I remember like it was yesterday riding past this place with my father last summer. Instantly drawn to the calming peacefulness the sight of it brought to me, I searched for street names and landmarks to remember. How is it possible that there was no one there? This tiny little community park just outside the city limits of a popular eastern shore town in Maryland was my definition of a kayakers’ dream. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of a busy ocean-bound highway I had unknowingly driven past this hidden gem a hundred times. It was a picturesque discovery and as we drove by,  my mind slowed everything down as they do on car commercials when the stylish roadster snakes through town. I recall the warm sun filtering through the trees and the sweet aroma of brackish water mixed with honeysuckle tickling my nose. The gentle slope of the ramp fading into the brown water longed for a vessel to launch or collect. The loan maroon pier reaching out into the creek and dropping down to mere inches from the waters’ surface was perfect for a kayak. The empty (EMPTY!) stone and grass-covered parking lot with a few park benches scattered about broadened the smile on my face. A scene that took possibly 3 seconds to drive past was now slowed down to a dozen or so slides burned on my brain. The moment I returned home I jumped on Google Earth and planned my escape.

Pushing away from the end of that pier almost a year later, my daydream had finally become reality. The Tuckahoe creek lay before me and I briefly wondered if I should go upstream or downstream. Talk about a win-win situation! I paused for a moment to glance back at my lonely truck in the little parking area and smiled; still amazed that I was the only one here. I chose upstream and steered my favorite mode of transportation in the direction of the many twists and turns I had seen on the bird’s eye view of the creek. My views from the surface did not disappoint. Passing under an old railroad bridge, two water snakes slid off a splintered timber cross member and slithered across the water to the opposite bank. A neat sighting but glad they didn’t decide to join me! This part of the creek had many old blown over trees reaching out over the brackish water and under the surface. This offered a perfect spot for the turtles to catch some rays. Many I encountered had washed out gray shells from hanging in the sun all morning. The shells turned back to a more natural black as they dropped from a log into the water. Many surfaced a few feet away to check on my progress up the creek. As the creek grew narrow and the limbs too numerous to navigate, I ducked into a secluded pool and turned around to paddle downstream. A great blue heron and a crane lifted off from a nearby tangle of limbs and squawked in annoyance as I retraced my path through the limbs and logs.

Crossing back under the bridge and past the ramp, a 90-degree bend to the right in the creek revealed a large carpet of green lily pads to my left. I angled over to the edge of the carpet looking for fish. Plenty of minnows darted in and out of the jungle of pads but the big fish hid their escape in swirls of clouded water when I got too close. Around the next bend, the creek widened a bit and I was treated to a multicolored landscape. The bright blue sky with a few wispy white clouds blended into trees with vivid green leaves that reached down to meet the equally luminous green lily pads lying in wait to catch them. My intense red kayak piercing this scene made for some inspiring photographs. It was one of those days where the only plan was to just go around one more bend then head back. Four miles later my growling stomach made me turn back. Forgot some snacks!

On my return trip, I paralleled the opposite bank to explore a few old duck blinds I had noticed earlier. Drifting past I could imagine the hunters in there with a black retriever, watching the sky and cutting up on each other while waiting to ambush a few ducks or geese. The screech of an osprey diverted my attention skyward just in time to see a bald eagle lift off powerfully from a nearby tree. His white tail feathers, glossy black body, white head, and sharp yellow beak glistened as he soared up and around the bend. Seeing eagles always gave me a thrill and chill and I paddled swiftly around that next bend to keep him in sight just a few seconds longer. Paddling towards me from the direction the eagle departed was an older couple in kayaks who were excitedly sharing my joy in viewing our majestic national bird. As they drifted by we chatted briefly about what we had experienced so far this beautiful day and agreed it doesn’t get much better. The ramp and pier reappeared around the next bend and my truck was still the only vehicle there. This must be the best keep secret in Maryland I thought. But thankfully, I’m beginning to discover many sites like this. My home state has too many for all of them to be crowded. A warm feeling of satisfaction and gratefulness soon replaced my sadness of reaching the end of the days’ excursion. Loaded up and pulling out of the park and back toward the concrete jungle, another truck with a kayak in the back pulled in. We smiled knowingly at each other and gave a thumbs up. Enjoy my friend. It doesn’t get much better.


