Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So long, Oscar

Most of the morning was spent clearing an old trail that had become impassable. Earlier in the day Brother Charles Miller had called to see if it would be alright to bring his grandsons up later to fish. I told him, "Sure, y'all come on up when you get ready."

To tell the truth I was so into the trail cleaning that I forgot about all them until my cell phone rang around 1:30. Brother Charles said, "You wanted me to call if we got him right?" I said, "Uh yeah right, who do you mean 'the big one'?" He told me I'd better head their way with the camera.

These days the camera goes with me just about everywhere, so I hopped in ol' Easy, turned around on the trail, and made a bee-line to Serenity Pond. The three grandsons together had caught six bass--and some pretty good ones at that.
One of the boys was telling me that his grandpa was actually on the phone with another pastor when his cork went clean out of sight! Brother Charles said into the phone, "Hold on, I’ve got a fish!"

It didn’t take long to realize this was not just another bass, but it had the very real possibility of being Oscar. The biggest bass in the pond was given the name Oscar by me. He has outwitted many a fisherman, even though Shannon Crim’s son almost landed him a week or so ago. There would be no escape this time as Brother Charles landed him and Oscar was on a stringer when I got there.
I got the scale and even though it's unofficial, he weighed 7 pounds. Brother Charles could put his whole fist in Oscar’s mouth and he did!
They left shortly after and turned all the fish back loose, except Oscar of course, who is going on the wall.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday School Fellowship

I called Bill earlier in the day just to make sure things were still a go for the Sunday School Fellowship this afternoon. He said they were and folks were to begin arriving around 3:00. Actually Bill and his lovely wife arrived around 2:00 to began setting everything up. I had met them the first time up here at the Fall Jamboree earlier in the year. They seem like really great folks.

Over the next few hours people began to drift in, one car at a time, until around 5:00. Denise and I made our way over to do a little meeting-and-greeting and to take a few pictures. I spoke with Russell Merriman who I knew from the Fire Department for awhile, while Denise made her way around taking some pictures.
We were about to leave when they insisted that we stay and eat with them, which we did. This was a fun group and seemed to enjoy each others company quite a bit. I spoke with a dear lady who is part of the WMU at New Market Baptist Church and has been living out here since the early 50’s. She was a fount of information about the history of New Market.
Russell told me a little about how 20 + years ago he helped put the ponds in here at the camp, and get them stocked. Someone even referred to him as the Mayor of New Market…now I am sure there is a story there.

One of the women grabbed a stick and began to poke at the fire and of course half the folks had something to say about it...kind of reminded me of the fire department for a minute there.

The company was great and so was the food. I had some chili and stew and my wife had some potato soup that was very good as well. There was a roaring fire going and it looked like they were getting ready to play some games as we excused ourselves and made our way back to the RV.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

He & Me Day

Todd was on shift on Saturday, but I was happy to step in and play host for our guests that day, especially since it was a group I hold dear -- Girl Scouts!! Troop 660 had elected to have their annual "He & Me" day up at the camp. They had a terrific turnout, with over 80 girls and their fathers participating.

The first activity of the afternoon was a nature hike/scavenger hunt. The pairs of dads & daughters could hike wherever they wanted in the camp, but were to collect as many things on the list as possible. I heard tales of folks wandering all over the place!

After about an hour, groups of dads & daughters brought their scavenged loot back up to the pavilion.

While leader, Dena Yell, and co-leader, Dana, got the supplies for next activity (a craft) ready, the girls and their dads rested at the tables . . .

. . . and played out in the playground!

Finally, when all the girls and dads had made it back, on of the leaders called roll (to make sure we hadn't lost any of those dads out in the woods), and the groups got busy making critters with their scavenger finds!

Some of those dads were pretty intent on their craft!

After they'd finished with the craft, girls and dads headed out to the campfire circle for a round of campfire songs and my favorite, s'mores!

Once the event was over, folks cleared out very quickly; but I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Auburn was in the middle of a game and Alabama was playing a few hours later!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Outside is the place to be!

A friend of mine, Shannon Crim called me early in the week to see if it was ok to bring his boys up to the camp to do a little fishing on Thursday, since they were out of school. They had never been to the camp before. I told him it would be a great idea. Actually I think most of this conversation took place in texts back and forth. I had a lunch meeting so I missed their arrival by about 30 minutes. I asked Shannon to please take some pictures if they caught anything so I could put it on the blog. I went on to say that there was a chance one of them might catch “Oscar” and I really wanted a picture of him.

