Friday, August 9, 2013

Savoring Life

I went for a walk yesterday morning.   It was about 40 degrees, so the fog was on everything, but lifting in the sunrise.  I don’t know how we got so lucky to have September weather the first week in August, but it’s golden.  

My heart and head were both swelling, with the details of the day, and with the enormousness of life.  Usually they don’t both hit at the same time.  But on this particular morning they did.

photo by Rachel
And in the afternoon, a worn out young man trudged up the outfitting steps.  I knew he was coming back early, I had already spoken with a deputy. 
 Because I’m a mom, I opened my arms to him, and ….probably because  I am  a mom, he stepped into them and started to sob.  I think I could feel the grieving brother's heart breaking right through his chest.

In another story--one of our Gunflint Trail neighbors who has been picking blueberries around here all his life, went out a week ago, and hasn’t come back.  His truck, parked in his favorite picking spot, is still the only clue.

You know, usually, I’m all about figuring how to minimize risk, avoid death at all costs.   And while that’s a really good point (and I’ll continue to make it….remember, I am a mother to the core)…… that is not THE point. 

Here I am on the periphery of all this grief, and it strikes me that the main point has to do with the way we live.  Those fine young men were in the boundary waters because they have always shared a profound love for this place.   And when I’m 82, I hope I still have the spunk and independence to drive my truck up to the BEST spot in the woods, and pick my own blueberries.

 As a witness to this incredible sadness,  I  feel a strange combination of melancholy and reverence which isn’t completely comfortable, but it does feel like my heart is running at full capacity.   I cannot control all of life and death. It's simpler than that.  I can look around, I can be kind, I can feel grateful for where I live and who I am with, I can vow to savor it all for this lovely day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Our Blog is Moving!

We are excited to announce the launch of our new Tuscarora website.  Located at the same spot - - our new site is full of great info, pictures and features we think you will enjoy.  In addition,  the Tuscarora blog has found a new home here

We sure appreciate all of you who have followed Tuscarora through this blog.  We don't want to lose you! Please update your bookmarks, readers and whatnot to stay current with all the happenings at Tuscarora.  For those of you who have subscribed to receive email updates of new blogs, please navigate to our new site and enter your email address to join our new mailing list.  Look for the "Subscribe to Tuscarora News" field on the right side bar -

Friday, June 14, 2013

Family of Four

Last week the Kiecker family rented a canoe and headed out to Little Sag for the week.  Traveling from our dock on Round to Little Sag is no small day-trip.  But they assured me that they were up for it--their boys regularly backpack  the Appalachian Trail, last year they averaged 10 miles a day. I knew Mom and Dad loved the challenge--they'd been on trips here in the past, and could put on the miles.   I knew that their healthy boys were certainly capable of it, but was it going to be any fun?   Did they really want to travel that far?  How hard were these little kids going to be pushed on this "vacation?"

Well, I happened to be down at the dock with my camera when they were loading up, and I happened to witness the conversation.  Todd was a really kind dad, patiently coaching his two boys as they entered the boat.  And although he was excited, and raring to go (a little contagious for just imagine how his sons felt!)....he sat there and explained where the Missing Link portage was, and what they were going to do next.   And as they were paddling away, I could hear one of the boys asking  "Do you want me to paddle on this side, Dad, or on the other side?"....and Todd replied---"You go ahead and paddle on whichever side is comfortable, and Mom and I will adjust."   Nice.  They had a great trip, they proudly made it back from Little Sag in a little over 7 hours, ---and I'm going to venture that along with the fun, the guys got a healthy dose of actual self esteem and sense of belonging by accomplishing the trek as a family team.  Does it get any better than that?

Then...I got thinking about our family team....our family of four.   The thing is---Andy and I met on Seagull Lake, in a tandem canoe.  We were happy campers when we were first we briefly wondered if we wanted to actually transition out of that two person canoe..and make room for any more.   Did we really want to invite two curly blond heads on our canoe trips?  And then....well, it seemed like POOF, suddenly  we were a family of four.   We made room in our lives for two more.  We made  permanent room in our hearts..   And, somewhere along the line...although we knew we were preparing them to grow up, and go into the world,  I started assuming that we would ALWAYS be a family of four.  We'd always find our way back to the dinner table where we like to linger and talk about the high points and low was every day, it was years and years.

