Saturday, October 17, 2009

Went to a conference.
Got Blown Away

This week I went to a conference in Ellenburg, Wa. At the conference we were able to go on a field trip as part of the entertainment. We loaded into busses and they took us out to the Wild Horse Wind Farm. It was a very interesting trip, I really enjoyed all the information we were given.

According to the Wikipedia page on the Wild Horse Wind Farm:

The Wild Horse Wind Farm is a 229-megawatt wind farm built by Puget Sound Energy that consists of one hundred twenty-seven 1.8-megawatt Vestas V80 turbines on a 8,600-acre (3,500 ha) site in Kittitas County, Washington, 15 miles (24 km) east of Ellensburg, Washington. The turbines are placed on the high open ridge tops of Whiskey Dick Mountain, which was chosen for its energetic wind resource, remote location, and access to nearby power transmission lines. The towers are 221 feet (67 m) tall, and the diameter of each rotor is 264 feet (80 m), larger than the wingspan of a Boeing 747. The turbines can begin producing electricity with wind speeds as low as 9 mph (14 km/h) and reach full production at 31 mph (50 km/h). They shut down at sustained wind speeds of 56 mph (90 km/h). Average annual output is about 642,000 MW·h.
We also traveled over to the Gorge Amphitheatre and had a finger food dinner at Cave B Inn At Sagecliffe. I took a few pictures of the stand-alone Cliffehouses, they go for quite a bit, we heard that it was $600 per night for a concert package with a 2 night minimum.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Steelhead fishing and then Hell's Gate

The river flowed past at just the right speed. Its depth was almost exactly how you would want it for good steelhead fishing. Access to the area came via a trail that was smoothed and worked by fishermen who had been there many times for many years. Linda and I arrived in the dark of night. We set up the camper and fixed our dinner. I brought my fishing poles into the camper and set them up for the next day. I put new planer boards on each line then tied on a swivel followed by leader and a second swivel. At the end I attached a Hot Shot. The two pole license allowed me two set-ups and I took advantage of this program. The focus of this visit was fishing, so getting up early the next morning meant going to bed early.

I ate breakfast and hurried down to the fishing hole where I set my poles and settled into my chair waiting for the first hit. Around noon, as I was reading my book, a gentleman arrived. He introduced himself as Phillip and asked if I minded if he and his wife fished with me and camped up river from us on the pull out. I recognized the name as one of the folks who had been fishing this particular hole for twenty years, so I said of course they could join us. Phil hiked up to the road and parked their trailer. Within about a half hour he was back down, setting up in their “spot” down river from where I was fishing.

Phil was a quiet man, but we talked a lot about our family connection with the Wassmuths. This was the location that Mike’s dad fishes with Phil and his wife Norma. Laurence, Mike’s dad, fished in the location I had my gear set up and Phil smiled and recounted many stories of fish caught by Laurence, Norma and himself as we sat and watched our poles.

About an hour later, the first fish hit my pink Hot Shot. The pole it hit on was my heavier bass rod, light for steelheading. I worked the fish in to shore, it ran several times, but I was able to get the drag loose enough to keep it hooked. Phil got his net and I brought the fish in, it was close enough that I could see that it was a wild fish and very long. As soon as the fish saw Phil, it ran. I was adjusting the drag, but not quickly enough and there was a huge pull and then the rod went limp and the fish was gone. The adrenalin of the excitement coursed through me and I looked at the folks around me, wow, what a fish!

We fished the rest of the day but caught nothing. As the day went on Phil talked a little more and I really enjoyed the day.

The next morning we were down by the river at sun up. Phil built a fire and we watched the river flow. We saw three dear across on a far beach, spotted domesticated goats eating weeds on a mountain top and had an otter swim past; it was a good morning. Phil and Norma caught two fish, one wild one and a keeper. Norma brought Phil a hot meal down to the river; I sat next to the fire content with my oatmeal breakfast that I ate before I walked down and set up. We fished till about 10:30 AM and then I put the gear away and Linda and I thanked Phil and Norma for letting us share the fishing hole. I could tell it held a lot of memories.

We drove up to Hells Gate State Park in Lewiston where we met Daren and Marcy. We set up camp and went for a couple of long walks. I was getting ready to go into town with the group when I recognized voices from the camp area next to us. It turns out that John and David Boller, long time family friends, were camped next to us. I said hi and we chatted for a few minutes but I had to get going. It was Sunday and we were off to introduce the Upchurches to the Main Street Grill where we had another great lunch. I took two long walks with Kobi that day and in the evening we sat around the campfire till it got too cold and we needed to fix dinner.

Monday morning Linda got up and walked the dog and then we packed the camper up and drove home. It was a very nice relaxing weekend; we enjoyed all aspects of the adventure. We definitely are going to have to consider the weather and projected temperatures for our next upcoming adventures. It reached 16 degrees this weekend and we used a lot of propane heating the camper. I think I have a long weekend coming up around my birthday and then we may have to put the TC away for the winter. That will be a sad day. We will have all the photos and stories from the summer to remember and smile about. That will carry us through to our trip to Mexico and then possibly into spring when we start camping again.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Steelhead, FISH ON!

This weekend we had to get away! I was on my eleventh straight day of work and Linda was coming off a bad couple of days. The weather did not look good, they were calling for rain on Friday and on through the rest of the weekend. I got a crazy idea about going down to the Salmon River and trying to catch some Steelhead and Linda went along with it. We loaded up the camper and headed south.

At the base of Whitebird Pass lays the small town of Whitebird. We drove through downtown and followed the road down toward the river, turning right on to Lyons Lane. This road is the one you have to travel to get to Wassmuth Hole, a secret fishing spot where the Wassmuth family has fished for centuries. Mike Wassmuth was down on the river at this very spot last weekend and caught some great steelhead.

Traveling was slow and we immediately cranked straight up a hill that was so steep Linda held her breath till we reached the top and then closed her eyes and screamed all the way down. It was a bit of a steep pitch for our truck, but we made it and continued on at about three miles per hour the rest of the three miles till we thought we were at the hole.

It was just starting to get dark, so we found a nice wide area, stopped, and set up camp. I had good access to the river from this spot and figured that Friday I would find the “Hole” and catch some big guys. We made dinner, played cribbage and went to bed.

I was up at 5:30 am and got my breakfast. As soon as the sun came up I had my lure in the water and I was fishing for steelhead! The day was amazing. I sat in the sun and fished while Linda sat back at the truck reading and catching some well deserved rays. Not only was the sun out, it was quite hot. As the day went by, I stripped off layer after layer until I was in a T-shirt and shorts.

At one o’clock I caught my first fish. She was a real beauty, not huge, but a really good size. She fought and actually jumped out of the water three times, but I finally landed her. I was really excited and that one fish made my whole weekend.

Back at the truck Linda and Kobi were sunning and enjoying the day. I returned and showed off my fish, which I put in the freezer. By three o’clock the weather started changing and so did my mood. I was real nervous about driving our truck back up that steep hill if the ground was soaked from rain. The skies were looking really bad to the south and I did not like the thought of sliding off that steep road and into the river. I convinced Linda to pack up and leave so we could avoid that potential outcome.

It took about forty minutes and we were on the way out crawling along. When we hit the big hill I geared down and put it in four wheel drive. The truck handled it with style, but it was a tough slow go. I was glad to get out before it got soaked and possibly slick with mud.

We drove to Hammer Creek Recreation Area and all the sites were full. Then we headed south to see if we could find a spot, but couldn’t and we turned back up highway 95. At this point we had several thoughts. Drive back to Lewiston and stay at Hells Gate State Park, drive back to the Pine Bar area and try to find a spot down there, or pay to stay at Swiftwater RV campground that was by the bridge going to Hammer Creek. We stopped to check out the Swiftwater RV place and decided to stay there. By this time it was about four o’clock and I was getting tired. We found our spot and got set up.

I made dinner at about 6:30 PM and the rain started at 7:30 PM. I was nervous thinking that I had moved us out of that great spot and the rain was not going to come. I normally don’t smile when it starts raining, but today I did.