Verdun, the deadliest battlefield of World War I

Verdun, probably THE most deadliest battlefield of World War I where the Germans and French had been fighting for months, almost a year-long battle during the Germans driving towards the French capital only to become bogged down at this mountainous, hilly section of eastern France. The Germans ended up getting stuck in the mud due to this location that both sides lost over a combined 300,000 troops! It was here that made World War I famous for its trench warfare, nothing but chaos and destruction of wasteland of barren, destroyed fields that used to be farmland, forests, and cities. The only living things that remained were the ticks, rats, and vultures that inhabited among the war-wearied troops basically fighting over a few meters of worthless dirt.

But this was some very important dirt, Earthland that Verdun sat upon because it was the beginning of the road from Verdun to Paris, the French capital, where Napoleon I used to rule the French Empire from. Some people speculate that had the Germans won the Battle of Verdun then its armies along with those of Austria-Hungary would have easily marched straight into Paris without any resistance. That likely would have ended World War I right then and there which might not have caused World War II to occur; and no rise of Hitler either as Germany would not have been forced to pay reparations to cause its economy to suffer dearly and later go through hyperinflation. Austria-Hungary would never broken up either.

trench warfare memorial bayonets world war i verdun

This is known as Tranchée Des Baillonnettes or Trench of Bayonets where soldiers were buried with bayonets sticking up. It’s a dark reminder of what trench warfare turned into becoming.

The entrance to the Trench of Bayonets entrada einfahrt

The entrance to the Trench of Bayonets.

Memorial De La Bataille De Verdun

Now this is probably what sticks out the most when you go to Verdun along with the grand cemetery there.

tower view vista de la torre memorial guerra mundial 1 uno un

You can climb up the stairs of the Memorial Tower and get a good view of both the battleground and the cemetery. Just note that time has healed a lot of the scars upon the land but there are some places where you can still see the war scars if you know where to look.

Verdun war cemetery

Thousands were buried in this Verdun cemetery. Both Germans and French soldiers were buried there.

It would have been a completely different world afterwards had Germany and Austria-Hungary won as both would have stayed together eiter allied or even combined into one bigger country. Also, these smaller countries that had belonged to the Hapsburgs in Vienna (Austria-Hungary) such as Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary – never have never went on their own. The German language would likely hold more sway as well and who knows what the Bundesliga would have been turned into? 40 teams in the first league? 60 teams in the second league? Bayern Munich and Dortmund would have likely to have more serious rivals.

Instead, the French put up a mighty resistance at Verdun which caused the Germans to get bogged down into trench warfare where very little gains were made. And only deaths, deaths, and more deaths until finally the United States came in to the relief of the British and French forces to finally swing the pendulum of victory towards one side. Of course, the endings of World War I only set up the beginnings of World War II so in the end, it was not much consolation at all particularly after the Germans ended up invading Paris couple of decades later and war spread all over the world.

museum Douaumont Ossuary war memorial german army uniform

There is a museum at Douaumont Ossuary, which is a war memorial to Verdun. It’s also place where thousands of killed Soldiers are stored there due to the massive deaths occurring at that time.

cannon artillery war piece museum verdun great war

As shown in this picture World War I artillery technology had vastly improved by that time as shown by its barrel. The big wheels still make it scream 1800s though.

If you’re going to visit Verdun, I highly suggest getting a car so you can drive around the place. Unlike some battlefields such as Bastogne or Waterloo where there is just one place to go visit, Verdun is more like Normandy. It’s more than just one place – the entire area was the battleground. Be sure to visit in the later spring, summer, and early fall because certain areas of Verdun close down for the season. This is due to the weather/conditions changing to where you might be knee deep in water rather than walking comfortably on dry land.

Fort Vaux verdun fuerte world war i germans french trench warfare

This here is Fort Vaux, one of several forts in the area. If you see the pictures from the World War I era, you’ll see that it’s very gray unlike today’s version of it which is more greenish because no one is shooting, bombing, or gassing the area!

fort vaux french german war battle Krieg fight shooting artillery bombings earth hurt damaged

You can walk around the Verdun battleground area and still see the land scarred with big holes in the ground due to all the artillery shellings, back all the way from World War I!