Oscar is king of Serenity Pond, which is the camp's upper pond. He can eat just about anything that comes swimming by, so the fish left in there are either friends, family or great at hide and seek. One of the pastors who fishes up here a bit saw Oscar earlier in the year, when he rolled at a fly the pastor was fishing with. I have seen Oscar a time or two myself, when he was running minnows along the banks. Best guess is that Oscar weights around 7 pounds.

Early in the afternoon I got back from lunch, parked the truck, got in Easy and went down to spend some time with our visitors. It was a beautiful day with hardly any wind and the temps in the lower 80’s. Shannon had brought his kayak with him and we managed to get one of those huge spools that had somehow made it into the water back out on the bank. He showed me on the camera where the boys had actually caught 4 decent sized bass, and then went on to tell me a story. He said they had been catching nothing and then like someone had flipped a switch they started biting.

Charlie, Shannon’s oldest son, hooked into one and the fight was on. Shannon ran down the bank and saw that it was Oscar. Charlie kept fighting him and had him close enough to the bank to net. Shannon didn’t know whether to grab his camera or the net and in that split second Oscar sensed a little confusion and made a run back out toward the middle of the pond and snapped Charlie’s line. Now both Charlie and Shannon were able to get quite a good look at Oscar and judging by the dimensions that were given to me Oscar may be a little bigger than I thought!

Jack Parker and Charlie took turns in the Kayak and Charlie did manage to catch another bass that I took a picture of. Not sure if they spent any time trying their luck in Silty Bottom, the lower pond, but they seemed to have a great time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Twice the fun!

It was a first -- at least since we've been up here -- two separate groups camping out at the same time. We had the Royal Ambassadors group from First Baptist Huntsville and Cub Scout Pack 94. Sleeping areas had been arranged ahead of time and everything seemed to go very well.

Wes Blake from First Baptist had come up to the camp early on Saturday morning and brought a bunch of food and the cooker. He then headed out until the afternoon because of soccer tournaments and such.

Around 9:30 am the scouts began to arrive. I went out to meet them and to chat for a bit. They hung around the pavilion for a while, built a fire and did some other things. They camped out in the middle field just off the main road and around lunchtime, they began to get serious.

They asked if it was okay to build a fire ring up there and I thought it was a great idea.

They did a great job making a double fire ring.

Around 2:30 pm or so, folks from the other group began to wander in and set up their tents in the main campground.

I moseyed on up there and spoke with several of the guys. Most of them had begun to setup some different events in the upper field.
Wes had some kind of catapult set up with a unique name, but I can't remember what he called it. If I'm right on the story, it was a leftover science project. It was a pretty cool contraption. The boys had to make several different calculations in order to fling the object to the desired spot. String length, weights, how far you pulled it back, when you let it go, how you held your mouth, the wind . . . I don't know what all went in to the figuring. Certainly it took an engineer!

At a second station -- which was real popular with the boys -- they were shooting air rifles at soda can targets.

And further on done the meadow, there was a station with some of the men teaching the boys how to shoot a bow and arrow.

Just before supper time, Denise and I wandered over to the cub scouts' camp, checking out the commotion going on over there. It seems they were playing a game called "Chase Your Tail."

The boys were confined in a circle (made up by the adults) and each had a length of rope tucked down into their pants pocket at one end, and dragging the ground at the other.

The object was to step on another person's rope (tail), so that it came out of the pocket and landed on the ground. The last boy with his 'tail' intact was the winner. They were really getting into it!

We were taken around the campfire by Glen Smith, the scout leader, to check out what dinner would be.

There was some spaghetti stew that smelled really good.

And on the other side of the campfire, someone had some chicken chili that looked great.

We were invited to join them later.

We made our way back to the other group. They were getting ready for some flashlight tag, then some burgers and dogs cooked on the grill, and finally some s'mores. Doesn't everyone like s'mores? We took Easy and took a drive around the camp before heading back to the RV to finish watching the game. Once that was finished, we eased on over to the RA group and had a little dinner.

It was very good, and plenty of it. After chatting with some of the folks there, including John Shocke, Easy took us back over to the scout group.

We were just in time for some homemade peach cobler, cooked in a Dutch oven over the camp fire.

It was great as we hung around and listened to some stories and ate warm peach cobbler by the fire. We thanked them for their hospitality and turned in for the night, but the wonderful smell of the campfire lingered on. Glen said they planned to have a small service in the morning right after breakfast. Everyone from both groups was gone by around lunchtime and both groups did an excellent job cleaning up.