Big Vacation

We went on a 4 week vacation back east this year for a nephew’s graduation and family reunion. In between, I renewed a friendship with a best friend from high school who likes to fish as much as I do. He’s pick me up at 3 am to go bass fishing with plastic frogs in the dark on Conesus Lake near Rochester. He caught at least 2 to my 1, as I was always missing the strike. But so much fun. We had 3 big fish feeds for the family from our catch.

Of course, he had a real job at Kodak, so couldn’t fish every day, plus my niece and nephews want to go, too. So I bought a canoe on Craigslist with a flat stern to put my outboard on. When I went to the lake, a water official said I needed to register the boat. So, I called the DMV for NY state. The person told me I had to go back to the people who sold me the boat (they were on vacation so not home) to get a bill of sale. The boat came with their house, so they would not be the registered owner, anyway. The DMV person said there was no other way. Wow. Government work in action. We figured out a work around on our own with no further problem.

We used the canoe on Hemlock and Canadice lakes. These lakes are a dream. Boats are limited to 17 feet and outboards to 10 hp. There are no homes or private land on these western finger lakes. Trees go right up to the ridge line, and nothing else. No water skiers or big bass boats. We didn’t catch lots of fish, but got lots of solitude. And so close to Rochester.

As I talked with my high school buddy, I realized the big change in fishing. Growing up, it was about going to the river or lake, getting out of doors, and the reward was taking home any catch to eat. Now fishing is about winning something in a tournament. I’m glad I grew up before I caught that bug.

We had dinner a couple times with a high school classmate in Rush. He and his wife had a huge garden overflowing with squash and berries. We left with armfuls of produce each time. One evening they took us through a tour of the local farmland, where there were gobs of deer, including the biggest buck I’d ever seen in person.

Back in Geneseo, we went to one of their celebration days, where we watched our niece and nephew play in a steel band directed by lifetime friends of their dad. Wow, were they good. I’m hoping to get some of them up here for folk fest.

We also went to Pittsburgh where my sister sells fish we send down at a farmer’s market. It was her turn to cook lunch for the customers, so Sara and I did that. I cooked whole keta fillets basted with olive oil, soy sauce and a few spices and Sara served. We served 65 meals in 4 hours. Best fish many said they ever had. Even the wife of a hall of fame Steeler’s running back is a fan. Lots of fun.

Back in Geneseo, we cooked up several meals of bass, grouse, salmon, halibut and blacktail deer. The kids and grownups were tentative at first, but one taste and the fish and meats were almost instantly gone. Glad to have people that still enjoy wild food.

I took the Pittsburgh niece and 2 of the nephews to a fishing day at a private pond. I told them on the way in to be sure to see who was catching fish and to see how they did it and ask how they did it. For at least an hour, they were using the wrong bait but finally followed my advice, interacted with the others catching, and started catching fish after fish.

We bought lots of sweet corn and tomatoes while in upstate NY, as both were coming into season. Lots of roadside markets at farms with produce outside and a box to put the money in – glad there are still places that work on the honor system.

Camp wood – little bundles of split firewood – was also for sale everywhere. Never remember that being the case, but apparently lots of people looking for it by the number of places selling it along the back roads.

Sara and I went to a couple auctions and garage sales. One lot I was bidding on I looked over and realized Sara was bidding too! Not sure how much we bid up the price before I realized it. The auctioneer said you never bring friends or family with you to an auction!

I got to spend time with my Dad, which was the reason we stayed so long. I took him on a day trip down to Bolivar to see some of his old friends, and fun to catch up with them. One worked at a gas storage field near Olean. They pump gas from the Marchellus wells down into the ground into an old gas well that is really an old ocean bed. They use the old well like as storage, moving it later as needed to market.

The Family Reunion was great. I saw an old photo album of my mother’s I’d never seen. Mom and her girlfriends had a lot of fun when she was single, traveling to places in the east, going to beaches, dances, etc. Some 130 Eaton Family showed up. The days had been mostly in the 90s and some days 100, but it cooled off to the 80s for that day nicely.

Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK  99801

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