A Passage to Calcutta

We’ve successfully navigated travel halfway around the globe and survived the onslaught of a determined Mama Ji but we have yet to be confronted by the vagaries of domestic India air travel. But we are well fed and rested and looking forward to passage to Calcutta as another day of our adventure. We check out of our hole in the wall hotel and make our way back to the New Delhi airport to begin our next leg – the flight to Calcutta.


The Delhi airport is spacious and efficient and I really like the elephant sculpture. Here’s Bob in the foreground after we’ve checked our bags. Since Bob knows how quickly changes occur with domestic Indian travel we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to deal with changes. Thus we had lots of time to find the correct lines, locations, gates etc. And I assure you it is all quite confusing as there were several times that Bob and I had discussions as to what signs and tote boards meant but in almost every instance of confusion Bob employed his specific super power of locating an official that knows the particular information we need and asking him the questions pertinent to our needs. It was also a little muddled as the flights to Calcutta were oddly handled from the international terminal areas. But we handled it all with calm efficiency. There was a small misunderstanding at baggage check in. We didn’t check our bottle of Gin with the normal baggage. We picked up the bottle Gin when we landed at the airport and thus had it with our carry on bags – that’s ok as long as the bottle was procured inside the security perimeter of the flight. But when bringing the bottle from outside the flight perimeter, the bottle (above the tiny carry on volume restriction) must be with the checked in baggage. I also had my tiny (~1″ swiss army) penknife on its silver chain to prevent it’s stupid owner from misplacing it on my person. I forgot about the flight restrictions when I dressed. So as we were being screened for entrance to the flight area it became obvious that the bottle of Gin wasn’t allowed and neither was my giant edged weapon. Thinking fast – Bob took one of our three carry on bags and suggested that we could put it into the check on bags. We got odd looks but mostly that its possible to do. So the Gin and my tiny knife were retrieved and put into our third carry on bag and Bob when against the flow back to baggage check in. Bob brilliantly circumvented the check in line by catching the eye of the check in agent and employing his vaunted “confused – sincere and well meaning American” look got the deed done. It worked splendidly and he had only to endure a slight  reprimand from the agent by way of scolding him for not paying close enough attention.  I remained safely in the flight security zone with our carry on bags. So in short order all was right with the world – our Gin and my small pen knife were safely ensconced in our check in baggage. We could now relax and watch the big board for gate changes, delays etc. as well as supply ourselves with food etc. I also got to stroll around the airport and soak it in. My favorite sign was one showing a direct equivalence of harmful vices.


Now we have time to take care of some loose ends. Bob decides to get an Indian SIM card for his phone to facilitate the convenience of local calls and we need to get something to eat. The SIM card is installed at a small Kiosk and Bob’s phone doesn’t seem to be digesting the new addition and we decide to see what an Indian McDonalds is like. Well there was no beef on the menu at all and several tofu or vegetable burgers were the substituted items. YUM LOL I shuddered. I had a fish sandwich, fries and a coke and Bob had the same but with a chicken sandwich. It was different but not bad.

As with all travel – time seems to disappear. Especially when you’re on a flight to the east! we were soon on our flight to Calcutta.

It was dark when we winged near Calcutta and the air quality was head and shoulders above Delhi’s. I was approaching Calcutta with a bit of trepidation as it is a city notorious for filth, heat, congestion, poverty, epidemic disease, and pollution. There is also a notorious Calcutta urban legend of a large Caucasian man running rife throughout the city accosting rickshaw pullers and then absconding with their rickshaws never to be seen again! The urban legend goes that the man has a head that wouldn’t fit in a bucket and he laughs riotously sweating  profusely as he ploddingly absconds with his illicitly acquired rickshaw. At other times he is reported to be singing! “Confutatus Maledictus, confutatuuuuuus……” No one has of yet discovered his alleged motivations – but there are some theories. One of the theories is that Tata heavy industry has hired him to cripple the individual decentralized system of mass transportation….. Another more widely held theory is that he is just bat-shit crazy! I am in the second camp. So the plane swings around and comes into this giant of a city, an intimidating city, a city of joy and life.

We land without fanfare or mishap and smoothly collect our bags and acquire our prepaid taxi fare chit to go to the Kempton Hotel.


Almost all of the taxis are Ambassadors. A design deemed out dated when it was put on the road during Indira Gandhi’s time in power. But look closely at the picture this is not a photo from the 50’s it was just a few short weeks ago! The design is considered to be one of the worlds great taxis! It also won the taxi race a while back between the worlds greatest taxis on Top Gear!!! Heady completion indeed. We procure our anachronistic taxi and head into the heart of the beast. As our driver is loading our bags into the boot of the Ambassador I admonish him to under no circumstances stop if a large Caucasian rickshaw puller stops in front of us – always maintain enough room to turn away from the phantasm.

It was a short drive into the city but a long drive to the center of the city. Passing thousands of congested byways populated by millions of entrepreneurs single-mindedly hustling and bustling to make a living for themselves and their families. After about 15 minutes of congested driving in slow going tight conditions we merge into a matrix of narrow narrow alley ways – that taxi turning this way and that going over curbs, clipping bicyclists, pushing cows out of the way, disturbing feral dogs snoozing on the curb, avoiding small tie ups and difficulties — could it be that the notorious Caucasian rickshaw puller was sighted???? My imagination was pushing me near panic. When ever I visit New York City – I go through this. I know that there is a high probability that I will have a devastating agoraphobic episode and there is no way in god’s hell that I could escape such a giant entity in time to avert my impending death. So that is what I am feeling as the small taxi bumps into the night squeezing into byway after alley to gap between falling buildings ducking under power wires with my anxiety mounting with the realization that the taxi driver most certainly has no idea where the Kempton Hotel is and that he will summarily dump us in front of a rat infested hole between condemned structures. The taxis slows my worst fears about to be realized……. he sounds his horn and an iron gate slides aside and the taxi drives onto a small courtyard paved with marble next to a beautiful modern glass, brass and marble Hotel….. yes the HOTEL KEMPTON! My car-door is opened by a smiling gentleman in uniform. I’m beckoned to the hotel door by a footman who is busying himself with our bags and the uniformed doorman opens the door for us.


