Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fishing Report for Guntersville 5/24/14: MFC Tournament out of Seibold

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2014

Tournament time has rolled around again for the NASA fishing club. In case you didn't realize it, the weather done turned hot on us! If you follow any of the guides on social media, you read fishing reports, or are other wised "plugged in", then you know the fish have pushed hard to the ledges.

Now,  before last year, I was essentially LOST when it came to ledge fishing. I still don't know much, but an afternoon with Basswhacker Guide Service taught me a whole lot. And, apparently, it's taught a LOT of people, seeing how over 4,000 different people have viewed my "How to Ledge Fish Guntersville" blog post. It's got a great video. Go check it out.

Now, that doesn't mean you can't catch fish shallow. It doesn't mean you can't win tournaments shallow. Take, for instance, this tournament way back in early June 2011 where I fished shallow all day and brought home a first place check.

But, I didn't see a measly sub-10 pound check winning this tournament.

Josh and I discussed what we wanted to do. We both knew that we *could* fish shallow all day. We *might* catch them or we might not. But, we decided to use the knowledge we had read and decided we would attempt to hit the ledges. After all, this has been a year of massive growth as tournament fishermen for us. Just see a few examples like:
  1. MFC Tournament on Logan-Martin
  2. NATA Open
  3. MFC Tournament on Guntersville

Now, we have caught ledge fish. But not in any size or quantity. And, many times, it seems that it was luck. But, the week leading up to the tournament, Josh had taken a play from my play book about Dialing in Your Electronics, and tinkered with his unit until he was certain he could find what we were looking for:

  1. Hard bottom
  2. Arches
  3. Some sort of defining terrain on the bottom(ditches, rocks, switchbacks, any current breaks)

Sounds easy, eh? Well, think again. I 've tried it many times. Even if you find a pile of arches, who says they are bass? Or if they will bite. Or what they will bite when they DO bite. Or WHEN they will bite. Anyway, I rigged up for it, hoping for the best!

Now, if you don't already, go to my Facebook page and "like". It's Best5Zach Outdoors. I give a "play by play" during tournaments, that is, until my phone does. Which happens.

Just to be on the safe side ,we decided to fish shallow really early.

Josh bagged two keeper fish on a white spinner bait. I hooked up with a fish with a Super Spook Jr, but my line broke about 20 yards up the rod. The fish wasn't that big, but I didn't want to loose the lure. Luckily, the fish did me a solid and made a nasty jump a few minutes later and tossed it back at me. We missed fish on back to back casts and then the spot went silent.

It was 8am or so and we weren't getting regular bites. I moved us just upriver from the mouth of Seibold creek to a cove I have a lot of confidence in. The combination of pleasure boats and a nice sustained wind made some great waves. We didn't have any luck in the cove, so we fished out of it and into the next. As we rounded the point, the bites began to pick up on a mixture of the Super Spook and the white spinnerbait, more so the former. At that point, Josh had 2 keepers while I had 3. We finished out a limit and Josh culled us up the first time with a nice fish on a similar top water bait. It was our first NICE fish of 4+ pounds and gave us an instant 1 pound cull from the 15 inch squeaker I had put in the boat earlier. That might have pushed us to 10 or 11 pounds. Mixed in with those fish were a lot of short fish, say, 5 or more. We tried to run that line again without much luck and we quickly pushed out to the next contour line, which I had fished some months back and found to have real nice scattered grass. I threw a Strike King 3 in powder blue back and managed to catch a quick fish. The wind died, as did the bite. Additionally, the overhanging clouds were long gone. One thing was for sure, we weren't going to win while catching these small fish.

Even as little as a year ago, we might have ground out what we knew how to do and hope for the best rather than try something neither of us had success with. With the 11-12 pounds, we decided that we would take our chances and ledge fish.

We idled out to the main channel and ran several hundred yards. We checked several ledges we had marked at the BassMaster Classic. The first one we had marked had definite hard bottom and arches on it. Though we thought we might need to find several more, in the event that these weren't bass OR they were bass that didn't bite, we went ahead and started fishing it.

I went at it with a Strike King 6XD while he bombed a Spro Little John DD. It might have been my second cast, but I had a hit and dragged a small fish to the boat. Both of us had an "Ah-ha!" moment. Like, "did that really happen?" We didn't say it, but we both figured it was luck. He asked me where my point of reference was on my last cast. I pointed out a far lake house. He tossed the DD towards it and had a fish nearly take the rod out of his hand. It fought and he fought back, and he landed a SOLID 4.5 pounder that gave us an instant 3 pound cull.

The fish didn't get fired up like we expected, so we left the spot with 15 pounds or so and went looking for more spots to hit. We found one more, but noticed that several boats were moving in on us. We decided that we should defend the spot we had caught the fish on, just in case. After all, we knew there were fish on it and at least a couple were willing to bite. By the time we got back to our spot, someone was already on it. Though he did fish it for 30 minutes, we didn't see him catch anything. We weren't in a rush and took our time drinking a Gatorade and relaxing. Eventually he did decide to leave and we slid up to the spot.

We threw the cranks for a few more minutes, but all it yielded was a 30 pound drum for me.

We were still marking fish on the fish finder, so we decided to slow down and fish the ledge with soft plastics. I was throwing a PTL Gator while Josh threw a ribbon tale worm. I would throw up to around 10-12 feet and hop the bait down the ledge. I could tell that there were definite areas of rock and definite areas of mud. We would routinely get hung up or catch shells. But, every once in awhile, we got a bite. My first good bite was a solid hook up with a spot. He ran hard at the boat and gave me a great view. It was a solid 3 pound spot that would cull up our small fish. As I fought, he made a jump at the boat and spit the hook. He hit the side of the net and flopped back in.

It wasn't much of a loss, but it irked us. But, we went right back to it.

The bites were slow, one every 30 minutes at this point, which was around 12pm. Josh set the hook into a nice one and the fight was on! We maneuvered this NICE fish from the front to the back to the front. It jumped. It flopped. And eventually it found the net. The fish was in the low 5s and culled up a 2.5 pound fish, putting us in the 17 pound range. We still had 2 2.3 or 3 pound fish that we would like to cull up.

Another 30 minutes of slow hopping plastics along the bottom and I had a tap. I raised the tip and it was heavy. I nailed it, but the fish wasn't there. Not what we needed to happen on a day with 2 bites an hour. Minutes (and casts) later, I had a tap in the same area. I let the fish sit on it, then I hammered it. The fish just sat on the bottom, oblivious that I had hooked her. A terrific fight ensued, similar to the one we had earlier. Josh had some nifty net work and we swung aboard a 5.5 pounder. Another solid cull that gave us a 1.5 pound.

