Dreaming of Fall…

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Dreaming of Fall in the north woods

I know, I know, it is April and how can I be dreaming of Fall already? I can’t help myself as it is all I think about until it arrives and as soon as it is over!

Are you planning your fall hunting trips? Do you look forward to season-openers all over the country like I do? Do you know when every upland bird species comes in in every state? I don’t either, really, but I am getting there! 🙂 I know, it hasn’t been that long since most grouse seasons have gone out and in a lot of areas, we can still be hunting on preserves. But, I look so forward to the fall trip and “Wild-Bird Camp” that I just can’t contain myself. Every year, I find a way to make the trip longer, too! One week? No-way! How can you really, really do the dog any good in just one week? Well, that is certainly better than nothing, but two-weeks had been the norm for many years. Then it became a month, and now, it is—dare I say it?—two-months! Yahoo! Hey, if I am packing all this stuff and driving all that way, I may as well make the most of it and get every drop of training and hunting time out of it, right?

ahhhh..... heaven...
ahhhh..... a little piece of heaven...

Okay, before you get yourself into an uproar, if you don’t already know this, I still work while away. It’s not like I take any “vacation”. My job-job (that pays the bills) isn’t like that. I don’t get paid vacation, sick days, retirement, or anything like that. So, I still have to work while away. The sweet part is that I can work from just about anywhere that I can get Internet service or even if I can get cell-phone service, I can tether my cell-phone to my laptop, get Internet service and still work. 🙂

This is the strangest thing about me (okay, maybe not the strangest, but it ranks up there fairly high) is that I long with every ounce of me for remote wilderness and someday–oh someday–organic, farm living where I would grow or raise all our own food, have endless opportunities for the dogs (and they would have freedom to bark) (and in the meantime I am stuck living in a suburban nightmarish lunchbox-sized house) but make a living (and really like what I do) in technology. Go figure. It’s like this split-personality thing. I love every new tech-gadget and can’t imagine doing business or making a living without my Blackberry, laptop, or the WWW. After all, without the Web, I wouldn’t have my job or my Web design business! But, I’ve made a living doing other things so I would adapt, I guess. But then, how could I get to train and hunt dogs for two-months–or even two-weeks–on the road? I wouldn’t!

I used to bulk at some tech gadgets. For instance, just a few years ago, I was heading out on a trip. I had my usual maps, directions printed out in LARGE lettering and taped to the dashboard. I had the back-up map and directions tucked under the console and was ready to roll. Then, this person that was going with me says, “Hey, I borrowed a GPS to use for the trip.” I said, na… we don’t need that. I’ve made this drive a few times, have my directions and maps… don’t want it, don’t need it. Well, the next thing I know the obnoxious contraption was mounted to my dashboard and set to “GO”. So, about 5 hours into the 17-hour trip, my partner was already sleeping, I am driving, it’s raining and dark–except for the GPS on my dash–there is a ton of crazy traffic around Detroit, and there is a detour… and another detour.. and the GPS thing is telling me to go a certain way. It did the cool rerouting thing and the next thing I know, I’m back on the freeway without a hitch. Oh wow… okay, cool. I also found it really neat that this thing was telling me what time I would arrive–just at the crack of dawn–and other cool things to notice along the way in the middle of the night in the pouring-down rain… such as the fact I was near a large lake or a state forest or that the next exit was so many miles away. I found it all very interesting and entertaining in the middle of the night while my companion was snoozing away. I frankly, started finding this reassuring voice a welcome driving companion that didn’t complain, need to stop to pee, or fall asleep and I never looked at my directions the rest of the trip!

Topo Maps on the GPS
Topo Maps on the GPS

Over the next two-weeks, I fell in-love with this handy gadget. I even used it when I knew exactly where I was going! I can’t even really tell you why I did that–it’s just cool. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that as soon as I was able to save-up enough, I got one of my very own–and just about everyone else in the family and I have made a habit of having a “GPS-savings” and have one in both automobiles. And, when a new one comes out, oh my, it takes all I have not to get it! I skip the hair-dresser and cut my own hair (that has to stop though as it’s looking really, really awful) and put the money in the gps-fund so I can get a new one! I am hooked! The next one has to be the Astro, though. I just can’t even wait to be able to order that! I have gotten rid of 2 telephone lines… and really, really want to have the cable shut-off–that should help, right? lol. Yeah, everyone in this house already doesn’t like me very much, can you imagine if hubby couldn’t watch NASCAR, hockey, or Regis and Kelly? There might be a total breakdown if somebody couldn’t find out what Kelly was wearing today… hmmm… yes, I can imagine it–we may actually have a conversation that isn’t a text message –even while we are just across the very same room from each other–(weird, though, I don’t quite know about that one) or better yet, even, get SOMETHING DONE around here? Like the decades of stuff you keep letting accumulate in our front freaking yard?????   Yes, I am having the cable shut off.  🙂 I’ll have that Garmin Astro in my hands in just a few months!  ::evil grin:: Oh, and have you seen the sweet new Garmin Nuvi 3790T? or how about the Oregon 550T?

garmin-screen from my Blackberry--see, no topos!

