Ice Fishing 2023

1 fish, 2 fish…

The third annual ice fishing trip is in the books! The crew consists of me and three work buddies – Lou was able to join Tom, Micah, and me for the first time this year, so we had four poles in four ice holes. Plus several tip-up style rigs, which is how we caught our only two fish.

Tom’s truck was loaded up and we climbed in to make the 5.5-hour drive north. l to r: Lou, Tom, me, and Micah.

We opted to head to northern Wisconsin in January instead of February hoping that it would be a little warmer for us and for the fish. Our first trip resulted in catching one fish. Our second trip was a bust – zero. This year we caught two! Both nice sized Northern Pikes. Although it wasn’t quite the amount we were hoping to catch, it was enough for a nice lunch of fried fish.

Tom showing off a rod to Lou.

Micah was once again our awesome breakfast chef and whipped up three great meals, in addition to helping Tom with frying up the fish.

Starting the day off right with a ham/cheese/egg bagel sandwich

Micah wondering why we haven’t caught any fish yet.

It wasn’t long before we caught our first Northern Pike!

A picture with me and Tom holding the fish because it’s my blog, dang it.

Our second fish was caught not long after the first one, with Lou doing the honors of reeling in this whopper.

I had made dinner reservations for Friday night in case we didn’t catch any fish, and the two fish we caught we decided to save for tomorrow’s lunch. The special dinner out this year was at Norwood Pines Supper Club and we enjoyed the all-you-can-eat fish fry. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meals.

The after-dinner photo at Norwood Pines Supper Club, Minocqua, Wisconsin.

We had a backup plan this year in case fishing wasn’t going our way. Tom had mentioned maybe renting snowmobiles and I had been thinking of buying one. I ended up buying two new Ski-Doo 2-up trail sleds to have at the house. Renting some additional ones fell through, but we took turns riding the awesome trails that exist in the snowmobile capital of the world, the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

While Tom & Micah fished, Lou and I hit the trails on the new sleds.

Saturday was our last full day and we started off fishing but the lack of action made Lou and I opt for hitting the trails. Lots of exploring before heading back for lunch.

Tom cleaned the two fish and he and Micah fried them up. Delicious! Made for a great lunch.

Tom and Micah hadn’t had a chance to do any snowmobiling yet, so after lunch, we all found a helmet that fit our heads and headed out for some sledding. Lou and I rode shotgun while Tom and Micah explored Dan’s Trail and many others.

The sun had come out and was providing some beautiful scenery to stop and enjoy.

We decided to head to a town called Sayner, where I thought we would just turn around and head back. Of course, we missed a turn and went way out of our way heading back home, now in complete darkness. It was a fun experience to ride by headlights at night. A little nerve-wracking too.

Since we didn’t catch any fish on Saturday, we opted for Bad Bones BBQ in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin.

Evenings were spent playing poker and Lou won all three nights. Didn’t realize that he was a card shark.

High-stakes gambling going on.

Sunday always comes too soon. We cleaned and packed up and headed back home full of talk about the fishing and snowmobiling. We hope to be back again next year!

Hiking in Cinque Terre Italy

My wife Kari and I celebrated our 30th anniversary with a trip to Italy and we had a great experience.  Our trip was booked through a company called Backroads, a company that specializes in hiking and biking adventure-style trips.  For our trip, we chose to hike in Cinque Terre, Italy, and it was magnificent.  A mixture of beautiful and colorful seaside villages, colorful vistas, and hiking trails that were a mix of easy walking and technical terrain.  We seemed like we were busy from the moment we got to Pisa, to the moment we left the group in Florence.  It was an incredible trip.  I’ve summarized the trip below, but my words and photos barely do the trip justice.  I hope you enjoy reading it.  Here’s a link to Backroads and our trip:  Backroads Cinque Terre Hiking Tour


Our flight to Pisa Italy included a stop in Frankfurt Germany, which helped break up the trip a little. We landed in Pisa in the morning and taxied to our hotel a little bit outside of Pisa. Upon checking in we taxied back into Pisa to explore the sights.

I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it was an amazing tour. Thanks to Kari, we had tickets to go up inside it and see the views of the city. We walked along the top of what I considered the fortress walls and had a nice lunch in an open market-type setting. Lots of walking and discovering. We hopped the local train back a couple of stops to our hotel, which was within easy walking distance. After some time in the whirlpool there, we opted to have a nice dinner in the hotel. Jet lag was setting in and we opted for bed.


We decided that the train was a great option, even with having to drag our bags to the station to go back to Pisa and meet up with the tour group.  But one thing we learned the day before, TrenItalia can be a little hit or miss with consistency.  The train was ten minutes late yesterday and on a different track than what it said it would be on.  Fortunately, most locals speak English and we were directed to the correct train.  The ride into Pisa was also an adventure.  We figured out where to be, but when the locals heard the announcement they all got up and left.  I asked a guy if he spoke English and could explain what was going on, and he said that the train had switched tracks.  We hustled back over to the other side and caught the train in time.

Meeting the group was next, and everyone was very friendly and excited to meet everyone.  The group was all from the US and I think Kari and I were just barely the youngest of the group.  It was exactly how I pictured the demographic of the group to be – retired, or almost retired.  From the east coast to midwesterners, to the west coast, we had it covered.

Soon our tour guides appeared and made their introductions.  David was a young man from Spain, Auguste was a young lady from Lithuania, both would serve as our main guides, and Lauren, a young lady from Great Britain I think, a tour guide who would provide support and move our luggage and stuff from point to point on this trip.  

We took a bus to our first stop and David and Auguste laid out some ground rules and provided info on how our trip would go.  We ended up at a small mom-and-pop restaurant at the top of a hill called Il Piccolo Blu in Campiglia, and the views of the Mediterranean Sea were impressive.  The lunch was samples of a variety of local kinds of pasta and sauces and it was delicious.  After lunch, we headed outside and prepared for our first hike.  David said that had it been wet he would not have taken us on the whole hike, as the rocky terrain could get slippery.  But we lucked out and were able to do the whole distance.  He and Auguste had warned us as to the difficulty of this hike and I was doubtful at first, but it wasn’t easy!  This was no stroll in the park.  


We woke up and had a buffet-style breakfast at the Hotel Belvedere and then we met for the hike briefing for the day. A bus awaited to take us to Riomaggiore where we would begin the day’s hike. As we pulled into the very quaint town, my eyes were drawn to the hillside that seemed very steep, and I could see people climbing up it. It was at that point that I knew where we would also be going. It looked challenging! And it was beginning to rain lightly as well. The hiking was definitely a cardio buster. Lots of vertical climbing, but the views from up high were well worth it.

This day had options for hiking, and you could do extra as long as you were quick. Kari wasn’t quite feeling well, so we played it safe and skipped one of the extra hikes. We needed to catch a train to the next town to continue the hike and it would have been tight. I think only one or two of the group did the extra one. We passed through several very cool towns. At the end of the day, the group met up for a train ride back to Santa Margherita Ligure. Our hotel for the next two nights was the Hotel Continental. There was a mix-up with our bags, but it got figured out. Our room had a beautiful view.

On Day Three we met the group for breakfast and then hiked from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino, hiking up stone staircases, past villas, and churches, through olive groves, and ended up in the beautiful seaside town of Portofino.  We had a nice lunch and dipped our bare feet into the Ligurian Sea.  We chose to hike the coastline back to Santa Margherita Ligure, which provided stunning water views.

We were on our own for dinner, and even though we had reservations at a restaurant, it looked a little too fancy (i.e. fancy fish-type meals) for my tastes, so we called an audible and ate at one of the local places on the plaza.  

Day 4 Bus trip to Chianti in Tuscany – Rainy Hiking

For Giorno Quattro, we took a bus to Tuscany. Of course, the bus had a mechanical issue, but we all took it in stride. It was a rainy day, and when we got to Greve in Chianti, we enjoyed some local meats and cheeses for lunch. It was raining pretty hard and both David and Auguste were a little surprised to hear us all say that we would hike to the next stop instead of taking a shuttle. On this hike, we arrived in the Chianti Classico region and a town called Montefioralle, the birthplace of Amerigo Vespucci. The rain eventually stopped, and we slogged through some wet spots until we arrived at our next lodging place, the Villa Le Barone, a really fantastic villa with stunning views of the Tuscan Hills.

We cleaned up and then enjoyed a wine tasting with a local expert (with many of us nodding off!) before having a nice dinner with the group in the hotel.

Giorno Cinque – Radda in Chianti

Day Five began with a great breakfast at the hotel and then we did a short hike to Radda. There was a really cool cycling event going on called L’Eroica, with the participants riding bikes made in 1985 or earlier. They dressed the part as well. We attended a balsamic vinegar tasting at the shop of the wine expert from the previous night. It was clear he knew his wines and balsamic vinegar. We sampled some ice cream with balsamic vinegar on it and it was very good!

We were afforded a little time to do some shopping and I bought a cool retro bike jersey with the Chianti Black Rooster on it. It’s pretty cool.

Our hike took us to the 11th-century vineyard and wine cellar of Castelvecchi winery. Our snack samplings there were great, especially the focaccia bread! We attended another wine tasting and learned about the process of making wine. They were actually harvesting grapes there at the time, and I watched a machine remove the grapes from the vines.

Hiked to another town for lunch and enjoyed great conversations and watched some of the bikers go past. We needed a good lunch as the hike back to the hotel was about six miles on some gravel road. At one point there were some dogs guarding some sheep and barking at us, but the weird part was a guy laying in the grass yelling at the dogs. Very strange.

Upon getting back we enjoyed some beautiful sunset views and met the group for our last dinner together. We all enjoyed sharing what our favorite parts of the trip were, and many of us did not want it to end.

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Day Six – Our Final Day of Hiking

On Day Six we took a short hike to another local vineyard on a cool damp morning. After breakfast at the hotel, we packed our bags and walked to the bus for a trip to Florence and to say goodbye to the group. It really was a great tour group!

Florence seemed hectic and intimidating for me at first. Kari and I walked around and got the lay of the city. Kari purchased tickets for a local museum which was very cool. Lots of marble statues and beautiful art by some very well-known people – Michaelangelo and Donatello to name two of them. Our tickets also allowed us to climb a bell tower that gave stunning views of the city and the boisterous clanging of bells was quite deafening being right near them as they rang. We walked the one bridge with shops that somehow escaped the destruction of WWII, and then got lost looking for a spot offering views of the city. Made it back to a piazza for dinner and then walked back to the hotel exhausted from the day.

Day 7 – Florence to Rome via train

We hopped onto a high-speed train to get to Rome. We checked into the hotel and then set about seeing some of the best of Rome on our last full day in Italy. We wandered over to the Colosseum and realized that tickets were going to be needed to see the inside. There were plenty of pushy tour-selling agents standing around, but we happened to find one of them who explained to us the benefits of paying for a tour instead of trying to do it ourselves without being pushy about it. We did a lot of walking around on a sunny and warm day. The tour was great – we got to see and get informed about the Colosseum. The history there was amazing. We were getting exhausted and opted to return to the hotel for a shower and dinner at a nearby restaurant.

And that wraps it up!  I think the way we chose to experience Italy was fantastic.  A little bit of our own wandering coupled with a great hiking tour.  I highly recommend Backroads for tours.  They have tours all over the world, and I’m sure Kari and I will be doing another Backroads tour soon.  

My Covid Marathon

We started to hear about this Covid thing in 2019 and I figured I wouldn’t really have to worry about it. Previous viral events never became an issue for me, so why worry about this one. Well, it quickly became a pandemic and virtually shut down the world. I took it seriously from the beginning, wearing a mask, washing my hands more frequently, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and avoiding social gatherings. When the vaccine became available, I got the two doses and followed up with the two boosters. For two years we lived our lives around this thing. Eventually, the vaccine had an impact, the virus became weaker in its variants, and we all started to let our guard down and move on with our lives. My wife and I decided that we could actually travel for our 30th wedding anniversary, so off we flew to join a hiking tour of the amazing Cinque Terre area of Italy. Even Italy, which had somewhat strict Covid policies, would remove the requirement of wearing masks on public transportation while we were there. The trip was awesome, and I was starting to believe that I had some special anti-Covid avoidance ability. Three days after getting back home, I developed a tickle in my throat. “Oh, I must be getting a cold,” I thought. I was planning to pick up my packet for the Chicago Marathon on Friday, but I just wanted to rule out that I had Covid instead of just a simple cold. The rapid at-home test was very definitive – I had Covid.


I have to say I wasn’t surprised, but I was a little pissed off. I had managed to avoid it for so long, but it eventually got me. I wondered where I might have been exposed. No one in our tour group really seemed sick at all. On the flight back home, Kari said there was a guy sitting behind me coughing quite a bit. I hadn’t noticed as I wore headphones while watching a couple of movies and was also sleeping for a while. I guess maybe it could have been there, not sure but it doesn’t matter. I now had it and there was no way that I was going to go get my marathon race packet, nor was I going to run the Chicago Marathon.

Within an hour I made the decision to pack my things and go quarantine at our lake home in northern Wisconsin. If I had to be in solitary confinement, why not pick a beautiful place to do it.

Morning in Minocqua, Wisconsin

The drive up north was no big deal. Other than the slightly scratchy throat, I felt pretty good. But the next two days were the worst of it. I describe it as having a mild case of the flu, or a mild-moderate cold. I would get a mild fever, some congestion, a dry cough, and some chills, all of which were dealt with by taking some over-the-counter severe cold and flu medication. By day four, I felt okay. Did some yard work, finished winterizing the boat and wave runner, and even went for a five-mile, easy-paced jog. On day five, I decided to head home. According to the CDC, I was done with my quarantine and could head back to work as long as I followed some protocols. My job keeps me separated from my coworkers for the most part. As I left, my son Ben said that he was also Covid positive now, and was heading to the “safe house” as he put it.

A week after testing positive I must say that I felt pretty good. There was some lingering congestion, especially in the evening. I had done a couple little runs just to see how I felt, and they went fine. After missing out on training for ten days in Italy, and also during my quarantine, I was starting to get a little concerned about my conditioning for the Tunnel Hill 100, which is only three weeks away. I checked my training plan and it showed that I needed to run 24-26 miles. I kind of dreaded that proposal, but on Saturday morning I packed up my running vest with supplies and headed out the door on a cool but beautiful morning. I planned the route to the west on the trail, as eastbound was being repaved, and I needed to make sure I could refill my water. I ran my usual 4 min. run/2 min. walk pace strategy and it was going well. I turned around where the trail ended at 11.5 miles and started heading back. Somewhere along the way, I decided that since Covid stole the Chicago Marathon away from me, I might want to steal it back. Getting back home would net 23 miles, a distance that I could be happy with, but I figured that if I felt good enough, I would add an extra 3.2 miles at the end and that is just what I did.

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I ended up with a marathon in five hours and twenty-four minutes. Nice and slow ultra-pace. I joked with a friend that all five of my Ironman marathon splits were faster than that. But it did wear me out. My joints were pretty sore afterward, and even though I thought I managed the nutrition side well, I felt wiped out. My wife reminded me that I was sick, and I’m sure that is a contributing factor. But the run was not the confidence builder that the 54-mile run I had done in September was. I think I will have to adjust my pace plan and run a 2-minute run/2-minute walk for Tunnel Hill. It worked very well at the Broken Anvil event, and the goal of Tunnel Hill is to travel 100 miles, not do it in record time.

I’m going to be pretty cautious with the final three weeks of training. I’m relying heavily on Kari being healthy in order to assist me during the hundred miler, so I don’t want her to get sick. I’m glad to see that Covid was mild for me, it could have been worse. We don’t seem to be done with this pandemic yet.

The Father of the Groom Speech

For my son’s wedding, I was asked along with others in the family to give a brief speech at the reception. Below is my contribution. ~ Chris

Thank you all for joining us tonight. I’m so proud to know that my son has found the perfect life partner, and I’m so pleased to welcome not only Emily into our family but Emily’s family as well. And to everyone here enjoying this significant moment in our lives, I think of you as family too.

I may not like to admit it, but I might happen to be an old softie when it comes to romance. I love it when the guy gets the girl. My wife can attest that if a movie has some sort of romantic element as its focus, the guy better get the girl in the end or I’m not a happy camper. The movie that made me that way was an 80’s film called The Sure Thing. Now the sure thing, in this case, wasn’t about love really, it was more about… well, it was about having a fun time on a college break. I don’t think John Cusak’s character was really wanting the “sure thing” and Daphne Zuniga’s character definitely wasn’t going to be the “sure thing” either.

Ben had told me that Emily was sort of resistant to his advances at first, maybe making it clear that she was a strong woman who didn’t necessarily need a boyfriend. But the cross country and track team spirit must have led to meaningful interactions in which Ben got Emily to drop her guard a little.

Kari and I first met Emily after a Loras track meet, one that she would make a “splash” at, falling into the water pit of the steeplechase as I photographed her doing so. Rising from the cold pit of water, she charged onward, determined to still do the best she could. I was impressed with her effort. Afterward, she came by Ben’s dorm room as we were getting ready to leave and we were introduced. I could tell then that there was something special happening between them. Fortunately, the dating continued and romance bloomed. It wouldn’t be long before they shared long runs, a graduation ceremony, vacations up north, an apartment, and their first home together.

In the movie, the point was less about finding the “sure thing” and more about discovering the “real thing.” And, as a romance softie, I’m happy to say that I think Ben and Emily have both found the “real thing.”

So as you go through life, remember that moment in which you met, the moment that sparked the connection between the two of you, and remember that you have each found the real thing in each other. Cheers to you and many happy years of love and laughter together.

The Dreaded Colonoscopy

I go to my doctor regularly, he won’t refill my prescription otherwise, so it’s good to get a check-up and make sure that I’m doing well. He knows no one likes a colonoscopy, so he offers a screen test called “fecal occult blood test,” which looks to see if blood is in your stool and might indicate possible issues with the colon. I failed it. Twice. So he ordered the dreaded colonoscopy.

I’ve had a colonoscopy once before, but not because I turned 50 years old. That time my blood tests showed that I was anemic, so again, there was concern that I was bleeding in my intestinal tract somewhere. That revealed a few small, benign polyps, but no other issues.

So, even though I’m not that excited about having a camera/claw device inserted in my rectum, I will gladly do the tests for peace of mind. But ask anyone who has had a colonoscopy and they’ll all tell you the same thing – “THE PREP IS THE WORST PART!”

I know this first hand from the last time. The stuff you have to drink is strong and tastes awful, but that’s nothing compared to the violent diarrhea that you will deal with for hours. Fun times.

When I got the instructions for the prep I have to admit it made me nervous. I was glad that I didn’t have to do a self-administered enema this time. Others I have talked with all said that they didn’t have to do that. I don’t remember taking the laxatives last time, but they’re listed on the sheet, so I guess I will take them.

My biggest concern is not being able to eat! My coworker Julie had been bombarded with my questions about the procedure because I knew she had done it not too long ago. When I asked her what I should eat before the prep she said that she would go eat a big hamburger and fries at Five Guys. I didn’t see the point of that, as the prepping would just blow that right out of me anyway. On the day of the prep I decided to get one last 8-mile training run in at midday, and then pondered what I could eat. I settled on some baked potato soup and some yogurt, hoping that my body could absorb some carbs before the magnesium citrate blew it out my backside.

I chose some soup for my last meal in hopes of getting some quick calories in me before the prep began.


I made sure that my friends were kept abreast of the situation.

At 3 pm it was go time. I had stuck the bottle of “nasty juice” in the freezer because I had heard it tastes better when it’s really cold. I took the two laxative pills with some water and then started drinking the magnesium citrate. Although it was somewhat strong tasting, it really wasn’t that bad. It had some aftertaste, but I just drank some water and chewed some bubble gum to get rid of it.

My prep stuff – Mg Citrate, laxatives, and plenty of water.

