More Jackson County Opinions...

December 27, 2000

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
December 27, 2000

Holiday bustle
When you get married, the holiday miles seem to double. Or I should say when you start seriously dating someone, because the miles have been doubled for about twice as long as I've been married.
Christmas started on December 23 for Eric and me. We drove to my grandparents' house, which is about three hours away, on Friday after work. We had a big southern breakfast Saturday morning and managed to make it through the afternoon without the TV on even once. A big feat to my way of thinking since Grandpa walked around and around commenting that he knew there must be some type of game on. Dad came over to Grandma's house and we opened presents. Then, he helped us load the back seat of the Jeep up with a recliner, some clothes and pillows for the couch and we were on the road again. A stop at my in-laws' house to pick up our dog (though it wasn't so quick since we had to trek up their mountainous driveway when our car didn't make it up the icy path) and we were home again with an extremely smelly dog. I think she ate horse manure or something. Three days later and we're still feeding her Altoids.
A quick bath for Addie and our clothes changed and we were off again. My sister's boyfriend's band was playing and I wanted to hear them. We stayed for a few hours and then were home again to sleep and scold Addie for sleeping on the couch while we were gone.
Sunday morning, I call my mother to get directions to my uncle's house, which is where we held Christmas this year. She doesn't know how to get there, so I call my Ginky. She doesn't know, so I break down and call my Uncle Jon. Now, I knew that if I took those directions down, there would be something that Eric would find fault with. Either I would have not got enough landmarks or I wouldn't have known if it was the third or fourth street on the left after the stop light. So I handed the phone to Eric and he took the directions down. The result (and I'm not finding fault with the direction giver or the direction taker, I'm just thanking my intuition for not allowing me to take the directions down) was a tour of Lawrenceville's square four times and a nice side venture to Grayson. We were 45 minutes late and only the second family to arrive because of my family's predictable sense of timing. Most of the time parties are just held "around noon or so." More eating, more presents, more loading of the car.
Then, my mother and brother came to my house for Christmas. We opened presents, then Mom and I cooked while the men played pool in the basement. They loaded their car up (I like that scenario much better) and went home. I napped on the couch until midnight mass and afterward fell into bed exhausted.
By Christmas day, I had celebrated Christmas five times and I had two more celebrations left. We headed to Eric's parents, this time leaving Addie at home since she had already had a bath and we were still giving her Altoids to cure manure-breath. I ate twice, opened presents and came in second place at a game of Crazy Rummy.
Now it's Monday night and I'm ready to sleep until New Year's Day. Yet, in all of the bustle, I managed to watch my grandmother make homemade biscuits hoping to get a few more pointers for my own recipe. I listened to my sister's boyfriend sing while my brother felt his niece kick for the first time. I laughed while my husband played chase with my cousins and a remote control car. I sang carols at midnight mass and watched the little girl in the front pew fall asleep on her mother's coat as I used to do when I was young. I held my nephew, who is not quite two weeks old, and watched my niece's face glow as she played with the tiny toy frog I picked out.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

By Charlie Broadwell
The Jackson Herald
December 27, 2000

Okeechobee Christmas bass
Every serious bass fisherman would love to spend a few days on South Florida's Lake Okeechobee during the months of December and January. The bass are spawning during these months, and it's not uncommon to catch bass weighing over 10 pounds.
Recently my father Steve and I had the opportunity to take advantage of the fishing on the 730 square-mile lake.
We meticulously planned out the trip, making hotel reservations, hiring a guide and making sure our bass boat was working properly.
Everything about the trip seemed perfect, but once in Florida our trailer lost a wheel bearing. Even though Steve had applied grease to the wheel bearings before we left, we learned how important proper trailer maintenance is for a long trip. After a 20-hour delay and 400 dollars later, we continued on the path to the Big O.
Once we arrived at the Lakeport Lodge, we were notified that the lake was two feet low. If Lake Okeechobee were as deep as Lake Lanier, a mere two feet would have posed no threat. Lake Okeechobee is very large and very shallow, meaning that much of the lake was dry. An angler should always check lake levels before leaving.
Despite our misfortunes, the weather was very nice. The high reached 85 degrees, while it was icy here in Jackson County. The water temperature was a nearly perfect 73 degrees.
Our guide warned us about the main lake, saying that it was shallow and filled with underwater hazards such as cinder blocks. He commented that the trip out to the main lake wasn't worth the time, since most of the fish had retreated to the canals.
While using live golden shiners, we ended up catching about 15 largemouths with our guide on the first day. The biggest weighed only three pounds.
On the second day we caught fewer fish, but they were slightly larger. Steve caught one that weighed almost five pounds, and my biggest was nearly four. The second day did prove to be interesting, however.
Steve managed to catch a seagull with a crankbait and a six-foot alligator on a top water lure. I forced him to reel in the alligator so he would not lose the expensive lure. I am happy to report that the alligator was graceful by not trying to attack us and easily gave up the lure that was tied around its teeth. The third day was by far the best. A cold front moved in at the end of the day. Over a two-hour period, we caught over 30 bass on shiners and crankbaits. The fish averaged around three pounds. There were even instances where Steve and I had fish on at the same time.
Once the lake level rises back to normal, I would like to make another trip back to Okeechobee during the winter months. The trip is definitely worth the time and money.
Charlie Broadwell is a reporter for The Jackson Herald.

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