Tuesday, May 31, 2016

California Surfperch?

As soon as Sharon and I leave Nevada we will be heading west to the coast of California specifically Morro Bay. This wasn't even a stop we had on our minds until I got a request from the editor of a certain fly fishing magazine to research doing a story on fly fishing for surfperch and other inshore species at Morro Bay. Always the eager beaver I jumped at the chance to broaden my angling and writing horizons. It's not an official assignment yet but things are shaping up nicely for a good story.

It works out pretty well for us because we have friends and family located north and south not far from Morro Bay- too bad none of them fish. The only thing that gave me the slightest pause is how little I knew about surfperch at the moment the story request came in. But thanks to some serious internet research and a few friends reaching out on my behalf the information has been coming in. The only minor hitch is that I can not find any specific information on Morro Bay fishing. That is probably why I got the story request in the first place, there's not much out there for fly fishing the surf at Morro Bay, CA.

At any rate I am getting pretty pumped up about the opportunity to give this a shot. For the most part it seems to be a lot like the surf fishing I've done in Florida with my son. The main difference will be the flies to throw and the leader set-up used to throw them. In a certain way a few things seem to be coming together at a convenient time. Since fishing Florida last spring I've been wanting to try a specific technique that has been very successful for me in the past on a favorite lake in northwest Wyoming. I'm going to be using this same technique at Pyramid lake this week. The practice on a big lake without the surf surging in and out will be helpful in getting the feel down before heading into the surf.

The technique in question uses a fast-sinking shooting head on a floating or monofilament running line. The sinking head gets the fly down quickly. In the case of Pyramid Lake, or other lake fishing
it's just a convenience of expediency getting the fly down faster. In the surf it's a matter of getting the line below the roll of the surge so the line doesn't get sloshed around quite as much as say an intermediate or floating line. Once the sinking head is on the bottom the retrieve begins with either quick, short strips or a slow crawl. The idea is to drag the fly along the bottom actually stirring up the mud or sand and making a bit of noise. You can only use this technique in areas where the bottom is free of vegetation for obvious reasons. Pyramid Lake and the Pacific coast surf are perfect places to employ this little trick. But I like to add a twist.

The twist is to also employee what the British refer to as a Booby Fly. Now an actual Booby Fly is similar to a wooly bugger sans the hackle with the addition of an over-sized pair of eyes made from a short section of foam cylinder. In short the general idea of the Booby Fly is to drag the line along the bottom while the Booby floats suspended above the bottom on a short leader. When paused the Booby floats upward then dives when the line is stripped. Though you seldom hear of this technique being employed by US anglers (Pyramid Lake being the exception) British anglers have been employing it for many decades with tremendous success. As a quick side note the British Booby technique using a single fly is an awesome way to fish a low growing weedbed without hanging up.

Using the Booby twist an angler is able to cover two "feeding lanes" at once. The leader setup is the key to being able to cover both lanes. When I first started using this technique I simply tied a section of tippet off the bend of the anchor fly hook and attached the Booby like the dropper off a hopper. This always presented a problem with the leader wrapping up in whatever material formed the tail (or claws on a crawfish pattern) and destroying the back of the anchor fly. After some fiddling around with different methods of attaching a dropper above the anchor fly my new setup came into being. I can't take credit for it since it came up a couple times while researching surfperch fly fishing but it did come honestly.

Instead of solidly attaching the Booby fly dropper to the main leader form a loop in the main leader line 2 feet above the anchor fly and attach the dropper using a handshake/loop to loop connection. Doing so gives you complete control over the leader including the dropper tippet sections.  You can remove and replace the dropper tippet at will. Multiple fly changes and dropper lengthening or shortening are a breeze with the loop to loop connection.

My online research has turned up several patterns that should work very nicely with this technique to catch surfperch and hopefully a few other species that are present in and around Morro Bay. Basically I'll be throwing either and over-sized Clouser's Minnow or an over-weighted crab pattern (I have one in mind-something like this) on a size 1-6 hook as the anchor fly. Off the dropper I will attach either a foam back crab pattern (something like this sans the brass eyes) or a straight up Booby on a saltwater hook.

This is really all so new it may or may not work out but sometimes you have to step out on that limb and test it. When Sharon and I hit the road over a year ago one of the goals of our journey was to be challenged along the way. I read somewhere recently that "if you don't feel uncomfortable with what you're doing once in a while you're not doing it right". The jest of that statement in the context of what I was reading amounts to: not being challenged leads to boredom, boredom leads to stagnation and stagnation eventually leads to death. I'm not ready to die just yet. There are far too many roads to travel, too many things unseen and too many fish to catch.

