Saturday, July 31, 2010

The view at Point Cabrillo.

The pool I went swimming in on the Durphy Creek Trail.

I decided to stay in Eureka, and though I chose a Quality Inn, the neighborhood was suspicious, with a lot of homeless people passing by. I remembered my talk with Mark Wells about Portland and the homeless and crime problems, but Eureka seemed pretty sad. I didn’t venture far from the motel.
On Thursday, I knew I was going to visit Richardson Grove State Park and hike the Durphy Creek trail and I accomplished that. There was a place to stop 4 tenths of a mile in, with access to Durphy Creek and there I took a quick dip in a delightful, icy pool.
After my hike I decided to head down Route 1 toward Westport to see the coast since I was not going to drive to San Diego. That 22 mile stretch is not something you want to do after a cup of coffee and the endless curves had me queasy by the time I was half way through. I knew the coast might be fogged in so when I got a few miles from the coast, it was no surprise that I lost the sunlight.
When I reached the coast, it was stunning with a low cloud cover but I was a little concerned with getting gas since I didn’t have much extra, though I knew there was gas in Westport, according to one of the road signs. Unfortunately, the pump at the store there stopped working just as I got there and I had to drive to Fort Bragg to get gas. I did use my extra gas on top so that really came in handy. Even with the extra gas I did drive to Fort Bragg with just a couple of quick stops to view the coastal terrain. I wanted to make sure gas was available there.
After Fort Bragg, I knew I needed some exercise so I stopped at Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and walked the half mile out to it, chatting with a young family part of the way, and even working my way down the rocky shore close to the water. It was a stunning area, with a cold wind to keep me moving.
After that I stopped to camp at the state park in Little River, and had a fine dinner at the Little River Inn, going of my bland diet a bit but enjoying every bite.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

After the redwood hike, I went back into town for lunch and started driving south. My biggest concern was the kayak, still wet in the back from the McKenzie, so I stopped at the Mill Creek campground and unloaded and inflated the kayak and unzipped the air bladders so everything could dry well. Then I dropped off for a very needed nap. When I awoke I straightened out the truck and let the kayak dry another hour, using a towel to help dry it. It was almost 4:30 when I finished and I began driving toward Eureka, where I had booked a room.
As I drove I became more interested in playing golf, but I couldn’t find a course to play on (one was private; one was having a tournament) but fortunately the Eureka Municipal course was open and I was able to play 9 holes. I played decent enough, but since I had doubled up on a couple of holes, the first par five and a long par four, I thought I missed breaking 50, blowing it on the seventh hole with a seven. However, I decided to play eight and nine and to my surprise, eight was a par three so the front had three par threes. That meant I could drop one of the par fours (the six I got on the doubled one) and shot a 3 on eight, thus breaking 50.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This is a picture of the swimming hole on the Smith

Stout Grove

Spokane Falls from earlier in the trip

Outlet of Georgetown Lake where I caught 10 trout

Middle fork of the Smith

There were several highlights to yesterday. The drive from Roseburg to Grant’s Pass has its mountainous moments, but after turning off at route 199, the road flattens and is rather mundane until the beginning of the middle fork of the Smith River. It is a spectacular drive, and I took several pictures of the deep pools in the canyon areas. I stopped at the Patrick Creek Campground to take a long bike ride, mainly to get myself ready for a dip in the icy cold waters just below where Patrick Creek joined the Smith. Refreshed, I drove to Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. It always inspires me to return to the Redwoods and a year without seeing these 300 foot giants always seems missing something special.
Even though I haven’t spent much time on the rebirth in the hollow theme lately, the redwoods always make me think about my spiritual life, or the lack thereof. Throughout my life I have hoped for a visionary moment and it has yet to come even though I have studied with the Michael Harner Foundation for Shamanic Studies and done many, many sessions of shamanic drumming and two vision quests. A friend of mine who is deeply immersed in the visionary traditions told me many years ago that when I really needed it, the vision would come. As I approached the redwoods, I prayed that perhaps something visionary would occur, but nothing. I was certainly calmed and awed by the massive trees, but my mind was as mundane as ever.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Monday morning, I did my writing, practiced, and then went for a bike ride. After checking out, I drove to the McKenzie Bridge campground to clean up the truck and get ready for the kayak trip. At 1:30 Casey picked me up and by 3:00, seven rafts—with my kayak strapped to on until we got past the log jams—took off from a few miles above Belknap Springs. Bill, the guide in my raft, was affable and didn’t think I would have any problems. I am glad I got to see the upper river, and I am sure I could have handled it, although Belknap Springs rapid looked very tight at points.
After the last log jam, Bill pulled over and I got into my kayak and began paddling. The water level seemed a little higher but I bumped a number of submerged rocks so it probably wasn’t much higher. I remembered many of the rapids, and I had fun getting through the trickier ones. I didn’t come close to flipping over, which helped me recover from the fishing problems yesterday, and my big problem was that I was pretty cold, even with the wet suit pants and thermals on. A dry suit would make things much better but I don’t think a couple of trips in really cold water a year would justify the expense. I can’t find my full wetsuit but I may buy a new one at some point.
I was very cold and pretty exhausted when I quit the trip at McKenzie Bridge, so after packing up all my gear I drove for a couple of miles then stopped to nap.
After the nap I realized that I was done for the evening so I simply drove to Roseburg and called it a night.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I had an easy drive yesterday to McKenzie Bridge, stopping at the McKenzie River golf course to play 9 holes and I shot a 45. Then I drove on to the upper river and began to drive toward the Metolius, where I knew some easy spots to wade. It became apparent to me that to drive to the Metolius would require an lot of effort so I gave up on that idea and started to look for the perfect water to fish at 7:00. I remembered a long, relatively calm stretch that was pretty easy to wade, and I could always head there if I couldn’t find anything better. Up by Clear Lake, the McKenzie was much smaller, so I pulled off on a dirt road above Sahalie Falls. It was a couple of hundred yards to walk in and when I got to the river it was still very fast even though the flow was less. I did wade in and cast to a decent pocket but nothing came up, and after trying a couple more spots, realized that this wasn’t the best idea. I walked along the river trail but couldn’t find anything tempting enough and easy enough to access so I gave up and decided to head for my calmer stretch.
I pulled over at a turnout where a steep path led to the river, but I wanted the perfect spot so I walked up and found a boulder strewn ridge that would let me easily climb down and the water below had long flat stretches.
I worked my way down very carefully and finally got to the water. I lowered myself in and began casting upstream with a Stimulator. I got one small hit, and remembered that last time I had had success with a smaller fly so I tied on a no 14 Royal Wulff and quickly caught two tiny trout. I started wading upstream and saw that the water was too deep to wade so I would have to climb up the rocks to get around the deeper water. It was very hard and I almost fell a couple of times. I finally got back down and waded out a few feet to a flat rock. Even that was hard and it was very tricky to even stand up. I realized that if I tumbled over I could be in a lot of trouble, so I had to give up and clamber back up to the road. It depressed me but I have to be safe.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