Fort Vaux artillery window fenster la ventana con canon fenetre

If you look outside, it’s an artillery barrel sticking out…

artillery firing position fort desperar pistola grande arma

…but inside the Fort, you can see the entirely of the artillery piece. I don’t think this was used for long range bombing but more for anti-personnel usage to prevent any brave troopers from trying to charge and take back the fort.

Categories: Europe | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Continuing the redemption path with another great day in California with fishing and crabbing

So the second great day follows a first great day after catching a big 14 pound Lingcod. This time it was on another fishing boat but going to a different location. The results, while different, were still spectacular as on this day, I limited out on rockfish (10 rockfish limit in California per day) quicker than the previous day. However, I didn’t get any lingcods but instead, this fishing trip was a little different as it was a fishing/crabbing combo trip. So after getting a limit of rockfish (at one point, I had 8 rockfish in the bag while others didn’t even have one fish!), I just stopped and watched everyone fish. I didn’t feel like jumping into the mass of entanglements happening with people being crossed over each other’s lines so I just lounge around by going to the bathroom, get something to eat, drink something, sit here, stand there, etc.

golden gate bridge red color puente rojo san francisco famous famoso water bay area

One of the best things about fishing on a boat is going around and seeing things from a different perspective. Not many people get to see the Golden Gate Bridge from the west – from the ocean-side of things. Also, do I look in this picture? Of course I do! I’m wearing 4 layers of clothing!

water under the bridge golden gate bridge puente california

An even better, unusual view of the things! Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge from under it!

After some time to where everyone else got their limits of rockfish, the crew and passengers were en-route to go fetch the crab pots to collect the dungeness crab to see if everyone would get their limits (2018 California daily limit of Dungeness Crab is 10/person). Well, after some time of collecting and retrieving the crab traps, the limit was achieved! And the late-November, early-December timeframe is one of the best times to go crabbing as the commercial fishermen have not yet started so this means that everyone will likely get their limits. I was talking to the boat captain and he said that they will collect up to 1,000 crabs – sometimes all of that within a week! That’s a lot of crab! I have to say that it’s a lot more different collecting crabs from the pots rather than buying them from the fishing boat.

dungeness crab pot trap retrieving collecting pulling checking cangrejo pacifico mar california la pesca

The deckhands handle the crab pots to check the crabs to make sure that they are male and are of size.

dungeness crab bag limit fishing crabbing netting pack california san francisco emeryville berkeley bay area

Here’s my bag of Dungeness Crab! 10 of them! I remember a few years back when the limit was 5 crab per person. A huge change from then.

Categories: Hunting and Fishing, North America | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Redemption with a Lingcod while fishing in California

Winter fishing can be very difficult fishing especially in California where the water comes in from the north, Alaska, which means cold water coming down. But that also means that there can be some big fish as well particularly bigger rockfish, lingcod, and even some halibuts that can be had. Depending on finger and hand muscle memory and fishing experience and skill (and probably some luck as well!), fishermen can catch a fairly decent-sized fish during the winter.

However, on this case, it was fairly difficult fishing at first in the morning as I got a few bites here and there while landing a few decent-sized rockfish for the beginning part of the morning. The fishing got progressively better as more and more smaller rockfish were getting caught which was basically bait. And then the amazing part happened – my bait and hook was swallowed big-time which at first, made me think that I hooked the bottom. Instead, the line was fighting back fiercely so I knew that I didn’t have a “bottom fish” but instead, a live one, a bigger one compared to these rockfish! So it’s kind of a nice consolation prize for not fishing so well in Slovenia just a few weeks back!

lingcod 14 pounds lbs 6 7 kilograms kgs ling pacific seafish fish fisch pez rockfish

After about 1-2 minutes of fighting and reeling, I ended up with a nice big lingcod! The biggest lingcod of my life! 14 pounds of flesh and meat!

lingcod taking all hooks baits sinker weight large mouth boca grande pez del mar

This fearsome 14 pounder lingcod took both of my hooks and the sinker! So there was no way that I was going to lose this fish!

lingcod limit of rockfish california pacific ocean fishing la pesca en californie

A great day of catching 10 rockfish limit and one big lingcod! A huge turnaround from the zeros that I got from Slovenia.