When they're this age...well, who expects it to ever be any different?
Last weekend, Shelby graduated from highschool.   She's set her standards high, we're really proud of who she's become.  She's working in the outfitting yard this summer, then heading to college next fall. She's so ready to go, and we couldn't be more pleased.  I always knew this day would come, but I never bothered to tell my heart about that. Of course, I wouldn't have it any other my head. Yet, in my heart, she'll always be part of my ordinary days...and next fall, she'll be missing. 

So, I felt a little wistful as I watched the nice Kiecker family paddle away together in their canoe.  They're in the "this will last forever"stage.    I just have to scrunch up my head around the fact that this transition we're in happens to every family eventually, it's just ordinary.  Graduation is a celebration of course, but who expects the grief that comes with it?  Can my heart really imagine the big gap?   Inviting Shelby and Daniel into our canoe has turned out to be the most significant thing we'll ever do in this life.....the best decision for sure...both my head and my heart can agree on that one.  And eventually, I supposed I'll convince my heart it's OK to let her go, and look forward to the times she's back at the table, telling us of her current adventures, paddling her own canoe.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cold Water and Hot Fishing

If you have not heard yet, the ice is finally out on all the lakes near us, even big Sag to the north.  It was a little challenging for a while there to get back to the good lake trout lakes like Tuscarora and Gillis.  For eager lake trout fishers that were willing to sit on smaller lakes and wait for the ice to go out, the reward was some good fishing and a lot of adventure. 

Mike Vogt and his guys found out first hand what ice out trout fishing is like.  They found the "glacier" on the Missing Link portage (which is still there by the way, but receding)!  They spent a little time on Missing Link waiting for the ice to go out on Tuscarora.  Strong spring winds kept them close to shore for a while.    Eventually their patience was rewarded with some beautiful northerns and lakers, even enough to eat!

This is actually the first time I've ever seen Mike in a hat that is not a baseball cap.    Can you tell what a likeable guy he is?  I can hear him laughing right through that picture.   It is not a leave-no-trace kind of laugh, it is a leave-you-laughing kind of laugh.

Suddenly it is Memorial Day weekend .  The lakes are ice free, the temps are rising , the sun is out, and the fish are waiting!  Come on up and share your fishing pictures with us!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The trout are OUT

The best fishing for lake trout is ONE week after the ice goes out.  Ask anybody.  People catch them by accident in the shallows during that week---and the Tuscarora Lake die hards are usually chomping at the bit to get in there the minute fishing opens.  This year---the ice was a little late, so technically nobody has to miss that week.

Last year, one Saturday in June, my friend Monica and I headed out.  We wanted two things:  lake trout, and a work out.

So here’s the thing….we have a group of guys who go out every year in May---to one certain lake.  I cannot give away their private destination on the internet, but let’s just say that I hadn't fished it before, and they always always catch fish.  But mostly, they also catch fun, and they're usually laughing so hard when they are telling their stories that it made me want to visit THAT lake.    They call themselves  The THAT (name changed to protect their secret) lake boys.  

Monica and I headed out for THAT lake.   Let’s also just say that it is more than 7 portages in, so we also accomplished our workout--actually two work-outs, because it was also more than 7 portages out, with our lake trout.
Ever since I worked at Wilderness Canoe Base, and we hoisted the well cared for (heavy!) standard  Grumman canoes around, and it hurt  my shoulders from start to finish, I’ve craved portaging.  I cannot explain it.  I like the way it hurts.  I would think I would be a good runner as well, with that craving,  but I’m just not.  I run really really slow: I don’t happen to LIKE the way that running hurts.  But portaging,  the activity where nobody ever wins a medal,  I like to do until I’m shaky.   Go figure.  Away we went.

To paddle away on a busy Saturday was such an indulgence right there.   And to have an uninterrupted chat with my friend that I don’t get to see enough---second bonus.  But when we got to THAT lake, the wind was just right.  And I also knew the trick, ….paddle right down the middle, and let the wind drift us back toward the portage.  Easy as pie.  Only---it was such a warm year that I knew the fish were….40-60 feet down, so we were letting out a lot of line.   We had torpedo weights to pull down our Sutton spoons—tipped with minnows…we couldn’t fail, right?  Since we were seriously fishing, we thought we’d leave the dog at home, but she HEARD us talking, and it was like she was attached to my knee, and the minute I put the canoe to float she was patiently in it.  First one.  We had to take her.