After spending the night in the local Super 8, which had a small but enticing pool, on Lisa’s advice, I drove through the Yakima canyon where I stopped for a long bike ride. I wasn’t tempted by the river since it was too large, but after I got to Route 12 and began following the much smaller Naches river, I began to think about fishing. I stopped at a tackle store and the proprietor advised me of a spot five miles up, and I stopped there and worked hard for one trout, attracted to a stone fly nymph.
I kept driving on 12 past some spectacular views of Mt. Rainier, and then stopped to play 9 holes at the very short golf course there. It was fun, even though I had to walk using a pull cart since they didn’t rent motorized ones.
I had dinner in town, sticking with my bland diet, and then thought to fish in the evening to see if I could have better luck. I couldn’t find an accessible spot on Butter Creek, but a fellow I spoke to at the Shell station said that if I drove 7 miles outside of town, I would find Skate Creek. I got there a little after eight and caught a number of baby salmon, and then caught several nice trout. I wish I had gotten there earlier since the fishing was very exciting.
On Saturday morning, I was very interested in fishing Skate again but fortunately, my saner self took over and I rested my knee, which was very tender. I did my yoga and practicing, and then headed off toward Portland to meet my friend Jenny and her husband Mark, and their new baby Paloma. Paloma was a sweet and lovely little girl and I had fun playing with her and carrying her around. Then we went out to dinner and to a community barbeque. After that Mark showed me his electronic airplanes, and I was stunned at how light (a few are about an ounce) and stable the newer models. Some can even fly inside your house, which is amazing, and I actually flew his tiny helicopter for a minute of so with no previous experience. I remember having an incredibly loud and difficult gas one forty years ago and how things have changed. I will try to write an essay about this topic during the rest of the trip.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The next morning I picked up my repaired sax, and off I went to Spokane, to ride my bike and take pictures of the wonderful falls there. I also had lunch at the P. F. Chang’s there, and I had the steamed shrimp dumplings with dipping sauce (totally against my special diet) and noodles with chicken. It was so good even if I will pay for it.
I stopped at Ritzville where my GPS said there was a golf course, and not surprisingly, I had played it before. This time I did quite well, shooting a 48 but I was having trouble with my driver so I have to work on that.
After golf I called Lisa Norris, a professor at Central Washington University, and a woman I had been friends with years ago, and we decided to have dinner in Ellensburg. It was nice to reconnect and dinner would have been interesting but I am back on my soft and bland diet so I just had pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. She gave me a tour of the town and then we had dessert and tea.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The next day was typical for my wandering, with some ups and downs. In the early afternoon I decided to take the scenic route that bypassed Deer Lodge, which wouldn’t add much mileage but would show me a new area, one that the map showed had two rivers.
I turned off at Anaconda and was impressed with how nice it was. I looked to fish the little stream that runs through it, but it was quite fast and I gave up and took a nap. After that, and finding that both golf courses were crowded, I headed off to try to find a place to fish. I kept checking out the stream but it remained too fast for my taste and finally I came to the turnoff for Warm Springs Campground and Picnic Area. I followed the road in for two miles, spotting a small bear at one point, and couldn’t find a good place even though the stream was much smaller. I decided to give up and ride my bike and that was a fine choice, but as I rode I found a lovely little stretch of water that though small looked very fishable. I would have bet a chunk of money that I would catch trout there, but to my amazement, I got no hits and didn’t see a fish. That does happen, but I had gotten a good ride so I drove on only mildly disappointed.
The countryside was pleasant enough, but I didn’t see any streams until I passed Georgetown Lake, and came to the outlet stream. It was exactly what I wanted and though it wasn’t even a quarter of a mile till it tumbled down a long falls, I was ready to fish. Fortunately, I decided to start fifty yards below where I parked, just above where the cascades began.
It was terrific fishing and I caught 9 trout in perhaps seventy five yards of stream, with two of them being 12 inches long. I decided to keep fishing above my truck and I had no luck at all, so someone had fished it hard fairly recently. As another experiment I fished the lower area again and got just one small trout. So if someone had followed me a few minutes after I left, he or she wouldn’t have had much luck, and would have thought the stream was not worth much.
I drove on to Drummond, where I stopped for dinner, and then drove on toward Missoula where I pulled off along the Clark Fork to take a bike ride. I looked at the river to see if anything was hatching, but there was a steady wind so I was satisfied with a twilight bike ride along the enticing river.
In the morning I practiced for a few minutes and realized my horn needed some work. I did my yoga and then headed off for Coeur D’Alene, where I hoped to find someone to fix my leaky horn. The first shop I called, Burt’s, turned out to be the perfect place since the owner worked on saxes and the salesman said he would be in in the afternoon.
That resolved I decided to fish the St. Regis, one of my favorite streams. It has a good bit of water but it can be easily waded and crossed if necessary. I have had some luck on the river, but today, with the heat, the fish were not hitting at all, on dries, hoppers, or nymphs, although I did get one hit on a Stimulator just before quitting. No fish, but very rewarding.
When I got to Coeur D’Alene, I dropped off the horn and the owner said he would do his best to get it fixed by tomorrow and then I drove downtown. The lake looked tempting, with hundreds of bathers splashing way, but I wanted to ride first so I took a long trip along the lake and then ended with a refreshing swim in the cold water.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I was near Absarokee by 9:30 so I decided to fish the Stillwater, since the kayak trip didn’t start until 2:00. It was lovely water but I got no hits on dries and nymphs and gave up after an hour and took a nap. I got lunch in town and then got to the rafting outfit at 12:45, giving me plenty of time to set up in a very relaxed manner. At a little after two we drove to the river and two rafts and one kayaker began the journey down. We started much higher up the river than I had ever done, and the guide said we weren’t going to get to the Yellowstone; in fact, the trip would be about a miler shorter than the one I was used to. The river level was almost twice what I was accustomed to and at first I was nervous but after a few small rapids I felt comfortable again, even though I knew that the bigger water was still to come. The guide had thought the one problem spot would be under the first bridge, and warned me to stay right when I got there. I hit a few good waves and then the bigger stuff began and I was doing fine, high waves blasting me and I paddled hard through them.
Then came the bridge, with the huge hole called the Vortex. I worked far right and pushed through some rough, squirrely water and then I heard a shout and looked back to see the first raft had flipped in the Vortex and was aiming right for the bridge stanchion with several people holding on to the sides and one in the worst spot, downriver and headed right for the stanchion where she could have been trapped. I turned fully around, stunned, not even worrying about what waves were coming up on me, and watched as the raft hit the stanchion and the girl just missed it, sliding just to the side. I immediately started to paddle for the people who had been pushed away from the raft, and got to two young women who were very scared and I told them to hold on to my kayak until the other raft could come near enough to pick them up. Then I took off, paddling with more power than I thought I had, for an older woman who was further ahead. I got to her in perhaps twenty seconds, and her terrified face told me I had to do something really quick, especially as another big rapid was approaching. She grabbed on to my kayak and I latched on to the shoulder strap of her life preserver and lifted her up behind me, telling her not to worry, that I could get us through the next rapid. I am sure I could have, but thankfully the other raft came up and I got her into the waiting arms of all aboard. A paddle and throw bag had floated away and I paddled down for them and also found a flip flop. Everyone was very appreciative of my quick actions and I told them I was so happy everyone was safe. It certainly wasn’t the kayak trip I expected.

