Friday, October 20, 2017

Lake Texhoma State Park, Denison Texas

After Newton we headed south. Crossing most of Oklahoma, we spent a night in Ardmore, Oklahoma before crossing into Texas where we turned east intending to spend a few nights in Eisenhower State Park. Arriving at the State park we lucked out and got one of the last two campsites available.
The next morning, we decided to check out the two fishing docks and see if we could find the fossil described in the park brochure. At the lighted dock we waked out and didn’t see any baitfish. Not a good sign if you are trying to catch stripers.
As we head back to the truck we paused on the ramp and I immediately spotted a fossil ammonite. These fossils are usually hard to find, but not here! We walked along the shoreline and pointed out the large fossils.
It is illegal to collect rocks in Texas State parks and so we had to settle for images. Driving to the second fishing pier we walked down the eighty steps and found more fossils. These were bivalves, pelecypods, which oysters area modern example.
On the way back up the steps Renita was greeted by our first Texas snake. It quickly moved into thick brush and we decided to leave well enough alone. I had hoped to get a picture of a copperhead, as they are plentiful here, but we never did see one.
When I fished at Lake Havasau, the bite was at four am, and so the next morning I headed to the lighted dock. Renita opted to sleep in, smart girl. The dock was lit up but there wasn’t anyone fishing, usually a bad sign in a populated area. I walked down to the dock and didn’t see any schools of shad. They are the stripers main forage and so no shad means no stripers.
Later that morning I returned to the dock just as a fisherman was landing a small white bass. He had four on the stringer and he quickly added a fifth fish. He was using live minnows and after talking a bit I headed back to our campsite. Later we found a bait shop and purchased a bag of frozen gizzard shad.
Renita and I fished for three hours without a bite. There were several families catching small sunfish, but the only excitement was when two flocks of ducks landed. They quickly paddled over and looked at us, as if saying, where’s the bread? We don’t feed wildlife.
We never did catch anything, but it was an enjoyable day on the lake, just what we needed! The next day was too windy to fish but it was a good day to take a nice walk. There are several different trails and we covered many of them, before we drove back to our fifth wheel.

It had been a good stop at a pretty state park, and it reminded us that we spend way too much time at private campgrounds. Unfortunately, some of our favorite state parks are closed from flooding and hurricane damage, but we still hope to spend time at Galveston Island.  Clear skies

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Newton, Kansas, Friends and Rocks

From Dodge City, we headed east to the town of Newton. It’s just north of Wichita, and there we were going to spend five nights. Our friends Bob and Nancy moved there this summer, and we needed to do some catching up, (Bob and I taught together for thirty years and spent eighteen years as partners, fishing the Walleye Circuit). We also had to drive to Kansas City where we were going to buy a beautiful piece of jade.
Finding a nice campground, Spring lake, we were happy to discover it was a Passport America Park. That saved us half of the camping cost! The next day we all headed to Kansas City to meet with the son of the Master Lapidarist, Dick Cline. Dick was our mentor and taught us more about lapidary, rock saws, and rock then everyone else combined. He passed away in May, at the age of ninety-two, just after we left Corpus Christi.
Arriving at Dana’s house Theresa invited us in and we talked of all the knowledge that Dick had imparted. He not only knew more about lapidary, but he had also traveled to twenty-three foreign countries where he had worked building nuclear power plants.
After Dana had told me of his Dad’s passing, he also asked if I wanted any of Dicks rough. I told him I really would like to buy a piece of jade from his dads shop and Dana and Theresa agreed to sell it to us.
He also asked me if I would help him price the other jade and so we spent about two hours. Dick had as good of a collection of Wyoming Jade as just about anybody and so it was a joy to handle the material. Not only were there several pieces of Edwards Jade, including a piece with the red rind, but there were also quite a few slabs of the finest apple green jade.
Dana and Theresa still have more things to do at Corpus and so I offered to lend them a helping hand. Saying our goodbyes, we headed back to Newton, where we were warmly greeted by our guard dog Molly, (she turns sixteen this month and has slowed down a lot, but is doing good for such a tough old girl).
The next few days, we spent taking walks around the city and meeting with Nancy’s cousin Mark and his wife. They had asked to see our work and so we set up a private showing. Mark is a master goldsmith and complimented us on our wire wrapping. His wife paid us the highest compliment as she hired us to wire wrap some Caribbean beach glass, (they sail the Caribbean each summer and they often collect beach glass).
The time went to quickly as the stories and memories were all told and retold.  Bob is like a brother to me and he helped to mentor me when I first started teaching.  They have expressed an interest in buying a summer place at Star Valley and we really hope they do. It’s a lot cooler there then it is in Kansas.

It was time to move on, a cold front blasted through and so we hooked up the rig and headed further south. We took two days to drive through Oklahoma and arrived at Eisenhower State Park in Texas. It’s a beautiful place where we will spend five nights before moving to the Gulf Coast!  Clear skies

Friday, October 6, 2017

Running form the Snow

It seems like we cut it closer every year. With three more doctor’s appointments, getting the truck and fifth wheel ready, and of course a last fishing day all caused us delay. As we got ready to leave, a strong arctic cold front caught us and so we had to clean snow off the fifth wheel and truck. Luckily it warmed up enough to clear the roads as we hooked up and pulled out.
The first day we had to weatherize the Bighorn and so we didn’t leave until ten am. Driving further then we like to, we made it to Rawlins,Wyoming. The next day’s afternoon forecast was for forty mile an hour plus winds and a winter storm watch and so we left early, trying to make it over the Elk Mountain pass.
The crosswinds were strong but we made it through the pass and by the time we reached Laramie, the drive became easier. Still we drove to Cheyenne and then into Nebraska finally reaching Chappell. There we spent two nights waiting out more high wind warnings and taking  a break from the drive.
I had forgotten our computer power supply and so we drove fifty miles to Sidney, Nebraska. Pursing a power supply we returned home to discover that the power supply did not fit our Dell computer, even though it was labeled for Dells.
Still the next day we headed out. Its harvest time here and so we passed brown fields of sun flowers, corn, and lots of sorghum, all waiting for the combines and grain bins. At one point a truck pulled out of a field in front of another truck and I had to pull our rig onto the shoulder. The oncoming truck was able to stop, and so, thank God, all was well. My hat was off to the truck driver that was paying attention!
We spent the next night at the fairgrounds in Colby, Kansas and while we were there we exchanged the power supply for one that worked. It rained heavy that night and most of the next morning. We finally reached Dodge City and parked at a dry gravel pull though in a pricey rv park. The temperature today is nearly seventy and we are both glad we missed the snowstorm at Elk Mountain. Here we bought some more things we left in Wyoming and took another rest.
Tomorrow, should be an east day as we are only driving for three hours to Newton, Kansas. There we are going to purchase some rocks, go figure, and meet up with my fishing and teaching partner Bob. They sold their place in Rapid City and moved to eastern Kansas to be nearer his wife’s family.

Clear skies and Safe Travels

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Paving Paradise, My Last Day of 2017 Fishing on The Greys River in Wyoming

The ladies were going shopping and so George and I opted for a last day of fishing on the Greys. Hunting season is going on and so we hoped there wouldn’t be too much fishing pressure. Driving up the road, I simply had to stop several times to take in the beauty of the valley. Snow covered the high alpine landscape and the cirques, telling us to remember the coming winter. The aspens were starting to turn, and frost glazed the grassy meadows.
Reaching one of our favorite fishing spots, we stopped and geared up. It’s cold now and so that usually means fishing nymphs. We both put on a double nymph setup with split shot and strike indicators. Walking to the stream I made several casts before my indicator moved and I set the hook on a nice mountain whitefish.
Releasing the lively fish, I made several more casts and hooked and released another whitefish. They are fun to catch but we were looking for the native Snake River cut throats. Gorge moved down to where I was fishing and we decided to drive upriver.
We passed quite a few hunting camps but didn’t see any game hanging to cool. Reaching the next spot, an unlikely looking meander, it wasn’t long before I saw George fighting a nice fish. I went to the truck and got my landing net as I wanted to get a picture of George with the beautiful cut.
He fought the fish and expertly guided the beautiful fish to my waiting net. It was a nice fat fish, about seventeen inches long, and after a quick coupe of pictures, he released the fish back into its home. Returning to the stream we both fished some more but didn’t have any more luck.
Heading further upstream, we tried another spot where we have had some great days, but it was to no avail. The fish simply weren’t interested. George said he knew of another place further upstream. Upon rounding a bend, I stopped the truck as neither one of us could believe what we were seeing! Before us was any eyesore beyond belief, a newly paved air strip.
It dominated the narrow floodplain. It was truly amazing to both of us the someone could be so crass, so insensitive to the beauty of the wild river, as to put such a blight on the landscape. I later learned that the Lincoln County Commission had, in 2013 despite strong opposition, approved a twenty-plot development of million-dollar homes. One such web page said that they would even put in a convenience store and gas station!
We drove a little further up the Greys River Road but time was running out and so we turned around. Passing the airstrip, (did I mention there were more no trespassing signs in that short stretch then exits along the rest of the sixty-mile long stream), I stopped to take an image of the eyesore.
Further downstream we stopped at our last spot and George caught and released a small cut. I finally hooked one but the fish pulled off. I joked with George that my fish was larger than his, after all the one that gets away usually is!
I guess some call it progress, some look at it as an addition to the counties tax base, but to me the development and air strip is simply an eyesore. I do hope someone is monitoring the water quality in the valley. At least then there will be some continued documentation of the destruction of a once wild river valley. Clear skies

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Another Day of Bear Watching in Grand Teton National Park

Time has almost run out on us and even though it’s just the beginning of Fall the snow level has reached our base camp. Still we took time for two more fun days, another day of bear watching and one last day fishing the Greys River.
Heading back to Grand Teton National Park, we first drove to the ponds near the visitor center. Not much was going on so we continued to drive down the road. Driving slow, we pulled over several times to let people pass us. If the people would just slow down they would see more!
Our patience was rewarded as we spotted a bear moving along the hillside and we could pull into an actual pull off spot, (you are only allowed to park in designated spots and they are few along this road). The black bear climbed into a hawthorn tree and began to feed on the berries.
Others stopped and soon a park naturalist arrived and took control of the parking. She also ordered everyone to the far side of the road as the bear was too close for safety, (you are required to be at least twenty-five yards from moose, elk and buffalo, and one hundred yards away from a bear).
We stood and watched as the bear continued to feed, pulling branches down so it could glean every berry off the tree! Finally, it had its full of the sweet berries and climbing down it headed toward our road. The ranger became excited and told us to clear a space for the bear to cross the road!
She had already placed traffic cone to stop people from illegally parking and the bear stopped to sniff them before it decided to taste one, perhaps a warning to the ranger and to us that the bear didn’t care nor like humans. Not finding it agreeable it final dropped the cone and strolled across the road, about twenty yards away. Everyone stood still, as it started to run into the trees!
We thanked the park naturalist for her help with the bear, (at one point she passed out bear identification cards), loaded into our car and headed back to the ponds.
As we neared the ponds another animal jam blocked the road. There was only one lane left and we slowly drove past, spotting a cow and calf moose, feeding in a small pond.
Reaching the other ponds, we parked and walked down the road. It was only two days later and fresh bear sign was everywhere. It had rained the day before and so it was easy to spot all the new bear scat! Fresh scat was everywhere! We didn’t see any more bears but it was still eerie knowing that at any time a bear could come out of the woods, (By the way this is an image of the bear that surprised us the last trip)!
There were some hooded mergansers and a flock of mallard ducks.
We had just missed an osprey as it plunged into the pond and flew away clutching a nice cut throat trout. A photographer got a great sequence of images and shared them with us. The trip isn’t just about bears and moose.
Time had flown by and we returned to Jackson for a late lunch time meal in a warm restaurant. Any day we spot a bear is a good day and we counted ourselves lucky. We have seen 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bears and moose, The Best Day Ever in Grand Teton National Park

I was concentrating on the Bull Moose! It was heading our way and so I was trying to get a great image with my cell phone. As I walked up the road I suddenly noticed that a black bear had stepped onto the road only thirty feet away, (the closest I have ever been to a bear while hiking). It looked at me for a bit as I froze and I forgot all about the camera.
A lady on the other of side of the bear yelled, “The bear is going to eat me, I am heading for the car!” and took off running for the parking lot, (the wrong thing to do). Luckily the bear turned its head and ambled into the weeds moving into thicker brush. The moose also seemed to lose interest in everyone and the bear and headed for the lower ponds.
We had decided to have a picnic in Grand Teton National Park and loading up the fly rods, lunch and folding chairs headed out. On the way, I suggested that we should take a quick drive up the Moose Wilson Road looking for bear or moose.
When we arrived, we hiked down the trail and noticed that the trees were overloaded with overripe service berries. A little further we came upon a giant bear scat full of service berry seeds and then we noticed that all the berries seemed to have been eaten off the lower branches.
Heading back, we saw
George and Val were pointing to the trees and in a few more steps we saw a large bull moose. As it approached George, notice the white cowboy hat, it turned and seemed intent on something else. The something else turned out to be a black bear that was trying to get out of the way. That’s when I noticed the bear that I described in the first paragraph.
The bear headed down the hillside and people quickly crowded the edge looking for the bear. Nearing the edge, we could see a small aspen shaking and there it was feeding on some low service berry bushes, (look carefully and you can just see the bear). The bushes were shoulder high and so we only go occasional views of the bear as it reared up to feed on higher branches.
Returning to the truck we talked with some others who told of three bears feeding further down the road. Meanwhile, another moose waded into the pond below, what a start to the day! George and I decide to return down the trail and try to get another viewing of the bear. It had moved quite far away and then it started to run!

It couldn’t be afraid of us and sure enough I spotted a boar grizzly bear feeding. It was about three hundred yards away and so I was unable to get a good image of it, (we had left our best camera at home). It did raise up several times and we could just see it in a clearing as it feed on a berry bush.
After talking with more people about the three bears down the road, we drove further and finally found the bear jam. Carefully driving thought the crowd, I dropped off Renita, George, and Val and tried to find a place to park. A quarter mile past I barely found a spot large enough for our tuck and hiked back to the jam.
As I approached I saw a cub and then reaching Renita I spotted the sow grizzly! She climbed the hill and disappeared followed closely by her two cubs. I had got their just in time! Our count was now two moose and five bears, the best day ever!
It was already three pm and so we ate lunch, deciding to forget fishing and drive the Gros Ventre road, looking for more wildlife. Passing a park camp ground, I turned into the campground to check out the spaces. Right away we saw a group of people, all looking the same way and taking images. More wildlife!
As we neared there were four large moose. A giant bull moose and his harem! Tuning around I could park in an empty camping spot and we all got out to view the moose.
Several people got to close to the bull and he raised his head uttering a warning! A cow moose became nervous as others got to close and you could see its eye swivel as it was deciding what to do.

The people backed off and both laid their heads down trying to get back to sleep. We had enough images and as it was four o’clock, it was time to head back home. Six moose and five bears, what an outstanding day and what a momentous day after my birthday present!  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Another Day on the Salt River, Fall is Rapidly Approaching

As I floated down the Salt I didn’t think I would catch anything. I had already tried two setups that usually produce fish but they just didn’t work. On top of everything else it started to rain and I was still another mile from my takeout point.
Putting on a small dry fly, I cast to several good looking cut banks but nothing happened. Another meander approached and I cast to a small rapid. As my fly serenely floated along the edge of the rapids a nice cutthroat took the fly and startled I took a second to set the hook!
Lucky for me the fish had hooked itself and I fought in the nice twelve-inch fish. It was fat and sassy and I quickly unhooked it before safely releasing it back into its home. Finally, a fish! Maybe I could salvage the day after all!
Renita had dropped me off at the start of the float and I had high hopes that today would not be a dues day, (A dues day is one of those days where you fish hard, learn some new lessons of what doesn’t work, and pay your dues of time spent learning about the river.
At first, I tried a dry fly with a dropper, a small nymph, but nothing happened. Continuing downstream I made cast after cast, all to no avail. I decided to try another approach and put on two nymphs, wet flies, with a strike indicator and several small split shot. This usually worked but I drifted past hole after hole and didn’t even catch a mountain white fish.
Finally, I caught the fish described above, hoping it could be the start of a productive pattern, Luck is when you catch one fish, two fish mean you are close to doing it right, and three or more fish means you have finally found a good pattern or method that works.
The next hole approached and I cast to the edge of another small rapids. Bingo, another trout took my fly! It was a small fish, only eight inches but another beautiful fine spotted snake river cut throat trout. As I passed the next rapids a nice fish took my fly and I missed it. I stopped and cast several more times but nothing happened.
Beaching my pontoon boat, I cast to other likely looking spots and missed several more fish. Floating further downstream ripples appeared as trout started to go into a feeding frenzy, well not really a frenzy but at least they were eating something. I missed several fish before catching a ten and then a fourteen-inch cut!
Just as quickly, the bite was over, punctuated by the clap of a bolt of lightning. It was time to get off the water and so I hurried to the take-out point! Dragging my pontoon ashore I took out my phone and discovered that water had gotten into it. I tried to call Renita but nothing worked, (yup the phone was done for). Talk about another lesson learned!

Still it had been a good day on the Salt River. I don’t know if I will get out again as the weather has taken a major turn. Temperatures this morning are in the low thirties and next week looks like it will be cold and wet. So perhaps it’s time to finish packing, time to winterize our summer retreat, (our Bighorn fifth wheel), and get the Durango Fifth wheel ready for its journey to warmer climates. Clear skies