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Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

oh, and by the way . . .

We did finally catch fish in Wrangell last week.  Six of them.  Given our luck, we didn’t come up with the king salmon that we paid good money to go out with a guide and fish for (they were inexplicably non-existent that morning), but at least we didn’t come back skunked.  We kept the largest of the six sea bass we pulled in, and my dad cooked it for dinner on the camp stove that night.  It was delicious. And fishing isn’t ruined forever; the boys had a blast.

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Watch a native Alaskan fish for a while and he’ll offer you some salmon to take with you.  Worked for us on the Chilkat outside of Haines a couple of days ago.

Other than that, I have no idea.  The boys still want to fish at every opportunity, but they can sense my patience is wearing thin.  Today’s attempt, at Ohner Creek on Mitkof Island (even with the full benefit of local insider’s knowledge), was the most demoralizing yet—and try as I might I’m afraid my own frustration is starting to color their experience.  I’m hopelessly out of my league and feel like a bad dad.  It’s like I’m trying to teach them to drive a manual transmission but don’t know enough to tell them to release the emergency break.

Tomorrow we move on to Wrangell for a couple of days—it’s time to hire a fishing guide to do some damage control before I ruin fishing forever.

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We made it to Fairbanks.  In fact, we’re about to leave again after a busy 36 hours.  Dad has the boys downstairs in the hotel pool while I scrape together a quick update.  It’s funny how quickly the time seems to go up here, even when the daylight lasts forever, as you’re tempted to keep cramming in activities and stay on the move.  Following dinner last night, we left my brother’s apartment at nearly eleven with the sun still up and would have probably stayed there and kept talking until the wee hours had the boys not kept us honest by looking tired.

The Alaska Highway took us a leisurely four days, and I might have a lot to say about the drive if I had more time.  On the other hand, how much is there to say, really, about a drive?  In general, the road was emptier and prettier and in better condition than I expected once we got beyond the surprisingly busy and refined Dawson Creek and Fort St. John area.  Our campsite at Muncho Lake will undoubtedly be a highlight of the trip.

Every chance they got in this campsite, the boys would say “You know where we’ll be” and disappear to the lakeshore to journal, skip rocks, and fish. The boys have now fished unsuccessfully in Wyoming, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory.

We saw lots of wildlife, including this black bear right at the side of the road who probably would have let us hang out with him all afternoon.

Hey, BooBoo.  Let’s go get us some motorhome tourists!

On all accounts, the drive out went astonishingly well.

So now we begin the slow road back.  We’re heading toward Denali and will then take a few days to reach Haines.  From there,  several short ferry hops through the southeast islands will take us to Prince Rupert, BC.  On the 12th, Belinda will meet us in Vancouver and I’ll kick my Dad out of the car so she can travel with us for a week or so.

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We’re in Great Falls, Montana, at the moment, having arrived yesterday after three night’s camping in Yellowstone and the Beartooth Mountains.  Opi is at the laundromat while I hang out at our hotel, letting the boys sleep in.  I don’t have the time to write a proper post, so I’ll mostly let a few pictures speak thousands of words.

Opi continues to cook up a storm, drawing on the experience of “camping” on board his sailboat for nearly two decades.  Two years ago, I mostly prepared glorified backpacking meals on my trip with the boys, but this time we’re taking full advantage of the relative comforts of car camping.  Before departure, we spent the better part of two days building a wooden “chuck box” to serve as the heart of an organized camp kitchen, and we’ve both been inordinately pleased with our creation.  And while Opi cooks, I’ve had more time to fulfill fatherly duties like flying kites or tossing a baseball with the boys.

Tonight’s menu: grilled pork chops with baked potatoes and steamed leeks.

Top of the boys’ list of “to-do’s” in Yellowstone was to try out the new fishing rods they received from their Uncle Michael for their birthdays, so we spent two hours on Saturday scaring all the fish in Nez Perce Creek and a couple more spooking them in the Gibbon River.  Come to think of it, the fish were probably more amused than terrorized by us.  The boys got a lot of casting practice but not a single nibble,  likely using the wrong tackle with the wrong technique in the wrong location.  I was absolutely no help at all, failing miserably in my fatherly duties in this realm.  Fish were rising all around us on the second afternoon, and Uncle Michael would have known what to do.  Nonetheless, I did get a lot of practice untangling hopeless snarls of line, and I no longer need to consult the diagram he gave me for how to tie something on the end.  I practiced enough patience to supply a lifetime of fishing trips.  In the meantime, Opi went and sat on a log and read.

I’ve always thought of unsuccessful fishing as a great excuse for spending more time in locations like this one.

At any rate, Yellowstone was magnificent as usual, and I could fill paragraph after paragraph with superlatives.  I have to laugh, though, that we saw three wolves about a mile from our Madison River campsite—after years of my mostly fruitless effort over a half-dozen visits with students to see Yellowstone’s wolves (hiring expert guides, getting up in the wee hours to be in position at dawn, waiting patiently for hours in freezing temperatures), these three might as well have walked up and introduced themselves.

The boys agree that thermal features, like campfires, are more watchable than television, even static ones like Grand Prismatic Spring.

After two nights at Madison River, we camped in a delightful Shoshone National Forest site up in the Beartooths, right under the two iconic peaks known as the Bear’s Ears.  Somehow I neglected to take pictures, probably because I was too busy enjoying a few Father’s Day beers with my Dad and poking at the campfire with my boys.  I won’t need pictures to remember this night.

That’s enough for now . . . it’s time to leave Great Falls and head north into Canada.  Hope everyone is doing well at home.  Mom, we miss you!

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