So we paddled, we floated, and BAM, we both caught fish.   Same time, first pass.  They felt like snags, classic.  So we reeled and we reeled and we reeled and we reeled, and the wind picked up in the meantime and we started floating into the rocks with our beautiful Escape, so I had to stop reeling and put the rod between my knees,and start to paddle.  Monica kept reeling, and my rod started to bend until it was obvious that somehow our fish were wrapped around each other, or our lines, or….oh, the trickiness of it.    Denali was very politely trying to stay in the middle of the boat but she did have to supervise every move, so there was also THAT challenge to stay steady.

We were a little surprised after the fiasco of the landing to end up with one trout actually in our boat (her name was Edith)…….the other line broke….the wind picked up….we were tangled beyond belief, but we had Edith!   What a great day!  

Then we had to eat our lunches, and blow around, and re-tie our lines, and blow around and get tangled in the weeds and blow around…and….then, it really was time to take Edith and head back...we knew it would take us almost 3 we paddled and portaged….by the moose and her calf in the weeds, we couldn’t have been happier under the sun.   Once we pulled the stringer up, and …….no Edith……we had to paddle back and retrieve her from the mud at the last portage. 

Whoa, were we ever tired when we got back--- where  Caleb was waiting, to clean up little Edith, so Monica could take  home the filet. Work out, check, lake trout, check. 

Isn't it funny how a day in the woods can feed a person's soul in so many ways?  I was feeling just a little more commeradarie and gratefulness for the exhuberance of those THAT lake boys, for  passing on their expertise, for Edith, for our  tangled adventure.  I hope everybody gets a "day in the woods" this spring....and if you stop by the office, I can point you to the secret place where Edith's cousins are the shallows.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Round Lake Is Open!!!

Round Lake is officially open!!! This group just left our beach and paddled across to the Missing Link Lake portage. They are hoping to reach Tuscarora Lake. We are looking forward to hearing how they did! ~Rachel

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fishing Opener 2013

Fishing opener has come and gone with out the usual excitement.  We sent out one brave father and son team to try their luck on Ham Lake.  They didn't come back the same day so they must have made it to a campsite!  They were a pretty determined duo.  The day before they did some exploring up the Gunflint Trail, taking in a few hikes while waiting for the ice to break.  While exploring they heard some favorable reports about the ice on Larch Lake and Ham Lake so they gave it a try.

Today (Sunday) the wind has kicked up which is breaking up the ice on Round Lake.  The sheets are crashing into each other making a cool tinkling sound and fracturing the ice into impossibly sharp shards.  Andy watched one group paddle around the ice plates from public access all the way to the portage for Missing Link Lake.  They had to do a lot of zigging and zagging, but they got there.  Another group will be trying it tomorrow morning.  Not sure yet about how Tuscarora Lake looks, but that was their goal.

Ice shards on Round Lake
A little bit of open water!

Staff members have been busy raking, raking, raking!  All of the canoes are out and ready to go as soon as the ice clears.  We are slowly getting the water turned back on to the summer buildings.  Our dining hall is all set and ready for our first French toast breakfast.  The shower house is back in action too so we are ready for guests!  If the weather keeps getting nicer each day as forecasted, we should all be out paddling any day now!

Denali supervising the raking

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Getting Closer!

Round Lake from our beach this morning

To answer the question on everyone's mind, yes we still have ice on Round Lake.  However, spring is happening in fast forward all along the Gunflint so we are getting closer!  Last weekend was pretty chilly again.  Nights were below freezing and grey skies shed a wintery mix on us during the day.  It felt like we spring had stalled for a while there.

We opened our gates for the outfitting season on May 1st, technically speaking, even though it didn't feel like summer yet.  We have been juggling jobs based on what the weather is doing.  We are trying to get some raking in.  It is a little strange to be raking around the slow melting snow plow piles but at least we are outside.   We are doing some spring cleaning inside as well and getting the suburbans tuned up.  Summer staff is starting to arrive which gets everyone excited.  With more hands around, we started to pull out the Kevlar canoes from winter storage.  A sure sign of spring if ever there was one!

