new beginnings

Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

Without fanfare or trumpets, black eyes or bruised egos, he finally did it. Jamie resigned from his position of fourteen years to pursue his life long dream.

Perhaps my absence from MCD has been in large part to this BIG secret that we’ve had to keep for so long or all the little things that happen to push us towards this decision and not wanting this place to be an emotional dumping ground where I vent about how frustrating life can be. However as the events have unfolded this spring I can’t help but look back on our beginning and see in retrospect how his job was so intertwined with our relationship and the domino effect of memories that stem from it.

We met because he was that cute guy who worked at the canoe livery, and for a few years that’s all I knew him as. Our first ‘home’ (using that term loosely!) and all of its quirks, was in fact rented from his employer, the many deep and lifelong friendships we have that started out as simply coworkers, and every major life event we’ve experienced has been shared and celebrated with the team of people he worked with. Jamie had become synonymous with their company which is why the quiet feels a little eerie. A day I wondered about and prayed for for years has happened and the sun still rose, the earth didn’t shift from its’ axis and people seem to be going about life like it’s any other day. 

Except for us it isn’t any ordinary day. Today we are on the doorstep of our future and I am incredibly excited to share that with you as Sturgeon River Paddlesports will be open for business Summer 2014!

And now the hard work begins, but the hard work, the unending hours, the modest earnings, the physical risk of the job will be for him, for us, our family. It will be ours. Now we are weaving his passion and talents into something tangible, that he can take pride in and be in control of and possibly someday hand down to our children.   

I hope all of my friends here at the cave both near and far will follow us along on this next step of our journey – and for those of you near enough or passing through, take exit 301 to Sturgeon River Paddlesports and float our beautiful river or just stop in and say Hi to the cute guy who works there ;) 

time honored tradition - summer '13

starting 'em out right! - summer '13



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dan the man

Me: Happy Anniversary Honey

Jamie: STOP DOING THAT! You’re going to give me a heart attack!  (I do this to him frequently since I have a mind like a steel trap – I can recall dates, details and conversations in vivid detail years after they’ve happend – it’s not a great quality in a wife)

Me: I’m sorry I didn’t mean to-

Jamie: pauses for a moment Which anniversary is it?

Me: It’s the last weekend in September and it’s unseasonably warm, just-

Jamie: smiles Just like the one when we met. 

I’m not sure if I believe in fate or having ‘one true love’. Are souls really destined to be together and will find one another in spite of distance or circumstance? Would I have ever met Jamie if I’d been born and raised in California or Germany? Whether it was a whim or God’s divine plan, our decision to take a last minute trip north changed everything.


The summer of 2004 was cool and rainy, more days than not were a complete wash out with highs struggling to reach the seventies.  My Dad, due to the slow economy, had taken a job in Tennessee and my mother and I were living in Michigan she running her boutique and I was in college. It was because of this that we didn’t make our annual summer trek up North to visit old friends and favorite places, which always included a kayaking trip down the Sturgeon River.

So when a weekend late in September was forecast to be unusually warm, we decided at the last minute to load up my kayak and head north. It was a whim that would change the course of my life, or perhaps set me on the right one.

We arrived late Saturday night at a hotel in Mackinaw City, a place I had no intention of being when I started my day that morning, but was thrilled to be there breathing  the crisp northern air and taking a couple of days away from the daily grind.  We awoke Sunday to near perfect weather and started getting dressed and ready to head to Indian River.  Since we’d be on the water all day there really wasn’t any reason to get ourselves ‘all dolled up’ as my mom says, which is why she looked at me a little puzzled as I plugged in my flat iron…

Margie: Meg what are you doing we’re going to be on the water all day, why are you doing your hair?

Me: I know mom…but what if that cute guy is still working there?

You see it’s hard for us to pin point when we really met since I’d noticed Jamie when I was probably sixteen years old and he remembers my family from that time as well, but we hadn’t ever talked or even knew each other’s names, he was just that cute guy who worked at the canoe livery up north. So naturally I wanted to look adorable just in case I ran into him ;) and as we drove to Indian River that day I could feel the smallest butterflies wondering if he’d be there…

Margie: Do you think he’s still working there?

Me: I don’t know he’s been there the past couple of years

Margie: How old do you think he is, I mean, he’s been working there a while and I know he went to college…

A conversation that is actually ironic as I think of it now.

