Monday, February 22, 2016

Pigs in Georgia

No, I won't tell you what waters these trout came from other than from the state of Georgia:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

In Search of Trout: Summer 2015

Starting off in the Flat Tops Wilderness' Trappers Lake, it was good to be back casting small dry flies for the native Colorado Cutthroat trout that inhabit the lake. Not sure I know of a more beautiful trout than a native Colorado CT in its full spawning regalia.
Colorado Cutthroat Trout From Trappers Lake
The brook trout in high country lakes of the Flat Tops are also quite beautiful:

A Flat Tops Brook Trout - a personal best.

On the hike back from this lake, I was struggling to open an energy bar and in a bout of frustration finally just ripped it open. The noise startled an animal in the brambles next to me. All I could see was that the animal was quite large and black. I took a few steps forward to get a better view and peaked over the brambles to see a moose staring right at me. At that moment, the moose began to urinate profusely. I wanted to get a picture but my camera was in my fishing vest which was in the lower compartment of my backpack. That fact, combined with the rather threatening and intimidating attitude of the moose, along with a steep trail with dead trees on both sides (from the fire years ago), and I decided the prudent move would be to break eye contact and head down the trail slowly and carefully. I was asked later if it was a cow or bull, and I said cow based on the fact that there were no paddles visible. However, after some thought, and realizing the urine came out like a firehose as opposed to a squirt, it was most likely a male yearling.

Back at Trappers I hooked up with my buddy Scott for our long awaited canoe trip for a great day of dry-fly fishing. However, the day was not to be auspicious for us as we found all canoes were already spoken for and we ended up in a row boat - something we'll never do again. On top of that, the weather changed, high pressure moved in, the wind was exactly opposite of normal. Long story short: the dry-fly hatches never came off, there were no fish rising, and the larger fished we had hoped to bag were elusive. So we nymphed our way around the lake. I caught a dozen or so and Scott caught ~15. Scott had considerable success with a black chironomid while I was getting many strikes on my zug-bug and 'Fitz special' dropper, yet failed to hook many of the hits. Later I inspected the 'Fitz special' fly I was using and realized I had wound too many turns of orange thread leaving less of the rather small (#18) hook exposed. I look forward to fishing with Scott again next summer (from a canoe!) and perhaps gaining an advantage with a slimmed down 'Fitz Special'!
Scott with one of the many trout he took on Trappers despite tough conditions.

The author with a native CT taken on the 'Fitz Special'. Although a small fish, you get an idea of the spectacular coloring of these trout during the spawn.
After a few days of lake fishing I was anxious to do what I love best: river fishing with dry flies. I spent three days doing so and had considerable success. Although the numbers were down in comparison with the recent past, I don't think I landed one fish under 14" and most were in the 16-18" range. So the quality was definitely there. Some examples:
The Fitzman in heaven. Look at that beautiful trout water.

An average Flat Tops Cut-bow - 6-8 of these in a day make for an exciting time.
Another beautiful cut-bow - this guy went completely airborne three times. A very strong fish.

On my last day in the Flat Tops I was having a terrible time - I could not get my fly to drift naturally (largely due to my fly-line being waterlogged after all the nymphing in Trappers), was constantly getting hung up, and just couldn't seem to do a damn thing right. I found myself faced with a deep hole in the river and crossed to the other side in hopes of continuing upstream but got hung up in some briers. As I pondered my situation I looked up and saw my second moose of the trip - he was staring right at me. There was no doubt this was a young bull as he had some nice paddles already out. It could well be the same moose Al and Tina saw last year as a yearling. I quickly dropped down to me knees to get the camera out of my FF vest, and snapped this picture:

Yes, he is hard to see but at least I got him on film even it if was with my crappy old camera. After taking this picture, the moose moved quickly and walked directly toward me to the opposite bank. I was quite surprised with his aggressiveness. I figured it was because I had made myself small by getting down on my knees to get out the camera. So, I stood up and made myself "big" by spreading my arms and legs apart and holding up my fly rod and moving it slowly back-n-forth. This worked as the moose stopped moving toward me. He then simply stared curiously at me for a few seconds before moving downstream at a leisurely pace. I got another picture of him as he crossed a small tributary:

This was a good sized animal and I was very glad he was on the opposite side of the river. Packman once said that he was more concerned about meeting up with a moose as opposed to a bear. I understand now where he was coming from. When I told old man Jones, Al's father, about how curious the moose was about me and how he walked directly toward me, Duane said "Heck, he probably thought he was gonna get him a lil' bit before lunch". That man cracks me up! Duane and Nancy also make fine wines and gave me a bottle of their Strawberry Margarita "Twisted Mist", which I treasure and am saving for a special occasion. Speaking of Al, a man who prefers to catch (and eat) whitefish, here he is with a nice rainbow caught on his multiple nymph rig:
At this point I had been in the bush for 9 days and needed to restock the cooler and hit a hotel for a much needed hot shower. So I headed down the dirt road from Buford to New Castle ... ~30 miles of dirt road through beautiful country. I typically drive about 20 mph because of the bumps and towing the Teardrop trailer, so every summer it seems this drive is time for much contemplation about life in general. This year, out of nowhere and while driving down this old dirt road, I had a rather cathartic experience related to the passing of my father this past Halloween. Looking back, I simply never had the time to really come to grips with his death. Well, I dealt with it on this day, and I needed to.

The Fryingpan River

After a hot shower at the hotel it was on to the "Pan" where I planned to camp over the July 4th weekend (ya gotta stay somewhere!). As usual, it was quite crowed but luckily, at least for me, the weather worked in my favor as every late afternoon there were thunderstorms with lightening that chased anglers off the river. Since I was camping nearby at the Reservoir, I would simply wait out the storms and go down to the river around 5-6pm and have it more-or-less all to myself. And the fishing was fantastic! What was strange though was that I was catching nothing but brown trout in the Pan this year, when usually I catch mostly rainbows. Perhaps it was how I was fishing - with a streamer and zebra midge dropper. Here is a brown typical of what I was catching:

On one trip to the river, it was quite crowded and I was hoping for a storm and sure enough it came and ran everyone off. I found shelter in the truck (pea sized hail was falling along with the rain) and drank a Stella Artois beer while I waited for the lightening to stop. I figured the fishing would be pretty good and decided if I caught a decent fish I would name it "Stella". The fishing was great and I fished til dark. I did catch a couple fat and quite beautiful Fryingpan brown trout:

"Stella" hit a zebra midge tied by yours truly.

Before you guys write in and criticize me for these fish laying on the ground for pix, it was night time, quite chilly, and since I was alone I had to remove the fish from my net, with the dropper or attractor usually getting snagged in the net, so it was quite difficult to manage while trying to calm down a flopping trout. But let me assure you, all of these fish were released unharmed and very healthy. Despite some good success at catching browns, I realized that I had not yet caught a rainbow and I only had one day to go. So just to round out the trip, sure enough the very last fish I caught before leaving for home was a nice rainbow that just clobbered my streamer and put up quite a nice fight. Here he is:

Thanks to Ethan for this last picture.
What a trip! But I did have some challenges...5 minutes after seeing moose #1, the Vibram sole on the heel of my left 10-year old Lowa hiking boot decided to come off. So I had to hike the last ~2 miles back to the truck with a hitch in my giddy-up to keep the sole from coming off the toe and completely falling off. I managed to do so, but suffered a helluva blister on my left big-toe and my moleskin was woefully old (from the Grand Canyon hike way back in my Phoenix days!). Also for two years in a row I forgot my beer coozies and this year, a major blow-it when I left my bottle of Jamesons Irish Whiskey behind. This caused particular suffering on those cold and wet night when my feet were frozen and didn't have a couple shots of Jamey's to warm the soul. But the biggest foobar was my 5-day cooler...somehow the plug had come undone and the backseat of my truck was wet for some days before I figured this out. I kept thinking - this shirt or these socks should not be wet....likewise, the odors emanating from the backseat were a lil stronger than normal...I kept washing off my net ... but it was only part of the problem ;)

The Bear

On my next to the last day on the Pan, I was alone on the river and kept hearing a loud crunches and crashes seemingly coming from the area where my truck was parked, which was hidden behind the willows. The noise kept happening until finally I got concerned and started to leave the river and walk to my truck to check it out. But then I saw what it was - on the side of the very steep mountain behind my truck was a bear knocking over dead trees and tearing through the stumps - for grubs or something. This was a large and very powerful bear that was negotiating the steep and rocky incline as though it was nothing at all. You would never know this was a black bear as it was a beautifully blonde color and I am wondering if it is the same bear that I saw last fall on the bank of the river with two cubs (Paul, an artist painting on the bank of the river saw 3 cubs). It was a beautiful cinnamon color at that time. Sure wish I had had my Canon so as to have taken a video of this bear but alas, it was back at the trailer. I guess I'll have to start bringing the Canon (with a 50x zoom) with me regardless of its size and weight and the risk of it falling in the water (with me...) and getting it wet. After all, what good is a nice camera if you never have it with you when you need it? Would have loved to have gotten a video of that moose as well. Next year!

