Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A moose for Father Joe

I have been anxiously awaiting news from Father Joe Classen of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He went on a moose hunting trip to Alaska earlier this month and spent 10 days in a remote area accessible only by plane. He just got back and sent me two e-mails describing his hunt. The following are excerpts from those e-mails:

"Made it back home in one piece (besides a few scars, bruises and being 12 pounds lighter) from the self-guided moose hunt in the Alaskan Yukon Delta!  It was genuinely the adventure of a lifetime!  All the fall colors were in their prime and just being out there was 10 of the most beautiful (and brutal) days of my life!  It was certainly an experience that put our skills, will power and sheer determination to the test.

"In the end, it was a safe, a sanctified…. and yes…..on the second to last day of the hunt…an ultimately successful trip.  Didn’t get the king bull of the Delta, but the nice medium-sized bull that the Lord provided was fine by me!  Trying to haul out anything bigger would have seriously killed my hunting buddy and me.  The Lord’s hand was truly upon us in many ways, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.  For those of you on Facebook…you can check out the entire photo album there on my page.

"The full story is a long one, which I'm sure will make it into a book, and it might even make it into a hunting magazine or two.  Man, am I beat!  I just can't seem to shake off the exhaustion of the last few days of the trip.  Hauling out the moose through knee and waist high swamp and tundra was the most brutal thing I have ever done in my life!"

Congrats, Father Joe!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Let the hunt begin!

One of the hunts I'm very much looking forward to this fall is one in which I will not be carrying a weapon. It takes place in early October and I don't mind one bit that I won't have any chance at harvesting an animal.

Rather, I will pin my hopes on my good friend, John Nesheim, who will be participating in a special hunt for the disabled put on by the United Foundation For Disabled Archers (UFFDA). The organization offers its members free, guided hunts on private land using crossbows. John, who had his feet amputated last winter due to severe frostbite, will be going on his first UFFDA hunt and is very excited.

So am I. It will take place near Park Rapids and I am very optimistic that John will have a fun and successful hunt. I pulled together a few of John's friends and we bought him a new crossbow at Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville. John Schaffer not only gave us a nice discount on a crossbow, he helped John sight it in so he's all ready to go.

John will have several days to try for a whitetail, and I hope to join him in a blind for at least part of a day, hopefully, more. After all he's been through, first with the amputation and then with the adjustment of using prosthetics, it sure would be nice to see him make a successful shot on a deer.

I'll be praying for him!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Now's the time to enjoy fall colors

I went up to the North Shore of Lake Superior earlier this week. I brought a visitor who had never seen the lake, and this was the time he could go.

He's from another country where there are no fall colors, so I was hoping to find some changing leaves. It's a little early yet, but I figured the maples would at least be starting to turn. Waiting another week or so would have been better, but this is the only time he could fit in the daylong journey.

There was very little color on the drive up, and not much along the North Shore, either. There were a few trees here and there that were starting to show color. Finally, as we made the drive to Palisade Head just north of Split Rock Lighthouse, we ran across a little more color, at least enough to give him some idea what the fall colors are like.

He loved it. I pulled over and we both got out of my car and pulled out our cameras. We snapped away for about 10-15 minutes, then went on to Palisade Head for a spectacular view of Lake Superior. It's the highest point on the North Shore and you can see for miles out onto the lake from atop this majestic cliff.

Even without the colors, the view was worth it. Starting this weekend, the fall colors will start to spread from north to south across the state. The first to turn are the maples inland from Lake Superior. Then, about a week to 10 days later, the birch and apsen trees turn brilliant shades of gold and yellow along the shore. From there, everything proceeds south, ending in southeastern Minnesota the second or third week in October.

For those with the time and ambition, there is about a month's worth of fall colors to enjoy. I used to go to the North Shore every year in late September or early October. But, life got busy. I sure would like to go again in another week. What fun it would be to spend several days surrounded by beautiful colors. I can't think of a better way to enjoy fall.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another 5K

On Saturday, I ran my the second 5K event of my life and second in the last month. There were only 35 people entered and most were not serious runners. Still, I was excited to be a part of it.

Joining me was my son, Joe, who runs cross country for his school, Trinity at River Ridge in Eagan. That's where the event was held and two of his teammates were there to compete.

Within minutes, they left me in the dust and ran at a much faster pace. But, that was fine with me. I just wanted to finish and try to run at a good pace. I ended up beating my previous time by more than two minutes. My time was 26 minutes, 7 seconds. Meanwhile, Joe ended up winning the race. He and another guy led the pack for a while, then the other guy faded. Joe won by about 30 seconds.

Some people remarked afterward that they didn't know I was a runner. Actually, I have never considered myself a runner, though I have been walking and running for more than two months now. It feels good to keep it up and improve my time.

But, a Dick Beardsley I am not. And, that's quite alright with me. I'm just happy to be able to do regular exercise and stay in good health. It's a blessing from the Lord and I'm very grateful.

As for running more races, we'll see.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Last gasp for bass

I took advantage of the beautiful weather over  the weekend to go fishing for bass on Lake Calhoun. It likely would be my last trip of the year for bass. Although fall fishing can be good, I have never done well in late September and October for bass.

So, this would be it. I was hoping the stretch of stable weather would mean a good bite. The fishing wasn't outstanding, but there was enough action to make for a good day on the water. I ended up with four nice bass in the 18-inch range. I caught one that went 18 1/2 inches, another that was 18 1/4, a third that was 18 even and a fourth that was 17 1/2.

I was hoping for at least one fish a little bigger, but I was not about to complain. One of those fish I probably shouldn't have landed. I felt a bite and set the hook, then my line broke. Usually, that's it, but, strangely, the line caught on one of the guides on my rod and held. It took me a second or two to figure out what had happened, then I quickly grabbed the line before the bass pulled it loose.

I pulled in the line hand over hand and, amazingly, I was able to get the bass up to the boat. Then, the line caught on my trolling motor and, once again, I figure the fish was lost. But, it didn't make a run to break the line, and I was able to pull the motor up to free the line. I proceeded to pull the fish boatside, and I then lip landed it.

This was the strangest landing of a fish I have ever had. That made the trip more memorable. Unfortunately, the trip ended up being memorable for a negative reason as well. I made a costly mistake when I tried to take a picture of myself holding two of the nice fish. I positioned my camera on a pedestal seat in the front of the boat, then reached into the livewell to grab the fish. I bumped the pedestal and the camera fell into the livewell.

It got completely submerged, which spells doom for any camera. So, I lost the camera, lens and flash. I was very bummed about the incident, but called to mind a Scripture verse from Paul's letter to the Romans: "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

That is my hope. And so, I will wait upon the Lord to see how he will make this situation work for good.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hamstring healing

Two days ago, I went for my usual morning run near my home in St. Paul. I have battled through tightness in my Achilles tendon in my left leg and have been stretching it before and after every walk or jog.

But, on this day, it was my left hamstring that gave me trouble. Moments after waving to my son, Joe, who passed me going the opposite way, I felt a sharp pain in my left hamstring. I limped home and battled pain for the rest of the day. That evening, I got together with several friends and they said a prayer over me for healing.

The next morning, it was tight, but I managed to go on a 2-mile walk. Then, today, almost all of the pain was gone and I was able to go on a 3-mile run. I feel as though God healed my hamstring. I was worried I pulled the muscle and would not be able to run for days, even weeks. But, just two days after the injury, I was able to complete my run.

Praise God! He listens to our prayers and reaches in to offer healing. Perhaps, the injury wasn't as serious as I first thought. Still, I think it's remarkable to see such improvement in just two days. To be sure, I'll be careful to avoid further injury and will be diligent about stretching before and after every walk or run.

I also hope to continue to "confidently approach the throne of grace" as the Scripture says "to find help in time of need."