Did I tell you all about the Garmin software I got for the Blackberry? Super nice, I must say, although I am somewhat addicted to topo-maps and I can’t seem to figure out how I can update the map for this app to read a topo version.  See it over there on the right? YAWN… quite boring, right? It has to have topo maps!!!  I am really very sad about that. 🙁 I really would love to have everything in one gadget–you know, phone, camera, e-mail, music, and gps! The bb does have all of it–just not topo maps on the gps… and it isn’t waterproof (or puppy-proof as I recently learned). I will get that figured out, though. Surely someone out there makes some sort of waterproof case for it and surely someone out there has figured out how to have the Gamin Mobile for Blackberry software read topo maps, right? I wrote to Garmin concerning this urgent dilema so we’ll see what they say. (Update: Garmin responded saying they have reported my request but have no idea when, if ever, the feature to choose maps would be implemented to the Garmin Mobile for Blackberry software.) Oh and I want to be able to mount this bb in a waterproof case to the mountain bike, atv, and dashboard. I’m not asking for too much, am I? And I want an old farm in the wilderness, eh? Yes–but, with my bb, Internet, and a gps! 🙂

Oh, and speaking of must-have Blackberry apps, you have to get the DriveSafe.ly app. Get this–while you are driving it reads you (in various voices you can choose from) your text and e-mails. You can set it to auto-respond to the sender saying you are driving and will reply later. It is a must-have application and I believe it is now available for other phones as well. Check it out here. I think this application should come standard on every cell phone. OH–and it is FREE… or there is a Pro version available for something like $13.95 for the life of the product. the pro version reads more words of e-mails and can auto-select voices by contact gender. 🙂 Sweet.

Anyway—geesh I get off-track, don’t I?—what was I talking about? Oh, yes, that I can’t wait for September to get on the road and off to camp to really train. It is sooo nice to walk out the door and have fields and woods to run the dogs. It is most excellent to drive down the road a little way, get out and get the dogs into wild birds. It’s public land–everywhere. And there are wild birds. Dreamy, eh?

It's hard work!
It's hard work, but someone has to do it!

Okay, it’s not all glamorous. It is absolutely exhausting, but the best kind of exhausting there is (if you are a weirdo like me). Work dogs and walk all day in brush, mud, rain, snow or even heat and bugs. You can, sometimes, walk all day and not get into but a few birds.  Then, you return to “camp” and have loads of work to do–grooming the dogs, feeding the dogs, letting them all out to “go”. Then, it is dinner time. Hopefully, there is something already cooking in the crock pot which I or one of the other guys have already cooked and frozen so all we had to do was put it in the pot before we left in the morning. Or one of the guys is a fantastic cook (Dave and Don you know who you are) and is cooking up something fabulous! Like amazing walleye or shrimp… yum… 🙂 Or, I am just by myself and can whip-up a grouse or salmon or even a yummy bowl of organic 12-grain cereal if I want!  There is the heating wood-stove to tend to (or freeze to death), wood to split and bring in, get a shower, get gear cleaned or drying in front of the wood stove, get the guns cleaned, then go to “work” for as many hours as I can hold my eyes open–or until the coyotes quit getting the dogs all wound-up barking! Or, on occasion, sip a wee bit too much scotch (I could swear I already finished that “just one” glass a while ago and it’s still full? How does that happen, friends?) while looking over the super-cool Garmin Astro Google map overlays from the hunts of the day and with too much scotch in me (it doesn’t take much) I’ll just go to bed!

Now, sometimes I decide to work a few hours in the morning before going off to work the dogs. After all, upland bird hunting really does not require that you are in the woods at the crack of dawn. Our friend, Bob, says, “We’ll see you at the crack of eleven!”  So, I will do my job-job, then the fun-job of working dogs in the afternoon and back to the job-job at night. I am fortunate that I mostly am able to decide my schedule depending on what is going on. I am the luckiest person in the world to do what I do!

I can’t wait until Fall to get back to the great north woods, out to the prairies, or even south to the plantations. It makes everything worth it to me.  It makes the other 10-months of the year bearable.  It makes the training all spring and summer so much more enjoyable (although I love that anyway… I really wish I could do that for a living!). I’m sure it’s the same for everyone, right?  But, at least we, upland bird hunters, have Fall to look forward to… what on earth does everyone else have to look forward to? It must be sad to not be an upland bird hunter without Llewellins–I just can’t imagine! 🙂

Okay, I am feeling like this:


and will close my eyes and think of this:

My bird dog, Luke
My bird dog, Luke

Night all!