This is another photo from Pukaskwa.

Good news from Nissan. They replaced the battery (which I knew was weak) and the clunking sound is from earlier damage, but will not be a problem for the rest of the trip. Now I can go kayak the Stillwater at 2:00. I talked with one of the guides and he said I should have no problem and they would keep me out of the trickiest spots. I am a little more nervous than usual and I think it is because I am edging close to 60 and I am certainly less sure of my abilities on a river. I vowed that I would run Nantahala Falls on my 60th birthday and that is still my plan.
Yesterday was not a great day. I decided to head up and check out the Musselshell and it was muddy. I did play nine holes in Roundup, on a pretty long course and I shot a 47, good enough. The Yellowstone was too high to fish in the evening so I didn’t fish but I may this evening.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The above photos are from earlier in the trip, the top one of the stream at Rainbow Falls,and the second of Agawa Bay in Lake Superior.

My visit to Dickinson, North Dakota, was very pleasant. The campground manager was extra friendly, the golf course was like a country club—and for some reason the pro shop employee let me play for free and wouldn’t even take a tip—and I shot a 45 on a long course. Of course, such fine times couldn’t last and as I was driving back from the golf course, a clunking sound developed in the front end. I was enough to make me realize that I had to have it looked at and tomorrow was Sunday, which meant that nothing would be open. I went to Applebee’s for dinner and then went to the movie theater to watch Inception, which I enjoyed very much, with some stunning visuals. By the time I got back to the campground it was 12:30 and I unloaded the back and went to sleep.
I awoke at 6:15 and felt that I had to rush, but fortunately, there wasn’t any reason to rush and I calmed down, took a shower, got some coffee and a breakfast biscuit, and checked out to see if the Walmart Auto Service might be opening early. It wasn’t going to open until 12:00 so I decided to drive toward Spearfish and figure things out better later. I got off the exit to drop down to Spearfish and rethought my plans. Obviously what was wrong with the truck was fixable but it might take a Nissan dealer and a couple of days. So I realized my most sensible option was to drive to Billings, the closest large town. I checked to see if they had a Nissan dealer and they did, and I reserved a room at one of the Motel 6’s there. I also left a message at the dealer, telling them I would be there at 7:30 Monday morning. I hope they can fix it in a reasonable time. It meant I had to give up Spearfish and the Big Horns, but it would be a real mess if I broke down out on some National Forest road.
I am half way to Billings, having purchased a Montana fishing license, and I have already taken a long bike ride while doing my laundry. I hope to fish a bit and play golf, but who knows.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Friday plan worked very well and although the drive to Fort Frances took an extra hour due to several construction delays, I was excited to cross over into International Falls, Minnesota. I got ripped off changing my Canadian money into American, but it felt good to be done with Canada for the moment. I started to drive toward Bemidji but within a few miles I saw a sign for the Falls golf course and I stopped to play. I was charged up but after a few holes I settled down and shot a 47 on a rather long course with a number of traps.
Back in my truck, I rode for an hour and then took a long bike ride on a state forest dirt road. It was peaceful and a good workout.
I got to Bemidji in time for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and then found out that my motel reservations was in Black Duck, 24 miles back from where I came. It was really my fault—the motel person in Bermidji who recommended it didn’t mention that it was in Black Duck but I didn’t ask--so I drove back up to the Drake motel and it was fine.
At 6:15 I got up and decided to start driving right away and that was smart. By 9:30 I was on I-94 and I really started moving with the 75 mile speed limit, although I stayed at 70.
After a hour and a half, I stopped for a long bike ride on a paved road into town and saw 2 cars in 40 minutes of riding. The fields were full of windblown corn and the isolation felt great (very ironic since the day before I was fleeing isolation).
After the ride I drove another hour and stopped to plan the rest of my trip. I was sure I could make California, and I realized that if my friends were available, I could visit a week earlier and still get to Portland to see Jenny, kayak the McKenzie, and visit the Redwoods with a touch of the California coast thrown in. They were available and that meant that on the way to the coast I could also head to the Spearfish Canyon to fish (I know a fine spot on the stream) and visit the spot I found last year on the Ten Sleep in the Big Horns. I even considered going up to Freda creek on BC’s Sunshine coast, but I realized I would have great difficulty in wading Freda, and I would involve a lot more driving. I am now in Dickinson, North Dakota, and I am planning on playing golf at the municipal course. I must say that talking with my friends, Rob, Dolores, Louis, Gloria, and Gyorgyi, was a great help to getting me out of my funk. I am back in control and I should be in the Spearfish Canyon tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I usually have a good idea of what I can handle but by late Thursday, I had to admit I had overplayed my hand. The events of the day certainly had something to do with it. After leaving Thunder Bay, I made good progress, with one stop to dry out the kayak and my wading gear while I took a nap. When I reached Ignace, things started to go wrong. There had been a traffic fatality further up 17 and the road was closed. The locals said it could be closed for many hours and one suggested that I take an alternate northern route that would bring me through Silver Dollar and Sioux Lookout. That made sense so I started up 599 and to my surprise I spotted Golf Course Road. I turned down it and found a 9 hole course that was raw but playable. After finishing there (again, beating 50), I drove toward Silver Dollar and realized that there was no way I was going to reach Kenora until dark, and that would have required driving straight through. I would miss the Palace and just have time to unpack and go to bed. 599 was a winding road but it didn’t stop people from driving very fast and one car had to swerve to miss hitting me. That was wearing and by the time I got to the phone booth in Silver Dollar—essentially the main feature of the place—I didn’t want to drive much more. I called and cancelled my Super 8 reservation in Kenora, and began to drive toward Sioux Lookout, expecting it to be little more than an intersection. I was very tired but I couldn’t decide to stop for a nap so finally I arrived in Sioux Lookout and found it a decent little town with a Robin’s Donuts shop and several motels and restaurants. I got some info at the visitor’s center and got a room in a slightly shabby but clean and relatively inexpensive motel. I dropped off for a long nap, felt relatively good and went for a walk and then fished a bit from the pedestrian bridge. I had a light dinner at a local eatery and returned to my room at 10:30. Though I was pretty tired, I got on the internet and found that the Super 8 was full for tomorrow, and that the only other places were in the 130 range. In the past when the Canadian dollar was a lot less than the American, 130 wasn’t that alarming, but with Canadian money almost at par, 130 was a huge chunk of my 170 dollar daily budget. Next I found that there were no rooms available in for Friday in Winnipeg for less than 170 (at least at the ten or so chains I checked) so now that was going to destroy my budget. Rooms have been between 90 and 100, and though I have stayed within budget so far, it looked like rooms in Canada were going to be a big expense.
Now I wondered what I really wanted to do. I was tired of driving, particularly on the back roads, and I began to think of cutting the trip back, perhaps just reaching the Big Horns and then Colorado and returning home. Driving out to California to see my friends meant a lot more time on the road and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do so much more. I was also feeling somewhat isolated and lonely, so that made things worse. I knew I wouldn’t sleep well and I didn’t.
Up at 5:30 I headed off to the coffee shop, and looked at my alternatives. I could keep on to Winnipeg and then go south back into the states. I could drive to Denver and take a train to California. I could head straight to Spearfish and then do the Big Horns and then figure out what to do.
When I got back to the room I called Amtrak and found out that they didn’t have anything but coach on the days I wanted, so that plan was out. Kenora and Winnipeg weren’t crucial so I settled on getting back to the US and heading for Spearfish, which would only be 925 miles and would get me to the West. I could be in the US by this afternoon and that sounded like a good plan, especially since my phone will definitely start working once I get across the border.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

