A Keeper

I’ve heard plenty of people say that marriage is easy. I’ve heard just as many say it’s hard. I lean towards the  latter. Loving someone and working to make a marriage work are two very different things to me. Lisa and I have had struggles from the beginning. We both have had life experiences that the other has had to take on. She loved me with my broken body when I thought no one would again. She worked through my depression and my issues with the war. She never gave up on me with my alcoholism and is the sole reason I quit. She picks up the slack with our daughter, house work, and supper while I tie flies for orders and study my college courses, all while she works 40 hours a week. We are very much alike and both passionate people. That equals “passionate” arguments. So our marriage has not been easy. We’ve had plenty of “where do we go from here” conversations. There is one thing that remains though: we made a commitment to God, our unborn children, and each other. And we are both way too stubborn to give up.

Lisa and EJ


So this past August was our 5th Anniversary. It has been a crazy path, but man a fun one. We have most likely the coolest little kid ever, and are patiently awaiting the arrival of Wyatt Levi; whom I expect to be equally as cool. Life is good (at least as I’m writing this ha ha). So what does my wife give me on such a special occasion? A weekend at the place we spent our honeymoon. This time with additional luggage. But does my wife book it for August? No, the trout fishing on the Jackson River wouldn’t be as good. She waits til late October so we can fish too. That’s right. Hence the title of this post.

So we all three (technically four) began the journey back to Meadow Lane Lodge and Cottages. Now this place is nestled Warm Springs, VA and is one of those picturesque places that people just fall in love with. Now y’all see this picture and the first thing that probably comes to mind is wow those mountains are so beautiful.

Bath County


I look at them and fear instantly takes over. You see I know this drive very well and I know it is anything but a straight path. I also now Emma Jo and curvy roads most always ends with Lisa and I weeping. We had to stop about three times to keep her from making a mess of my truck. When we were about a mile from the property, she started showing the signs again. Lisa managed to keep every ounce in a trash bag. I was thoroughly impressed and so relieved we wouldn’t have to spend the next few hours cleaning the car seat, my truck, Emma Jo, and ourselves. The little cottage was perfect for us. Since it was so late, we just chilled out on the bed that evening watching Rapunzel. I really like the chameleon, Pascal. If you don’t have kids, don’t judge me.


The next mornin’ we got up and got ready to eat a delicious breakfast at The Lodge, which is the main building which also serves as a B&B. Somebody was a little excited; got her shoes on all by herself….

EJ Putting Shoes On


It really was a great meal. Afterwards, we came outside to a beautiful foggy view.

Morning View


This is called the 1860 House:

1860 House


We headed over to the barn to let Emma Jo see the animals. We knew this would be the highlight of the trip for Emma Jo.



She fed the horses some apples…

Feeding the horses


She tramatized the guineafowl…



She talked with the chickens…

Watching chickens


And she tried kissin’ the goats…



Lisa and her laughed together on the fence…

Lisa and Emma Jo


She had such a great time. When that was all done, we went over to the river. 2.5 miles of the Jackson River runs through the property. It has wild and stocked trout and is a fun fishery. I had just purchased a GoPro HERO3+ with the Chesty harness, so obviously I was like a little kid.



I geared up and like time after time we thought Emma Jo would just sit there on the bank patiently with Lisa. That girl was bent on gettin’ in that water. It was way too cold to let her wet wade so we wouldn’t let her get in the water; she became a monster. I’m sure what seemed an eternity was really only like 5 minutes, but I think at one point I saw Lisa curled up in the fetal position under a picnic table. I never get frustrated though. She wants to do something productive that doesn’t involve electronics. Here’s a pictorial recap of those 5 minutes:

EJ Meltdown 1

EJ Meltdown 2

EJ Meltdown 3


EJ Meltdown 4

EJ Meltdown 4

EJ Meltdown 5


While lookin over the pictures Lisa took, I asked her where all the ones after this point were. She said that was the point in which she threw the camera and ran. I packed the rod up and we headed on up the road to a place called Jason’s Pizza & Subs. I had heard good things about this place and it was well deserved. The place was the perfect pizza joint. We ordered pizza, obviously. While waiting, the owner’s wife brought Emma Jo out some crayons and a coloring book. She colored for a while, then got bored. I walked around with her while waiting for the pizza. The kind owner brought out a big plate of fries for her to eat while we waited. You could definitely tell they had done the parent thing from their kind actions. The pizza was amazing. We stuffed our faces and headed back to the lodge. Lisa said for me to go fish while they took a nap. I think I was out of the door before  she could finish the sentence.


