Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pinder Anyone?

Our little beach house.

With the rain, lightning and thunder out side I thought this would be a good time to show you the house where we are staying and explain a bit about the town of Spanish Wells. 

Spanish Wells is approximately two miles long and a half of a mile wide. The community of Spanish Wells is extended by a bridge that links it to neighboring Russell Island, which is just over three miles long and has become an inte2010-06-30gral part of the community. We took the golf cart to that island yesterday but didn’t explore much due to a low tank of gas.

Part of the everyday life of this island is centered around driving the main road that circles the island.  People drive around and talk to friends and basically keep up on the gossip. The island family is real tight and almost everyone is related.  We laugh a lot about the fact that when women are married on this island they seldom have to changeIMG_0657 their last names.  The Pinder family is a great example.  From the photo above you can see the local Pinder dynasty in action.  I took a picture of the phone book and you will notice something about the two pages  They are all Pinders, in fact six other pages of Pinders follow the ones I captured.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Here are some shots of our trip to Harbor Island yesterday.  We took the fast ferry and spent the day running around in a rented golf cart. The fast ferry travels between islands and it moves very quickly. It is amazing how close it comes to coral and to the shore line. It is IMG_0754something just to ride on the top deck and see everything rush by. The water the boat speeds through is called the Devils Backbone and the boat captain has to really know what he is doing.
We docked in Briland, as the locals call it, Harbor Island to all us tourists.  We walked off the boat and a young man offered us a golf cart, it was $40 for the day so we took it.  He quickly showed us how it worked and handed us the key, said “boat leaves at 3:20 pm, be here or your stayingIMG_0746 the night. Leave the keys in it, have fun.” and we were off.  No contract, no names, no info on what to do if something happens, that’s it.
We drove to the pink sand beach across the island and then moved back inland to find Ma Ruby’s for lunch. Ma greeted us at the door and led us to a table. We were the only folks there so she chatted with us and was very IMG_0747entertaining.   She told the tail of Jimmy Buffet and how he stopped by regularly when he was in the area.  Of course she claims to serve the hamburger that inspired Jimmy. “he walks right over ta dat chair at dat bar and writes a song abouts da burger.” She lays claim to Cheeseburger In Paradise. I think most places do around here. 
Linda had a chicken burger and we all had Cheeseburgers In Paradise for lunch, it was a great meal but not quite Buffet quality I believe.
IMG_0748We spent the next few hours driving about Harbor Island. We found a small shop and bought some souvenirs. The people in this town were very friendly and eager to find out where we were from.  When we bought my shirt a young lady explained why the town is called IMG_0752 Briland or BRI for short.  Here is what she said “The melodious dialect, of the Harbor Island people, involves dropping the “H’s” of those words that begin with this letter, and replacing them in front of words that begin with vowels. Example: We’s _ave happles and hornges in the _arbor.  Therefore, in time the Har/briland has become briland (say Harbor Island fast three times and see what you get.) The people from this place are known as Brilanders.” IMG_0734That should clear it up for you.  The dialect is so think it is hard to believe that it is English.
Once the short shopping was done we headed for the dock and caught the fast ferry back home. Don and I caught the incoming tide, but caught no fish.

Bonefish Report - Getting Better!

For Alex, Jacob, Tom and Tyler:

The wind has been up and is not conducive to the bones tailing or mudding like they usually do. The past three days we have fished hard on the incoming tide and really not seen anything. Maybe a couple fish mudding and a couple tailing but nothing to get clean shots at.

I spend a lot of time practicing my wind casting and have gotten pretty good at it.  I am IMG_0754ready!

This morning we hit the flats and they were in! They tailed for about one hour and then settled down and moved off.

I was able to cast to three strong groups. On my first cast I placed the fly perfectly. I was using a small green body weed less crab and gave one good strip after it settled. The bone hit hard and started to run.  I set and then lifted the tip and he was off to the races.  I felt four good surges and I was into my backing.  One more surge followed by a big one and then nothing.  The line went limp and my big guy was gone.  I pulled in the line and looked at the leader.  It had busted clean.  Probably at the knot. Bummer, but it gives me hope. 

