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Monday, August 17, 2015

Roaming the Marsh

Fishing is much more than setting the hook. Although that's the goal, I enjoy many things that go along with the hunt. My favorite has to be searching for the redfish in marshy waters. Nothing quite beats the quietness of the morning and to hear a redfish busting bait just between a small strip of marsh and yourself. I quickly get to the other side just to realize it's more than one. As I paddle onward, lined up with the grass, every few minutes or so one darts out from beneath the darkness of the blades.  Neither of us know exactly what to do, I watch in amazement. Sometimes, all for me to see is the cloudy trail of boils left behind. If I'm lucky, I'll get a glance of the painted blue tail. On a few rare occasions, I've had a few play bumper boats and unintentionally run into the hull of my plastic fish finder. Just last Saturday, I had this happen, and I was thrilled, scared, and upset that I had missed the opportunity for the time being. Yes, it scared  the crap out of me momentarily. Frustration goes away quickly, as this is the game I play; a sense of joy overcomes me, and I'm thankful he chose to play bumper boats with me. Quickly, back into ninja-stealth mode, I head toward an opening that leads me to a stagnant canal followed up by a small maze of marsh. I don't get far into it when I spook another red; this was a brute. It darts passed me with a swift quickness. I turn around and see the torpedo-like wake at top speed in get-away mode. Once again, fishing-wise I had failed. But, for me, the feeling of failure is  brief. What I experienced, I can not explain in words, and the way it makes me feel is what will keep me fishing in the marsh for many years to come. I'm still learning the ins and outs of the marsh. Sometimes, I stay confined in a smaller area focusing on drains, openings, anything that I think may be suitable for a red. Other times, I'll allow myself to go deep into the marsh system and just go with the flow to get caught up in its magic. I was paddling down a canal which led to three separate canals. I chose the middle one, as most of this day, I witnessed bait jumping, small mud boils, signs of a flounder. Birds, crabs, etc, etc. Marsh life. Was not sure if this canal was a dead end or not, but I headed on my way. About halfway down I saw what looked like a wave. A wake, it seemed very big. I paddled closer and could see the backs of two reds which almost seemed locked together. They passed without noticing me and allowed me to follow. I tried to cast but couldn't land it where I wanted. I got pretty close as I followed them. They were working as a team feasting on tiny shrimp. I noticed a couple of the times that the shrimp jumped into the marsh trying to avoid being an afternoon lunch. This continued all the way to the end of the grass line. Then, I didn't see them. I was hoping they made the sharp turn and were  going to do the exact same thing going down the opposite side of grass line. Nope, they were gone. Nonetheless, this was watching redfish doing what they do. Amazing, beautiful. A few more hours later, few more red sightings and my time had run out. This was a tournament day for me and yet I'm ok with not landing them. For now. I was to blessed with what the marsh had to offer me on this day. I'll be back, I'll try a few things differently and I'll do some things the same. Regardless of any future outcome, you will always finding me roaming the marsh. 

Sunrise with the Ride 135's
Gone mudding 
Tarpon 140

Monday, June 29, 2015

Promote What You Love

“Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.” - David A. Wolfe

With all of the dissension over rights lately, the one thing we all should feel compelled to do is to promote what we love.  I’ve decided to do just that.

Earlier this year, a fellow teacher came to me expressing that her son is an avid angler.  She explained that this 12-year-old would rush home each day from school in order to quickly exchange his book bag for his Shimano backpack filled with his fishing gear.  He would then hop on his bicycle with his rod in his hand and ride over to one of the few ponds in his neighborhood to spend as many minutes with his line in the water before heading home to begin the nightly ritual of hours of homework--- only to repeat this process each week day.  If her son was lucky enough to have been assigned minimal homework, he would talk his parents into helping him wheel his kayak into the water.  On evenings when the weather didn’t permit fishing, he would stay home to watch “how-to” videos on YouTube to learn new methods for knot tying or walking-the-dog with topwaters.  In class, during the day, he’d often find it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand--- sporadically distracted by the science of fishing.  

CJ Red.jpg

His parents, I’ve observed, have been very supportive of his angling interests.  There have been multiple trips to tackle stores for the best lures, line, and rods.  He’s got an inflatable PFD and a kayak.  Even Santa left him a GoPro under the tree last year! My fellow teacher explained that she just knows that this will likely be the career path he chooses.  He will fish.  And he will promote what he loves.  Unfortunately, she continued to explain, “it is difficult to find tournaments for his age group, and there are almost no youth teams in this area for a 12-year-old.”  As an English teacher, and someone relatively new to the fishing world, I simply suggested more research.

I must have been too swept up in whatever piece of classic literature I had to teach that week because, admittedly, I didn’t put much thought into what she was truly asking.  I briskly told her that the next time we took the kayaks out, we would be more than happy to take him with us.  I almost completely dismissed the fact that a parent was asking for help for a child who needed support.

Luckily, for this kid, his parents do NOT give up.  This fellow teacher of mine continued vetting me for a few months.  In April, she decided that I was the one who was going to be able to help her find a way to fill a need for the students in our school who were born and raised on the water, the ones who are desperately looking for a place in which to fit… a place to do what they love now- instead of having to wait to hone their angling skills.  She had done her research and introduced me to the Student Angler Federation and its program to support kids earning their way to college through competitive fishing.  She concluded by pointedly asking, “Well?”

Andrew sheepshead.jpg

Well- my response was, “Let’s do this.  How can we not?  See a need, fill a need.”  I am so thankful for her drive and inspiration, as helping to build this team has been an amazingly positive experience for me.  And we are just getting started.

I guess neither of us realized the tsunami-sized response that would occur within days of putting up five 8 ½ by 11 inch “posters”.  We had 47 students submit paperwork to sign-up.  We had close to 70 students and parents attend the first informational meeting.  Not only did we underestimate how many students would be interested; we grossly overestimated how many parents would have boats to captain during the tournaments.  Add to that how many lures, rods, and PFDs we DON’T have.  (Now, I don’t teach math for a reason, so I will let you run all of these numbers.  I’m sure you’ll swiftly find out that we need some serious help.)

Ovi bass.jpg

We are very grateful for the community support we have received thus far.   Wade Bullard, at Hook Spit, in League City stepped up to create a tournament circuit (Hook Spit Junior Anglers Association) that will boast three freshwater tournaments and three saltwater tournaments for the 2015-2016 school year.  Jenai Marek, host of the YouTube show “Momma Shark & the Hook-Up”, is sponsoring a summer challenge for the kids that has proven to educate and motivate our student anglers and angling parents.  The summer challenge even attracted the attention of The Galveston Daily Newspaper, as the kids were featured in Saturday’s sports section.  Calypso Trading Company is donating to the team $2 for every Sun Series shirt purchased from their website through the month of July.  A big thank you to Mike at Down South Lures for his support.  Furthermore, there was a box of Fish Grips sitting on my porch last Thursday that was sent and donated by this amazing company.  And my ever-so-supportive husband, Tony Keill, will be donating his time, as an ACA certified instructor, to teach them kayak safety and proper paddling techniques.

daily news.jpg
Photo Courtesy of The Daily News

This post isn’t meant to brag about personal or team accomplishments since we haven’t truly accomplished anything at this point.  Conversely, it is a call to action.  It is meant to give kayak anglers and readers like you a chance to promote what you love.  88% of our kids expressed a strong interest in kayak angling, yet the amount of kayak tournaments for student anglers is almost non-existent.  Even when we do find a few in our area, we still have to round up kayaks, paddles, and a way to haul all of that gear with our current budget of $0. (Again--- you do the math.)

If you, at all, are interested in helping to share the passion of kayak fishing with these kids, promote what you love by emailing me at with any ideas that you have about how we can build a strong foundation for the next angling generation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Galveston Area Kayak Anglers Find a Home at LSKS

In the fall of 2011, Dustin Koreba had a dream to create a home specific to competitive kayak anglers in the Galveston area.  With every creative dreamer, comes the need for an organized, "Git 'er Done" follow through.  Lucky for Dustin--- he just happened to be married to Wendy, and she handles the finite details like a BOSS!

See a need; fill a need.  That's exactly what these two have been doing.  After fishing in tournaments over the years, Dustin realized that boat-powered tournaments with kayak divisions only on the side were not going to cut it any longer.   The sport of kayak angling was growing at a quick rate.  The Korebas understood that the Galveston area needed  a tournament dedicated solely to these competitive paddlers and peddlers.  A different need for a different breed.

And so it was that they birthed a new Koreba baby with the Lone Star Kayak Series.  The late nights sacrificed, the specialists consulted, the learning curve implemented, the new supplies needed ----  the website was up and running by December of 2011.  The first event (ready or not) launched with 61 anglers on April 21, 2012.  

It takes a village to raise a child, and so it goes with angling tournaments as well.  Clint and Cameron Barghi stepped up to man the scales while Sonny Mills mastered the hell out of that web.  In today's mentality of "pics or it didn't happen",  Jeff Herman showed up with his cameras to record the history of grips and grins while this baby grew at an alarming rate.  From 61 anglers in 2012 to 176 anglers at the April 2015 event, LSKS has recently outgrown its birthplace at Louis Bait Camp and will now be relocating to the Lazy Lizard Cantina in Sunny San Leon, TX this Saturday (June 6, 2015).  

Dustin and Wendy attribute the outstanding evolution of this grass roots tournament not only to amazingly generous sponsors and volunteers like Russell Bradley, Roy Perry, Mark Miller, and the Bairds, but mostly to the anglers themselves.  Never before have they witnessed a tournament where the "anglers have advertised more than the tournament.  The word of mouth and social media activity with the anglers have really had an impact on the growth of the series."  The Korebas didn't falter at the overwhelming response and quickly acquired a second scale, a new CPU, additional weigh bags, a bigger awning, and are even running side-by-sides to taxi incoming anglers.  LSKS is not only a place for those who compete; it's an experience that encourages sponsors to come and foster the symbiotic, interdependent relationship between industry and kayak anglers.

"I created this series for the kayak angler.  If y'all keep coming, we will keep hosting," exclaims  Koreba.  

Don't worry, Dustin.  The Korebas built it, and we will come.  Coastie Culture will be there- Crystal, volunteering at the check-in table and Tony, on his Wilderness Ride 135, looking for them redfish.

On behalf of all Galveston Area kayak anglers, thank you for building us a home at the Lone Star Kayak Series.  An even bigger thanks on behalf of angling conservationists for your efforts to keep those gorgeous reds alive and breeding.

*For more information on upcoming events, visit the LSKS home page

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PFDiva lives to yak another day

"Well there's floodin' down in Texas
All of the telephone lines are down
And I've been tryin' to call my baby
Lord and I can't get a single sound."

*Trigger warning for anyone who has lost somebody to drowning.

Tony has been telling me that I put way too many statistics in my blogs, and most people tune out because of that.  For this entry, I’ve decided to put away my research and just go for it:

People are drowning.  At Sea.  In Lakes.  In Rivers. In Texas Floods.  Lots of people.  In record numbers this year.  And almost all of those people could have avoided their deaths by wearing a life vest of some sort.  

As a kayak angler, there isn’t a single part of my brain that understands this blatant disregard for life.  I’ve seen anglers attach rod floats to their custom rods while explaining that, “that sucker cost me $300.  I don’t want to lose that fine piece of work.”  I’ve seen anglers buy floating keychains, floating fish grips, floating measuring boards, floating sunglasses.  These kayakers will buy paddle leashes, zip-ties, action cam mounts, floating stringers, bungees, etc.---- all in the name of protecting their precious cargo.  But God for-freaking-bid they protect the most precious cargo in that boat… their own lives.

There are plenty of excuses, and I have an answer to all of them:
  1. PFDs are uncomfortable.  Yeah, well, so is a jock strap and a cup--- but I’m sure you don’t mind protecting those jewels.
  2. PFDs are expensive.  Yeah, well, so are funerals.
  3. PFDs are bulky and make me look fat.  Yeah, well, birth control makes you look fat, but I promise you look more fat when you’re pregnant.  
  4. PFDs are constricting.  Yeah, well, I bet you won’t be able to move around much after you’ve drowned either.
  5. I can’t find a PFD that I like.  Yeah, well, I bet your family won’t find a casket for you that they like.
  6. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

If you think I’m being too harsh, I don’t care anymore.  I most certainly am judging you if you aren’t wearing a PFD while you are on the water.  You might think - “well, I’m familiar with this area of water.”   No.  No, you are not.  Unless you’re freaking Jacques Cousteau’s genius mentor/ submarine guide to the entire oceanic floor, then you are NOT familiar with that water.  That water is an unpredictable beast.  She is a doting wife one second and an angry mistress the next.  If you think you can clock her movements, with observable science, you need mental help.  If you think that you aren’t hurting anyone else, you are dead wrong.  That sea will swallow you whole and look for her next snack while your family and government employees lose weeks of sleep and suffer irreversible trauma because of your negligence.