Taking the Kevlar canoes out of dining hall

Shuffling the canoes from the dining hall to the canoe yard

We drove up to the End of Trail campground to check things out on Sunday afternoon.  The creeks and ditches along the side of the road which were full and overflowing two weeks before have slowed down some to a more normal spring level.  The smaller beaver pond ice is starting to turn black and break up into chunks which is a good sign.  The rapids into Gull Lake were flowing fast and strong.  Seagull Lake and Saganaga Lake are still frozen but there are some good sized holes and fissures showing up.  It is definitely at the point where it is a little sketchy to be walking on it.

Gull Lake rapids

On Monday, the staff couldn't resist the urge to paddle on Cross River just down the drive way.  We put in along side the road right above the rapids and paddled towards the portage toward Ham Lake.  The portage was still covered in a layer of snow so we didn't get to far, but at least it was a paddle!  The Cross River dock is still surrounded by ice flows, but the waterfowl are enjoying the open parts.

Paddling on Cross River

Skirting the edges of the ice

Just making sure you can't paddle through the ice...

Cross River rapids by Round Lake Road

Yesterday we ran to Duluth to get some summer supplies.  All the small rivers were flowing fast and rock cuts along the road were covered in ephemeral water falls.  We couldn't resist a stop at Gooseberry State Park to take a look at the falls!  Along the way back we spotted 137 deer, 3 fox, 1 bobcat and a wolf all on the side of the road!  For those of you planning on traveling up Highway 61, please be careful!

Gooseberry State Park
This week has been warm, sunny and just beautiful!  We still can't tell you for certain when the ice will be out.  The larger lakes like Saganaga will take longer than Round Lake to clear.  We are still thinking we will have ice for fishing opener on May 11th.  The following week we have high hopes for however!  For those of you with early trips, keep checking in.  Don't worry, when the ice goes out, we will be posting on everything from the blog to Facebook.  We are just as impatient and excited as all of you!  Rachel

Round Lake this morning

Round Lake this morning

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Suddenly, spring is in a big hurry to get here.  Starting Thursday, the temperatures have been up into the high 50's, low 60's.  The sun is shining warmly, the birds are singing, and Denali is basking on the deck.  The 2 feet+ of snow that is on the ground has been melting with force.  Round Lake road is suffering a bit from the rapid melt.

The driveways and outfitting yard are clearing nicely.  At first the melt was dammed in by the snow banks creating a slushy pond in the center.  This morning things are looking much better.  The mud is pretty thick but at least everything is flowing in the right direction now.

The Cross River, just down the road, is open and flowing down the center.  The ice is still around the dock, but it is looking more and more slushy each day.  The open water is attracting all sorts of birds who arrived looking for spring but are now forced to wait it out with the rest of us.  So far I've noticed common & hooded mergansers, common goldeneyes, Canada geese, mallards, a kingfisher, bald eagles, and a turkey vulture all hanging out around the open water.

Round Lake is covered in watery slush.  Almost a good foot of it.  Ice reports in the area still are in the 20"+ range, but at least things are starting to move in the right direction.  The snow may be in a hurry to melt, but the ice can't be rushed.  We still can't tell when the ice will be out for sure.  The forecast calls for rain and wind, both will help.  If the temperatures stay warm, that will help as well.  We need to wait and see how things progress, but it is feeling decidedly spring like around here!  ~Rachel

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ice Conditions

We sure have been having a chilly spring this year!  The temperatures feel a lot more like what a northern Minnesota springs should be like.  We have been a little spoiled the past few springs!  A slow moving weather pattern has been dumping some wet, heavy spring snow on us for the past week now.
I went out last week to drill a hole in the ice on Round Lake.  We still have a foot of snow on top the ice which is keeping it very insulated (this was before received about 18" of snow on Thursday night!).  The ice is still around 26 inches thick.  Reports from Sagananga Lake and Gunflint Lake are reporting around 30 inches of ice as well.
For those of you concerned for you upcoming canoe trips, we will keep you posted!  It is a little to soon to tell for sure when the ice will come out.  What the weather decides to do next week will make a lot of difference.  We do know that the late spring should keep the water temps down making for some nice fishing opportunities.  All this snow should keep the water levels up for the spring and the fire risk down as well!
The DNR has a nice website that shows ice out conditions across the state -  Keep your eye on that and on our blog, we will let you know as soon as the ice goes out!      Rachel