The Hotel desk man cordially says that we’ve been expecting you, and calls us by name and a liveried waiter with a silver tray presents us with crystal stem ware glasses filled with chilled guava nectar. We should have paid someone to film our arrival so we could relive feeling like celebrities every day. Wow did my anxiety levels drop!!!! The only way they could have dropped more is if the stemware was filled with a nice single malt scotch! The Kempton is a sumptuous and well appointed hotel with 5 star service but it seemed like heaven to me when presented against the backdrop of an imagined hell.

We jointed our luggage in our comfortable rooms and unwound for a few minutes – then went down to the hotel restaurant for supper. We were one of two tables being served and the wait staff treated us like honored uncles. When Bob requested the tandoori prawns he was apologetically informed that they didn’t have any at this time. He asked if they were perhaps out of season….. and the waiter said that that didn’t matter, we will have them tomorrow if you would like them at that time. (And what’s more is that they did!)

After we dined we decided to leave our sanctuary and take a walk around Calcutta. Bob was  concerned about the preliminary symptoms of cold or flu. We were on a little quest to locate some highly touted anticold Vicks product with Asian rhino horn, ground snake penis and the yellow scat of musk melon eating pangolins. The doses that Bob bought to bring on the trip were still sitting on an end table back in western New York. I hope one of their dogs doesn’t get into it…… Needless to say we didn’t find it but we did navigate the night streets of Calcutta. Bob moving with naïve confidence and me with waning anxiety.

So our time in the City of Joy was beginning – I was as yet a bit anxious.

I leave you with a picture of the door to our rooms – it is 3.5″ of solid fucking teak! 3.5″ Inches of TEAK! This bank vault door like piece of wood could stop the Terminator and look beautiful doing it!!! This reminded me of how Pizzaro had horse shoes made of silver put on his horses in south America.


Such decadent and profligate use of wonderful material!

Day 2 – We narrowly miss Sandjay MacPatel

After the eventful and lengthy flight we are tired and in need of some much needed rest to recharge and acclimate to the local time. We disembark and enter the New Delhi Airport to be welcomed by the giant graceful hand sculptures in the New Delhi International airport receiving area. We are a little worried that our E-Visas will be a liability now, costing us some delays at customs/immigration. But the Indian authorities are all over this! They have about 10 stalls set up to specifically service international E-visas. I look over at the  mile long “switchback” line that the Indians are mired in and feel so sorry for Mama Ji – I wonder if she got in line near the projectile vomit child. But the errant bit of empathy is quickly exorcised and I proceed to the E-Visa line with Bob. Bob is first to the booth in our line as he is in his “run off and join the circus” mode. One has to keep an eye on him when he’s like this. But its pretty easy as he towers above the crowd. Bob presents his papers and is electronically fingerprinted and moves on. I present my papers and pass port and my prints are processed. I am waved on — but wait — I am called back, the agent forgot to stamp one of my papers. He has to begin again and he goes a little slower this time. But he gets it done quickly. I soon am scanning for Bob but he is nearby waiting putting my earlier observation about him running off to rest! So we rejoin and collect our baggage and proceed. Next step is well planned by Bob – in order to avoid the taxi cab rush of  vultures feeding on a new carcass, we pre-purchase our taxi fare at the prepay stand avoiding the haggle hassle with several drivers vying for our business. We then take our receipt out to a designated driver and proceed to the location noted on the paper. We load up and are on our way. A while down the road there is some jabbering on the phone and it appears as though our driver doesn’t know the location of our prepaid lodgings. What you say? They can’t find The Hotel Brigadoon New Delhi???? Yes apparently the day this 100 years that its accepting guests is over and the hotel has again disappeared into the mists of the Indian moors. Perhaps its just the worsening air quality plaguing New Delhi from the inversion. Bob doesn’t know that we’ve narrowly avoided a time vortex but is as yet intent to get to our lodgings or some lodgings so he tells our driver to return us to the airport. Back we go. And back to the prepay taxi booth. The agent there calls the Hotel Brigadoon only to get a disconnected phone message! They apparently disconnected their phones before being subsumed by the century long time vortex. Yegads!!! What do we do now???? Not to worry the agent has the name of a nearby hotel at a good price – probably his brother in law’s. We get booked there and give a few more rupees to cover the difference in distance and we are off once again into the Indian night. The hotel seems far away from the airport and we drive into a pretty seedy looking area then make a sharp right into a very narrow alley probably too narrow for a full size car and then emerge into a small garden courtyard adjacent to the doors of a high end hotel! And it has no hint of Scottish character about it as the bell hops are watching cricket and we’re expected. This place will not slip away in 24 hrs time! We check in and are soon comfortably ensconced in our room. I am always amazed at the amount of marble everywhere in India. Marble floors, stairs, bathrooms, walls, table tops etc. This place is put together and the beds are soft and comfortable. We unwind and are soon sleeping comfortably.

Morning light comes early but it means little to us as we’ve slept for a good 9 hours. Bob is in the bathroom showering as I open the door to our tiny balcony— no better to say veranda…


We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto! I see a wing of three ring necked plum headed parakeets, several Asian crows and a pariah kite as the neighbor’s dog is barking at a feral dog and keeping him off of his family’s turf. The lush vegetation of the back alleys of New Delhi always catches me by surprise.


The people of New Delhi like us are waking and making preparations for another day of hard work and hustling for a living.


The neighbor is showing why the air quality during an inversion gets progressively exponentially worse as the day or days go on. The neighbor pictured is drying cow patties (not the noted cow girl) on the roof abutments. They will later be burnt (smoldered?) for cooking fires. Hmm no wonder Indian cuisine is a taste I have not acquired and it is generally so heavily spiced. The black tanks are water supply tanks. The municipal water system is only on during designated days or hours and water is drawn from the system at those times and stored on the roof of each building to supply 24 hr water. It would have to be pumped to the roof for good pressure in any case.