After finishing my fishing at Rainbow Falls, I stopped at the Serendipity Restaurant in Rossport. I have eaten in this artsy place several times and the soup and dessert were excellent.
Now it was time to get to Thunder Bay and the ride was uneventful. I stopped briefly at a truckstop to write some, and then headed into town. I visited the OLG casino and had fun, since I played until I was tired of watching the slot wheels spin, and won 65 dollars. I usually set my limit at twenty dollars and as soon as I lose that I quit. This keeps me out of trouble, and though I know slot machines offer a poor return, I enjoy them. My next stop was to do some shopping (mainly more low sodium V-8 and drinking water) and then I visited the Montana Cookhouse (not at all like the Montana I know) for a soft dinner of pasta and mashed potatoes.
I woke at 4:10 to watch the beginning of Tiger Woods’ attempt to win another major, and after three holes, even Tiger couldn’t keep me up. When I woke later at around 6:30 Tiger was doing well and I watched him finish up with a 67. I hope he can be in it to the end, and even better would be for him to win.
I now had to get going for I wanted to take a bike ride at Marina Park in downtown Thunder Bay. The park was being renovated, so only a small portion was available to ride on, but I rode outside of the park and did perhaps 3 miles.
Now I had to get to Kenora, about 300 miles away. I wanted to get in 9 holes of golf along the way and get in early enough to eat at one of my favorites, the very fine Palace restaurant.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When I got into Marathon around five, I checked into my motel; the outside was a little suspicious but the room was quite neat and comfortable if a little warm. Then it was time to visit the Peninsula Golf Course, a nine hole course with several interesting holes that I have played a number of times. Since there are so few golf courses between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, I have played them all. It was Ladies Night, but the manager told me to return at eight and he would see what he could do. I went to eat at the recommended restaurant and it was decent if uninspired. I then went to the donut shop and worked on my blog and another poem. It was now time to play golf and I was not having my best day, especially after playing so well in Wawa. My low point was an 8 on the first par 5, and I about ready to give up, but I steeled myself and decided to give the next par 5, even longer than the first, my best. My drive was over in the trees to the right but when I found the ball I had a clear low shot down the fairway so I took out my 4 iron and hit a fine shot out into the fairway. I was still a good 250 yards from the green but my next shot brought me to within 120 yards of the green. I choose my 8 iron and hit a shot that bounced right before the green and I knew it was on. When I rode up I saw that it was 4 feet away and I knocked that in for a par. The rest of my round was quite good and I broke 50 again.
In the morning I did my yoga and got a room in Thunder Bay (this allowed me not to worry about where I was staying so I could relax during the day)and then contacted Verizon to check my messages (none of which were important) and how to check them from a pay phone until my phone service returned. I also e-mailed Joey Colista and told him I would call him soon about the photos for the guide article. Productive and calming.
I knew my next big stop was to be the stream that runs through Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, one of my all-time favorites. I had a bad experience here last time, when an older couple came to fish the first big pool, even though my ex and I had gotten there first. I was furious with them since there is an iron-clad rule in fishing that you never encroach on someone’s spot, but this pair obviously didn’t care. My ex got too upset to fish but I stayed and finally caught two fish on a very tiny fly.
This time when I arrived I was a little nervous that the couple would appear but I got all my stuff on quickly and no one appeared to bother me. I started with a small Royal Wulff, and the fish splashed at it but wouldn’t take it, so remembering two years ago, I switched to a very small fly and got two small rainbows. I worked my way upstream slowly and caught three other fish, two natives and a rainbow. It was fun but I did work hard, and I decided not to try for the large pool another hundred yards up because my knee was started to hurt. On my way downstream I switched to a small nymph and caught three more rainbows. Eight fish in about two hundred yards is not bad, but I have done better here. I still wish my ex had fished it, but on that earlier trip, my reward trip for finishing five months of chemotherapy, I put her on a number of great streams and she caught many, many fish.