I had missed a phone call while out on a run and checked the voicemail when I saw it. It was a call from the doctor’s office and I started to freak. Are they calling to reschedule this appointment?! Well, yes – but they just pushed it back by an hour or so. I would not have been happy if I had started the prep and they had to cancel my procedure!

I prepped the bathroom with extra toilet paper and magazines, and I made sure that my iPad and phone were fully charged. Then I waited until the fun stuff started.

And I waited. And waited some more. By 5 pm I was supposed to take the second bottle of Mg Citrate and I still hadn’t had the result that I had expected. I was starting to get worried. Did I skip a step? Was I omitting something? I reread the instructions and was pretty sure that I was following the prep plan precisely. I downed the second bottle and waited.

I had a couple of what I would describe as weak efforts, but I was starting to sense that things were building. The last bottle of was to be taken at 9 pm, however, I was not sure I could get it down. I was experiencing a feeling that my stomach wasn’t emptying what was already in it. With the previous two Mg Citrate bottles, I pretty much just got them down as quickly as possible, but bottle three wasn’t happening. I could take a swig and then follow that with some water, but it really wasn’t tasting good. With about 2 ounces left in the bottle, I declared that I had drunk enough. More sitting around and watching television, but never too far from the toilet.

I kept sipping water and making an occasional trip to the toilet. It seemed like things were beginning to happen. Midnight was the cutoff from all liquids, so I packed it in and went to bed. Sometime around 1:30 am I was awakened suddenly with my bowels telling me it was time to get to the toilet. I made several trips back and forth between the bed and the toilet between 1:30 am and 4 am. I did seem to sleep well in between urgent visits to the bathroom. I slept in until about 7:30 am and decided to check on the dog. I wasn’t excited about getting up – no food or water until after the procedure, which was scheduled for noon.

Murphy was a little concerned with all my moving around.


Since my wife Kari was in Florida, I enlisted Ashley to be my required assistant. They won’t do the procedure unless you have a driver. I was tired, hungry, and had a headache from those two issues. We hopped into Ashley’s car and got a mile or so down the road and I realized that I didn’t have my mask, which was required there even though the state mask mandate was stopped the day before. We turned around and still made it to the endoscopy center near the hospital in time. After going into the wrong office at first, we found the correct one (there were only two) and I got checked in.

A nice nurse brought me back and gave me instructions to get undressed and put on a gown. I was led to a room to be prepared for the procedure. A quick check of my BP and heart rate and she asked if I was a runner. A low resting heart rate seems to always trigger that question from nurses. Turns out she had run the Chicago Marathon in 2021 and was happy to talk running with me. When the doctor came in to meet me, I was surprised by such a warm welcome. His Yelp! reviews weren’t all that great! He looked at my clothes bag and noticed the Hoka running shoes in there and asked if I ran. I guess I’m not fooling anyone. Another doctor who was there to knock me out with IV drugs came in and was all business. Next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the procedure room and turning onto my left side. I could see the clock read 12:38, and that’s the last thing I remember until I was awakened and brought back to where I was before. Ashley was already there waiting, and the doctor came in and gave me the rundown. Everything looked good. He found and removed three polyps and advised that the blood in my stool was most likely from hemorrhoids. Great, now I got new problems.

I asked to walk to the bathroom and forgot to lock the door and someone burst in and found me sitting there. I think it was the doctor, but I found it humorous. I walked back to my holding area all by myself and got myself dressed. Ashley was told to go pull the car around and I got a ride to the curb in a wheelchair. And that was it.

I made Ashley drive us to Portillo’s and we picked up a post-procedure meal and ate it at home. I had been looking forward to that meal for 24-hours.

Making Ashley drive me to Portillo’s. She was very willing. My wife said I looked “hangry” in this photo.


I am not one to share personal details about my health on this page. But I wanted to show that if a big baby like me can get through it, so can you. See your doctor regularly. Get checked out and be healthy. If you are over 45 years old, get a colonoscopy. Yeah, the prep sucks. However, think about this: Colon cancer is one of the top causes of cancer-related deaths, but it’s also one of the most easily preventable thanks to colonoscopies. They are essentially painless, quick, and can save your life. Do it for me. Do it for your family. Do it for you.

Thanks for reading!

Ice Fishing 2022

In February 2021, I took a couple of coworker buddies Micah and Tom up to my lake home in Minocqua, Wisconsin to do some ice fishing and we had a great time. (You can read it about it here: Ice Fishing Fun). Tom is the fisherman, Micah likes outdoor fun, and I am fortunate enough to have a house on a lake to enjoy great activities all year long. Although we only caught one dang fish in 2021, and nearly froze our rear-ends off, we decided to go back to give catching some fish another go. Unfortunately, another buddy Lou couldn’t make it again this year, so he’ll just have to read about the fun here instead. Next year for sure, Lou!!!

Me, Micah, and Tom in Tom’s truck and heading north.

A winter snowstorm slowed our exit from Illinois but it ended after crossing the state line into Wisconsin.

We left work in the afternoon and motored along until stopping for dinner. As there’s not a lot of choices of places to stop for a quick meal, I suggested a common stop for me – Culver’s in Portage, Wisconsin. Tom and I were convinced we hadn’t stopped there before, but Micah was sure we had – “This is the same damn Culver’s we ate at last time, you jack-loads!” Micah was right. What can I say, there’s not much variety in Wisconsin.

We enjoyed our meal, as well as the circuses.

Upon getting to the house, we unloaded our junk, and Micah and Tom set about getting our rods set up just right to catch loads of fish.

Last year we went to a new bait shop in town and the owner kind of treated us indifferently. I think Tom said he treated us like “Fibs” – a Wisconsin put-down for Illinoisians. Fortunately, Kurt’s Island Sport Shop opens at 6am, so Tom hopped in his truck and came back with a bucket full of minnows and shiners (a bigger minnow) and some helpful advice as to where the hot spots for fishing was. Now it was time for some breakfast.

Starting our Friday morning off with a great breakfast.

Micah loves to cook and once again Tom and I were glad to let him do so. I was a little concerned about the chocolate-flavored pancake mix Tom brought along, but I have to admit that they were really tasty. I was disappointed in them somewhat when they opted for the fake Aunt Jemima syrup over real maple syrup, but whatever.

Tom measured the depth of the water and Micah jigged his pole. It’s actually not too cold in the shanty with a small propane heater going.

Hoping for warmer weather than what we had in 2021 was pointless. It was brutally cold, and also windy. And to add to that, later in the day it started snowing like crazy. Typical Northwoods weather in February, I guess.

After a few hours of not catching anything, we decided to head back inside, eat an early lunch, warm up a little, and then head back out.

Me outside of our shanty to check on the surroundings. Yup, still cold and snowy.

We found that the wind was really howling in the afternoon so we decided to head over to a cove that was protected from the wind and try our luck there. It was definitely better to be a little more sheltered from the wind, but the fish still weren’t biting.

Tom outside in the snow, checking to see if his beer was still there.

We opted to call it a day and head inside to shower and get ready for dinner. I had made reservations for us at Minocqua Prime, knowing that they had a pretty good Friday night fish fry. We all had the bluegill and enjoyed our dinners.

Dinner at Minocqua Prime.

Fried bluegill is pretty good.

A post-meal trip to Walmart to pick up some more food and some more propane for the heater, we then headed home. After a day on the lake and a very filling dinner, we found ourselves pretty tired and hit the sack at 8:30pm. Ended the day with zero bites and caught no fish.

Saturday morning didn’t start quite the way we were expecting, but after another great breakfast from Chef Micah, we were ready to hit the ice once again. The temperature was once again very cold, but we had sunshine and hardly any wind, so it made for a pretty comfortable day.

Tom doing some carpet cleaning. Don’t ask.
Another awesome breakfast.

Clearing the snow from the ice seemed like a good idea, but it made for some puddles and slick surfaces.

We chose a new location for some deeper water but it didn’t yield any action. We are starting to be convinced that there are no fish in the lake in the winter. After a little while, we moved closer to what’s called Clumbs Island hoping for some luck near a weedier part of the lake but still had no bites.

Since we had gotten a little bit of a late start to the day we decided to skip lunch and fish until we had enough. Once again, the conversations Tom and Micah were having were very interesting. I don’t know when I became an old man, but I found myself shaking my head at the stuff these two were talking about. But it was entertaining nonetheless.

We make not catching fish look like fun!

We finally pulled the plug on fishing and packed it up for the day. The neighbor has some open water near his on-the-lake boathouse which prompted those two to once again think about doing the Northwoods version of the Polar Plunge. That made me really nervous. I was relieved when their scouting of the water made them reconsider doing that. Why can’t they be normal? (lol)

Since they had deemed the Polar Plunge to be out, we opted to do some sledding down the hills in my yard. That’s more my speed.

We showered up and headed over to a wood-fire pizza place called Oakfire. Another great meal and more great conversations with these two.

Tom was pushing really hard to drive his truck on the lake and I was trying really hard not to let him do it. But I finally relented and we found ourselves driving onto the lake. A minute later he got off the packed down snow and we quickly found ourselves stuck in the snow! My fears were becoming reality! I probably wouldn’t have been too nervous about it, but Tom had already told us a story of how he got stuck in the snow with his truck. Micah and I got out to help push, and after Tom cleared some snow from the tires, we pushed. Micah fell down, I laughed, and we got ourselves unstuck. I think these two live to see me have nervous breakdowns.

We were actually on the lake – in a truck! And we survived!!!

Upon getting home, Tom wanted to play a game but I told him the games I had stunk. Sorry about that, Tom. I’ll have some better games next year.

Sunday morning came and Tom headed out to the lake while Micah and I opted to stay inside and have breakfast.

Breakfast has become the highlight of the weekend for the second year in a row.

Tom was able to land a couple small fish, but I never got to actually see them. But even so, this trip will forever be known as the no-fish ice fishing trip. Oh well, try again next year!

No Luck ’22

Ice Fishing Fun

I am very lucky to own a house on a lake with my wife and also very lucky to have four varied seasons to enjoy a variety of activities there. One that I had yet to try was ice fishing. Some buddies from work had shown an interest in going up there to give it a try, but something always seemed to get in the way – we waited too long and the ice got too thin, Covid happened, we just forgot about it, etc.

The topic came up again though, and we decided on a date. Our group included my coworkers Micah, Tom, and Lou; however, Lou had something come up and opted out of the trip.

We left at 11 am on Friday from work. We didn’t even get a 1/4 mile away and Micah made us stop because he forgot to pee before leaving. About 30 minutes later we stopped at an old haunt of Tom’s to grab a sandwich, which we ate in the car. From then on it was another five-hours of driving before we were there. Lots of conversations were had and I think that they know more about me than they bargained for. Our shared stories of how we met our significant others were a highlight.

Start of the trip. Heading north!

When we arrived I was beaming with pride about my house on the lake as they took it all in and gave me some great compliments. We unloaded our gear, and Micah and Tom picked out which bedroom they wanted, and then we made plans for dinner.

Since it was the first Friday of Lent, we opted for a fish fry somewhere and I played it safe and took them to the Boathouse in downtown Minocqua. Tom had some northern pike, Micah had the fried cod, and I opted for some fried walleye. Based on their comments, I think they really enjoyed the Boathouse.

On the way back we stopped at a local fishing/bait shop called “Dewey, Catchem & How” for some bait. The two guys inside must have thought we were real greenhorns and one of the guys helping us gave us a little attitude, but we got what we needed and then hopped back in the car with a bait bucket full of the biggest minnows I have ever seen.

Back home, we got busy getting the newly purchased rods and reels ready for fishing and made sure everything was ready to go. Micah had asked me how many fish I thought we would catch, and I kind of jokingly said “none. If we catch one, I’d be surprised,” I think my words were. They were having none of that negative talk. We were going to eat fish again tomorrow! Some more hanging around and talking then it was off to bed.

Prepping the new rods for fishing.

Picking out just the right jigs.

They made fun of my snowmobile suit, mainly because I don’t own a snowmobile.

Micah had promised to make his award-winning biscuits and gravy and it was outstanding! We supplemented it with some scrambled eggs and fried potatoes, and we were eating like fishermen ready to fish for the day.

The chef hard at work in the dark.

Awesome breakfast!

We had woken up to -12 degrees Fahrenheit and a forecasted high of 25. I don’t think it ever got that high, but the day itself was a clear blue sky with hardly any wind until the later afternoon when the breeze picked up a little. Thankfully, Tom brought a little propane-fueled heater which made our little pop-up shanty nice and toasty. It wasn’t long until I had my gloves off, and Micah and Tom had both removed their coats.

Hey Ice Hole! Drill a hole in the ice!

Ice on my mustache and our eyebrows.

-12 or so when we started. Thank goodness for the shanty and the little heater that kept us toasty.

But the real excitement started right after we got the shanty set up, the ice holes drilled, and Tom had set up his tip-ups. I had a pretty good understanding of how they worked and as we were doing some other baiting and what-not, I asked Tom how the pole-type tip-up worked, because I could clearly see that it had sprung up. This prompted Tom to bolt for the pole and start reeling in the line. We were all excited by Tom’s excitement when he declared that he had a fish! When he pulled it out it was a nice-sized Northern Pike!

Tom removing the one and only fish in the lake. The lake will now be devoid of fish.

A nice Northern Pike. A keeper!