Bob soon exits the bathroom and enjoys the view with me content in the idea that he has used every drop of hot water. LOL Not really, I kept the water heater on and there is plenty for my ablutions as well. Jim Baxter warned me about Bob’s MO with the hot water so I am vigilant to make sure that the heater stays on. After my shower and repacking we decide to have breakfast in our room before we fly off to Calcutta. Note: I like the old name for Kolkata better as I have fine Shimano casting by that name and shall continue to use that here in the blog. We opt for scrambled eggs, toast, juice and tea. We are rested and ready to brave the vagaries of dun dun dun (foreboding music) domestic Indian air travel……. So I will leave that tale to the next blog.

INDIA II – Day One…

Wherein Jack does battle with the most dangerous of India’s Mega Fauna.

Yes dear reader I’m back from my second trip to India with Bob. It was a great adventure with “ups and downs” but mostly all “ups” and the downs were merely character building and learning exercises. So it was all good going on great.

Mother India is yet an enigma to me in many ways but after the first day of this trip I came onto some basic realizations about the land. India is Under Construction and I don’t think it will ever be complete. I’m not sure that even any phase of the construction will be complete before they need to update it or expand it. Even the way they build lends itself to this mentality. They build in tiers with rebar reinforced concrete. Occupying the lower tier whilst the upper tier is being worked on and the top floor awaits a start! If I come back ten years from now there will be two more floors completed but there will still be an identical situation on the top two floors. The top floor always has rebar reaching for the sky. Another observation is that – The apparent exterior condition more often than not is diametrically opposite to the interior condition. For instance you may drive through a congested fetid hot mess of a neighborhood then drive back a narrow dark alley, park the car, then go into a fabulous marble and gold gilt super clean high end hotel! And the obverse — When closely approaching a beautiful fantasmagorical huge marble domed temple structure of fabulous architecture you begin to see how dirty, shabby and littered the interior is. You just want to step back away from the place and forget that you’ve seen the interior. But enough observations – I’ll try and save those for the end.

Jack vs. the fiercest of India’s Mega-fauna

Bob and I make our way to Pearson International in Toronto for our flight out to Delhi. There are hundreds of Indians on their way home vying for position to check in baggage and secure boarding passes and there are no better line jumpers and que circumventers than Indians! Bob and I go with the flow and do our best but find our selves in a “purgatory line”. Then Bob does something brilliant…. He flags down an official looking person and asks him the 10,000 rupee question —- “Is this the line for the flight to New Delhi?” And he does it with his best “Dear father Bob – we have only the worlds best interests in mind” delivery! Ye Gads it works! The official takes us out of purgatory and takes us to the promised land (line)! We are just three people away from boarding passes and checking luggage! This is why Bob is still among the greatest world travelers of all time! We get everything we need go through security and board the plane.

Bob being a tall lanky guy requires more leg room than generally provided by airlines so he will generally purchase seats right aft of the bulkhead behind first class. That gives a lot more leg room and he usually gets the aisle seat too. For the long haul flight a big-ass plane has three seats on each window side, the two aisles, and a row of four seats in the middle. The middle seats just behind the bulkhead are DEATH! There invariably is a baby or babies here as a cradle can be affixed to the bulkhead for the baby when the plane is under way. Ok you got the picture. Now here it comes – the most fearsome of Indian mega fauna arrives —– MAMA JI (and her poor beat down husband). A Mama Ji is an aging matriarch of the family that is in charge of everything and is universally catered to. Mama Ji and hubby have the two tickets for the window seat next to me and Bob and the aisle seat for the center (DEATH) section. Mama Ji wants to consolidate her seats. She asks (read this as commands) me to move to the center section so that she and hubby may sit next to each other next to Bob. LOL that’s a good one! ha hah hah!!! Sorry Mama Ji  – No Way. My ticket says this is my seat and I ain’t movin’. I reply – “No thank you.” Hummph this is not acceptable to the exalted JI! She approaches Bob and sees if he will intercede or move. LOL Bob just looks at her like he can’t hear her and shrugs. She is at an impasse. Next move the Ji speaks Hindi to the flight attendant trying to get him to dislodge the recalcitrant intractable American philistine. The attendant checks the ticket and tells her that her seat choices are on the tickets. Ji is not amused! (Meanwhile the inevitable has occurred — a young Indian couple with a cute yet colicky baby have arrived and occupied the center section!) Next step she tells hubby to sit in the center aisle seat and she takes the seat next to the offensive non-cooperative American. Her goal is now to convince me to move using unassailable “Mama Ji-logic” . “Hello how are you? Where are you travelling to in India?” – “Delhi.” “Why don’t you want to move to that nice aisle seat in the center section??????” “I don’t want to sit near the child.” “What, that cute little baby???? Surely you like children.” (I step back here to advise the reader that all Indians have a deep and abiding love and reverence for all life and most of all their babies. Its absolute blasphemy for anyone to even hint at an oppositional view.) “Why no – I don’t like children.” Mama Ji is visibly shaken and simultaneously taken aback! How can this be the answer????? She thinks how can approach such apostasy  and blasphemy????? Hmmm….I know, I know, everyone has children… he has to love his children….. “Do you have children?” (after he says yes I’ll follow with surely you love them….ha ha ha I have him on the ropes….) “Why no, I don’t – didn’t I tell you I don’t like children?” Mama Ji blanches – I am sitting next to the devil incarnate!!!! “Everyone loves children…..” “No I don’t and that is why I’m not sitting in the center section and won’t move there…”  This cannot be! I must leave the presence of this most unwholesome alien creature…She leans forward and speaks Hindi to her husband and then switches places with him immediately. The plane takes off and the flight goes on for many hours as the baby in the center section cries and bawls and sleeps and Mama Ji advises the young mother as to what all she is doing wrong -no doubt. Nearing the end of the flight the inevitable occurs —THE PROJECTILE BABY VOMIT! Every travelling parent’s favorite! And it has the delightful aroma of sour milk baby puke. I calmly reach up and adjust my vent venturi directing fresh air directly onto my face and adjust Bob’s so he gets a little more air as well fending off the offensive stench. Mama Ji is beside herself and pulls her blouse up over her nose and lower face! The next inevitability occurs… her poor husband is summoned and must now switch seats with her yet again. Baby puke apparently trumps evil apostasy! Mama Ji to me – “I am so sensitive to bad odors!” through her blouse pulled over her nose. My calm and matter of fact reply – “Yes so am I, that is why I wouldn’t sit over there.” Mama Ji is suddenly interested in what is going on out side the window of the plane and is completely engrossed by it for the short remains of the flight.

