Sunday, July 25, 2004

2004 Summer Road Trip - Friday, July 16

Friday, July 16th, 2004

Patty and Hannah arrived at our house at 7:15. Patty had brought enough fruit and nuts to last us through a 5 day journey through the wilderness. We stopped at Safeway on the way out of town to get some ice and of course the ladies stocked up on more food. What is it with the women and over-provisioning food-wise? I called my parents while the girls were in the store to let him know we were on the way and Dad said Mom always over-provisioned too. Due to more errands and road constructions we didn’t hit the freeway until 8:30am.

I had burned two CD’s for the road: one I called “Rockit” because it was all rock’n’roll. Hannah really liked the Elvis vs. JXL track. The other CD was called Electronic Fad – it was full of my music: David Holmes, Bjork, Underworld, “In Praise of the Sun”, Kraftwerk, etc. As each song was ending Casey would yell “Yay!”

We drove to the Tri-cities before we stopped for Gas and food. We had McDonald’s of course: Casey yelled “Chicken! Fries!” as soon as he saw the golden arches. We sat outside and one of the staff came out and asked us if we were from Seattle. Patty and I looked at each other. I thought he was going to say “…because if you are, your truck’s on fire.” Instead, he said “the locals don’t sit outside when the weather is this hot.”

Back in the truck we did more mad libs. OMG they were so funny. Some of the phrases I remember are “Putting labia on your faggots.” And “Then it started to get Mexican.” We all laughed until our faces hurt. Patty could never read the mad libs because she’d start laughing too much.

We drove and drove and stopped in Twin Falls Idaho for dinner. The view over the canyon was nothing short of awesome. Dinner was at a new Mexican restaurant that didn’t have its liquor license yet. The food was delicious. Soon we were on our way again, exactly at the halfway point between Seattle and Montrose. I wanted to get to Ogden UT, but we could only go to the next town about an hour away (Burlhe?). The only rooms they had there were smoking rooms but what choice did we have? It was already 10:30pm. Casey kept pressing his open mouth against the netting of the playpen to make us laugh. We had driven about 700 miles and there wasn’t another town for another 100 miles.

Saturday, July 17th, 2004

The room was nice and the next morning we had breakfast at Perkins! Breakfast was practically the highlight of the day. We drove out into the sunrise and didn’t stop until Kaysville, just before Salt Lake City. The billboards around there were advertising Mormon reality shows on TV. Hannah’s aunt lived in Kaysville and Patty called her to let her know we were in town – a recording answered and it was probably the aging hippy boyfriend who said “Mommy’s not home right now, call back later.” Patty left a message and I told her to turn off her phone. Anyway, more McDonald’s of course. Hannah and I climbed up into the “tubes” and slid down. It was hilarious. Patty scared Casey by jumping up in front of the window of a little room that he was in and he catapulted himself backward and cried miserably. She had to climb in there with him and console him.

Back on the road again we drove through to Colorado and by the time we got to Grand Junction Casey had had enough of being strapped down. The last hour was pretty rough on all of us and it seemed like forever to get into Montrose.

Finally there! The whole family was outside. Mom, Dad, Beth, John, Kevin, Wendy, Caleb, Marin, Maya, River and Rain. Then add the five people in my truck and you had just about the whole family. The only missing people were Tom and James. We hugged everyone and then Dad gave us the tour of the house. Everyone treated Casey like he was some kind of visiting royalty! All the kids were excited to see him and he was king of the hill that day. I wish I could describe what happened next but basically the entire stay at Mom and Dad’s was so chaotic that I can’t remember what happened when.

Mom insisted on keeping Casey for the night so Amy and I and Wendy and Kevin went out to a bar for some drinks. The bar was the “Silver Jack” and there was a Blues-Traveler-type band playing. Some of the Mexican cowboys had really sparkly shirts. Kevin and I each had a couple of beers and talked about whether or not a ball hitting the foul pole was “in” or not (it is, AFAIK). The girls each had a couple of glasses of wine and we all smoked, which was kind of fun. We would have stayed later but Amy and I were really tired. Wendy had worn really high heels. Back at the tiny, tiny $46 Canyon Trails Inn hotel room, Amy and I fell asleep immediately and slept in until 7:30.

Sunday, July 18th, 2004 -- Dad's Birthday

Up and at’em. Somehow we got to the house by 8:00am for breakfast then it was off to Mom and Dad’s church. The kids were relegated to a tiny, tiny playroom while the adults sat through your standard edition Episcopal service. There was no musical accompaniment but just listening to Amy sing is such a delight that it wasn’t necessary in our back row. The back two rows were reserved for Dad and his family on his 70th birthday. I had just finished reading The Da Vinci Code so I pointed out to Amy that the iron wrought art of the last supper on the wall also featured Mary Magdalane to the right of Jesus. Kevin, who also just read it and who had overheard me laughed. I don’t know what to think about that book – the author, if Digital Fortress is to be used as a metric, is a hack, but the idea that Jesus might have been a husband and a father after all kind of makes you wonder who you have been worshipping all this time. I guess it wouldn’t really alter his message but it would make him a different person, just as I am a very different person than I was before I was married. Nevermind him having living descendants – that would just be too freaky.

Anyway, after Church we went back to the hotel to change and then spent the whole day at the Holmes’ residence just chillin’ and watching the kids play. James and Tom were there too, just for the day. Tom announced that he and Den were getting married up in Vancouver soon. I asked if he wanted us to be there and he said no, it was just the legal part – they’d have family and friends around later.

At night we opened presents: mom said “Papa, your present is on the bed – its small and pink!” We all laughed and laughed. I told mom to stop talking about her vagina and she got really mad at me. I distracted her by presented dad with the gifts I had brought down; cordless phones for the Vonage system, a router, a switch and a wireless card. She forgot all about my comments. We decided to bring Casey back to the hotel with us because Mom had let him stay up until midnight the night before.

BTW, Wendy cooked food for everyone, all day. We were all impressed and the food was delicious!

Monday, July 19th, 2004

Monday I went into town and bought a fishing license and chatted up the guys at the Cimarron Creek flyshop. I ended up buying some new non-Gore Simms summer waders and some freaky-big flies. All the serious fishermen here in Montrose are all about the Gunnison. It’s a 14 mile float so there’s tons of holes I’m sure. I had them give me the phone number of the Grand Mesa Lodge while I was there.

Most of the rest of the day was spent just hanging out with everyone around the house until around 4, when Caleb, Kevin, Amy, Dad and I went fishing. We fished below some damn (on the Gunnison?) for a while in some construction runoff. Caleb caught a 15” sucker fish. Yuck. He insisted on showing Amy so now we think he might have a crush on her. We ended up at a shallow pond down in Montrose where I discovered that the crappies were crazy about my prince nymph. Caleb was dying to know how it was done so I let him hold my flyrod and just dap the fly into the water and catch the little fish. It wasn’t a challenge and the fish were miniscule, but maybe I planted the fly-fishing seed in his head.

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004 - Grand Mesa

Amy had the awesome idea of checking out of the Canyon Inn and staying a night at the Grand Mesa lodge! So we packed up, left Case with the folks and we were off. Beth, Jon, Hannah and Patty were already gone leaving just River and Rain to play with. It was about 90 minute drive up the mesa to Island Lake. It felt pretty good to be leaving the craziness of the house behind.

Our cabin at the lodge was quaint and wonderful. When we opened the door we were pleased to see a big home-made quilt on the bed. A futon and a round kitchen table and awaited us by the full kitchenette. Throw in a full-size refrigerator and a bedside radio that got NPR. The room didn’t have a TV but that turned out to be the best part.