Once again, the sun has set on another deer season. I am eating tag soup for the first time in quite a few seasons. I don’t, however, feel the least bit disappointed. The gratitude I feel for having the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors far outweigh any hunts (all of them this year) that didn’t go my way. Even though I did not harvest a deer this year I enjoyed changing things up by adding a few twists in my game plan. Trail cameras made the biggest impact on my season. I never knew there were so many bucks visiting our property! Unfortunately, this led to passing up several deer that I would have normally shot any other time. I learned a lot this year but studying the photos to determine the direction of travel and time of day. Marking these encounters and sign on the hunting app Hunt Stand revealed tons of intel for my wild theories on where the deer would be and when. I also turned up the scent control and attractant scent game this year. The buck bomb attractant fogger I tried worked like a champ. The closest buck around was a button buck that came straight into the can. Hunters Specialties fresh earth cover scent wafers kept me from getting busted as often leading to many close encounters.

          Something surprising to me that I learned this year through increased scouting is how long the rut can last. I am aware of the secondary rut, but I was still discovering fresh scrapes up until the last week of January!  Not all does get bred in November. Some get bred in December and even a few stragglers fire up the woods in January. Guess that explains the presence of a few extremely small fawns this season that probably weren’t born until June or July because their moms weren’t bred until January last season. So, the cameras have been pulled and gear stowed. I’ll probably wait a few weeks and then try a bit of shed hunting. After that, dad and I are talking about finally trying turkey hunting in May. Several toms also showed on the trail cameras. Until then, we had only seen a hen or two. When July rolls around I’ll bring out the trail cams again and post on mineral licks and deer trails discovered and marked last year. Hopefully, some of last fall’s rock stars and a few new bucks will parade their impressive headgear by the lens again. All and all another great season hunting with my now 82-year-old Dad. He didn’t make it out for all of the morning hunts but still showed great enthusiasm when he was out and loved the new twists we tried this year.

          Visions of exploring in my kayak and making some casts with the fishing gear are now starting to take up space in my mind vacated by the passing hunting season. During a brief warm-up this week, Dad and I pulled the cover off the boat for a quick peek. We vowed to get her off the trailer more this year to toss some fish into the cooler or crabs in the bushel basket. Not sure if it was the rare 60-degree February Day or another rush of gratitude that warmed me up and gave me chills at the same time. We were both grinning as we slid the cover back over the center console.  Gotta love life’s many simple pleasures.



Happy New Year all! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season. Feels good to be tapping away at the keyboard again. I am fresh off a very different holiday experience that involved our family driving to Bradenton Florida for Christmas! So glad we decided to break from tradition. We were not able to take a summer vacation this year, so this fun-filled, sun-filled week in Florida was just what the doctor ordered for all of us. Much to our delight, the Christmas spirit was just as fresh and alive in the warmer temps as it would have been back home in chilly Maryland.

            Never thought I would be kayaking, biking or beachcombing during Christmas break but we did it all. Our lodging for the week was located three miles from the gulf beaches and within easy biking and paddling distance to several nature preserves. Our first excursion brought us to the beach where we found many families doing all the typical beach activities while wearing Santa hats. We joined right in and promptly took our Christmas card photo for next year in our beach attire. After a relaxing day of gentle waves, soothing sunshine and a beautiful sunset we decided to hop in the kayaks to explore the mangroves the next day. What a treat! Smooth clear water and wildlife at every turn. Even the animals were more relaxed here; letting us drift by within a few yards on many occasions. Observing the many species of birds navigating amongst the maze of the green mangroves had my cheeks hurting from smiling. Cruising in a kayak and being able to look down 8 feet to the bottom is an experience not found at many places in Maryland. I quickly filled up storage on my phone with pics of starfish, horseshoe crabs, herons, pelicans, and egrets. Paddling back to the house on one of the canals we were treated to playful dolphins and pelicans dive-bombing into the shallow waters for fish. Front row seats for a lesson on how to fish. After relaxing around the house and spending a day or two around town at the many delicious boat to table eateries,  we decided to pedal off the extra calories the following day. Flat Florida is perfect for casual biking with well-maintained streets, bike lanes and paths allowing for an excellent day of sightseeing in the Preserves and around town. A twelve-mile ride felt like a trip around the block. At the end of the week, we all felt refreshed and recharged.

              During the long 17-hour drive home I had plenty of time to reflect on our good fortune and the many benefits of spending time outdoors. Not once did we crave any of the nearby trendy tourist spots in Tampa or Orlando. Cell phone use decreased dramatically, and books were read. Sleep came easy and lasted through the nights. We planned nothing ahead of time and were not rushing to get to anywhere by any certain time. This week “off the grid” had us all reevaluating how we spend our time. Our days spent in Florida were what vacations were supposed to be. Relax and exhale. I don’t even remember feeling the dread of returning to work. All I was thinking about was how fortunate we were to have the opportunity to get away and I would soon be returning to one of my other favorite places. My mind shifted gears wondering what new pics I would discover on my trail cams back in Maryland. They hadn’t been checked in a month and I was excited to get back and see what had been stomping around our hunting lease. A brief two-day late firearms season for deer was next on my agenda. Returning to work was reduced to a minor distraction by the buzz of being outside. Hopefully, I will complete my quest with Dad this weekend to fill our freezers.

            If you are the type of person that makes resolutions, I strongly suggest that one be to spend more time outdoors this year and beyond. Getting outside is truly therapeutic for the ever-present daily stresses and expectations of our society. Go ahead, just open the door. You wont be disappointed!



For twelve years our extracurricular lives were filled with Basketball & Softball. Most nights and weekends throughout the year would find us squeaking around on a shiny hardwood basketball court or enjoying that sweet metallic pinging sound of an aluminum bat connecting with a windmill pitched neon green softball. Our daughter loved these two sports and we loved coaching and watching her play.

Then came High School and the competition ramped up. Basketball was the first casualty with statewide recruited talent replacing Rec League standouts. Softball followed in the Spring. Our chosen school only fielded a Varsity team with no Freshman making the cut. Luckily, most kids are resilient, and our daughter was no exception. After a few tears and angry rants, the Crew coach spotted our 5’- 10” 170pound Freshman and convinced her to give Crew a try. Time to Google Crew and see what we were about to get ourselves into.

My first exposure to Crew happened one summer afternoon as I passed by a TV showing a Crew race during the Summer Olympics. Those teams were speeding along the surface synchronized and smooth with no sails and no motors! Just muscle and grit. Scrolling along online I discovered that our daughter and 7 teammates would now be spending a few hours after school each day in a 60 foot long, 23-inch-wide fiberglass boat. When fully loaded the boat cruised along less than a foot above a calm surface. The more I read the more I learned to appreciate the depth of our daughter’s courage and determination to compete in a team sport at the high school level. Races are 1500 meters long not counting the row out to the course and the row back. Also, add in carrying a 300-pound $50,000 boat to and from the launch. Respectable times for her gender and experience level was around 7 to 8 minutes depending on a tailwind or headwind. The teamwork and coordination required just to keep these boats upright tested the patience of our seasoned coach who managed to mold these young ladies with no experience into a formidable squad. We took home first place in our last Regatta of the spring season.

Besides the joy and excitement of watching our daughter compete we quickly discovered a lively bunch of parents fully engrossed in a fun tailgating like atmosphere during each Regatta. Setting up our team tents and concessions required a coordinated effort with the dads lugging in and erecting the set up as the Mom’s swooped in and made everything look clean, organized and appetizing. We dads kept the grill hot and the moms moved the hungry rowers in and out like well-trained military unit. When our rowers wandered back from their heat races with red faces and healthy appetites our spread of food and drink never disappointed. Crew had now become our favorite team sport. Outdoors lakeside or riverside cheering on our girls with rowdy parents and cowbells had us rolling out of bed at 4:30 am on Regatta mornings with smiles on our faces. Even when the weather didn’t fully cooperate we didn’t mind because we were toasty and dry on shore while our badass daughters were out on the water braving the elements in spandex uniforms pulling their oars for bragging rights over the other local teams.

Now that we have a season under our belts the biggest benefit I have seen with becoming part of this sport is watching the effect it has had on my daughter and her teammates both mentally and physically. Once you survive a few practices out on the water in the rain with temps in the 40’s the stuff you used to whine about (Having to wear a heavy coat, getting your hair wet ETC) all seem pretty lame. Weather extremes and physical exertion were now accepted and no longer considered game changers or spoilers. Our daughters’ confidence level rose, and her body toned up with an increase in energy level as well. Even her academic performance and social life improved with the increased confidence. Overall the outdoors was a much less intimidating place to be for her and we all began enjoying more spare time outside. Walking, hiking and bicycling replaced social media surfing and TV watching. We still enjoy taking in an occasional basketball or softball but for now, outside is the place to be for us.


Finally! After watching several perfect days in April slip past,  I was about to embark on my first trip of the year in the Kayak. Arriving at a spot that has been screaming my name for as long as I can remember I was about to enter my retreat; my church. Dad said, “Drop it in down the end of the street there and its about three miles or so up to Greensboro”. Seemed like this trip up one of Maryland’s many scenic rivers would be more on the “or so” side but I didn’t mind. I had a rare afternoon all to myself.

Scooting off into the Choptank from the old concrete ramp and dilapidated bulkhead, I entered a whole new world with just one pull of the paddle. The tide was flowing upstream towards my destination of Greensboro so I stroked and drifted with the tide hoping to catch a slack or outgoing tide during my return. The choir started barely 50 yards from the ramp. Gliding along the outer edge of a patchwork carpet of lily pads,  the first Great Blue Heron of the day scolded me with a guttural squawk as he glided effortlessly just a few feet off the surface, upstream and around a bend. I noticed a little ache in my cheeks from smiling as I was also surprised at the clarity of the water in this brackish environment. I could see the stems of the pads stretching towards the bottom 2-3 feet down. As I rounded the first bend an Osprey began to protest from its driftwood nest atop an old channel marker. A sign which read “Children Swimming” hung on the marker as well. Such an appropriate nesting spot. Strangely, on this weekend before the first big holiday of the summer season, I had yet to hear or see another soul enjoying the river. The view from my seat just a few inches above the surface absorbed every ounce of stress from my body. Overcast, light gray skies and black water separated by brilliantly green trees and the bow of my red Kayak would have inspired the most novice painter with a canvas and brush.

Wildlife was abundant and tolerant to my invasion and I felt like one lucky fan in a stadium all to his own, on the edge of his seat watching the pros. Eagles and Ospreys diving for fish; turtles catching some daylight and breeze atop ancient stumps while Ducks and Geese herded their offspring closer to the banks as I drifted by. Up ahead to my right I noticed a serene, secluded cove and as maneuvered around a slight bend ducking under a tree limb a whitetail buck, just sprouting new antlers,  snorted in my direction from the back of the cove. His auburn summer coat against the green backdrop of the woods glistened as he stood knee deep in the dark water, gauging my intentions. He stayed just long enough for a quick but fuzzy picture and with a flick of his tail, and a quick hop, he melted into the bushes. Luckily the picture in my head is much clearer than the one on my camera.

Beyond the trees on the bank, a distant sound of a tractor working a field reminded me of civilization and I started wondering why I had not paddled into Greensboro yet. Phone service was only registering a bar or two so instead of checking to see where I was, I decided to turn back to Denton. Two hours had just evaporated in what seemed like minutes, but luckily the tide was nearly slack and easy to paddle against for my return. I veered off “trail” a bit on the way back to explore a partially submerged abandoned houseboat appropriately named “Better Days”. A raccoon and a few turtles scattered toward shore as I approached. The day was so peaceful and quiet that I could almost hear the family enjoying the better days on their once floating summer escape. Digging for Denton in an efficient blur of paddle strokes, I flushed a few more Herons and a couple Cranes in route to a til we meet again salute to the momma Osprey I disturbed a few hours earlier. She was a bit more tolerant this time, allowing me to get close enough for a powerful picture of her lifting off from the nest.

Approaching the old neighborhood ramp I couldn’t help but realize how lucky and fortunate I was to have spent a few hours on this beautiful Tributary. Another half mile downstream cars and trucks traversed the river on the Route 404 bridge, seemingly oblivious to the beauty below them. Hopefully, they were all either traveling to or from their own outdoor sanctuary.

I had called ahead and Dad was waiting at the old ramp. I choked up a bit realizing his 80year old self is the one who introduced me to the great outdoors some 45 years ago. “What you think of Greensboro”, he asked when we got back to the house. “Don’t know if I missed it or came up short. Doesn’t matter”, I said as we looked at a map of the river pinned to the garage wall. Turns out the three miles to Greensboro he referred to was by vehicle. The distance by boat turned out to be over 7 miles. I turned around at about the 6-mile mark. I’ll make it to Greensboro next time and maybe Dad will join me in his own kayak. Never expected I would I would feel better at the end of a 12-mile paddle than at the beginning. Well, better mentally anyway.