I retied and was able to throw to a couple more tailing groups.  Nothing happened. The tailing stopped and the fish moved off.  We spotted a barracuda chasing and think the bones moved off because of that.

Tomorrow we will be in position at about 6:30 am and if the wind is down we should see more.  I was a bit upset, but everything I did was done correctly.  I didn’t panic, I made the cast, set the hook low and let him run with out any screw ups.  Just not my time!  I was pleased that it was one cast one set and a big run into the backing.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

They Say the Wind Will Be Less Tomorrow!

It’s Saturday, the USA vs Ghana soccer game is on, and I have a bit of time to catch up on what has been happening. The house we are staying in is beautiful and has many more amenities than we thought. We have a golf cart to travel about theIMG_0663 island. I think I told some folks that they only travel using golf carts and that there were no cars in this town. I was wrong. There are cars, some of them very fancy. Big wheels, loud stereos and Caribbean rap; they drive around and around. The golf cart is the dominate form of transportation. Then when you drive you drive on the left side of the road. This is a bit disconcerting at first, but since my left hand hangs out the driver’s side, I just think of touching the walls as I go.IMG_0675

We fished hard yesterday, almost too hard. We were out early in the morning and fished right up until lunch and then headed back out and fished till about 8 pm. Fishing has not been good due to the wind. It is said to be blowing 25 to 30 mph and that is not good when you are working bonefish. I am at a disadvantage because I really don’t know what I am looking for and the wind really messes with the surface of the water. I have seen fish tailing, mudding and many spooking but have yet to hook up on anything.IMG_0662

When we are not our on the flats we are in the house talking about when and where we are going next. Our conversations go like this; “10:40 am for high water we were out on the flats at 11:15 am, but that was a bit late, what do you think Dean?” “Wait was that high water at 10:40 or was the beginning of high water?” “I think that if we are at the school house at that time then we should hit it right.” “But is that high or low wIMG_0654ater?” “We need to there on the incoming tide.” “So that is low tide rising right?” “Yes, but that will be an hour later tomorrow.” “So that is 11:40 am?” “No Dean that would be high tide. We want to be on the flats in the afternoon about 4:00 pm.” “You’re saying that but I think I’m not getting it. I’ll just go when you tell me.”

This conversation happens about three time a day and each time I get more confused. Speaking of being confused, is there Don having a drink at the end of the day,anything harder then trying to catch a fish you can’t see because of the waves, and you can’t cast because of the wind. Reports say the wind is going to calm down in the next few days so I many figure this out yet.

Incoming tide tomorrow at 5:56.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Bahamas – Hard to Believe We’re Here

IMG_0612Arriving at Eleuthera International Airport was just about how one might imagine it would be. Prior to landing your eyes are treated with beautiful blues and whites. The plane wings its way over the aqua colored water, clouds drift by below like popcorn. The islands appear below adding whites, greens and browns to the mosaic. The plane touches down, hits the breaks, spins around and motors back to the terminal.IMG_0617 We spot the people waiting on the porch, the young men dressed in orange blazers and the various workers scurrying about. We deplane and the heat and humidity hits you like a hot wet towel. You realize at that point that you are finally in the Bahamas.

Everyone lines up at the door to the terminal, I use the word terminal loosely because the building actually a small three room rancher house, modified to act IMG_0621like an international entry point. We hand our documentation to a lady who stamps it and makes sure it is complete. Then we walk around the corner and they open the door outside where everyone scrambles to the luggage cart grabbing their baggage or having one of the local boys pick and carry their gear.
Linda got a young man to help her and she took our bags out away from the frenzy. I was in the middle trying to save my fly rod from IMG_0622getting crushed. One of the people grabbed the rod case and pulled it from under the pile. In doing so that ripped the case cap off and my best rod came flying out on to the ground. I was right there to scoop it up before it got damaged. I was very lucky!