We unpacked and headed down to the lake where I had arranged for a rental canoe. It was only $15 since it was after 3pm. I didn’t have high hopes for the fishing because the Fishing the Grand Mesa guide that I had said fishing pressure on the lake was “heavy due to the excellent facilities and presence of a lodge.” Well I tied-on one magic Carey Special and held down the back end of the canoe (where the power comes from) while Amy took the front end. We had only paddled about 30 seconds before my rod started bouncing out of the boat! I reeled in nice 12” planter. It proceeded like this for the next hour – I caught fish and fish on that fly. Amy caught a small one on her dick nite. The wind picked up so we fished from shore for a while but all of a sudden the bite just stopped – it was around 5pm.

So we went back up the hill to the cabin – I was wheezing the whole way because of the altitute – 10,120 feet. The climb was probably 150 vertical feet but it felt like much more. You couldn’t stop either because the mosquitoes (west nile virus, anyone) were aggressive and merciless. In the cabin, Amy toasted up the sandwiches we had bought in town as well as cooking up some beans that she’d bought at the lodge. It was a great little dinner while we played scrabble – tied at 162. Afterward, I read aloud the book I had bought Digital Fortress (1 star) in an Anime voice while Amy learned how to play (and become addicted to) SimCity. It was the most awesome night – there will always be a special place in my heart for that evening. We can have so much fun together.

Wednesday, July 21th, 2004

I couldn’t sleep that night – I think it was all the Brisk iced tea. I dragged my bloated, sleep-deprived ass out of bed at 5:30 and dressed into my waders. I tried to be quiet as I dragged my inflated float tube through the door with my fins and rod. I was so excited to get back to those fish that I forgot the deet, which became important as I was stumbling down the hill in the near dark. The mosquitoes were even more vicious now, which was hard to believe. I kept thinking as soon as I get into the water they’ll leave me alone.

Wrong. 15 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet out from shore there were still about 15 mosquitoes zipping around the back of my head. I looked backward toward the middle of the lake and saw that there was some wind out there about 100 more feet. I kicked like mad in the near-darkness, almost hydroplaning across the calm lake surface. Of course, since I had a line in the water I got a fish on. I just dragged him along behind me. Finally, out there in the wind there was only one mosquito, which I dispatched as he landed on my neck. Now I turned my attention to the fish – I pulled him to the tube and rammed the hate stringer through his jaw. That’s when I realized that he was just barely 10”. I shouldn’t have kept him, but it was too late now.

Fish were rising everywhere and on my next cast I hooked and then LDRd a nice fish when he shook his head in that cool way that trout do. Over the next three hours I landed another 4 and kept two of them. Lost maybe another 3. I went back up to the cabin at 9 for breakfast with Amy. She offered to pack up as I fished for another hour. During that hour I caught three more! But this time, even though I’d remembered the DEET, I’d forgotten the stringer back at the cabin! So I had to release the first two, but kept the final guy, who I had somehow foul-hooked in the gill. Of course, I normally don’t keep foul-hooked fish but this was a planter and I knew my mom would want the most fish possible. My final stringer was 4.

We drove back to my parents’ house, where I was a wreck for the rest of the day due to lack of sleep. I caught up that night as we slept in my parents bed.

Thursday, July 21th, 2004

The next day it was off to Loveland, but not before Dad and I visited the Ross Reels factory. The tour was fun and my dad asked a lot of questions. I just think its so cool how they take a 10’ rod of aluminum, cut it into disks and then machine the reel and spool out of each.

Saying goodbye to Wendy and Kevin was sooo hard. I must confess I got a little teary. I enjoyed their company so much and it just killed me to think that I might not be seeing them for years.

The drive to Loveland took FOREVER!!!! Normal people can do it in about 6 hours. It took us 9 hours! Boy were we happy to crawl into Loveland with a very fidgety 2 year old and an empty gas tank.