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Parenting Puzzles

I pulled a puzzle out of our Christmas box this year, and I started piecing it together lately.  Hint:  those puzzles that the photo places make are a really cool idea.  But they have a uniform piece, and if you have a photo with....say....a lot of white legs, or green leaves, or rocky ground, you can mix up the pieces.  I mean, pieces actually fit where they don't belong--as in knees on the wrong legs, and toes on the wrong feet.

Another thing though, is putting pieces together of these kids I knew so well.....I could recognize one crinkled eye, or the twisted way the kid held his foot, and I loved that part.  It was such a wash of nostalgia.  I don't know if you can recognize Daniel on the far left end of the hammock, but he is holding up an apple speared with a knife.  Only I cropped the knife out, because---our kid was only 8 and...what could I have been thinking?  He never actually speared anyone by accident, and he was so proud of being the Sam Gribley woodsman, that.....he had a pocket knife at age eight and I didn't want it recorded.

I remember .....3 moms, 6 kids, 2 for each mom---made a perfect 9p Seagull Lake  trip.  We promoted independence, which meant we hovered from afar.  I was casually swimming with  my hand practically at the scruff of one  particular swimmer's neck -one who had no business swimming to the rock, but was too cool to be the only one in the lifejacket.  Because that is what we moms do, for anybody's kid  There was a kids' tent and a mom tent, but....when it got dark, I remember one little guy padding over to the moms' tent with oversized feet in footy pajamas, and a little while later one Shelby wanted me to sleep out under the stars with her.  So I took my pillow and went of course.  We were making memories.

But the thing is, as nostalgic as I always am (honestly, I never missed a single chance...I even felt waves of nostalgia every time my kids switched to bigger diaper sizes. )    I believe all this sappy savoring that I do has helped me treasure every age.  Because I miss these kids in this puzzle.  A whole lot.  But not enough that I would  give up the kids I have today for the kids I had in that puzzle.

It's hard to explain how much I like the kids I have now.  Back then, I was responsible for the field trips.  Now I'm responsible for the restful home.   I used to plan and hope that they would like adventures, that they would spend their time in the woods rather than in the computer room.   I used to wonder if they would learn to pitch in--be good team players.  Now I watch them lead their teams.  If I'm home, I get to meet their friends.  I get to visit colleges with Shelby...and anticipate how much she will like it there.

These days,  I get up before they get up--rather than the other way around.  I've traded those early mornings looking for a spare moment to myself for ---struggling to keep my eyes open late enough to  hang around while Shelby completes an art assignment, or being available in case Daniel wants to play the riff on the guitar.   I don't have to stay home to take care of them anymore, but I want to stay home just in case---.  Ironically you'd think,after all these years, I'd be something of an expert at it, but still I screw up.  I still fight with Shelby about her sleep habits.  I guess I don't have to head/knee lock Daniel to get him to brush his teeth, but we do have some headlocks about other things....some too trivial to even mention.

Some parents with younger kids thank me for taking the carpool turns...when I'm thinking...are you kidding me?  I have about 2 months left in this stage in my life, and it's the only time I get to listen to 15 year old boys banter.  I'll take every chance.

 And I still get to see the other kids once in awhile.  Guess what?  They all turned out to be pretty good campers, so far.  If you look closely at this video---as they planned and practiced their own Grand Marais parade flash dance, you'll recognize them amid the crowd.

You know, I expected to feel more loss in all of this.  I really liked being a mom to those little kids, I liked planning birthday parties, reading the books aloud, taking them camping.  Sometimes they ask me to help them figure out their independent camping trips, once and awhile they let me plan the scavenger hunts, but I'm in the background.  They choreograph their own dances now.   Maybe later in life there will be a time when the growing up will make me sad, but for the moment feels just about right.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ice Fishing to Tuscarora

Cousins Daniel and Joe were done with their hockey seasons.  We thought...QUICK!  Time to go fishing.  A person never knows when it’s time for hockey to start up again, and that is the truth about that sport.  I’m glad that they love it, and there’re all kinds of things about sports and teams that are valuable and worthy.  Hockey is a unique beast, and I’ll go anywhere gladly to cheer him on, but let’s just say I’m not missing the way it smells.