These are the times when you find out what kind of angler, researcher and writer you are. I'm always up for a challenge. We shall see and I will certainly let you know how it all turns out. Who would have thought I could be challenged by a California surfperch?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pyramid Prep

For several weeks I've been talking about fishing Pyramid Lake; one of the most popular trout angling destinations in the country right now. For years Sharon has been telling me she wanted to come out this way and try her hand at catching one of the famed Lahontan cutthroat trout she has heard so much about from me. Well we finally made it to the area and are setup in Sparks, NV just east of Reno and things are ramping up.

When we landed here our intention was to get right at it. But once we pulled into town we realized it was coming up on Memorial Day weekend. That happens when you're traveling full-time with no set time frame. Things like holidays slip up on you because let's face it everyday is akin to a holiday when you're traveling the country with no set itinerary. After doing a little research and checking fishing reports I found that the crowds aren't quite as thin as hoped. Some of the beaches are still getting crowded so we opted not to try and fight the holiday weekend crowds. Instead we're staying longer than originally planned so we can fish next week. I will keep watching the weather and solunar tables and pick a day to go out and fish. hopefully it will all work out in the end. This has given me plenty of time to prep and research.

There was a time when I wouldn't have thought of passing on a single fishing day due to almost anything let alone something as minor as crowds. But as time goes by and I get, not older, let's say "more age mature" the number of days on the water seems to take a back seat to the quality of those days. As a young man I heard or read stories by "mature" anglers when they would say things like this and I just didn't get it. When I first came here in 1994 I couldn't wait to get on the water. I was young, eager and didn't mind abusing my body by fishing every hour I could and working all the rest sleeping just enough to keep me alive. I used to tell Sharon "I'll sleep when I'm dead" much to her chagrin. It doesn't work that way anymore. I sometimes wish it did but am glad for the way things are now on the other 98 days out of 100. Besides it gives me time to tie flies.

One thing I had forgotten about was the need for a stripping basket at Pyramid. Maybe I should quantify that more specifically. It's not so much a NEED as it is a tool to make things much more enjoyable. Plus we are headed to Morro Bay, CA after we leave here and the stripping basket will come in really handy in the surf as I learned last year in Panama City, FL. The preferred method here is to fish a pair of flies on a fast-sinking shooting head with a very slow stripped retrieve. The stripping basket is a life saver at keeping the running line under control during those long retrieves. On a calm day it's no big deal to strip the running line directly into the water if it's a floating running line. But when is it calm at Pyramid Lake? Not very often.

With a little online research I was able to find a relatively new and inexpensive design from William Joseph at the local Cabelas. I've had solid, molded stripping baskets before and haven't really cared for having the big, rigid bucket strapped to my waist. I'm also really, really clumsy sometimes and have ended up cutting myself on the plastic edges of both of them. This one is soft all the way round.

One of the clever aspects of the William Joseph design is that it can be collapsed when not in use and opened up by simply pulling the tab on the front to form the opening. It also has an integrated rod holder which amounts to a flap that is secured by a Velcro strip across the front. It seemed to work pretty good lawn casting but that rarely means certain success in the real world. There's nothing like a running line screaming out of a stripping basket or apron to really test it out. Fingers crossed that I get a chance to see how that works out real soon.

As a fanatical fly tyer one thing that rubs me the wrong way on an unguided trip is using store bought flies.Sure they usually work just fine and more often than not hold up pretty well too but all things equal I would much rather catch the same fish on a fly I tied and preferably with my own little tweaks. In tournament bass fishing, tournament anglers all have what they call a go to confidence bait. It's the one style of lure they just feel most confident with on any given day on any given body of water. I have a go to confidence material. Give me a chance to put marabou in or on a fly and by golly it will end up with marabou on it somewhere. Second to marabou my go to confidence material is a bunny, mink or other like strip of fur. Why is that? Simply put , these two materials move like no others in the water where it counts.

With a little online searching I located the flies that have been working for other anglers as of late, mixed that with the patterns that worked for me so many moons ago then put some confidence on them. I don't know that they will work any better than the flies I could buy in the local shops but I do know I will fish them harder because they look right to me. And when I land a fish on them they will have come from my vise.

My favorite fly in 1994 was a kind of crystal wooly bugger in purple. I didn't do much tying at the time and got all my flies from a couple of locals I fished with or at the Reno Fly Shop. Today I whipped up a version of that purple thing using what I have on hand. It's an ugly thing and should either skunk them or skunk me, there's very little room for anything in between with this thing. Heavy brass eyes, marabou and polar chenille. My favorite kind of fly quick and easy to tie with very few materials.

