2016 Wrap Up

The end of the year is always so hectic, with holidays and weather pecking away at spare time. It feels like I just posted about returning to Overlook Mountain last week.. but it was in October! So, here is what I’ve been up to.

Another Maine Road Trip

In 2015 I did a solo October New England road trip, and loved every second of it. In 2016 I wanted to return to Maine and spend more time in Acadia National Park. At first, I planned on going with a friend of mine. Continue reading

How to: Make a Heat Reflective Pouch

So, last time I covered how I’m starting to make my own dehydrated meals for the trail (Eating Well on the Trail). For my tests I was using a recycled Mountain House bag, which works well but seems to hold a little odor from whatever you cook in it. Plus, I imagine at some point it’s going to start leaking, or the zipper seal will give out all together. Since my next phase of this project is vacuum sealing individual portions, and multi-day trips would include several meals, just carrying 1 zipper pouch would start to get messy and carrying one for every meal would be a little impractical.

My solution… a reusable heating pouch. I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this, so I won’t try to take credit for it… but, I will show you how I made mine in case you want to make one of your own. So, check out the video for the step by step and I’ll list the materials you need below it. Have your own design? Share it the comments or at facebook.com/CrookedSite

What You Need

Reflective material – I used Reflectix insulation. It’s two sheets of foil sandwiching some bubble wrap. I got a 24″x 30′ roll for about $16 at the local Lowes.

Tape – Duct tape will work, I used foil tape.

Scissors –  to cut the tape and reflective material.

Velcro **optional** – to keep your pouch closed.


Hammock and Gear Test at Promised Land State Park

It’s hard to believe it’s only April and I’m in north east Pennsylvania. I guess it can all be blamed on El Niño, with the warm weather and relatively easy winter. Whatever the case, I’ve been taking advantage of it hiking, camping and kayaking. This past weekend I decided to head to one of my favorite car-camping spots… Promised Land State Park, located in the Pennsylvania town of the same name. I very much needed to test some new gear, and it’s always best to do that in a place you are familiar with.

As with any kind of activity, you always go through an evolution Continue reading

A Butterfly in Flight

With today being my only day off this week, I decided to go out to Ayelsworth Park in Jermyn, Pa. I hadn’t been there in quite a few years, in fact when I was last there the park was still largely unfinished. Now, there are hiking trails and picnic areas, a little beach and a playground being built. I snapped lots of photos… here is one of my favorites.

Butterfly in Flight

Captured with my Canon T31 using my Canon 55-250mm lens

Waiting for the Storm

It’s summertime in Florida and Hurricane Season is just starting to ramp up! We’ve already had one Tropical Storm come through a few weeks ago, but there are currently several weather systems brewing out in the Atlantic Ocean. This picture, from last night (Aug. 9, 2012) shows what they call a Tropical Wave, I’ve never heard the term before now. It is capable of kicking up large, lightening and wind packed storms in a hurry.

Photo taken with my LG Esteem Android phone.


Kayaking with a Shark.

Monday July 23, 2012 at 5:30am I awoke with the idea of getting a little early morning kayaking in. Those hours just before and after sunrise are some of my favorite times to paddle. Although they sky was a bit overcast I was confident that there would be no adverse weather until early afternoon. I prepared a little snack and some water, placed my camera, binoculars and my phone in my water tight box and went outside to prep my kayak.

About 10 months ago I built a kayak trailer out of PVC tubing for my bike, it doubles as a stand when the ‘yak is not in use. I secured the boat, hitched it to my bike and loaded my paddle, cooler, water tight box and life jacket and started to think about where I’d paddle to and how long I’d stay out… both of which depended on the wind and tide since the river I’d be paddling, the Halifax, is a tidal river so it’s direction of flow is at the mercy of the ocean.

I got to my put-in at The Wilbur Boathouse right at sunrise and noticed the tide was out…. way out! Meaning that a southerly exit from Wilbur Bay was near impossible, without a little portaging. So I decided to exit to the north, through the boat channel and head towards the Port Orange Causeway Park. Once I entered the river I immediately noticed that the tide had turned and was headed back in, pushing the river north, the direction I was headed… and that the wind was also blowing to the north. This  was making my trip out easy enough, but my return trip would be a bit more challenging. As the wind speed began to increase, I decided it would be in my best interest to turn and start paddling into the wind and tide, so that way when I got tired I would be south of my entrance to the bay and I could allow the wind and tide to push me back.