 Anyhow, this particular Saturday, the lake trout were calling.  They never call me as loudly as they call Danny, but there was one that was taunting me. (Darn it).   My brother Mike joined us too, and he kept saying  “well, I never really expect to catch fish in the winter,”  and I kept thinking…..this is a really long way to go if we’re not expecting to catch fish.

To hike into Tuscarora…..snowshoe, ski, haul….is somewhere between 8 and 10 miles.  In the morning, when we’re packed up and ready to go, we like to say…maybe it's a little more than six miles.  At sundown, when I limp back in the door, I like to think it’s more like 10.   It’s a day, that’s for sure.

Joe is sold on winter hiking over summer portaging, and –I think I might be with him on that. I honestly like summer portaging quite a bit, but the Tuscarora portage on this particular winter day was pure bliss. 

It was a great photo-shoot on Tuscarora, we thought…hey,  no problem, we made it!  The sun came out…but actually it was the longest stretch from the portage to our favorite spot.   Daniel  plowed ahead with the sled, breaking trail for a good chunk of it this time.  And I trudged along chanting in my own head about Sam McGee, from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.  Why he left his home in the south to roam round the pole, God only knows.   He was always cold, but that land of gold seemed to hold him in its spell.  Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d sooner live in hell. ….

Tuscarora had about a dozen people on it, which at first seemed like a ripoff to travel all that way, and join in the party, but in the end,  no one occupied in our spot at the ledge so, it was rather cheerful to have them across the lake---and hear an occasional yelp when maybe somebody was catching something.

So here’s the secret, when a person stops trudging, a person has perspired, and a person is sort of wet, she gets cold fast.  So, the trick is to drill holes sooner than later, and then change the base layer.  Yep, change the entire base layer.  I’m here to tell you, it’s painful, but the only option.   

And then after all that, and after I traded my ski boots for my beloved toasty Neos, I stood by the hole and sloooooowly  lifted the pole up, and lowerd the pole down.   Moving the minnows sooooo slow.    Just the right speed, up…………..and down……..up……………….and down…reel a little, try  a new depth….up………………..and down………….up………and down………..then, I start chanting in my head again.
A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

Up…….and down……………up……..and down…….FISH ON!!!!    Or…in my case…..Hey!   HEY!!!!  I have a fish. YOU GUYS  I HAVE A FISH!!!  So much for outfitter cool.  The boys came running over, and the ice rebounded just a little sloshing a little water up all the holes.  So much for sophomore cool.   We were peering in the dark hole, still reeling, and they’re telling me how to reel, faster, slower, set the hook, don’t jerk it---finally I just handed the pole to Daniel.  But shoot……the line slacked a little in the handoff, and I lost that fish.  ARG!  Snap.  Cannot believe I let him get away.  I STILL can’t believe it got away from me.  What was I thinking???  Darn it.   We had plenty of fish for dinner, but I’m still snapping about that one that got away.. 

Funny how that FISH ON gets everybody's adrenaline going, so we switched up a few holes, and we all hurried up to stand by the holes again….up….and down, up……………..aand up.
They caught some,  lost a few, lots of action, Denali supervised.  Mike caught a few that he didn't really expect to catch in the winter,  we hauled it all back, and shuffled through a fish dinner…..unbelievably tasty, it’s true.  Something about fresh, cold, water trout—well, we had to smile before our heads dropped.  I had one dream that I was 90 years old, and was a really good sport about it.  Everyone thought it remarkable, how I could get around so cheerfully with all that arthritis.   I was THAT sore, in my dream, in my bed, in my sleep.  Had to be 10 miles....

Good day, good guys.  It doesn’t escape me (or my brother Mike)…that our roles in these cousin adventures are fleeting.  I look forward to the stories that Joe will retell—it’s a gift he has, to make it almost better than life.   And I’m grateful for freezeframes that make up my the movies of my memories.  It was a good one.

But darn it.  I still can’t believe I lost that one.