The locals have also taken to using something called a Popcorn Beetle. I put a little confidence on it too but I'm not the first so here's hoping it pays off as part of the two fly rig.

I haven't even been to a fly shop since we hit town. It's not that I don't want to it's more that I'm kind of afraid of spending more money than is healthy at the moment. I need to save the budget for Morro Bay later in the month. Thank goodness I can tie my own flies. With all this fishing prep going on I would be broke otherwise. Tomorrow I'll be whipping up some leaders. It's like fish porn all this preparation.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Desert Trout- Part 1

Back in 1992 I found a book titled The World’s Greatest Fly Fishing Locations by Erwin A Bauer. It's one of those big coffee table style books loaded with large glossy photos and detailed stories about, as the title implies, some of the greatest fly fishing locations in the world. One of the locations covered in the book is Pyramid Lake outside of Reno, Nevada. At the time I was still a relative newbie to trout fishing. I had taken my share of bass, carp, sandbass and the like on a fly rod from around Texa. But trout were a rarity, taken on annual vacations to Colorado or from TPWD put and take locations near home.

One of the photos in the book showed a huge, pink hued cutthroat held by an angler standing in the lake with barren hills in the background. Of all the fish and landscape photos in that book from around the world that one grabbed my attention in a way that none of the others did. Looking back now I can only imagine it was the contrast between my concept of where trout should live and what I was seeing. The bright blue water, the huge Lahontan cutthroat trout and the completely barren hills didn’t seem to be suited to one another. To say that I was intrigued is a huge understatement. I wanted one and I wanted it bad.

Late in 1993 I found myself laid-off from an aerospace job in Fort Worth and in need of work. I found an advertisement for a job that I had perfect qualifications for as a taxidermist in Reno. Yes how one becomes perfectly qualified to be a taxidermist is a story within itself that I may or may not ever tell. I can’t remember how I felt about the job, or Reno or anything else for that matter but I did see an opportunity to fish in Pyramid Lake. In February of 1994, at the peril of soon being divorced I left for Reno, not to work but to fish. Well I did go to work but only as a means to pay for my fishing.

Instead of stopping Friday and Saturday nights along the way I only made the Friday stop and made the remainder of the drive on Saturday. By the time I got to Reno it was 9:30 local time and I was beat. I tried a few hotels in town but they were either booked or too expensive for my budget. I had pushed on through Saturday in order to be able to fish on Sunday so I headed north in search of the Crosby Lodge at Sutcliffe. It was mentioned in the book but I didn’t have that with me for reference. This was in a time before smartphones and roaming internet via 4G networks, hell we didn’t even have those big clunky cell phones yet. I was flying by the seat of my pants with a very worn out paper atlas and a flashlight with weak batteries.

Unlike today the Pyramid Highway was completely deserted once got to Sun Valley a mile or so north of I-80. It was totally dark with no moon, there were no other vehicles on the road and not a single flicker of light in sight. I had been driving for about 20 hours, I was hungry, dehydrated, completely out of my element, to be honest a little unnerved and I needed to pee before my bladder burst all over the seat of my truck. Driving north on NV-445 I had forgotten to check the odometer. It seemed like I had gone far enough to reach my turn at NV-446 but there was no intersection in sight. Unable to take it any longer I pulled over to void my bladder beside the highway.

Opening the door I didn’t even turn off the ignition or move away from the truck. Standing there feeling the celestial relief that came from releasing 300+ miles worth of coffee a movement caught my eye from across the road. Still in full relief, squinting I could barely make out the shape of a fox’s head standing at the edge of the glow from the truck’s interior light. The tall ears trained in my direction like miniature radar dishes had to be picking up sounds that confused their wearer. For a long moment we stared at one another not moving. I didn’t even realize I had finished my business until the fox darted back into the darkness unseen.

I don’t know if it was the relief of not having that pressure on my bladder or finally being able to stand up after 5 straight hours driving but all my anxiety had drained away. Or maybe it was seeing that fox looking at me in the dark examining something it didn’t understand from a distance. It was the first sign of any life I had seen on that pitch black, dark road. Whatever happened at that moment I had finally arrived and in one piece. In my head the worst case scenario went from total unknown doom to "I’ll find the lake and sleep on the beach".