Game-set-match! To the Evil Philistine American!

Last Dance…

Last chance for…Fuuuun.

Yes we’ve come to the end of the line for summer. Summer hasn’t realized it yet here though. After almost all the guests have deserted camp, theeeeennnn we get the best weather of the season! Clear warm to hot sunny days without a cloud in the sky! Absolutely wonderful weather! But wait, The Evil One reminds me that it may just be that there are no pain in-the-ass guests in camp and that its just allowing my naturally sunny disposition to shine through. LOL Yeah Right!

Yes dear reader I realize that I have once more deserted you for most of the summer and have obviously abandoned my spring resolution to blog every Sunday. But you have to understand I am weak and easily taken in by schemes to force me to have fun by going fishing and/or drinking – not my fault you see – not on me at all! If you want more blogs you’ll have to come to camp and intercede to prevent my friends from derailing my noble intentions. Yeah – yeah that’s the ticket – noble intentions hmmmmm I wonder what other crap I can float on this vessel of obvious obfuscation. And I have spent vast amounts of time training my pup – Kevin.

This has been a pretty busy summer with dismantling the old left dock and building the new one as well as all the other changes around camp – and the poor summer weather often interfered with getting things done too. But it has been a delightful summer in-spite of it. As I age I have come into some deep wisdom that I will share with you now. As you know we’ve lost our beloved Baxter and have gone through some dark times. Bart was in a very dark place and would barely even get out of bed – so it was imperative to his health and welfare that he get some puppy therapy. Enter crazy Kevin. Training him has been very easy as he is very closely attached to his Daddy. We’ve also lost a young friend that I always enjoyed the pleasure of his company. Brian Ward worked hard, played hard always had a mischievous smile and knowing wink – I miss his presence.   I have come to the realization that the most wondrous and beautiful sight in the world is not the fleetingly subtle smile of a winsome ingénue but the unbridled joy of a young puppy running full bore to come to his daddy when he is called. Another truth is that if you want to have a great fishing trip – don’t worry or dwell on catching fish just go fishing with people you love and enjoy. If you enjoy the company the fish will bite – and if they don’t you’ll still have a fantastic time. Don’t waste your recreational time on any goal other than enjoying your friends and loved ones and having fun- you will never regret it.

The last few weeks here have indeed been beautiful and Bill has been here at camp helping out making closing the camp very easy physically but harder from a psychological standpoint. When Bill and I went out to retrieve the shoal markers we caught fish like crazy! No really large fish but getting a bite on nearly every cast! All bass. Janet was to go out with us but she wasn’t feeling it so she opted out and missed the great time. So given Janet’s non participation Bill and me conspired to get Janet out fishing one last time (Gee we’d get to go too). So after most everything for camp closing was completed The five of us – Bart, Kevin, Janet, Bill and Me went out fishing one last time. The day was sunny and warm (70’sF in Oct!) but there was a stiff southerly. Janet was trepidacious, but we convinced her to go by promising to go slow and fish only in the south end of the lake. We fished only Sawmill (Deadhead) bay and the big Weed-bed Bay. The wind was still whipping up respectable waves even in areas with fetch of only a hundred yards! We only got a few bites and boated two medium size pike and had a fantastic time. Quaffing a few cold brews and laughing our asses off about the events of the summer or the antics of  Kevin in the boat. What a delightful day – no pressure – totally comfortable – totally entertained. I can not imagine being anywhere else and being as happy.

Yet all summers come to an end and this one is no different. The weather is holding and I have all the heavy lifting done with the closing (thanks again to Bill for the invaluable assistance) and all that remains for me is the heartbreak of final closing and driving away. Its about 62F out and drizzling with a little breeze. So me and Kevin went for a walk and cleaned up some small closing tasks. Kevin really enjoyed running around and chasing the squirrels but when we got back to the lodge he was more than ready to run inside and jump onto mommy’s lap. Last night we had a fabulous full moon that rose like a mystical light orange great pumpkin only to later transform into a smiling bright white beacon in the night. I didn’t even have to take a flashlight when I took the boys out to do their business. I always marvel when I look down and see the ultra crisp moonlit outline of my shadow on the drive. Albeit the shadow appears completely distorted – its the shadow of some old fat guy!???? What the hell – Kevin loves his daddy and is going to have new adventures with us for years to come.

I still don’t want to leave – where’s the goddamn snow when you need motivation?

Is this heaven? No, its Sportsmen’s Camp.

Something Completely …

Different. This short post is to announce a new activity here at Sportsmen’s Camp – the first (possibly annual) Invitational Golf Tournament! Yes you read it properly – a GOLF TOURNAMENT here at Camp. When it was leaked that we would have a golf tournament  we were immediately contacted by an unnamed operative of the Russian Oligarchs, (Jared Kushner) and offered vast quantities of rubles to secure the naming rights for this most prestigious of tournaments! Imagine it …. The TRUMP Golf Tournament! But we couldn’t stomach being associated with a batshit crazy lying traitorous douchebag so we turned down the offer. So the prize for the tourney will be meager but it at least we will maintain our integrity. But wait, there’s more we just got a package in the mail today – apparently the trump organization sent out the trophy cups prior to finalizing the deal!!! With a little alteration I will present them as the prizes.