Elk Story

Late edition - I forgot to relay the elk story told to me by Rich who is working at the Trappers Lake Lodge this summer. Last fall he said he heard two elk buggling back-n-forth and he and a buddy set out for the hunt. They pretty quickly came upon a 4x that presented himself nicely and Rich put an arrow through him just above the heart. He said the elk was stunned and had a look on his face like "what the hell is happening" and eventually dropped to down to his front knees while he tried to figure out what to do. The next thing Rich says the other bull comes running over and rams the half-fallen bull in the ass and puts him down for good. He then started to urinate on the downed bull and spent the next few minutes marking the entire territory around the downed animal.

I have met women that I would do just about anything for ... and I suppose for an entire heard of cows the motivation may be even stronger ... but man, talking about hitting a man while he's down! Then again, as the old saying goes, to the victor belongs the spoils.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Young Bucks, Old Bucks

Look at the awesome rack on this 8-point my nephew John took on his first hunt of the season last Fall down in Louisiana. This buck was taken with a bow and John said he didn't even have to track him. "I walked right up to him." I told Johnny-man that all the hunters in his circle of buddies would be freezing their toes off every day until the end of the season in an attempt to better that bad-boy.

Next to the deer stand he hunted from, John said there is a tree a few feet away with a hole it in. The hole is home to a snake, likely a rat snake, that has been there for two years running and evidently is content sitting there and watching the hunt from the safety of his hole. Reminds me of a few years back at the Sugarbush campground in Colorado when a few of us were sitting around BS'ing and this 4-5' long snake falls out of a tree with feathers out of his mouth and a big lump behind his head. I looked up and saw the limb that he fell out of still wigglin'. I mean this was a fairly good sized snake and he was way out there on this skinny limb. Perhaps he had coiled and pounced on that bird from a distance. Regardless, I had never witnessed a snake hunting birds in a tree before. But I digress...back to the deer story.

A short while after I was sent news of nephew's successful hunt, I am visiting my nieces (his sisters) over Thanksgiving and I commented on John's nice buck. His sister said yeah, that was a big one, but "look at what my Dad got a little while later" and she showed me this photo:

Ohhh doctor! A-nother impressive buck. This guy was also taken with a bow, which I believe is all either one of 'em hunts with these days - at least for deer. You can tell from this ol boy's tines that he likely had a successful rut.

Back at the house, my brother-in-law poses with his mount:

Pat said the mount is currently sitting on the couch waiting to be hung and their dog, Charlie, just lays there staring at it. She thinks Charlie is protecting her and "saving" her from the animal.

Young bucks and old(er) bucks. As they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Translation: Like Father - Like Son. Congrats men!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Deer Me

So yesterday I went for a walk around the neighborhood and I come around the corner by my house and a doe goes bounding in front of me - giving me a odd glance or two as she crossed the road. I soon found out why the odd look - there were two little fawns hunkered down in the ditch. They perked up as I walked by and one of them gets out and starts to venture out onto the road just as I see a 4 wheeler coming toward us and hear a car coming from around the curve behind us. I'm like doode, be careful, and I try to herd the little guy out of the road.

Two Little Guys Scared Shitless
 Then his sibling comes out and I realize the Mama is on one side of the road and the little guys are on the other side. I felt the need to intervene considering the time of day and the chance of cars coming around the corner. I finally get them to cross the road into my yard and where Mama is (although hiding out of sight).
I Finally Get Them To Cross The Road To Mama's Side
 Patting myself on the back and thinking I did my good deed for the day, I go to check my mailbox as is my habit after completing my walk, run, or bike ride. As I am walking up my driveway checking out the front page of the newspaper, low and behold the two little polka-dotted fawns are walking right behind me. I'm like guys, no-no-no, go back to the woods, hunker down, and wait for Mama. I'm actually talking to them at this point. So they follow me back over to the woods where Mama ducked in, I get them to hunker down, then say "Stay!" (as if they have a clue), and this time run around my front yard and up my driveway. Thinking I had solved the problem once and for all, I continue reading the paper and walked all the way up to the house and, jeez, there are the two little guys again, right behind me sniffing my legs.

At this point I am thinking of the old adage "if you touch a bird in the nest the Mama will have nothing to do with it", which I assume hold for deer as well. Trying my best not to touch them, or I should say for them to touch me (I did feel a wet nose on my leg at one point), I tried my best to get them back into the woods. I could tell the episode was tiring them as their tongues were hanging out and I am sure they were still on the tit and starving. But I knew their pleading bleats for Mama would go unanswered as long as I was on the scene. So I just went inside the house hoping they would go back into to the woods.

No such luck...they hung around in my backyard (in the bright sun) and I was starting to worry about them even more. Finally I went back outside and took them over to the woods on the side yard and just sat and stared at them, hoping they would realize I did not have a tit for them and get bored with me. They finally did. Into the woods they went and they did not come back out. Good action!

I have not seen them since, and surely hope when I do they will be grazing next to Mama!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monster New York State Brown Trout

Look at this gargantuan brown trout from the waters of NY state. The smiling angler that landed the brute is Jason Hettenbaugh. Pete, his proud pop and an expert bass fisherman in his own right, told me this trout was 33 inches long and weighed in at around 16 lbs. Rumor has it Jason is doing some guide work now. I have a feeling business is booming. All I can say when I see a fish like this is .... Good Action!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer 2013

A Beautiful Flat Tops Wilderness Cut-bow

My annual fly-fishing trip to Colorado was somewhat of a bust this year. My timing was all off. It was the first trip in 15 years which was less than satisfying, so I guess that's not too bad. I started out up at Trappers Lake. While I did catch a few trout, it was nothing like recent years primarily for two reasons: 1) the spawn was still going on and the larger trout were at the creek inlets. 2) there were no bugs on the water! No hatches at all. I have no idea why other than perhaps some late cold weather put them down. I arrived a week later than last year and there were plenty of bugs - but not this year.

Ran into a couple from Craig who gave me some drinking water a couple years back when the campground water was not working. My buddy, who I will call  "Packman", did great from his pontoon as he was able to paddle over to some productive areas of the lake. He had a 30 fish day fishing along the shoreline and middle of the lake. Me, I was wading in Scot's Bay and the best I did was 6 or 7, most on wooly buggers and the "Fitz Special." Packman and I hiked up to a nearby lake one day and again he did well in a float tube out in the middle and me, not so good from the shore. Packman caught a couple huge brook trout in the 20+ range. Unfortunately he was too far away for a picture and besides, he doesn't take pictures of fish unless they are "really special" (as if a 20"+ brook trout is not...). Talk about a hard man to impress!

Speaking of impressing...Packman and his wife invited me over for dinner one night where they showed me a picture of the huge moose he got last season. Apparently it was enough points to make Boone & Crocket's "Fair Chase" magazine. Check out these pictures(click to enlarge). What a beautiful animal!

Hope to see you guys up in Colorado next year! Maybe I'll have a float tube by then and we can hang together catch some of those "small" 20" brookies ;)

Oh, I was walking up the hill from Scot's Bay and ran into a guy who asked me how the fishing was. I told him slow, but I caught a few. He asked on what, and when I said wooly buggers and a custom fly I called the "Fitz special" and showed it to him. He said oh yeah, I saw that fly on the internet when I was looking for info on Trappers and tied up a few - are you that guy? Hahaha. The power of the internet. Didn't see him again but doode - if you're out there, I hope you caught a few on it.

What Out For That Elk

The picture below is of the youngest campground host ever: 22 year old Cody and his faithful dog Lily.

Cody is pointing to some elk hair sticking out of the door in his vehicle. I wanted to get the hair to tie up some elk hair caddis flies, but the door was jammed shut and I couldn't get the hide out. Cody was apparently rammed by the elk as he was driving up to the campground. What a panic!

After the Flat Tops, I headed down to the Fryingpan River where the fishing was, ahhh, ok - nothing special. A second season in a row of low snow pack had them releasing very little water through the dam. As a result, the water was very low and the fish were very skiddish. And once again, there were not alot of bugs on the water. I did have a 15 fish day while fishing two sections of the river (lower and middle), but the fish were small by Pan standards and once again, very skiddish.

As usual, the first deep pool below the Toilet Bowl had some very large fish rising to very small flies in the evening. I got a few strikes on a small pheasant tail and a small Fitz special - but it wasn't what they were feeding on. Where was Packman when I needed him? I decided to leave after only a couple nights and head to the Arkansas.