I awoke at 6:00 and went over to the Tim Horton’s. I am indulging myself in several cups a day and my stomach doesn’t seem to mind. I wrote a bit but I was not exactly inspired, but I have to keep at it since my discipline has always carried me through. I should go back and work on the handicap essay (as in golf handicaps) and now I have the fishing guide essay to do for Kaatskill Life. That one should be pretty interesting for one of my great rewards has always been guiding people, particularly my ex-partner. I still remember the first time I put a fly rod in her hand. I was fishing one of the finest streams in the country, Bear Creek in Yellowstone. She was sitting by the side of the stream and I convinced her to try her hand at fly casting. I carried her out on my back to a large flat rock right in the middle. I showed her a quick roll cast which she accomplished easily and in a few minutes she was on to one fine cutthroat, then another, then another. She was rather excited and it was the start of a long and I hope continuing career.
When I returned to my room I tried to get my phone working but even though I found out everything is set up right, I am sure I am not going to get any service until Kenora. I also looked into a replacement latex mattress but no luck in Winnipeg. I did my yoga and it was time to head out.
I decided to stop at Pukaskwa National Park before I went into Marathon, figuring if the water was too rough I could ride my bike and kayak in the morning. But the lake was remarkably calm and I was able to paddle far out past the point and get a view of that immense and undisturbed coastline. It was a wonderful paddle and certainly one of the highlights of the trip.
I awoke at 6:00 and went over to the Tim Horton’s. I am indulging myself in several cups a day and my stomach doesn’t seem to mind. I wrote a bit but I was not exactly inspired, but I have to keep at it since my discipline has always carried me through. I should go back and work on the handicap essay (as in golf handicaps) and now I have the fishing guide essay to do for Kaatskill Life. That one should be pretty interesting for one of my great rewards has always been guiding people, particularly my ex-partner. I still remember the first time I put a fly rod in her hand. I was fishing one of the finest streams in the country, Bear Creek in Yellowstone. She was sitting by the side of the stream and I convinced her to try her hand at fly casting. I carried her out on my back to a large flat rock right in the middle. I showed her a quick roll cast which she accomplished easily and in a few minutes she was on to one fine cutthroat, then another, then another. She was rather excited and it was the start of a long and I hope continuing career.
When I returned to my room I tried to get my phone working but even though I found out everything is set up right, I am sure I am not going to get any service until Kenora. I also looked into a replacement latex mattress but no luck in Winnipeg. I did my yoga and it was time to head out.
I decided to stop at Pukaskwa National Park before I went into Marathon, figuring if the water was too rough I could ride my bike and kayak in the morning. But the lake was remarkably calm and I was able to paddle far out past the point and get a view of that immense and undisturbed coastline. It was a wonderful paddle and certainly one of the highlights of the trip.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It was great to be in a room again, and I made the best of it, soaking in a steamy tub (important for my minor medical concern) and sprawling out on a large bed without golf clubs and crates by my side. Then I was able to sip coffee and munch on donuts at the Tim Horton’s for over an hour, writing yesterday’s long, catch-up blog. Travel can be tiring, especially when I try to do too many things in a day. I ended up doing basically four major things yesterday: the kayak trip, the bike ride, fixing the Rocket Box and playing golf. That really was too much and today I am going to try to limit myself to two things. As I get older, my style of traveling becomes much harder. I can see how a van type camper or a pick up camper would be much easier, just pull over and take a nap, then heat up a little coffee on the stove inside. For now, however, my truck works for me, although I can’t imagine myself doing it this way for many more years. Gear is also a growing problem, especially the kayak. It requires a significant amount of work to set it up and then to dry it and all the gear thoroughly. It is worth it for now—drifting along in an isolated part of Lake Superior was special—but I can see a time when it will be too much. Carpe Diem, I suppose, and there will be plenty of time to sit on my couch when I get too old for my journeys.

I have also finished my Owl House poem, although the title has not come to me yet:

For Maddie

I have built bird houses before,
a small wren house with a tiny opening
to keep out the nuthatches and buntings.
So when my young friend Maddie
asked me if I could help her build an owl house,
I immediately said yes. She showed
me the website and it looked easy enough,
basically a 14 by 22 inch box with a 6 by 12
opening in the front.

When Maddie arrived with her mother Cathy
and her older sister Claire, we sat and chatted,
munching on brie and gouda, salsa and chips,
and then it was time to start.
Since I don’t have a table saw,
I had had the three sides and the roof precut,
and those pieces went together as planned,
the girls testing out the drill and the screw gun,
and then to the tricky part.

I wanted them to measure the back
and the front and told them that I would cut
whatever they measured out so it had to be right.
I told them the old adage, measure twice, cut once,
and they did their job perfectly.

With the back and front on, it was time to paint.
One website said to use white paint
to keep the heat down,
so white it was, and in twenty minutes
the paint was drying in the hot july sun.

Now we had to wait for Mike,
who works on the farm next door,
to place the box twenty feet up
in a nearby tree. It couldn’t be too close
to my log home, since Maddie said owls
can hear your heart beating
from many yards away,
even when you are inside.

When Mike arrived we set up a ladder
and after tying the box to a stout rope,
which he looped over a branch higher
than the one we wanted to secure it to,
Mike climbed back up the ladder
and we pulled the owl house up.
Mike attached it with some long screws
and the white owl house
was securely fastened to a tulip poplar.

I will check it once a month,
but I don’t expect much until next spring,
when I hope Maddie can return to see
owlets peering out and the sweep
of long and silent wings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

After my visit I returned to my room and did my yoga and practicing, then it was time to leave for Mackinaw City. The drive up was nothing special, but I did stop at a golf course I had played before (Birch Pointe) and shot a 53 from the white tees on a very long course (six hundred and fifty yards longer than the Meadows) and with undulating greens. I finally got to go bike riding in a woody setting (Aspen Park in Gaylord), and reached Mackinaw city before dark. I decided to stay at the KOA, mainly to save some money, and after checking in I went to town and to the movie theater, watching Despicable Me, which was quite entertaining. Sleeping in my truck wasn’t too bad, and the mosquitoes and noseeums left my alone.
In the morning I got up early, showered, then headed for the Star Ferry to Mackinac Island. I got the 8:00 ferry and the ride over was less than 20 minutes, so after coffee and an egg and cheese sandwich, I was off on my bike ride around the island. It was already getting warm so I was very glad I had started so early. The ride was as lovely as I remembered, and in many spots I was shaded by the maples, cedars, spruces and quaking aspens. In the more open spots I spotted bladder campion, oxeye daisy, queen anne’s lace, chicory, several hop clovers, buttercups, and some round clovers. I heard a black-throated green warbler singing and some kind of thrush. It was very rewarding eight miles but when I got back my knee was gone so I had to abandon my goal of walking around town. I took the 10:30 boat and was driving toward Sault Ste. Marie by 11:00.
The green rolling hills were pleasant companions on my drive and by noon I was nearing the Canadian border. I had checked on the internet to see if how long the wait time was, and when I found out there was no delay, off I went and by 1:00 I was in Canada. After a quick nap, I did some shopping and headed for a Boston Pizza to watch the World Cup final. Fortunately for Alfredo, Kelly’s husband, Spain won the match 1-0. During the match I realized that I hadn’t reprogrammed my phone and when I got through to a Verizon agent, he said I would have to return to the US to reprogram the phone. That was bad news, but fortunately, I decided to try again as I neared the border and the programming worked. Now I was free to go play golf and when I stopped at the usual course I play, it was incredibly crowded. I decided to try to newer golf course nearby and I found Crimson Ridge much less crowded and with lush fairways and a multitude of sand traps. I shot pretty well with my only problem being that the cart ran out of juice on the 11th hole so I had to walk back, which wasn’t the greatest thing for my sore knee.
I decided to drive on toward Lake Superior Provincial Park and that proved a mistake. I couldn’t find a decent motel and then heavy rains came, the weather and the dark forcing me to camp out at Pancake Bay Provincial Park. The site was fine but the mosquitoes kept getting in and I had to cover myself with a mesh fabric to keep them out. I didn’t sleep very well because of the bugs and my realization that my foam mattress is done for. When I awoke I showered and then, since the sun was out, I decided to kayak in the enticing Pancake Bay. I had a fine paddle out past the point, and headed quickly back when I heard thunder and saw storm clouds coming my way.
When I went to open the Rocket Box to put a few things up top and get my backpacking self-inflating mattress from up above, the brief respite of the kayak trip ended, and I found out I couldn’t close the Rocket Box. That was a big problem, and then I lost the cotter pin for the bike rack when I was putting the folded kayak back in. Luckily I had a couple of extra cotter pins and I was able to improvise a strap for the back part of the Rocket Box which would hold at least until Wawa, where I could get another strap.
I tried to call the latex foam mattress place that Jeff Teibout had recommended, but my phone wasn’t working (as usual, I got the Thunder Bay phone message, which means I won’t get service until Kenora), and the 800 number didn’t work on the pay phone. My internet, which is supposed to work in Canada, was also down.
I was not too pleased and even thought briefly about heading home but I drove on, remembering the many problems I have encountered on past trips (I thought of the night in the hospital on the Big Bend trip last winter) and fully aware that I am usually able to fix close to anything.
I stopped at Crescent Lake just inside Lake Superior Provincial Park and with the lake looking very fishable, I stopped to cast my eight weight into the water for twenty minutes. Now I went to my main purpose, a bike ride along the camp road, and that turned to be a lot of fun and it relieved the dark mood that was growing on me. I felt very sad about the breakup of my relationship, but there was nothing I could do. My ex is probably in a new relationship and though I miss her a great deal, I wish her well.
I drove into Wawa and after checking into the White Fang motel—there was a White Fang statue on the lawn, but no mention of Jack London—drove into town to do my laundry and try to fix the Rocket Box. On the way into town I realized that I had to figure out a lock for the Box and I was agonizing over attaching a hasp, when the idea for a chain and lock struck me.
After putting my clothes in the washer—and being told that the proprietor was going to close up as soon as I was done, I raced to the hardware store and got another strap and some chain, and drove back to the Laundromat. I started working on the Rocket Box, switched the clothes into the dryer, then finished up with the chain to lock the Box. I felt elated that the Box was secured and I had fresh clothes but really tired so I headed back to the motel, figuring I would stop at the local nine hole golf course (which I have played before) to get a later tee time, then nap for an hour or so.
Instead, when I got to the golf course, I saw that it was almost empty, so I opted to play, and refreshed by a Starbucks Double Shot, shot a 48 on a pretty long course.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

This was a poem I started on my winter visit to San Antonio. It wouldn't finish but today I was able to complete it. It is one more poem for my ex-partner. Now that she is gone, she has become my main inspiration. A note: I have removed the picture from my wallet although I did not rip it up.

Pesca on the River

I strolled the river walk
In San Antonio, trying to find
A Gramercy Tavern or a Blue Pointe,
When I came upon Pesca,
A place we had eaten in years ago,
And I decided to dine,
With whatever ghosts might appear.

I savored the stone crab,
the smoked duck salad,
And the black cod.
Then I was ready
To leave, when the lightning began
And the rain squalled down.

I still have your picture
In my wallet and I thought
To tear it up, as keeping it there
Is a lie, but I decided to do nothing:
Your face remains,
Reminds me each time I open
My billfold, that for me,
the Riverwalk Is empty of anything
close to love.
The second day of my trip, July 9th, was productive and rewarding. I worked on the Owl House poem, practiced my sax and did my yoga. My plan was to drive to Ann Arbor and return to one of my favorite campuses, the University of Michigan. I decided to play golf early since the weather didn’t look too promising, and I played a decent course and shot a 49, though I should have shot a few strokes better. The rains came shortly after and it turned out that Ann Arbor was about 75 miles further than I thought. I decided that I wouldn’t push and stopped at a mall and circled a Holiday Inn for a half hour, a good ride and necessary. Back on the road, I found that I could still make Ann Arbor and I got into town just before dark. I finished my practicing a little after 10 and then could relax.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8 was the beginning of my long awaited western trip. I wasn’t able to get the batteries charged fully—I got cell two to 1245—so I will have to attend to that when I return. Since I disconnected the refrigerator and everything else is off, the batteries should be fine but I may ask Mike to check them. I did some yoga and practicing before I left and that probably caused me to have to rush a bit right at the end in order to make my lunch with Lou Gallo. He told me the girls really enjoyed the owl house project and I’m very glad about that.
I drove to RU to watch a candidate teach a class and she was quite good. I have no doubt she will get the position, as she is very qualified and should be a nice fit with our department.
Then at two o’clock it was time for the trip to begin. I decided to leave a day early so I would have a little more flexibility before getting to Freda Creek on the Sunshine Coast on Friday, the 23rd. I need to get there in the afternoon just after the logging trucks are finished and then I can also fish Saturday and Sunday. I talked to Plutonic Power and they are considering putting in a small diversion hydro project but they have just starting the process of getting a license. The woman I spoke with said that if Plutonic decides to pursue the project it will be years before any actual construction begins.
I stopped at Brier Patch golf course and it was a very challenging layout, with lots of water and sand traps and about 400 yards longer than the Meadows, but I shot 51quite good since I set my goal at breaking 60.
Later I went for a bike ride off an I-77 exit and it wasn’t the best spot. Too much traffic and noise but at least I got a decent ride in.
I stopped for the night in Ripley, West Virginia, and I should have a little over 300 miles to my next stop, Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It is Wednesday morning and I will be leaving tomorrow afternoon. I am ready to go, and everything at the house is finished, except for finishing the battery equalization. That is going a little slower than I thought, with the 15 hours of charging only getting it up to 1235 on cell one. Cell three is up to 1255, but I think I will need another 10 hours to reach 1270 on all of them. I will charge the batteries for a few hours tonight and then equalize them as best I can in the morning. I would like the batteries to last a long time since I am hoping to stay in the hollow for at least five more years.
I fished my favorite spot on Wolf Creek yesterday and worked hard to get 3 bass, one a smallmouth. The water was very low and I think the hot weather made the fish less active.
Defrosting the little refrigerator proved very easy as there was almost no ice buildup.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My performance on Friday at Gillie’s was quite good, and I didn’t make any major blunders. Now I will be off for a couple of months but I hope to start performing again in September.
I have started to charge and equalize the batteries. The first one was at 1200 and when I finished five hours of charging, it was up to 1210. I need to get the first one up to 1255 and the others should be at 1270. I think it should take about 15 hours to finish the whole process.
My newest poem, about the owl house project, is coming along and I have the basic structure finished. Now I have to make it an interesting and lyrical poem.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

owl house

I had a tough night a few days ago when I thought I might have a serious problem, perhaps a return of the colon cancer. Luckily, it was a fissure and with some time and a soft diet and medication, I should be fine in two weeks to two months.
The owl house project went very well. Cathy, Claire and Maddie got to the hollow around 12:30 and by 2:30, we had the owl house built and painted. The girls used the drill and the screw gun and had a lot of fun. Mike came around 4:30 to hang it up and by 5:45 it was twenty feet up in a tree, securely attached.
I had a long talk with my friend Kelly a few days ago, mainly about her dad, and she asked me to e-mail her copies of the many poems I have written for her. It took me a couple of hours because some of them were in different formats, but I was able to do it. She has been the greatest inspiration in my life, and I am very glad I am still in touch with her. I will write her another one this summer.
I have almost everything ready for my trip so won’t be very rushed when I leave on Thursday afternoon.