This is how it will go – I don’t have any golf clubs or golf balls but there will be a series of three holes set up for the contestants and each group of three players will play them and the team with the lowest aggregate strokes will be the winning team and the single player with the best score will also be recognized. Each hole will be about a par 5 + and three clubs should be used, a pitching wedge of your choice, a sand wedge and a putter. So bring your clubs, tees, (we’ll provide defunct Canadian pennies for ball markers between shots) and golf balls. Be prepared for some rough course conditions. (Of course all the rules and conditions of play can and probably will be changed prior to play due to weather, time constraints, number of contestants and whims of the Evil One)

This could shape up to something fun assuming we don’t break any windows (I am looking at a severe stroke penalty) and I am guessing that the galleries will be drunk boisterous and ducking for cover!

Sign up ASAP as we may have to cut the field (The Evil One has the mower!)

The Riches of the Boreal North…

Are not Gold – not silver – not diamonds – not trees – its something that each and everyone of us should recognize as clearly as the nose on our faces. It is so abundant that its effect is similar to the way the massive glut of gold devalued nearly every commodity after the Spanish Conquistadors rape and pillage of the Americas. Whenever I am confronted by this resource south of the boarder and have Americans speak of abundance I merely sniff and say, “You know nothing of abundance….”   What is the true wealth of the North?? It is it’s MASSIVE amount of insect biomass! It feeds the ecosystem vast tonnage of nutrients converting huge stores of every available nutrient into vast biodiversity and what we all love so much – fish and wildlife. This concept struck me the other evening as we were admiring the end of another fabulous Firth Lake sunset and were marveling at the enormous hatch of large green and slate drake mayflies. It was spectacular! thousands perhaps millions of the delectable flies emerge from the lake to have their swan song of mating egg laying and early death. The massive orgy provides almost every creature here with inexhaustible food for a couple weeks. Obviously the fish, but even more so the baby ducks and nesting birds of every species get a huge boost of growth fed by the highest quality food. The cascade to other parts of the ecosystem has just as profound a positive and longterm impact. We can easily observe and marvel at the amazing hatch because they are not biting insects. But as I am sure you all realize that is generally not the case with the other insects! Black flies, mosquitoes, no-seeums, deer flies, horse flies, ankle biters etc. all harass and annoy. Yet we should always understand that if any or all these irritating insects were to disappear the North would not be as productive and great ever again.

So as I said the annual Mayfly hatch is on and it is spectacular! Happy hours on the beach in the sun and watching this marvel is an honor. The biting insects are finally in remission too. Another of my favorite things to do during this high insect density time is with my bats. The bat houses on the side of the lodge are all occupied this year. Every night when I shut down the power at around 3am I open up the gravity water tank and go over to the patio. I point the flash light to the sky and shade my eyes from the beam then wait for my friends to visit. Tens of tiny winged bug eaters begin to buzz my head snatching the insects drawn to me and the beam. I hear the barely audible clicks and chitter of their sonar and conversations and I feel the breeze from their tiny wings as they swoop within inches of my head and face. What an honor it is to commune for scant moments with such divinely adapted alien creatures. I always feel so lucky when ever conditions are right for this and I am like Lou Gehrig perhaps the luckiest man in the world.


“Honey you look as fine as a brand new dock!”


No dock project is complete until Inspector Kevin does his in-depth check and falls off the dock at least once!

For the fishermen the lake is warm and the mayflies are hatching. Everything is as it should be. Fishing is slow now but will rebound with a vengeance. The new west dock is completed and installed and the Piscarious is now resting comfortably on the east dock in the warm welcoming arms of lady Firth. True to my internal vow I did not launch the Piscarious until the west dock was complete. Before I go further I should thank the many people that actually did all the work on the dock project – Paul, Charlie, Unckie Vic, Rob and Ryan in the procuring of the logs. Mike and Bill with the dismantling of the old dock and connecting all the logs for the new dock as well as drilling and placing the brackets and help with set up. Pat Cherry (one of the Evil One’s two friends) with getting the logs into the lake and distributing them and connecting them as well as decking. Pat swings a mean hammer even though it is small (sorry Pat). Also Lyle Beckett for the invaluable help putting the rubber bumpers on the dock. And last but certainly not least Joan for the generous sponsorship on the materials to complete the dock. As I look back on the project — if there were a commemorative plaque put on the dock all the people I thanked would be listed first and my name would be a mere footnote listed as the consulting engineer.

Riley continues to amble about the camp with Joan in tow and keeps every morsel of edible material off the premises as well as romping with the terror Kevin as a generous grandma would with grandchildren. Bart continues to keep the camp safe from marauding birds and squirrels as well as training Kevin. Kevin continues to grow and amaze us with his elan and joi de vive. He is a pup with boundless energy yet seems to sync very well with his old daddy. We seem to run out of gas at about the same time with similar results.


The Evil One took this picture clandestinely about a half hour into our nap time. I figured I should post it before it debuts on Facebook and I am derided by The Evil Ones two friends (Pat and Carol).

Kevin – like any wild beast lies in wait to ambush unsuspecting prey (aunt Joanie).


He is a constant source of amusement and inspiration.

Is this Heaven? —- No its Sportsmen’s Camp

The Scotch Report…

And the progress update on the building of the Ark. Yea verily though it hath rained for two score and three days we still have faith that the summer is well nigh. It also helps that the Scotch Library curator must check the quality of the single malt scotches entrusted to his care! Thus bringing me to this year’s Single Malt Library Report. This year’s report due to the burgeoning number of single malts was conducted with the help of an assistant library curator.