The Arkansas river, as usual, fished great. The only problem was daytime temperatures were in the 95 degree range making for a very hot campground and a very warm Teardrop trailer, even after the sun went down. Although my new vent worked great, it was not enough to cool off the trailer to sleepable temperatures after getting hit by a few hours of sun and hot temps all day. I didn't sleep worth a damn both nights I stayed on the Ark. The highlight of the Ark stay was a concert by "Dr. Robert" at the amphitheater in Salida. The band played only Beatles song and the drummer, I swear, never missed a single lick Ringo ever recorded. It was very enjoyable and the crowd was into it. I would continue with what happened next on the trip but I'll just say the combination of wildfires and hot temperatures made me leave early making it one of my shortest trips ever.

I returned home to 5 straight days of rain and very cool temperatures. Go figure.

Soon after returning I harvested my potatoes and put the tops in my compost bin. I went out my back door to grill some chicken and I saw this animal buns up in the bin eating the potato tops. Turns out it was a young groundhog. I never thought they could move so fast but he was a blurrr as he ran underneath my gazebo where he apparently had made a home. For the next few weeks I saw him often - a quite happy and cheerful animal I named "Pux". He had tore up some of the fencing underneath my gazebo, but that had already been done so I thought, what the heck, live and let live. I got used to watching him with my morning coffee and in the evenings. He was a cute and happy little guy.

Then one day I was mowing the yard and saw a huge pile of dirt next to my house right where the septic pipe exits. On closer inspection, Pux had dug a large hole and left a huge 2' pile of dirt. The hole was right next to the spetic pipe, went down, did a U-turn and then must have gone down some more. I thought OK, he's creating work for me now and this is not good. He's gotta go. I called the wildlife department to get a trap and the lady said what are you going to do with him after you trap him. I told her I would throw him in the back of my truck and take him down to the river and let him free. She said it was illegal to transport a wild animal in a vehicle and that all the traps had already been loaned out. She also said most people called a pest control person of just killed the animal. Ugh.

I couldn't bring myself to shoot Pux on my first attempt and decided to just scare him with a shot. That didn't work, all it did was change his attitude. He went from a fun loving little guy to being very cautious, serious, and always had his radar on. Now it was really tough to even get a shot. I ended up having to shoot him right through the screen in my bedroom window. Worse yet, although I tried to hit him in the head to put him down fast, my first attempt hit him in the left shoulder. He flipped over and wiggled but before I could get outside to finish the job he had scooted back under the gazebo! Great I thought, now he is going to suffer, die in his hole, and I'll be smelling him the rest of the summer. Low and behold, two days later I was surprised (and elated...) to see him in the backyard back to eating and gaining strength. I looked through the binoculars and Pux had licked the hole clean and I could see no blood where he had been hit. Although his front left leg limped a bit, he still got around pretty good. Then I got sad again because I knew I still had to put him down, which I did the next day with a single shot to the head. Here are two pix of Pux. I just wish I had taken some pix of him when he was the happy-go-lucky little guy that first showed up and made my home his too. I miss him and the entire experience tugs at the ole heart strings. I can't look out my window when drinking my morning coffee without thinking of young Pux and how happy and frisky he was when he first came on the scene.


Turtle Love

Speaking of happier things, check out the turtle action I found out back by my wood pile. This guy was going at it so hard, he didn't even care if I watched and took pictures. No way he was letting go of this babe. This couple took the term "humping" to a whole new level!

So that's it for now. The rivers are still high, the dams are still releasing, and the rain keeps falling. I did get a new set of Callaway X20 irons: $299 4-SW, discontinued but what a deal! Anyhow, one day last week all I had to do was par #9 at Bear Trace to shoot 39, which would have been my best ever. I was 120 yds away with a 9 iron in my hand and was thinking "birdie bay-beee!" But I put pulled it into the left side sand trap, blasted out to 10 feet, and missed the putt for a bogey and 40, tying my previous best. Crap!

