STILL DON'T know what to get the old man who loves the sea - and rivers and woods - for Father's Day? It vexed me for eons, and from notes and e-mails I've gotten over the past five years, it's perplexed some of you, too.
So here, in no particular order, are some ideas to get you started.
You can carry a weather radio and a cell phone when you head for the water, or you can subscribe to WeatherWave, a new Virginia-based service that sends customized weather information to your cell phone. Founder Sande Smith and his partner came up with the technology to allow users to receive voice alerts about severe weather, flooding, earthquakes, frost warnings, national security - probably door-to-door salesmen, if you asked them nicely.
Marine users can choose zones based on nearby buoys. Land-based users, such as hikers, campers and golfers, can subscribe to a service that is customized by ZIP code. You can change preferences from your cell phone. Twice, my phone rang with severe thunderstorm warnings minutes before my weather radio broadcast the warning. Those extra minutes can be the difference between being on terra firma and being firmly terrified. A three-month land subscription is $24.95; the marine service is $29.95 (www.weatherwave.com).
Are Dad's favorite foot coverings a little ripe? Buy him some new ones. Keen's Boulder ($90) sandals are just the ticket. They have removable foot beds that can accommodate orthotics. The linings of the sandal are anti-microbial, which means they fight foot stink. They are extremely comfortable for standing long stretches on a boat. The Banff ($100) is built just like the Boulder except that it has nylon stretch mesh to make it feel more like a shoe than a sandal. For Maryland dealers, see www.keenfootwear .com.
Maybe papa needs a brand new bag. If so, try a Slumberjack Super Guide 30-Plus Sleeping Bag ($80). It weighs just 2 pounds, 6 ounces, and will hold Dad through three seasons, maybe a little longer in the temperate Mid-Atlantic region. But the best feature is that the bottom unzips to bug-proof mesh to provide some circulation on humid nights.
If the old man is a fly fisherman, Bite Troutstream wading sandals ($70) are perfect for those late-spring, early-fall days when felt-bottomed boots are giving him the hot foot. The lightweight Troutstream is quick-drying and has a toe guard to protect feet from rocks and roots. In unisex whole sizes, 6-14. For local dealers, www.bite shoes.com.
And if the old eyes ain't what they used to be, how about a new set of binoculars? Olympus has a waterproof pair, the Magellan WPI binoculars, that weigh about 12 ounces and are a snap to use. They come in two magnifications (8x25 and 10x25) that perform well under almost every kind of conditions. The price is great - $169. www.olym pusamerica.com.
Books: On the Run: An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast by David DiBenedetto; The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass: A Flyrodder's Odyssey at Montauk Point by Peter Kaminsky; Fishing With My Father, a compilation edited by Kaminsky; Lost in My Own Backyard: A Walk in Yellowstone National Park by Tim Cahill; Field Guide to Birds of North America by Kenn Kaufmann.
Sneak Dad's tackle box out of the house and take it to a good local tackle shop such as Tochterman's in Baltimore or Angler's Sport Center in Annapolis. The staff there will help you replace some of the old, worn stuff.
E-mail buddy Dave "Dash- away" Mitchell, an avid angler from Breezy Point, offered these suggestions: "For a beginner, a half-day trip with a guide; for us 'experts,' a six-pack and a permission slip to fish."
Somewhat surprisingly (but sweetly), some dads told me they would be delighted if the whole family could take a charter boat trip on the Chesapeake.
The best laugh was supplied by one angler who responded to my question, "The best gifts are ones that the wife didn't know she got me."
Fishing for scholarships
Eight Maryland students were among 10 high school students to receive scholarships from the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association.
Since the beginning of the program in 1993, the recreational angling group has given away more than $50,000 to students who will be pursuing careers in environmental science. This year, the scholarships totaled $17,000, the most in the program's history.
Congratulations to Lindsey Kneten of Jarrettsville, Amy Miller of Overlea, Tracy Dirks of Edgewater, Chris Keesecker and Aaron Smith of Bel Air, Elizabeth Wrzosek of Dundalk, Joseph Schneider of College Park and Matthew Hickey of Forest Hill.
For information on the MSSA Scholarship Foundation, call 410-255-5535.
For a calendar of outdoor events, go to www.baltimoresun.com/sports/outdoors. Items for the Outdoors Journal may be mailed to Outdoors Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278-0001. Please include time, date and location of events, as well as a short description of planned activities and a telephone number for more information. Please mail listings four weeks before the date of the event.