We knew we were flirting with something we hadn't done before....trip the 20 pound mark in a tournament. I know I know...not a big deal for most of you, but it is for us. Seems like we can win on tough days with a few pounds. We can compete on good days, but we can't hit that home run. It was 1:20. We had a 2 minute run to the dock, so we made a handful of casts.

Josh made a late cast and sank the hook into THE fish. The one we needed. We knew it from the second the rod tip dipped. This was the ONE. We fought. She fought back. But we won the battle. Josh boated his tournament record.

We didn't want to make any assumptions that we had it won, but we were so giddy to manage to do something RIGHT for once. We had a game plan. We executed it. We were rewarded.

Turns out, it wasn't enough to win. It took 21.5 to win and we weighed 20.25. The winners had a 8 pounder that ate up two dinks they had.

I'd love to be disjointed, but I'm not. Not even a little. What a great feeling! But, most of all, I have to hand it to my partner. He did an amazing job at getting his electronics dialed in, finding the spot, and getting 3 of the 5 fish in the boat. Fantastic work!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Product Review for Luhr Jensen Speed Trap

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2014

My best friend Josh had used Speed Traps for years, but hadn't quite used them in some time. I had recalled him talking about them in the past, but to be honest, I didn't have the first clue of what they were. The night before the first tournament of 2014, he showed me what they were as we discussed the game plan for the MFC Open 2014.

To me, it looked like a fairly averaged square bill. Sure, the bill itself was dished and the eye was fastened to the nose of the bait rather than the bill. The profile of the bait was a little different than the other square bills I usually throw, sure.  It couldn't be THAT much different. Right?

Josh smoked me on the Speed Trap that day, catching 2 massive Guntersville bass and losing an even larger one, thanks to me.

We had a tournament the very next Saturday, the NATA Open 2014, so on Monday I ordered some from Amazon. Use the Amazon search on my sidebar to find them!

Product Details

  • The Speed Trap comes in two sizes: 1/4oz and 1/8oz. These baits travel 8ft and 5ft respectively. 
  • They come in a huge variety of colors and it is hard to go wrong on any of them.

  • I like the oversized eyes, which makes it easier to tie during cold weather, which is when I throw these the most. 
  • They cast extremely well for such a lightweight bait, but like all smaller baits, don't attempt to cast them into the wind. 
  • Because they float, you can use the "stop and go" method to bring them through cover. Additionally, you can always add ballast, if needed, to make them suspend. The ability to float is terrific in lakes with grass, as you can jerk the bait through grass and let it float above it. We have found this to be a killer retrieve. 
  • Of course, the name Speed Trap says it all: you can burn this bait and it will always run true. 
  • It's flat fronted bill gives the ability to deflect off cover while the curved plane gives it great depth and wobble
  • Difficult to find, locally
  • Bill is extremely fragile. Don't slap it on a cowl, rock, or even on the water and expect it to live. Always have spares. 
  • Amazon cost is over $10. Most online places are cheaper, but you still have to pay shipping. 

Zach's Classics: The Rockfish

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!

Follow my Fish of 2014

I may have said this before, but bass fishing wasn't exactly my *thing* growing up. Don't get me wrong, I caught a LOT of bass growing up, but always from the bank and always at Humphrey Lake.

Dad didn't exactly have a bass boat, or really the time to bass fish. My granddad did, however. And, if you didn't know, I spend most of my summers and free time with my grandparents. Granddad LOVED fishing. But, he wasn't too keen on bass fishing.

He did, however, have a fair obsession with rockfish. Now, if you don't know what rockfish are, take a second to do some research. Now, in the late 80s, rockfish were all the hype up at Tim's Ford lake. You could catch some MASSIVE rockfish. At the time, the record (now broken) was around 45 pounds. And, each and every trip to the State Park, I would spend all the time I had staring at these mounted rockfish on the walls. Every trip up there, I would dream about hooking into one.

Now, in approximately 1989, we took a guided fishing trip out of the State Park on Tim's Ford. We took at least 8 family members on this trip. It involved dragging 8 inch shiner around suspending them in 20 feet of water (or more) and hoping to come across a school of these massive fish. That day, we hauled in a 20 pounder and my granddad was HOOKED.

Being that I was 5 years old, I don't remember how long it was between this trip and our next one. But, Granddad mimicked, as close as he could, the process we had seen on our guided trip. We showed up at the State Park before dawn. Granddad, a sucker for sweets, bought us breakfast, which were home made doughnuts and eclairs. Myself, I enjoyed a creme filled and chocolate covered eclair and washed it down with coffee. Yes, I am a 3rd generation engineer, which means I *literally* was born drinking coffee.

After eating our doughnuts and getting some local scouting info, we purchased a dozen or so gold fish, because they were out of shiners. Granddad eyed them very carefully, since this was NOT what we had caught the fish on the previous trip. But, considering they had nothing else, we took them. We dumped them into his custom made bait tank. He had learned that baitfish will get in the corners of a tank (if it has corners) and kill themselves. I don't really know how, unless they give them a deadly concussion. Additionally, these baitfish need massive aeration. Since his 15 foot Crosby didn't have a livewell, he had taken a rectangular foam cooler, taken sheet metal and slipped it inside the rectangular cooler, making the inside round, then made a custom aerator. It worked fantastic, even if it took up half the boat.

So, with the scouting info we had, we drove the old Crosby to the local "hotspot". If I recall, what we did was, we took the bait and hooked it just under the backbone. Several feet above the hook, we attached a ounce or 2 ounce sinker. Then, 6 feet or so above that, a very deep diving crank bait.

Looking back, this wasn't the optimum way of rigging it, knowing what I know now. But, it was the best way to covering area while maintaining the current depth. After all, it was much harder to target fish way back when, because fish finders certainly weren't what we have now.

Granddad wasn't big on using the latest and greatest fishing equipment, so I was rigged up on my Zebco 33 reel and rod. I was perched up on the front deck of the boat in the plastic backed swivel chair. Granddad drove the boat while holding a rod, and Granny sat in the rear swivel seat holding her own. I recall that it was a hot day. I think it was August or September. But, I have to say, I was an absolute trooper, as you will read from my Classics.

It was around noon. We had eaten our lunch of boiled eggs and Vienna Sausages. And then it happened.

Something smashed the baitfish. And, it nearly jerked the rod out of my hand. I don't know what pound test line was on the 33, but it must have been stout to put up with the fish. The drag was set too tight, but I didn't know what drag was! Granddad kept yelling for me to loosen it. In a panic, I hit the release button and the fish took off for deep water, yards and yards at a time.

He jumped up to the front of the boat and loosened my drag. I engaged the reel and started pumping the rod. I would take in some line. The fish would strip off some line. I lost all track of time, except that each time the fish made a run, I would have to prop my feet on the rail to keep the fish from jerking me over board. That sounds dramatic, but in this case, it wasn't. I was 5 years old and I might have weighed 50 pounds. Probably closer to 40. The fish tired. I tired. But, I had help.