I’ve got those excuses too.  I still haven’t found my go-to life vest because this PFDiva needs:
  1. an appropriate length.  I’m 5 ft. 10 inches. Not all chicks are 5 ft. 2 inches.  It would be awesome if it didn’t look like I was wearing a toddler life jacket every time I sat down in the yak.
  2. a cost that isn’t higher than my wedding ring.  Seriously--- if it costs that much, my husband might feel that my priorities were a little sketchy (Who am I kidding- we all know he’d be proud).
  3. cute colors and a fitted shape because I am not trying to be one of the guys.  I’m a woman- and that PFD better be damn awesome if it’s gonna be covering up my Rowdy Maui shirt.  Maybe some girls want to wear RealTree Camo print, but I’m just fine NOT shooting a deer from my yak. Plus, I'd really like to NOT be "invisible" to nearby boaters. 
  4. room for actual boobs to actually exist while breathing at the same time (not the kind that are paid for and just stay in one place, not the tiny runway model kind--- the kind that fed two kids and shift around during movement).  Also-  I have hips. Please account for that extra space, so my vest doesn’t ride up and give me double chins during my grip and grins.
  5. While I'm at it--- Can I get an "AMEN" for top-loading pockets? Who in the hell decided that women's PFDs needed no pockets? Who in the hell thought side-loading pockets were convenient on a life jacket? I mean- I'm girly, but I damn sure don't take my purse out on the yak with me, C'mon y'all. For Real-----> top loading pockets, please. 
  6. And a convenient place to clip my pink Smith and Wesson knife.

What it all boils down to is that this buttercup is gonna suck it up.  I just flat out don’t care anymore about any of those excuses.  I have them all too, but there isn’t a single part of me that thinks I will look cute getting sucked into the vortex that is Charybdis, grasping for my life or stuck under the root of a huge tree in the Trinity River while Equisearch and my family scour a grid on a map looking for my dead and bloated bass-eaten body.

This PFDiva will continue to sport a cheap Stearns life-jacket from Walmart until my design demands are met, but you (without a doubt) won’t catch me in the yak without it because forgetting your PFD is just like forgetting you left your baby in the backseat of the car during an August heatwave.  Both actions can destroy the most precious cargo.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Let the Games Begin


There comes a point in your angling career when you must decide whether you will go the tournament route.  This is a decision that I’ve been considering for about a year, and I can’t escape the question:  Are tournaments for me?

For some people, competition is a natural course.  For others, it seems that competition brings out an ugly side to something that is otherwise a peaceful outlet.  When you enter a tournament, your otherwise private skunk becomes embarrassingly public within moments after the weigh-in begins.  Instead of just a slow day on the water, you begin to wonder if all those who have supported or sponsored you will doubt their faith in you.

Fact of the matter is- if you want to be a pro, you have to prove that you are a pro in a public forum.  No longer does it matter if you are your mom’s favorite angler.  

I had been signed up for my first Lone Star Kayak Series Tournament for several months. The first event out of four was to be on April 18th. I was more than anxious on several levels. Before the 18th came around, I got the opportunity to fish in a local benefit tournament for Lance Linthicum . I was excited to be able to compete for a good cause, and this was also a great way to pre-fish for the LSKS.  I had my Hook 1 jersey ready for the winner’s stand and my new T-bone bed extender  was going to get my Wildy Ride 135  there in good condition.