As we pull into the livery I see him, up on the roof of a shed, hammering away on the some shingles, when he sees us pull up and quickly climbs down the ladder to greet us, not because he recognized us at that point but because he was simply happy to see someone going on the river on such a beautiful day.  One of our friends laughs at this saying he probably didn’t know what to think when I showed up that day in a mini skirt and heels with my own equipment…like a mirage in the the desert!

Jamie: Hey guys how’s it going?! Beautiful day to be on the river!

Me or Margie: Yeah we came up at the last minute when we saw the forcast

Jamie: What stretch (of the river) are you thinking of floating?

Margie: We usually put in at Rondo.

Jamie: Have you ever started in Wolverine? You have time if we leave now and it’s the best part of the river!

So we signed up, gathered our gear and got in the van, all the while teasing Jamie that he should really go with us since there weren’t any other customers yet. Jamie can’t refuse ANY chance to go on the river.  I can still remember him looking up at me with his blue-green eyes in the van as I egged him on:

Me: Come on, we’ll get your boat on our way to Wolverine…why not…it’s too nice out to sit around here all day ;)

Hesitating, thinking, looking around he looked up at me said ‘ask me one more time and I will’  So naturally

Me: Come on then, lets go!

He smiled hopped in the van and drove us down to the park in Wolverine (the same park where we’d get married two years later). After further teasing (flirting) and prodding he said he would meet us at some point along the river but he should go back and check in on things at work. He unloaded our equipment and helped us launch. I wasn’t sure how he would meet up with us or where or if he even would…but I’d better not flip my boat and ruin my hair just in case!

It was a picturesque float down the Sturgeon. Jamie was right putting in at the park in Wolverine really is the best part of the river, but it meant we’d be paddling for over five hours.  Five hours of wondering if that guy would meet us somewhere and oh geeze watch me take a bathroom break right in his back yard where I think I’m covered by trees and bushes but really he can see me or something equally as embarrassing.  I DID end up flipping my kayak, on a small branch of all things, rookie mistake! But that cute guy never did meet up with us.

We began to recognize familiar landmarks, houses, a foot bridge, the smell  of the interstate all indications our trip was coming to an end, and then the butterflies came back, I’d see him again, or at least I’d hoped I would…what if he were gone? what if he was an hour behind us on the river? what if he was there and what would I say…and how bad does my wet hair look?!  All thoughts that are humorous now in hindsight.

Our kayaks landed along the gravel shore, my eyes racing around looking for him…but he wasn’t there. My heart sank. Where was he? What happened? My thoughts interrupted by Dan, Jamie’s coworker who’d been helping him on the roof that day. A chubby thirty-something with dark hair and pale skin,

Dan: How was it your trip?

Margie: Great it was fantastic! So mu-

Me: Where’s Jamie?

Dan: He had to take out some customers, we got really busy.

So that’s why he never met us on the river!

Dan: Would you like me to rinse out your boat?

Me: No it won’t matter, we’ve got a long trip home anyway, I’ll wash it then.

Dan: Are you sure? as he grabs the hose 

We then engage in a tug-of-war of sorts with my kayak, Dan clutching the bow in one hand, hose in the other.  He seemed pretty determined so I relinquished, what would it hurt anyway. He then spent the next twelve minutes scrubbing my boat. I think it looked factory clean by the time he had finished. Finally I thought, let’s get this boat tied down and grab some dinner. We had a long drive home ahead of us, I looked about as good as a golden retriever who’d been swimming all day and clearly I wasn’t meant to talk to that guy again anyway.

Dan, however, was not done being helpful. He’d brought a stepladder to my truck and insisted on helping me tie the straps. Meticulously and ever so s l o w l y tied those straps. I was getting annoyed. Hungry. wet and annoyed, when Jamie pulled into the parking lot in a work van. His plan had worked.

Little did I know that he’d given Dan specific instructions NOT to let us leave if when came in before he got back from dropping off some customers. That would explain Dan’s above-and-beyond customer service and running around with my kayak like a thief who’d snatched a purse! We tried unsuccessfully to lure Jamie to dinner with us but he wasn’t able to since he still had people out on the river. I did leave with his home phone number, work number, email address and smoke signal coordinates and the promise that I’d call him to go winter rafting with him that winter.

Nine Christmases, a mortgage, two jobs, three cars and two kids later, that cute guy from the livery still gives me butterflies. We still exchanges glances in a way that is stupid. Sometimes I forget that we haven’t always been together and still there I times when the love feels new, only better because there are countless memories and years of laughter to go along with it.

…and you could say we owe it all to the fumbling actions of a man named Dan ;)


me at the canoe livery circa 2003 - jamie might be in the background somewhere

Jamie at the Canoe Livery the same year


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the foreigner


This is one of the reasons why I love my job…

“Out of Office – Across the street at the Roadhouse”  

What you’re interested in cabinetry for your kitchen…oh you can find the sales people at the bar across the street!

Now it’s not as bad as it seems since the bar is the only establishment in the one-block town that serves food, thankfully we now have Thirsty’s as well but technically that’s one mile north of town, so if my boss and I are so inclined as to grab a bite to eat our options are a bit limited.

On a side note, the bar across the street is no longer Rocky’s, nor is it Mauldoon’s Saloon, the Torrey Inn or even Wolverine Haus,  but Jamie and I still call it Rocky’s, funny how locals tend to refer to landmarks by names gone by…even funnier perhaps that I just referred to myself as a local.

On any given afternoon you’ll find a sparse assortment of colorful patrons inside the roadhouse.  During the winter the bar is lined with guys suited up for a day riding the trails on their snowmobiles and even more bikers during the summer months, oh and Jake, you will always find Jake at the far corner of the bar. On this particular afternoon there were three, two rough neck locals gentleman and a young dark haired woman.

I took my seat at a nearby table waiting for my boss to join me and couldn’t help but wonder about the trendy looking young woman at the bar. Her stay appeared to be nearing an end as she was digging through her purse next to an empty glass on the counter, when she asked the bartender something about helping her find her hotel.  That was the first clue that she clearly was not from around here as there are no hotels for miles, a few roadside motels perhaps but nothing as grandiose as a Holiday Inn with a continental breakfast.

One of the other patrons, a man wearing a fluorescent green road worker’s vest, was more than eager to pipe up, “where are you headed, er ah where are you staying?” he asked in a voice rife with years of Marlboro and gin.

“Petoskey” she replied in a tone that made me wonder just what she’d had to drink and how long she’d been there. “I’m going to wedding at the Castle?”

“In Charlevoix” the bartender offered.

“Yeah there, but I’m staying in Petoskey, some hotel on Spring Street but my GPS…”

At this point I couldn’t help but join in conversation with this vibrant and friendly lady who was so clearly lost and carefree.

“No don’t use your GPS!” I say to her with pleading eyes, as my boss and the bartender emphasize as well “Turn it off it’ll just get you lost!” “Seriously it’ll take you on two-tracks don’t use it!”

I approach the bar where she is seated and with my hands begin gesturing,”when you leave here TURN RIGHT at the pretty gazebo, STAY on that road it will take you all the way to your hotel.” I must have seemed like an idiot to her as I gave her directions like she was a preschooler with finger paints, but judging by the empty pink glass next to her I figured I had a lost, no make that very lost, buzzed and jet lagged tourist on my hands.

“Is Petoskey big, like will I get lost?” she asks

“Oh it’s busy alright”, green vest man adds clearing his throat, “this time of year it’s real busy, lot of traffic…”

“Well I’m from LA so…”

“You’re from LA?!” I interrupt excited because I’ve never met someone from LA and suppressing the urge to ask her if she’s even seen anyone famous, “Oh then you’ll be fine in Petoskey the traffic will be nothing like what you’re used to.” She laughs in agreement.

“So my husband bought this bouncy-house for our twin two-year olds for the weekend while I’m gone! Can you believe that?! OMG They could get hurt! Do you wanna see a picture of them?!” Clearly missing her kids she thrusts her phone in front of me and begins scrolling through pictures…”when did you start potty training your three year old? I got them these potties but they don’t use them really yet, OMG they’re just like little people you know….I miss them so much…I can’t believe he got them a bouncy house!”

I try to end the impromptu slideshow as politely as possible and return to my table to order lunch, Hollywood however still befuddled by her circumstance begins to contemplate the meaning of life in Wolverine, Michigan.