As the fight went on, Granny would hold the rod tip up for me while Granddad maneuvered the boat. Eventually, we spotted the deep diving crank, so Granddad killed the motor and grabbed the net. The fish rolled up to the boat and he netted the monster. The net had a built in scale, which topped out at 13 pounds. Granddad deemed this a 13 pound fish.

Now what? The bait cooler was huge, but wouldn't come close to holding the massive fish. Granddad was never one to toss back a fish. He believed in eating them all. Even a 13 pounder. And, since Tim's Ford is pretty far away from our home, and we were pretty far out on the lake, we had to figure out a way of keeping this fish alive.

Finally, he rummaged around and found some rope. He threaded it through the fishes gills, then dropped the fish over the side. It managed to preserve the fish terrifically until we got home.

After we had already headed home, Granddad remembered that he had a host of baitfish left over. What would we do with them? He planned to toss them in the woods and let the raccoons eat them. But, I didn't see any reason to waste them. After a bit of begging, I convinced him to let me have them. My dad had a large aquarium that never was used anymore. I filled it up and dumped the fish in. Amazing, the hearty fish lived for many many years. This fish did not. He was eaten.

Best5Garden Update 5/20/13

Here is the last post on our garden updates.
Each time I went out to the garden, I would get just a little more done, but not enough. Seemed like it took me a whole week to get all my tomatoes planted. That's actually true, after thinking about it.

It's my own fault though, since the total tomato count came out to 43. And that's after selling over 30 and giving away that many to friends and family.

Last year, I bought a ton of tomato cages. So many that I thought to myself, "no matter what happens now...I will never need another tomato cage." Well, Sunday afternoon, I had to go "borrow" some cage from my dad, who isn't doing a garden this year.

Anyway, with all the tomatos and peppers planted, I moved to Phase Two, which is just NASA speak for "I planted the other crops that I couldn't start in a cup."

I made two more rows with the tiller. About the time I finished, I realized that I had not soaked the seeds, which I have found greatly aids in  ensuring that the seeds sprout. But, what can ya do? You throw them in water for 30 minutes and hope for the best, I guess.

In the first half of the first row, I planted velvet okra. One seed every 6 inches, just about 1 inch deep. The planting instructions specify a 3 foot spacing, but my experience has been to overseed, as there is a high failure rate.

On the back half of that row, and the entire next row, I made mounds. There are about 18 inches tall and 3 feet in diameter. I leave a 3 foot spacing between them, which really isn't enough, but I am running out of room. That was enough to give me 9 mounds in a row.

In the back half of the first row, I planted squash and zucchini.

In the last row, I planted cucumbers. I believe it was marketmore and muncher. 4-5 seeds per mound. That's a lot of cucumbers, I know. But, we eat a ton of cucumbers AND Alyse *says* she is going to can this year. So, between the 43 tomato plants and 9+ cucumber plants...we will be busy.

Regarding the squash and zucchini....last year we fought this grub that would burrough up the stalk and kill the plants about the time they really started to produce. I need to figure out how to stop that.

Anyway, so I got those mounds planted last week and we had rain all weekend. Even though I didn't soak the seeds like I should, I hoped the extended rain would bail me out.

But, yesterday when I checked, I had ZERO sprouts. I was starting to get worried. This morning, as I prowled the garden with my coffee cup in hand, cussing the squirrels like an old man...I spotted one. Then another. Then, a mound with 3 or 4.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Taylor's Tiger Tales: The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry 2002

The Auburn Realist

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.
Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!

Now, I have to tell you all...the longer time goes by, the less I remember about each of these games. So, you will forgive me if this post isn't quite so long as the Iron Bowl 2010 or detailed. After all, it's been (gasp) over 10 years.

It was 2002. My girlfriend (now wife) at the time was a die hard Alabama fan. Her mother was born and raised in Tuscaloosa. Her father is a graduate from Alabama. Despite her entire family being dyed in the wool Alabama fans, I was (usually) welcomed with open arms. I admit that I stayed quiet in those years about being a Tiger fan. After all, Tuberville had just taken over a struggling program that had been wracked (again) with scandals. Those years saw the Tide and Tigers trading wins back and forth, with little else to really show for it.

I can't remember WHY, but Alyse had shown some interest in going to an Auburn game. I hadn't been to a game since 2000, myself. So, though the internet wasn't QUITE reliable enough to secure tickets just yet, I decided that we would make the drive from Huntsville to the game and buy some scalped tickets. After all, it was a great matchup....#4 UGA at #24 Auburn, who had quietly put together a fine season after loosing to USC in the first game. It was my first game with such a highly touted matchup. It is interesting to note that ESPN Gameday was NOT at this game, instead choosing Harvard at Penn. Talk about questionable.

Looking back, I find great irony in thinking about just what we were taking on. I had never driven to Auburn by myself, and my wife can attest that I still have no sense of direction. This was before the age of smart phones that had mapquest and I didn't own a GPS. I did have a map and a general idea of how to get to Auburn. I knew nothing about dealing with the game day atmosphere and parking. I didn't know anything about buying scalped tickets. All I knew was that I had $200 in my pocket and a full tank of gas in my riced out red Satern with the loud exhaust, and that would be enough. The rest would fall into place just perfectly.

At 4am, we were up and headed to the game. I still couldn't tell you which way we went, though I think it was some bastardized cross between the 65/85 route and the 65/280 route. I remember that we had missed an exist south of Birmingham. How, I don't know, since both ways have only one exit, which is precisely why I think we had taken some cross between the two usual routes. When you are a kid, you have really no idea of time, especially in a car. There is short. And there is long. When you become a driver and you make the same trips as you did as a kid, sometimes you have a perceived notion about how long it takes to get somewhere, and it's dead wrong. In this case, a silent alarm went off in my head and I decided to stop for breakfast at a Waffle House.

We had a large meal and afterwards, I swallowed my pride and asked for directions to Auburn. It seemed that the whole restaurant turned around and became deadly silent. They looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe because I was. Anyway, some crotchety old man gave me some directions. It involved looking for the half-barn with the tin roof, turn left at the white horse, and follow that road for 25 mailboxes. He didn't really tell me that, but it felt like it.

I was 19 and fill of bravado. I didn't need to write it down. So, back on the highway we went.

The bravado lasted for about 5 minutes when I realized that there was ZERO chance that I could follow backroads. Then, I had an epiphany. I got back on the highway (I assume it was I-65) and started looking for cars that were decked out in Auburn gear. After all, what were the chances that a car with the Tiger Tale and pompoms was NOT headed to the game. We found one such fan, got the Satern sucked up on the bumped, and started driving. We started seeing "Auburn-20 Miles" road signs, so we started feeling good. Where I went to from there, I did not know. But these folks ahead of me did. And that's when they did something I never expected.

