Wrestling a “Johnson”

Always kiss a fish on the lips!

An 11 pound walleye is tough.  A 6 lb. smallmouth bass is tougher.  Wrestling an 18 lb. Great Lakes salmon is as easy as reeling in a wide open, 15 horse Johnson outboard engine…it isn’t coming in until it is out of gas. 

Learning that you are not the fisherman you THINK you are is hard to accept.  Knowing that a rod has been in my hand every summer since my second birthday made this realization painful.  Salmon fishing kicked the living snot out of my “living country strong” …er, motto.  Come to think of it, have you ever heard a Chuck Norris fact involving salmon?  I didn’t think so.

The day started out well before dawn when the only sound on the water was the mystical clinking and clanging of gently rocking buoys strategically anchored throughout Grand Traverse Bay to mark a channel or navigational hazard.  Cutting through the water at night, depending only on radar and your captain’s skill, is like riding a roller coaster with no hands and no lights on.  A thrilling free fall.

Big water air smells fishy-fresh and fills your head.  Twin tsunami waves originate, rise up, and roll away from the port and starboard sides of the vessel as the bow cuts the water in half.  If the moon is full, a hint of white boat wake sparks at the stern.  Getting up at 4 a.m. is easy when this is the reward. 

With 25 miles to the nearest fuel dock my son, my Captain, started to wince and the thought crossed my mind that he was puckered up and trying not to crap his pants.  He was consterpating real hard, focused, and having a catasterstroke, flipping switches on the console in a last ditch effort to milk the engines.  When he couldn’t hide it any longer, he confessed.  We were running on fumes.  A smirk slipped out as I was thinking that my adventure just got bigger when fire shot out of his eyes and burned a hole in me that said, “Knock it off Lieutenant Dan.”

Trimming tabs, finding the RPM sweet spot, and getting every ounce of juice out of his twin Merc 225 Verado engines was Captain Adam’s only focus at this point.  He’s my man in the foxhole and, somehow, he pulled it out when the gauges gave up.

After three days of good weather, steady fish, and hitting the hay by 7 p.m. in my Hen House, it was time to pack it all up and head home.  Adam is staying up north to tournament fish so we said our goodbyes and I rolled out of Traverse City.  Merging on U.S. 10 in mid-Michigan, I saw another Airstream to my left, just behind.  I settled into the right lane and slowed down to wave and let them pass.  Imagine my DELIGHT when ANOTHER  16′ DWR (Design Within Reach) Bambi EXACTLY LIKE MINE pulled up, port side (we are land yachts, after all).  Airstream only made 66 of these units and here we were:   two of them rolling 70 mph, side by side.  The only difference was that mine was loaded with a ginormous cooler of iced salmon and lake trout!

Rootbeer Pulled Pork

Louie, my naughty lobster, sneaked into the frame.    He watches everything I do in the kitchen.


  •   3 – 5  pound pork roast
  •   black pepper
  •   salt
  •   2 liter bottle of  root beer soda
  •   Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce




 Cooking Instructions 

Put a liner in your crock pot.  (Optional)  Otherwise, spray with PAM to make clean up a breeze.

Take a fork and deeply stab the roast all over (front, back, sides) so it will absorb the juices.  (click on movie at end of blog)

Mix up some black pepper and salt into the palm of your hand and rub it on all sides and ends of Wilbur.

Place the roast in the crock pot and pour in all the root beer soda that will fit.  Turn on the TV and catch up on the latest edition of “Fashion Police.”






Cook on high for 4 hours then reduce the crock pot setting to low and cook another 2 hours.  DO NOT REMOVE THE LID.

Pour the root beer soda out and discard.  Keep the roast in the crock pot.

Cut and remove the string from the pork roast and discard.

With two forks, flake and shred the pork.  It will literally just fall apart.

Add a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and mix it into the pulled pork.

Pulled Pork movie

 To Serve 

Throw a heaping serving spoon of this schweeeet deliciousness on a hamburger bun to create the best pulled pork sandwiches you’ll ever taste.  This is just too easy to make.  There is nothing to clean up–especially if you use paper plates–and every bit is gobbled up.  Your guests will think you are Houdini in the kitchen.

What I love most is that a main dish like this gives me lots of time to prepare some fancy extras, like a corn and black bean relish and a big bowl of mustard potato salad made with Michigan potatoes and my farm fresh eggs.  For dessert, nothing but chewy gooey chocolate brownies will do!

Remember to stop and smell the flowers!

The Sharpie


 Two of the greatest qualities in life… 

1. Patience

2. Wisdom


Hammer Time

The Dynamic Duo, Adam and Bryce, headed to the Meijer Store for supplies.  Antifreeze  for my camper and new windshield wipers for the “Sake-Sake” (a little Mitsubishi mini truck) were tops on our shopping list yesterday, before the big storm set in–predicted to be a real doozie.   

That’s generally how all their shenanigans start, just the turn of a key guarantees a diesel turbo kicking in.   As they were unloading their cart in the parking lot, Bryce noticed an orphaned case of beer in the bottom of an abandoned cart.  Miller Light, his favorite.

Thinking that someone forgot their empties, he went over to investigate. A sinister grin spread across Bryce’s face when it dawned on him that The Beer Gods were shining down…it was a FULL CASE left behind by some poor, sorry son of a gun. Holy Hangover, Batman!
Bryce looked to the left and to the right. He assessed the risks, took a deep breath, and looked for possible witnesses.  He weighed his conscience –and the devil won.  He shot Adam a crafty look, snagged the booty, and Adam, ever intuitive in all things suspect, swung open the tailgate for the the score…professional partners in crime.

With such a great day going and luck on their side, Adam shot Bryce “the look”.  It was time to check out Sake-Sake’s 660cc, 4 speed, 4 wheel drive camo capabilities in the deep, snow covered fields.   He reasoned that a little drift busting would break her in right.  Sake has a ladder rack and fold down sides on the bed.  She’s a real work horse despite her puny 1/3 ton rating and she is one of the slickest toys we have on the farm.  Adam thought the time was right to “pop her cherry.”

   A virgin field was selected as a prime testing ground–where all the maneuvers and (hopefully) aerial acrobatic feats that are borne from power shifting, speed, neutral drops, and testosterone  could be explored.  The snow had to be deep, the terrain had to offer opportunities to “catch air” and a deep water hole were basic needs.  This spot was “Golden”.  Now the bets were placed.

Beating (I mean driving) new toys is a given around here.  Sake-Sake’s steering wheel is opposite American vehicles.  You sit on the “passenger” side yet still shift in the middle, using your opposite hand.  Adam put the pedal to the medal and ripped down the road to the chosen field.  He rounded a corner on two wheels just in time to see a Mundy Township cop sitting at the end of the road, slurping on a cold latte and downing the last of a pink donut.  After crapping themselves, our Dynamic Duo regained their composure and parked at the end of a road, pretending to be hunters.  They got out of the truck and walked into the woods and “hid” until early signs of hypothermia began to set in.  Thankfully, the officer left after a little bit so the real games could begin!  Another bullet dodged.

Five minutes behind the wheel, and Adam had “the truck you can’t get stuck” buried up the axles. He rocked it back and forth, cussed it out, blamed Bryce, until it finally dawned on him that Sake-Sake was da winna.  Not expecting this, and wearing only light clothing to go grocery shopping in, they both had to jump ship and walk back to the farm through the wet snow, in street shoes, to grab a tractor and a bunch of chains.  They would show her who’s boss.   Little Sake came out easy, but not before both guys froze their petooties off.

Sake-Sake is outfitted with an outboard engine and a boat.

My Baby


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