Cousin Eddy from Christmas Vacation said that the membership to the "Jelly of the Month Club" was the gift that keeps on giving all year long. I emphatically agree with that, but I think I may have a different spin on it! Here's my thoughts: I have been very fortunate to work and compete outdoors for several years now. I have been able to see some of the greatest places this country has to offer in my travels. Many times is isn't even the body of water that I am most impressed with, it's the ride there! Either way, the outdoors and what it offers for me is the greatest way to have a liberating experience, or to take in the serenity and tranquility of nature.
I have fished for as long as I can remember, and I have also snow skied for as long as I can remember. Skis on my feet feel as natural as a fishing rod does in my hand. I competed in moguls on an amateur level and instructed skiing at all levels for several years before fishing full-time. Fishing through the winter and early spring months then took precedence over the time needed to work at the ski mountain but I still enjoy them equally. In fact, I skied at one time so that I could fish, now I fish so that I could ski.....hmmm? I still ski with my family as often as possible, but have to do it in the gaps in my fishing tournament and promotion schedule. Skiing and fishing are similar in many ways. Both are mostly international and individual sports. In both the elements and variables of the weather and nature play a big part ,but both can technically be done during all weather. Technology has made them both easier/ better and more accessible, and people generally do both for recreation.... but also enjoy many avenues of both sports' many competitive entities and arenas. Both sports have experts, both also have posers with all the gear but no game. Skiing has radical ambassador Glenn Plake, and fishing has radical ambassador Ike. Both sports take a lot of practice to master, but in both... mastery is in the eye of the beholder. This is because ever-changing conditions and unpredictable forces of nature create many a humbling experience. Therefore, confidence is a huge factor in both.
They are also different in many ways. Skiing is more so a yuppy sport in America while fishing is more so a bubba sport. Not in all cases of course... and I see this changing more and more. Ironically, fishing is the more yuppy sport in Europe and Asia. That is part of the reason why the attention to detail on much of the tackle and equipment from overseas is so high, and the prices are generally higher too. It is also ironic because fishing with the best equipment at the best places generally costs more than skiing with the best equipment at the best places. Last but not least, fishing is competing with a live animal, and skiing is competing against the mountain and its terrain.
A little history: My family and I recently went on an awesome ski trip to Jackson Hole WY. What a place! I had been there in the summer several times in years past but never skied there. I have skied some of the other more majestic places in this country like Crystal on Mt Ranier in Washington state, Heavenly and Squaw Valley around Lake Tahoe in NV and several of the large mountains/ski resorts in the upper Adirondacks of New York.....but Jackson Hole ranks up there with the best of them. It is on such a grand scale because its on the Grand Tetons of course, and the peak of about 10,400 feet rises out of the relatively flatter surrounding terrain, including a scenic national elk refuge and the Snake River near the base. To add to the overall appeal, the accommodations are exceptionally nice while keeping the rustic/outdoorsy feel of a winter wonderland. Powder like snow everywhere, deep blue western skies and great skiing for all levels.
So what does this mean? Well it means a lot of things to me. I guess I have mostly realized through the years and especially on my recent ski trip that you don't need to "I-Touch" in order to "I-Feel"! There is not the same tactile feedback from experiencing nature that you would get from material gifts such as many of the electronic games, phones and/or accessories that we so much get caught up in while enjoying the current world's information age. That stuff is important and beneficial in numerous ways, but it is important not to let it consume you. Sure, things like going fishing and skiing cost money too, but being in the company of those that share the liberating experience of nature on their day off sure outweighs the company of those who are just as satisfied with making it to the third board of Super Mario 472 or Call of Duty 19. I see it in the innocence of my 5 year old, and I see it in those who enighten their children with the outdoors the same. My son looked me right in eye on the ski lift and said, "This is the most awesomest trip ever!" Of course I brushed off his grammar, but I've noticed the same enthusiasm in most kids in ski lessons in the past. I have also noticed my own son say similar things when boating or fishing throughout the years right by our own house, or wherever.
This country and the world are smaller to me now than they were when I was younger, and I realize it is for many that do what I do for a living. I chose Jackson Hole as a place to vacation because it is the pinnacle of a winter wonderland Christmas vacation, and I knew of that choice because I have been fortunate to travel to a lot of great places. If or when you don't know of that "grand" choice and the world you live in is much smaller like it is in the world of a child, then the local ski hill or pond/stream will likely get the same response of, "The Most Awesomest Trip Ever!" Take a kid out and enjoy the outdoors wherever and whenever, the memory will likely stick longer than the "Jelly of the Month Club" or TV on the couch! And furthermore, take yourself outdoors more often and somehow find the liberating experience my skiing and fishing equally give me. I am just as guilty of quickly forgetting that. It just takes a little reminder every so often and maybe a New Year's resolution.
Happy New Year!....-dw