It took me until about 10 pm the night before to rig up my HookSpit Performance Rods and finally decide on a spot to fish. I wanted to be close to the weigh-in located in Sunny San Leon, but at the last minute, I decided to fish a familiar spot in Galveston. Since this tourney allowed bait or artificial, I decided to use both.
hook spit.jpg  prep.jpg

This proved to be a fun mistake on my part. I know live shrimp can be a great choice, but I usually go with dead shrimp if I'm using bait. I was confident I'd catch some reds on it. Instead of a beautiful red, I ended up catching the following (on dead shrimp):
- Two stingrays
- a 22" gafftop
- several hardhead catfish
- one small black drum,
- a whiting
- a  couple of croakers

I knew I had back-tracked into a pattern of fishing I had started out with years ago and although I don't discourage it because it can be fun for some, it’s just not my style anymore. Too many unwanted fish caught and precious minutes with my line out of the water while releasing them. Running out of time, I found a familiar deeper channel in the marsh and started throwing a popping cork with a Vudu shrimp. A few minutes later, I felt that hit and knew I had a redfish. 17" was not going to cut it, but I was relieved it was not a stingray. My buddy, Jose, joined me in my spot and he, too, quickly got a smaller redfish. He was smarter and using live shrimp. Sadly our time was running out, and we both ended up with an empty stringer. Later on in the day, I found out that only four kayakers had signed up and out of the four of us- only one caught some tourney-grade fish. One keeper redfish, flounder, or trout would have put me in second place. I'm sure I won’t get that opportunity again.  This is likely something that will haunt me for quite a while, as my Hook 1 jersey will have to wait for another day in the sun.


The weigh-in was a blast as this tournament had a boat division as well, and I loved watching the fish being brought in, especially when so many were released to fight another day. Most importantly, they raised quite a bit of money to help Lance and his family out. I met lots of new people and saw some friendly, familiar faces. I'll be back, better and with no dead shrimp. Add in that I missed a couple of flounder and had a nice trout get off at the boat somewhere.

After getting a few high-fives and hand shakes from the wonderful Pier Pressure Girls and Mike Bishop (the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner - he and his lady are cool as a fan) in my first-ever tournament, it was good to learn that most people in the angling world are still supportive and understanding when a day on the water doesn’t turn out as expected.  It was also important to learn that the only expectations I have to live up to are the ones I set for myself. No bad days on the water... only lessons learned.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Coastie Culture on a Mission

“In one way or another, every landform and creature on Earth
reflects the presence of the oceans.
Understanding the Earth’s oceans is essential to our understanding of human history,
the origin of life, weather and climate, medicines, the health of the environment,
energy sources, and much more.” 

Lately, we’ve been handing out Coastie Culture business cards left and right to any and every person we meet who seems remotely interested in water, kayaking, or angling- carefully explaining that our business will officially launch “soon”.  The one question that immediately follows is, “what kind of business is this?”  The answer to that question is something we have tossed around for a while now, and we have finally been able to nail that down.

Over a year ago, we sat looking at our one and only kayak and decided that it shouldn’t just be a toy in our garage.  We made the choice to shift our career-driven lives into a Coastie Culture.  Since then, we’ve added three more yaks to the fleet and spent hundreds of hours on the water (with and without fish).

Crystal and Tony (husband and wife)- Owners of Coastie Culture

After building our social media presence, collecting some wonderful sponsors, and meeting so many amazing people, we sat at that same garage table while staring at our yaks and, thanks to some advice from Brooke and Robert Dunning (our friends over at Allgood Auto), decided on a mission for Coastie Culture.

Mission: Coastie Culture is the connection between man (or woman) and water.  It is the idea that we are a reflection of the coastline.  It is simply getting outside to explore the merging of land and water. Coastie Culture is self-improvement, exploration, conservation, experience, and safety.

Self- Improvement
Getting outside for a mere 5 minutes a day has been scientifically proven to ease depression, improve your outlook and focus, as well as strengthen your immune system. According to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be. Even more so when you live closer to the water.  Science shows that just being in nature can improve your brain function.  
Coastie Culture focuses on kayaking as a means of spending time outside--- because of this, there are added physical health benefits.  Just one hour of kayaking burns about 350 calories! It improves strength by providing a full-body workout when implementing proper paddling techniques.  Kayaking decreases fat and builds lean muscle muscle mass.  Men’s Journal has even dubbed kayaking as one of the best workouts for heart health (Huffington Post).  