“How do you people live here?!” she asks in a voice that isn’t so much how do you stand the winters or how do you ward off cabin fever – no she’s asking the same question I ask every time I drive through the UP, how do people scrape together a living in a place so remote and unpopulated, I mean where do they even buy toilet paper for their outhouses?!

Laughing a bit we all ask her the same question “How you do live there?!” Honestly the traffic and people and the traffic….it takes all kinds I guess and as much as I can’t handle the thought of living day-in day-out in a bigger city, for this young woman the thought of living in God’s Country would be just as foreign.

She can keep her fancy city and movie stars…I’ll take the dark starry filled night skies of Northern Michigan eight days a week.  I image as she drove Mitchell road to Petoskey without her twin toddlers in tow and passing only a few other vehicles she may have had a glimpse into why we live in and love this rustic wilderness.

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paying his respects…

Of all the ‘charms’ the man cave had to offer there was something beautiful about looking out the kitchen window in the morning.  When the temperature and season were just right there was an ethereal mist that would rise around the pines and from the long window above the sink with it’s low header you felt as though you were peering out from a cozy cabin into another time or another world.

One such morning I awoke, bleary eyed and making my way to the kitchen to start the coffee and take in the view, and as I peered through that old beautiful window my gaze was met by this fellow;

never going to see this yard art on houzz or pinterest!

Face to face, eye to eye with a dead trout, stretched at the gills and nailed to that old pine tree like an artists canvas!!! We were separated only by a single pane of old plate glass. I screamed the same horrifying scream as finding a tarantula in the shower…Jamie jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen not sure what to expect (my girly screams were a frequent occurrence around the cave as I often crossed paths with whole host of vermin and insects).

Jamie: WHAT?! WHAT IS IT?!


Jamie: That? Oh that’s just the steelhead I caught yesterday. 


Jamie: So I can enjoy it for a couple of days, it’s honoring to the fish.

Me: Honoring the fish?! Really?

Jamie: looking at me like this is totally normal Yeah we did this all the time growing up, Hot Dog had his whole garage eave lined with them at the lake it looked really neat…

Me: shaking head No that is not neat that is disgusting! Baghhhhh Can you go take it down?

Jamie:  Don’t worry about it, it’ll be gone in a few days – some critter will come take it.

Me: You mean some animal is going to come eat that rotten fish head?! Ewwwww!

Jamie was right, it wasn’t more than forty-eight hours and that nasty fish head had become something’s dinner. Yum. I haven’t seen another fish ‘honored’ in that way since….and I’d better not around our house!



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are you ready for some football?!


Before I met Jamie this is largely how I felt about football season;


What on earth was so interesting about it anyway? It looked to me like just a  bunch of guys running into each other and oh, wait something happened after playing for only two seconds…better line up and run into each other again. Blah. And what on earth do they need playbooks for? From my point of view football consisted of ONE play and one play only – run into each other, stop, repeat. It’s a play I refer to as the neanderthal.  My understanding of the game was so limited that in marching band I would stand up and play only when everyone else did (which coming from my high school didn’t happen very often) since I couldn’t tell a first down from an onside kick. In fact until Jamie and I were dating, I had never seen the second half of a football game because in marching band we only had to stay until half time – and I was only in marching band because it was a requirement to be in wind ensemble the remainder of the school year.

Jamie on the other hand, grew up in a family that loves football. He watched his brother play, he played all through school, he and Chad would play pick up games with their buddies during the summer. The Jacklitch’s are all avid Michigan fans and follow the program from their recruiting prospects, through the season and into the finals and can analyze decades worth of college football.  I may as well have been listening to someone talk about quantum physics, I simply didn’t understand.

But as time has passed I’m beginning to catch on, and almost dare I say, find myself interested when Saturday rolls around. I’ll even watch a game when Jamie’s at work…three hundred channels and I’ll choose to watch college football! I guess it’s similar to couples who’ve been together for decades and start to look like one another, maybe it’s the same process on an internal level.

It was helpful when I worked in an office with only men and made our weekly lunch at BW3′s that much easier for me – it was as if Jamie had given me a crash course in a foreign language by teaching me essential phrases like:

‘Where is the bathroom?’

‘Is Rich Rod trying to sabotage Michigan’s program!?!’

