This and That.

Last night I got back from a three-week run to upstate Wisconsin where I was helping a friend do some bathroom rehab / rebuild on a 100-year old farmhouse to make it more capatable for a person with MS. She can use a walker some, but mostly relies a wheelchair around the house. Old, narrow doorways and a bathtub were somewhat less than convenient. Will put up a few pics of that this coming week.

While we didn’t completely finish, still some trim to install, I needed to hustle back as my house is in the pre-evacuation zone for the Waldo Canyon Fire that burned homes in Colorado Springs this week. “D” had gotten out my fishing gear (important stuff, you know), packed up some treasures/photos, and with the help of her sis and my bro gotten stuff loaded into our travel trailer which my Bro hauled up to her sis’ house in case we did (do?) need to evacuate. We’d have a place to live while awaiting the outcome.

Of course, I had the keys to the hitch locks with me in WI, so my bro had to cut the locking bolt for tow bar as well as the lock on the tongue of the trailer. Thanks, man!

The fire has settled down, the winds and weather are cooperating some, and the fire crews have done a helluva job in getting the thing under control. Unlikely we’ll need to evacuate, but keeping some bags packed “just in case.”

Coming back from Wisconsin, my buddy Tom and I stopped off at the SPAM Museum in Austin MN – what a treat! I highly recommend it if you’re near there – it’s worth a side trip to visit. Admission is free, but I did manage to spend $50 or so in the gift shop, including buying 12 cans of SPAM in assorted flavors.

I hope your June was as much fun and as personally rewarding as mine was.
Steven

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Some Spam List Has Me Logged

I’ve gotten lots and lots of junk posts the last few days, so am trying different methods of ducking them.
If you’ve a comment to make, please send me a note [Dodge2500CTD(AT)Gmail(DOT)com] and I’ll either put you on the authorized list or cut-and-paste your comment. Don’t know which as I’m going to be trying a couple of different methods.
I’ll update this note as my efforts progress.
Thanks,
Steven

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And then there were two … Fly shops in my area.

Learned yesterday in the regular email / fishing report sent out by GhillieS Fly Shop that they are calling it quits.  Open for a little over eight years, and having moved to downtown Colorado Springs 18 months ago, Gary Almeida (owner) has decided it’s time to go fishing.

In Gary’s words in his note of 04/30, he’s not one for long good-byes, so when the shop closes for the day tomorrow, May 02, it will be for the last time.

While I’m sure that owning / running a fly shop is a guaranteed way to spend less time on the water – despite being able to buy gear at wholesale – I give the poor economy no small amount of credit in Gary’s decision.  Admittedly, flyfishing doesn’t require $800 rods and $400 reels but it does have a fair-sized ante to get in the game with rod, reel, waders, net, line(s!) of many types, and of course: flies!  Even if someone has “got enough stuff” (Which, by the way, no avid flyfisher ever has.) the maintenance costs to keep fishing are not paltry.  Line, flies, tippet, flies, leader, flies, and the now-and-then Gottahavit Gadget, do require some ongoing outlay.  And don’t EVEN believe that “It is cheaper if I tie my own flies instead of buying them.”  Get into that and you get into a never-ending stream of “I needs” which we know means “I want.”

So, the decrease in the overall economic health cutting into discretionary spending, that same decrease bringing fewer than usual flyfishers into the area as a place to go for some good to excellent fishing, and the increase in buying online instead of supporting the local gal / guy trying to make a living in a fly shop had to have had a big role in Gary’s decision not to renew his lease.

Yes, there are other shops in town – and once is quite big, well stocked, and very active in the local fishing and conservation stages.  Still, it was nice to have options.
And, what fly-fishing town doesn’t need it’s very own “Downtown, Underground Fly Shop”?

Thanks for support of the local TU Chapter, as well as the friendly smile and willingness to talk trout.  Tight lines, Gary!

Ghillies Fly Shop

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Neither gone nor forgotten.

Realized it’s been months and months since I posted something here.
Actually quite a lot going on, particulary with tax season, the now and then good weather enticing me to go fishing, and I actually got to spend a night in a sleeping bag near the river this last weekend.

All in all, life is good – very good.

I’ll put it on my To Do List to actually post something a little less banal before the new week starts.

Steven

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What a gorgeous day to try out a new rod!

I decided to take advantage of the second day of warm weather and go chase some trout.  Good pick!  The weather “down the hill” in Colorado Springs was nice – upper 50s, low 60s when I started out.  I did notice that as I climbed Ute Pass the air temp continued to drop, but having decided to go try 11 Mile Canyon since I figured there would be some open water up below the dam, even if nowhere else.

Rolling up the canyon, I was a little surprised by how much ice and how little open water there was.  Here’s a look back downstream from one of the bridges.

Well, there's SOME water open - if I can get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light at the end of the tunnel!
Sunlight and two tunnels, actually.  The road up the canyon is an old railroad bed, the tunnels were hand-cut through solid rock.  Still pretty impressive today.

