Grandma’s

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The Lake
The Lake

Over the 4th we headed back east to see family. I spent a good portion of my childhood at my grandma’s cottage, and was excited to take my little girl back to experience the beauty of northeastern Pennsylvania. Of course I was able to squeeze a bit of fishing in too.

Learning about fly line
Learning about fly line
Stalking bluegill
Stalking bluegill
bluegill
Bluegill
my girl
My lady making fly fishing look good
Pete and I
Working the canoe with my cousin Pete
Roll Cast
Cousin Dan learning the roll cast
glass is not dead
Glass is not dead
Belle of the Ball
This one stole the show
The bridge
The bridge
lagoon
The lagoon
fly rods
Bluegill slayers
burgers
Lake food
Passed out
Tuckered out

 

 

 

Rambling Review – Woolx Lightweight Merino Wool

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Rambling Review – Woolx Lightweight Merino Wool

WoolX
WoolX Merino

Why:

I really like Merino wool. To be completely honest, I have a bunch of different garments from a variety of different manufacturers and I can definitely see the differences in workmanship and quality of merino in these products. I recently had the opportunity to check out a few pieces of clothing from the WoolX lightweight merino line, and have been thoroughly  impressed with their products.

Choosing flies (Woolx)

First impressions:

The wool – All Woolx garments are made with superfine wool which contains 19.5 microns. With such a fine wool, the shirt and boxers were extremely comfortable with literally no itch.

The Fit – The Woolx lightweight merino wool runs true to size. I picked up the Woolx lightweight short-sleeve shirt and a pair of their lightweight boxers too. Both garments are sewn with freedom of movement with underarm sleeve gussets in the shirt and a gusseted crotch in the boxers. Merino wool has the tendency to shrink a bit if you toss it in the dryer after a wash, but the Woolx held it’s form with very minimal shrinking after making a run through  the dryer.

The guarantee – WoolX has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not satisfied then send it back for a full refund or replacement. Pretty hard to argue with that.

WoolX Merino Wool
WoolX Merino Wool

Field Use:

I wore the Woolx shirt as a base layer and in the Arizona heat it excelled as a breathable layer. Merino is one of those wonderful natural materials that manages body temperature extraordinarily well. When the heat is on and you’re working up a sweat, it breathes well, wicking moisture away from the body and cooling you down. When the temperature drops, the wool works as an insulation layer. Most of merino that I own is long-sleeve and works well in hunting situations and cold temps. I really liked the Woolx short sleeve for fishing here in the Arizona summer. Truly a great layer to have to keep you cool in the hot sun.

WoolX Merino Wool
Perfect for layering up and controlling body temps.

Without getting into all of the nitty gritty on the boxers, let’s just say they performed better than I could have imagined. Long hot hikes into some backcountry creeks as well as a cold snap on my turkey hunt really showed the versatility of the garment.  Merino wool is so amazing in the fact that it is anti-microbial, and the natural wax found in wool actually fights bacteria and odor. As a hunter (and sensible human being) clothing that fights odor is a big plus.

One thing I wish Woolx would do is to offer their garments in a few more colors. I’d love to add a few of their heavier weight merino wool shirts and hoodies to my hunting gear, and would like to see some greens, tans, and browns.

Pros:

Extremely comfortable

No itch

Moisture wicking

Merino wool regulates body temperature

Minimal shrink

Cons:

Color selection

WoolX Merino Wool
WoolX Merino Wool is perfect for hanging around camp getting your butt kicked at cards.

 

Prognosis:  Woolx lightweight merino wool is a great option if you are looking to add a merino baselayer to your wardrobe.

 

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

Family Camping Trip

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The photos do a far superior job of telling the story of our first family camping trip with our seven month old baby girl. In short, it far exceeded our expectations. Enjoy.

Arizona Wanderings
Dirt roads and a dirty windshield
Baby girl
Baby girl
Mama and baby
Mama and baby
Hanging out
Hanging out while daddy rigs up
IBC
IBC Cream Soda
IBC2
IBC handoff
Dave Scadden Pontoon
Pontoon assembly 1
Dave Scadden Pontoon
Pontoon assembly 2
Dave Scadden Pontoon
Pontoon assembly 3
fly box
Decisions
Command Center
The command center
Crocs
Crocs
On the Lake
On the Lake
Dave Scadden Pontoon
Dave Scadden Pontoon
Dinner time
Dinner time
Someone stole daddy's sleeping bag
Someone stole daddy’s sleeping bag
3am
“It’s 3am. Want to hang out?”
Good morning
Good morning
Good morning2
“I slept well, how about you?”
Camplife
Camp Life

 

Rambling Review – GSI JavaMill

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Rambling Review – GSI JavaMill

GSI JavaMill
GSI Outdoors JavaMill

Why: So, I like to drink coffee. I also happen to like good, fresh coffee. Whether I’m bumming a bag of fresh home roast from a buddy or heading to the coffee shop for something commercial, I like whole bean, because grinding your own beans gets you an extremely fresh cup of coffee. I’ve been using my standard plug-in electric grinder for years and typically will grind beans before I head out for a trip, but the GSI Outdoors JavaMill allows me to bring fresh whole beans along to grind in the field, providing a perfect excuse to drink really fresh coffee in the woods.

