Family Pics from China

October 9th, 2006 by tungsai
Hongmei's cute cousin It seems I forgot to add a few pics to the online photo album!
Hongmei realized this and I got them up this morning. They are some good pics of her cousin… She’s a hottie, check her out!This weekend, I got the chance to see my OLD FRIEND ERIC! He was in town for his brother’s wedding. Gavin Kopchinski got married!My parents have a problem with their next-door neighbor’s dog; it constantly barks. What can be done about that? besides feeding it some anti-freeze?

I also saw the HIT MOVIE, “The Departed”! FIVE STARS… awesome movie. FINALLY, a Hollywood Blockbuster that IS NOT a remake of something, and doesn’t suck!

Well, better get back to work!

Sugar Creek Canoe Trip

October 2nd, 2006 by tungsai

This weekend, Hongmei, my friend Carl Kramer, and I, went on a canoe trip on Sugar Creek. This is the creek which winds through both Shades State Park and Turkey Run State Park. Carl and I had long been discussing the Pawpaw fruit, and subsequently decided to dedicate at least one, if not more, pawpaw-hunting trips around Indiana. Well, you know how it goes with weekend plans, and it wasn’t until this last weekend of September we finally got together. Hongmei was ready for a weekend getaway, so I reserved a camping spot at the campground and canoe place we had my bachelor party at, “Clements Canoes”.

The plan was for Hongmei and I to camp together Friday night, and have a romantic evening to ourselves. Then, Saturday morning, Carl and Bart would meet us and we would go canoeing. Then perhaps camping again Saturday night, and return to Lafayette on Sunday.

The drive from Lafayette to this canoe place is very easy; and we made it in less than an hour. However, we’d gotten off to such a late start, that we did not arrive until 9pm and had to set up our tent in the dark. By that time, we were too tired to try building a fire, cook, or do anything, so we promptly inflated the air matress and tried to sleep. Unfortunately a nearby group of campers numbering perhaps 15 individuals was partying very loudly, and us without earplugs. It destroyed my hope of a good night’s sleep. After deliberating for a long while, I gathered the courage to confront the group. The details of the exchange are inconsequential, suffice to say that they apologized, agreed to be quieter, and failed to make good on their promise. I did not consider a second reprimand, as the levels of inebriation were no doubt higher, and any requests would surely be met with hostile rebuttal. Eventually my tiredness grew to match their slowly ebbing noise level, and we got up the next morning at 10:30 am, whereupon we moved our tent to the opposite end of the campground. This was accomplished easily, as the campground is actually quite small.

At our new site, we were suddenly plagued by swarms of a small insect which Hongmei surmised, using her knowledge in the field of entemology, to be in the mosquito family, but not being of a parasitical nature. They were, however, quite pesty and would swarm around our faces. About the time we decided to get some bug spray, Carl arrived. He too observed that these insects were uncommonly annoying, so we set to cooking a lunch immediately. Bart had cancelled, under the premise that he had too much other work to do, which is probably true since he is in the process of selling a house.

After consulting with the girl working in the camp store, we decided on a rather lengthy nine-mile trip down sugar creek, starting at our current position and ending at the Narrows Bridge, near the eastern border of Turkey Run State Park. Here is a link to Google Maps, showing the area we canoed through:

Click Here for the Link

We concluded logically that in order to get back to our campsite, we first had to remove the canoe from Carl’s car, leave it at the campsite, drive both vehicles to the pull-out spot, leave his car there, then drive back to the campsite, and embark. So it was done, and finally by 1pm we were in the water!

I was in the front of the canoe, and Hongmei sat in the middle, and Carl took up the steersman position in the back of the canoe. Hongmei tried a stint in the steersman position, but she rescinded her post when it became apparent that the water levels of the creek was low enough to expose many rocks and shallows, and navigating the creek was going to take a more experienced rear paddler. I also did not feel confident barking orders at her, as I presumed that eventually she would tire of my shouted instructions and explanations. As it turns out, the creek was the most trecherous canoe trip I’ve ever taken, and Carl did a remarkable job steering the canoe through rapids and avoiding large rocks as I would spot them.
Once we were settled in our canoe-paddling roles, we all began watching for Pawpaw trees, and within fifteen minutes, we had spotted the first Pawpaw patch! We promptly turned the canoe and carl disembarked, climbed up the bank, and began shaking the Pawpaw trees, to drop the fruit. These trees never seemed to grow beyond thirty feet tall, and their trunks never thicker than maybe 2 inches diameter, so they are easy to grab hold of, and shake. Though I could not see the fruits in some trees, they indeed did fall from two or three trees that Carl shook! Our mission was a success, and we’d barely paddled 30 minutes! We gathered about seven pawpaws from that first patch, and I used a knife to cut one open and eat it. The taste was unique, though somewhat of a let-down, since I had built it up in my mind to be the best thing ever. Well, it was somewhat redeemed when Carl indicated that they weren’t quite ripe yet, so after a couple days maybe they will taste better.

Continuing on our way, we began to notice a very large number of fish swimming in the creek. I don’t mean small minnows or 3-inch long bluegills. These were very large bass, at least, large for what I’m used to seeing in such a creek. It’s hard to tell, due to the refraction of the light, but my guess would say that we saw dozens and dozens of fish, and on the average they were 8-10 inches long.

We also saw a crane, which we caught on tape, and a baby raccoon. Some fisherman showed us the largest catfish I had ever seen in my life, a 25 pounder that was about 2 feet long. But the most amazing were the BALD EAGLES we saw! A mated pair, I believe. The male had the white plumage and the female (I’m presuming it was the female) a spotted gray-kind of looking.

Unfortunately for Hongmei, once while we were trying to get pawpaws, she was trying to get out of the canoe, and had one leg in the creek and one leg in the canoe. The canoe moved away,  and she lost her balance and fell full in the water. This was bad because it soaked her pants and she was shivering for the entire second half of the trip. The trip was way too long, we decided afterward, and took us nearly five hours to complete. We were all greatly releived to finally come to the pull-out point, and I was so weary that I was not confident I’d be able to lift the canoe, but we did, and our water-soaked worn out party made it back to civilization.

After dropping us off at the campground, carl went back to indianapolis, after taking his share of the pawpaws. Hongmei and I decided that although the $22 for the next night of camping was a sunk cost, we both just wanted to be back in the comfort of our home, and being less than an hours’ drive away, our cozy home was just too tempting. So after giving the nice, helpful girl who worked at the camp store a pawpaw, we headed back to Lafayette.

I did make a DVD of the footage we got, but I wrongly labeled it as “October 1” rather than “September 30”. Oh well. I tried also to extract still frames from the video but for some reason couldn’t figure out how to do it. But when I do, I’ll put pictures up on this blog.