Sunhsine on the far canyon wall, seen through two train tunnels.

I started out as far up the canyon as the road goes – figuring the water would be warmest there.  It was warm – sorta, 39 degrees.  But, that was warmer than the air temp – 37 when I started and down to 28 when I finally got too darned cold around sunset.

I finally gave up on the first place I started as I kept having to mend my line over some otters who seemed to think that stretch was their home.  Three of them kept swimming back and forth, up and down, and I finally decided any fish that may have been there had certainly moved on by now.  So, I moved on too.

A little farther down the river, I saw a place that looked likely IF I could get down there AND get back out while not managing to fall through the ice and turn into a big icecicle.

Looks interesting, but can I get down there? And, get back?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I’m too late!  Looking a little closer – there are already a couple of folks down there.

Well, darn! They beat me to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a sample of what much of the river looked like today.
Gorgeous, but just not my idea of great fishing access.

Simply beautiful, even if not great fishing this time of year.

While the official reason (excuse?) was to go try out the new small-water rod I recently built,  I simply needed to get out on / in the water.  It had been too long and I was missing it.  The rod?  I recently took a rod-building class at a local fly shop – The Angler’s Covey.  What fun!  The rod is a 4-weight, 6-foot I assembled from pieces, gluing, wrapping, fitting, and worrying the hole time.  Neil Luerhing, the instructor, was great!  Very helpful, patient, and quick with tips and technique hints.  I think I’ve acquired yet another fishing-related hobby.  While I would really have like to catch a fish with the new rod the first time out, I’ll settle for having repeartedly iced-up the guides on it’s first trip to the river.

All in all, the fishing was great!  The catching was slow.
Stay warm and Merry Christmas to you!
Steven

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48 years ago today, 11/22.

For many folks in my cadre, that was a watershed moment, although we were simply too young to realize it.

“Where were you when you heard the news?” is a question asked, and answered, by each of us many times over. For me, it was the cafeteria line at Dean Morgan JR High in Casper, WY.

And, I was at Charlie Wright’s house, may he R.I.P., when we saw Jack Ruby shoot Oswald. Back then we called it “live” – nowadays I suppose it would be termed “in real time.”

“Ask not …”

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“I’m late! I’m late!”

Although I’m not a clock-carrying rabbit, some days it seems I spend a little time looking for the tea party.
Here it is, November 01, and my last post was in September.

Wherever does the time go?

I had a fun and busy October, plus I’ve actually got a few photos so have promised myself that I’ll get some posting done this week.

Thanks for looking in,
Steven

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Yeppur! Finally Caught One!

Greenback Cutthroat Trout, that is. A “genuine” Colorado Native.

Of course, like so many of the yahoos who run around with their “Native” sticker affixed to their vehicles, neatly printed over the background / syling of the old Colorado license plate, the fish didn’t have much choice either. But, that’s a rant for another time.

Went up to Rocky Mountain National Park today to chase fish. Spent most all day on Glacier Creek, fishing small water / pocket water with my 3 weight fly-fishing outfit. Caught Browns, some small – even for the water which is pretty small, and as well as a little bigger.

Stopped to make a late lunch and perk a pot of coffee at the Sprague Lake Picnic Grounds.  Then, with it getting towards late in the day and many of the areas going off-limits at 1700 (5 pm) due to the elk rut as the bulls would be herding their harems around, I figured I’d better get moving. The Park Service tries to prevent stressing the elk as well as having unfortunate biped vs. quadraped close encounters, so bipeds have to be clear of several large areas by 1700. Anyway, I decided to try my luck at Lilly Lake at the lower end of the Park to wrap up the day.

By and large, I do poorly lake fishing. I’ve just never really figured it out with a fly rod and flies. And, I don’t really drink enough anymore to chunk “garden hackle” (worms) from a lawn chair on the bank. But, what the heck! Lilly is purported to be the best place to have a shot at a Greenback without hiking up some creeks to fish more small water.

Anyway, got there pretty late and the fish were leaping clear out of the water, chasing bugs. Woo Hoo! Being late, and getting towards dusk, I didn’t want to spend the time to break out and rig up my 5 weight, I just put a dry fly on the 3 weight after pulling off the nymphs I’d been using on Glacier Creek.  Long story short, found a spot on the bank and had a go at it.  First cast, maybe three or four short strips, and Fish On!  Turned out to be a Greenback, approaching a foot long. And, simply gorgeous! After admiring him, and thanking for taking my fly, I put him back to see if he had an equally gullable cousin out there.

Well, missed one more when I turned to answer some questions from a young man, maybe five years old, walking by with his parents.

Then, as if I’d just missed Last Call at a favorite watering hole, it was over. The fish weren’t jumping and I had no more action. Looking around, I realized I was going to have to use a headlamp if I wanted to try a change of flies, and the eight or ten other people who had been fishing were gone. The folks strolling around the lake were gone, too.

