Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shutting her down

It seems as though my travels are over for now folks. I'm stuck here for a little while until a new opportunity arises some place else. In the meantime, I'm moving forward with the home renovations and a lot is needed. The plan is not to make this place my dream home. Some basic repairs and renovations are needed in case I decide to sell in within the next couple years.

So I'm shutting down the travel blog. I'm glad I was able to document many of my trips since the journal was lost in New Zealand. Of all the placed I've been over the past 21 months, Patagonia was definitely my favorite. That trip was the turning point where I started thinking of the future instead on looking back into the past. I could go back to all the places I visited, but for some reason the pictures from Patagonia always grab my heart.

I was thinking about starting another blog with just some random subjects. Until then, I'm saying adios for now. I had loads of fun.....

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Poem

I've included the poem than Mark read on the Salmon. The poet is Robert Service and he lived and worte in the Yukon in the early 1900s.

The Men That Don't Fit In

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change,
and each fresh move Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day,
with a hope that's dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed;
he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone,
and it's bred in the bone;
He's a man who won't fit in.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cast and Blast

We packed up the truck Thursday night and headed out towards Yellow Pine. This would be the start of a giant loop heading north towards the central part of the mountains then back down ending in the Owhyee for one last shot at those big browns. The first stop was a small pull off by Johnson creek. This was just a pit stop, but the area was quite nice. I couldn't sleep well due to the full moon which is kind of like sleeping under a spot light. The white noise of the creek rushing about 10 meters away from where I was sleeping also kept me awake.

The next morning was brisk compared to Boise. We had climbed a couple thousand feet and left the desert to enter the forrest. I passed the time a bit by fly fishing the stream, but the creek only held juvenile fish. Alex and I sped off to Yellow Pine for some breakie before heading to the secret lake where huge fish were rumored to lurk. The town on Yellow Pine has less than 100 people during the winter. the restaurant was just how you would imagine. Wood panelling everywhere with historic memorabilia of big salmon runs and pictures of trophy elk taken during the hunting season. No time for love Dr Jones! We need to find get to the lake while there is still daylight.
Now I have done quite a bit of backpacking over the past year, but I never thought I would be packing in so much gear. We decided to pack in the float tubes, find, and waders along with all of our camping gear which added at least 5-7 kilos. All in all, I estimate the pack weighed about 20 kilos. In addition to the extra weight, the lake was about 500-600 meters above the trail head which meant lots of climbing. Jeez! The climb and bushwhacking was worth the trouble. For the next 24 hours, I experienced some of the best trout fishing in my entire life. Not another soul other than my buddy Alex, and fish (big fish) rising to skim bugs off the surface of the water EVERYWHERE. I think we just happened upon a crazy hatch (meaning there was an unusual abundance of bugs). We kept one fish for tacos that night. Once again, I was cursed by the full moon. This time, I positioned myself behind a tree to shade me from the moon beam. The local squirrel was not pleased with my arrival and apparent resting place.

We moved on to meet Mark and camp on the edge of the middle fork of the Salmon river. The bratwurst was just the ticket to cap a day of fishing, BB gun shooting, beer drinking, and ranting about health care reform. After dinner, we were treated to a few poetry readings by Mark who wanted nearly every detail of my last 21 months of travel around the world. It was a nice relaxed evening and great to connect with a new friend who I met only twice before nearly four years ago.

We moved on to Mark and Ann's place near McCall. they had bought property (about 9 acres) in a subdivided ranch near Brundage Ski Resort. Mark and designed and built the place by hand and it was a good break from sleeping on a thermarest and down bag. Our activities involved more shooting and Mark's attempt at going off a ramp on his mountain bike (with a couple beers in him). He survived. Alex and I decided to make one more run into Oregon the next day. I had been skunked at the Owhyee last week, but now I had a good idea what flies to use. I would not go out empty handed.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip. It was good seeing my old friend after two and a half years. Although it wasn't the Tetons or Yellowstone, I was happy with my experience. We'll just save the trip for next time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trip Interrupted

I'm absolutely dumbfounded by how things have turned out. The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for me. Unfortunately, It looks as though I'll have to head back to Dallas after Labor Day. However, Alex and I are headed up north to McCall and Yellow Pine tomorrow while Suz and the other girls are on their way to Burning Man. I'm a bit dissapointed that the west coast road trip has been cut short. I would have liked to have been on the road for at least another month. Looks like I'll have to make the most out of the time remaining. The next few days are sure to be quite an adventure.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Finicky Fish

After a few days of driving across the country, I finally landed in Boise. It was a long trip with great stretches of barren landscape between destinations. Wyoming looks a lot like southern Argentina with its dry grass and stubby bushes. Without a radio, I found myself singing out loud just to break up the monotony of the drive heading West on I80. I belted out old pixies, Weezer, and Red Hot Chili Peppers songs without fully knowing all the lyrics. It was enough to get me to Utah where the scenery quickly changed. I finally saw mountains and rolling farm land again. Friendly signs that I was close to civilization.

Alex and Suz had completed a remodel of their 1930's house and it looks phenomenal on the inside. It has all of the modern amenities (high end appliances) with the classic craftsman styling of that period. It has been a couple years since I've visited so it was all new to me. On the counter were fresh veggies from their garden which had done really well this year due to the composting and weather this summer. It reminded me of my weak and neglected garden in Dallas which yielded nothing but a few small watermelon. I was glad that this would be my home base for the next couple weeks.

Not wasting any time, Alex, Ian, and I met at the Owhyee river in Oregon that evening. The river is known for having some of the best trout fishing in the area. 20+ inch fish are common as long as you can get them to bite. Now I'm very experienced in catching 20+ inch browns in Arkansas, but out west it's a different story. Of the three anglers, only Alex was able to hook up once. It was a nice pumpkin of a fish coming in somewhere in the 22-24 inch range. Although the fishing was tough, the scenery and company more than made up for it. The plan while I'm here is to head north to Yellow Pine and fish some of the creeks. There is also some secret lake up there which is supposed to hold some huge rainbows. I can't wait to hook up with my first trout of the year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Go West Young Man

Bags are packed and the car is loaded.

With most of my obligations complete in Dallas, I've decided to set my sights on the great western road trip through the United States. The thought of this trip has been brewing in my head for over a year. Every time I came back over seas, something whether it was timing or other obligations prevented me from embarking on this tour. Now I've seen many countries over the last two years, but there is something romantic about setting off on your own across the country not knowing where you are going to end up. As a precaution, I packed my new passport just in case I get close enough to reach Vancouver.

So the route. First draft... First stop will be Denver. I have many friends there who I haven't seen in years. It will also give me a good opportunity to warm up the legs since I've been sitting on the couch the entire time I've been back in Dallas. The fitness regiment is needed since I haven't carried a loaded back pack at altitude for 7 months. I'll work my way up to Boise to see Alex and the gang. Topping the list of activities is the backpacking trip to the Grand Tetons (or equivalent). From there, who knows. Just like the Salmon, I feel an instinctive draw towards my birthplace in the Pacific Northwest. However, California, especially San Francisco has a solid base of contacts. I'll play it be ear after Boise.

The anxiety still lingers although not as strong as the previous trips. Perhaps I not expecting as many surprises along the way this time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

America, Have You Seen It?

Although I have my new passport, I figure I'd cool it on the international travel for now. When this all started 20 months ago, I promised myself that I would take the great road trip out West. Well for now I had to settle for the great Midwest trip back to Indiana to see the family. It had been years since I returned to Elkhart. I don't hide that fact that I hate the town, for a number of reasons (none of which I'll get into). The purpose of this trip was to see family. None of my relatives have seen my nephew Teo, so this was an opportunity for everyone to see the kid for the first time.

Although the route was the same one I took back in December, the landscape looked far different. Summer has crested it's peak and the corn stood tall as if they were soldiers standing at attention in their rows waiting for the harvest in the fall. The acres of farmland look like a sea of gold tassels until you look at the correct angle revealing lines which seem to run in a perfectly straight line for what seems to be miles.

As you can guess, organizing a large multi-day gathering requires a lot of work. My brother, Jenn, and I were assigned the task of getting food from a local "gourmet" Italian deli. My mom seems to throw that term around liberally. Anything which isn't a chain and imports food is considered gourmet to her. Before picking up two giant tins of lasagna we sat down for lunch outside the deli. Jenn and Bill wanted to hear about my last trip to Spain and Italy, so we started to talk about travel and our experiences (Bill and Jenn had just returned from a film festival in Poland). Apparently, the old couple next to us was eavesdropping on our conversation. A few minutes later, the woman approached us and asked if we have seen America. At first, I wasn't sure how to take the question. Was she trying to make us feel guilty for not seeing ALL of the United States, before travelling abroad? I don't know. Now I feel that I have seen much of the US and definitely more than the average American. She then said that she felt no urge to travel abroad. I gave her my spiel about Americans who travel either for leisure or culture. If you travel for leisure, there really is no reason to leave the US. She sincerely accepted my answer which seemed to validate her reason for not travelling and my point for travelling abroad as the same time. This got me thinking about how middle class American perceives Europe and travelling abroad. I don't want this to get into a political rant, so I'll just leave it at this.

The median income in the US is 50K. Knowing what I do about the American way of life, there is no way average Americans can support a middle class lifestyle with this income. Forget about travelling abroad. For me, I'm going to take that road trip across the US. I do want to see more of America and the world , but not necessarily in that order.