I spent much of 2019 at my workplace in the middle of Pittsburgh and in driving back and forth from across the county line. I spent a lot more time getting my new business, WikiparX.com off the ground. I’m sure I had more wasted time than I’d like to admit, I did quite a bit of writing and then an abundance of time simply went into the maintenance of life.
Somehow, between all these things, I was also able to do what I love to do outdoors. I explored places very close to my new Westmoreland County home and a few new places from New York to West Virginia. I enjoyed adventures of scale in kayaks and sleeping out on the ground. Most importantly, I learned so much this year across a vast realm encompassing not only fish, other living creatures and flowing water but also more mundane realms such as history, politics, philosophy and business. I’d like to think that I’m a better man than I was in 2018, with an improved mind. Fish oil helps too.
Some of the early thoughts I opened the new year with.
My year began with winter, as most people’s years do.
Susan and I visit zoos during the winter when there are less people and the animals seem more sociable – more willing to pose for photos. Here, I get a chance to capture megafauna, etc. that’s hard to find in the PA wilds. I like my kitty cats in bulk.
I also spent a good bit of time just tromping around the former mine sites that surround Export, my new home (where virtually everything is a former mine site). Now much of it is overgrown with young hardwoods or just acres of almost impenetrable thorns and scrub – formidable, unnattractive stuff to outdoors people but first-rate habitat for the increasingly diverse animals that surround me.
When the ice finally became stable, ice-fishing became my preoccupation, the way it does most winters. It was a fine season too on Lake Arthur, lasting until late into March. I was able to sleep out a few times, rising in the snow to fish with first light.
An ice-fishing season retrospective
I ice-fished a marina on Lake Erie in mid- March with a friend and still stood on 15 inches of ice.
My first taste of warmer weather was an April trip with Susan down to the Hartley’s Log House Homestead near Cairo, West Virginia – a part of the state that was new to me. It was an early glimpse of the vibrant April Appalachian greening. A quite place in a seldom-seen neck of the woods.
With May, Pennsylvania’s spring truly blossomed and I was out constantly, on an array of projects and forays. We were destined for a 17 year cicada “bugpocalypse” but the reality was much more tame or at least geographically restricted. I began discovering new mushrooms that I’d never know to be edible.
The best of June was likely our annual getaway to the Oak Orchard Creek region of New York State. This is a pretty easy drive from Pittsburgh and is actually less crowded in June than it will be in October. It’s not really much of an adventure hub but it is a laid-back nice place to get out of the city for a bit.
I don’t usually favor mid-summer but this year’s was fine and on the cool side. I slept outside from time to time and spent time on the first of our WikiparX. Then there was an adventure with a certain invasive crayfish.
August is normally my least favorite month but this year’s was cool and wet and so the fishing remained good and the chicken of the woods mushrooms began to appear as well.
Mushrooms Proven to Induce Madness (It’s Science)
September was all about mushrooms, to the exclusion of almost all else. The local mushroom experts rated this September as being on the poor side due to heat and lack of rain and I’m sure they’re right. My freezer, however, is stocked for the winter (actually for at least a year).
October is one of my favorite months and this year’s didn’t disappoint in spite of the dryness. Susan and I traveled to Tioga County where we explored places I hadn’t seen since my long hike through the state and a lot of new places as well.
Leave No Trace or Hike Your Own Hike?
Even November wasn’t as dreary as it could have been. There were plenty of hikes and casting and critters. It’s also the season that a lot of people begin to stay home so there’s lots of water for the intrepid to enjoy alone.
Now it’s December again and I’m still enjoying a little fish-related adventure but looking forward to the year ahead – planning and scheming for a whole new set of adventures, exploration and learning!
Get my 2020 photo calendar here for $12: