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MONDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2006
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A picture frame is worth a thousand memories

Keeping my promise this week, I came up with one more inexpensive gift idea for that special outdoor sportsman in your life.

It didnít take long to figure it. In fact, I didnít have to go farther than the wall in my computer room.

There are specially designed picture frames made that have cutout spaces where you can place a favorite photograph. The ones on my wall have cutouts for nine photographs, but there are large assortments of frames with different designs that you can use for whatever number of pictures you want.

The example Iíll use involves a Stackhouse family vacation to Destin, Fla., many years ago. The vacation included a deep sea-fishing trip with good friend Eddie Dykes aboard the charter boat Shamrock II.

Even as I write this column, the memories of that special trip keep flashing through my mind. Looking at the picture on the wall, I can see that we were staying at the Robroy Lodge in downtown Destin.

The Robroy was a small motel that gave the patrons the feel of staying at a fishing village. It had a walkway lined with sea oats leading down from the rooms to a small private marina and docks. Having stayed in the motel for at least 15 summers, we developed many memories through time.

Looking at the photographs on my wall, I remember one of my favorite fishing boats that always stayed docked at the Robroy. It was a 33-foot cabin cruiser called the ďPande.Ē It had a large fishing area and an air-conditioned galley and sleeping area. I never got to use the boat for a fishing trip, but I often daydreamed about using it on calm days in the Gulf of Mexico.

Another picture in the frame reminds me of a 60-foot-plus cabin cruiser that called the Robroy docks home. Even though it was family-owned and not advertised as a charter boat, it was used on occasion as a hire-the-captain-and-crew vessel that could be rented out. It was designed for overnight excursions and fishing trips that lasted several days, but a four-hour tour wasnít out of the question.

Our first encounter with the large fishing boat involved my brother Rick and me. It provided the kind of memory that you never forget, even if you tried to erase it from your mind.

Having left the Robroy Marina the day before, it was arriving back at the dock with several anglers and crew members who appeared to be having a good time.

Unloading the boat, Rick had not seen any fish even though there were a lot of rod-and-reels stacked up by the ladder leading to the upper decks. What happened next had Rick yelling my name.

The crew members started unloading body bags off the boat. You can imagine what was going through our minds at this point. We later found out that the six 200-pound-plus tuna caught during the trip were in the body bags, which were filled with ice to keep the fish and delicious meat from spoiling. I remember being somewhat relieved and excited at the same time.

All of these memories come from one picture frame on the wall with nine photographs spread out on it. Itís a sure bet that you buy one of these inexpensive frames, dig into the family photo album and make a super gift that any outdoor enthusiast would appreciate.

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Paul Stackhouse
Sporting Life
Paul Stackhouse

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