Friday, September 27, 2013

Fly Fishing

One of my favorite childhood memories is fishing with my parents and my brothers at Hoop Lake.  Dad had a six-man inflatable raft – bright orange – and a small electric motor.  We’d all pile into the raft and tour around the lake dragging flies from our fishing poles.  We’d even catch an occasional fish.  I think I was 30 before I realized that this was NOT fly fishing.

Fast forward to 2013 at Warm River.  I saw more waders during the first two weeks in camp than I had seen in my entire life.   I think kids here get their first pair of waders at about age 3.  And the Warm River is a perfect spot for both beginning and expert fly fishing.

Per Wikipedia, “Fly fishing is an angling method in which an artificial ‘fly’ is used to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialized weighted line. Casting a nearly weightless fly or "lure" requires casting techniques significantly different from other forms of casting.”  The cast has an elegant whip-curl to it.  The experts make it look effortless.

We had a number of fly fishermen – or I guess I should say fisher-people, as several women also waded our rivers with their rods in hand – in May.  As the weather got warmer and the river overtaken by kids on float tubes, the fishermen came early, walked further upstream, and most often – went someplace else.  But now that the kids are gone, the fishermen are back.

Many of our fishermen are local, but an equal number come from all over the world.  I’ve met fly fishermen from France, Scotland, England, and the Netherlands – and these were just the ones I actually got a chance to chat with.  Who knows where else they came from?

There are several fly fishing outfitters in Ashton and Island Park.  The Three Rivers Ranch, which is just around the corner from us, is a fly fisherman’s paradise.  They provide rooms, all meals (prepared by gourmet chef Karen), fishing equipment, guides and transportation.  I didn’t ask what it costs, but it sounds like an elegant way to learn to fly fish.  The head guide, Doug, plans to take a group of cancer patients fly fishing in October.   The owner of Three Rivers Ranch is the great-granddaughter of Fred and Berta Lewies, founders of the Town of Warm River.

I’m kind of sad that I didn't learn to fly fish here at Warm River.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall in Warm River

The days are shorter, the temperature is cooling, and the leaves are beginning to turn.  Yes, it’s fall in Warm River.  It looks like we have two colors – the yellow of the aspens and the willows and the browns of the service berry bushes.  Maybe next year we’ll be someplace where leaves turn red.

Our days are much quieter.  It’s like someone turned the tap off.  The hectic days of customers in and out, the Sunday shuffles, the parking mania – all gone in favor of a quiet campground with one or two trailers coming in along with the occasional tent camper.  The joke in Yellowstone is that the changing of colors in the fall has nothing to do with the leaves and everything to do with the hair color of the visitors.  In fall it changes from whatever to grey.  That seems to be working here as well.

The customers who have come in September have had a pleasant surprise.  The wooden bridge, which was
supposed to be torn down this fall, will remain for another year due to budget constraints.  So after dutifully closing the upper loop after Labor Day, we reopened it on Wednesday, 9/4. 

We've had quite a few bear sightings in the area, which makes sense.  During August and September the bear prime imperative is to EAT.  Eat.  Eat.  Eat in preparation for hibernation.  The smell of our food is just way too tempting.  A full grown grizzly was shooed out of the Buffalo Campground in Island Park just a few weeks ago.  We still haven’t had a bear in our campground, but a couple camping with us spotted and photographed a grizzly across the river about a mile up the Railroad Grade trail last week.  Several others have reported bear scat on the trail.  Sigh - my trail running days are over – for now.

We’ll be here in Warm River until September 30.  Then it will be time to start looking for next year’s adventure.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Full Time RVers

Several of our fellow campground hosts, including our Warm River maintenance couple, are full time RVers.  They have sold their homes and most of their belongings in favor of traveling across the country in their respective motor homes, trailers, and fifth-wheels. 

All of our full-time RVing coworkers travel to places they are interested in spending time in, and find jobs that, at best, offer a free place to park, free utilities, and a salary.  Campground hosting is ideal for full-time RVers, but there are other opportunities as well, often in the resort areas they want to visit.  Paying jobs are rare in the winter in warmer climates, such as Arizona, but even in Arizona one can obtain a free parking spot with utilities in exchange for a minimal number of hours of work.

One of the fulltime couples we’ve met winters every year in Quartzsite, Arizona – home of the largest 
gathering of RVers in the world.  According to the Arizona highway department, as many as 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly in RV’s, converge on this sleepy little desert town, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10.  Quartszite has held an annual Sports, Vacation, and RV Show for the past 40 years.