Coffee Judger
Sometimes people judge you when you drink too much coffee

First impressions:

The size - The GSI JavaMill is a compact little unit that stands about 6.5 inches tall and has a circumference of 2.5 inches. It fits in nicely with my car camping cook set and doesn’t take up too much room.

Weight - I was surprised by the weight of the JavaMill. The composition of plastic, ceramic, and metal alloy give a little bit of weight to it and make it feel pretty solid. It weighs in at 9.3 oz.

GSI JavaMill
Filling GSI Outdoors JavaMill

Field Use: So typically, most of the gear I review on Arizona Wanderings gets almost all of it’s use in the field, because that’s where I use it. The GSI JavaMill coffee grinder has become an important part of my everyday morning ritual. My old morning routine involved the electric grinder, which as every coffee drinker knows makes a loud whining and growling noise as it grinds up the morning coffee. With a 6 month old in the house that wakes up from the tiniest noises, my coffee grinding has become a huge problem at 5am. So for the past couple of months I’ve been hand grinding my coffee with the new GSI JavaMill. The JavaMill is very quiet and to be honest, I love the mechanics of grinding coffee by hand.

The JavaMill is pretty easy to operate. Coffee in the top. Turn handle. Ground course coffee drops in the bottom portion of the JavaMill and is ready to go.  I primarily French press my coffee but I know that there are a variety of other ways to brew coffee that would need a different courseness of coffee. To change the courseness of the grind, remove the bottom portion of the JavaMill and turn the wing-nut to find your desired coffee ground size.

GSI JavaMill Wingnut
GSI JavaMill Wingnut

I’ve also been bringing the GSI JavaMill coffee grinder on some of my recent fishing and camping trips in order to brew up a pot of coffee as a pick-me-up at lunch and/or for the long drives home. It’s pretty handy to be able to get that taste of  freshly ground coffee way out in the middle of nowhere. I really think that the JavaMill is worth its weight in a car camping situation. For a backpacker who is really trying to cut down on the ounces, I don’t think the JavaMill is practical for lightweight backpacking.

GSI JavaMill in use
Grinding

Pros:

Quiet

Well made and designed

Perfect for car camping

No electricity required

Reasonable price

Cons:

Might not be ideal for lightweight backpacking

 

Prognosis:  The die hard coffee drinker who finds themselves in the outdoors (or with a baby who wakes up at the sound of an electronic grinder) should definitely consider adding the GSI Outdoors JavaMill to their camp cook set.

 

 

*Disclaimer: The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

Arizona Fly Fishing: Christmas Tree Lake

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Apache Trout
Apache Trout

I finally crossed Apache trout off my species list. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in Arizona for going on 8 years and have just now laid hands on my first Apache trout. I’ve pulled in a couple of hybrid Apache/Rainbows off of a couple of creeks in the past, but these were my first true gold, speckled, Apache trout. My good buddy Kyle and I ran up to the Whites for a long day trip to work some fish at Christmas Tree Lake. Christmas Tree Lake is located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and is known to hold some large Apaches and the occasional big brown. Since picking up my Scadden pontoon boat, it’s been fun to explore some of the stillwaters, that were not really accessible to me before. We met up early and made it to the lake just after sunrise.

What we weren’t expecting was the hellacious wind that ripped across the lake. The wind swirled from every different direction and spun our pontoons around like we were on the teacups at Disneyland. It made for an interesting day of fishing. We were lucky enough to pick up a few fish early in the day on ant patterns while the wind was a bit milder, but we had to wait for the evening bite to pick up any more fish. Regardless, it was a beautiful day in the mountains on one of the most picturesque lakes in the state.  I look forward to heading back up in the future for a less windy day on the lake.

Christmas Tree Lake
Christmas Tree Lake
Apache Trout
Bent
Christmas Tree Lake
Christmas Tree Lake
Christmas Tree Lake Creel Limit
Christmas Tree Lake
Apache Trout
Apache Trout

Book Report: The Pulp Fly Empire

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Pulp Fly Collections
Pulp Fly

I was a little bit slow on the uptake. Reading on an iPhone or a tablet never really appealed to me. Even though I spend a good amount of time reading on the computer, there is nothing I like more than a good book in my hands. That all changed when I took the plunge, downloaded a kindle app for my iPhone and ordered Pulp Fly: Volume One. In a word: Fantastic There were several writers I was familiar with like Matt Smythe, Bruce Smithhammer, Matt Dunn, and Alex Landeen, paired with several new authors that were not in my regular reading repository. Each short tale revolved around the theme of fly fishing although they all had their own unique story line. The only problem with the first Pulp Fly was that I ended up reading it too fast.

Pulp Fly
Pulp Fly: Volume Two

I reread through the collection several more times before the world was blessed with Volume Two and  some time later Volume Three. The second and third installments of Pulp Fly certainly did not disappoint. Delivered to the palm of my hand with a couple clicks, I was reading the next collections of stories from familiar writers like Erin Block, Jay Zimmerman, and Tom Reed along with a sprinkling of new names that were instantly added to my must read/follow list.