In my mind, the SUV we were following must have wildly jerked it off the interstate doing 85 miles and hour with no warning. In reality, I am sure they were doing the speed limit and had their blinker on. I had a split second to make a decision. I had followed them this far. I might as well follow some more. So, I took the exit to God-knows-where. I am now fairly certain they took the Wire Road exit, which makes perfect sense now. But, at the time, I had NO IDEA where I was going, other than it was Country with a Capital C where they were leading me.

But, we did emerge from the woods and into the heart of Auburn eventually, which, frankly, amazed me. Ok. So now we were here. The next order of business was to buy tickets. I thought I would get smart. I would buy from the first guy I saw. Why? Well, because I didn't want to get into Auburn and compete with everyone else for tickets. The earlier I got them, the less risk...and cheaper cost. Right? (If you aren't laughing now, you obviously have not experienced the life of a scalper).

Again, I couldn't tell you exactly where we were. In my mind's eye, I THINK we were at the Goal Post when I saw my first scalper. Again, I can't be sure. It could also have been down by the train tracks where there is now a Dollar Store. I motioned for him to approach me.
"How much you want?"
"$100 per."
Again...realize that I had $200 in cash and no credit cards. I was 19.
" I can't do that. I have $200 and I have to eat and get back to Huntsville."
"Ok. I will cut you a deal. $190 for both."
"I don't know man....." At this point, another guy approached him, offering the same cash.
"Oh look, this guy will give me $190." I shoved my money at him and took the $10 bill. I now realize just how bad I was hustled. What were the chances that some guy who had been standing right next to him was suddenly interested in those tickets? None. It was his buddy, and it was all a setup. But, I didn't know that then. I was just glad to have those tickets.

Now to find parking. Again, not something that I had experienced. Everywhere I tried to park wanted money. And I had no money to give. I found an apartment complex on Magnolia. Despite the posted "No Parking" signs everywhere, I pulled into the back of the lot and behind a dumpster. I figured (correctly) if they were willing to tow, getting my car out from behind a dumpster would be a tall order.

When we got out of the car, we realized immediately that we had made a strategic mistake. The weather had made a turn for the worse. Being teenagers, the weather wasn't something we paid much attention to. It had been pleasant the day before, so why wouldn't it be the same today? It started misting. It was in the 40s and overcast. At this point, it MIGHT have been noon, but I doubt it. The game was at 3:30 and it was a long time until then. We made our way to Tiger Walk.

Being that this was Alyse's first game, she had not experienced Tiger Walk. I had told her what to expect, but I guess she either didn't believe me or didn't think there was any way that there could be 50,000++ fans on the corner of two roads in front of a stadium just to watch a team walk in.

This was perhaps the moment that made her an Auburn fan forever, as she watched the crowd with awe. Since we are short people, we had to stand on the concrete steps of the staff parking lot on Donahue Drive so that she could see. It gave an awesome view at the wave of Orange and Blue that swayed from the Athletic Complex to Jordan-Hare.

When Four Corners started and the gates opened, we rushed inside. I don't remember exactly where our tickets were, but I recall being in the endzone, perhaps the South endzone around section 15. Pregame started and we were both shivering when the band took the field. I know every team has some rendition of the same high energy march of the band, but Auburn's HAS to be among the best. That warmed our hearts a little.

The game didn't start out great as Jason Campbell tossed an INT that was returned 58 yards on their first possession. The Dogs ensuing drive was stalled at teh 28 where Bennett missed a 45 yarder. Ronnie Brown hits it up the middle for 58 yards and a TD to put the Tigers up by 7. UGA goes 3 and out, punts to Hood who sets up a terrific return for 32 yards. And then he fumbles, giving the Dogs the ball right back.

UGA uses the momentum to put up a fieldgoal.

On the first play of the new Auburn series, Jason Campbell tosses his 2nd INT of the quarter. It leaves every fan screaming to pull him or run the ball. Let's not forget that Campbell, until 2004, was a polarizing player on and off the field.

But the drive goes nowhere and the Dogs punt.

2 more series for both sides result in punts. The game stalls. But Hood makes yet another fantastic return on the last punt and doesn't fumble. It sets up the Tigers on the right side of the field. The Dogs key on Brown, trying to make Campbell throw the ball, which has worked in their favor. Instead, he pulls it down twice for big gains and tosses a short TD to Johnson.

The Tigers are up 14-3 at the half and things looks great.

Alyse and I haven't eaten since 8am and it is now around 5pm. We have 10 dollars to our name. We wait in line at the concessions stand. Upon reading the menu, we have to decide how we will spend our last dime. Knowing that we won't have any money to eat on we decide to eat hearty? No. We want to be warm. So we buy a hot chocolate and a funnel cake. Total cost? $10. We huddle back at our seats and enjoy what would become one of our most memorable moments and meals together.

Auburn kicks off the second half and the dogs put together a 5 minute drive and score a TD. It's all good, we think. 14-10.

The feeling seemed to be confirmed when Auburn puts together a solid drive that results in a 21 yard TD scramble for Campbell. 21-10

The dogs have a long series going. The run game isn't working, so Greene goes to work. An incomplete here, a completion there, and he strings together enough of them to move the chains. This is what he does and what made him famous.

And then it happened. UGA had reached the Auburn redzone, but continued to struggle with off-sides penalties due to the Auburn faithful. They were headed into our endzone, just a few yards from us. Greene runs up the middle, fumbles at the 6 inch line and Stinchcomb recovers for a TD. We all saw that the fumble happened short of the goal line and the replay clearly showed it. Yet, there was NO instant replay yet and the play was not reviewed. Today, that TD would not have counted and UGA would have had a 3rd and goal from the 1, a situation that the Auburn defense had and would continue to handle that year.  UGA kicked an extra point. 21-17.

How does Auburn answer? With 2 incomplete passes and rush for negative yards. Auburn punts. We are all getting a LITTLE nervous.

The first play of the 4th is a UGA punt.

Campbell tosses 2 more incompletes and takes a sack. Auburn punts. Again.
UGA answers with a 3 and out.
Auburn answers right back.
Not to be outdone, UGA adds another.
.....and another 3 and out by Auburn.
.....and another 3 and out by Georgia

Contrary to what you THINK the fans might be doing, they are loud and raucous. We all scream until we can't scream. We take a sip and scream again. It seems to be working. The fans are a 12th defender. The stadium rocks. I look at Alyse and ask her if she has ever experienced anything like this. She stares at me, then motions that she cannot hear me. I nod.

UGA has the ball and 2 minutes to go. They haven't moved the ball all quarter. Surely they won't start now. We pour it on. I have to imagine that 87.451 fans MUST move air enough to be felt on the field. A short completion. Then Greene hits a long gainer to Gibson for 40 yards to get to the 15 yard line. Oh boy. That one play was more than they had all quarter. An incomplete pass. A penalty. Another incomplete. Then a 3rd. THIS is what we expected. One big play. Just a fluke play. Someone fell. Someone missed a read. It was 4th and 15 from the 20. Essentially, they HAD to throw in the endzone. Really, that was the only option. The margain for error for throwing on 4th down just to get a 1st down was razor thin. Our defense was stout and they KNEW where the ball was going. Heck, if we did....they HAD to know.

Greene takes the shotgun snap and pumps. He lofts one. And, when I say lofts, I mean LOFTS. I could have run under the ball and I was in the opposite end zone! This was it! What an ugly throw! the nose was pointed the sideline. The ball fluttered. And #6..Willis..the tallest corner we have...SLIPS!
HE SLIPS! HE SLIPS! He doesn't make it up! Future all-pro Dansby is 3 steps behind! Johnson makes the easy grab and gets both feet in and two more for good measure!

Unbelievable! Shock! I had never been to a game where we lost! All we had to do was knock it down! But he slipped! How was it possible?

24-21 with 1:18 to go. All we need is a field goal. We can take care of it in over time....we just need a few yards!

Campbell comes alive on the first play and hits Johnson for 25 yards. We are in business! Duval is one of the best in the country. He can hit 50+. we just need another first down and we have a chance. Auburn takes a 5 yard penalty. Campbell tosses an incomplete.

Ok. Don't have to go for it all. Just get a small chunk at a time. 4 wide. In the gun. Another 5 yard penalty! WHATAREWEDOING!!!!!!!
2nd and 20. Wow. No sack. Can't take a sack. Anything but a sack.

He takes the snap. Looks up the middle. The pocket just collapses. Campbell holds the ball and gets popped. How! It was max protect 5 on 4!

3rd and 27.

The crowd is restless. The offense has completely self-destructed.

Campbell takes the snap. Looks. Looks. Scrambles. Picks up a few yards. Steps out of bounds.

4th and 20. This is it.

The snap. UGA #10 comes FLYING off the edge again, just completely unblocked! Campbell stays alive somehow...dancing in the pocket. But he tosses it to Smith who does the best he can, but is tackled short of the sticks. Greene takes the victory formation kneel and the game is over. There were a lot of mouths hanging open.

I wasn't so shocked at the late TD toss by Greene. Single plays happen. But the complete offensive meltdown we had just witnessed was epic. Rumors would begin to circulate regarding this series for weeks to come. They would revolve around the linemen abandoning Campbell. I heard lots of reasons. Having been there and having seen it, I couldn't refute the fact that they had simply given up. The Auburn line didn't manage to block a single UGA lineman in the last series.

We stalked back to the car, wet, cold, and defeated. Luckily, the car was still there, and there was no ticket.

Now, to get home. I had no idea of how to get out of here. So, we did what we had done earlier. I found a "47" plate and followed them. Surely they were headed home, too.

We followed them deep into Lee county where they eventually turned into a driveway. Now what? I backtracked and tried again.  I found an Auburn fan in their decked out ride. I followed them. This time, it led us to 85. I didn't pay attention to which direction we were headed until I saw the sign that said "Welcome to Georgia." That isn't right.

I stopped at the welcome station, bought a Mt. Dew with the change I found in my car. I was exhausted. I looked at the map. It told me all I had to do was follow 85 South to Montgomery, then 65 north. WHY HADN'T I DONE THAT BEFORE!

By Montgomery, I was dead tired. I pulled into a gas station around 10pm and slept in the car for awhile.

At around 11, I felt refreshed and we hit it again.

I made it all the way to the last turn before we got home when the blue lights came up behind me. It was 2am.

"What are you doing out so late?"
"We are coming home from the Auburn game."
"Have you been drinking? You look like it."
"No sir, not a drop. We are just very tired."
"If you went to the game, why are you just now getting home?"
"We got lost."
"How is that even possible? I don't think it is. What was the score?"
"Honestly, sir. I am very tired. My car is on fumes. I haven't done anything wrong. Can you just give me a ticket or let me go?"
So he did.

That may go down as one of the longest and emotionally draining days of my life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Taylor's Tiger Tales: Iron Bowl 2010

The Auburn Realist

You can find links to all of my Auburn Realist Blog posts here.
The Auburn Realist: Overview
Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!

With fortune on their side, the Tigers had put themselves firmly in the driver seat to possibly play in the National Championship. Their rise from an 8-5 team in 2009 had been shocking to the world, though Tiger fans had some idea of what to expect after a heartbreaking Iron Bowl loss in 2009 and a strong performance against Northwestern in the Outback bowl.

With their two SEC losses, Alabama had been eliminated from a shot at the SEC championship. We had all hoped for a Winner-Take-All game for the SEC West Crown, but the losses to LSU and South Carolina had squashed those dreams. All the same, it featured the #2 ranked Tigers at the #9 ranked Tide in a massively televised and rare Friday game. It was the premier event in all of College football that day, which would be followed up with a critical match up later than night with Boise State at Nevada. Though the Iron Bowl was a nationally recognized brand of match-up, this game since created a fervor that took the rivalry from a well known but downplayed, dinner conversation game to THE focal point in all of college football. That is to say, before 2010, the Iron Bowl was a game that all college football fans knew it about, if only to laugh at how a small state could be divided in a game that didn't matter outside of the borders of Alabama, to a game that found fans across the nation deciding which side of the State to side with...and a game that suddenly shaped the entirety of the college football landscape in 60 minutes of football.

As luck would have it, my wife's uncle offered us his Crimson Tide staff season tickets in 2010. Additionally, I had a friend from high school on staff with the team who had offered me his Auburn Tigers season tickets. The Tigers tickets were free, so I was able to free up the cash I had initially devoted to Auburn season tickets to paying for the Tide tickets. In 2010, we went to almost every home game.

But, we were REALLY looking forward to this game. It wasn't the first the game we had attended in Tuscaloosa. In fact, we had gone to several Bama games in 2010 thanks to those season tickets. Additionally, since it was Thanksgiving, we had planned to be in Tuscaloosa anyway. To sweeten the deal, our best friends, Josh and Emily, had scored tickets and would spend the weekend with us, though they wouldn't make it down until late Thursday night.

So, we made an extended visit. I recall that, unlike the previous year, the trash talking at the family Thanksgiving was fairly low. Yet, there was a palpable tension in the room. While there were comments aplenty, they circulated over a one Cam Newton, who had suddenly become the most hated man in half the state. Hearts had been crushed only a week before as Cam was reinstated to play in The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, which had turned out to be The Cam Show in his home State of Georgia.