‘How much does this cost?’

‘Is Gideon the corner who dropped the pick or the one who couldn’t tackle Crabtree?’

I still couldn’t tell you the difference between an offensive pass interference and a screen pass but one thing I do know is there will be a lot more football in my future…

my little linebacker

fingers crossed for a scholarship someday

a band hat might fit better ;)

big shoes to fill

not all lessons are spoken

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all together now…


The assignment was simple enough, send a card and a family photo for Jamie’s Great Aunt Irene’s 90th Birthday Celebration.  ’No problem’ I niavely thought to myself ‘I’ll just look through my photos and find one…wait a minute….we have about a million photos of the kids, a few of me with them and almost none of Jamie and I or us as a whole family’ – in fact the last time we had a family photo taken was in the hospital when Lakelyn was born.

Okay, still not a big deal, we’ll just snap a few the next time we’re all looking decent right?……a few weeks go by and no such opportunity presents itself and our deadline is drawing near. Then yesterday I had an appointment to take Lakelyn in for her four month check up and my mom was coming over to watch Porter.  It was all falling into place nicely, I was up, dressed, hair presentable, not covered in food and drool, the kids were in equally good shape and Jamie had just gotten his hair cut….to top it all off my mom was with us to take the pictures so we didn’t have to fumble with the self timer! What could go wrong?

Ha! One word: TODDLER!

For those of you have not have had the pleasure, trying to get a two year old to do what you would like them to do, in our case smile for a picture, would be like trying to teach a goat how to tap dance.  Most days I’d take the dancing goat challenge over the whims of a toddler. And when a toddler isn’t happy it is a house of cards that quickly falls as you can clearly see from the resulting pictures.

Me: (trying to suck it in and angle everything just right so as to hid the extra lbs I’m STILL carrying from the baby)

Jamie: Porter come on buddy smile – look at Grandma (pointing and snapping fingers) 

Me: (bouncing the baby and trying to hide, suck-in and contort my extra weight) Okay everybody say cheese!

Porter: AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH Puuuut meeeee doooooown! I waaaannnnnt to riddddde my gaaatoooorrr!


Margie: I think I got one, Meg why don’t you check and see if we have one that will work.

Me: UGH – I screwed up my camera settings, everything is blurry!

words fail me...

3 out of 4 ain't bad

he wasn't any happier in his gator

really porter?

probably a more accurate snapshot of our family

we have our own meme!



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the daily commute – 08.04.12

grandpa's flags - downtown petoskey

As much as I loath the word ‘staycation’ I couldn’t help but feel like a tourist in my own town this past week.  Routine lab work in Petoskey turned into an afternoon with Margie and the kiddos walking around the downtown and waterfront and it was wonderful to say the least.  I spent the better part of six years working in Petoskey but never really enjoying it – we’ve decided to do the same thing next week but in a different town, Mackinaw City, St. Ignace, some of the islands perhaps…who knows we may even get crazy and head up to the UP eh! I hope you all are enjoying this beastly hot summer!

cutest 'lil rainbow trout!

margie & porter

petoskey harbor - the front approaches

spring '11 - fall '11 - summer '12


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i’m on a boat


…with two kids two and under!

me and my munchkins

Ahhh summertime – lazy afternoons spent on the lake, soaking up rays and diving off the boat into cool, refreshing waters…bliss….

I remember those days fondly! Not to say that hanging with the kiddos isn’t it’s own kind of bliss, only now there’s more suck it up and suck it in while catching Porter jumping in the water for the hundreth time! Even Jamie who I’ve seen spend several consecutive hours in the water was getting worn out;

Jamie: Come on Buddy just relax…don’t you want to take a break for a minute?

Porter: ignores Jamie and jumps in for the 101st time…then  proceeds to ‘swim’ to the boat kicking up more water than an extra in Jaws and right in Jamie’s face!

Jamie: Porter really take a brea-

Porter: SPLASH! Jumps in for the 102nd time…

Someday it will get easier and all too soon they’ll be teenagers too cool to be seen with Mom and Dad…then it’s back to those lazy afternoons ;)

warm enough for the little lady to swim

catch dad!

swim lessons

photo by p.jacklitch

Oh…and I’d like to wish my husband a very happy anniversary of his 21st birthday tomorrow!

