Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 40

I am laying in bed on the evening of Day 40 at 11:00 pm.  It is finally over.  A part of me is trying to stay up until midnight so I can have a go at one of those chocolate covered chocolate Hagen Daas ice cream bars in the freezer.  If I keep typing until then, maybe I will.

I feel very alone this night but not in a bad way at all.  My vision quest is about to end and there's an eerie feeling of loss and loneliness at the prospect of waking up in the morning and NOT being on the Survivor Diet Challenge.  It became part of me and part of my life style and I am going to miss it.  The alone feeling comes from the fact that although I have friends and family that have half-heartedly followed my journey, there's no one that I know out there that can truly understand how I feel now that it is at the end.  Sure, I'll probably get a few "good jobs" and "congratulations" and other verbal praise for my accomplishment but in the end, it is just me - left with the finality of my completed challenge and all of the experience, education, knowledge and adventure that came with it.  The alone that I feel is a prideful one that gives me a feeling of contentment and confidence.  I set out on a journey with lofty goals and promises of hardship and struggle all along the way - and I did it!  And very well I might add.

I lost a total of 22 pounds!  I successfully lowered my high blood pressure from a high of 142/95 to a perfectly normal 118/78 (average).  I exercised three days per week and have a good physical rehabilitation plan in place.  I virtually stopped a terrible snoring habit all together.  I conquered the ever dreadful migraine headache.  As far as my extremely high cholesterol numbers - I will get the results of that test in a few days.

I learned how to make fire using a couple different primitive methods.  I learned and successfully created several trapping techniques.  I found some great new clamming areas and a new tool that dramatically increased my production.  I was taught a new method of catching big striped bass and I was able to successfully repeat it on my own.  I met a new spearfishing buddy and was shown several new areas to explore.  We are enrolled to take a freediver safety and education class in a couple weeks.  I learned about KAP (kite aerial photography) and took some great photos.  Additionally, I still plan to use my kite for surf fishing when the time is right - a whole new method of fishing that I am anxious to try out.  I continued my interesting hobby of beekeeping with a renewed enthusiasm.  I made several new friendships and taught many of my newly acquired skills to some very interested children (even though they were not my own). Ha!

40 days is a long time.  Hopefully it is long enough to instill some habits that will stay and to provide some valuable life lessons that will be remembered.  I truly think it is.  Part of me wants to just jump right off this roller coaster ride and start the foodie pig out the first chance I get.  While another part of me can introspectively look at all that I have earned and accomplished and say - "I don't want to throw all that away."  I know I will have a couple days of celebratory food madness but after that I will make the best effort I can to stay the course.

I have a junk food plan in place which allows one type of junk food each month and I believe that is going to be a positive experience.  I will try to blog about that process and give periodic updates.  Other than that, I have to remember moderation.  Moderation will be the key to success and also my biggest hurdle.

On a fun note, I took a trip to the A&P this evening after work to plan out my glorious breakfast for tomorrow morning.  Here's my plan. . .  First of all, wake up early and go eat one of those ice cream bars - just get it the heck out of the way! Put that thing to bed and then move on.  Second, I have already mixed a bread dough which will be rising throughout the night.  The bread that I have made with just simple flour, water and yeast has been nothing short of amazing and I intend to continue to learn and expand upon this new hobby.  When I finish my ice cream, I will shape my dough and get it prepped for the oven.  It will have to rest for another 2 hours and so will I - back to bed.  When I get up for good, the bread will be ready to bake and after about 45 minutes my wonderful loaf will be emerging from the oven ready to become the first part of the Day 1 AD (After Diet) breakfast.  By this time, my whole kitchen will be permeated with the odor of freshly baked bread - OMG I can almost smell it as I type.

Next, I will make some crunchy home fries.  Tonight I cubed up a few potatoes and par boiled them just to get them started. They are sitting in the refrigerator right now aching to be seasoned and fried in oil and butter in the morning.  It's quite possible that I may eat a whole stick of butter at breakfast tomorrow!  I can already see it melting on my warm slice of crunchy thick crusted bread.  It's frying in my hash browns.  My next plan is to make a couple simple soft boiled eggs with ultra runny yolks and add a little butter and salt to them.  Is there anything butter does not make better?

Wait a minute - I think there is something. . . Oh yeah - the bacon!  I bought a pack of bacon at the store and right now I picture a platter (not a plate) with warm crunchy bread/toast, loads of bacon, two soft eggs and home fried potatoes.  On the side I will have some sliced sweet pineapple (which has been teasing me in the fridge for a couple days now), a bowl of fresh cherries, half a grapefruit and whatever the hell else I feel like eating!  And you better believe I will be saving room for another ice cream bar for dessert.  (Talk about going off the wagon)

That's just my breakfast plan - wait until you hear the lunch and dinner and after dinner plan. . . Well, I think I will save that update for my next blog entry.  Let's just say that Debbie and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary tomorrow and we are going in to New York for the afternoon and evening.  We are going to create our own walking food tour of the city and basically stuff our faces full of gourmet and extravagant food and drink.  And what better place to do it than NYC?  Seriously, if I don't puke or have massive diarrhea and stomach pain then I did not do Day 1 AD justice.  Wish me luck.  I think I'm gonna need it.

By the way - it is now 12:00 am!  I feel surprisingly awake and I hear something coming from downstairs.  It's a faint whisper but I definitely hear something calling to me. . . excuse me while I go check it out.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 39 - Looking Back, and Ahead

Wow.  It's hard to believe another Survivor Diet Challenge is almost in the books.  I feel VERY good about this one.  In fact, I think the best one I have done to date.  I had virtually no cheating, I lost weight, lowered my blood pressure, stopped snoring and learned several new things in the process.  My rewards, for the most part were excellently planned and I felt like I actually deserved them after performing several primitive survival skills.

One part of the weekly reward system that I will think about improving for next time (if there is one) is the final week.  I seem to remember this happening last year as well and I'll have to check my blog notes to confirm but I think that my last week reward of "any  meal of my choosing" is a bit unnecessary.  Sure, it sounds great.  Especially when I am at the beginning, the thought of a supreme meal at the end seems fantastic.  In reality though, I could basically have the "any meal of my choosing" just one week later when the diet is over.  Additionally, when I get to this point in the SDC I am feeling at the top of my game.  I feel healthy, look slim and see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I know it's not officially cheating because of the rules that are in place for the weekly rewards - but at this point in the challenge it feels almost like cheating if I just go off diet and have any meal of my choosing.  It's not that I don't feel like I deserve it - I certainly do.  I just think waiting one more week for this type of reward would be fine.  So next time around, I think I will re-thing the final weekly reward.

This week I have completely run out of butter and eggs and flour.  Most of that is due to my own negligence, lack of will power and inability to ration appropriately.  But if I were to to have one thing right now that would make my food a lot more palatable til the end, I'd say it would have to be the butter.  I'm back to dry cooking and broiling with sea salt and spices.  It's just not the same without the butter.  I originally gave myself a pound and a half of butter after week 2 reward but if I had just one more half pound it would be great.  I think I used up so much more butter than normal this year because of the addition of the flour and using that to bake bread.  The bread and butter was so fantastic and I didn't ration very well.  My fault.

I suppose I cold easily substitute that final reward of 'any meal' with my choice of just having a meal of butter - and then I could have as much as I need.  Ha!  I also had the thought of getting a duck at the market and cooking it on the rotisserie.  When I do that, the duck fat that drips off yields about a cup of fat or more that could be easily used as a butter substitute.  That was going to be my plan if I had captured a duck or goose using the "Small Animal Clause" in the official rules.  I would have been able to roast a duck and render off all the fat and have that fat on hand to cook lots of fish with.  Not to mention the duck dinner!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 38 - Doctor Visit - No Crabs

This morning I had my 'end of Survivor Diet' doctor visit.  The primary purpose was to follow up on my high levels of cholesterol and to figure out a plan to lower the LDL and Triglycerides.  Even after explaining that I have been on a serious diet and exercise routing with nutritional counseling, my doctor immediately went the route of suggesting I take a pretty extreme cholesterol lowering medication.  I told her that I would at least like to see, by means of a follow up blood test, how much my cholesterol has changed as a result of my recent routine.  She hesitantly agreed with my plea and gave me another prescription for blood work.  She also suggested I take a fish oil pill to help with the cholesterol and gave me a few boxes of samples to start.

I was just humoring her by asking many questions about medication and the duration that I would have to take it - but in reality, there's no way in hell I am taking medication for this - two pills a day for the rest of my life.  Yeah right!  It really makes you wonder about today's medical professional community and the influences that the drug companies have over them.  My doctor was SO quick to suggest drugs WAY before even considering a dietary change or exercise regimen.  She even went as far as to say that diet and exercise may reduce my levels by as much as 20 percent but I need at least a 50% drop so medication is going to be the only way.  And also added that it is not my fault and that my condition is most likely due to genetics and heredity.  I will agree with some of that but I would really like to prove everyone wrong about the diet and exercise - I am going to do my follow up blood test in two days.  The results of that should be interesting.

After leaving the doctor's office I had the rest of this beautiful day to myself and I decided to go do some crabbing and fishing - what a surprise huh?  I grabbed some live killies from Pat's house and then I packed up the boat and was on the water by 10:30

Looking at my previous year's Survivor Diet notes, I had a significant number of crabs already by this date.  Makes me wonder how much that super storm this past October affected the crab life cycle.  In any event, there will be no fluke stuffed with crab meat on the menu anytime soon.  I was out today on the boat and put out the long line in an area that has been very productive in the past and there were ZERO blue crabs.  I did get a bunch of the unwanted three S's as I call them: Spider Crabs, Seaweed and Snails. 

It was one of the nicest days to be out on the water so far this year.  Perfect weather - not too hot, not too cold, mild breeze - just perfect.  I had some killies and took them to the fluke channel and although it was not hot and heavy action all day, I did manage to take home 4 keeper fluke.  I caught a handful of bluefish as well but I threw them back.  I just don't have the interest in eating bluefish when there are fluke available.

After getting home, I put my newest fish in the refrigerator and cleaned the fluke and sundial that I speared on Monday.  That was my lunch/dinner.  I mixed it with some rice and seasoning and broiled it just like I have done many times in the past few weeks.  Interestingly, while playing tennis with Debbie later, I had a pretty significant stomach ache.  I had to quit tennis early and get home for an immediate trip to the toilet.  Sorry if this sounds harsh but I had some diarrhea.  Afterwards (and after a quick shower) I felt pretty much back to normal again.  Strange.  Just thought it would be worth mentioning because it's one of the only health related issues I've faced so far.  Additionally, both kids have been sick with colds - lots of sneezing and nose blowing and congestion - and Debbie and I have not suffered any symptoms of that.  Let's hope that continues.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 37 - The Coming of Junk Food

In a few short days I will be finished with the 2013 Survivor Diet Challenge!  Ya-Hooooo!  I have been Jones-ing for some junk food - big time.  I am a little fearful of the Day After and I came up with a plan today to try to limit myself.  What I am going to try is to select ONE type of junk food and have only that for a month - then switch over to another type the following month.  Yes, I can basically have as much as I want but this idea, I am hoping, will accomplish a few things.

First off - it will satisfy my craving for sweets.  Second - it will limit my sweet intake to only one type instead of a free for all.  Third - it will quite possibly make me completely sick of one particular sweet indulgence to the point of maybe not wanting it again for a LONG time.  Forth - I will have something to look forward to at the turn of each month - a new treat.

Here's the plan (thanks to Jamie and her friends Isa and Corrine):
  • June - Ice Cream
  • July - M&M's
  • August - Italian Ice (questionable at this time - may be substituted)
  • September - Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • October - Donuts - specifically Apple Cider
  • November (and including October 31st) - Brownies/Chocolate Cake

We had fun making this list today - I could see the girls really getting involved with the plan.  They even looked at the times of year and the seasons (and my birthday) and tried to coordinate the best types of sweets for the occasions.  We decided to stop after November because, as they said, no one should be restricted of sweets the month of Christmas (an Jamie's birthday).  Ha!

That's the plan - for now.  6 months is a LONG time but I think I can do it.  Ice cream next week!  Heaps and heaps of it - OMG!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 36 - Spearfishing in Deal

Today is the Monday observation of Memorial Day - off from work.  It's a nice day and the west wind has laid down the ocean water - time to jump in and shoot some fish.  Primitive survival skill??? You bet it is.  Especially since once of the fish that I caught I spiked with a pole spear - basically a sharpened stick.

I met up with a new friend today - Pete.  He is a spearfisherman as well and we have been trying to get together for some time now.  Coincidentally, he has signed up for the same freediving class that I am taking in 2 weeks up in Dutch Springs in PA.  I'm glad we had a chance to finally meet up because we have been e-mailing each other for over a year.  While freediving, the buddy system is very important and going alone is not advisable.  Having a friend like Pete will be a great addition to my fishing network. 

Today we decided to try his favorite spot which is in Deal.  There are some BIG rock jetties that stick out into relatively deep water and make great structure for all kinds of fish.  I'm also hoping there may be some lobsters in there in the future but there weren't any today.  Perhaps a spooky night dive is upcoming?  I'm also trying to get my new friends Brad and Nirav interested in spearfishing - the more the merrier.  They are certainly interested but it can be quite intimidating to the beginner.

So the Deal rocks proved to be a decent spot but not very productive for us today.  There were tons of blackfish but they are out of season and can not be shot until July.  I missed one medium sized striped bass.  It was my first shot of the year and what can I say - I missed high and he got away without a scratch. 

After not catching in Deal, I decided to give my spot in Monmouth Beach a try.  On my first dive I saw a couple small bass and many blackfish and good visibility but each subsequent dive I saw less and less and another thing I noticed was that I was being pushed out to sea - further and further.  It was becoming increasingly difficult to swim against the current and in spearfishing it is ultra ultra important to try to remain as calm and relaxed as possible.  This was just not happening today.  I took a couple more dives in about 20 feet of water and I did manage to spear a nice 21 inch fluke and a small sundial that I just jabbed with my pole.  A sundial is a fish in the flounder family that is usually smaller and thinner - I don't expect it to yield much meat but I thought it was worth it to give a new species a try.  I will fillet it tomorrow and try some sashimi first.

It was an exhausting morning to say the least.  I must have swam about 3 miles or more and didn't have much to show for it.  That's the way it goes sometimes.

Today I completed a couple primitive survival skills such as spearing fish with a pole spear and an alternate way of fire making.  Therefore, I am entitled to the final weekly rewards and I am contemplating what I will be doing for my special meal.  Maybe a roast duck.  I originally had plans for a suckling pig but that's not in the cards right now.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 35 - I'm Getting a Little Crabby!

I had a plan today to go out and catch a bunch of crabs - the first of the season.  After getting the trot line all cleaned and baited yesterday, I was excited at the prospect of fluke stuffed with crab meat for dinner.  It was WINDY today.  I mean REALLY WINDY.  I managed to find a spot that was reasonably protected and laid out the trot line - 800 feet and 60+ baits. 

My first pass checking the line turned up empty!  First time that has ever happened!  I couldn't believe it.  No crabs at all.  Not yet anyway.  I thought I should let the line sit and get the scent out for a while before checking again.  I looked inside my livewell and sitting in a puddle of water (for the past 4 days) was one single live killie.  Just sitting there.  I thought to myself, hmm. . . Let's go put him on the line in the fluke channel and see if I can scare up a fluke.  Well, 10 minutes later with my one bait I landed a nice 21 inch fluke.  Bonus!  Especially after having my second kille trap stolen from the boat ramp yesterday.

The wind was blowing so much in the channel that one fish was perfectly fine and then I was outta there.  I ran back to my trot line and did another pass - nothing!  Blanked! Zippo!  I wasn't going to sit there and wait any longer so I quickly packed up my gear and headed back home.  Thank goodness for the fluke - made the trip worth it.  I think the crabs will need some warmer weather before they start to come out and feed.  I will try further out in the main channel the next nice day.

So, no crabs for me today - still working on fluke, fluke, fluke.  It is delicious though - so I don't mind that at all.  I am dangerously low on my butter supple and I am out of eggs and have just a pittance of flour left.  Supplies are low but I am due a couple weekly rewards - just have to do a couple primitive survival skills!  The rain and wind lately have made fire making impossible and my traps have been empty.  The next time the sun comes out I will try a mini-magnifying glass fire.  I now, it's a little bit on the not so primitive side - but I've never done it before and I want to give it a try.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 34 - Stop Thief!

There's nothing I hate more than someone stealing my killie trap at the boat ramp.  I left it there yesterday full of killies and I was planning on fishing with them today.  Guess what?  Gone!  Stolen.  I think it was probably kids out there playing and pulling up lines but it is still very frustrating when I pre-plan my fishing trips and get thwarted by a mischievous act like this.

It was rainy, windy and drippy all day long.  Yuck.  I didn't know what to do with myself for the better part of the day.  I wound up getting the crab line in order - a project that I was not looking forward to.  It's always a messy job.  And sometimes smelly.  Luckily, I had the whole thing frozen in the garage freezer and it didn't decompose at all since last season.  I just had to take all the chewed on chicken bones off and replace them with new ones - about 60 of them.

Later in the day I was a bit bored and instead of vegging out in front of the TV I decided to take a ride down to the boat ramp area and look for some ducks or geese to chase around.  There weren't any BUT. . . as I was rummaging around I found something that looked like an old rusted wire trap.  I think it was a squirrel trap that someone had just discarded and left it in front of the garbage pale in the park.  Well, after inspecting it I noticed it was broken.  However, maybe there was some way to fix it or at least make it semi functional again.  I took it home and cleaned off all this moss and crap that was attached to it.  Then I looked around my garage for parts that may make this trap useful again.  I found an old crab trap that was made of wire frame.  I took one of the frames from it and was able to make a trap door for the squirrel trap.  I added a bungee cord and there ya have it - a new (to me) squirrel trap. 

I replaced one of my plastic lid traps with this one and used some string and a fishing pole to set the spring for the trap door.  Baited with a peanut butter pretzel, we'll have to see if this contraption works.  I was also thinking about putting some fish guts or bones in it at night to see if it would attract a coon or possum.  If I could get a larger animal like that, I think that would justify getting something like a hamburger in the market as trade in value.  Ha!

As far as food goes, the fluke and rice and salad greens have been sustaining me just fine.  I think I have enough for the rest of the week - maybe I'll have to fish one more time before the end in order to have a solid supply.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 33 - Friday at work

It's Friday today at work and Memorial Day weekend is upon us.  I used to end the SDC on this Friday but I pushed it back a week in order to have more food options available to me.  The weather outlook for the weekend is not so good - lots of rain and wind, wind, wind.  My most hated weather is wind.  It prevents me from doing just about everything I love to do outdoors.

I have plans to try some crabbing out this weekend, maybe some fluke fishing, maybe some spearfishing - but all of that is going to be on hold until the weather improves.  Maybe there will be some windows of opportunity that I can venture out and find some food.  Otherwise it is plain salads for me.  The asparagus are jsut about done growning but the lettuce is thriving right now in the garden.

Working all day helps the time go by.  Especially when it is busy.  I wish I had more to say about this day but I don't.  Fluke and rice and water and greens.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 32 - Super Sandwich

While at work today I created another masterpiece.  A triple-decker fish sandwich of monsterous proportion.  Here's a quick look but I will be making a time laps video of the even in the future:

Sometimes a sandwich is so big that it is hard to fit into your mouth.  I compressed it as much as I could and then shoved it in.  Somehow, I got through the whole thing without any serious injuries.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 31 - Busy Wednesday

I started today off with some early morning fluke fishing with Dad.  We met up at 6 am and were fishing by 6:20.  It didn't take long at all to get some action.  We spent about 2 hours fishing and ended up with 6 nice keeper size fluke up to 22.5 inches.  We threw back just as many that were right at the 17 inch mark.  There were a few bluefish around as well but they mostly bit our hooks off with their teeth.  We were hoping for some weakfish but that never happened.  I brought with me some water and a few pieces of fried bass that I cooked yesterday using up all of the breadcrumbs that I have been accumulating.  Eating cold fish while fishing is really good.  The fog and chill rolled in and we got out of there before it became too uncomfortable.  Not bad at all for the amount of time spent on the water.  I kept 4 fish and a blue crab that we accidentally caught and put them in a cooler in the garage refrigerator - will have to clean them tomorrow. 

It was time to check the bee hives today so I mixed up a sugar water syrup (that's what they eat when the honey is scarce and while they're building the hive and comb).  Without getting dressed up in my protective outfit, I calmly opened the hives and removed the empty food cans and inserted new ones.  This should be all they need for the remainder of the summer and possibly forever once they start making their own food.  This was just a jump start for them if they need it.  In general, both hives looked really good.  About 6 rows of comb in each and a lot of bee activity.  They were both invaded by ants on the outside of the hives but I don't think this is going to be a problem.  We'll see.  Lots of ant eggs.  I plan on leaving the hives untouched for a while now and the next time I check them I will suit up and look for the queens.

I had a meeting with an architect in the mid afternoon followed by a tennis lesson with Ty.  We both got some exercise and I followed that up with a tennis match against Debbie.  Lots of running around.