Coastie Culture yaks in three counties: Galveston, Brazoria, and Harris.  
Aside from there being over 1 million different species in the ocean, about ⅔ of the ocean’s species remain undiscovered and according to the EPA, “The Gulf of Mexico yields more finfish, shrimp, and shellfish annually than the south and mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake, and New England areas combined.”  There are mysteries in our waters calling to curious minds.   
History tells us that the pirate, Jean LaFitte, had a big hand in establishing Galveston--- that, alone, is enough to pique interest, but I will also add that Galveston is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the United States.  You can tour all of these points of interest by foot or car--- but why not take the yak to explore this island filled with Victorian-era architecture.  There is something alluring about a city that has survived the worst natural disaster in U.S. History.
Some of the most gorgeous species of birds roost in Galveston County, but Brazoria County is home to more species of birds than any other county in the country.  You haven’t lived until you have been on the water less than 20 yards from a Roseate Spoonbill (Spoonie)- the feeling is indescribable.

Roseate Spoonbill

Our Gulf beaches are often considered some of the best shelling beaches in North America- boasting more than 400 species of shells.
If you need more of an adrenaline rush, all three counties house multiple freshwater and brackish bayous that are great for alligator spotting although we try not to get too close on account of the desire to keep all of our limbs.  Most of the Coasties down here like to leave the gators to the experts in Louisiana, but you’ll often find us spending a day in the saltwater in search of the South Texas Slam - you’ve got to earn your angling accolades by snagging a redfish, a flounder, and a speckled trout all in the same day.

Coastie Culture is a big advocate of conservation efforts.  While fishing, we practice catch and release a majority of the time.  There is nothing wrong with taking an excellent meal home for your family from time-to-time; however- we are on the water a few times a week, and it’d just be flat-out irresponsible and wasteful for us to keep every fish we caught.  For future anglers and marine biologists, we want to leave some of those big boys out there to fight another day.  It’s just our way of showing gratitude to the fish for providing us with a good day on the water.  
A standing rule at Coastie Culture is to ALWAYS leave the coast looking better than when you got there.  Thanks to the Russ at Coastal Country Cleanup for leaving free mesh-bags at surrounding bait and tackle shops, so we are all able to keep one with us on the yak to hold our trash.  We also like to try to fill our bags with whatever else we see discarded on our coastline since we love where we live and want others to love it too.  
Coastal Country Cleanup

Seaweed- sometimes there’s seaweed collected on the coastline down here in Galveston.  It doesn’t always smell too pretty, but we are grateful for the fact that it is helping to cut down on the erosion of our beaches - which is extremely important considering that the Gulf of Mexico has the nation’s highest erosion rates ( up to 6 feet a year ).

Yak right over that seaweed.

The more a person experiences on the coast, the more likely they are to grow to love it just as much as we do.  Coastie Culture is about having fun and creating memories with friends and family.   We want you to experience the health benefits of being outside.  We want you to experience the self-confidence that comes from challenging yourself physically.  We want you to experience the thrills of exploration.  We want you to experience the feeling of appreciation and admiration for the environment.  We want to feed your coastal curiosity and inspire all sorts of future anglers, yakkers, nature enthusiasts, and scientists.  There is no better way to do that than to provide a fantastic and safe experience out on the water.

Self-Improvement, Exploration, Conservation, and Experience weigh next to nothing when scaled against Safety.  At Coastie Culture we are well-aware that our bays, marshes, and bayous can pose some hazards for even the most experienced kayakers.  That’s why we have partnered up with the American Canoe Association. The ACA is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to expanding proper paddlesport education.  Coastie Culture is owned by an ACA Certified Kayak Instructor (Tony) who can instruct you on proper paddling techniques or safety and rescue procedures.  We also offer Intro to Kayaking courses.  

Our ACA Certified Kayak Instructor, Tony 

*Remember to "Cast the Coast" safely.

We are planning to launch our ACA courses and various Coastie Culture kayaking experiences this summer, as soon as we can finalize all of the legalities (ie: insurance, staff training, and other logistical red-tape). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Blogger to stay updated.

Until then, we’d like to thank our families, friends, and everyone in this industry who has supported and encouraged our dream for Coastie Culture---- go check them out: