Friday, August 28, 2015

Marble, Colorado: Art Studios, Beautiful Stone, and the Crystal River

High up in the Colorado Mountains, near McClure pass. lies a little town of about three hundred people. The town is the home of the Yule Marble Quarry where the pure fine grained stone has been quarried for over a hundred years.

The stone was  used to build the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Lincoln Memorial, parts of the Washington Memorial, and is the source of the headstones used in the National Cemeteries. Today the mine is active with most of the stone being shipped to Italy and Asia.
Now we had come here to buy some stone ourselves and to fish the Crystal River. Driving through the small town we passed two art studios and of course we had to stop. Nestled among the pine trees stood stone carvings of big horn sheep, mountain lions, angels, and owls.
At the first studio we met a retired miner who was busy splitting a huge block into smaller pieces for table legs. He took a break from his strenuous work and proudly showed off his studio. He complained a bit about how his art was threatening to turn into a full time business, (something that is happening to us).
He also told us where we could access and fish the Crystal River, and after eating our lunch we donned our gear and headed down to the river. George decided to fish with his wet nymphs, while the three of us opted instead for royal wulf dries.
Wading upstream I missed several fish before landing a nice rainbow. I was feeling pretty good about it, until George reached me and told me of his success using a prince nymph and a copper john. I decided to go back downstream where I found Renita and Val. Both had set their poles aside and were rock hounding.
I cast into the first hole and caught a nice mountain whitefish. My next cast resulted in a rainbow and i knew I needed to head back upstream to watch George fish. I caught and missed more fish but George caught and released a fish in every hole.
Wading back downstream I rolled my ankle and the fishing for me anyway was done for the day. Renita had switched to nymphs but wasn't having any luck, and Val, well she was still picking up rocks!
It was time to head back to the ranch and the car seemed to groan a bit as we loaded more rock into the trunk. What a day of rock and art and fishing high up in the Colorado Rockies! Oh and just to be factual, George had caught and released fifteen fish including a seventeen inch Colorado Cut Throat!
Clear skies

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coal Creek, Colorado

The main reason we had gone to Colorado, besides visiting George and Val at their hay ranch, was for the fly fishing. George and Val had guided us on several rivers here during our last visit and this time they wanted to take us to fish Coal Creek and the Crystal River.
Heading toward McClure Pass we drove past several coal mines. Stopping along the Gunnison River we gave up any thought of fishing there as the river was cloudy with sediment. Coal creek however was clear and driving up stream we found some nice looking water with easy access.
Renita and Val staked out a good looking stretch while George headed downstream and I waded upstream to a break in the creek caused by a large boulder. Three of us were using dry flies and George of course was using a prince nymph with a copper john dropper.
Before long Renita cried out that she had a fish on and she fought a nice rainbow into shore. It had taken her royal wolf dry fly and snapping a picture she gently released the fish back into the river. Meanwhile George was hollering that everyone should join him downstream, where he had caught several rainbows and a nice Colorado Cutthroat.
Deciding that there were enough people downstream I continued up the creek and soon was fast onto a nice fish. It had risen to take a parachute, one of my favorite dries.  However the hook pulled out before I could land the fish but that’s ok as I was going to release it anyway.
Meeting back at the car we ate lunch before heading back to the ranch. It had been a good day on a Colorado trout stream. The skies were a beautiful blue as the smoke from fires had not yet reached us, a day of beauty, while fly fishing colorful Colorado.

 Clear skies

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Driving South to Crawford Colorado, Douglas Pass

We left Flaming Gorge and headed south to Crawford Colorado. Its a route we have traveled before, First there's a climb over the Unitas and then across Douglas Pass. This time the trip would be easier as we were not towing our fifth wheel.
Stopping at a scenic overlook we had to take images of beautiful Sheep Creek bay, If you ever travel this way be sure to take the Geology loop, a drive along the old highway, (do not pull anything along this road).
Climbing over the pass summit we were greeted with the signs telling of the number of switchbacks. This image is of the second one, warning of  the nine switchbacks. This route is not for the acrophobic although it is a truckers route!
Successfully making it down the switchbacks, the road eased and we entered Vernal, Utah. There we had to stop at a rock shop and left after buying a beautiful piece of dinosaur bone and dinosaur coprolite. Both of these treasures are destined for the saw and will be transformed into our jewelry.
Crossing into Colorado we turned south for Grand Junction, first crossing over Douglas Pass.
Now Douglas Pass is identified as another truckers route, but oh my what a route. Nearing the pass itself the road narrowed as several sections of road had sloughed off and been repaired with gravel and wooden berms.
Our friend Val had actually pulled her fifth wheel over this pass in June, before several of the sections had been replaced. She is from Colorado and has absolutely no fear, when it comes to driving and towing in high places.
Crossing the pass we shifted into lower gears to save our brakes. The Colorado Department of Transportation does not waste money warning travelers of the switchbacks. Heck you would be hard pressed to count them all!
Still there were many brave souls towing fifth wheels and campers. We have been there and done that and I have no wish to pull anything big across this pass again. Regardless we made it down the pass and stopped at Grand Junction for a bit before heading east and then south to Crawford.
There we planned on fly fishing some new, to us anyway, trout streams. That however is the topic of the next blog! Clear skies

