, I photographed a bald eagle in flight. Another once in a lifetime event for many birders!

A beautiful day on Lake Rousseau
A beautiful day on Lake Rousseau

What a wonderful way to start a long weekend!

 

 

1 Down; 12 to Go

stumpknockersWe accomplished the first mission of the 13 for 13. Admittedly, it was the easiest to accomplish, but I can’t remember how many years we’ve said we were going to go to Stumpknockers for dinner. And then when John added “eat stone crabs” to the list, Stumpknockers seemed like the logical place to make this happen.

Of course, we wanted to arrive before dark so we could enjoy eating overlooking the river so we left shortly after 5:00. We arrived well before dark so we could see the river while eating; however, it was so windy we decided not to eat on the deck overlooking the river. Instead we settled for the porch which provided some shelter.gatorstumpbar

Since I’m not a fan of stone crabs, I ordered the catfish dinner and John ordered his stone crabs which he thoroughly enjoyed.  The portion was generous and with soup, a baked potato, and corn-on-the-cob it was quite a meal. We decided to really splurge and ordered a piece of key lime pie for dessert – quite a meal! I don’t think it will take years for a return visit making it unnecessary for stone crabs to appear on another must do list in the future.stonecrabsj