As far as food, I vacuum packed and sealed all of those delicious fluke fillets and then froze them for after the Survivor Diet.  I sliced up the last of my supply of striped bass and made some blackened bass cubes for a sandwich at work tomorrow.  Today I picked on some mixed salad greens and cooked up that blue crab.  That was a nice little treat for sure.  first crab of the season.

I am on the very last bit of my butter supply.  I have just enough flour to make one more loaf of bread.  I still have plenty of rice because I haven't had to make any in  a while.  In the evening, I mixed up the last of the flour with some water and yeast and let it rise overnight.  My plan is to bake some bread tomorrow at work and then use the bread to make another nice fish sandwich.  Can't wait for that.

9 days to go and I have plenty of fish, lots of garden greens, a few asparagus, rice, nori sheets, soy, wasabi - I really didn't use much of my sushi making supplies this Survivor Diet.  I just never had the need to.  I have been getting criticized by other people about the bag of flour being used as one of my rewards.  For me, this has been awesome.  I learned how to make artisan bread from a book and a tv show and the bread loaves have been nothing short of outstanding.  Hmm.  We'll have to re-think this reward for the next time.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 30 - The Best Sandwich Ever

Here's what makes this The Best Sandwich Ever:
(I finished writing a very LONG explanation of the makings of this sandwich and while I was proofreading the text, I fell asleep!  Then, during the night, my computer crashed and I lost all of it.  It was really good too.  Damnit!  I'm not writing it all over again - not now anyway)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Day 29 - Fry-Day Monday

After work and physical therapy today I went to pick Jamie up from gymnastics.  Afterwards we took a trip to the A&P for fish frying supplies.  Yes - I know these are not SDC acceptable, but I bought bread crumbs and canola oil and eggs and butter.  My plan is to fry, fry, fry and then package and freeze all this fluke until after the SDC - that's why I am using unsanctioned SDC materials - get it?

To make a long story short, I was up until 11:30 frying and cleaning but man was it worth it.  I have 58 perfectly golden pieces of delicious fluke.  Into the refrigerator and ready for packaging.

The only problem now is that my Foodsaver Plus was destroyed in the flood and I need another one.  Enter!  I did a little shopping and my new Foodsaver 3800 series will be shipped out tomorrow.  The fish will be fine in the refrigerator until then - that is, unless I get a craving for delicious fluke fillets.  This will truly be a test of will.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 28 - Sharpen That Fillet Knife!

Sunday was a drip dreary day - all day long!  So much that I had to relocate my fillet station into my garage and clean all those fluke.  I was out there for about 2 hours being very careful and meticulous with my fish.  There was a lot.  So much in fact that I am not prepared to prepare it all for the Survivor Diet.  I really like my fluke breaded and fried and although I am set up for this at the moment with my current supplies, I am not set up for the sheer volume of fish that I have.  I need a backup plan. . .

What I decided to do was to cook all of this fish with "non-Survivor Diet" means and preserve the cooked fish to be eaten after the diet is over.  Tomorrow will be fry-day Monday and I will have to go to the store to get some supplies.

 After cleaning all the fish I brought the fillets inside and did my final trimming.  When it was all finished I had a huge tray with 58 pieces of fluke.  Into the refrigerator it went and I began to plan for tomorrow.  I did set aside some of the fin meat and a couple fillets that I will fry with my SDC inventory just so I can enjoy my fresh catch for a couple days.

My food for today consisted of picking on many pieces of smoked striped bass and some garden greens.  I baked some more bread with the kids today as well.  I have enough flour left now for only one more loaf so I will wait until next week to make that dough.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 27 - Here Come The Fluke!

As predicted, the springtime fishing is in full swing and today is opening day of fluke season.  I have been waiting for this with anticipation and I was not disappointed.  After trying for several days to catch killies in traps, I finally put together a satisfactory bucket full of medium and small killies.  I prefer the larger ones because they have a lot more vim and vigor but these worked well enough to get the job done.

I got up at 4:30am to meat Nirav and Brian and Jake at the ramp and we were on the water at about 5:15.  This was a planned very short trip because the high tide was at 3 am and we would be faced with a slack low tide and a ridiculous amount of boat traffic and pressure had we stayed out much longer.  So the plan was to be in the water by 5 and back home by 8 at the latest.

We were the first boat on the scene and being there early paid off really well.  There was a beautiful sunrise and a cool rainbow that stretched a full half circle from one side of the horizon to the other.  I tried to photograph it but it didn't quite capture the moment as well as my eyes and memory did.

We managed 11 nice keepers during our stay - ranging from 18 to 22 inches.  We were mostly using the Wonder Rig and early on we actually caught a couple of them on the bucktail jig - a surprise to me.  I didn't do so hot only pulling in two - but I did have one of the nicer sized fish.  It was a good start to the season and we got out of there just as the bite started to die - leaving about 30 boats behind us.  The small channel that I fish gets a lot of pressure and it's going to take several days for this area to liven up again.  If it's half as good as last year, I should have plenty of fluke for the next few weeks.

When I got home, I had another small bird in my trap.  I released it.  That was now my 3rd bird and I felt comfortable invoking the "Small Animal Claus" in the rules.  For a late breakfast/early lunch I cooked that little Poussin (small chicken) in the rotisserie.  It was really good.  I demolished that thing and all that was left was a pile of bones. If yesterday's meal was the best of this Survivor Diet Challenge to date, then this had to be the second best.  However, I did have bit of diarrhea about an hour later - I don't know if this is connected to the fowl I ate or not but it is worth mentioning.

In the afternoon we decided to give fluking another try as the high tide was at 4-something pm.  We shot out around 2pm for another quick fishing trip - this time with Brad, his son Brad Jr, and Jamie.  Jamie was the hot hand (as usual) with the first fish, first keeper, most species (sea robin), and most overall fish.  She's a lucky little bugger.  We got caught in a mild rain and some cold weather and decided to head in after landing only 2 keepers with about 5 throwbacks.  I got a nice 21 incher which took the afternoon pool.  It was obvious that this small area had been pounded all day long and that recovery time would be needed.

For dinner I had a portion of blackened striped bass bites over field greens and arugula with a fried egg on top.  I completed the dish with a small platter of striper sashimi that I shared with Ty.  Throughout the day I drank a lot of water and picked on smoked bass and bass jerky when I felt hungry.  Lots of food today - should be an interesting weigh in tomorrow.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Day 26 - Wonderful Weakfish

Getting through the workday this Friday was difficult and stressful for some reason.  I baked another small bread loaf at work and that helped me get through it.  This was perhaps the best bread yet - not sure why but I did let it sit out for a while before baking.  Maybe this help let it rise and get airy.   I have been anticipating the start of fluke season (tomorrow) for several days now.  I went back to Pat's house again to collect some more killies for bait and I finally get a decent amount - still quite small.

After work, I had a lot of food preparation to do in the form of smoking all of the brined striped bass and cooking up the weakfish for dinner.  It was a long process but everything turned out great and I had officially the best meal of the SDC so far in 2013.

describe dinner

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 24 - The Shrewsbury River Grand Slam

Day off Wednesday - I was able to convince Brian and Brad to play hookie from work to spend the morning fishing.  It didn't take too much arm twisting and we were on the water at 9 am.  Sounds like a late start but I had a plan of attack after studying the tide tables.