Friday - Tuesday, July 23rd - July 27, 2004

Like Montrose, our time in Loveland is sort of a blur, so let me combine several days into one entry. Some highlights include a marathon 3 hour and 4 minute game of Phase 10 at Grandma and Grandpa Unger's house. Unbelievable. Somehow Casey made it through that game without throwing a fit -- that's a lot of patience for a two year old. I had my first cabbage burgers that day -- delicious! In fact, I ate like a king my whole time in Loveland. I almost gained back the weight I'd lost in Montrose.

On Saturday I drove up Estes park to check out the fishing up there. The Big Thompson Creek is supposed to be the river that everyone fishes up there but I didn't see what all the fuss was about -- its just a muddy little ditch compared to our mighty rivers up here in Washington. Rocky Mountain National Park was beautiful of course, but Estes Park just made me feel a little dirty. Such unbridled tawdry commercialism at its worst. It seems so out of place to have all that stuff at a park that celebrates the wonder and majesty of nature. Oh well.

Sunday was Church and a family reunion of Flotie's with breakfast at the Cracker Barrell in between. I ate like a king again on this day.

Monday night was a visit to James's house in Denver to meet Sarah and Ash. What a cute little baby - I mean that. I don't think I'd ever seen a baby that young who was as well formed. I held him a lot - he seemed to be lighter than air (not like my bruiser kid).

Tuesday night I drove down to Denver to meet Marc. I had got us club-level tickets for the Dodgers versus the Rockies. I was wearing my Dodgers hat, but was rooting for the Rockies since I'd listened to a couple of games since getting into Loveland. It was a perfect night for a game - 68 degrees and the Rockies one 8 to 2! It was great catching up with a good friend over beers and bats.

Here's my fishing report for the time I was in Loveland:

Fished the Big Thompson Creek, but it was blown out by the recent rains. Muddy with visibility in the low inches. Didn't get any hookups and only saw a few other smallies caught. I can't believe that passes for "good fishing" out there. We have it so good in Washington. The only two fish I caught out there were in the Carter Lake Reservoir. The reservoir is 1100 acres and has its own Marina. I caught a football-sized bass on a wooly worm. The big fish dove and dove and dove and swam in circles around me until I tired him out. We were in spitting distance of the marina. The boats spend all the time fishing for bass at the far side of the lake up against the mountain (and not finding any from what I could tell). Big boats with boat babes reading magazines and everything. The irony is that the bass probably hang around where the boats are moored to avoid getting caught. I fished Lily lake in Rocky Mountain National Park on the recommendation of the Angler's Roost (nice guys) in Fort Collins. Caught Nothing. My fish finder said the lake was only about 7 feet deep at its deepest. Most of the lake was about 4 feet deep. Very weedy. And windy. I was there hoping to catch a Colorado Green Cutthroat, which I understand is the state's *real* native trout. I didn't catch one at Lily... ... but I did catch one at Carter Lake later that day. Just like our coastal cutts but with a bright green back instead of the usual brown or gold we see here. According to the Great Wester Fly Fishing flyshop in Loveland, there's good "wiper" fishing near there. A "wiper" is a cross between a white bass and a striped bass. Why? I don't know.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Unlike the first drive across the mountains, this one went much better. I did have the Big D but it was basically under control. Amy was really stressed out for some reason and we left the house in a hurry. I talked her into a breakfast at Cracker Barrel though. On the road about 9:30, we made awesome time into Lakewood, where I had to stop at the Office Max for a nic for my parents computer.

The plan was, once we got to Montrose (ETA 4:00pm) I’d set up the network in three hours and we’d be on the road again and maybe get to Richfield UT before stopping for the night. Of course, the nic I’d bought proved to be a POS so after struggling with it for a couple of hours I had to go to Walmart and buy a different one. By now it was so late that I decided we had to stay in Montrose, which we did. I got Deangelos Pizza where the owner told me the following three jokes as I waited for the za.

“Why does a chicken coup have two doors? If it had 4 it’d be a chicken sedan.”

“What do you call 50 millionaires sitting around watching the super bowl? The Dallas Cowboys.”

“What are the three most dangerous things in the world? A black guy with a gun. A Mexican with a knife and a hooker with a chipped tooth.”

