Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas is spectacular!

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Big Bend National Park is relentlessly stunning, high mountain desert alongside the Rio Grande, and a paradise for all who love the outdoors.

Linda

Big Bend is one of the most spectacular sights you will ever see. We’ve visited many national parks and this has become a favorite.

Picture hilly arid land with a backdrop of long mountain chains that take your breath away. Some formations create rounded sculpture shapes, while others are more angular. Rock variations color the hillsides in shades of taupe, red, and white. This is a geologist’s dream and many travel here for that reason. I tell George that this is the polar opposite of Mount Vernon. It feels like you can see forever, and it's hard to take all this vastness in.

After our interminable winter, I am soaking in the heat here. Boy it gets hot, even in April, where the average day time temperature this week was 90. Hot, sunny, and dry, but it cools down into the fifties at night with a lovely breeze.

A dangerous life-changing voyage through the Northwest Passage

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            It seemed like a foolhardy, dangerous, ill-considered journey. Sprague Theobald risked it all, including the lives of his children, attempting to boat through the Northwest Passage.

            Lots of things went wrong on his 57-foot yacht, but the most annoying was the conflicts between Theobald, his children, and the rest of his crew. A lot of this story recounts these conflicts, sometimes in more detail than I cared to know. But in the end, the personal conflicts and crises were the story.

What I didn’t know about ticks and Lyme disease might kill you

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My attempt to alert you to the dangers of ticks and Lyme disease apparently fell far short of the mark. I am thankful to all who added information, in posts and emails. The earlier column, titled “Your best defense against Lyme disease is a plastic spoon,” certainly drew a lot of interest, with more than 31,000 readers putting me at the top of the Bangor Daily News bloggers list that week.

A couple of things happened to me personally after that column was published. First, my daughter Rebekah called to say one of our grandsons had been bitten by a tick. She contacted her pediatrician, who told her not to worry, that they don’t test ticks or treat kids until symptoms of Lyme or other diseases appear. That advice was soooo wrong!

I put Rebekah in touch with Representative Jim Dill, a University professor, legislator, and one of the state’s top experts on insects, and he arranged to have the tick shipped to a Boston lab for testing. No results yet.

Reality show looking for perfect Maine woman

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 A video company was at the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show in March, in a back room in the north wing of the Augusta Civic Center, conducting a casting call for a female host for a reality TV show about the outdoors. Here’s what we learned from the advertisement.

She must be “physically attractive,” be a “rugged-type woman,” and have a “big personality and a witty charm.”

She can’t be more than 40, must be “outdoorsy,” be “well spoken” and, oh yea, “sophisticated.”

But she also can’t “mind getting dirt under her fingernails.”

I especially loved this requirement: “She enjoys learning new things from her fellow outdoorsmen and exploring new places.”

One of those new places ought to be with her female outdoorswomen friends, don’t you think? Or perhaps the female reality show host needs to be a fellow and an outdoorsman, too.

Summer Dreaming 2014

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 We’ve scheduled some terrific trips this summer. How about you?

A birding adventure on Monhegan Island. Followed later in the summer by a Puffin Cruise with Monhegan Boat Line. Two visits to Lubec, giving us a healthy dose of fresh ocean air in the most beautiful place on earth. A weekend in Eastport.

A stay at a favorite Maine sporting camp with a tour of the spectacular Fly Fishing Museum in Oquossic. We’ll enjoy a presentation of the Joshua Chamberlain musical at the Maine Music Theater, with dinner at one of Brunswick’s fine restaurants.

And we’re excited about our first visit to Deer Isle, where the Pilgrim’s Inn and Whale’s Rib Tavern await. We’ll be doing that trip with our friends Rusty and Sue Atwood. An island adventure on Vinalhaven and our annual trip to the beautiful Blue Nose Inn in Bar Harbor will certainly highlight our summer.

Will Mainers ever hunt bears again in the spring? We already can on Tribal lands.

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 NOTE: after you read this column, please answer the "Spring Bear Hunting" question in the Sportsmen Say Survey section of this website. Thanks!

The Maine legislature banned spring bear hunting in 1982. It was a decision based on politics, not science.

I am looking at an article on spring bear hunting in the June 2014 Bowhunting World magazine, trumpeting “Travel to true adventure by bowhunting Western black bears this spring.”

The magazine favors spring hunts in Oregon, New Mexico, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and many Canadian provinces. Baiting is allowed in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming and much of Canada.

Maine’s history

From 1770 to 1957, Maine paid bounties for dead bears and they were considered and treated as pests until 1931, when hunting seasons were introduced. From 1942 to 1965, bears were hunted year-round. Until 1969 we didn’t even monitor the harvest.

Your best defense against Lyme disease is a plastic spoon

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 My daughter Rebekah posted a warning on Facebook last week that she’d detected the first of the season ticks on my grandsons. I happened to be writing a piece on ticks that morning when I noticed her post.

You need to take ticks seriously. There are 14 different ticks in Maine. Dog and moose ticks are large. The other 12 are tiny and very similar. The deer tick that carries Lyme disease is now distributed statewide. Seventy percent of the deer ticks in southern Maine have Lyme, while that percentage diminishes as you go north. 

I have a lot of personal experience with ticks embedded in my skin and several friends suffering with Lyme disease. If you need to be scared into action, read my review of the book A Twist of Lyme at www.georgesmithmaine.com. Better yet, read the book.

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