Turns out it was not only the only Northern Pike in the lake but seemingly the only fish in the lake. Fifteen minutes into our day and we caught the only fish we were going to catch all day! We thought we were going to be eating like kings on fried fish! I’m still laughing about it.

We soldiered on, baiting our hooks, dropping our lines into the murky depths of Minocqua Lake, and talking up the excitement of catching more fish. Other groups had joined in on the fishing nearby and we were starting to notice that they were congregating in another area. I’m not sure if they were successful there or not, but next time I think we’ll give that area a try. The only issue with it is that it was pretty close to the snowmobile thoroughfare on the lake and they roared by with regularity.

My snow writing skills are getting better.

When it was time for lunch, we decided that maybe we should seek out another spot as ours had not produced any more nibbles. We dragged our stuff back across the lake and decided to set up shop out in front of the house. Tom drilled another hole in the lake and after sticking his depth/fish finder down into the hole it was declared that this would be a great spot. We went inside and filled our stomachs with sandwiches and chips and thawed out for a little bit before heading back outside. We had fish to catch, dang it!

After we ate, we rushed back down to get back at it and determined that we misread the depth on the display as 31 feet, but it was actually 3 feet 1 inch. Oops. Not quite deep enough. After Tom consulted a webpage that showed the depth of the lake we walked some of our stuff directly across the lake and left the shanty. After fishing for a while with our backs turned to a somewhat cold breeze, Tom added more steps to his watch and fetched the shanty. We then opted to move back closer to where we had caught the northern earlier in the day. It was not long after I hit the “wall.” I didn’t know that fishing could wipe me out as it did, but I was spent. I was doing everything I could to stay awake. My back was hurting, as well as my butt, and my brain was going numb as well. I was generally becoming a grumpy – make that a grumpier – old man. But we fished and held out hope that we would get lucky again.

After lunch I could barely stay awake.

At one point, with Micah’s family “FaceTiming” him, he thought he could sense a nibble, and got really excited that he may have seen a fish on his line. But it either was playing with him or it didn’t want to join the northern lying frozen in our bucket, and Micah was left fishless.

As the sun went down we realized that our day of ice fishing was coming to an end. I was relieved to finally be getting off of the cold lake, even if it would take a few more hours of me being grumpy until I was not as grumpy as before.

The sun setting on our day.

Tom cleaned his northern and Micah helped him wash it and fry it up. Tom called it our appetizer and we each had a little bit of the one northern pike in Minocqua Lake. It was a minor victory, but a victory none-the-less. Even with having to deal with the little bones, each bite was very tasty, and I was glad to have had an opportunity to share our bounty with Tom and Micah.

Tom beginning to clean a frozen fish.

Tom called this an appetizer.

Lots of “Y” bones as Tom called them, but it was very tasty.

We finished out our evening with a trip to Bad Bones BBQ in Arbor Vitae and then back home for some dominoes and a well-appreciated hot shower.

Tom and Micah playing some drunk dominoes and arguing over the rules. I was barely awake at this point.

After another great breakfast of pancakes and sausages, we packed up and headed for home, happy to have had the chance to share a weekend of fun together even if the fish feast didn’t happen. I still believe that we caught the one and only fish in Minocqua Lake, and that is an impressive feat.

Until next time…

The goodbye photo. A fun weekend.

This Is My Life

I am a menace to society.  People have hatred towards me.  When people see me I honestly think that it must make their blood boil.  I’m as heinous as they come.  I should be locked up put away for my crime.  What’s my crime, you ask?  It’s because I legally ride my bike on a roadway.

After another close call with the car driving public, the thought of this is how life is for a cyclist passed through my mind.  This is my life can have different meanings, such as:

  • This is my life…  It can be positive, just like this blog in which I post things about the amazing experiences that running, triathlon, and life have provided to me.
  • This is my life…  The things I do day in and day out.  Mostly the same as everyone else, but from my perspective.
  • This is my life…  Or possibly something that occurs occasionally that can be burdensome, such as doing laundry nearly every damn day.

I was riding my bike on a road that within less than a mile I would hope off of to catch the adjoining trail.  I just needed to be on it shortly.  But to people in cars, I might as well have purposely gone out of my way to plan my ride to coincide with their trip to Starbucks or whatever.

I get being inconvenienced.  I don’t like it either.  But I am a life out there on a bike, exposed to the world and your one-ton enclosed, all steel, with numerous safety features vehicle.  It blows my mind to think that a driver would go out of his way to avoid crashing into another vehicle, but some old guy in tight clothes on a bike is open game.  I probably wouldn’t even scratch your car as you hit me.

I wasn’t really intending to make this post an argument for sharing the road with cyclists.  I could tackle the arguments about why cyclists shouldn’t be allowed on the road, or give a counterpoint to “just because I can doesn’t mean that I should.”  I’ll save it for next time if the next time doesn’t kill me.

So as luck would have it, I have a video of this incident.   I have gotten to the point in my cyclist life that I feel it necessary to document my ride so that in the event that something happens to me, the authorities can look at the video and say “Yep, he was doing it right when he got run over.”

I was riding up some hills, the road was striped with double yellow, no-passing zone markings, and I was taking up a little more of the middle than the far right as safely possible just to give the impression that there wouldn’t be enough room to pass.  She attempted the pass anyway.  Watch the video.  Form your own opinion.  (Warning – The audio is quite loud – turn it down before hitting play.)

All I ask is that you think about that person on the bike when you drive.  They are someone’s family.  And it’s someone’s life that you put in jeopardy by not passing with caution.

This is my life.

35 Years to Life

Someone liked one of my recent training blog posts and started following my blog this past week.  I know this because I get a notification via my phone when it happens.  And this notification jolted me awake at 2am!  I have to learn to silence that notification!  But I always appreciate it when someone takes an interest in what I’m doing or writing about.

When I publish something it gets posted to the host website,, and it gets shared to a reader page.  I guess that is how they may discover my blog.  Other bloggers see these posts too.  Some find my posts when they search for “triathlon” or “running”, or maybe a race report for a specific race, or search for a specific tag.  Interestingly enough, besides my home page, my most popular blog is about my do-it-yourself electronic drum kit build that I did, and all I did was post it and walk away from it.  I never shared it on any forums or anything.

For me, this blog is about documenting my journey in my later stages of life so I can look back on it and reflect.  I write for me.  But there is a great satisfaction for me when someone hits that “Like” or “Follow” button.  I’m glad that something I shared is relatable to others.

So I checked on who liked my blog and it turns out he has had a struggle with alcoholism and has been sober for a couple of years now.  He uses his blog site to write about his journey.  I never did a specific blog post about being a non-drinker, but I may have mentioned it a few times here and there.  I gave it up in college, February 1985.  I was barely 21 years old, just getting started.  I did a dumb thing in a drunken, sleepwalking state and regretted it.  No, it wasn’t illegal, and I wasn’t even ridiculed for it – just some gentle ribbing and teasing from my friends.  But I was embarrassed and thought I could be a better person.  I never thought of myself as an alcoholic and I don’t think I fit that definition.  I’m just someone who said it was time to quit something I didn’t like just as I was getting started.