Once that chaos was over, you followed everyone back inside and past a big black fellow who looked at you and said,”Do you have anything to declare? Welcome to da Bahamas mon”, in very cool Bahamas dialect.
Spanish Wells is a small town on the island of St. George's Cay (about half a mile wide by two miles long) located approximately one mile off the northern tip of Eleuthera island. The scope of Spanish Wells is extended, however, by a bridge that links it to neighboring Russell Island, which is just over three miles long and has become an integral part of the community.

It has a population of approximately 1,600 residents. It is so small that many residentsIMG_0631 get around the island using golf carts instead of full-sized cars. Lobster fishing is said to be their main industry.

IMG_0639 IMG_0637IMG_0640 IMG_0646

Spokane to Miami – First Class the Hard Way

The worst possible thing a person could do when they are waiting to travel to a location is to get a phone call from someone who is already there and learn that the activity that they will be doing once they arrive is stellar. For example, if you are going skiing and your friend calls and says “The pow is awesome!” or you are traveling to Mexico and you find out that the weather is beautiful down there. You know, the anticipation is heightened to a point of frenzy. Today Don and Caroline Skyped us and the first thing they said was, “Oh my gosh, the bonefish are everywhere!” From that point on all I can think about is getting there and fishing!

We checked and rechecked our bags and constantly questioned each other about what we might have forgotten. It was to the point that if we had left something out, then it probably didn’t matter. Emily Compton arrived on time and we loaded into her car. She was great to talk to and we really appreciated her taking time to get us to the airport. The drive was uneventful in spite of my ravaging need to fish.

Last night we had tried to check in via the internet, but we were not allowed to do so, so in the morning Linda had called our travel agent and they talked thing out. We are flying international so the two of them came to the conclusion that we would need to arrive early and make sure we had plenty of time to get checked in.

When we arrived at the Alaska flights check-in desk the young man entered our data and immediately started shaking his head. He worked the keyboard and kept frowning. Linda started to worry, but held up pretty good. As it turned out, our travel agent had booked an American co-share flight and when they tried to check us in on it the system would not let the Alaska desk open the reservation and confirm us. (Something like that.) So our check-in person had to call a bunch of people and rebook our tickets which took us about an hour.

At about 3 pm we entered the boarding area with tickets in hand ready to catch our 4 pm flight to Seattle. Linda had settled down and we were ready to start the first leg of our adventure.

If you have ever traveled with Linda you would know that every detail about the trip is captured in her mind. Departure times, gate numbers, concourse numbers, flight numbers and even seat assignments are logged into her brain. This happens at the grocery store also. If she picked up something that is on sale for $6 and it rings up as $6.25, she is all over it. That is a great trait and it saves me from worrying about anything. All I have to do is carry things and take care of little stuff, like holding her hand on takeoff. At 3:10 pm Linda looked up and noticed that our 4 pm flight was posted as leaving at 5:25 pm. She immediately walked to the boarding desk and confirmed that our first flight had been delayed one hour and fifty minutes.

If one would look at the start of our trip one might cringe a bit, but you know… there’s bonefish out there.

“May I have your attention please? Horizon flight 2509, which was delayed coming out of Seattle due to a problem with the flight attendants PA, is now delayed in Spokane for the same reason. We will be leaving at approximately 5:50 pm. If you have any questions regarding people issues, connections, etc. please see me. If you have any questions about electrical issues that the plane may be experiencing, do not see me because I only deal in people issues, and I am very good at that.” Gate agent humor never helps to calm Linda at times like this.

The clock now reads 5:58 pm and our flight has been pushed to 6:15 pm. Linda has confirmed with the gate agent that we will miss our flight from San Francisco to Miami if we don’t get going. The young man has now re-booked our flight leaving Seattle, and instead of Seattle to San Francisco we will be flying directly from Seattle to Miami. He smiled and called it the “Red Eye”. Then he told us that it the redeye flight would have to be in first class seats! Wahoo! First class!!! Our first time in first class!

With all this joy, we still have a bit of a problem. We have not left Spokane and our flight leaves Seattle at 10:30 pm. We should be able to make that departure because our flight needs to leave here at about 9:10 pm to make that happen. But that still does not ease Linda’s mind. She is a wreck and all I can do is try to keep smiling.

