This is my last blog as a full-time staff member of The News-Herald. After nearly 30 years I figured it was the right time to retire. That being said, I keep telling everyone that I am retiring, not dying.
As a result, I'll still be writing the outdoors blog, just not in the capacity of a News-Herald staff reporter. In effect, my blog will be the same, only different. Kind of like when one political party takes over for another. Please just take note of my new email address.
I’ve seen the white bear and touched the ocean of the far north.
I’ve watched whales off Hawaii, British Columbia, the Arctic and Virginia.
I’ve eaten shrimp caught fresh from the cold North Pacific, clams taken right from a New Jersey fishers’ boat and Maine lobsters still kicking off the waters of the ice-cold Atlantic.
I’ve smelled campfire smoke swirling in the morning mist in Yellowstone National Park, and one built along a tree-sheltered Virginia stream where 100 years earlier men in blue and men in gray bloodied her waters.
I’ve heard the wolf and the coyote, listened to the song of the northern lights play their symphony across the sky. If you don’t think the northern lights can sing, well then, you’ve never sat in the cold North Woods in the dead of winter, waiting for the performance to begin.
I’ve interviewed the famous: Charlton Heston, Chuck Yeager, Wally Schirra.
I’ve interviewed the not so famous, too — folks like Richie Glavic and Mike McCoy.
I’ve enjoyed a front-row seat to the reintroduction of wild turkeys into Geauga County, snowshoe hares into Ashtabula County (alas, it didn’t work), along with trumpeter swans and otters into the Grand River Valley.
I’ve seen Ohio’s population of bald eagles go from naught to 60 in the blink of an eye, and I’ve witnessed the tagging of Ohio homegrown peregrine falcons, ospreys and sandhill cranes.
I’ve added the whooping crane to my birding life list (twice), had a snowy owl eyeball me once from a Lake Erie breakwater, marveled at the thousands upon thousands of migrating wild fowl swarming upon the Platt River, and watched a vortex of 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from Braken Cave in the Texas Hill Country, the largest concentration of mammals on earth.
I’ve jumped when an Eastern Massauga rattlesnake squirmed out from underneath a piece of farming equipment, went bug-eyed when a scorpion crawled out of a Texas kitchen sink drain, and was told by a professional bass angler to keep any and all Arkansas cottonmouths from climbing aboard the boat, a job I studiously performed.
I’ve been chewed on by innumerable ticks, felt the acid sting of fire ants, been chased by an angry cow moose, been a hunting accident victim, and been kicked in a rather delicate anatomical part by a Montana pack horse.
I’ve survived three prairie blizzards, one prairie wild fire, two Rocky Mountain lightning storms, felt the tremor of a bonafide Ohio earthquake and missed a tornado by a few minutes.
I’ve stood in the spot that jump-started the Klondike Gold Rush, and also the Cape Canaveral launch pad where three American astronauts died during a fiery explosion, a testament to how nothing good ever comes without cost.
I’ve been to Scotland to attend a media circus hunt for the Loch Ness Monster.
I’ve strolled the dikes of New Orleans, noting at the time how the city is just one good hurricane away from disaster.
I’ve set foot in every state save for two: Delaware and Mississippi. Every Canadian province save for three: Labrador, Prince Edward Island and the Nunavut Territory.
I’ve canoed, boated or rafted some famous (and not so famous) rivers: the Yukon, Yellowstone, Missouri, Columbia, New, Ohio, Appomattox, Upper Cuyahoga.
I’ve paddled a kayak on the North Atlantic and also through the maze of mangrove islands of Florida’s brackish Indian River. Oh, and the small but immensely beautiful little lake tucked within Ashtabula County’s Dorset Wildlife Area.
I’ve caught fish from streams that pour into the Bering Sea to the sultry warm waters of the Florida Keys, and (of course) from my Ohio home waters, north to south, east to west.
I’ve served as a volunteer fishing guide for a couple of governors, a U.S. Senator, several professional baseball players and even the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.
I’ve likewise guided my grandchildren and a pair of grand-nephews to their first fish. Watching each of them give an ear-to-ear grin as they hoisted a 9-inch bluegill beats all the others by a long country mile.
I’ve introduced my wife to handgun competition, a decision I will always regret since she repeatedly outshoots me. But that’s OK, for there’s really no one else I’d rather be afield or afloat with than Bev, my bestest of best friends.
I’ve killed a moose, several bears, wild boars both big and small, pronghorn antelope, a bobcat, a couple of caribou, an axis deer from atop an ancient Hawaiian volcano, a blackbuck antelope, an aoudad sheep, two wild turkey Grand slams, and more geese, ducks, pheasants, squirrels, rabbits and deer than I can count, let alone remember.
I’ve fished and hunted with folks no longer with us, Ron Johnson, Jay Reda, Jim Oehlenschlager and Dean Palmer to name but four.
I’ve watched the installation of fuel rods inside the Perry Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor, and I’ve been aboard a Coast Guard ice-breaker as it chewed a furrow in the frozen Grand River.
I’ve walked the streets of Yellowknife, Winslow (yeah, the one in Arizona), London, New York, Vancouver, Buffalo (both the one in New York and the one in Wyoming), and once some Salvation Army doctors and I needed an armed government escort in a small Latin American country.
I’ve covered stories in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, the Mount St. Helens eruption, droughts, floods and severe weather of all kinds in Ohio.
I’ve caught the sun rising over Mount Rushmore, which is the way its sculptor intended.
I’ve seen the sun set in the middle of the Pacific.
I’ve used hand gestures to communicate with non-English-speaking folks, learning a smile goes a long way in any language.
I’ve also had my eyes swollen red from the wash of salty tears as I visited an Honduran orphanage filled with doomed AIDS-infected babies and children.
I’ve worked with and for some of the finest, kindest, least-appreciated people in the industry.
I’ve been there, seen that, done that.
I’ve been blessed by God beyond any measuring yardstick, and if I had the opportunity to do it all over again I would in a New York minute. But I don’t.
And so now, my friends, my wish for you is for fair skies and following seas until you safely reach home.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net (Please note the new email address).