The original promise I made to myself was to no longer drink to get drunk, which is the exact opposite of what most college kids do.  I promised that I would only drink socially as long as I never overdid it again.  Well, a day without drinking turned into a week, which turned into a month, which turned into a year, which led to a decade, etc.  It’s been 35 years and 2 months and adding on day by day.

I never really missed it, and I certainly missed a lot.  Ice beers came and went in the late ’80s.  Wine coolers were a huge hit, too.  I never drank a single one.  I have no idea what makes a craft beer what it is or even what it tastes like.  Wedding toast?  I put a glass of Champagne to my lips and faked it.  Block parties?  I drank soda.

The current crazes are wines and whiskey.  My buddy has an awesome collection of whiskey/bourbon/scotch and the like.  I find it very interesting, but I am not drawn to it in any way.  He encourages me to give some a try, but I have no desire.

I truly don’t remember what being drunk actually feels like.  I couldn’t describe it to you.

So what has kept me on this path of sobriety for so long?  Not sure really.  Some people actually have an addiction that they have to overcome.  I wasn’t addicted.  I would never claim that I was an alcoholic.  I think that is an insult to those that struggle with alcoholism.  I didn’t even really enjoy the taste of alcohol, and I definitely didn’t enjoy the post-drinking hangover.  I quit drinking because I was embarrassed and just had enough will power to no longer do it.  I can sometimes challenge myself and get focused enough that I won’t let anything stop me from my goal.  Running marathons?  Doing an Ironman?  All tough things to do, but I focused on it and got them done.  Giving up drinking was just another challenge that went past the original sentence I gave myself – probation and don’t do it again.  Probation is way over now, and as an adult I think I could probably drink without being irresponsible.  But that’s not going to happen.  My sentence currently stands at 35 years to life.  I can do that easily.

So if my story of giving up something that everybody does and can provide you some inspiration to do the same, I would be thrilled.  Best of luck on your journey.


I have become a fan of listening to podcasts recently.  I’m not sure why I avoided them before, but my son is a fan and puts out a podcast with his girlfriend that I enjoy listening to, so I started looking for other things that might be interesting.  I stumbled across a podcast called Heavyweight, where the host Jonathan tries to help people resolve something from their past that has bothered or troubled them.  Sometimes it results in getting the answer the person is seeking, but often the process just helps them find peace with whatever their issue was.  One episode dealt with Jonathan trying to patch up a relationship with his father and uncle.  Another dealt with a woman who was kicked out of her college sorority without any real reason and numerous years later she wanted to know why.  I really like the vibe of the show as well.  You get a sense of virtual hand-holding or a virtual hug being given.  I guess it makes you feel good.  If you’d like to give it a listen, I’ve included a link to the web page at the bottom of this post.

After listening to a half a dozen or so episodes I started to wonder what my heavy weight might be.  I have a lot of things that I wish I could change or go back in time and fix.  But it was a dream I had the other night about an old friend that made me wonder why I lost touch with this person.  It was troubling enough for me that I grew tired of thinking about the dream after waking up and got out of bed a half-hour early just to clear my head.  If I had the opportunity to be on Heavyweight I guess it might go something like this:

HEAVYWEIGHT – Today’s Episode:  Chris and “My Friend Joe From Work”

In 1986 I was fresh out of college and by August I had started my first ever real job as a forensic scientist trainee for a small, private crime lab.  The internship I had completed in my last semester of college had given me some confidence and I thought I was prepared for the job.

The boss’s name was Andrew, and he would not suffer any fools.  I was a fool.  I had no real idea of what was expected of me or how to take initiative and it showed.  My internship had provided me structure and gave me tasks to perform as I learned how to analyze the minute details of stuff that is evidence.  At this lab, it took me a while to figure out that I wasn’t there to learn stuff, I was expected to know stuff and apply it.  I was learning the ropes as a trainee, except I wasn’t really a trainee in matters of scientific analyses, but rather a trainee for a period of time to see if I had the stuff to do the job.  Andrew once told me that he didn’t expect me to know everything, but he did expect me to try to find an answer to things I needed to learn.  That was good to know, but I got the feeling that if I didn’t start applying myself I was going to be gone.  I just didn’t know how to accomplish being more productive.

One time I got scolded by Andrew for having my hands in my pockets.  He said it made me look like I wasn’t doing anything.  Thirty years later and I still avoid putting my hands in my pockets unless they are really cold.  I wasn’t given a key to the building at first and it took me probably at least a half year before I finally mustered enough courage to ask him for one.  Andrew seemed like he was testing me, to see how much I could take.  He set the tone for how I would approach my bosses in subsequent jobs – avoid them as much as possible.  When Andrew gave me something to do, it was more like a command rather than a request.  I was slow to find my purpose there, but there was one saving grace – Andrew’s son Joe also worked there and Joe and I hit it off from day one.

My first day on the job I pulled into the parking lot and parked my tired 1971 Oldsmobile 442 in one of the spots and knocked on the door.  Joe had been given the task of guiding me around the lab and showing me the ropes.  Joe was a couple of years older than I was and it was clear we liked the same things.  He saw my 442 and said he was into old cars too.  He had owned a 1974 Camaro that was stolen from Six Flags in Gurnee and he really missed it.  We talked about cars and music.  We both had older siblings that provided us with similar musical tastes.  He took to calling me Skippy for some dumb reason and we became buddies quick and had a lot of fun.

I gradually started figuring out how to at least look busy and productive and avoid having the boss screw with my mind.  I eventually grew to gain some of Andrew’s trust and I came to respect the man.  He was a tough boss, and I benefited from that.  I learned to figure things out and to take initiative.  But I might not have lasted very long without connecting with Joe.  Having the trust of the boss’s son was definitely in my favor.  Andrew eventually promoted me from a trainee to a Forensic Scientist 1, gave me a raise, and I felt like I had won him over.

Some of my fond memories of working with Joe were centered around our lunch break.  We would go grab something to eat or take our sack lunches outside to the picnic table in the grassy area near the parking lot and have lunch with a couple other coworkers.  Joe and I would finish eating and then grab a football or baseball and gloves out of our cars and play catch until it was time to go back inside.  I had a bocce ball set that I kept in the trunk of the car and we would have a great time putting our own spin on the game.  We often came back inside somewhat sweaty after a hot lunch break.