So I go out the next day to try again. I was 3-over after three holes and thought my chances were slim to match the previous days result. But a birdie 2 at the par-3 fifth hole lifted my spirits. I par'd the tough signature hole (#7, missing a make able birdie putt), and soon found myself on #9 tee with the same scenario as the day before: all I needed was a par for 39. I sunk a 5 footer to do it! "39" on the front-9, my best ever. I'm not hitting the ball any farther with the new Callaway irons, with the lower center of gravity in these irons, the ball is going much higher and stopping much quicker on the greens. I also invested in a 60 degree Nike wedge which is capable of great shots, as well as some horrid shots. Hard club to hit right, but great fun. It's like a whole new game! Amazing what getting rid of my 30 year old irons bought in San Diego in 1983 can do. I can't believe it was 30 years ago I bought those clubs for the old Burroughs golf league. THE END.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hunter Shadow Teardrop : Vent Installation

I finally got around to installing one of the two vents I bought on Ebay for my Hunter Shadow Teardrop. The vents I bought were 9"x9" and can be seen here.

The first job was to cut a hole in the top of the Teardrop. I started by locating the cross beams of the roof and aligning the vent so the front holes could be drilled into a cross beam. The side and back holes would need wood braces installed in order to have something to screw into. When cutting the vent hole (I used a jig saw) make sure of three things:

1) Your jig saw blades (metal blade for the top, wood blade for the interior) must be short enough not to bang into the other surface. I put the blades in a vice and tapped them with a hammer to break off any unwanted length.

2) Be sure not to cut through the electrical wires that run right down the center of the trailer and feed the hatch and license plate lights.

3) Use masking tape or newspaper to protect surfaces from being scratched by the jig saw.

I cut the top hole first (metal blade for aluminum) and used that hole to drill holes through the interior wood, and cut that hole second (wood blade). Be sure to line your cuts on the wood with masking tape to prevent unwanted splintering. Here's what the top hole looked like:

The insulation went all the way across, so I removed the square so you could see the wires. One reason the Hunter Teardrops get so hot in summer is because they were made for hunters in the Rocky Mountains and were therefore thoroughly insulated to stay warm in fall and winter. Needless to say, I pulled out all the insulation from the compartment I was working on. I have also consider taking the hatch apart and removing all the insulation from it as well.

Here's a picture after cutting the interior hole (through wood), and installing the gasket. It wasn't quite the type gasket I was looking for, but I made do with an inexpensive door gasket from Lowes. I figured I was going to seal it with silicon sealant anyhow - besides, the gasket had adhesive on one side which made it very easy to work with. I rubbed silicon gel on the gasket after placement. (NOTE: the vent directions say to use "putty tape" for the gasket, but I knew that would dry out and crack very quickly, so I went with the rubber door gasket).

Note also I had to splice the wires and add some length in order to re-route them around the vent hole.

You may not be able to see from the picture, but I had to install braces on both sides of the vent in order to have something to drill into. These pieces had to line up with the holes, and I didn't want them moving when I drilled the holes, so I attached them to the crossbeams with wood glue. The wood glue will probably dry out some day and give way, but once all the screws are in, the vent will be solid. The toothpicks were just to check drill hole alignment before actually installing the vent.

Here's what the inside of the vent looks like after adding the garnish plate:

This picture also shows off the LED strip I use instead of the old style light bulb that came with the Teardrop (and uses >100x the power for half the light intensity).

And finally, here is what the vent looks like from the outside before and after the silicon sealant was applied:

I could have done a better job sealing the screw heads, but it is what it is and I doubt seriously this guy is going to leak for at least 5 years.

I've decided to only install one of the two vents I bought, for a couple reasons:

1) I think one vent will be sufficient to significantly cool off the interior.

2) Unless you can build a platform to work on, this job can be very hard on your knees (at least it was mine). Standing on a small ladder and bending over to make precise cuts and drilling holes was tough on my knees.

3) I have a backup vent just in case some misfortune were to come to this one.

One last hint: when it comes time to seal the vent with your caulk gun, do the back or sides first - just to get the hang of it. The front seal is probably the most important (i.e. doing 80 mph in the rain), and I did it first before I had my shit together. Have some water and paper towels handy. Also, make a small cut in the caulking tube nozzle - it doesn't take much of a bead to seal the vent.

So that's it. Hopefully it will not only cool me off, but vent my exhalations while sleeping. I find myself in bear territory often and sometimes I am just not comfortable leaving the doors open. Now, I have a nice topside vent to pull air through the windows! Who-hooo!

Lastly, I finally made a very stable pod for my sealed lead acid (SLA) battery. I ended up using plumbers tape - flexible yet very rigid. The battery is held securely in the wood frame by three velcro straps. So, the battery is very easy to remove, yet is very secure even on bumpy backwoods roads.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment.