One of my main objectives for the year, which was to fish the salt a little bit more, never really got started. I busted up my right shoulder at the end of 2017 and had to do two rounds of physical therapy this Spring & Summer to get it back in order. As such, I really wasn't really able (or confident enough) to swing the 8-weight, and decided to put the kayak on mothballs. Getting that thing on top of my SUV was always an upper-body chore.
Instead, when I did go fishing, I stuck to lightweight tackle, such as my tenkara rods and Cabela's CGR fiberglass four-weight.
Anyway, looking back at 2018, here are the top five memorable events, as reflected by posts on the blog. In chronological order:
1. The Eagles Super Bowl Parade
No, this has nothing to do with fishing... or even the outdoors, at least in the sense of the "water/woods/mountains" sort of thing. But, the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in February and I made it my mission to be at the parade. It was amazing. People of all backgrounds flooding the city streets all in jubilant celebration. A once in a lifetime experience for most, myself included. I still can't believe that happened. While there was no post on the blog specific to the parade, here are a few more photos below.
2. The Midwest Tenkara Fest / Driftless Trip
After taking a year off from the annual pilgrimage to Coon Valley, Wisconsin, it was really great to get back there last May. The fishing is always stellar, the people at the Midwest Tenkara Fest are great to hang out with, and did I mention the fishing is stellar? I had a great few days bouncing around the Driftless, catching all kinds of fish in waters that have come to hold a special place in my fishing heart. Two posts of the May outing can be found HERE & HERE.
Sadly, this might be the last trip of this specific kind, as even if I get back to the Driftless, the small town that hosted the Fest was ravaged by flooding during the summer. While I'm certain the fish are fine, I know the area will need some time to rebuild.
3. Pacific Northwest / Seattle Trip
This was probably the highlight of the year. I was so fortunate to be able to take the family on a trip to Seattle, including a day tour of Mount Rainier, and then go on a cruise to Alaska (Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway) and Canada (Victoria) before returning to Seattle for another day in town.
Words can't really describe all of the natural beauty we witnessed; beautiful forests, peaks, and waterfalls in Rainier, the omnipresent Tongass National Forest in Alaska, whale watching, glaciers, wild rivers, salmon, bears, bald eagles, Butchart gardens, it was pretty amazing. I'm still awestruck, and not so secretly planning a return. But this time with a fishing rod.
4. Mountain Medicine
I took two trips to the Brevard, North Carolina area in about a month's time. As such, I'll lump the two trips together under number four, as the second was basically a continuation of the first.
The first trip was a quick jaunt over Labor Day weekend to clear the head right before the beginning of the NFL season (when work really starts to "pick up" for me). I spent a day fishing in the streams of Pigsah National Forest, before taking the opportunity to swing over to Smoky Mountain National Park (I mean if you're that close, why not?) In each case, the cool of the water and woods and the friendly nature of the fish made it well worth the travel.
The second trip was around the Tenkara Campout, a loosely organized event held in early October at the Davidson River Campground. The weekend was spent fishing, drinking beers, telling stories, and finding new blue lines to explore by the campfire, and even more fishing. I had an extremely memorable brook trout adventure with Hugh & Jason that was just so much fun...
5. "Fishing Fitness" Journey
After a lot of procrastination, I finally decided to do something about my post-40 year old weight gain, due mostly to inactivity and poor eating habits. I made some diet and exercise changes, logged some of the progress on the blog at the bottom of other posts, and am happy to say that unless there's some sort of major holiday regression, I'll end 2018 about 20 pounds lighter, two waist sizes smaller, and just generally happier when I wear some of those "athletic" cut clothes that are prevalent these days.
It also helps a bunch when you're hiking up into a mountain stream or rock hopping from plunge pool to plunge pool to be a little bit lighter on your feet. I still have a ways to go to get where I'd like to eventually be (180 pounds), but this is definitely a good start, one I'm looking forward to continuing in 2019.
So those are my top five "happenings" from 2018, most of which are documented in the blog if you'd like to follow the links embedded in each recap. If you have your own blog, I'd love to read your 2018 highlights too. If not, let's see them in the comments below... reflecting on the last trip around the sun is fun, plus it helps set the tone for the next 365 days.