I did find my turn and Crosby Lodge. They even had accommodations available for the night. Now all I needed was some sleep.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Leaving Las Vegas

Some places we go I have a hard time leaving and others not so much. In this case as much fun as Las Vegas can be I am always ready to leave when the time comes or earlier. Like most anglers time spent in a big city can wear on too long in a very short time unless there's a great fishing river running through the middle. I would much rather be some distance from any big city no matter which one it is under any circumstances because I can't think of one that does have a good fly fishing river running through it. With Reno calling in the distance our stay in Vegas seemed too long.

The drive out was refreshing after being hemmed in by traffic lights, crowds and lights so bright they can be seen 100 miles away in the desert sky. It felt good to be in the middle of nowhere for a while. Driving along Hwy 95 I found myself invigorated by the extreme contrast between the two places. Vegas is an overwhelming mass of humanity and the desert is so devoid of visible animal life that you wouldn't know anything animal lives there. In the 300+ miles I believe we spotted 2 birds, a falcon and a crow.

This is a drive I made years ago on my way to Reno from Fort Worth for work. I remember it being desperately lonely for those long, seemingly never ending hours across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona but once I passed Las Vegas the drive took on a character I never expected nor had I experienced before or since, until yesterday. The character of the desert is different here from anywhere else I've seen. Flanked by mountains in the distance on both sides there's a feeling of being isolated like the world doesn't exist beyond the mountains. It was just us and the other travelers making our way somewhere else because this surely can't be the destination, or so you think.

Out of nowhere there are these small, ghostly mining towns most of them so dilapidated it's a surprise to see human life on the rare occasion when it happens. Between the heat, cold and wind blown sand the climate out here is brutal on structures. For the most part all human life is hidden giving the traveler a sense that some apocalyptic event has occurred without you knowing. It's just you, the wind, weather worn structures, abandoned mining equipment and the kaleidoscope of muted colors painted by the layers of minerals exposed over time. Mostly a drive out here consists of a few travelers, the scenery and the wind.

You have to stop at some point though because it's a long drive. The necessities of fuel, food, hydration and the need to pee brought on by hydration finally catch up. Something I have noticed as we travel around the country is that the people you meet in the desert, any desert are a friendly bunch. I often wonder if it's a mind set that they have which stems from making a life in  an inhospitable environment away from things that inhabitants of say the Rocky Mountains take for granted. Not to stereotype too much but more often than not people living in what we consider to be beautiful places tend to be a bit on the crabby side. When I've mentioned this to a few of them they invariably say they're upset that other people have moved from other places to their beautiful place making it more crowded. I wish I knew what to make of that attitude when you're staring at something like Pike's Peak on a daily basis. It's hard to hold fault with that line of thinking though because it's the main reason I wanted to leave Texas all those years ago. Seeing the open country my brothers and I cut our teeth on become one of the biggest and fastest growing cities in the state for a couple decades was hard to take. I suppose that is one of the main reasons I get such satisfaction seeing the open desert in all it's inhospitable glory. It won't be overrun with humanity any time soon.


Often enough there are times when the other travelers seem to have just disappeared. At one point yesterday we went over an hour without seeing another soul on this long lonely highway. Remembering my first drive out in February 1994 I had left Las Vegas not long before dark. Driving along as the sun set to my left I came to a set of hills close to the highway. Looking off toward the yellow, orange glow I thought I saw a Native American wearing a quill headdress standing on the top of one of the hills, then there was another and another. I finally realized it was the Joshua trees dotting the hills I was seeing, their silhouettes looking so much like sentries guarding the hills and landscape that I was imagining things. But was I? As night fell completely I could feel the presence of the Native Americans that roamed the land before the white man came and changed the country we call home. Though such thoughts bring an urge to lament the past it does no good. Such thoughts can only bring regret and pain that can't be wiped away. Those thoughts I have to suppress lest they overtake my emotions and send me spiraling down the rabbit hole. Some things can't be changed they can only be remembered.  What I do lament is the fact that we as people haven't learned from those events. I think of what this land must have been before progress took it over forever.

This past year traveling around the country we have seen so many new places and revisited so many places that just a short time ago were completely different. More often than not the sites we see or alarming but I don't hear the bells going off to sound any sort of alarm. Open spaces are being covered with urban sprawl that consists of houses that are far bigger than necessary for the families that live there. Each one with a bright green lawn that requires water which is becoming more scarce with every new neighborhood.

What do I think of when leaving Las Vegas?

Water that could and should be in the lakes and rivers and not on urban and suburban lawns. Land that could and should be used for producing food or better yet left alone and allowed to remain wild.
Mostly I wonder what it will all look like a decade or two decades from now.