I went back to the same spot. I had seen some pigs in a deep run tight to the bank. I set up the GoPro on my chest harness and went to work. I went with streamers. Between trying to catch a fish and trying to get used to pressing record on the GoPro, I missed a few. Once I learned how to juggle setting the hook and pressing record with the same hand, I was in business. I really liked how the camera has a certain sound for on/off and for record. So you don’t have to look down to see what’s going on. I could go into the insane specs on the camera, but I’ll just sum it up to it’s a bad camera. I set it up to take pictures every 10 seconds while recording. Before, I couldn’t take a picture of a fish while holding it. And I had to set the fish on the ground and hope it didn’t move while I tried to snap a shot. No problem with that since fish don’t flop, right? So now I thought I could set it at 10 seconds, and hold the fish in front of my chest for 10 seconds and get a picture. I this worked it would be safer for the fish as well. I gotta admit I wasn’t too optimistic it would come out good. I’ll be derned…

GoPro 1


Not only did the photo work, but I got some sweet video and candid shots during the fight. I can finally take a picture of a trout in my hand! I kept on fishin’ and trying to get used to hitting record while fighting fish. The property is really beautiful. No trash, no pavement, no noise. Just serenity. I moved upstream, learning the water and learning after a few breakoffs that I needed to use heavier tippet. Some of these fish were big! I was too scared to try to cut the camera on with the bigger ones hooked ha ha. Here’s a sample of the different photos that came out on the burst mode:

GoPro 2

GoPro 3

GoPro 4

GoPro 5

GoPro 6

GoPro 7

GoPro 8

GoPro 9

GoPro 10

I cannot emphasize enough just how satisfied I am with the quality of this camera and the whole process of getting really cool candid pictures with virtually no effort. If you look at the 6th picture above, you’ll see a really cool one of a trout that has the shark thing goin on. The photo coloration and autofocus left me in awe. I will be taking the camera with me most every time I fish from now on. It is a great way to get pictures of your catch while fishing solo, especially for me. Be sure to check out some of the video footage at the bottom of the post….


I had told Lisa to just come pick me up when they woke up. I just kept walking and walking; picking off rainbows along the way. It had probably been bout 3 hours when I heard my truck coming down the road. I looked upstream ahead of where I was at, and saw something really cool. Right there in front of me was the cabin we had stayed at 5 years ago on our honeymoon. What a cool thing. I got in the truck with a grin on my face. The two half-awake girls greeting me topped the cake on a great day of fishin’.


We drove down to Hot Springs to try a place out called Lindsay’s Roost Bar and Grill. It was delicious food and really nice hospitality. Emma Jo slept on my lap the whole time, which I must admit was nice. A peaceful meal and conversation with my wife without having to keep our daughter occupied. When we were leaving, the owner walked us out. He and I talked for probly 10 minutes. It was nice. I’ll tell y’all something now: there’s a lot to learn from an experienced, wise, eager to give advice elder. I really suggest y’all try to take in as much as you can from them. They have so much to offer and talking with them for just a few minutes will make their day. Unless they’re just mean. I’ll probably be crabby when I’m old. Heck, Lisa says I’m mean on a daily basis already.


We headed back up the road to the lodge and must have seen a hundred deer in the fields there. We got in bed and watched Rapunzel again. Really like that movie…. The next mornin’ we got up and ate another delicious breakfast. We then headed back home.

Meadow Lane Lodge Sign


We prayed the whole way to Covington. Serious curves. As usual, I found myself the only one awake before long. I saw a pretty cool property entrance sign on a farm, so I pulled over to take a pic.

The Ten Commandments


We got home and ended up having really great memories to hold on to. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Meadow Lane Lodge. Just a great place to appreciate the finer things in life. Ironically, two days before Thanksgiving, I’m finishing up writing about the blessing of a best friend I was fortunate enough to marry. I am thankful every day that Lisa didn’t give up on me when I gave her every chance. I have never met a person with a bigger heart. She forgave me and challenged me to be a better man, husband, father, and Christian. I still have a long way to go on all these, but because of her, I try each day and refuse to give up on myself or my family. And she encourages me to fish and hunt! I’m not messing that up. And she knows that if she ever decides to leave me…. I’ll find her….