He insisted that he be pictured along with the library prior to evaluation and enumeration. And with a face like that it is easy to see why he is the most spoiled boy on earth. Ok ok enough proud father blather —

the Single Malt Scotch Report:

Aberfeldy 12yr highland 50%

Aberlour 12yr highland 100%

Ardbeg 10yr islay 15%

Auchentoshan 12yr lowlands 80%

Balvenie 14yr speyside 75%

Bowmore 12yr islay 45%

Caol Ila 12yr islay 75%

Dalwhinnie 15yr highland 75%

Dewar’s Monarch 15yr blend 80%

Dun Bheagan 15yr islay 30%

Edradour 10yr highland 40%

Glen Breton 10yr Cape Breton Ca. (Happy 150th Canada!) 50%

Glen Farclas cask strength 12yr speyside wee dram

Glen Kinchie 12yr Edinburgh highlands 75%

Glen Livet Master Distillers reserve 12yr speyside 80%

Glen Livet 12yr speyside 60%

Glen Livet 12yr speyside 50%

Glen Morangie The original 10yr highlands 45%

Glen Morangie Quinta Ruban 12yr highlands 80%

Glen Rothes 12yr speyside 80%

Haig Club ? age Edinburgh highlands 80%

Highland Park 18yr Orkney 100%

Highland Park Dark Origins Orkney 80%

Jura Superstition ? age islay 80%

Laphroaig 10yr islay 45%

Macallan 12yr speyside 70%

Speyburn 10yr speyside 75%

Scapa 16yr Orkney 50%

Tomatin 12 yr highland 100%

Yamazaki 12yr Japan 70%

There you have it – the Library encompasses more different Scotches than most drinking establishments. We are running low on Ardbeg (15%). But it is god awful iodine(ic) and salty and Mike will just drink it up if we get more. LOL We could also use a new bottle of Laphroaig. On a side note as Janet says “What the fuck are you going to do with all those bottles of scotch????? You’re never gonna drink them all and I’ll just have to throw the shit out when you’re in you 80’s and you don’t come back from a portage trip! You should just have every one bring up a dirt cheap 1.75 l plastic bottle of vodka – its what you’re drinking these days any way!! And besides you can get the bottle of vodka for about 12$.” Ok ok be that as it may – and far be it for me to disagree with The Evil One, but one of my goals when I get back to India this fall is to purchase a bottle of single malt that is produced there.

Things are moving along here at camp and the west dock is nearing completion. Work is proceeding between rains and blustery cool weather. The log runners are joined and decked and I have located the piling brackets but not yet attached them. I have also built all new pilings. The next things to be done are to drill and attach the brackets then set the dock. No big problems are envisioned but whenever a new dock is swung into position and set up there is liable to be rocks obstructing the area where the new pilings will sit. Its always a good idea to have swimming weather when this point is reached so the rocks can be manually cleared from the piling areas. I am hoping that we get the weather for it this weekend.

I am still taking both the boys for a walk each morning after I wake or am woke by Kevin. Mr. Bart is getting Kevin slowly trained as to what is proper doggie etiquette and days go by without any snarls on the walk. Kevin still is a little exuberant for Bart but he seems to be enjoying Kevin more each day. Kevin is still completely flummoxed as to how he can’t catch Bart when Bart turns on the after burners. Bart still keeps the camp safe from any large flying birds by chasing them as they fly over the camp. He is so fast that he often has to stop and wait for the birds to get caught up as the fly over so they may be properly escorted off the premises! Kevin enjoys these exercises as well but he has no idea what Mr. Bart is chasing because he is chasing Bart and barking too. It is a thing of beauty to see 9 year old Bart spy a bird and take off full bore with little Kevin in hot pursuit but losing ground every stride! Its also great fun to watch as Kevin and Bart run like crazy boys in front of the lodge. It inevitably occurs that Kevin ends up chasing Bart – cutting corners and jumping obstacles that Bart circumvented yet never keeping up. I know it is only a matter of time till Kevin gets his “springs” but Bart is not giving a step to him yet.

It is amazing how much a new puppy renews everyone in contact with it! Kevin has definitely renewed us all! We still miss Baxter but mostly we say how much we wish he were here to see this craziness.


With all the rain we haven’t done a lot of fishing but the blackflies aren’t bad at all and the water temps are in the low seventies F and the weed beds are pretty well developed so I look forward to finishing off the dock and getting the Piscarious back into the warm bosom of mother Firth. We’re also hoping to fire up the pizza oven this holiday week end. Happy 150th Canada!


Another Springtime Revisited

One of the delights of owning Sportsmen’s Camp is getting to see Spring all over again after we arrive here. And it has been a glorious Spring indeed, with the sprouting of bulbs I planted last year and all my old friends from previous years emerging from their winter’s hibernation to greet me for yet another delightful summer. Aside from my daylilies, roses and tree peonies I am ever amazed at the fractal beauty of the unfurling of the massive fronds of my ever burgeoning collection of interrupted and ostrich ferns. My planting of the tiny bulbs of Siberian Squill were already up with welcoming blooms. I have also sprouted and planted last year’s crop of daylilies that I hybridized! I can’t wait to see the results of my biological artistry in the next few years!

But enough of the boring stuff that means so much to me. The Spring has moved quickly and the trees are almost fully in leaf as I write this. The lilacs are in full bloom. We’ve been fishing only a couple times as the black flies have been ascendant! The last time we went fishing was a couple days ago – on Margueratt. We came home with a nice stringer of eating sized fish and paid dearly in blood to the black flies at the landing. The water temperature on Firth is around 70F and the water levels (due to a dearth of beaver dams) is at summer high water level. The early weather this Spring could be called generally cold but it has shaped up in recent weeks. Some more news is that the dragon hatch began in earnest on the 12th and even today as I walked on the beach I collected and moved about a dozen hatching dragon flies. So the days of the blackfly are numbered with low double digits if not single digits. And all not too soon for me as the dragon flies also have a passel of mosquitoes to work on as well. We have also had some much appreciated visitors that helped (read this as did the bulk of the work) deconstructing the old left dock – Mike and Bill as well as the Cubby (a local celebrity). The logs for the new dock were conveyed to the lake for assembly yesterday and I hope to begin that tomorrow. But we have been pretty busy.

