Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fishing and Fossils

I worked my way along the stream. Reaching a large shallow pool, I cast my fly and hoped that a cutthroat was hiding under the bank. As it drifted downstream five trout suddenly appeared, four small ones and one of the largest cuts I had seen in quite a while.
My first thought was that they had been spooked by my presence, but the small trout took refuge in the undercut bank and the large trout turned upstream and engulfed my fly, (a purple haze colored Adams). Setting the hook, I fought the fish and for a while it was a standoff.
I knew that the five-x leader should hold but only if I took my time to tire the fish. Of course, I remembered that I had caught and released fifteen others that day and had not retied the fly. Slowly the fish tired and I was able to guide the fish to a narrow inlet, where leaving the fish in the water, I was able to measure the fish and release it safely. The fish darted back to its home. It was a nineteen-inch fish, a Bonneville cut and the largest cut I had caught in years.
(The above picture is of Heart Mountain, which was one of the sites where Japanese Americans were interned during World War Two. The haze is from a forest fire.)

Two days later and we were driving to Cody, Wyoming. This time the trip wasn’t about fishing but all about fossils! While at the Cody show several collectors had approached us and told us of their collections. One had said that he was selling much of his grandfather’s collection.
Years ago, his grandfather had owned a rock shop in Greybull, where he sold his personal finds and fossils he had traded for from England and Germany. Included n the items for sale were thunder eggs, petrified wood, and thousands of ammonites.
Of course, I couldn’t wait to see them, and so we drove the three hundred and fifty miles hoping the trip would be worthwhile. Spending the night in Thermopolis,Wyoming we rose early and made the trip to Cody. Meeting the grandson and his wife we looked over the fossils and while enjoying the vast collection we were treated to many beautiful specimens that the couple were keeping.
One was a thunder egg half that contained the largest fire opal I had ever personally seen. It was the best red color, had no flaws and I told them my estimated value of the stunning precious gemstone. It was not for sale and so it was okay to give them an estimate of its value, (It is unethical to appraise a piece and then offer to buy it and is illegal to do so in many states). As a result, we no longer appraise items unless they are not for sale.
So now it was time for the dance. Normally you let the owner set a price and then offer them less. If you take the sellers first price, without dickering, they often think that they have undervalued the collection. I told them they had underpriced the collection, (and they knew it), and offered them more than the stated price.
They looked at each other and agreed to my offer! So now we have several thousand ammonites, some from around the world, but most from Wyoming, Montana, and South Dakota. Now comes the hardest part, identifying the genus and species and then determining the price.
Quite a few are large and are display specimens and so we need to figure out display stands. Some will be formed into our jewelry, but most will be sold as is. One can never have enough rocks and fossils and someday Matt and Jenny will look at the collection and say to each other, “What are we going to do with all of these?” Lol, and of course Clear skies

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Great Week on the Grey, Paddling the Mouth of the Grey

We finished our last show at the Barn, which is the large recreation hall in our rv park, and now had some down time for rest and relaxation. Of course, that meant pickleball, fishing and paddling. Not that we don’t have other things we like doing but the bears are up high along with most of the wildlife.
It had been a while since we last played pickleball, and the courts were crowded! There are now over two hundred and forty pickle ball members of our Star Valley Pickle Ball Club, and we only have eight courts, (four more are under construction and four more are planned).
Still we managed to get four matches in two hours and it was obvious that we hadn’t played in a while. The temperatures here are in the upper eighties and low nineties, but at least the humidity is low and so the exercise is bearable. We started playing a little after eight and by ten thirty we had enough fun!
The next day George and I went fly fishing and I had the best day in quite a while. The morning started off slow, I caught and released three Snake river cuts, but I spotted a nice fish rising and carefully snuck up to the hole.
Trying not to spook the fish I cast my dry fly and the fish rose and missed the fly as I tried to set the hook too soon. Casting again and again I almost gave up when the fish took the fly, it was fish on! Fighting the nice fish, it was a fourteen-inch fish, I got lucky as the fish swam into an undercut bank and wrapped the line around a stick. Sticking my flyrod into the snag, I was able to get the line free and landed and released the cutthroat.
Moving upstream, I spooked several more fish before arriving at a great looking hole. Before I made my first cast, I saw a great fish make a rise and on my cast the fish ate the fly, fish on! I was able to land the fish and take several images of the seventeen-inch fish before releasing it unharmed into its home. It wa my largest cutthroat in quite a while.
Another cast and another fish hit. I made six casts and caught six different fish, something that has never happened to me while fishing wild native fish. George arrived, and I sat down and told him to make a cast. We were both surprised when, he missed a fish and then three more before finally hooking another nice cut.
It had been a superb day and so we called it quits, walked back to the truck, and after lunch called it a day. Returning home Renita and Val arrived after a busy day shopping at the Jackson Art Fair. George and I were both glad we had the opportunity to go fishing instead of shopping.
Two days later Renita Val and I loaded the kayaks and drove to Alpine. Wyoming. Val had found an excellent place to launch the kayaks and we headed up the mouth of the Grey River. The river’s mouth was flooded by Palisades’ Reservoir and so we didn’t have to fight any current.
The sides of the canyon narrowed as we paddled and after a mile of easy kayaking we started to encounter a strong current. It was too strong to continue so we let the river carry us back down till we reached still water.
A slight wind had started to blow up the canyon, (during the day a hot wind blows up the valley and reverses at night when cold dense air flows back down, these are called mountain-valley breezes). We had to paddle against the waves, but they were relatively small and when we reached the mouth, the wind died down. It was an easy morning of paddling and we all enjoyed paddling at a new place! 
It’s been a fun week of fun. We only have one more show for the year and its only a one day show in Alpine, Wyoming. Lots of time to grind rocks, play more pickle ball, fish and kayak. Monday, we plan to return up the Grey for another days fishing. Every day is a blessing! Clear skies