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next of kin…

This past weekend my dad and I attended the Strohschein Family Reunion in Hillman, Michigan. The last time I went to one I was still in grade school with nerdy glasses and an unhealthy obsession for Disney movies – now nearly two decades, a bachelors degree, husband and a couple kids later, I returned…older and soon to be a bit wiser.

Reunions are funny in that your related in some way to everybody there, but (depending on the family) they may be near strangers to you. I could’ve passed two-thirds of my relatives on the street and never known we were from the same family tree.  My dad however was better able to recognize his cousins and catch up with the aunts and uncles while I had a good time getting to know everyone and listening to the stories about my dad when he was a kid.

The food was incredible to say the least, comfort food at it’s finest with fresh summer produce and a whole table devoted to homemade desserts! I didn’t just have seconds I proudly had thirds and for a while, conveniently parked myself next to a tray of cookies.  As the afternoon passed everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves when I looked around I noticed something……people drinking and smoking…….DRINKING AND SMOKING?! Don’t they know we don’t do that we’re Strohscheins!

Or do we?

Unbeknownst to me it is just our particular branch of the tree that is baptist. I had NO clue.  Apparently my Grandpa Leo was raised on a farm in Northern Michigan, part of a hearty clan who would hunt and farm, drink and play cards with the best of ‘em.  It wasn’t until he met my Grandma Sara that he was reformed so to speak.  There were even a few snapshots of my Great Grandpa and his buddies;

middle front row - no that's not Hemingway it's my great grandpa norman

throwing back a couple with the boys

Here I thought I was from a straight-laced line of city-slickers only to find out Jamie and I may have more in common than I originally thought. Perhaps our story is a bit less Green Acres and a little more ‘ET phone home’!

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some people wait a lifetime…

A few weeks back I was running errands and going about my day when I called Jamie to check in on things and he told me that a very special piece of mail had arrived in my name.  What could it possibly be? Usually I walk to the mailbox like a prisoner in an internment camp…there are BILLS our there and if I don’t get them then they don’t exist right? So was this mystery piece of mail a letter from a long lost relative…a free college grant…had I won some fabulous sweepstakes?!!! My mind was spinning with possibilities when I arrive home to find this;

annie get your gun

THE NATIONAL HUNTING GEAR FIELD TEST PANEL!!! Because I’m such an outdoorswoman as you all know! I’m sorry I just need to take a minute to say,


Really? Poor Jamie, he stood there looking at me as I laughed, the very sound like salt in a wounded dream. Is there more a man out there who defines ‘rugged manly hunter’ as Jamie?! He eats, breathes, sleeps, LIVES for the outdoors and here I am, his wife who wouldn’t know a skinning knife from a quiver, is selected (albeit junkmail) to be a part of the hunting field gear test panel!

Jamie: If anyone should be selected in this family it should be me!

Me: Jamie it’s just junkmail – I’ll give you the free deer sticker if it makes you feel any better.

Jamie: Oh no, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from the mighty hunteress!

Me: So should I send it back? Let them know the I’m ‘Super Serious’?!

Jamie’s right however, we’ve said for years that he would be a great product tester.  Husqvarna, Lacrosse, Hyside and Chacco take note, the man is brutal on his equipment.  Who else will plunge your chainsaw into frigid waters in the middle of winter to clear downed trees, for that matter who else makes himself into a one-man ice cutter hauling passengers up and over or through ice on rafting excursions.  The man works months in a row without a day off and spends 98% of his working days outside in all elements…and when he’s not working outside, the other 2% of the time he’s hunting or fishing in the wilderness.  To say the man is picky about his gear would be a massive understatement and when he finds something that can withstand his abuse he is incredibly loyal.  I can recall a time I scoured the internet for the best long underwear ever made – no other long johns even come remotely close to keeping him as warm as this prized pair! Heaven help us all when they change or worse yet, discontinue something that he loves…I’m still hearing about a Kobuk wading jacket that he can’t get anymore and all the ways it was superior to any other product on the market because it even had a back pocket to hold his beer – afterall when you’re out for trout you don’t want to miss the big one because you’re fumbling for your Foster’s!

…and thank you to the National Field Gear Testing Panel, for a good laugh and for the return address labels ;)


Categories: General, Jamie | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments