Friday, July 26, 2013

A Day on the Greys River

A few years ago I fished the Gunnison River in Colorado. There my friend George taught me a fly fishing technique called high sticking. It’s a technique where you let the line and fly float downstream and then cast upstream into a hole. Then you raise you rod high and follow the drifting nymphs downstream, carefully watching your strike indicator.

It’s by far one of the most effective techniques I know, and so I looked forward to teaching my fishing buddy Bob, when he and Nancy visited us at Star Valley. I had taught science with Bob for thirty years and for eighteen of those years we fished walleye tournaments. It was going to be the first time we had fished together since we had retired and I hoped the fish would be there.

Loading our picnic baskets, lawn chairs, and coolers we had enough for the four of us to survive for two or three days. We drove to Alpine and turned up the Grey’s River Road and soon were at the convergence of the Grey and the Little Grey rivers.

Several people were bait fishing at the nicest hole so I waded out above them and made a few casts. Bob waded behind me and I demonstrated how to high stick. I explained how important it was to watch your strike indicator, looking for any sideways movement, but I knew I was talking to an expert fisherman so I didn’t have to elaborate.

Moving up stream, I made sure to leave a stretched unfished for Bob, and I made a cast to a boulder that created a ripple or pocket below which I hoped a trout lurked. My indicator suddenly moved sideways and I was fast onto a Snake River cutthroat, (it's one of the four species of cutthroats that are found in the Wyoming Rivers).

Fighting the fish in I released it as I hate to kill such a beautiful fish. Instead I planned on keeping a couple of mountain whitefish, as they abound in the local streams and while good to eat, are rarely kept.

The next hole produced a mountain whitefish but it was small and so I released it, making another cast and hooking another cutty, I looked downstream and hoped Bob was having luck. I couldn’t see the ladies but they had set out the lawn chairs and had then gone for a walk.

Another hole and another fish but this one was fourteen inches! It was about as pretty a cutty as you could ask for and it took me quite a while before I was able to remove the hook and watch it swim away. I waded downstream to Bob and he was also having luck as he had caught he first cutthroat and lost several whitefish.

We fished a little more and then headed up the road to another spot. After eating our lunch we waded out and again the fish cooperated. I caught and kept a couple of nice whitefish and Bob landed and released another cutthroat. Meanwhile the girls were having a nice relaxing time watching for birds and wildlife, so it was a good time had for all.

It turned out to be a beautiful and relaxing day on the Greys, and what could be better than having another opportunity to fish with Bob. Every day of fishing and every friend is a special blessing and today was a double blessing for all of us! Oh and actually catching fish was really just a plus! Clear skies.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fishing the Salt and Rainbows in the Sky

We finished the studio and in anticipation I got my fly rod out. After a short detour to the landfill we parked above Salt River and it didn’t take long for me to make my first cast. Renita had come along as my ace photographer so now if the fish would just cooperate…

I made my first cast using the standard pheasant tail with an attached prince nymph. Watching the strike indicator I flipped the belly out of the line trying to keep the drifting flies in as natural a presentation as possible. As it sometimes does, the indicator stopped and then moved sideways and I set the hook.

I was fast onto a nice fish and on my first cast! It wasn’t the largest one in the world but it didn’t matter. Soon I brought the fish in and saw that it was a nice mountain whitefish. Now some would be disappointed but not me, as I couldn’t care less what the fish was, I only cared that I was having fun.

Making several more casts, I tried to remember how George had taught me about high sticking and so I raised my rod. Wading up stream I tried hole after hole and saw lots of fish but none would take my offering. I noticed that they were taking some small terrestrials, (bugs that fall into the water). And I tried to match the hatch.

Nothing however worked and so I didn’t have any more takers. The fishing was great, even though the catching wasn’t happening. A group of people in inner tubes floated by, but it didn’t matter, I was having fun. Taking another step my wader’s right boot tore and it suddenly filled with cold water. I thought that maybe I should have bought the new waders I saw in Jackson.

Storm clouds threatened and so we headed back to the ranch and I hung up my waders to dry. The storm finally arrived and I proceeded to take a well deserved nap, only to be awoken by Renita as she had been taking beautiful images of double rainbow.

Now every day is a blessing and this day had not disappointed me. The studio is finished, I caught a fish, and Renita had captured an image of beautiful rainbow. Who could ask for more?  Clear skies.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Craft Fair at the Star Valley RV Resort Barn

In the brief time we have collected, designed, made, and sold stones and jewelry, we have learned a couple things about shows. First of course, they are a way to pay for your materials and tools and even make some money, but they are also equally important for the contacts we can make. Our first show at the Barn, here at Star Valley Ranch, was a great example.

Now it was our first show here, since we have made this our “summer home”, and we wondered how we would be received. That question was answered when we sold our finest pieces of Wyoming jade. It should have come as no surprise that Wyoming Jade would sell in Wyoming. It’s kind of like the beach glass that we sell at the Texas Gulf Coast. People want souvenirs when they visit an area.

