Ono Island

For spring break this year, we went to Ono Island with 5 of our neighbors.  Ono Island is a 5.5-mile long barrier island in southern Alabama, at the mouth of Perdido Bay on the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is bordered by Bayou St. John to the north and Old River to the south.  It’s a stunning place, away from the craziness of most spring break destinations, and perfect for family and fishing.

Since we wanted all of the families to stay together, we decided to rent a pretty big house in the middle of the island.  Here’s a picture of it from Old River.

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Here’s a picture looking back from the porch.

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It was perfect for our large crew–5 families, 10 adults, and 16 kids.  There were a ton of cools things about the place, but in particular I liked the private beach and boat pier (because we brought our Rangers).  Brady has a Ranger 2250 SS and I have Ranger Reata 1850.  The way the place was setup was awesome too.  Basically, a lot of the guys would get up and go fishing at 6:00 or 6:30 until 9:00 or 10:00 and come back to this! (Yep, that’s Erin all the way to the right and she is obviously pregnant and due the first week in May)

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Here’s a picture of the boats, beach area, and the kids playing in the sand.  If you look closely, you can see Brady in the background cast net fishing for bait.

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Here’s a picture of Law and me motoring up to the pier after dropping in.

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Right around the pier there was a ton of small sea life–crabs, minnows, etc…  The kids had a great time with their little cast nets and dippers catching these little critters and making little aquariums in their buckets.  Some of them would have done this all day long every day.  This is a picture of Casey and Reese exploring the shore area around the house.

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We also saw a bunch of dolphins right off the beach area patrolling for lunch.

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Here’s a picture of Law and Carrie watching the kids jump off the end of the pier.  Pretty far drop for these brave little souls.

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Here’s a picture of Caleb showing some panache.

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Here’s another picture of most of the kiddies goofing off…

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Here is Reese, Natalie, Hadley, and Casey sharing some time away from all of the boys.

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The fishing was awesome.  We caught enough Sheephead to feed 26 people for dinner–very difficult to clean, but worth it for the tastiness.  Other days we caught about 10 sharks up to 4 ft, a bunch of Mangrove Snapper (very small), and Vermillion Snapper (also very small).  With tons of watering holes and eateries right along the bay and interconnected through the various waterways, I suggest renting or taking a boat if you ever choose to come here.  It’s much more accessible and fun that way.

Anyway, it was an awesome trip with friends and family–we will definitely do it again!

Categories: Boating, Camping, Family, fishing, Hiking, Vacations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saying nice things to people

So I usually blog about kids, family, camping, hiking, and boating.  As you may have noticed, sometimes the posts are several weeks apart (or even longer).  It’s because my work requires me to travel quite a bit.  It’s nice to know that the time I’ve invested away from my family has made an impact upon other folks.  And, it’s even nicer when they take the time to tell you about it…

These are some of the notes I received yesterday from folks that I work with because I have decided to take on a position with a hot new technology business.

1) “Hi Marc,

I just heard the news. First let me say, congratulations! on your new opportunity. I am really happy for you.

Selfishly and for HireRight’s sake I am very sad to see you leave. For me, you have been the face of HireRight and you have set the tone for the entire organization for years. Personally, you have treated me so well over the years, that I often had to pinch myself to believe that landed in such a great place. It is a certainty that HireRight would not be where it is today, if it wasn’t for your leadership. You are definitely the man to take your new company to the next level.

Thanks for your commitment to excellence and truly being the best sales leader that I have ever been associated with. I have learned much from you.

Best of Luck, XXXX”

2) “Marc, oh my goodness where do I begin……

I am so, so very happy for you that you are able to move on and advance your career for yourself and your family.  That is really great!   I guess I never thought you would leave and it made me feel good to have you as our leader in Sales.

You have taught us all so much in our short time together and I could never thank you enough.  I still think back to the first time we met when we went on that call to Blue Cross of MN….IN THE WINTER!!! WOW!!   And I got to see the expert (you) in action.  It was a career defining moment for me and I’ll never forget it.  You continue to WOW me all the time in your demeanor and your true professionalism.  Thanks for being that role model for me.

My heart is heavy as I think about HireRight without you…but it is so full of happiness for you and your family and your new adventures.

Please stay in touch.  I will miss you greatly.

Love ya, XXX “

3) “Marc,

I wanted to let you know that it has been a privilege getting to know you over the past 2 years.  You are the heart and soul of this sales organization.  I know this must have been a tough decision.  I hope all goes as planned and that you are very blessed.  You are a wonderful person and such an amazing leader.  This is going to sound odd since you are younger than me, but you have always reminded me so much of my father.  That is a HUGE compliment to you!  He was my hero!

Many blessings and the best of luck to you!  XXX”

4) “Dear Marc,

I was very surprised to receive a phone call from XXX late last night with the news about your departure.   You will certainly be missed and I have learned quite a bit from you over the short time we have worked together.   You are truly a unique person with talents that most of us wish we had!  I have no doubt that you will be successful in all of your endeavors through life.  I hope that I can reach out to you in the future if I am ever in need of “work” advice or your expertise.  I really do wish you much success!

Best of Luck, XXX”

So in addition to trying to raise our kids with a love of the great outdoors, Erin and I are trying to teach them to be genuinely good, honest, hard-working people.

Categories: Camping, Family, fishing, Hiking, leadership, saying nice things | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

So our friends bought a farm

Yesterday we went to visit Brady and Holly’s farm.  They bought the place several months ago as a weekend getaway for their family.   It’s a not so little slice of heaven in south Tennessee.  Postcard perfect.

We loaded up the truck and took the kids down to visit them with a couple of other families from the neighborhood.  Because we’re “avoid the highway whenever practical” road trippers, we took the scenic way down.  Along the way, Casey spotted a giant sign that read “Ask us about our chickens” at a local farm store.  So we turned around and asked about them.

I walked into the store and asked the first guy I saw about the chickens.  He showed me to an area that had baby chickens (or chicks as it were). They probably had 200 of them or so.  I asked how much they were and and he looked me straight in the eye and said $1.25 per.  I nearly choked on my coffee.  Never dawned on me that you can actually buy a living, breathing, chicken for 1 dollar and twenty five cents.  He asked how many I would like and I said “well, I’ll take twenty.”  As he began to quickly shuffle the chickens into a box, I am beginning to rethink my not so little house warming gift for our friends.  It’s not like we’re buying them a nice plant and a bottle of wine.  Twenty baby chickens might be a little much and, not knowing anything about the upkeep, I said “hang on a sec, let me think about this…I’ve never owned a chicken, and these aren’t for us. They are for our friends that just bought a farm.”  He said, we would have to buy a “blue light”, a coup, and a couple of other things to keep them warm, etc…. Which I thought was a little too much so I said, “do you have any older chickens that don’t require much maintenance at all.” He said, “sure, follow me around back.”

Around back there is a large coup with probably 40-50 grown chickens–both hens and roosters.  He said these didn’t require much at all – just a place to get out of the wind, some food (which he pointed at), and some fresh water.  I said, “how much are they?”  He said, $12.00.  I pointed at the largest, most beautiful rooster of the bunch and asked, “how much is that one?”  He said, “well that one’s $12.00 too.”

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I am really shocked now….  You can actually buy a fully grown, 2.5 foot tall, beautiful rooster, for $12.00.  I said, “I’ll take two.”  Since they are flock animals and all…

So he grabs a big muskie net and scoops up a couple of chickens (we settled on hens), puts them in a bag (the white one above) and ties it off with a snap tie.  This is a plastic bag and we have 25 more miles to go before we arrive at the farm. I am thinking about the horror-stricken faces of the kids when we arrive with our house warming gift – a couple of suffocated chickens in a plastic bag.  I said, “are they going to be able to breath in there.”  He said, “how far do you have to go still?”  I said, “about 30 minutes probably.”  He said, “well I will cut some breathing holes in the bag then.”

So we load up the chickens in the truck (which is a Suburban – with 3 kids and 3 adults) and take off down the road.

We arrive at the farm and the kids freaked when I cut open the bag and the chickens ran out.  They immediately built a chicken fort with sticks and firewood.  This one of Brady and Holly’s 4 kids, Parker.
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The chickens were a hit.  Brady and Holly are going to make some wonderful memories with their family at this place – it’s middle of nowhere awesome.  Here is a picture of Meredith and Casey walking on top of the hill.
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Here is a picture of their house – cozy, woodsie, and awesome.
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Here’s a picture of Casey walking on the bluff above the valley.
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Here’s a picture of Natalie with her homemade chicken coup.
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Here is a picture of Jacob with “Hen-Peck” (yep, they named the chickens)
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Here’s a picture of the sunset yesterday–looking west from Brady and Holly’s porch.
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It was a great day with great friends and family.
Categories: Camping, Family, Hiking, nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Crystal Cove State Park – Corona Del Mar, CA

Feeling a bit nostalgic today, I thought I would share a little about Crystal Cove State Park in Corona Del Mar, CA.  We lived in CDM a couple of years ago before work took us to Nashville.  Crystal Cove is approximately 3.2 miles of beach and 2400 acres of undeveloped beach scrub right on the Pacific ocean between CDM and Laguna Beach.  The waters just offshore are designated as an underwater park and  it has towering kelp beds.  These beds break off from time to time and create kelp patties that float towards Catalina depending upon the wind and tides.  The fishing off of these patties is crazy good.

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One of the cool things about fishing in this area is that you never know what you’re going to catch.  We’ve had many 8-9 specie days.  Our buddy David Foster caught a Moray Eel above.

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The tidal pools in the park are also super cool at low tide.  Erin, the kids, and I used to spend hours exploring the small worlds of the tidal pools.  Matthew is is running down the beach towards 3rd break above.

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I snapped this picture of a bird down there one time, but I have no idea what it is.  I just thought it would make an okay picture.

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This is Erin and Meredith checking out a sandcastle.  Mer Mer absolutely loves the beach and had we lived there longer I am sure she would have developed a great love of surfing–we’ll have to get back to that at some point.

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My mom and Casey are sharing a moment on the bluff above the park above.