As soon I turned I noticed something swimming very close to the shore, I figured it was just a catfish that had gotten into the shallows and was working his way out… as I watched it dawned on me that this was no catfish, it was too big and too gray. As a list of fish went through my head I came to the only conclusion… shark. My thoughts were confirmed as the shark turned and headed right towards me and then to my surprise… swam right up to me. My kayak was pointed west towards the shore and the shark came north and didn’t stop until it was directly beside my port side (left)… actually between the tip of my paddle and the boat, and I was paddling so it’s dorsal fin came less than 3 inches from my hand. It was about 3-4 feet in length, most likely a Nurse Shark.

I was completely in awe. This is the first shark I have ever seen in the wild, and I’ll admit… I was giddy. To be that close to such a creature made me remember why I love to kayak! So, I turned away from the shark and gave it some breathing room, and then kept an eye out for it to appear again. The above photo was taken just a few minutes after that first encounter. As I watched and followed the shark, I could hear the occasional exhale of a nearby Dolphin… maybe it was sticking around just in case.

Between the wind and the current, it was difficult to hold position so I had to keep on the move. As I meandered through the water I heard a large splash come from behind… I quickly turned and realized I had just missed the shark jumping in to the air. It must have found an ideal feeding spot, as it became very active and would dip out of sight for minutes at a time. Suddenly, about 10 feet off to my right the shark resurfaced and quickly dove, a few seconds later… THUMP! My yak was struck from beneath… I probably should have been concerned, but I just chuckled and moved away. Since I didn’t seem to be getting circled or charged at by the shark I felt I must have just been in the way.

A large boat had just gone by and it’s wake was just hitting my section of the river as the shark continued to search the riverbed. I caught the above video just before the shark started to move north again, the wind was picking up and the temperature was rising so I decided it was time to head back home. Not a particularly long kayak trip… but one I’ll never forget.

Sometimes This is How I Feel

I was out for a walk yesterday and as I was walking along a path that crosses an old indian shell mound, I noticed this old, rusted out engine block sitting there. You’ll come across old stuff like this every now and then, where they used to dredge.. or who knows, it could be left from the days when they used to race on the beach here, which is only a few hundred yards away.

All I know, is that this old motor was left to sit and rust away… and sometimes I feel the same way. Not that I feel abandoned or left behind, but sometimes I watch how things are done… how people react and treat others. It makes me feel like I’m just sitting on the side of the trail, watching all the craziness… just rusting away.

A Trip to Cedar Key

Today, I’m going to continue the trend I’ve been on the past few days… places I’ve been. Back in March 2009 I spent a couple days in Cedar Key, Fl. Turns out that it’s one of the few places where Horseshoe Crabs go to mate… it just so happened that it was Horseshoe Crab mating season… which made launching kayaks an interesting task.

Atsena Otie Key

About 3/4 of a mile from the small beach on the east side of Cedar Key is Atsena Otie Key. This is where the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company used to have a lumber mill. Some ruins still remain, and it’s a great place to paddle out to for the day, do a little fishing and maybe have a picnic.

Boats off shore at Cedar Key

I spent 2 days at Cedar Key kayaking and exploring. Both days the boats pictured above were moored just of the shore of the beach. I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of them. If my time here taught me anything, it’s that you’d be hard pressed to find a place with a better sunset…

Cedar Key Sunset

The sailboat in this picture was out both nights I was there… coincidence or planned photo-op for tourists? Who cares… it’s a great sight either way!


Rugged, Foamy Beach

First off today, I’d like to correct a mistake from yesterday’s post. I said that I was shooting with a filter called Tri-Max which is incorrect, I was using Tri-X. My Kodak M532 has two Black and White filters, one called T-Max and the other Tri-X I mistakenly mashed them together. Thanks to unsouthernbelle‘s comment, I realized my error.

Now, on to today. These photos were also shot in Tri-X while I was out yesterday for a little sunrise stroll. Wilbur By The Sea Florida sits on, what is called the Peninsula. On the east is the Atlantic Ocean and on the west is the Halifax River. The Wilbur Boat House sits on Wilbur Bay. The bay is protected from the Halifax by a Mangrove forest. This rugged beach at the boat house is perfect for fishing and launching kayaks and canoes. Yesterday morning, the salty Halifax River and windy conditions left the beach a little foamy.

The Wilbur Boat House as seen from the little beach on Wilbur Bay

A look at Wilbur Bay… it almost looks like the Lock Ness Monster should be popping up here… doesn’t it?