We started the day by trolling these large bunker spoons.  Pat was nice enough to lend me some gear and after taking some time to get the right speed and presentation, we started catching some really nice striped bass.  The largest bass was just over 20 pounds and we managed to catch 6 bass and one bluefish in a couple hours.  Very successful. 

The next part of the day we spent looking for promising fluke locations in preparation for the upcoming start to the fluke season in Saturday.  Fluke seem to stay in groups in these little isolated holes and pockets and if you find some, there's a good chance they will be there again in a few days.  We were working the Wonder Rig and some bucktails and we successfully boated several fluke over 20 inches.  The surprise of the day came when Brian hooked into what we thought was another bluefish.  When he got it within net range I quickly noticed that it was, in fact, a weakfish - and a big one too.  It was 5 pounds and 24 inches and such a good looking fish.  We were very pleased with this catch.

Striped bass, bluefish, fluke, weakfish - the Shrewsbury Grand Slam!  It was a great day out on the water with friends.  I love it when a plan comes together - with a couple of pleasant surprises to boot!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Day 21 - Happy Mother's Day

The "holiday" brought with it relative and FOOD.  For the past two days I have had to endure not only the barrage of food and drink abound, but also the waste of SOOOOOO much of it - right before my eyes.  It is sickening to continue to see what the kids just discard into the trash after a meal.  Week 4 reward can't come soon enough so that I can start to take advantage of the wastefulness.

I cleaned an prepped striped bass for hours today.  I made some fish cleaning videos and the neighborhood kids all weighed in with their own impressions of the fish and the process of cleaning them.

I made an effort to make the most out of there two wonderful fish.  For lunch I put the two heads right onto the grill.  There is a moderate amount of meat in the head.  I also took several pieces of fish and made small cubes out of the meat.  I rubbed a spice mixture on all sides and then blackened them in a little butter.  Served over rice, these were quick to cook and fantastic to eat!  I will be doing a lot more of that I'm sure.

I carefully cleaned and dried several pieces and sealed them in the fish bin in the refrigerator.  These pieces will first be used for sashimi, then for blackening and also for grilling.  I don't have enough ingredients for my striper Frances so for now the seasoned, grilled and raw will have to suffice.  A ceviche would also be a great way to prepare this fish.  Just not for me right now.

The tail sections of fish were all cleaned, skinned, sliced and placed into my saltwater brine mixture.  These parts will be great on the smoker tomorrow.  I use the tail sections for smoking and dehydrating because there is a lot of fibrous tissue in these sections and it is usually tough to slice into sushi.  Making jerky out of these pieces will be fine - jerky is supposed to be tough.  If I prep all of this fish correctly I should have a wonderful selection of fish to use in a variety of ways for several days.  Things are looking up,

The arugula is growing well and I have been snipping patches of it from the garden as needed.  Asparagus continue to pop up and amaze me every day.  I have a replenished supply of eggs. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Day 20 - Nice Striped Bass - Finally!

I started this Saturday morning very early - 4:50 am wake up.  Brad was kind enough to set up a fishing trip with George the Fisherman and his buddy Joe and the four of us took an early morning ride out to Raritan Bay to get some stripers.

George is an old salt from Monmouth Beach - Debbie and her mom know him from growing up right around the corner and he's ALWAYS been the fishing guru in the area.  So it was a real treat to go out on his boat and learn a few things from someone who has been doing it a very long time.

The weather forecast called for rain and thunderstorms throughout the day and I was a little skeptical about going in miserable conditions.  However, I bundled up and wore my waders and rain gear and I was perfectly fine - even when it was raining  on us from time to time.

It was a fairly slow start but we managed to get several nice striped bass using bunker spoons and a wire line method of trolling.  We put two rods out the sides of the boat with 150 ft of wire line and bunker spoons attached to about a 6 ft leader of 80lb mono and a snap swivel.  Pretty simple set up - but very effective.  Before long we had our boat limit of eight fish and we headed in.  Some other things to note - our speed was about 3.5-4.5 knots, depth was about 26-34 ft and if it was any deeper then a trolling weight would have been used between the wire and the leader to get the spoon down deeper.  150 ft of wire line gets the spoons down about 15 ft and for every 5 ounces of lead used you can get another 5 ft down - so says George.

We got back before noon and now I have plenty of fish for the upcoming week.  On my way home I stopped in at Pat's house to get some ice and to give him a report.  We also tried to make some plans for fluke season opening day next Saturday.

The fish are now on ice and in the cooler waiting to be cleaned tomorrow.  It's going to be sushi time!  Looking forward to a little fresh sushi after all the smoked fish jerky I have been eating.  I also have some nice baby arugula greens coming up in the garden to add to my sushi rolls.  I am looking forward to the next couple days of eating.

I have been really eating a lot of figs - at this rate my fig ration will be gone very quickly.  My will power is not very good at the moment.  They are just so delicious compared to the other foods available.

When I got home I noticed that one of my traps had sprung in the yard!  I quickly noticed that there was another big hole chewed through the front of the plastic container.  Another squirrel caught - and another squirrel escaped.  I just wasn't there to witness, film or capture the moment - so although my traps have both now proved to be primitive and proficient, I am not able to claim a 'Small Animal Reward' yet.  Not until I actually contain an animal long enough for a photo or live release.  No bunnies yet.

We went to Lavallette for Mother's Day and I brought a SDC meal of bluefish jerky (the very last three pieces), one egg, some baby arugula and two dried figs.  I was content eating my meal only slightly tempted by the Caesar Salad - Oh, and the bread!  The bread and butter looked so good!  I just kept looking forward a couple days when my week 3 reward of flour and yeast will be coming my way.  I am going to try to make some of the best damn breads with these basic ingredients next week.

Some interesting information about today's fishing location: Staten Island's Old Orchard Light
Since 1893 it has stood, a beacon warning mariners away from the treacherous shallows of Old Orchard Shoal off Great Kills Beach. 
For 119 years the light emanating faithfully from a distinctive white tower perched on a rock in New York City's lower harbor, never failed. It weathered every storm. 
Except one.
Now the Old Orchard Shoal Light is gone, swept away, a victim of historic Hurricane Sandy as the tempest roared across Staten Island on October 30.
Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse: Built in 1893 off Great Kills, it was once a refuge for fishermen caught in squalls. Its white flashing light, automated in 1955, could be seen for seven miles in clear weather. (Photo: James Donlon, left and US Coast Guard, right)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 19 - Varmints and Fire and Figs - Oh My!

The weather today was fantastic - but a work day has kept me indoors.  I really want this week to end so I can get busy with a few things this weekend.  Looking forward to a 'learning' fishing trip tomorrow - bright and early.

While at work today, Debbie called me on the phone to tell me one of the traps was down.  Additionally, although there wasn't any animal inside, there appeared to be two large holes in the top of the trap.  I went home for lunch a short time later and after careful inspection I concluded that I had successfully captured a squirrel!  Finally.  It had somehow chewed it's way out from under the plastic bin.  There was a mess of tiny plastic shavings around the floor of the trap and a hole just big enough for a squirrel to escape.  There was also a bunch of squirrel hair in, and around the hole in the cage.  It was obvious that this squirrel had been in here for some time and had managed to escape after a lot of hard work.  Pretty cool.