And of course, after a great day of fishing requires a full stomach to ease those growling noises of hunger. So it was time for some seafood starting off with a bowl of clam chowder.

clam chowder soup sopa soupe stew essen mariscos seafood white blanco

Gotta love the clam chowder at the nearby restaurant after a long good day of fishing.

seafood platter varios variety various more fish chips

A good ol’ seafood platter of various items – fish, shrimp, calamari, and chips.

Categories: Cuisine and Drinks, Hunting and Fishing, North America | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Deer Hunting in upstate New York

It’s fall and nearing winter meaning that prime deer hunting season has arrived so it’s possible that the rut is on and the winter chills and winds have started to breeze its way forcibly into the forests to get these furry critters to come out and feed some more. That means that I’ll actually get a chance to pull the trigger on a decent-sized deer as long as I compensate for distance and wind, keep my breathing regular, and have good form on my trigger pull. Did I mention that it’s friggin’ cold during the end of hunting season so to where my breath exits as steam and the wind gusts can push my bullet off? Yeah, it’s that much more difficult sitting in a tree stand with the wind blowing right at your face and you definitely don’t want the opposite because that would mean the deer can smell you and freak out and run for it. It’s not like shooting at paper targets at the shooting range like it was in Ukraine.

spiker buck young small deer venison venado mammal furry

There was a lone spiker buck which was probably a little over a year old meaning not as big as I would like it to be in order to shoot it. He eventually took off after getting a nice breeze whiff of me due to my scent blowing in the wind.

After all that fishing in England and fishing in Slovenia, my senses had to revert into hunting mode by keeping my eyes out on motion detector watch for any deer that would come into range of my rifle’s ballistic force aka death by bullet. Instead of seeking out the fishes out on a boat, this would require staying in one spot motionlessly so the deer are not so ghost-spooked by any movement of a possible predator. Deer are pretty fincky creatures and will dart into the woods at anything that gives them any kind of stress or uncomfortable feeling via smell or vision. Even a human fart in the wind will make them flee! Like a damn scared cat, deer will make that mad rocket dash without hesitation… which all of these senses particularly sight, smell, and hearing have done them well in surviving centuries and centuries of hunters and predators. None of them drink the stupid juice like a lot of humans do so it’s imperative to become smarter than the deer in order to get a good shot off.

Unfortunately, hunting is hunting. You are not always successful at hunting. Same goes with fishing. You have to be at the right place at the right time and be ready to pull the trigger or set the hook right. But as I always said that it’s best to fail forward and don’t get too discouraged from getting a blank. There are always more and more fish and animals out there. I can’t be an overnight success like I did with my Elk hunting, Mule deer hunting, pig hunting in California nor like my past whitetail deer hunting. The same applies with fishing for Yellowfin Tuna in Mexico, Sailfish in Costa Rica, Thresher Shark in Spain, Peacock Bass in Panama, etc. I just have to enjoy the moment and move forward.

turkeys pavo pavos group hens toms eating meat food foraging looking for food buscar encontrar comida

As in hunting, you are always accompanied by other wildlife out there. Unfortunately, Turkey season was not in session nor would I have the right firearm anyways. And the worst part was that no big deer were around at the time.

hens female turkeys feminine feminina birds pajaros aves

These 2 turkey hens came up REAL close to the deer blind. Too bad it wasn’t turkey season and I didn’t have my shotgun with turkey shell loads inside.

