The Gulf

I am dying for some ocean time.

A combination of of my social media feeds, my subscription to Gray’s Sporting Journal, and an audio book called “The Gulf” I’ve been listening to have thoroughly spurred my desire to be near the ocean. The people I’ve been closest in my life have always described me as a “water baby”, and that’s probably an accurate attribution. I need a regular recharge of salt water to keep my head right. It’s been about a year since I’ve been near the coast, with our last trip being August of 2019, and I feel it’s pull. Maybe, maybe things will work out this year, even maybe into the fall for us to take a trip down there, though the COVID situation makes it questionable at best. I’m certain that folks are going, but with the numbers being the way they are, it makes me worry, and I feel like I’d be insincere with the things I’ve been telling my family and kids if I suddenly say “hey let’s load up!”.

Not to say I wouldn’t still do that though. Maybe with just Jack, or Jack and Grace. The two of them still love fishing, especially Jackson, though I’m not entirely sure Grace doesn’t just like showing up Jack more than actually fishing. Regardless, she loves the ocean, and she still likes doing things with me, which carries a good bit of weight. When I took them together last spring for the white bass and late season trout on the San Gabriel, they both did well, and were pretty enthused about the whole thing.

Last week, out of the blue, Torrie came and asked if she could use my tackle box, because her friend Lauren wanted to go fishing. I gave it to her, though they ended up talking themselves out of it in the long run. In fairness, it was late in the day, and very hot, nothing was likely to be biting by then anyway. She was really the first fisherman in the family after me, having gone with my mom numerous times when she was a kid. One of my favorite pictures of her has her sitting on the dock casting out into the water while my mom preps another rod in the background.

I don’t always have to be doing anything when I’m at the coast. Sometimes it’s just driving along the roads on the intercoastal canal, or the bayside fringe that does it. When Sam and I lived in Galveston, I would often come home from work and just sit on the seawall for a while before heading inside. I always enjoyed a good strong storm blowing in off the gulf. It’s one of the things you really don’t appreciate if you don’t live there because people typically tend not to travel to the coast when the weather is bad. We loved to sit and watch the front blowing in from miles out, slowly darkening the blue sky and water to a dark, intimidating grey.

Jack and I have been planning a trip down to fish for a few weeks, hoping we’d get a break in the COVID that would let us get some time in the surf, but it looks like if we do, we’ll be a couple of outlaws. I’m not closing the door on the idea yet, though, and we will continue planning, so that if a little ray of light comes through for us, we’re in the position to take advantage of it.

It’s the sound…
family thoughts

The “Roaring Twenties”

January 1st, 2020

Thus we begin the “Roaring Twenties” so it is fitting that I am beginning it in front a crackling if not fully “roaring” fire. I have a hot mug of coffee, and a good book, in this case one that I’ve read several times before but I still enjoy for the experience (“Leanings” by Peter Egan for the record). There is a dog sleeping at my feet who requests that I not include her in the photo, citing understandable privacy concerns. The last ten years changed all of our lives, perhaps as much as the two before it. We live in a brave new world friends, and it is the dawn of a new decade.

This decade will see the conclusion of my military career, which as much as anything in my life has defined me as a person and a character in the story of life. Ten years ago I had been home from Afghanistan for three days.

My children will all grow to adulthood if not maturity, as my youngest is 13. Her face last night when we talked about our next ten years and she realized she would be 23 was beyond priceless. We all listed some loose plans and a few goals for the decade, and there were good ones. A common theme was traveling, which I am very pleased to hear. Jackson wishes to swim with sharks, while Grace wants to see the mountains. Torrie intends to return to Europe, and AJ wants to visit Canada. The Rockies and the West Coast of North America in general were common points. Perhaps a visit to the Sierra Nevada’s and the coast will satisfy both urges.

I will turn fifty, one half century of circles around the sun as my kids say. This is no more than a number, but it’s a nice, middle of the road one. I have plans for my fifties, my next ten years will be spent in front of more fires, with more people I love and care about, in more places that I know, and that I don’t. Exploring, experiencing life with family and friends, this will be the mission. I know who I am today, in a way I never have before, and I know what I want from life. I intend to enjoy myself, in the company of those I care about. I don’t make resolutions, I never have, I’m not much for promises in general, too many variables affect your ability to come through, but I can say that to the utmost I am able, this is how I will spend my next decade.

I wish you all the very best, and I hope you and your families, both blood and extended have the finest of New Years days, a fitting beginning to the best decades of your lives. I hope you are able to define your expectations and goals as the Hunter Clan and I have, and I hope most importantly that you are all content today, and in perpetuity.

family fitness health kids

Thinking out loud…Renew at YMCA?

I’m trying to decide right now whether to renew my YMCA membership here in the new year. I find I really just use it for the pool access, and on occasion my son and I use the weight room. Those are all valuable items on their own, but the membership for a family runs me almost 97.00 a month, and I have question whether we get that much value. While there is no way to put a dollar figure on all things, I suspect we use the facilities maybe ten times a month. I think possibly the most valuable thing is the time with my son, and now that he is 15, he can go on his own. He asks on the regular to go to the gym, but I’ve been putting together a lot of what we use there in the home setup. It’s just more convenient. We can now ride our bikes up there, which would be a plus when it isn’t bitterly cold outside…

In the end, I think the time with Jack makes it worth the cost.

family kids

A day at the lake after a hard win

My daughters both play Lacrosse (this is my youngest) and sometimes they sneak into my blog. 🙂
My kids are all water babies, and after we had a nice picnic, they hit the water. That’s my oldest boy (the one who mountain bikes with me) on the right, escorting his sister along the deep-water edge. Just a few feet out, the water drops off almost cliff like to over 100 feet. It’s actually used by local dive companies as their advanced open water training area. I was certified here by PADI almost 25 years ago.
family kids pushbikes

Not at all a bad haul for an old guy on his birthday

My birthday was Thursday March 23rd, I turned 44. Its hard to feel special when its a thursday, the kids have lacrosse practice, were prepping for a big neighborhood garage sale, both cars need maintenance, and the myriad other things that impose on your adult life. Honestly, lets face it, other than a few significant milestones birthdays, like turning any of the 10s (30, 40, 50 etc) as an adult, birthdays are just a day where people tend to make you feel awkward. My kids however, didnt see it that way. My youngest daughter was adamant that I provide her with my birthday “list”, so that she could ensure I got what I wanted. Being 44, I am able to procure most anything I want for myself, (within reason) and anything I want but don’t have, she probably cant afford on her meager allowance of 10.00 a week (since I pay her allowance, in effect, Im still procuring it for myself, though it is absolutely the thought that counts). In any case, I let her know that I always need nice cycling socks, and showed her that she could get me some swiftwicks at the Peddler Brushy Creek bike shop, which she decided there and then to do. My wife surprised me with the Stanley French press, and the Feed Zone Table cook book I had been mentioning for some time. What’s not in the picture above is some yellow bar tape for my cross bike (not sure about that yet…yellow bars…) and a really sweet Vintage Coleman Lantern to add to my burgeoning Coleman collection from my mother in law.
We had a great meal, and I chalk it up as a very successful and enjoyable birthday all around.
family kids

My man making some tough decisions about what he’s keeping and what he’s giving up as he goes through some of his books.

This weekend we had a big neighborhood wide garage sale, and my wife decided to really get serious about it as an opportunity to get rid of some of the old stuff floating around our house. We were successful on that count, we were able to get something cleared out. But as always with such ventures, getting to that point means filtering through your possessions and deciding which just don’t carry the usefulness or attachment they once did. The latter is of course the more difficult and books, at least in our home, carry some of the strongest ties to the heart, my son has an entire bookshelf of various, mostly science oriented books, with an entire shelf set aside for his favorite series books, the eleven from “the Diary of a Whimpy Kid”. It was interesting to watch him go through them, and you could see the looks on his face as he read the covers and made his decisions. He was generally ruthless, though on occasion he would pick up something and say “I feel like we should keep this” or something similar, and place it carefully back on his shelf. I couldn’t help but feel there was a small bit of growing up hidden in this event, as he let go of a few of the acquisitions of a child, making space for the acquisitions (or austerity) of a young man.