So, nearing dark-thirty, I called a day – a good day, but a day, and headed back for the truck. Along the way I read the sign I’d not noticed before in my haste to get fishing. The lake is open from dawn to dusk and I was well past dusk. So, THAT’S where everyone else went!

Anyway, my first Greenback Cuttroat Trout – and a good looking one, too. And on the first cast. I was momentarily tempted to think I was a pretty fair fisherman. Then, I rememberd all the days the skunk never got out of the bag and ended up coming back home with me.

Darned good day on the water – the fishing was great and the catching was pretty good, too.

Steven
PS In case you’re wondering, I was used a Royal Wulff, about a 12, on the Greenback. I picked it because I figured I could see it on the water in the fading light.

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Labyrinth Canyon (Green River) Here I Come!

Yee Hah!
After “been gonna” for years now, finally leaving this morning for the trip.

I’ll fish my way across Colorado – going to try the Gunnison I think – then into Moab UT Sunday night. Monday morning the outfitter will put me in just south of Green River, UT. Then, it’s down the river I go in a canoe. The outfitter will be at the pick-up point, just above Canyonlands Nation Park, on Saturday morning.

Nope, not part of a group or tour, just going. I figure between my river maps, my GPS, and my SPOT satellite messenger (with bundled SAR insurance) I should be fine.

The SPOT has a 911 emergency rescue button should I get badly hurt, but I expect to be fine. If you’re old enough, think back to the wizard in the cartoon, the name of which I cannot recall of course:

“Trizzle, Trazzle, Truzzle, Trome. Time for this one to come home.”

Steven

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Habitat for Humanity, Care-A-Vanners Build in Woodland Park. Eight-bay Garage.

Howdy!

Just got back yesterday a two-week stint in the high country doing some HFH work with a RV group affiliated with HFH.  The rest of the group met up Sunday the 17th and started working Monday the  18th.  I didn’t get up there until Monday night (18th) we’d rolled down from the Tetons on SUN the 17th.  Did a quick offload / onload of the travel trailer, ran laundry, loaded work clothes and tools, then up the hill I went.  I was working mostly with a group of people I’ve worked with before – meet in Cripple Creek, in fact, on my first build in ’08.  We try to do some form of “Reunion Build” each year – this was it.  We also had two rigs from Texas – new folks to me, but simply wonderful!    The second week, my good friend Tom come up from the Springs and worked.  Good thing, too!  The folks from Texas had only planned on being there one week, so were gone when Tom was around.  He’s tall – very handy in construction, darned good with tools, and fits in quite well.

I also have to admit that it is somewhat humbling to work with my Care-A-Vanner friends.  At 60, I am often “the kid” on the builds unless my friends the Parkers and/or their daughter come out from IL and KS.  I was this time, and more than once I had to go grab my water jug and a seat in the afternoons when it was good and hot “on the slab.”  Those “old farts” are impressive to work with.  I suggest you give it a try sometime.

Well, to be honest, my friends the Moores had brought along a grandson, 14, for the first week.  Too young to run power tools, he never the less was “a helluva hand” in holding, toting, working, measuring, and helping.  If he’s an example of what 14-year olds are like nowadays, I’m thinking we’re in pretty good shape as a country.

Monday and Tuesday of the first week were spent in Cripple Creek CO doing some landscaping, rock moving, tree planting, and just general hard labor at nearly 9,800 feet elevation.  Then, we got to move down to Woodland Park CO to pound some nails and sling some boards at lower elevation – barely 8,500 feet.

The first week we also had a bunch of high school teachers for a day in Woodland Park – they were a great help in getting things going and getting the first wall stood up.  There were also a couple of local, regulars who have been working this project since the beginning like I have.  The most we ever had of them on the job was six and that was for just one day.  Three regulars was more the norm..

The building in the background (adobe / southwest looking thing on the left in the first picture) is a three-unit condo sort of thing I helped build last year.  The end (two-story) unit is occupied, families have been identified for the two one-story with basement units closer to the camera in the first picture.  I may be able to work on those some later this year, but not as part of an official “Build” – just as casual, volunteer labor.  There will be another building across from the garage (sort of where I’m standing to take the next to last picture below) and it will have four units.  But, that is on hold for now – need qualified families for the units AND the biggest challenge is coming up with the money to construct them so the families can buy them.

All in all, darned good job for some old farts working 0830 – 1430, eh?

Just wanted to pass this along, brag about my friends some, and maybe prod you a little to do some volunteer work if you’re not already doing some.

Steven
PS
Want to know more about the RV Care-A-Vanners?  Here’s the URL: http://hfhi.org/rv

 The beginning. (WED JUL 20, 2011)
(From left end, or street side.)

The Slab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End.  (FRI JUL 29, 2011, from the other end, looking back.)

The End Point

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the front – only a partial.  Storage Bay (smaller one, #8) on left.

Front View – Bay Detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

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