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Boy were we excited to get going. To be honest we were looking forward to the Vegas part of the trip over any other. After a good night sleep we forced ourselves to eat at Denny's (instead of just hitting the road). The land between Montrose and Las Vegas is, for the majority, barren and ugly. By which I mean Utah. When we dropped down into whatever valley Las Vegas is in I inhaled sharply when I noticed the thermometer reading: Outside temperature was 110.

We started smoking in the truck shortly outside of Las Vegas. We turned on party music and really started to get into the party mood! We rolled into the Golden Nugget around 5pm. After washing up, we got some drinks at the bar. Amy found her same Video Poker machines right where she left them last year. I enrolled her in the slot club and sat in the sports bar, where, get this, they were showing two games. Game one: Mariner's versus Anaheim. Game two: Oakland versus Texas. I sat there, drinking and smoking and watching the entire American League Western Division battling it out.

At last I was in heaven.

We had dinner in the swank little hotel restaurant, Zax. The food was good but the service was slow and lacking. However, it was so absolutely great to be in Las Vegas, just the two of us.

Friday, July 30, 2004 - Defcon Day 1 and Nightlife

Woke up with something resembling a hangover from the bellybutton down. Nauseous and weak with, of course, the traveler’s liquid companion. It took me forever to get up and get going though with Amy’s insistent urging I was able to. She was downstairs with her friend Mr. Video Poker before I was even out of the shower. I shambled downstairs and got a coffee at the Starbucks in the building and stepped outside to enjoy it with a smoke. Some off-duty nightshiftman chatted me up about what it was like to live in Seattle.

It was 10 in the morning and already 90 – the heat is positively wilting out here. I got myself to the truck and drove out to the Alexis Park. I did not feel up to going but I figured at the minimum I had to register and get the materials so I could review them in the hotel room. However, after getting the stuff I decided to plop down in the Tent for the Freenet talk and consider my options. In the tent I started to feel better – just doing something took my mind off how bad I felt. The talk sucked but I stayed for the second, Message Security, which was actually pretty good. One thing I noticed was that this years crowd is much older than last year’s, and much more normal looking too. Perhaps the crustiness of this years’ talks has something to do with it? Or maybe we’re all just getting older.

In what is becoming a yearly ritual, I ambled over to the Pink Taco at the Hardrock Hotel, bypassed the line, sat at the bar and enjoyed a beer and a smoke while I waited for my sweet corn chile tamales. Mark Prior and the Cubs were struggling against the Phillies. By now I felt pretty good. I bought Amy a black pink taco tank top. When I got back to the hotel, she had left me a note saying what a wonderful husband I was. I wrote her a reply, thanking her and saying “here is a gift I’ve been wanting to give you for 5 years!” She loved the shirt and looks great in it (see below).

Next we were back over to the Alexis, almost running out of gas on the I-15. Amy fell off the truck while washing the windows and just about busted her ass. The talk I was trying to get to was completely full and I ended up having to watch it televised at the bar. The things I will endure for my company.

Last on the list of activities today was dancing at the Palms. Amy wore some shiny black cargo pants and the Pink Taco T. I wore black pants, a black shirt and a blue polo shirt that smelled like shrimp for some reason. We waited in line for the club for about a half hour and somehow the waiting was kind of fun and seemed to build the sense of excitement. $40 later, inside the club, we were wowed. The dance floor was elevated over an honest-to-God moat complete with lights and some kind of bubbling gas. Tracks of lighting over the dance floor circled a ring of lights that included as we later found out, jets of flame. How that got past the building code is beyond me. Imagine if one of those jets misfired downward into the crowd, or exploded dripping flames over everyone – the survivors would crush each other trying to get off of the platform (only two small staired entrances). The dance floor was a total meat market. About 60% women, hanging together in packs of five (safety in numbers) and then roaming men in groups of 1 to 3 who’d grind against anyone with boobs. Amy dances with her eyes closed a lot so she didn’t see how many dudes were trying to dance with her. I had to reposition her a couple of times to keep her away from that.

Regardless of how I made it sound, it was really fun and we’ll always remember our night at Rain. Only three go-go girls there.

Saturday, July 31st, 2004 - the Black and White Ball

The Black and White Ball. While dressing, Amy was so, so, so nervous about her dress. It is a tiny black latex number. I thought it was sexy and kind of conservative. I was right about sexy, wrong about conservative. I left her at the entrance of the hotel while I went to get the truck. While I was gone, an Escalade full of black dudes pulled up and whistled at her. A ho got out and asked Amy if she wanted a ride. Apparently if a real life prostitute thinks you are a colleague, then you are dressed too sexy. After that, an old man came up and almost propositioned her. And every woman who came out of the hotel gave her a dirty, dirty look. She wanted to say, “I’m normal! I’m a wife and mom and I never dress like this!” At the end of the evening, some short Indian guy got all grabby with her and she got propositioned in the elevator up to the room. Next time we’ll bring a coat that will hide the dress underneath.

At the Black and White ball at least, Amy fit right in. The crowd was older (see previous comments) and better behaved but there was still a lot of funky outfits and costumes. The goons wouldn’t let Amy in without a pass, even when I threatened to tell DT about this. They called my bluff and asked me his real name. I told them. They asked me what his phone number was. Bluff called. Anyway, we went around back by the pool and ran into Scott and Alyssa whom we remembered from last year (she was collared and on a leash then too). They were so cool and helped us get Amy in. They went into the ball. I followed a minute later. Scott gave me his pass and I took it out to Amy. Once the two of us were inside she gave it back to Scott. We sort of made friends with the guy who wouldn’t let us in after that since he was apologetic and kind of cool about it. Amy said he reminded her of a young Nick. Lots of great music and we stayed until 2:30 before coming back to the hotel.

We got in a weird fight back at the room – Amy wanted to go downstairs and play but I argued that it was too late. She got really emotional about it and I relented and let her go.

Sunday, August 1st, 2004 -- Boob show

I slept in til 10. Amy had come to bed at 5:30 and gotten back up at 7:30 and went back down for more video poker action. I had tracks from 1 to 5 so I was out after lunch. The first two tracks sucked, the third was cancelled and the fourth was just the awards show so I gave a final goodbye to DefCon and was back at the hotel. Which was pretty good because I felt like crap anyway.

We had the Spice Market Buffet for dinner and Amy came up from dinner with a killer headache. Amy ended up staying behind at the hotel and I went to the topless review Skintight, which we had both wanted to see, alone.

The show was hilarious, cheesey and awesome at the same time. There were 5 dancing girls – mostly A and B cup with one C cup whose face you could have sworn was the old Vivian from Days. I didn’t realize these things were lipsynch’d and that kind of threw me. There were a couple of numbers that were just plain lame – especially the Stomp number whose only redeeming feature was a short topless lap dance set with 5 male audience members.

The comedian in the middle of the show was the best part – he was this old guy (Tony DeAndrea) whose routines were predictable but his delivery was so hilarious that he got some good belly laughs from yours truly.

Back at the room I told Amy she totally missed out and should have gone. I also peevishly suggested that her decision to play video poker all night had caused the problem. Instant fight. Oops. We made up over drinks at the bar.

Monday - Wednesday, August 2nd - 4th, 2004 -- The Trip Home

Monday we checked out of the Aladdin and stopped at their Cheeseburger station. 2 cheeseburgers, 2 long islands and $50 later its off to the airport. We said our sad goodbyes and IllMissYou's and I dropped Amy off at the airport. I hadn't seen Casey in six days at this point -- three to go.

It was 2pm and I was at the start of one last, long drive from Las Vegas to Seattle. Beth had given me Jeeves and the Mating Season on CD-AUDIO. This might sound crazy but the drive through the miserable wasteland between Vegas and Reno were some of the best hours of the whole trip. I was entranced by the rich language and tongue-in-cheek attitude of the Wodehouse and the hours just flew by.

Before I knew it I was in Reno (around 9:30). I had reservations for $39 at the Silver Legacy Casino. Let me tell you that's the best $39 hotel room you can ever get in the US. The room was okay but Casino seemed as good as any in Vegas. I had a nice dinner in the Cafe and was up to my room for bed just after 11.

I had promised myself I'd leave the cigarettes in Nevada, so I didn't buy a pack before heading out into the wilderness between Reno and Northern California. The above sentence contains two stupid ideas: 1) don't ever try to quit smoking on a road trip, because you have way too much time to think about it and 2) don't use the backroads through Susanville in daytime in the summer, because even though the scenery is nice, there is construction all through there. What should have been 3 hours took about 6. Again, Wodehouse eased the trip. I was laughing my ass off sitting there waiting for the construction workers to switch from Stop to Slow.

By the time I crossed the mountains into Northern California I was smoking again: I bought a pack in Weed, California. The next 3 hours were a tortuous journey through the mountains of southern Oregon (the Utah of the Northwest). I'd finished the Wodehouse now and had to console myself with Playboy Mansion and Country Music.

I made the decision to stay the night in Kelso. I talked the Ramada down $20 since it was a Tuesday night. Bright and early it was off to Coldwater lake just below Mt Saint Helens, on the advice of Greg Thomas' book, Fly Fisher's Guide to Washington. The average size of the trout in that 2400ft, 800 acre lake is 16 inches. I can confirm that :)

Over four hours I caught 4 fish, 3 of them were 16" and one was 14". All trolling/stripping the same olive wooley bugger at 20-30' down. I love how much of a bend a 16" fish puts in 5 wt. The mountain surroundings are awesome and the weather was near perfect. I understand it gets hella windy in the afternoon hence my decision to fish in the morning. I've never caught 3 16" fish in the same session. What a morning!

An asian woman approached me while I was getting into my tube and asked me if I caught any fish, could I give them to her? She said she had a cooler. LOL. To be honest, I didn't catch any while she was around, probably because trout fear asian women like they do eagles and ospreys.

In the afternoon I fished the Kalama with my 8 wt. I've never hooked a steelhead on a flyrod before so I didn't really know what to expect. Sadly, this is what happened. In a lonely corner of the river, (by a downed tree with the word SLAYER spray-painted on it) I cast an EHC into the fast water and let it submerge into the slower water (as I've been shown). Suddenly, there was a twitch and a yank. I though "Oooh - this is it! Here it comes!"

Suddenly the huge steelie flipped its back and tail out of the water and splashed straight down. My line came shooting back at me -- it had broken at the 2x tippet. I felt sick. It would have been the fish of the year for me. I fished for a few more hours but never caught anything but 6" trout. Still, a great day of big fish. I was exhausted by the all the kicking and wading and that made the final 3 hours home a very long drive indeed. The dogs sure were happy to see me.

Final Words

I can't express how long this road trip was. I spent nights in Burlhe, Montrose, Grand Mesa, Loveland, Montrose, Las Vegas, Reno and Kelso. I put 4850 miles on my truck.

There is some sort of mental energy that I can only accumulate at home. It is essential to my mental well-being somehow. It is almost like "sleep" -- in that many days you sort of sleep-walk through your routines and then the beauty of your vacation is that it is like being awake. Whatever this energy is, I was completely out of it by the time I got home. Even though the trip seemed to get better and better and better, culminating in an awesome 6 days of Vegas, Reno and fishing, I was desperate to get back to my daily routines at this point. In fact, even though I didn't get home until late, in the morning I was at work, happily chatting with my colleagues and telling my the stories about my trip. Amy arrived later that day and took a shuttle home, where she immediatley immersed herself in her routines. Like going right to sleep.

The vacation was sooooo good for all three of us. We are refreshed and rejuvenated.

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