Categories: Hunting and Fishing, North America | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Wintery Lake Bled and my failure to complete an item on my bucket list for fishing in Slovenia

Alright! Another country visited – the country of Slovenia… if you don’t know where it is, the country is located east of Italy on the Adriatic sea and is also bordered to Croatia’s west flank. Once part of Yugoslavia, the country broke off like the other nations such as Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, etc. to become their own nationalistic, independent countries rather than be held together as they used to be for so long during the Austria-Hungary Empire days prior to Yugoslavia when Tito held the country under an iron fist and basically kept the country’s unification together before its eventual separation. Now Slovenia is now on a different path as the country has become richer and more productive without the Yugoslavian shackles upon the Slovenes who became the first post-Yugoslavian country to join the EU thanks to meeting the requirements necessary to join.

slovene church iglesia eglise kirche slovenia slovenien pais country hill colima elevated building white

For some weird reason, a lot of these churches are built on top of a hill or are elevated to make the bell tower the tallest feature of a small town or city.

I went to Lake Bled in the winter which turned out to be a great decision because there weren’t that many people in terms of tourists there. A local Slovene said in the summer time, Lake Bled is a madhouse of craziness and chaos, as if someone yelled “FREE PIZZA!” and handing out slices of freshly-cooked pizza slices to a huge group of survivors living off of nothing but mushrooms and bark for several days. I could imagine that hu-maniac turbulence which made me thankful because I saw all these parking spots, restaurants, and other tourist activity things such as boating, tours, etc. all which were catered to the tourists who would all collide into one spot: Lake Bled. This is because of the internet making the place a sensation, basically made into one of those “Must Visit List” sensations which doesn’t help the locals unless you’re profiting off of it. A local told me that Slovenia shares the same history as Croatia as well as the same tourist capability to make money off of the tourists coming in. Like Split, the late-spring, summer, and early autumn times are crowded and filled to the brim with tourism craziness but any other time, it’s like a ghost town. Slovenia is the same in that regard.

lake bled mirror reflection castle water fresh lake agua dulce by italy

A picturesque scene of Lake Bled. Best to go there in the winter where there is the serenity of the snow, fog, clouds, and most important: not that many people around.

church on the middle of the island

In the far distance, you can see a church on an island. You can actually rent a boat or get a boat ride to go visit the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria on the Island.

castle church lake bled tourist site attraction scene

You can see Bled Castle and the church in the background here.

Bled Schloss castillo tourist scene visitors

I’m completely castled out but you can walk to the top of the place to visit Bled Castle which oversees Lake Bled.

As for my fishing exploits, I came up empty-handed as the first day fishing for Huchen, also known as Danube Salmon, was somewhat productive getting me 3 hookups, 1 good take (but popped off after 2 seconds), but zero lands. The next day was even worse as the rains came and just blew out the river not to mention there was just too many leaves in the water so it made it difficult for the fish to differentiate a lure from a leaf. Fishing for Huchen was a different challenge as my guide likened it to trying to catch a muskie or huge pike. They are that smart that if one of these is hooked or landed, they will remember it for a long time, meaning that they will never take the same hook or lure again in that season or maybe not even the same hook/lure in several years.

Also, like a big pike or muskie, they won’t take a hook/lure unless they are hungry so it is extremely challenging. That’s why that one good hookup that I had which was probably a 7-8 kg (over 15 pounds) Huchen and my best chance to get one, basically swam away because I wasn’t able to set the hook right. I did hook it but I should have tried to hook it at a different angle to get a chance at it. Like my trips to Scotland in trying to catch an Atlantic Salmon, I’ll be going a blank here because of things out of my control – leaves in the water (which make the lure look like a leaf), blown out water levels (lots of rain don’t help making the water muddy and/or muddier than it is), uncooperative fish, etc. However, I will definitely be haunted because I had one good chance and failed to capitalize on it, and will likely die with this regret for the rest of my life. Thus is life. But the more important thing is to keep moving forward, even that means failing forward. And that is still progress.

Categories: Europe, Hunting and Fishing | Tags: , , | 1 Comment