Jul 282012
 
Monster rainbow from Corbett Lake, BC

Monster rainbow trout from Corbett Lake, BC

The other week, I had the fortune to visit Corbett Lake in British Columbia near Merritt to do some trout fishing. Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in BC, the lake has an elevation of about 3500 feet. Corbett is a private, fly fishing only lake known for its trophy-size rainbows up to 18 lbs. Before going there, I was very incredulous that rainbows that big could inhabit this lake.

Large rainbow with chartreuse bunny leech fly

Large rainbow with chartreuse bunny leech fly

On the second day of fishing, I was trolling the depths using a large chartreuse bunny leech under a full sinking line when something big bit my fly. I could immediately tell that this was not like the 20″ fish that I caught earlier in the day. Nope, this was a substantial fish.

I tried my best not to play the fish too long to avoid unnecessary stress on the fish but my 5 wt. with 6 lb. tippet was underpowered for this fish. After several runs into my backing, the fish tired and I quickly brought him in.  I had to get one of my friends on another boat to help net the monster. We caught glimpses of the bruiser just below the surface and knew he was going to be a trophy fish. His head was as big as a salmon’s.

 

Reviving "Walter" before release back to the depths

Reviving “Walter” before release back to the depths

When we got him into my measure net, his head and tail stuck out beyond the net and the numbered inch markings. He was 30″ long and had enormous shoulders! The owner of the lodge later estimated that he weighed a good 14 lbs!

We slowly revived him before we let him go back to the depths of Corbett Lake.

The fish handily beat my previous personal best rainbow of 26″ when I fished the Alagnak River in Alaska a couple of years ago.  Hopefully, I’ll see “Walter” again in a future trip to Corbett Lake.

 

 

Sunset at Corbett Lake, BC

Sunset at Corbett Lake, BC

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Jul 242012
 

 

Wild Pacific oyster

Wild Pacific oyster

One of may favorite spring and early summer pastimes is to harvest and eat oysters right after shucking them on the beach.  The firm, briny, and slightly metallic taste of a freshly shucked oyster is out of this world. No restaurant can serve a raw oyster fresher than you can on the beach!

In Washington State, you cannot take oysters home in the shell, they must be shucked first and put in containers. The empty shells must be left on the beach. That’s because the shell provides an excellent base for growing juvenile Pacific oysters.

The most common oyster in Puget Sound is probably the Pacific oyster which can reach 12 inches.  The oyster’s upper shell is flatter and smaller than the lower cup-shaped shell. Unlike many types of farmed oysters you find in restaurants, wild oysters often have uneven and distorted shells, making them more difficult to shuck.

Here are some tips on how to shuck wild Pacific oysters on the beach. (These tips are for the right-handed person.)

  • You’ll need a good, sturdy oyster knife (it’s too dangerous to use a regular knife), a bucket or cooler to sit on (it’s harder to shuck standing up), a thick towel or glove to hold the oyster, and a glove (I prefer a neoprene fishing glove) for your shucking hand.
  • Select an oyster with a shell that is not too distorted and irregular. Smaller, symmetrical shaped oysters are easier to shuck.
  • Orient the flat side so it faces up and the cupped side should be facing down.
Oyster with cupped shell facing down

Oyster with cupped shell facing down

  • Hold the oyster in your left hand with the towel or glove. Sit down and place your left hand against your left thigh so that your leg provides support and resistance against the force of your knife hand (right hand). Very important: Make sure that the towel is folded over several times so it is thick enough to stop a slipped knife from cutting your hand or leg.

 

 

 

  • There are two approaches to shucking, the side-entry and the hinge-entry methods. You’ll need to experiment to see which methods is better for you. I usually start with the side-entry method and then go to the hinge-entry approach if the first approach is too difficult.
Side-entry method of shucking oysters

Side-entry method of shucking oysters

  • In the side-entry method, find the small gap between the upper and lower shells. Insert the knife along the side of the oyster and force the blade into the gap. In some cases, you’ll need to push the knife  in a drilling motion in order to gain entry. Once in the shell,work the knife alongside the top shell and cut the adductor muscle.

 

 

 

Hinge-entry method for shucking oysters

Hinge-entry method for shucking oysters

  • In the hinge-entry method, position the oyster is that the hinge (where the two sides meet) is facing you. Insert the knife in the hinge junction and pry the shells apart using a twisting motion. After gaining entry into the shell, move the knife blade across the top of the upper shell to cut the adductor muscle, freeing the upper shell.
  • In either method, you’ll need to cut the adductor muscle n the lower shell before the flesh will come off the shell.

 

 

 

Shucked oyster ready for cocktail sauce and lime

Shucked oyster ready for cocktail sauce and lime

  • After freeing the oyster from any adhesions to the inner shell, add a dollop of cocktail sauce, a squeeze from a fresh lime, and slurp heaven up!
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Jul 192012
 
Dusk at Lake Langlois, Carnation

Dusk at Lake Langlois, Carnation

Last night, I decided to check out Lake Langlois near Carnation, WA for a couple hours of fishing at dusk. Registering close to 90 feet on my fish finder in some places, Lake Langlois is one of the deepest small lakes near Seattle.

Lake Langlois is a beautiful lake in large part due to its relatively undeveloped shoreline. The lake contains many sunken trees and logs along the shoreline providing excellent habitat for fish and other aquatic animals. Almost all of the shoreline is lined with evergreens. Although its less than 30 minutes from a major city, you feel like you’re in the wilderness.

My couple of hours on the lake were especially enjoyable as I was the only person there. The sky was overcast, there was no wind. There were some distant conversations heard through the woods among the girls at the nearby Girl Scout camp but, as dinner time came, their talking abruptly stopped. Hunger must have beckoned them. It became dead quiet, just me and my float tube on the water. A huge blue heron flew directly overhead and silently landed nearby. The bird was oblivious to me.

As darkness set in, I started hearing the birds and frogs calling louder and louder…

I only caught on largemouth bass that evening but my intimate experience with Lake Langlois was well worth it. I’ll be back again.

 

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Jul 142012
 
Chicken caesar salad at the Halfway House

Chicken Caesar salad at the Halfway House

We stayed near Brinnon WA on a family trip to the Hood Canal area last week. There aren’t many dining options in Brinnon so we chose the Halfway House Restaurant off of Highway 101 based on positive reviews on Yelp. We were not disappointed!

To my surprise, two of my kids ordered the chicken Caesar salad. My other daughter ordered the quesadilla. While they will sometimes eat salad at home, salad is not something they usually order when eating out. We were quite impressed by the huge serving when it came out. In the adult size version (the half portion is shown above), there must have been close to a pound of chicken breast layered upon a mound of greens.  The chicken was cooked perfectly — slightly browned, tangy, and very moist. My kids raved about the salad and almost ate their entire serving. My other daughter’s quesadilla, on the other hand, was acceptable but “not as good as Daddy’s.”

Halfway House Restaurant, Brinnon WA

Halfway House Restaurant, Brinnon WA

The pies at the Halfway House sealed the deal for my kids. We ordered the cherry and marionberry pies. They were phenomenal! Unfortunately, the pies were devoured before I could even get a picture of them. Just the right amount of sweetness, a moist thin crust and succulent fruit inside. The pies reminded me of the delicious pies I had in San Diego earlier in the year. The kids liked the pies so much that they wanted to eat pies for lunch the next day.

If you ever happen to be in the Brinnon area, the Caesar salad and homemade fruit pies are definitely worth going out of your way for.

 

 

 

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Jul 112012
 
Simple altar of the Lake Washington United Methodist Church

Simple altar of the Lake Washington United Methodist Church

A few weeks ago, my daughters had their annual piano recital hosted by their piano teacher. As always, there was a range of technical skills but the students generally did very well. This year, the recital was held at the Lake Washington United Methodist Church in Kirkland, WA.

Angles at the Lake Washington United Methodist Church

Angles at the Lake Washington United Methodist Church

I had never been inside this church before and was quite impressed by the clean and warm architecture of the building. Not something I expected from a church. Probably because I went to a traditional Roman Catholic church when I was a child that was cluttered with numerous ornate statues and paintings of holy people. In this church, there was not a single image of God or anyone else!

 

 

Natural and artificial lights at the Lake Washington United Methodist Church

Natural and artificial lights at the Lake Washington United Methodist Church

As the children were playing their pieces, I found myself gazing at the interplay of the building’s elements. The architect maximized the calming effect of natural light through the generous openings of the windows and skylights. The warm exposed hardwood beams merged well with the clean, crisp angles of the ceiling and walls. The globe lights simply highlighted the peeking sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clematis Jackmanii Close-Up

 Posted by on July 8, 2012 at 6:18 am  Photos  No Responses »
Jul 082012
 
Clematis Jackmanii close-up

Clematis Jackmanii close-up after a drizzle

A beautiful specimen of Clematis Jackmanii close-up after a short drizzle. The purple flowers are about seven inched across!

Intimate parts of Clematis Jackmanii

Intimate parts of Clematis Jackmanii

 

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Thousands of Blooms on Dogwood Tree

 Posted by on July 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm  Outdoors  No Responses »
Jul 042012
 
Dogwood tree with thousands of blooms

Dogwood tree with thousands of blooms

While I was jogging this morning, I passed a dogwood tree that literally stopped me in my tracks. I usually don’t stop when running, not for dogs, not for cramps.  But this time I had to  take a minute to soak in the sight of a dogwood tree with more than a thousand blooms! The tree was more white than green. I’ve never seen a dogwood tree with this many flowers.

More flowers than leaves on dogwood tree

More flowers than leaves on dogwood tree

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