That brings me to the next subject – as you all know we lost perhaps the most beloved dog of all time – Baxter. It was quite a blow to us – but still let us not underestimate the massive blow it was to his brother Mr. Bart. As we were dealing with our grief it came to us starkly how affected Bart was too. He moped, ate little, didn’t run or chase birds with any elan and was generally bereft of his usual joi de vive! So Janet knowing the only antidote was a rough heavy dose of “puppy”! Not just any puppy but a Tibetan Terror puppy. Janet located and retrieved said puppy and Bart was in for some heavy duty puppy therapy. I recognized that Bart would not brook any puppy near his mommy for long periods of time initially so I took the little terror in-hand immediately when he arrived at camp. The Terror of the North’s name is Kevin. He immediately became attached to his dad and learned his name in about an hour. He presently stays close to dad and comes when he is called very well. He loves his morning walk with Bart and the last three days the walk has been without Bart having to upbraid the little devil for rudeness with any snarls at all! Bart is also joyfully running and loving being chased. Kevin can just about keep up with speedster Bart when he is cruising but becomes very frustrated when Bart decides to turn on the afterburners and pulls away from him at full bore. I had forgotten the yelping squeals that frustrated puppies make when they can’t keep up – LOL. I tell Bart that he better enjoy this interlude as the time may come that Kevin can keep up and still have extra gas in the tank so to speak. Bart discounts all talk as poppycock!

Kevin is a very smart and a quick study! – spoken like a new parent. His one major problem is his predominance of black making him a massive target for blackflies! He is also handicapped by unusual cuteness – and thus is spoiled rotten by your truly. He initially was afraid of everything and loathe to even go up a step – that didn’t last much more than a day! Now he runs roughshod all over the house and no where is safe from his marauding. It is a joy to behold. He was also somewhat reticent of the water and the lake. That has taken him a little more time to familiarize himself with. But when he was down at the lake during a windy day (relatively free of black flies) he became concerned when dad waded out into the lake to position the logs for the new dock. Low and behold he was jumping into the lake and swimming out to the log right next to me! Since then he has taken to actually swimming in the lake whenever I am away from shore! He is yet a little “iffy” about wading into the lake for a drink on his own or even approaching the lake if its wavy. He has a ways to go to know everything he needs to know but as I said earlier he is extremely smart and a quick study. Janet taught him to sit if he wanted a morsel in about 3 mins.

So there you have it life is good here at camp and Kevin is running me ragged. That is the nature of training every new pup though – one must be tireless and consistent in the first few months then he knows what is expected and has most of the skills necessary to navigate the pitfalls of everyday camp life.

A note of caution for all guests coming to camp this year – Kevin is still not conversant with proper navigation around vehicles. So I will be extremely careful with him when the possibility of a person driving around the camp occurs. As a special favor to me and Kevin go very slowly and be vigilant for Kevin. I am training him as fast as I can – but as any new parent I am over cautious as well as over protective. Think of me as 1.5 ton mother grizzly with a cub – you’ll be pretty close to the mark.

I leave you all with a sampling of Kevin pictures from his manifold adventures here at camp.


Kevin using his patented “king Cobra” move before a strafing run.


Right along with dad on the beach.


Most recent winner of the Tibetan Terror lottery with mother and brother.


Proud dad watching his son haul the dock logs to shore. Please note what all the most stylish terrors are wearing this black fly season.


Bart advising his younger brother as to the niceties of proper boat fishing etiquette.


Its tough work running a Camp when your just a puppy!

It’s The Omnibus Blog!

So I am writing a blog to wrap up our time here in the States in preparation for translation to the boreal forest.

Fishing, fishing, fishing – First day of trout season was fun even if the fish were not really cooperating. I only caught three trout and a good group of chubs. LOL I was hampered by having to fish during a constant gab fest! That is to say I was fishing with Pat. You see Pat never talks to the person he is “fishing with” – he endeavors to engage every other fisherman that has the poor sense to cross his path. LOL Questions, questions, questions – mostly number questions that Pat has no intention of remembering or caring what the answer may be. I think if Pats eyesight gets worse I’ll pose mannequins along the stream with sound sensors that blurt out random numbers. It would go like this, “How long have you been fishing today?” – 4. “Catch many fish?” – 5. “You see many caught?” 12. LOL You sorta get the picture. Actually it was great fun but we only got to interrogate the other fishermen for a couple hours as it started thundering and we thought that discretion was the better part of valor and moseyed on home to cocktails with Janet and Carol on the porch. It was a great afternoon capped with steaks on the grill. I am making fun of Pat but I heartily recommend fishing with Pat anytime – you’ll have a great time! But steer clear of “the Blonde Tornado” if she is fishing with him. She demands that all efforts are intended to improve HER fishing experience. I think that Janet should lend her the “It’s All About ME” shirt. And she insists that each of her fish be measured so she can brag. I don’t know how Pat every took off his clothes in front of her….. “Hey there Pat – hmmmm, where’s the Tape Measure????”

I got to fish alone the second day and caught several – keeping I think 3 for our friend Jim. But all the trout I caught were nabbed in the riffles and chutes so they put up very good fights.

The second fishing fun was at The Little Nirvana of Duda’s cabin in Kellettville on the Tionesta in the Majestic Allegheny Mountains. We watched a Pens game as we supped at Cougar Bob’s after arriving. The Materdee was so kind as to seat us with a view of the TV as well as a view of the Moose! The next day it rained but we took some time and I fished about and hour on Queen and caught a nice little native and two riffle sniffing stockers – they all fought like crazy and hit like a ton of bricks.


It also cleared and The Earth Mother lounged on the glider with Moon and Stars Bart.