We did have one huge problem at the show in that the lightening was simply terrible. We were unable to have access to an electric outlet and so we couldn’t use our normal lights. Instead we had to revert to led flashlights and act like personal track lightening as customers walked by. It brought a chuckle form many, but it also allowed us to show the quality of our stones and wire wrapping.

Later in the show a couple walked up and asked the price of a loose gemstone that was half opal and half fire agate. As we talked it turned out the man was a certified master gemologist and diamond facet cutter and he rated our stones and their prices. He told me how my stones were priced too low and that I needed to sell at specialized gem shows. Of course he mentioned Tucson, but he also mentioned a private show in Utah.

As we talked his wife perused our cabochons and admired a Rig Grande Agate cabochon. It’s one of many that are from rough we acquired from our Texas friend and mentor, Dick C. As the gemologist was so helpful with his advice I gave his wife the cabochon as a gift.

Thinking nothing of it they later returned to our display and he thanked me for my kindness. He handed me six gemstones as a token of his appreciation. One was an unfinished opal triplet and his only request was that I finish the stone, wrap it, and send him a picture. He also said that I should not sell it but give it to Renita. She liked that part!

So the show ended and it was a good day. Now I need to work on more Wyoming jade, turetella, (actually eliminia, a fresh water fossil snail), and of course finish the opal. Oh, and the siding came in so we can now finish the shed/lapidary studio. Clear skies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Traveling Back To Star Valley

We left Gillette and headed back to Star Valley. The Escapade had been all that it promised to be, new friends, new crafting classes, and even new stones for our collection! Equally important we had   revisited friends that we had met before in our travels.

The first challenge was to not get stuck in the Camplex mud. It had rained quite a bit and there had been some horror stories from a previous rally. However we pulled out onto the firm road without leaving any permanent ruts.

The first stretch of highway was from Gillette to Rawlins, Wyoming, a distance of about two hundred and fifty miles. Fighting a strong headwind our mileage dropped significantly and the low fuel light came on. As there is no place to fuel, and knowing that I had a ten gallon reserve, we made it to Rawlins with six gallons to spare. It was kind of funny really as we had planned better during our Alaska trip and had never had our fuel run so low.

Spending the night in Rawlins we headed out early, 7:30 am and stopped for medical supplies at the Wal-Mart in Rock Springs. After supporting the local economy, the rest of the drive went without incident and we only stopped at the pass into Star Valley.

Arriving at our place, our neighbors stopped by and it will be nice to be in one place for the rest of this summer. Our fall plans have firmed as we did get an email for our factory repairs in Indiana,( October 14th,) so now we can turn our attention to fishing, rock hounding, lapidary, and a few shows in the area.

Clear skies

Saturday, July 6, 2013

2013 Escapade: The Fourth of July

I woke Renita up early as today promised another busy day. It was the Fourth of July and the last day of this year’s Escapade. The day’s activities included a makeup class for our students, lunch with our daughters friend Jamie and her son Dax, dinner and closing ceremonies, and Gillette’s Fourth of July fireworks.

So we headed back to the craft room and soon our first student arrived. I helped her finish her intricate shell wrap, while Renita headed over to Diane’s table, intent on finishing her woven necklace. It was fun to sit and chat with a student as the class was too busy to really get to know anyone.

I discovered that Raymonda was an accomplished artist who was trying out our wire wrapping. It shouldn’t have been a surprise as she has a great sense of color. Meanwhile Renita finished her projects and so we headed to a new restaurant for lunch.

Jamie and Dax arrived and we had to laugh with her as we had forgotten how much of a challenge a two year old can be. It was good laughter however and it was really nice to have lunch with Jamie as she told us of all the news in our old hometown.

We headed to the dinner and closing ceremonies as threatening skies promised Mother Nature’s own fireworks.  Inside all was calm as door prizes were drawn and thank you’s were acknowledged. Finally dinner was served and we had a full meal while visiting with new friends from Hawaii, California, and Ohio. Did I ever mention what an eclectic bunch Escapees are?

Leaving the party early we headed home, only to find the shortcut had been closed. As lightening flashed overhead, we flagged down a golf cart and made it to our fifth wheel just before the storm arrived.

The rain came and so we retreated into the truck. It was the only way to watch the fireworks. Now the campground is right next to the launch site and we have never been so close to a display, so the sound was almost deafening. Round after round climbed into the air, with the bursts being highlighted by bolts of cloud to cloud and cloud to ground lightening.

It was a really nice way to end the day and the Escapade. Thanks to the Camplex Staff, Gillette, and all of Campbell County for a great time! This year’s Escapade was a blast. Clear skies

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ecsapade 2013; The Craft Show and Sell

It would have been nice to sleep in, after the star party, but it’s the Escapade. Renita had an 8:30 am class and I needed to get our show materials ready. Today schedule included a craft show and sell and then of course the Ham and Jam. This is a show which brings out the performing artists in many of the Escapade attendees.

Setting up for the show turned out to be a mini disaster as our lights wouldn’t attach to the overhangs on the folding tables. Oh well I have a week till our next show to figure out a new system. We had barely gotten set up when the show opened and quite a few people flooded into the small room.

Two other tables were filled with other lapidary and jewelry Escapees and of course we had to admire their beautiful stones. So much in fact that we just had to buy some! So our show started out in the hole, but what the heck sometimes stones demand that we buy them!

Now in many of our shows the jewelry is our main seller but at Escapee functions the cabochons are snapped up by crafters. This show was no different and it’s just as much fun to share stories of the stones with new friends.

As a nice surprise, one of my former fellow high school teachers showed up and so we reminisced as his wife admired our work. She ended up buying one of our rarest pieces, a stunning piece of Wyoming olive jade. One of our daughter’s friends, Jamie stopped by and so we made plans for lunch.

The show turned out to be good for us. Much better than we had expected. It is always a blessing to have people stop buy and admire our work, even if they don’t buy anything.  As the show ended we hurried to tear down our table as the Class of 2007 Happy hour would soon be starting.

The Class of 2007 is a group of people that retired in 2007, sold their houses, and started fulltime rving... It’s always fun to share adventures and future plans with so many nice people and this was no different. Of course the food was excellent!

Dinner at John and Susan’s awaited and then the Ham and Jam, waited. Did I say that the Escapade keeps one in constant motion? Before the Ham and Jam started door prizes were drawn and Renita won a cool router, a prepaid debit card and a coupon for a free pizza.

The Ham and Jam was its usual fun and this year was no exception with quite an eclectic number of acts. The music of course was good and the line dancers showed some professionalism as one fell off the stage. Without missing a beat she got up and continued dancing, the show must go on!

Exhausted we returned home where Molly greeted us with lots of kisses. We always feel bad when we have to leave her but she will get lots of quality time with us when the Escapade is over. So it’s time for bed to get ready for a busy Fourth of July. Clear skies

Thursday, July 4, 2013

2013 Gillette: Tuesday at the Escapade, A very Busy Day Classes and the Star Party

So Tuesday arrived and another busy day was ahead. Renita had signed up for two classes and I needed to gather up all the materials for the star party. I dropped her off at 8:30 and then headed to the Escapade office. There the staff made copies of the July star chart and Molly supplied me with up a bag of door prizes.

Returning later I stopped and talked with the members of the Row, (which is made up of volunteers who talk about the different state chapters and available escape coops). I know we want to make a northern California trip so I learned a lot from the Jojoba Hills representatives.

I looked in the craft classroom and Renita’s class was huge, so I just popped in for a few images. I wish I had taken the class with her but that’s ok as I know she will teach me how to make such a neat bracelet and necklace. Later I picked her up and we shopped in the Vender area before taking her back for her afternoon class.

I tried to get some sleep as the star party was scheduled to run till 11:30 pm, but it didn’t happen. Soon we were off to the site and we sat for a bit before people started to show up. Our friend Leland brought his telescope and we all waited for the sun to set. Some high thin clouds threatened to destroy our skies but Venus appeared between the wisps.

Meanwhile people were busy downloading apps for their tablets and smart phones and so Renita and others were all sharing. That’s what the star party is all about. Escapade star parties are especially fun as there are some really knowledgeably people that also show up!

The next star to appear was Arcturus and then Vega. Soon Spica and Saturn appeared and the star party was a success. The sky was never perfect but the brightest stars were showing up and so we were able to point out quite a few of the major constellations.

Soon some mosquitoes arrived and then a merciful but cold wind blew them away. Unfortunately it was too cold as the temps dropped to the seventies and people started to leave. It didn’t really matter as we had made some new friends and that’s what the Escapade is all about! Clear skies.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Escapade and Our Wire Wrapping Class

We were expecting a few people for our wire wrapping craft class but much to our surprise our class overfilled and we had to turn away some disappointed people. Still there were nine students that signed up and so we arrived early on Tuesday, planning on an extremely busy morning.

The students all picked out their stones and I explained the wire and soon all was quiet except for the snip of wire cutters. Everyone smiled, as we expected, when we showed them the magic of a pin vise and how it works, (it twists the wire into reflecting facets).

Carefully I watched the clock and tried to make sure that we would finish on time as several of our students entertained the group with jokes. Scott B told the funniest dirty joke and said that the Escapade would not let him tell it on stage. As the students worked Renita and I were constantly moving and so the morning sped by quickly.

Too quickly in fact as the class went over and we had to hurry to clean the space as the next instructor was about to show up for setup. Most of our students finished but we did schedule a makeup class for Thursday morning and we checked out tools for them to take to their rvs to finish up.

We decided that the next time we teach this class at an Escapade we will offer two classes and make them smaller. Still the class worked out, and for us anyway, the best thing was that we made new friends. That of course is what the Escapade is all about. So we would like to end this entry with a special thank you to all of our students! Clear skies