Mouthful of Feathers
Mouthful of Feathers: Upland in the West

As if things couldn’t get any better, the Pulp Fly team put together an all-star lineup of upland hunters/writers for the first (and hopefully not last) installment of Mouthful of Feathers: Upland in the West. Between flushing birds, hunting dogs, and dirt roads, I couldn’t get enough. It truly is an excellent collection of writers and stories. The team behind Pulp Fly has set the bar extremely high and laid the ground work for what I can only hope will be a future filled with more volumes of fly fishing and upland hunting collections. If you haven’t been blessed with reading one of these collections, you owe it to yourself to spend the measly five dollars and download the first one. They are all well worth the price of admission.

Three important fishing tips

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Arizona Wanderings
The Mrs.

I like to fish, and every chance I get, I’m packing the truck and heading for the hills. Now, I know that compared to an unmarried fishing guide or a retiree, I don’t fish that much, but I have a wife, a child, an 8-5, and a mortgage, and still I successfully manage to put in 30-40 days fishing or hunting a year. To me, that’s a success.

I often get asked by several of my buddies, how I talk my wife into letting me go fishing and hunting all the time. There is an easy answer to this. I married up. End of story. My wife is extremely understanding and knows that if a couple weekends go by and I’m not fishing or hunting, I’m going to be a basket case.

Having said that, I would offer several tips to  the poor sucker whose wife is busting his balls for going fishing too much. (Full disclosure: I’ve tried all of these and they work.)

Notes
Notes

#1. Handwritten notes – I found a small journal in the closet that wasn’t seeing any use, so I started a tradition of writing my wife a note and telling her how much I love her and where I was going for the day along with the details of when I should be getting back into cell service. She says that she really enjoys getting up on Saturday mornings, reading what I wrote, and getting to see where I’m going. She thinks it’s sweet, although on several occasions she has threatened to publish all of my secret fishing spots. I think they call that blackmail.

wildflowers
Wildflowers

#2. Wildflowers – This is a winner. When the seasons are right here in Arizona, we have some pretty spectacular wildflowers. When I find a decent spot on one of the backroads, I’ll pull over and cut a small bouquet for her, put them in my coffee cup full of water, and romantically (or at least as romantically as I can smelling like sweat, dust, and fish) give them to her when I get home. This goes a long way in softening things up when you get back from a long day of fishing.

spooling
That family that spools line together…

#3. Involve her - Everyone needs their own space and downtime. Fly fishing has become my escape and I often use the time to recharge my batteries while enjoying the solitude of nature. Although my wife had never really shown much interest in fly fishing, she made mention of wanting to give it a try when we hiked into the Grand Canyon and camped on Bright Angel Creek. When she pulled her first wild rainbow out of the creek, I think I was more excited than she was. Over time we have had several opportunities to fish together, and I know she has a better understanding of why I love it and need to take off on a Saturday. Now on long car rides, she’s cool to even listen to a couple of Tom Rosenbauer podcasts to break up the drive. How does it get any better than that?

AZWanderings
When she tells this story to people, the fish has grown to 20″

Anyone else have any tips or tricks?

 

Rambling Review: Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack

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Rambling Review – Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack

Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack heading down into the Grand Canyon

It’s funny how an item can conjure up the most vivid of memories. I’ve got quite a collection of packs in the guest room closet. My wife would disagree with me calling it a “collection” as she’s on the verge of calling that horders show from TV. Regardless, I’ve got packs of every shape and size for every different occasion and I’m pretty proud of the collection. As I was rearranging some things in that closet, I came across one pack that has really stood the test of time while traveling up many mountains, down into more than a couple of canyons, and across the ocean on a trip to Europe. The Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack is most certainly not the coolest looking pack and due to it’s size, I have the tendency to pack it with more than I should,  but I have found it to be one of the most comfortable and rugged packs that I’ve used.

When I saw the pack hanging there, I could remember the burn in my legs on that last quarter mile coming out of the Grand Canyon and how glorious it was to finally reach flat ground. I remembered trying to stuff it into the overhead compartment of the plane for our flight to France, trying not to make eye contact with the flight attendant for fear of her telling me that it would have to be checked. It still has pine needles in it from the last overnight trip into the woods, and it wears multiple smudges dirt like hard fought medals of honor.

I finished stowing the gear that I was rearranging and shut the door to the closet, but not before taking the pack off the hook looking it over. It’s still in  great shape and ready for another adventure. Guess I better get something planned.

Disclaimer: This isn’t my normal format for a Rambling Review because this pack design is no longer available as Gregory has since come out with an updated design. I feel though that a good piece of gear still deserves it’s day in the sun. If Gregory continues to make gear like the Baltoro, the new packs should be worth checking out. 

Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro on a street corner in Europe
Gregory Baltoro
The Baltoro on a train somewhere in Europe after what appears to be a long and exhausting day.
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro in a nameless canyon in Arizona
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack
Gregory Baltoro 70 Pack getting ready to come out of the Grand Canyon

 

* Real Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.