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Matthew and Casey are playing on the sandstone cliffs at China Cove.

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We had a pretty good view looking north a couple of blocks from our house.  This is Newport Harbor at sunset.

Categories: Camping, Family, fishing, Hiking, nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Savage Gulf Tennessee

Last fall we went hiking and camping in Savage Gulf Tennessee for a couple of days with our family and neighbors.  Savage Gulf is 15,590-acre natural area located in the Cumberland Plateau.  Over thousands and thousands of years various creeks and rivers have carved a huge gorge (or gulf as we call it in the south) through sandstone and limestone.  The result–an absolutely stunning area that is basically untouched nature.  Several old growth forests in the gulf have never been harvested so they are full of  oaks, hickories, maples, yellow poplars, hemlocks, ash, and other huge old men standing tall and proud.

Near our camping area, maybe .75 miles round trip on a loop from the ranger station, is Greeter Falls (see below).

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One of the things I really like about this area is the isolation.  Even though the hike in to the campsite is only about .5 miles (the folks with babies know this is plenty far), there hasn’t been anyone else there any time we’ve gone.  Additionally, because there are virtually no towns for miles in this area, the light pollution is nil resulting in stars so crisp and bright it feels like you reach out and grab them.

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After getting our fire going, we made dinner while the kids played in the area around camp.  We tried to get to bed kind of early because we intended to hike the great stone door trail the following morning.  Our friend Amy is below and made the eggs in the morning and I made some camp bacon over the open fire.

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On the hike in Erin and our friend Jennifer chit chatted along with Meredith trailing behind.

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Incredible sunset on our way out from the Gulf lookout.

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We didn’t get the hike in that we wanted to because we had a ton of young kids with us that had a tough time getting down the stone door.  Next time we’ll take the slightly older ones only so we get to the bottom of the gulf, but we had an awesome time with friends and family.

Categories: Family, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fearless

This girl is fearless.  She is kind.  She is smart. She is STRONG. She is my daughter Casey, and she is 8.

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She knows how to play in puddles (evidence above).  She knows how to ice fish, rock climb, set up our tent, camp, hike, regular fish, snow ski, and now water ski (see below).

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She is part of our family with this guy–who is also a stud.  He too knows how to fish, hike, camp, and I have personally seen him hike 1500 vertical feet over 9 miles (there and back) when he was 5 (he is now 7) in the high sierra.  He too is learning to fish and is becoming a good man.  He is an athlete.

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And, finally, my little nugget Meredith who is as carefree as they come.  She is truly a breath of fresh air, a free spirit, and she gets a little tired keeping up with her brother and sister.  She is 4.

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This is our family and we have another one on the way (just found out that he’s a boy)

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We’re trying to raise our kids with exposure to the great outdoors and want to use this as a forum to keep ‘em interested.

Categories: Equipment, Family, fishing, Hiking, nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Tent Review

REI Kingdom 4

This is our REI Kingdom 4.  It’s a sweet tent, especially for families.  We bought ours a couple of years ago and we’ve camped all over the place in it through all kinds of weather (except snow).  The guy lines hold it very steady in the wind (we’ve camped in 20-40 mph gusts).  We camped through a full blown thunderstorm last year and it held up great and stayed dry.  It has two rooms, one of the kiddies and one for Erin and me, so we can at least try to keep half of the place tidy.  Anyway, it’s super easy to pitch (literally like 5 minutes), and is all around awesome.  This is a picture from Savage Gulf Tennessee.

Categories: Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What It Feels Like

This picture is worth a thousand words…  I’ll not spoil it with them here.

What it feels like

What it feels like

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Camping Machine

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So this is our camping machine.  It’s a lifted 2008 Tahoe LTZ with a Defender roof rack.  This thing gets us everywhere we want to go.  I swapped out the 20 inch rims with black 17 inch rims and 35 inch all terrain tires to show a little more rubber.  The kit is made by Skyjacker and I went with the 3.5 inch lift version.  I eventually may add a winch (probably Warn) and a chilled-out front bumper, but for now this is really all I need.

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Porcupine National Forest – UP Michigan

Standing Tall

We go to northern Wisconsin every year around the 4th of July for a family get together.  The area is in Vilas county and there are many, many chains of lakes in the area.  The one we always go to is called the Manitowish Water Chain which consists of 10 lakes that are interconnected through the Trout River Waterway.  Erin’s folks have a cabin on Little Star Lake and her grandparents live on Wild Rice Lake.  It’s about a 45 minute boat ride, door to door.  Anyway, it’s awesome fishing, skiing, boating, and swimming.  The kids are building lifelong memories up there.

A couple of years ago, while on this trip, we decided to drive up to Porcupine National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a day hike.  I took the picture above on the walk in and the picture below about halfway through to Lake Superior.

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The forest is located on the shores of Lake Superior (we jumped in and it was cold).  The area is home to a very large tract of old growth hardwoods that light up the forest in a very cool way when the sun hits the canopy.  Next time we come we’re definitely going to camp because I hear the stargazing is awesome up there.

Here’s a picture of my family on the hike out.

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Categories: Family, Hiking | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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