We talked a lot about our childhood.  We shared stories about friends and family.  Joe took pleasure in learning about my Kansas family background and I secretly wished I was Italian after hearing his stories of his family.  His uncle Rocco was a great source of stories.  Rocco played for George Halas and the Chicago Bears briefly in the 1940s, and would occasionally visit Andrew at the lab.  He was a character.

I would spend the weekends back home with my longtime friends, often telling them about what Joe and I were up to.  I always referred to Joe as “my friend Joe from work,” which made them roll their eyes.  I think they grew a little annoyed hearing about my friend Joe from work.

We did a lot of similar things in our respective childhoods, but he had more of a motley crew of friends.  Joe’s story of a buddy named Clifford, who’s dad would yell “Dammit to Hell, Clifford!” whenever he was frustrated with the kid, which I found amusing and still sticks with me today.  I catch myself uttering it still, even though I have never met Clifford or his dad.  He had this other guy he knew that seemed like that guy from the movie Sling Blade, and Joe would use that voice and say “Mmm…  I don’t know what all or what of it, or something.”  Such a corny saying, but funny to him and to me as an outsider as well.  Another kid Joe would talk about had a speech impediment and would say his phone number as “pipe-six-six-o-pour-pipe-seven,” that’s 566-0457 if you are wondering.  I heard that story so many times remember it like it was my own phone number.  I catch myself asking my kids to pass me something at the dinner table with the added instruction to not touch it, a nod to Joe’s story about his younger brother getting ice cream from a guy he didn’t like.  And I still occasionally will say “shep-up” for ketchup and “eegoot” for yogurt because Joe’s kids said it that way.

In the nine years that Joe and I worked there together, we had a lot of fun.  I eventually got acclimated to my purpose there and became productive.  Andrew was nearing retirement and was softening somewhat.  I think the prospect of retirement and his growing number of grandchildren were taking his mind off of work stuff.  Andrew did eventually plan to leave the lab, but before doing so he brought in his oldest son Charles to be the assistant director and learn the ropes.  I think his goal was to groom Charlie to take over, but I’m not sure that pleased the board of directors that were in charge of this little regional private crime laboratory.  They had let Andrew manage the lab his way and maybe they were looking for a change.  To Charlie’s credit, he had a more gentle and likable style, and with what little time I got to know Charlie, we got along quite well.

Andrew started spending less time in the lab and it wasn’t long before we learned that he had cancer.  Charlie took over the reins of the lab in an interim capacity as director and we soldiered on.  Andrew passed away in December 1992.

Then along came the Brown’s Chicken Massacre in Palatine, Illinois in January 1993.  Palatine Police contracted our lab for general crime lab duties, but we also assisted with crime scene processing and they requested our help.  I spent seven days there doing my best, assisting in the preservation of evidence that would eventually convict two guys of seven homicides.  But before the case was solved, it had turned cold as they say, and blame was starting to get cast our way for the lack of progress in solving these deaths.  Eventually, the laboratory board decided to make some changes and replace Charlie with another coworker he had trained.  First to go was Joe, fired by the new staff and Charlie was also let go.  The era of Andrew and his kids was over.

Even though I was upset that Joe and Charlie had been let go, I stuck around because I was a newlywed, had a mortgage and no other options for employment at the time.  Joe was kind enough to get me an interview with another laboratory in DuPage County and I was offered a position, but having to move and leave something that I had worked hard to earn my place at was hard to leave.  I felt like I had lost a battle but was given a reprieve and allowed to stay even though it was no secret I was fond of Joe and Charlie.  I wanted to be loyal to Joe and stand up for him and his brother, but I was scared.  I often wonder if Joe might have thought that I had betrayed him by staying.  I really don’t know.  I swallowed my pride, opted to stay and tried to become a team player with the new lab management.

My career at the lab would last only a couple more years.  I  like to blame OJ Simpson for me losing my job.  The murders essentially put the forensic science field under its own microscope as OJ’s defense team tore apart the experts and made them look inept.  The board of our private lab didn’t want our lab to be scrutinized, so they decided that pursuing an accreditation status with a lab governing body was the way to go.  One of the accreditation requirements was that anyone working in the lab had to possess a natural science degree, and my major in law enforcement and minor in chemistry didn’t cut it. The official wording was “your position was eliminated and replaced it with one needing different educational requirements” or something like that.   I was told thanks and good luck and escorted out.

I phoned Joe right after that and informed him that I had been let go.  We chatted briefly and he seemed like he was moving on with life.  I think that is probably the last time I spoke with my friend Joe from work.

In the mid-2000s, I ran into Charlie when we were subpoenaed to testify at the Brown’s Chicken murder trial.  We were being deposed and spent a couple of hours together sitting on wooden chairs in a sterile old courtroom office.  We chatted about how our lives had changed for the better since being gone from the lab and I think we were both relieved to hear each other say things were going great.  I asked about Joe and he said that Joe hadn’t really talked much with him.  That was a big surprise to me because they were all such close-knit siblings.  I could sense that Charlie had the same feelings and concerns about his relationship with Joe that I had.

When Facebook came along and I finally jumped on board, I searched for him and did not find him.  That wasn’t surprising to me as Joe was a pretty private guy.  But I did find that his son was there.  I sent him a private message, telling him who I was and asked if he could tell his dad that I had been thinking about him and tell him hello.  He replied that he would.  I didn’t really expect it to evoke a response from Joe, and I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t receive one.

And with that, I moved on from thinking about Joe unless something triggered a memory.  I stopped dwelling over a lost friendship until the dream that I had once again rekindled my curiosity.

So here’s where Jonathon from Heavyweight would ask what do I want to accomplish.  Do I want to reconnect with Joe?  I’m not really sure.  I guess I am more prone to let sleeping dogs lie.  But I do have questions.  Did I do something that made him mad at me?  Did he just decide to walk away from the past and look ahead to the future?  Is he doing well?  Does he ever think about me?

I was curious about my old lab and a search for information on them found that they had changed their name and moved from their original location.  As I looked through the website I discovered that a couple of employees that I had previously worked with were still there and looked to be doing well.  And then I found an article about a celebration of the lab’s 50th anniversary, and there was a picture of Joe.  I was a little shocked.  I never would have thought that he would reconnect with them after the history of what he and his brother had experienced.  He was there to receive an honor in memory of his father Andrew and Andrew’s contribution to the establishment of the crime lab. I guess Joe felt that it was a sign of respect and important enough to honor it.  He had a lot less hair (as do I!) but overall looked great.  That kind of gives me hope that maybe he isn’t avoiding me on purpose.

Maybe seeing his picture is enough.  I guess I will honor his privacy and let it be.  I still have fond memories.  I don’t want to ruin them.  Writing this was pretty cathartic for me.  So, to my friend Joe from work, if you are out there, I still think of you and hope you are doing well.

Your old friend, Skippy.


Heavyweight – by Gimlet Media