Friday, August 21, 2015

Flaming Gorge, August 2015

Each summer we always try to spend some time at Flaming Gorge. There we take our boat out of storage and chase the beautiful kokanee salmon. They are the same as Alaskan Reds/sockeyes with the only difference being that they are landlocked and never make the run to the sea.
So loading up our small slide in camper we headed south where we set up the camper at our site before going to the marina to pick up the boat. There we ran into the first problem, the starter battery was dead and so I installed a backup.
It too barely worked as I tried to raise the motor, using the power trim. That too failed but luckily it was high enough up that we could pull it out of the yard. Trying to charge both the batteries also failed necessitating a trip to Rock Springs to buy a new starter battery, (forty five miles one way).
The next day I installed the new battery and then went to work on the small kicker motor. It had failed last year and I had spent the winter looking into rebuilding the carburetor and had purchased a rebuild kit from a marine store back east.
Now many would just take the boat to the nearest dealer but the closest Yamaha outboard repair shop is two hundred and fifty miles away in Salt Lake City, (the local outboard repair marina only works on Mercury and Mariner engines). At the end of the day we trailed the boat to the launch and tried to start the motors.The big engine worked fine, other than the broken power trim, but the little kicker motor, necessary for trolling just wouldn’t start.
Frustrated Renita and I decide to take the boat out, using the big motor to troll out to the spot and then the electric motor for pull our downriggers. It sounded like a good idea till I tried to set the first downrigger. True to form the front downrigger pulley failed and so I spent the first hour unsuccessfully trying to fix it. I did get the other downrigger to work and we even had a salmon on for a while before it shook rigged squid lure.
The weather begin to look threatening and so we returned to the dock, where we barely got the boat loaded and back to the campsite. After we talked with our friend Randy the consensus was that we should haul the boat to a dealer.
Of course the salmon were biting and all the boats were coming in with their limits of the tasty fish. Still we got to enjoy the beautiful sunsets and we do love the desert solitude. Anyone who has a boat knows that they are bottomless holes that you pour money into. I spent my time resewing the storage cover.
So after four days of frustration we put the boat back into storage. Next year the sockeye had better be trembling as we will bring out another thousand, (boat get it), and salmon will be on the menu.

Clear skies

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Trip Back To Wyoming, Service Berry Time, and a Welcome Sunset

We said our goodbyes on Saturday night, and after lots of hugs woke up to an early morning wake up call. Our flight was due to leave Raleigh at seven am and so we took a taxi to the airport, it only cost forty five dollars, (I can buy lots of rocks for forty five dollars).
The flight left on time and again was packed to the gills. Several people were singing, “Viva Las Vegas”, which was where the plane was heading. I wondered if they would be singing or simply stewing over their losses on their flight back home. Renitas relatives lived in Las Vegas, we visited it often, and as we are not gamblers the city has little appeal.
The second flight was also on time and by twelve thirty local time we were driving back to Star Valley. Deciding to take a different route and we drove to Logan and then up Logan Canyon to Bear Lake. Bear Lake is a large natural lake that formed when earthquake faults, still active, formed a natural depression. It’s almost exactly like the San Andreas Lakes just south of San Francisco.
The rest stop had several humming bird feeders set up and they were swarmed by Broad Tailed Hummingbirds. We drove through a series of small towns and wanted to stop for dinner but this area was settled by Mormons and all the restaurants and grocery stores close on Sunday. Luckily there was a fast food place in Afton and so we didn’t have to cook dinner at the end of a long day.
The next day we rested even though we knew it was service berry season. We did call our friends Val and George, who told us the berries were ripe and the bushes full. The next morning we ate breakfast and then headed up McCoy Road in search of the delicious little purple berry.
Our very first stop produced almost a gallon of berries! Keeping an eye out for bears we made two other stops and had over two gallons of berries in less than two hours. Last year I had only picked a quart which made four jars of jam and this year I hope to make enough for Christmas gifts.
The next night we were greeted with a beautiful sunset, and even though our neighbor John, took lots of pictures for his blog, I still had to take a few for ours. The summer is going fast and we still need to go to Flaming Gorge and Colorado for more fishing. Then we have another show and it will be time for Doctors and packing before we head to Florida.

Clear skies

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Ben and Louise, A Family Wedding and Gathering

Ever since we got the wedding invitation to Louise and Ben's wedding, we knew we simply had to attend. It’s a long way to North Carolina and so we bought our first plane tickets in ten years, made reservations on line, and kept in touch using texts, email, and even a little snail mail.
It’s been a while since we had a family gathering, the last time was Yesmeen’s and Pete’s wedding, and so Renita had to go dress shopping and I had to see if my suit still fit. We even got the dog into a plush kennel and drove to Salt Lake City the day before our flight.
Going through security, I got to experience a pat down search and even had my hands tested for nitrates. After that the day went smoothly until we got to Baltimore. There we ran into a strong cold front and plane problems, causing a six hour delay.
Arriving in Raleigh, North Carolina, we collapsed in the hotel room and slept fitfully in a strange bed. The next morning we slept in late before meeting Jenn and Eric for a southern breakfast at an excellent restaurant. The menu included giant pancakes and fried catfish and of course that’s what I ordered.
Soon it was time to dress up and make the short walk to the wedding. Arriving early we had a chance to catch up on family news and reacquaint ourselves and meet for the first time members of Louise and Ben’s family. Some were from Norway and even Egypt and it’s such a blessing to visit with people from other cultures.
The music started and there was the bride and my brother walking down the aisle as Ben waited, tears in everyone’s eyes. The vows were exchanged, the words all said, and the kiss sealed the event, now it was party time!
As Ben and Louise both swing dance, a lesson was given to the guests and almost everyone filled the dance floor, (I definitely have two left feet). There being no dance judges no one noticed and the dancing was only interrupted by the wedding dinner. Most people behaved themselves but there were a couple in a dark corner making out like teenagers, (don’t worry C and G, I won’t post your picture).
It was a great gathering of the families, all too rare now days. Our family is spread out all over the country and so this was a special time for us. Renita and I stayed till the reception ended, which was way past my bedtime.
It was a blessing to be able to attend the festivities! Thank you Louise and Ben. Clear skies