Thursday, May 19, 2016

31 Years

Anniversery drive up the Joe.
I sat across from the crackling hot fire and looked at Linda. She was smiling, looking deep into the fire. My heart swelled and all I could think about was how lucky I have been. In my head, I did the math. I am 61+ years old and this anniversary was our 31st since our wedding.  Add on the four years of living in sin (as the parents called it) and we have been side by side for more than half of my life. There is not a minute of that time that I would change; we have had a gifted marriage together.

Every day we laugh at each other’s crazy quirks and just enjoy being together. When Linda goes running every day, the clock in my head keeps track of the time and if I think she is late I start to worry. I am usually there to meet her with Kobi in tow when she returns.

We laugh at Linda’s fierce desire to win in cribbage every time we play and at my stupid playing errors to boot. Beyond loving each other, we really have fun together and have laughter there to keep us grounded.

On this special day, we took a drive and talked a lot about being together and never leaving each other.  May 18th, Mt. St Helen’s Day, our day!

 Spending time out camping on our special life-event days is something we have always done. Being on a river on Linda’s birthday, or getting out and about on mine, is something we always do. This week we had planned to be up the St. Joe River so that we could get a good campsite. Plans were that Holly, Ryan, Zane and Anika would be joining us on the weekend and we were the site grabbers.

Our drive up to Huckleberry Campground on Tuesday was uneventful. Our new truck tires performed well, I guess that was $1700 well spent (I have to keep saying that.) The truck was very full and we were towing the Jeep, so when I got the tires filled I had them put air in our air bag lifts (they did that for free), but I think I put too much in. The ride was different from our last trip. I will experiment with some different pressures.

The camp site we secured was one we have been in before. It has great privacy and is big enough for the size group we might have gotten. We set up the gear and enjoyed the midafternoon.  I got my fishing gear on and went to the river for some fun.  The water was high and fast, but clear. There were fish rising in the slack water of the inside corner where the campground was. I fished there and caught several big fish.  Like all fly fishermen, I changed to different flies trying to tempt the big guys. As I have gotten older, fly fishing has gotten a bit more complicated. My knees keep me from moving about as I used to and my eyes have made it so that I can’t change flies at the drop of a hat.  I have tried to compensate by moving less and using a set of magnifying glasses.

I switched flies and stepped out into the current. I flipped my line and for some reason, things didn’t feel right. I looked down at my vest and couldn’t find my fly box! It was gone! I always take the time to zip it in to its spot, but it was gone!  I reeled up my line and looked downriver but couldn’t see anything.

For the next thirty minutes, I searched the bank, all the small eddies and pockets. I even hiked downriver and waded up looking for my favorite dry-fly box. It was gone!

Needless to say, I was crushed. Walking home all I could think about was all the great flies that just went downriver.  Linda knew something was up when I walked into camp. I knew there was nothing I could do; Linda comforted me as best she could, but I was lost. The box I spent years collecting special flies for specific rivers and conditions was gone.  The only dry flies I had were in my box of Stimulator patterns or in a place where I had hurriedly stuck a fly that I changed off my line. The evening was shrouded with my misery; we played cards, Linda beat me, and we went to bed.

Eagle on log across the river. (Linda's photo)
Our anniversary day was here and I shrugged off the prior evening losses and looked forward to a new day. Linda went running and I baked crumb cake to celebrate our 31 years. We took a long drive upriver to Red Ives and then returned and had a great dinner. It was a great day and we enjoyed being with each other and thanked our lucky stars for the life we have.

Cell Phone Point
One of the neat things about camping at Huckleberry is that you can drive straight uphill out of camp to a point and check your cell phone. It is three miles of the steepest, rough road that you can imagine. You drive up using your first gear and round a corner and right there at the side of the road is a post with a phone on it. The sign reads Cell Phone Point and sure enough as soon as you round that corner, your phone starts beeping and loading everything that has arrived since the last time it was able to connect. How funny is that? The phone on the pole is made of wood, but it sure looks real.  We drive up the road about once a day or so and get our internet stuff caught up on.  Wow, we can even Facebook up there!

And I forgot my quarter.
Last time I was sitting up there I thought of starting a” Go Fund Me” site to help defray the costs of replacing my bazillion dry flies I lost. I know there are fly fishermen out there that understand my loss and would donate to this tragic loss. I wonder if you could deal in flies instead of money on a site like that.

Dinner was Linda’s favorite Costco meal, ravioli. We picked everything up outside and went to bed. At 11:15 PM a huge storm came in and the rain was amazing. We got up and closed all the vents and windows, keeping us dry and happy.  Thunder started so I put on some cloths and went out and brought the dog into the camper. He was scared to death and I really had to coax him out of the truck. Once in the camper he relaxed and went to sleep, and so did we.

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