Monday, October 24, 2011

Pros and Cons of Fishing with Dave Kesey

Take a look at this:

That's Dave Kesey with a steelhead on the end of his flyrod. On one hand, I'm happy for him. Yay, Dave.

On the other 5,000 hands, I get just a little bit tired of seeing that happen, followed by this happening:

Dave Kesey holding a fish. I have to take ibuprofen to relieve the carpal tunnel I get from working the camera button, taking all those shots of Dave Kesey holding another fish he's caught.

It's just plain tiresome.

He'll let me take the first crack at a piece of water and I'll run my gear through, fish it real careful and get nothing. Then I throw a few grenades in there to make sure he has no chance of picking up a fish, but somehow the guy fishes the same water and just conjures steelhead out of the same drift I managed to do nothing with.


Here's our camp, down on the Imnaha, across from Lightning Creek. Photo taken at early morning. I was all bleary-eyed, but Dave had been up all night, sharpening hooks and cleaning the guides on his fly rod.

Here's a contorted view of sumac along the trail leading down to Eureka Bar on the Snake River. Not sure what I was doing with the camera angle on that one. But in my defense, I was delirious from hiking 10 miles in waders.

Dave had set out at dawn and hiked on ahead. Mike Baird and I stayed back at camp for the frivolous activity of having a cup of coffee and eating breakfast. Dave doesn't really eat when he fishes....just sort of draws sustenance from the air through some kind of osmosis.

And I passed him on the trail without seeing him, somehow, though I can't figure how. You can see the river the whole way down so the only explanation, really, is that he becomes invisible so the fish can't see him or whatever.

I can practice casting all I want, but some aspects of Dave's fishing technique I'm afraid I'll never be able to master. Like being magic. Nobody caught nothing that day. Except Dave. He caught a steelhead the day before, when nobody was catching steelhead. Caught another one the next day. Hooked a gigantic adult salmon that ran his line out to the backing before shaking the hook. Landed a smaller, five-pound jack salmon--on top of the steelhead. And then he yawned and said, "Ah, the fishing wasn't great...."

But the fish threw me a bone on the last day and I at least caught one. Pretty sure they just felt sorry for me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Water Trees

Darren Senn, everybody . . .

Just spent a roaring weekend at Black Butte Ranch for the annual Get Together With A Bunch of Guys I've Known Forever celebration.

Fourth grade is when I met some of these fellers. Then high school. Then college. Same fellers, you understand. Couldn't get enough of sitting in the same classrooms so we just went ahead and all went to the same college for a while.

At that bastion of higher education known to scholars the world round as Southern Oregon State College . . . except they call it Southern Oregon University now, I think . . . SOSC to SOU. That turns the nickname from "sock" to, I dunno . . . "sow," I guess. Nice move, SOSC/SOU transition committee. Way to rebrand. Sucks you had to buy so many new doors because students started beating them down trying to get in after your snazzy updated name.

Where were we . . . ah, yes. SOSC. So the merry band of Pleasant Hill High School graduates Mike, Darren, Jude and myself arrived in Ashland and straightaway got into a big gang rumble with Cyrus Cain, Scott Milani and Darryl Coppedge. They called themselves "The Warriors." The PHill gang cruised around on rollerskates, we had our brawl, which is really hard to do on rollerskates, but then we patched things up and now we're pals.

So we play poker for three days every year, interspersed with hiking, poker, frisbee golf where Darren hits Scott's rental car with one of the little frisbees . . . also real golf where we should have tried to hit Scott's rental car with golf balls but I just thought of it now . . . and swimming pool football and whatever else.

That pose of Darren's is really something. Reeeeeaaaally something.

So before you look at the following pictures taken on our hike this year, I must warn you that they are startling. I assure you they have not been run through photoshop, but will make your eyes exit your face all the same just from sheer amazement.

The trick, my friends, is -- no. I simply cannot reveal my secrets. But check out these trees here.

Or are they?

What? Grass growing out of the sky and ripples around that tree on the left? What in the name of Zeus is . . . .

Now pine needles and pond scum? I don't . . . I just . . . how can . . . .

OK, that's too much. Now the pine needles are scattered all over the trees like some sort of Jackson Pollock-y scratchboard thing combined with an otherwise plain-jane painting of trees.

Aside from mind-bending photos of trees reflected in a shallow pond, we managed to have enough of a good time that there's talk now of making this a bi-annual event. I'm for that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ghostly image of frozen turkey carcass

Started out the week with a bonfire. It looked like this.

Then I'm just toodling through the yard one morning and glance down to see this --

Which is . . . uh . . .

At first I thought it vaguely resembled the outline of a Thanksgiving turkey. Kind of stretched out, but you see it, right? A turkey outline?


After much paranormal investigation I narrowed it down to a ghostly bird carcass emblazoned on my frosty yard . . . or the spot where my dog was laying--or is it lying? down. And her body heat melted the frost.

Either one.

Not sure.

Jury's out.

Could go either way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wallowa County road closure reaction

Reaction to the last Furthermore column--posted below about how crappy it is I can't get to firewood and the Forest Service wants to close more roads--has been positive. At least from the focus group of people I've bumped into who talked to me.

I've even got a secret source who cuts firewood for their own home, but also works for a certain government agency (rhymes with "Florist Circus") who, after agreeing with me that the proposed road closures are, and I quote, "dumb," went on to request anonymity.

At least they requested anonymity after I said, 'Sweet, I'll do a follow-up story saying I've got agreement from within the machine.'

And then they were like, 'Uhhh....but then I'd be an ex-employee, don't do that.'

I shall call this person "Zanthabar," because usually I find pseudonyms to be, well, dumb. You're reading some expose' and the writer quotes Dave or Sally with some earthshattering thing or another and then they point out they're calling Ron or Susie this or that because Ron or Susie fear for their safety or job or whatever.

Why not 'Roscoe The Brave' or 'Shantar, Queen of Earthshattering Facts.' I mean, if you're going to give out fake names at least make them snappy.

So rest easy, Zanthabar.....your secret identity is safe and known only to myself. I will tell nobody. Unless they say they can keep a secret real good and then maybe I'll tell them.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bowhiking and firewood that you won't

Here's the Chieftain 'And Furthermore' I sent in for next week. Kind of an expansion of the bowhiking post put on here earlier.

I’d like to thank the deer and elk of the Minam and Imnaha units for another fantastic bowhiking season. Once again, I got my exercise for the year out of the way during archery season and will be filling my freezer with veggie burgers after never getting off a shot.

I consider bowhunting my version of a gym membership, where I pay ODFW to get in some cardio, or whatever it’s called when you move around and sweat. I don’t ever fill my tag, but I do get kind of in shape from all that walking around while carrying my bow. Bowhiking, I like to call it. Exerting energy doesn’t generally strike me as a good idea and I need motivation if I’m going to walk any distance or climb something steep. Like being chased. Or chasing something else. Like an elk herd.

Mike Baird does not share my cautious approach toward exercise. Baird let me tag along on a few of his elk forays this season, though they struck me as more of an Iron Man competition than the ‘little strolls’ he would describe them as. By late afternoon, I would be looking for materials to build a hut with, resigned to never getting out of the wilderness, when Baird would hear a distant bugle from three drainages away and merrily set off, saying if we just climbed this ridge, got to that summit, traversed that rock slide and scratched our way through miles of underbrush, we’d be there in no time.

And by golly we’d do it and Baird would bugle an elk in, but we never got a shot. Mike suggested I quit using my cow call and try to get my money back because it didn’t sound natural. Almost like something was suffering. I hadn’t been using a cow call, just wheezing, trying to breathe after an endurance march he would call, ‘just hiking right over there.’

Aside from the forced exercise, another bonus of bowhiking is finding firewood. Now and then you stumble on a patch of wood you may not have seen without wandering around. I found some prime tamarack this year. Cords and cords of it, just on the edge of old logging roads that all turned out to have tank traps blocking access.

If the Forest Service goes through with closing more roads, I hope they’ll offer some public education meetings about switching to propane or oil heat because I don’t know a thing about it. How do you stick your tag on a cord of propane? Do I need to use bar oil if I’m cutting a load of heating oil? I’m confused, Forest Service. Can we have access to all the paperwork generated by the road closure plan? There might be enough BTU’s there to power Wallowa County woodstoves for a winter.

I went to one of Ron Thies’ woodcutting meetings where I heard a good point: if the Forest Service is interested in fuels reduction, firewood cutters are doing their job for them. And paying for the privilege. I’ve also been to a Forest Service meeting where they explained needing to reduce fuels in the woods, and were going about it by spending lots of money.

If these road closures happen I’ve got another request: that the thermostats in the offices where this plan was cooked up be blocked by filing cabinets or cubicle dividers—some obstruction that makes it a challenge to get heat. Policy makers will be able to see the heat source but not get to it, a lot like that tamarack in the woods I can’t get to. If there’s a fire in that part of the office and fire crews can’t get there because a path that used to exist has been blocked off, well, at least the carpet has had a chance to regenerate because you haven’t been trampling on it.

I suppose I’d get more exercise if the road closures happen, walking around with my chainsaw and not finding anything to use it on. Just like bowhiking during archery season.

Around the old chrome microphone

And Furthermore column, Wallowa County Chieftain August 31, 2011

There’s an old chrome microphone at KWVR Radio that stood in the corner when I worked there. A cool old microphone. Something that would be on the bandstand back when poodle skirts were in fashion. The kind of microphone newscasters in fedoras would have used to announce that Prohibition was over. It reminded me of the grill on a sedan a mobster would drive to a tommy gun shootout. I really liked that microphone and when we started an evening show with live broadcasts of local music, I finally got to use it. Some musicians admired the mic, discussing the merits of its sound properties. All I knew was it looked reeeeally good and putting noise onto the airwaves was just classier using that chunk of chrome.

I hauled that mic around the valley, broadcasting Jimmy Lloyd Rea from the lake, fiddle contests at Cloverleaf Hall, did a show from the Imnaha Tavern. Bronze Blues and Brews. Lots of venues. But the best fit with that microphone was in the lobby of the radio station with Bob and Jan Casey, Charlie Trump and Len Samples circled around the mic stand. Bob squeezed his squeezebox, Charlie fiddled, Jan on keyboard and Len guitar.

It was old-timey barndance hoedown toe-tappy, smile-on-your-face feelgood music. They were having fun. I was having fun watching them have fun. I wished we had video as well as audio so the folks listening could see this too. Len Samples did this thing with his shoulder, where his whole torso was involved in his guitar strokes. It started when he put his shoulder into it, went down to the strings and seemed to come back around in a loop. I’m no musician, but I’ve watched a fair number of guitar players and never seen anyone play quite like Len. I think of how easy and content Len’s guitar playing looked every time I see a guitar player wincing, seeming to be in pain while battling it out with their guitar.

So I miss Len Samples. Charlie Trump too. And I’m going to miss Bob Casey. He told me he learned the squeezebox from a Basque sheepherder. Met him out amongst the sheep. Heard him play squeezebox back at the wagon, figured he’d like to try, so the herder said go get a copy of the National Enquirer magazine and there’s an ad in the back to send away for a squeezebox. So Bob did. The hardest part being the embarrassment of buying a National Enquirer.

Bob Casey was awfully good at making me laugh. I’d only run into him now and then, but it was pretty much a guarantee he’d get me to laugh. Even the time he explained a major trauma he’d just gone through years ago, he somehow got me to laugh when that was the very last thing on my list of things to do.

I noticed grey hairs in my sideburns a month ago. Pointed them out to friends who pointed out they’d been there longer than a month. Getting old is still new to me. My least favorite part so far is trying to adjust to the growing list of people who aren’t here anymore that I’d rather were still around. I don’t care for that part.

I’ve driven by Bob and Jan’s place many times since I got to know them, singing into that old microphone at the radio station. Often times, passing their place, I thought someday I just might stop in. Visit. Never did. Didn’t want to bother them. Bob’s gone. That bothers me. You were a good guy, Bob Casey. Glad to have known you. See if you can trade that harp in for a squeezebox.