Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On the trails again

Well it was quite a long hiatus from boxing, about 2 years, a little less, but I have to say that now that I have been bitten by the bug again, it feels like I never left (except of course for the zillions of boxes and boxers I have never heard of, a lot can happen in two years!) So, the story of my reiinfection with this letterboxing obsession was sort of unusual. I went on a girls weekend to North Conway New Hampshire with some friends of mine, this was our fourth annual trip. Now I had previously told some of these friends about letterboxing, but this was years ago. In my 2 year hiatus it didn't exactly come up as a topic of conversation. Well, it just so happened that my friend Michelle whom I had told at least two years ago about the hobby, just started boxing this summer with her kids, and was really enjoying it. It also happened that she had been staying up North the previous week with her family camping, and just happened to have all of her letterboxing stuff in the car, including numerous clues printed out for the area. So I was game, usually these weekends are a buying frenzy when all the girls hit the outlets and do some serious damage shopping (myself included) and it seemed like a good diversion from spending money (one of the things I loved about the hobby to begin with). So we did a hike up to Diana's Baths with all of the girls, to call it a hike it really exaggerating, but it was a nice scenic spot, and while they cooled off at the baths I had to look for the boxes there, my friend had gotten them already on her family camping trip. So now with my new finds I was a little more raring to go. The other girls wanted to do some more shopping, but Michelle was game for finding some boxes she hadn't found, so we dropped the others off at the Inn where we were staying, and we headed out to Echo Lake to find two boxes there. We got to Echo Lake and started following the clues, we found Echo Gecko without incident, and were on our way to find White Horse Ledge. So we are hiking along, noting the notable things there are to see that are mentioned in the clues like an old car and the foundation of a sugar shack, and we are going along looking for a set of stairs that are up next in the clues. Well shortly I hear a sound, which I thought was possibly just Michelle behind me, or possibly, another hiker on the trail ahead of me. So I stopped to get a better listen, and then I saw it, a full grown Black Bear! It was on the trail ahead of us uphill and heading off the trail away from us. I alerted Michelle to the bear, which she couldn't' see as she had a boulder obscuring her view from it. I quickly asked her for her camera and proceeded to hike a little further uphill to get a better shot (do not try this at home!) Don't know why I felt compelled to do so, but I definitely had a weird adrenaline rush thing going on. So I snapped a few shots and we were on our way, the bear, who was well aware of our presence, was happy to see us go. So we decided to leave this box for another day, but one thing was sure, I was once again bitten by the boxing bug!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Shark Fishing

So yesterday I had the great opportunity to go shark fishing for my first time. One thing always to be considered for me though is my propensity for motion sickness, but having purchased my seabands (since I couldn't find the ones I already owned!) and taken two Dramamine, I thought I was ready for the world....... So we drove to Fairhaven, the we being me, my boyfriend Ed, and business associate of his visiting from Canada named Hugues. The seas were fairly mild leaving the marina, but there was a small craft warning in effect for the area we were heading, so the plans were a little sketchy. We drove out 39 miles, and the water temperature, which had been checked online, was fairly cold for sharks, 63.6 degrees, I think they like it around 70 degrees farenheit, so this was not ideal conditions. Unfortunately with checking the temp online, if there is any kind of cloud cover then it is anybody's guess. So we arrived at the sharking grounds, and I do have to day there is something pretty spectacular about not seeing any land at all around you. Unfortunately for me, while I didn't feel seasick per se, I felt totally exhausted from my Dramamine, and very cleverly I had left the seabands on the kitchen counter where they were certainly not of any use to me. Hugues was feeling pretty seasick, and had also taken the Dramamine. Ed, shark-fisher extraordinaire, didn't take any kind of medicine, was doing just fine, running around chumming for sharks, baiting hooks, casting reels, while Hugues way lying down inside the hull, and I was stretched out on my chair with my feet up, feeling rather woozy. Funny that I felt fine the whole drive out, not bad at all, but as soon as we stopped the boat, it was rocking quite a bit, and the seas were definitely rougher that far out. I mostly felt totally wiped out and exhausted. So Hugues got up from lying down inside the hull, said he felt much better and that I should try, and forget it, as soon as my head was down I was out! Later on, while lying inside the pit I heard the quick zing of the reel letting out line, and thought perhaps it was Ed letting out more line, but craked an eyelid just to be sure, there was a little rush of adrenalin, what if it is a shark? Well froom watching the hustle and bustle now happening on the deck I deduced that indeed, a shark had been hooked, and now it was time for the shark fight. Hugues was given the rod and the gauntlet was thrown. So while Ed went about strapping Hugues into the proper harnesses and such, Hugues was wrestling with this shark on the hook that was pretty angry about it, and swimming every which way to try and get free. I guess with shark fishing you just hold on and let them tire themselves out a bit before you even attempt to reel them in. So Hugues was putting up a good fight, and I was doing my best to watch and get a good view without being in the way. The problem with fishing something that big and that angry is that it is big enough to do some damage to your boat or your engines if it gets tangled up in them, so there was quite a bit or repositioning going on to keep the line straight and the shark out from underneath the boat. And then we saw it, that big, angry fish jumped out of the water trying to free itself, a beautiful big 6 foot Mako shark which weighed between 350-400 pounds. Hugues put up quite a fight, and it was quite a sight to see that beautiful fish jump out of the water a second time. It was exhilirating, especially to see the size of the shark in comparison to the size of the boat, an to realize that when you get him in the boat, he and all three rows of teeth he has are going to be very much alive and extremely pissed off. So the struggle continues and Hugues is putting in a good fight until all of a sudden he has fallen on his ass and all the tension on the rod is gone, he reels in the line and the shark had bitten through the braided wire leader and was gone. That was our only close call for the day, not sure how long we were out there for, after that, but never got a bite again, and returned back to the dock around 4:30 empty handed. Still it was an amazing time, exhaustion and all. There is something completely exhilirating about seeing something that big and wild and dangerous out there in the wild, not behind some glass. It gave me the same thrill I had recently while letterboxing and my friend and I ran into some unexpected company on the trail, but that story will have to wait for another time......