There are logistical concerns with full time RVing.  How do they get their mail?  What about prescriptions?  Doctor visits?  No problem.  They find the nearest town, rent a post office box, and have their doctors call their prescriptions in to the local pharmacy or clinic.  All of the couples we’ve met agree that laundry is their biggest problem, but that a weekly trip to the coin-op Laundromat is a small price to pay.

“It’s really quite freeing to realize how little you need to be happy,” one of the women told me. 

When we were planning this adventure, Paul talked about selling everything and living out of our trailer.  I told him, in no uncertain terms, that this would not happen.  Now that we’ve seen the lifestyle in action, he agrees with me that this isn’t a lifestyle we would be interested in.  But I have to admire the people who choose it.  They’re a lot more adventurous than I am.  And that’s OK.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Best of Warm River

We've met people from all over the world here at Warm River – as well as people from our local community of Ashton and the surrounding “big cities” of Rexburg and Idaho Falls.  Here – in no particular order – are glimpses of the best of what the campground and its campers have brought to us.

Best family reunion t-shirt:  The Dye family.  Every family member, starting with the first child, wears a number indicating the order in which they came into the family.  The eleven children are, of course, numbers 1 – 11.  As spouses were added and grandchildren born, each got the next number in sequence.  The youngest child at the reunion wore #71.

Best fitness tradition:  The Nielsen Family 5K.  They start at Bear Gulch and run down the Railroad Grade Trail.  This year’s winner finished in just over 21 minutes.

Best pole dance:  Cheri shimmying down the fee tube to get into position to open it.  Note:  AuDi Campground Services Uniform is required apparel. 

Best crazy tradition:  The ParkView Ward’s Big Chill.  They jump into the river at 10:00 PM and float down to the group site.  Participants get a t-shirt.

Best acronym:  ALPOT – annoying little piece of trash – which we pick up quite frequently. 

Best service call:  Ben, a camper from Shelley, noticed that we had a broken vent cover on our trailer.  A week after his family left the campground, they came back with a new vent cover, and Ben climbed on top of the trailer to replace it.  We paid him for the vent cover but he wouldn't take any money for his labor or his travel. 

Best cobbler:  Also the Dye family, although the cobbler master married a Crockett so we got this cobbler at both the Dye and the Crockett reunions.  The secret ingredient is cream cheese, and while he didn't give me the recipe, I found one online that is similar. 

Cream Cheese Peach Cobbler

9 Cups chopped Fresh Skinless Georgia Peaches
1 8-oz Package Of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 18-oz Package Of Vanilla Cake Mix
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened

Preparation Instructions:
Spread peaches in bottom of 12-inch Dutch oven.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and water, stirring until all of the sugar completely dissolves. Evenly pour this mixture over the top of the chopped peaches. Next sprinkle the fresh ground cinnamon over the top of the peaches, then follow that by sprinkling on the vanilla cake mix over it all. Drop small clumps of cream cheese and butter evenly over the top of the cake mix.
Bake with 20 coals on top and 10 on bottom for 35 – 45 minutes.

Most inspiring visitors:  Dirk and Trudy, raising money for charity on the Model T World tour.

Most inspiring campers:  The cyclists riding the Tour Divide Trail. 

Best daddy-daughter date:  Dave and Emily from Tennessee, riding the Tour Divide Trail together – but in a far more civilized fashion.  After they left our campground they spent three nights in the Jenny Lake Lodge.

Most exotic names:  Bernadina, Leo, Donato, and Agnesa, the children of Lawrence and Evalinda from Northern California.

Best prank:  The Hanson family’s stuffed skunk.  I still laugh over how I fell for that one.

Best crossing guard:  Sarah, who turned three on July 29, helped her grandparents park their trailer by standing in the middle of the road to stop us in our golf cart.  After the trailer was securely parked, she let us pass.  Sarah was also kind enough to invite us to her birthday party – complete with pink cupcakes.

Best coffee date:  A French trio, who patiently put up with my blundering French, invited us to have coffee with them after their picnic.  They showed us photos of their horseback trip to this area – 20 years ago.

Best fly fisherman:  Ghislain, also from France.  I have no clue how good he was at “la peche a la mouche,” but it was delightful speaking French with him.

Best camp host gift:  Come for a visit!!!!  We're here until the end of September.