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Visiting the Greys River Slide

We returned from Cody and after a few days rest, decided to concentrate on fly fishing. Two of our favorite streams to fish are the Greys River and the Little Grey. Unfortunately, the Greys has been stained but we hoped that the Little Grey would be clear enough for fishing.
Picking up George and Val we headed up the Greys Road and reached the mouth of the Little Grey. It’s a tributary of the Grey and so we turned up the Little Greys road and quickly arrived at one of our best spots.
Agreeing to meet in a couple of hours. Renita and I hiked up some ways before we climbed down the bank and begin to fish. The water was clear and so we had high hopes that we would catch some fish, (the fish here are all Snake River fine spotted cutthroats).
The first cast produced nothing and as we worked up stream I finally had a hit and landed and released a small cut. We continued to work upstream and while we both had a few rises, but it was nothing like the last few years fishing. There were boot prints and so it had been fished recently, perhaps the same morning, but still we should have caught more fish.
Reaching our turn around point we headed back to the truck. We had only caught three cuts and so we hoped that our friends had found better success. They had already returned to the truck and when we arrived we found out that George had only caught one fish, before Val had fallen down the bank and they had decided to quit fishing as the terrain is difficult and steep.
Talking things over, we decided to forgo fishing the Little Grey and head up the Greys to the spot where an earthquake had triggered a landslide. It had happened earlier this winter and had partially blocked the river, creating a dangerous lake which had threatened to fail and was a hazard to anyone in the lower river valley.
The road construction people had repaired the road and the river had quickly cut through the debris field, so the road had been reopened. It was seven miles up from the mouth of the Little Grey and just before we reached the main slide, debris from a smaller slide was evident.
The main slide was easy to spot as the trees were tilted every which way. It reminded us of the, “drunken forests”, one sees in Alaska, (these are caused when the permafrost melts and the trees fall every which way).
Stopping the truck at the slide, I walked out on the debris field and took pictures of the new lake and the cut made by the river as it eroded through the debris filed. The newspapers had reported that at one time the lake was fifteen feet deep, but the cut had lowered the lake enough that the danger of collapse and flash flooding had lessened, (a game warden and told us that the slide was still moving so there was still danger possible).
Driving back down the road we stopped at a favorite spot and fished for a bit. The water was still high and stained and so we had no takers of our dry flies and nymphs. We stopped at another place for a picnic, before heading back to our home.
We did spot several deer on the way back, which was nice to see after the huge die off from last years harsh winter. It had been a good day with friends, but we will have to fish other streams for a few weeks before we return to the Greys River. Clear skies

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Cody Wild West Extravaganza

Several years ago, other vendors told us about Cody, Wyoming’s Wild West Extravaganza. They said it was one of the best shows of the year and so this year we decided to apply.  To apply we had to send images, pictures, of our booth and we also had to describe the type of jewelry we would sell. We stressed that we would offer Wyoming Jade and Wyoming minerals and fossil Jewelry, and we were excited when we were accepted!
It was a two hundred-forty-mile drive from our home in Thayne, Wyoming, To Cody. There were two routes we could take, both about a six-hour drive, but one took us through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
Set up for the show was on Sunday evening and leaving early Sunday we arrived at our campsite at Buffalo Bill State Park. We ad been contacted by the state park, asking us if we would mind moving to a smaller site, as two visitors from Minnesota had mistakenly reserved a site that was difficult for them to back into. We agreed to switch sites, and all went well, so we set up our camp before driving to Cody for the setup of our canopy tent and tables.
The next morning, we got up early and when we arrived we saw that some vendors were already open for business. As we set out our jewelry people started to stop and look over our materials. Of course, we described our work as made from rocks that we had prospected, bought, or traded with other dealers from around the USA. There were no other dealers that sold jewelry with our niche, (a niche is a special thing about your shop that no one else can compete with, making your work unique).
The parade started with color guards and marching bands. Cowgirls rode on beautiful horses, but the most unusual thing about the parade was an entry from a local gun shop. The store had entered a wagon with a Gatling gun. As they drove by, they occasionally fired the gun and we first thought that perhaps a crazy person was attacking the crowd, however no one was running! It was just Cody, Wyoming’s wild west parade.
The parade ended, and the crowd moved to the vendor booths. One of my former students had moved to Cody and we were blessed when Chris and his family stopped by our booth. We were very busy all three days and each day brought more sales, along with the larger crowds.  Adding up the results, Renita found out that we had set another new record.
By the time it was all over we had gaping empty spaces in our trays.
Now we are sitting at our summer home. Yesterday we made an inventory of all we had sold, so we can fill the gaps in the cases. The next show is in two weeks but it’s a very small show at our rv park. Our last show of the year, a large one, is on Labor Day weekend. Now its time for doctors, dentists, and most important, fishing pickle ball, and kayaking, (and working more rocks). Clear skies