I love to look out the window of the jet at the fluffy white clouds. Right now I’m looking at the bright sun reflecting off the pillows of white tufts. It is very calming. We need some calm.

Back about 30 minutes ago the gate agent, now known as Brandon to us, finally gave up on flight 2509 and told everyone in the waiting area that they were going to squish them on to any flights that they had going out to Seattle. Linda was right there in line when he made the call and he re-booked us on to flight 695. It was being held at the C gate so we had to run over to that check-in area. We made it and got settled with about ten minutes to spare.

The connection from Seattle to Miami went smooth as silk. I now sit in a big cushy chair in first class on my way to the Bahamas, well we still have to land in Miami and take off, but it sounded real cool to say first class and Bahamas in the same breath. On this flight we have been provided free WiFi, drinks, a cheese plate, movies to watch and lots of leg room. I am hoping Linda does not grow accustom to this comfort.

Once we land we will have time to eat some breakfast and get some coffee. I will probably try to post some time tomorrow night, that will be Thursday. I am so excited that I can’t sit still. Did I tell you they saw bonefish in the flats just a few blocks from our house?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Where Is Spanish Wells?

Map picture
Map picture
Map picture

We will be traveling from Spokane to Seattle then on to San Francisco and then all the way over to Miami.  From Miami we fly into the island of Eleuthera. We then land and hire a taxi who will drive us to the northern most of the island where we will get on a water taxi and motor over to Spanish Wells.  Spanish Wells, who would have guessed!

In Three Days

" Fly rods...check, swim fins...check, camera...check, Hula Hoop...check."

The list is growing for both trips and it is getting a bit confusing. Within the next few days we start the season of adventures. As it has worked out we will be leaving on one trip right after the other until about the end of July. It is sort of driving us nuts with all the preparations and sorting.

The way it is working out is we will travel to Spanish Wells in the Bahamas for our 25th anniversary bonefish vacation. When we return we have about a four day turnaround and we will leave on a raft trip down the Lower Salmon River which Linda and I are putting together.

This trip was conceived down in Mexico when we were talking to all our neighbors in Malaque. We are setting the entire trip up and it has taken a great deal of planning. After we return from that trip we have a camping trip scheduled with our friends the Edwards. This will be a weekend adventure and should not take much planning. I do however have to put the camper back on the truck during the days between our two trips. Finally, we will be back on the water for the NIC Staff River Trip at the end of the month.

With all these adventure coming up we have had to find a student to stay in our house and take care of Kobi while we are gone. This always means several training sessions to show whom ever is the chosen one all the ins and outs of Kobi management. Linda has met once already and has presented them with the Book of Kobi. Having an entire campus of students, who are hungry to get out of their living areas and stay in a house for a break, is a wonderful asset. My job has some very different benefits and this is definitely a good one.

So we have gathered our traveling gear, our rafting gear, and anything else we can think of and buried out guest bedroom bed in preparation of these adventures. Stay tuned, I'll be keeping the blog up to day as much as possible.

"Linda! Have you seen my snorkel?"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend with the Masses

We made a late decision to camp out at Farragut State Park. Alex, Emily and Fisher have a spot in the Snowberry campground on Saturday night and we knew that we would not be in their camp area but we took the invite and drove out intent on finding a spot in Whitetail instead. As we entered the park the rain started. We parked at the park headquarters and talked to a real nice lady about camping. There were spots available in Whitetail like we thought so we took #51 and paid for the weekend. Outside the weather went from raining to pouring as we drove to the campsite.

Whitetail is on the lake side of the main road. We dropped down into the campground and circled around to #51. Most of the sites looked nice, but when we got to ours, we had a problem. The site was sloped real bad. If we parked there we would have to elevate the front of the truck quite a bit. So I jumped out into the rain and disconnected the jeep and sent Linda driving back to the headquarters to change to a leveler spot. She was only gone about 20 minutes and came back with our new location #31. (Sites 48 and 50 are the best in our opinion.)

By this time the rain had stopped and we were able to get set up while Linda took the dog for a walk. We had chili haystacks for dinner so my job in the kitchen was very easy. Following dinner we took the dog for a long bike ride/run. We returned to the camper at 8:30 pm and got things ready for the end of the evening.

I slept a little rough during the night. The alarm went off at 6 am and I got up and made my coffee. I jumped in the Jeep and drove to work, the traffic near town was real bad and that put me into work about 8 am. The workday was slow and at lunch time I went to the T-shirt print shop and dropped off the design for our river shirts. At about 2 pm I went home and took a nap which lasted until about 4:20 pm. I was supposed to be a Gary Coffman’s retirement party at 4 pm, so I jumped into the Jeep and drove out to Tesemini at Spirit Lake.

When I got to the party everyone was there and was standing around talking. Becky Coffman immediately came over and said “My daughter is having a baby!” to which I replied “I didn’t know you even had a dog!” My George Thoroughgood ear strikes again, I really need to get my hearing checked. Nice start to my celebration of her husband’s retirement don’t you think? The food was great and I ended up getting to fish a bit. There was a huge bass under the dock, but he plumb evaded me. After that I spent the rest of the time chatting and eating until about 6 pm when I snuck out and to get back to Linda.

The drive back to camp was not bad; in fact I got a real good look at a coyote running across the road in front of the Jeep. The camp host came by and we bought a bundle of wood from him, it cost $5 but for one night that is not bad. The host noticed my Habitat hat and we started talking about volunteering, full time camping and the wonders of retirement. I guess I just have to get used to these conversations and hope that they don’t make me too antsy to get out there. We went to bed about 9:30 pm and read, camp quieted down about 10 pm.

Saturday morning Linda got up and ran then walked the dog. I wandered out and had my coffee. When they returned Linda took a shower and I worked on her bike. Her bike is so old that the front gear cables have cracked and her cable has shot out of the covering making it impossible to shift. I cut the cable and pulled it to a spot that allowed the chain to run on the middle front chain ring. Then I looped it around and fastened it in place to one of her water bottle screws. Caveman bike repair at its best!

We took the dog and our bikes down to the event area and watched the start of the Gauntlet short course triathlon. This event is part of the Adventure Sports Week that was happening all week. Watching the event and its organization, I decided that our NIChallenge adventure race has run much smoother in the past then this one. We just don’t have the big XTERRA logo backing us. I imagine just having the ability for teams and individuals to qualify for a national event would bring more participants, that’s what XTERRA does for this event.

The start of the triathlon took some time because the swim pilon kept floating away turning the swim leg from a short course to a very long one.

After the event got started we rode around the area by the event area and returned home. I checked my phone and Alex had texted that they would not be out due to illness. That’s was too bad, we were excited to see their trailer set up and have dinner with them.

The rest of our day was walks with the dog, bike rides and I even went down to the lake fishing for a while. I tossed Mepps and Rostertails, but I guess the fish wanted something else.

We fixed dinner and ate around the campfire. We had Chicken Alfrado from Costco with garlic bread. After dinner we walked around both campgrounds and enjoyed seeing the million of different camping arrangements.
Back at camp and as I type this blog entry, a horn starts honking in the distance. One of our fellow campers has opened their vehicle doors and the theft alarm has sounded. I smile, this is the sixth time that we have hears a horn sound “honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk, honk!” I am sure it is not the last time this will happen. It’s one of the large campground events that I look forward to when we stay in these facilities, that and the sound of heavy sleepers snoring in the distance.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Mylar Balloons, Wolves, and Moose Stumps

We loaded up the old camper and headed up the Coeur d'Alene River to the Shoshone Creek turn off, and then chugged up to our favorite spot by Rampike Creek. The weather was a bit hit and miss but we have been trying to get away for about four weeks now.

Over the weekend we noticed that there was very little traffic on the roads. Most camps were open, so I guess the rain has done the job there. We took our bikes and did a bunch of riding each day. Kobi is a real good bike dog. We were able to control him most of the time.

When Kobi is in his fun chase mode he can get a bot out of control some times. It's not bothersome to most people, but can get Linda and I a little tense when he takes off and runs, and then does not come back when we call him. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does it is usually brought on by other animals; dogs, cats, or things that move.

Like I said the rain came off and on over the weekend but it didn't stop our daily camp duties. We built fires each day and actually were able to keep them going in between showers. As we sat, warming by the fire I noticed a bright spot in the trees across the road and up toward the top of the ridge. At first I thought it was a bird and the white area was it's head. So we got out the binoculars and tried to get a better look. It wasn't a bird, we knew that for sure, but it really looked like a mylar balloon stuck in the tree. We looked and talked about it for the longest time. It could be a hole in the tree branches that reach through to the sky over the ridge, but it was really far down on the ridge and that really didn't fit the perspective. Mylar balloons were our best answer, but we could not prove that for a fact so that is where we left it.

Linda worked out each day and took Kobi with here when ever possible. On Sunday she ran down river without the dog. On the return leg of her run she was running past one of the big camps down river when she saw what she though was a wolf running across the road in front of her. Now she will admit that it could have been a coyote, but it looked much bigger then the coyotes she has seen in the past. It gave her quite a scare and made her nervous the rest of the way back to camp. There are wolves up in this area, people have been seeing them for the past several years. We are sticking to this story, it may be a little weak due to it being early morning and only Linda seeing the critter, it makes a better story in my book.

On the way home from our weekend, we were driving along the main tributary of the Coeur d'Alene River. The speed limit is 50 mph but because of the road conditions and the big camper I always drive slower. As we came around a corner, I spotted a moose in the backwater of the river. His head was down and it looked like he was feeding. As we got closer, the moose changed into a tree stump. Wow magic! Well I guess it may have been my eyes and the fact that I was driving. At least Linda's wolf was confirmed to be either a wolf or coyote.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend - Saturday AM

We elected to stay home this Memorial Day weekend. It was a hard decision and we went back and forth all week trying to make up our minds. Main reason we didn't want to go out was the weather, second reason were the crowds. The projected forecast was for rain followed by more rain with a possible break Sunday after noon and maybe Monday. Linda's quote was "I don't want to sit in the camper with you for three days!" I think she was right on that one, I can be a bit of a nuisance if I can't go out and do something.

We made our final decision not to camp on Tuesday night and I think we are glad we stuck to it. Saturday morning we loaded the dog into the Jeep and took a bit of a drive. We bundled up in sweatshirts, coats and stocking caps then turned the heat on in the Jeep and rumbled on over 4th of July Pass to Rose Lake. At Rose Lake wee took the River Road and made our way to a place that Tom Husby had told me about. Some folks had put a large pole up in their front lawn so that an Osprey might nest there. The nesting box drew a pair of owls and they had proceeded to parent a pair of baby owls. We could see the head of one of the parents from our spot on the ground, they were nestled in real cozy, probably due to the rain. We watched for a bit and then drove on along the River Road.

We followed the road which wound around back to and over I-90. Then it followed the shore of the slew and we wound up crossing the Coeur d'Alene River ending up back at the Enaville exit. From there we headed up the river to see how the hordes of campers were surviving the rain.

Our travels took us up to Bumblebee Campground and then up over Fernan Saddle back to Coeur d'Alene. Every camp site was packed with wet campers. Some camps had as many as five RV rigs and ten vehicles parked in the mud, we were not surprised, just a bit in awe. As we drove the back roads we encountered trucks pulling trailers, cars, pickups and all sorts of ATV like toys. If you wanted to get away for some solitude, this was not the weekend for that.

We were amazed at the number of people in each camp site. With the rain and the numbers, the camp areas should be a real mess by the end of this holiday.

Once we drove up to the Fernan Saddle we were ready to get back home so we stopped for lunch and returned to the warmth of our house. We have one of the best campers anyone would want, I feel we should be out in it every weekend, but this weekend I am glad we stayed home. Let those other folks get out doors with all their friends in the rain.