I decided right then and there that I had proved a proficiency in a primitive skill - even though my animal was gone.  I granted myself the week 2 reward.  However, since my captive did not remain. . . well. captive - I was not going to allow myself rights to the "Small Animal Claus."  Not until I actually capture an animal will I allow myself to substitute a market small animal upon return of said captive animal to the wild.  I have a feeling that will be coming soon enough -especially with my new triggering mechanisms.  Very exciting!

Still dejected about my fire failures as of late, I thought I would get a head start on my fire making potential this week long before the end of the SDC week.  There were a few kids playing in the yard and I suppose they gave me some impetus to break out the fire bow.  Almost immediately, the bow string snapped.  Not a great start.  I made another string and get back to work on the ember.  I had a couple exhausting attempts with a lot of smoke but no flame.  Finally, drawing the bow with my left hand this time, I persevered and got my ember.  I was very patient to nurse this tiny ember into my tinder bundle until it started to grow and glow. After a few very careful minutes, I got my flame on!  We had been preparing with sticks and twigs in the fire pit and I made a quick transition of my flame into the kindling wood.  It didn't take long for me and the kids to toke up a big old fire in the pit and once again I have proven my proficiency at primitive fire making.  Week 3 reward had been earned - starting Monday.

We fed the fire and danced around it until dark and I celebrated my accomplishment and appreciated the effort it takes to make a fire from scratch.  Again - it's really something to be proud of and I think I took it a little too lightly after having made it after week 1.  I think my success this time was greatly attributed to adding significant downward pressure with my shin pushing on my hand holding the block on the non-working end of the spindle.  More pressure=more friction=more heat


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Day 18 - Where there's [no] smoke. . .

Another dreaded Thursday means a long day at work followed by physical therapy after work.  This translates to not a very survivor like day.  I have to be prepared on days like these so that I have enough to eat throughout the day.

The good news is that my rice rations seem to be on track, my seasoning mix is holding up well, I still have asparagus coming up every day in the garden with lettuce on its way, I have about 10 clams in reserve in the refrigerator, I have a bag full of bluefish smoked jerky, some eggs left and plenty of butter - things are looking pretty good.

I have been cooking a form of seasoned fried rice with asparagus a lot lately.  I have found that by broiling or heavily cooking the already cooked rice gives it a nice crispiness and toasty flavor.  Add a little butter, some asparagus and scramble in an egg and you're golden.  I could live off this for a few days easy.

Tried like hell tonight to make a fire (again) but I'm just not feeling it anymore.  I couldn't even get smoke tonight and I got exhausted very quickly.  If I could just get that ember I would be able to enjoy week 2 rewards.  After many attempts, I ended the night as a failure.  Gotta keep moving forward.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day 17 - Outsmarted by a Varmint

I was scheduled to work this Wednesday which is somewhat unusual because I normally take Wednesday off.  However, due to an appointment booking problem, I ended up closing down and not working today.  This opened up several Survivor Diet options for me to do today.

I attempted fire but after several failures I was too exhausted to continue.  I will have to try another day.

No boat today so fishing is really not an option.  Today I will dedicate several hours working on my animal traps and tending to the bees.  I noticed that my triggering mechanisms needed a bit of work to make them more effective.  After watching several survival videos on YouTube I came up with my own solution that was a combination of several things that I saw.  I had trouble finding an exact method of trapping a squirrel or rabbit without killing or seriously injuring the animal.  So I ended up using a method that is used in some bird traps.  It's hard to explain with word so you may have to wait for the video.

After a few minor adjustments to both of my traps, I was ready to set them and hope for the best.  I left them alone for a couple hours and when I went to check them I noticed that one had been sprung.  I optimistically went over to the trap but the varmint was not inside.  My bait is a almond butter coated pretzel stick and it seems to work well for the squirrels but not for the bunnies.  I've tried carrots but that stereotype for rabbits is not very accurate.  After reloading the trap, I placed a video camera with a tripod next to the trap.  It thought if I could see how the animal approaches the trap that I may have a chance at figuring out how to catch it.

I videoed one trap for about 45 minutes and when I went out to check it, I noticed that the other trap (the one without the camera on it) had sprung!  However - no joy.  Empty trap again.  Hmmm.  Shouldn't my superior intellect be able to figure this out?  The next thing I tried was to weigh down the trap by placing some heavy ceramic tiles on the lid.  I thought that the animals may have been finding a way to crawl out underneath the trap somehow.  Both traps were re-baited and left alone - no video this time.

I raided the garden a couple times and gathered some asparagus.  Cooked some rice.  Cleaned the bluefish that I had caught a couple days ago.  Brined the fillets and dried them - ready for the smoker tonight.

Basically I just stayed busy for the majority of the morning.

We met with the architect in the afternoon and then it was time to pick the kids up from school and start their routine.  I picked up Jamie and Ty went to tennis. Then Jamie was dropped off at gymnastics. Each time I came home I checked my traps but this day belonged to the squirrel and I would have to try again tomorrow.  The desire for those sweet figs has really been driving me but the primitive trapping skills still need some work.

In the evening I tried fire again and failed again.  I wondered about making fire in another manner so I may do some research on the tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Day 16 - Boat in for Repairs

This Tuesday morning I brought the boat in for a long overdue checkup.  It will be in the shop for at least a week.  I tried to plan this for the start of fluke season which is on the 18th.  That means about 7-10 days without a boat.  That could mean my fishing will be affected or it could mean I will get creative in finding another way to catch fish or get some other food.  So instead of looking at this as a disaster, I will look at it as an opportunity.

I had a small piece of striped bass (only one more small piece left now) for breakfast along with two delicious fried eggs.  As I was cleaning up to go to work, I saw a burnt end piece of raisin toast in the garbage.  I contemplated leaving it be but what a waste - I grabbed it and ate it and it was awesome!  I have no regrets and don't feel like I cheated by doing this - it was more like scavenging.  It was either me, or the landfill.

I have left the garden alone for a few day and when I went out there this morning there were asparagus abound.  I actually had to harvest several of them so that they don't begin to flower.  That will make for a tasty lunch today at work - broiled asparagus in butter.  Looking forward to that.

I am still exhausted today after my strenuous fire making attempts last night.  Later tonight I will try again while I smoke some bluefish pieces.

I'm off from work tomorrow - looks like rain in the forecast.  I have many things to try tomorrow - should be interesting.

Hey folks - I actually gained some weight this morning!  That means my body is starting to regulate.  I am about 187 right now and my end of diet goal is about 170-174ish. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 15 - Reward or No Reward? That is the Question.

Monday morning after two full weeks.  I have been trying to catch a resident squirrel or bunny all week to prove proficient in my trapping ability but I seem to get outsmarted at every turn.  I have not yet earned my week 2 reward and I am salivating for some of those figs.  Luckily there is still an ample supply of things to eat but that will not last very long.  The sweetness of dried figs would be a great help to me this week.

For breakfast I treated myself to two soft boiled eggs from the chickens at Dara and Mark's house.  And what a treat this was.  I have slightly mixed feelings about this, considering a future weekly reward involves a dozen eggs.  However - these eggs were straight from live chickens and I happen to have some connections to them.  I took advantage of the situation and didn't purchase anything from the store.  I think we're still within our SDC rules.

On my way to work today I was driving down the road without another car in sight and I see in the distance two full grown Canadian Geese walking directly toward me in the road.  They weren't in the middle, but a bit off to the side.  Before I had time to think, I was driving right past them at about 40 mph.  All I needed to do was swerve to the right for a split second and I would have harvested two geese.  I had mixed feelings after I passed this golden opportunity.  Maybe next time.

Ok - so I put a SERIOUS effort into fire making tonight! Unable to prove my worth at trapping I thought I could resort to fire making again.  Why not?  I did it last week so how hard could it be to do it all over again?  Right? - - - WRONG!  I busted my hump for hours until the sun went down and I could NOT get an ember.  I had to take multiple rests because of my lack of energy but there were several times that I thought I had it.  Lots and lots of smoke - just couldn't get it to ignite.  I must have tried about 15 times.  I tried to video log the entire experience hoping to actually get a fire going.  All I ended up filming was failure upon failure.  It's important to remember that too.  It really is a humbling experience.  Fire is definitely not and easy thing to make.  I think I was a little cocky and overconfident after last week and as a result, the fire kicked my butt tonight.  No fig reward today.  I'll have to try again tomorrow.  Additionally I will try to improve upon my trapping skills.  It's all a learning experience and every day I am hopefully moving forward towards my goal as long as I keep on trying.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Day 14 - Busy as a Bee

Sunday today - lots to do and lots to prepare for the upcoming work week.  Today started with a plan to play a couple games of softball in the morning, drive to Cranbury (about an hour away) to pick up the bees in the afternoon and fishing with Dad later in the day.  Somewhere in the middle I would have to find some time to cook some fish to eat. 

Most of the day went just as planned.  I have a decent amount of smoked bass left so I periodically pick on that.  I am relying on that a little too much though.  I have not had the will power to ration that fish and I fear that it will all be gone soon.  I do have a few bluefish ready to be cleaned so I will try to replenish my smoked fish supply soon.

I picked up two packages of bees and loaded up both of my backyard hives.  I filmed the process and all went well.  I identified the queen bee for both hives and I am optimistic that they will all thrive in their new homes.  I will have to check them next week and make sure they are doing well and I may have to feed them with a sugar water syrup until they can become self sufficient.  Barring another natural disaster, I hope I am able to be the best bee guardian I can be.

While waiting for Dad and Jamie to return from Carly's soccer game, I decided to use the time to fillet the three bluefish that were in the refrigerator.  A couple kids form down the street helped me out and were very curious about the dead fish.  I did a quick fillet and then put the cleaned pieces back in the refrigerator to process later for smoking.

We took the boat out into the Shrewsbury River and after a quick 5 minute ride to the spot we were catching bluefish right away!  It was a treat to finally catch some fish with some reliability.  So what if they weren't bass.  The bluefish are very fun to catch and my plan is to smoke them because I am not particularly fond of the taste otherwise.  We kept four and ended up throwing back another 8 or so.  Four fish would be plenty for the next few days.  We basically had nonstop action for about an hour and a half and then decided to go home before it got too dark and too cold.  It was a lot of fun and such a huge difference from the days of fishing last week when i fished for hours on end without a single bite.

It was a long, busy day and I didn't do anything today to prove my primitive skills proficient so I am not going to get my weekly reward tomorrow.  I'm OK with that right now but I will be determined to catch a squirrel or bunny tomorrow or else I will resort to fire making again.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Day 13 - Outsmarted by a Squirrel

I am focused today on catching a varmint in my yard.  It's Saturday and I have nothing planned other than to get one of these traps working.  As I was driving home today I was a few construction workers in the middle of my street talking and pointing at my squirrel trap.  I pulled into my driveway and one of the guys came up to me and said that they have been watching this one squirrel go into the trap, grab some food and come out of the trap only to eat the food while sitting on top of the trap!  He said they were laughing the whole time and almost took out their cell phones to video tape the event.  Great.

Apparently my trigger mechanism needs a little tweaking still.  In the other trap, I noticed that it had triggered but was empty when I checked it.  It looked like a squirrel was actually trapped and then dug out a hold in the ground to escape under the side wall of the trap.  Hmmm.  Back to the drawing board again.  I wish that I could see what is actually happening so I can come up with a working solution.  I tried to video tape the trap once and after about an hour of filming, I went outside and the trap with the camera on it was untouched.  The other trap - only 10 feet away - had sprung and there was nothing inside.  Very frustrating.  As long as I keep moving forward though - it's just a matter of time before I get something!

I took the kids for an adventure hike through Hawthorne Woods - probably spelled incorrectly.  This was new to all of us and although we had a "map" of the general area, we got totally lost and ended up miles from our parked truck.  We were all exhausted and thirsty and hungry.  We ended up calling the cavalry - called Debbie on her cell phone to come pick us up.  We were searching for wild greens, varmints, and possibly some mushrooms.  We found nothing - except some wild violet greens and 3 small salamanders.  I didn't eat the salamanders.  They looked too slimy and I wasn't that desperate.

We were rescued by Debbie with snacks for the kids and water for all.  Sometimes getting lost is a fun thing.  This time it all worked out well but it's a lesson to learn to be more careful next time.

The delicious smoked striped bass has been sustaining me but it's not going to last very long at this rate.  I have to ration it better and keep Ty out of my bag of fish. 

Busy day tomorrow.  I got a call that the bees have arrived and I am going to try to get them tomorrow.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day 12 - Smoking Some Bass

Smocked a batch of striped bass today after work.  I converted one of my defunct gas grills into a competent smoker grill and it worked like a charm.  I got a variety of wood chips from Lowes and tonight I tried Apple Wood.  It's a long process but in the end the fish came out great.  I will put it on the dehydrator tonight for a few hours to make it into jerky.  The jerky should keep for a long time if I ration properly.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 11 - Exhausted

Thursdays are one of my toughest days.  I work for the majority of the day and I have physical therapy after work to exercise and strengthen my legs.  By the time I am finished with that, I am DONE.   I need to fillet two striped bass sometime in the evening as well.  I am looking forward to having some fresh fish soon.  My plan is to smoke some of it and keep some of it for cooking.  It won't all keep very long if I ration it for regular meals so the smoking and dehydrating process will be needed to preserve it for a longer period of time.

The squirrel/rabbit traps have been a challenge so far.  I have not managed to trap anything.  The animals seem to set the traps off frequently but are either too quick to get caught or have found a way to escape.  I will have to start using my superior intellect and continue to make modifications to the traps in order to make them more effective.  We'll see.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day 10 - Striped Bass Scavanger

I was really looking forward to getting out on the water today to target some striped bass.  My friend, Brad and I got an early start and we decided to make the trip to Sandy Hook and into the ocean to try to land a few stripers.  We were successful in a very strange circumstance today - but successful nonetheless and I will be eating striped bass soon!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 9 - The Trap is Set

With inspiration from my new rule, I spent some time researching primitive methods of trapping small animals.  I came across some information about a classic box style trap held up by a stick.  You can't get any more simple than that.  The one I made today at lunch time involved three sticks and a Tupperware tub.  The sticks are carved in a way that creates something called a figure-4 trigger.  It resembles a number 4 and props the container up on its edge until an animal comes along and triggers the trap to close shut.  I used peanut butter and a couple walnuts for bait.  We'll see.  I am thinking a squirrel or rabbit will be the most probable varmint in my yard to set it off.  Unless, of course, one of the cats gets curious and has a desire for peanut butter.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 8 - Wondering While Working

On my down time at work today I got to thinking about various other food sources that may be available to me.  I just don't think that I've been creative enough and I'm sure there are many other avenues to explore out there.  For some time now I have pondered the idea of trapping small animals like rabbits, squirrels, ducks, geese and wild turkeys.  I am open to that but my family (Debbie in particular) will not love me anymore if I become a 'murderer.'  So here's my plan. . .

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 7 - Slow Start, Blazing Hot Finish

I woke this morning in time to get to the first of two softball games starting at 9 am.  Needless to repeat I have been quite energy drained and this morning was no exception.  I had little more that rice and water for breakfast and headed out to play ball with a water bottle in hand.

To my surprise, I played exceptionally well and hit the ball about as far as I have ever hit it.  Now that is pretty impressive.  I was very exhausted after the games.  On my way home I decided to stop at Sickles to shop for my week 1 rewards (VERY excited!) as well as dinner for Debbie and the kids.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 6 - A Despiration Dive

The weekend is finally here and the weather has been quite good so far.  In fact, it was so nice today that I decided to brush off all of my spearfishing gear and jump into the ocean in search of some fish.  Brrrrrrrr! Guess how cold? It was a frigid 49 degrees.  That initial plunge into the water sent shockwaves of chills running throughout my body.

It was high tide and the surf had some pretty big waves.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 5 - Skunked

I am exhausted.  The energy drain is very noticeable and the mental challenge is definitely here.  Today I had some time mid-day so I thought I would be nice and drive Ty, my son, and his friend Gavin to lunch.  They chose Five Guys and as soon as I walked in I had to leave.  I let them eat by themselves and waited in the truck.  I wanted those fries so badly.  And when the kids were finished, Ty brings back a bunch of fries in the truck to take with him.  Uhg!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 4 - Surviving the Work Day

While at work today I got my pre-survivor diet blood test results back.  A nurse phoned me and asked me to make an appointment to see the doctor to review my cholesterol numbers.  Apparently they were quite high.  She told me the LDL was 236 anf the total cholesterol was 340.  I am going to look that up soon to see how 'off the charts' those numbers are.

I also did a blood pressure check

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 3 - Fish, fish everywhere but not a one to keep.

Unfortunately, the bee delivery was delayed and I will have to wait at least another week to get the bees for the hives.  Instead, I dedicated the majority of my time today to catch a striped bass.    The weather broke and it was rather nice out.  A perfect day to dunk the boat for the first trip of the season.  I have been reading many good reports of striped bass in the upper Shrewsbury River and that's where I headed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 2 - Preparing for the Long Journey Ahead

I purchased a new (used) video camera this year and I am making an attempt at a documentary.  It's not easy.  The toughest part is narrating on camera while still trying to make it a bit entertaining and not boring.  Hopefully I'll get the hang of it.

In addition to trying to organize my documentary, I have ordered a package of bees to repopulate my bee hives.  Unfortunately my bees fell victim to the storm last October and were all killed in the flood.  I could have saved them too by placing the bee hive up on the deck of my boat.  I had no idea that the water would ever come up as high as it did though - no one did.  I am determined to start anew and hopefully learn from some of the mistakes I made with the bees last year.  I got a little honey from them late in the summer but it really takes about 2 seasons to start to reap the rewards of the honey bees.  So although I am getting bees again (tomorrow in fact), I don't expect there to be any honey for the Survivor Diet.  I am planning for the future (just like the asparagus).

Next on my agenda is to explore the many uses of a kite.  Sound strange? read on.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 1 - Happy Earth Day

Nothing quite epitomizes the Survivor Diet Challenge as much as this photo of the dandelion:

 From a nutritional standpoint, I truly believe that you could survive on water and dandelions - if only you could get used to the taste.  Don't get me wrong - it's not terrible.  But there comes a point when you eat a certain amount of dandelion greens, that you just can't stomach any more.  I hit that point about 3 years ago.  (and haven't really recovered since)

Happy Earth Day everyone - the perfect day to kick off the Survivor Diet.  Unfortunately we have hit quite the cold spell in the weather today and it is forecast to continue through the week.  The first of many obstacles I will be facing in the next 40 days.

On the menu today are brown rice, clams, asparagus and water.  That's right - asparagus!  Wow - a new food to the SDC.  Last year the garden produced a bunch of young asparagus stalks that were tempting to eat but I was not allowed.  This year what has come up is nothing short of remarkable.  Large full asparagus stalks.  I cut 4 off for today and steamed them with my rice and clams.  There aren't that many yet so I will have to be smart about what I take from the garden.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Dawn of a New Survivor Diet Challenge

The winter has not been kind.  We had a storm of the century (Hurricane Sandy) and it really took its toll on the area.  As people rebuild their lives and their homes a feeling of "normalness" is just starting to creep back in.  It will be interesting to see how the devastation of the storm has affected the natural ecosystem.

It was also a somewhat lazy winter - what else is new?  I have put on the winter weight to the tune of about 25 extra pounds.  Yikes!  Spring has sprung and once again it is time to purge the toxins of a polluted lifestyle.  I have a renewed sense of enthusiasm this year and some plans for a variety of new adventures in survival.  Every year is a building block of new experiences and I'm sure this year will prove to be no different.

I have made some changes to the Official Rules and Guidelines as well as the Weekly Rewards.  Check them out when you have the time.  I have also slightly changed the format of this blog - pretty cool looking huh?  Learning from previous seasons, I pushed the timetable of the SDC back by about 2-3 weeks in order to let more crops grow and more seafood to migrate into the area.  The downfall is that clamming season ends at the end of April and this will be somewhat limiting.  The official start date this year is April 22nd and it will continue through May 31st (40 days).  I purposely started on a Monday and with some pre-planning, I will use the weekend prior to acquire some supplies for the initial week.  I thought about starting on Saturday but in the end I decided on Monday.  Whatever.

I have a plan to make a compilation of videos this year in the form of a documentary.  So if this blog is not updated daily it probably means that I am working on some video footage.  Following in the footsteps of people like Les Stroud - Survivorman, Bear Grylls - Man vs Wild, and Cody Lundin & Joe - Dual Survival, I hope to do justice to the suburban survival game.  Hey, not a bad idea for a new title - Suburban Survival Diet.  What do you think?

Well, whatever we call it, it's not just a diet.  It's a lifestyle and an adventure.  It's fun and exciting.  It will discipline and challenge you and teach you about things you didn't even know you didn't know.

Join me as I take on the 2013 Survivor Diet Challenge!