I love my inlaws, but I was itching to get out of the house Thursday after dinner. Additionally, my wife and mother in law wanted to go Black Friday shopping, and were willing to stand in line. Well, I wasn't willing to do that, so I found myself wondering the strip. The first spot I hit up was this little hole in the wall bar. It was seedy and grimy. Any other time, I would have found me a corner table and enjoyed the solitude. But, a seedy bar on the Tuscaloosa strip, the night before the Iron Bowl, dressed in Auburn garb, is the WRONG place to be. Now, I didn't get hassled too bad, but the atmosphere was choice. The only people that were at this seedy bar on Thanksgiving night were the exact people that you would expect. There was just too much backslapping  about The Snake Stabler and Broadway Joe days and overt hate for Scam Newton. So, after a few beers, I packed up and headed elsewhere.

I found a free stool at the Innisfree Irish Pub around 9pm. The place was dead, as you would expect. I texted Josh and Emily who told me they were on their way. I didn't figure I would be there very long and used my time watching college football over a few nice brews. I even had some decent conversation with local patrons, who were all younger college kids, a far departure from what I had seen at the hole in the wall previously. Over the next few hours, much of the kids on campus had the same idea I had: escape and relax. The pub went from dead to packed house in a matter of an hour. It was standing room only.

Again, I got on the phone with Josh, trying to figure out what was taking so long. The message I got back was that they HAD arrived, but were in line to get in. IN LINE! WOW. Surely, that line wasn't long. That's where I was wrong. It was 12am by the time they saddled up next to me after fighting their way to the bar. After a 20 minute wait, the bar tender finally made their way over to us, and we were finally able to share a drink. We saluted  spending Thanksgiving together, even though it wasn't Thanksgiving any more. Because they had spent so long waiting to get in, we decided to close the place down.

The next morning, we left out for Bryant-Denny early. It was a good thing, too, as the place was swamped with fans from both sides. We had heard that Auburn was going to have a massive Tiger Walk, so we decided to head that way and get in line. We showed up at least an hour early and there was already a crowd. The crowd built and built. Finally, the buses rolled in and the players disembarked. True to his style, Coach Trooper Taylor got out slinging his rag around, pumping up the crowd.

The energy was already high, but when Cam Newton stepped off the bus and rushed the crowd, it created a fever pitch. The crowd was primed. The gates opened, and we all filed in. We swapped tickets with Josh and Emily so that we could sit with the Auburn crowd and they with the Alabama crowd.

We found our seats and were happy to find that the entire upper deck was almost all Orange and Blue. I have to admit that the excitement slowed during warmups. The pregame show in BDS is all about lights and sounds from the big screens, and of course it features nothing but Crimson Tide. The time came to introduce players. There were the "boos" for every single Auburn player, of course, but the tempo for the day was set with the announcement of Cam. Over the loud speakers came "Take the Money and Run", blaring from every corner of the stadium, referencing the rumor that Cam had been paid to come to Auburn. From the student section came a rain of paper. The wind blew them across the stadium where we were able to catch one. 
The day got off to an absolutely dreadful start as McElroy drove from the 29 to the 9, where Ingram scored. a 3-and-Out by Auburn followed. 2 plays later found Julio Jones streaking 68 yards for another TD only minutes later. The Auburn offense was destroyed with 2 straight sacks and an incomplete pass.

The Auburn faithful were dead silent. Stunned. The offense had not been stopped consistently all season. They were in negative yards. Additionally, the Alabama offense had chewed up yardage. In the next series, McElroy orchestrated a near flawless drive to toss a short TD to Hanks. Yet,  the Auburn defense had shown signs of life as Fairley began to find his way into the backfield. But, after a huge sack on a 3rd and 8, he was called for an Unsportsmanlike penalty....which I think was WAY overboard. Yet, Fairley had been a very controversial player in the weeks leading up to this game and everyone knew he would be watched and scrutinized. With a new set of downs, the Tide found the endzone again and took a 21-0 lead. The 1st quarter ended with the Auburn offense in negative yards, and the Tigers down by 21. 


At that point, no team had ever come into BDS and won when losing by 21 points in the first half....much less after a single quarter. The second quarter started with Auburn punting the ball back to Bama.

The Auburn fans were stunned. Shocked. The team looked to be woefully ill-prepared and careless against a very hungry Tide team who was playing for nothing but pride...and the hope of ending the Red Headed Step Child's dream. It was infuriating to see a team who had everything to play for, who had defied all the odds to this point, who had lived under constant scrutiny, lay down. And to of all teams....the Tide. I know every fan with me wanted the same thing: to go down to the sideline and grab the facemasks of each and every Tiger. We wanted to scream "Don't you know what this means? If not for you, what it means to us?" After seeing the Tide program resurrected in only 2 short see them win an National Championship and a Heisman after the way Auburn had dominated the Tide for a decade, but had nothing to speak of Nationally except a raped dream in 2004, was too much. We knew what this game meant. If Auburn didn't win this game, Auburn may never again be able to compete with Alabama as long as Saban was in Tuscaloosa. Auburn had to win this game, not only to get to Atlanta, but to stem the flow of momentum to the West which would be irrecoverable. A loss today would dash the dreams at a National Championship  in 2010, sure. But it also meant more. The battle on the field was representative of the battle going on for the future of each program. For recruits, for donor support, and most important, for the moral of the fan at the watercooler on Monday.The pendulum was already at the breaking point, even if Bama was out of the Championship race in 2010. 

I wanted to cry, and I don't say that as comic relief. I was devastated. And it didn't seem POSSIBLE to get any better with the Tide playing the way they were, where they were, with a crowd to the point of frenzy. To call it "raucous" wouldn't give it enough credit. The stadium rocked after every single play. And, let's be fair, there hadn't been a negative play for the Tide defense or offense YET. To that point, I had never left a game early, but the score was already out of hand and the Tide fans smelled blood in the water. There I stood, with my arms crossed, waiting for that moment when even the most stallwart of Auburn fans realized it was time to get out while the getting was good. I told Alyse that if they scored on this possession, we were going. She didn't argue. 

Mark Ingram took a seemingly innocent looking screen pass down the left sideline and right towards me. He shucked an Eltoro Freeman tackle on the sideline. Etheridge made a desperate attempt to dive at him. The tackle missed, but it slowed him down. I thought, just for a second, Ingram was going to fall. I wanted to believe. He needed to fall. He HAD to fall. If he didn't and he scored, it was over. 18 minutes into the game. But he didn't fall. HE DIDN'T FALL! How was it even possible? But it was.  As Ingram straightened up and headed to the endzone, I didn't want to see it. I turned around and grabbed my jacket. I told my wife to come on. The screams and cheers had already started. 

But they came from the wrong side of the stadium. Someone grabbed me by the collar and shook me. I turned around to watch the ball hop over the pylon. Washington dove on the ball. Carter had punched the ball out of Ingrams arms at the 19 yard line and it had tight roped the sidelines all the way into the Crimson colored endzone. 

To this day, I believe that this play has and will continue to be the single most important play in Iron Bowl history.

Did it win this game? No. Was it the Kick-6? No. But this play stood for more than winning a single game. It was the moment that stemmed the Tide. 

It was a blip of a heartbeat. 

Just a beat. A single weak sign of life.

It didn't mean we were going to make it. There seemed to be so far to go. An impossible task that no one had ever accomplished. 

It did mean the team was alive and willing to fight.

Auburn did pick up one first down and showed some life on offense. But, ultimately had to punt it away. 

Bama hammered away at the Auburn defense again, driving down to the Auburn 3 after a 42 pass to Julio Jones. The heart beat got stronger and the defense bowed up and forced a fieldgoal, despite started a new set of downs on their own 3 yardline. 


7:56 left in the first half.

I turned to Alyse. This was it. The offense had to put points up on THIS series or it was over. The fumble, though it was a spark, wouldn't be anything but a teaching point for either team if Auburn didn't score. I said that with regret, as I didn't actually believe a team who had negligible, if any, yards could suddenly break through. 

The series started shakey with Cam running for 5 yards. Dyer stuffed on 2nd and 5. Newton hits Burns for 19 yards for the first big play of the game. We all yelled "NO HUDDLE! PACE!" but the offense didn't respond, giving up a sack on the next play...fumbling the ball. Yet, we recovered. Incomplete pass to Adams and Auburn faced a 3rd and 9. Certain death against such a formidable defense. The season again stood on the brink. Cam hits Burns for another first down. Hurry. Ball snaps and Dyer picks up his first positive yards of the day. Not much, but just enough to push the secondary a step up into the box. Pace. Hustle. The shotgun snap comes in. The double move on the outside and we all see it. Just for a moment...Blake is open but Barron is streaking in. Cam floats the ball. The throw is behind Blake! But, he sees it and adjusts. He makes the catch, but Barron is there for the easy breadkup. The hands of #4 crash on the ball and we all see the one chance to climb back in...the one play that was setup by successive successful plays....evaporate. Just another incomplete pass. But Blake holds on. Barron tumbles and Blake heads up the sideline and into the endzone. 

24-7 and hope. However small, hope remains. 

It's business as usual for McElroy as the senior drives the tide all the way up the field and into the redzone. Down to the 7 with a first down. We all want to give up. Auburn cannot string together a ball game of big plays, strung out far and few,  punctuated by brutal Alabama offensive series leading to Bama scores. 

The defense is back on the razors edge. 

Ingram is stuffed on 1st down. 

Fairley comes streaking out of the backfield, blowing through a block with a nifty swim move, and levels McElroy from the backside. The ball comes loose and he pounces on it. 54 seconds in the half. Auburn gets hammered on offense and punts the pall on the last play of the half. 

The halftime show is accentuated by the Auburn sunset, which has now become a thing of legend. The unique pattern of clouds and rain combined to form a sunset from the west that could only be described as an omen. What are the chances that the sunset of west Alabama, on this day of all days, could possibly form that exact shade of orange? How is it that it happened to form facing the one endzone that needed to see it, among all things? But it did. And it gave heart, even if it only gave it to those who were desperate enough to search for any hope. 

The series started off innocently as Cam took a short run. He takes the snap from the gun, fakes the inside hand-off to McCaleb, ducks forward, pulls back. From motion, 81 fakes a 8 yard stick route to the seam, then busts hard for the endzone. Cam loads up, throws a strike down the left side of the field. Barron goes for the ball, collides with Zachery, but 81 comes up with the ball and room. He trots the 10 yards in for a 70 yard TD catch. 

"Now we have a ballgame!" Stan White says on the radio. 


I will never forget that moment, as long as I live. Sure, we were down 24-14. But the air had been let out of the building for the Tide fans. Instead of an vacuum, the Auburn fans replaced with it with their own. The thousands of Auburn fans in the building were not only hopeful, but angry and hungry. They shouted. And they didn't know WHAT they were shouting. It was an incomprehensible roar that I found myself echoing. I don't know what we said. But I know what we felt. It isn't over. It was never over. This is just the beginning. 

"The momentum has shifted" is a term that is used too lightly in sports. This shift was real and it was palpable. It was oppressive and thick like stepping out of air conditioning into a swamp. It was 72 degrees and dry to 102 with 100% humidity. And it happened just like opening a door.  It was a team telling the world that it wasn't going to quit. Not only would it keep fighting, that it would win. And it didn't care what the score was. 

It wasn't a rivalry. It was a war. 

You could see it in the Bama fans eyes. What's the big deal? So it's 24-14. So you hit some big plays. So what? They seemed to be right as the teams exchanged series that each ended with punts. The Tide fans seeing that as a win. Stem the comeback. Burn the clock. The Auburn fans saw it as progress. The offense would pick up, and as long as the D could make stops, there remained a chance. 

Halfway though the 3rd and Auburn had the ball back. A nice 9 yard gain by Newton followed by a pass top McCalebb. Another short rush for Cam, then back to back monster gains by McCalebb. Cam for 5 more. Then a pass to Fannin down to the 1. Under 3 minutes off the clock and Auburn had gained 70 yards on a vaunted offense. 

Everyone in the world knew what play came next. Cam over the top. There was no stopping it, even if you had 22 men on the field. 


Could the defense continue to stop the Tide, who had piled up yards so far? It didn't seem so, but the defense did force the Tide to a field goal. It was points, but it was progress.

The quarter ended 27-21, a far cry from 21-0, which seemed to have happened to someone else. It was like an out of body experience. I had been there, but had it happened? 

Auburn had the ball to start the 4th. The series seemed to be over on a 4th and 3 from midfield. Another razors edge moment. Malzahn dialed it up and Cam hit Adams for a 9 yard catch on the sideline on a GUTSY throw. We all breathed after spending an eternity holding our breaths. Down the field the Tigers went in big bunches. 3rd and a bunch, it seemed, from the 7. Cam takes the snap. Rolls right. Ducks underneath, gets away, and hits Lutz on the backside. We all saw him bust loose from the far side and we knew he was open, but the passrush was amazing. It seemed impossible that Cam could stand in the pocket, see him and deliver.  An amazing play. A most improbable play. But the only play that would have sufficed. 

Lutz does The Lutzie. In our endzone, though the corner away from us. We all go nuts. 100%. Nuts. There are hugs. High 5s. Ecstasy. 


The mountain had been climbed, but there was so far to go. Can they hang on? 

Bama has a nice drive going, converts a 4th down. 3rd and 12 and Bell ROCKS McElroy. Just a BRUTAL hit. McElroy doesn't get up. None of us want anyone to get hurt and I find myself yelling and cheering for McElroy. He is helped off the field, but he is done for the day.

Auburn stalls on 3rd and 3, bringing up 4th and 1. Cam rushes, picks up the first. The new set of downs doesn't amount to anything and they give Bama 51 seconds to win. 

McCarron takes the field. First and second down don't amount to anything, but it isn't for lack of try. The Bama receivers drop the passes. The offense looks flat and defeated. The crowd is silent, arms crossed, shakers half-heartedly shaking. This isn't somewhere these fans have been. Third down, McCarron checks down to an open Norwood who has Bynes beat. An easy first down and more. After all, they only need a field goal. The ball comes out, nearly perfect throw, but Norwood drops it. 4th and 10. 35 seconds. The North endzone drenches the stadium with screams and yells. How could a few thousand fans be so loud, I don't know. But we pour our hope and our hate. We leave it all out there, just as we know the Auburn players will. 

The snap comes in, McCarron loads up and throws another strike, this time to Jones. It hits him in the hands. Thorpe comes in and knocks the ball away. And it's over. The offense kneels on it. Cam blows a kiss. The fans rush the field. 

And Reverse Rammer Jammer starts. We do what so few have ever done before us in BDS. We sing it. We yell it. We cry. 

"Hey Alabama! 
Hey Alabama! 
Hey, Alabama!
We. Just. Beat. The. Hellouttayou!
Rammer Jammer
Yellow Hammer
Go To Hell, Alabama!"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend 2014

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube,  and Twitter!

What a busy and fun packed weekend! Man.

So, I stepped off the plane in HSV Friday evening at around 5pm. I BOOKED it to Aubree's softball game, where we proceeded to lose. Again. Poor Aubree. She hits the ball 95% of the time, which few girls in the league can say that. But, she can't get it out of the infield. So, she ends up getting herself, or her teammates out. The team is getting better, slowly. The problem is, the other teams are getting better at a faster rate. But, we keep on chopping would, ya know. Try to get better.

And we gave that a try by waking up early Saturday morning and hitting IHOP before a long 3 hour practice. We are trying to teach the girls that you have to hit hard and run fast. None of them seem to grasp that concept. So, to fix that, we held a fun competition. Kinda like a punt pass and kick competition, but for softball. Aubree didn't win, but she had the 4th longest hit and ran about 4th. But, that's a pretty good average. And, she tries hard.

So, then it was on to gardening. I posted a nice update on our Best5Garden 2014. Go check that out.

My sister and brother in-law arrived into town, so we headed to my dad's place to enjoy an evening with them. My brother in-law just passed his PT exam AND got a job, so we had a lot to celebrate it. We did so in style with steak 'ems, which were Aubree's suggestion. I whipped up a nice glaze that featured Essence of Emmeril, our own local honey, balsamic vinegar, and butter.  As I marinated and glazed, dad turned on the grill. He turned it on high to cook off the last grillings meat. But, I took my time coming outside. When I opened up the lid, I nearly cooked my face off. The grill thermometer was pegged at 800 degrees! It was so hot that the paint was bubbling off the grill. But, it cooled down...eventually.
Boy, was it tasty.

Then, we had a friendly game of kickball. Well, we were friendly, but Griffin and Aubree were a BIT competitive. I am amazed that they didn't go to blows over the game.

Sunday, my mom wanted to head to our land in Tennessee and do some fishing. Yall know I was all about that. I forgot my phone, of course. So, I didn't get any pictures of the fishing. We fished for an hour without much luck, then headed to Papa Boudreaux's in Sante Fe. I'd love to spend the time to tell you about it,but take my word that it is probably the best Cajun food I have eaten. And, it's in the middle of nowhere in a cinder-block building that is MAYBE 50x30. I'd tell you the history, but I want you to go read about them for yourself. They have a very unique story, and the food is second to none.

I will, however, show you pictures of what we ate. Here is a pic of my mom and sister about to chow! Ttat's cheese grits and shrimp with fresh caught redfish on top.

Then, we got back to fishing. Luckily, the kids were more interested in the creek, so Alyse and I managed to get some time on the boat together. I gotta admit, she caught more than I did. The highlight came as she was retrieving a stick bait over a log. As she hopped it, it landed just on our side of the log and a bass obliterated it! It scared both of us with the vicious hit! But, she managed to get it in the boat, even though she never set the hook. Speaking of, we will be working on her hook set. I know I am one to talk....

Anyway, the kids got back from the creek and they were wiped out!
While they slept, I stopped at Baskin-Robbins in Columbia. I told Alyse that I would test her and see how well she knew me. She came back with a double scoop of Jamoca, which I used to get at that same store as a child.

We got home around dark. We were all beat, but we had the best time!

Best5Garden Update

So, let's bump this a little bit.

If you don't remember, I had an abundance of tomatoes on my hands. I tried to list them on several FaceBook pages, but no one was interested.

In the meantime, I really needed to get my plants in the ground. They were quickly outgrowing the Dixie cups and other temporary plant houses I could scrounge up.

I was leaving (and I am currently in) for Utah, so I begged my dad to get the tiller over to my house. Of course he did, cause he is a great dad. I took an afternoon off on Monday, right before Tiger Trek 2014, to till up the garden. The general idea was to repeat the size of last years garden, which was approx 100x80 feet. I spread a bag of lime and I went to work.

Alyse followed behind me and raked out the weeds and grass. After 3 hours, we had done enough tilling to get some of the tomatoes planted. 35 of them, to be exact.
Then, it was off to Tiger Trek 2014. Man, what a great time. And then on Tuesday, it was off to Utah for work.

While I was gone, my wife listed the tomatoes for sale on several Facebook pages and managed to sell 26 of them in ONE DAY. I am glad they went to good homes.

When I got back, it was back to work on finishing the tilling. But, after I started the tiller, I noticed the tines weren't turning. I had noticed the week previous that the drive belt was making some awful racket. upon inspection, the belt had broken. So, it was off to the parts store to find a replacement. After one wrong belt, we had the right one installed. You can see the busted one on top and the new one (green) installed. 
Since the grass also needed to be cut, I decided to let Alyse cut it. That's a big step of faith for me. No one can cut grass like me (at least I think). I am picky about it. But, after several trial runs in past years, I felt like she was POSSIBLY ready. So, as I tilled, she cut. And, as I knew she would....she did a great job. 
After she finished up, we both went to planting. We got all the tomatoes and peppers planted! 

After we were done in the yard, we noticed this little guy. He had apparently fallen out of his nest, but seemed to be ok, other than he was VERY hot. We helped him up(without using our hands) and got him in the shade. Minutes later, he was gone! Hope he does ok!