One of my favorite times of the year in Key West falls during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it has nothing to do with fishing… sort of. This is the slowest time period on the island in terms of tourism and there is hardly anyone around. You can find parking spots downtown, there is no line at the marina for me to get my boat out and there is a very welcome coolness in the air. Just to tie in some fishing, I get plenty of days to go fishing, flats and offshore, as well as spearfishing and lobstering (when the water is not below 75 degrees).
Since making the move from Pennsylvania to Key West some seventeen years ago, I have never really missed anything from back home. Family and friends, of course, but nothing else really. Fishing has always been a huge part of my life and, after moving to Key West, fishing just got more accessible and more enjoyable.
A couple of years before moving to Key West, I got into hunting; small game, such as grouse, rabbits and squirrels. Big game didn’t excite me too much--plus there were way too many ‘hunters’ with high-powered rifles and not a lot of real estate. I was getting into hunting almost as badly as I am in to fishing; then we moved, and, well, no more hunting.
Last year, a very good friend of mine invited me to go deer hunting with him at his dad’s camp in the mountains of Maine. It’s an old rustic camp that has been in his family for over 75 years. My buddy’s grandfather worked for the logging company way back then and this is where he lived. Fortunately, some improvements have been made over the years and it is now quite comfortable, but still a little too cold for my thin blood. I like to hang out next to the wood stove and make sure the fire doesn’t die.
I spent nearly two weeks at the camp and loved almost every minute of it; the trips to the outhouse when it was 6 degrees, I didn’t care for too much. The camp is in the middle of nowhere. There is no electricity, no running water, very few people and, best of all, no cell service. There is a generator to run lights and a second heater for those really cold nights. The stove and fridge run on propane. Those are the only comforts of home.
I hadn’t done anything like this since moving to Key West, so I didn’t realize how much I missed the camping and hiking trips from when I lived in Pennsylvania. Getting away from all the noise and busyness of the city to spend quality time in a more peaceful and natural setting does the mind and body a world of good.
I got invited to camp again this year and I am really looking forward to the trip. Last year was all new and I was just getting my feet wet. This year, I will be a little more comfortable and confident in the environment around me. On this trip, I hope we see more animals; I have yet to see a moose. I will just be getting back into town as this issue of FishMonster Magazine is distributed, so the results of my hunting trip will have to wait until January. But no matter the outcome, it will be an awesome get away.
Happy Holidays everyone.
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