The rest of our crew soon showed up to multiply the hijinks. Low and behold an Oh Shit game broke out after a few drinks! And Sled and I talked about the state using medical stats to divine epidemiological truth way into the night. Saturday dawns and even Pat and Carol put in an appearance for some Saturday fishing on Salmon Creek.


I don’t think there were many strangers fishing so Pat didn’t get much conversation in. Sloucho and Buss did very well at the confluence of Salmon and the Branch catching at least 4 or 5 each. Pat and I ranging elsewhere were not as successful – I turned 2 nice ones over on the Branch but no bloody cigar.


I can tell you that Sloucho was smoking a cigar! It was still great fun! Laughing and yucking it up with each trout. After the successful time at the stream we adjourned to the cabin for Happy Hours!


The aluminum coffee pot on the table was a stand in for a pitcher – a pitcher containing excellent gin and tonic!  It has quinine yaknow, so we were all proof from malaria transmitting mosquitos. Hey it pays to be prepared for hatches! It may be hard to see but there is a celebrity at the table as well…..


Vaunted baiter of eagles and lynxes… the one the only Chanel!

After supper we booted off to The Fwying Wubblewu for the next Pens game and were delighted with the outcome and were shocked and dismayed when we were flashed by a big pecker over by the ice machine as we left the bar!!!


After the good news of the Pens game regardless of our big pecker experience we decided to adjourn back to the cabin for our nightly self flagellation of oh shit games. I drank enough that I am not sure if the philistines kept me from winning a game or not! But I do know that it was a gas and Mr. Beefeater was again a pivotal player! My stomach ached the next day from laughing!!!

But all good things come to an end and our merry band of drunken fishermen broke up like clock work again on Sunday. What a delightful time was had by all.

Now for unknown and unrelated rider to the Omnibus Blog – Political Action!

Wherein Intrepid souls and scientific political activists converged on Washington DC to overthrow the Government. LOL yeah right! Yet we made our will known by marching in a torrential downpour. My favorite picture of the day was the first one – we arrived early morn and with the rain much of the crowd (numbering more than the Inauguration!) were holding off for a break in the rain.


There it is – the beast looming from the mist! We’re gonna need a bigger crowd! So we marched on to the meeting point at the Washington Monument.


Here’s Bob with his sign as the obelisk pierces the rainy sky.  And march we did with out regard for our personal health and welfare! Up Constitution to the Capital building and our date with destiny!


My sign uses chemistry nomenclature to say “Trump/GOP is in equilibrium with their Lies”  and “Science yields Truth!” But I should present a shot of the other side of Chiara’s cool sign. That’s Andrew in the fore ground.


The March was great but I can see why people don’t do it very often —– but that seems to be changing as bizarre behavior grabs normally low key scientists to ACTION!!!!! I think that this will get bigger and bigger. The march was a fulfillment of civic duty but the time spent with Paolo and Mary and the rest of the clan was the greatest fun and they are the absolute best hosts on earth! Thanks again to our political activist facilitators!

On a sad note as most everyone knows from facebook etc. we’ve lost one of our greatest friends – nay – family members. Baxter. He was buried with more love and abject sorrow by me on the family property than I will be accorded at my demise. He is now resting in the spot he enjoyed sitting surveying his domain and keeping it safe from evil squirrels. Its been very tough for us. But I keep telling myself that three days spent with him far outweighs the sorrow I feel. Besides I am getting on now, crying only a couple times a day.

The next blog will be from Camp! And I am sure everyone is looking forward to a fun and fabulous summer at Sportsmen’s Camp! I know I am!

The One…

That got away!

My sister – Joan – and I have a running joke that we have no family photographs, we have pictures of family members with fish!

That being said it becomes obvious that fish and fishing appears to be a central element in my family’s history. Jeesh who would have guessed it? I gave up a promising career as an environmental chemistry consultant to actually be happy and able to reside and fish in the most wonderful place on earth. But I digress – that must be a first! Yeah right!

So here’s the scam – as my old friend Frances X. Russel used to say (and probably still does). One of the many things that I enjoy in the winter aside having fun with friends and socializing as well as vegging when its obviously too cold to go outside ice fishing on A frozen Lake Nippissing, playing pool late night on Friday or fishing for trout and playing cards with college friends near Tionesta in the majestic Allegheny mountains, as well as going to aquarium fish auctions with my great friend Ernie. The problem with the fish auctions is that they generally aren’t held in the dead of winter. The auctions are a main source of income for thousands of local aquarium clubs all over north America and they distribute rare fish and used equipment to many many hobbyists at fire sale rates. If people don’t show up due to poor driving conditions then no one benefits. Thus the auctions are clustered in the fall and spring. Summer is right out for me as I am elsewhere.

I’ve just gotten back from an excellent aquarium fish auction sponsored by the Loraine Ohio club. It was a beautiful day and there were a lot of interesting fish and equipment on the block. In my short (~45 odd years) career as an aquarist I have successfully bred several species of fish and propagated many rare plants and distributed them through the hobby. But one of my favorite species has eluded me over the years — Rivulus xiphidius. It has recently been reclassified as Laimosemion xiphius. This is a rare and gorgeous jewel of the killifish clan and is note-worthy in its touchy nature and fastidious demands for pristine water. So Ernie and I journeyed today to the auction and lo and behold the “white whale” presented itself in the form of a pair of gorgeous young xiphidiuses! It was love at first sight! But as with so many unrequited loves it was not to be. I stumbled and stubbed my toe on my ultimate basal nature of selfish need tempered by Anglo-Saxon self denial and thriftiness – I wouldn’t pay more than 15$ for a pair of fish ! What an idiot! LOL Cest La Vie – I guess Ahab has a few more years yet to pursue his quarry.

As an aside I heartily recommend anyone that is interested in keeping interesting aquarium denizens to investigate the dates for your local aquarium society auctions and check them out – you’ll be surprised at the interesting people and how welcoming and happy they will be to pass vast knowledge on to anyone with the penchant to know.