There are certain things that in our age seem to have always existed. One of them is Las Vegas and the story that anyone who has driven in from the north at night tells. Heading back to Texas from Reno 22 years ago I had been watching the glow in the clouds become brighter and brighter for well over an hour as I got closer to the city. At a certain point the entire city came into view, a sea of lights that lit up the sky and the earth like nothing I had ever seen before or since. It was 2 am and I stopped to take it in.

Last Friday night Sharon and made the drive north of town to the spot where I had stopped years ago to admire the sea of lights. I had told her about it for all these years.When we got to the spot I was confused and disappointed. The new highway heading north topped with overpasses and the ever growing sprawl of  over-sized two story homes has blocked what used to be a visual wonder. You can't see the wonder that is Hoover Dam coming from the east anymore either.

They call it progress. I think that's why I would rather be in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

South Platte River, Big Wind and Nick's Swanky

Rewind back a week to the only fishing I've been able to squeeze in since leaving Texas in March. This is after all a fly fishing blog and some of you may be getting tired of reading about traveling.
Our Traveling Companion Dominic

Since we started our journey around the country last May I don't usually try to go fishing when we're in Colorado Springs. The goal is usually to get in, get our business done and get back on the road as quickly as possible. This trip through took a little twist and we ended up sitting for a week.

We took care of our normal business with the added chore of getting Dominic, our cat, to the vet for a dental cleaning that turned into multiple extractions. Not wanting to hit the road until he recovered from the anesthesia we added a week to our stay. Not only did that week give me a chance to do a few extra chores around town it also afforded me a chance to hit one of my favorite stretches of the South Platte.

I didn't exactly choose the perfect day to go up to The Charlie Meyers Wildlife Area formerly known as Spinney Mountain Ranch or maybe those signs have always been there I can't say because I have always gone in through the state park.

Midge Larvae From the Guadalupe River
The wind was howling from the moment I arrived. I's not unusual for the wind to be blowing up at South Park but this was more than normal.  So much for my plan to fish a spring dry fly. Up here the river is one of those rivers that on any given day there will be some risers that will take a dry. The addendum to that is you have to be able to make good casts and get good drifts. These trout get fished over very hard throughout the year and won't fall for a bad drift with a dry fly 95% of the time. I say 95% because even I can catch a trout on a dry fly here from time to time.

A Bunch of Nick's Swanky Midges

Not to be thwarted by the gale force winds I took a different approach and went with a dry/dropper rig from the beginning. I'm not much of a nympher or maybe I should say haven't been in the past. This winter I had the opportunity to spend some time with Nick of Nick Fly Fishing. During that time he taught me a thing or two about nymph fishing. For the most part in the past I've avoided nymphing techniques in favor of dries making my own excuses just to keep a dry fly on the water. Though Nick helped me to break that way of thinking -somewhat- I would still much rather see a trout take a fly from the surface: it's a visual thing. That said I'm starting to feel the thrill of suddenly having weight at the end of my line with no other indication of a take. That's a discussion for another time after much more on the water research.

In homage to Nick helping me along on the nymphing trail I opted for the fly he introduced me to on the Guadalupe this winter. One evening Nick texted me a photo of  the overly abundant midge larvae in the Guadalupe River along with the fly he was working on to imitate it. After some collaborative discussion he sent me a photo of the fly that we would eventually call Nick's Swanky Midge. It's a long story how the name came about but it stems from the glass bead head and the sparkling UV collar.

I figured it to be a good place to start given the number of midges in the river. It didn't take long for that decision to pay off but not without some work due to the wind. My first trout, a small cutbow came within 15 minutes of getting started. I can't say the action was fast and furious but it was definite enough to let me know the Swanky Midge was working. In total I was able to land five rainbows and cutbows all about the same size.

The wind was relentless gusting to, I would guess, around 25 mph with a sustain velocity of around 15-18 mph. It didn't take long for the novelty to start wearing off. I had encountered a pod of good size trout feeding on emergers but couldn't get them to take the Swanky deep. I tried it dropped shallow with only one refusal look. Netting the flow showed me exactly what fly they would take but the wind was too brutal to use it. Cast were going awry and the couple that did land well dragged horribly. I was left contemplating going home for the first time ever from this stretch of the South Platte without at least hooking a really good trout.

I started back to the parking lot walking upstream along the bank forcing short casts into the wind rolling off the Spinney Reservoir dam. The sun was approaching the horizon giving some hope of a lull in the wind's velocity but instead it just kept coming. As I rounded what would be my last bend in the river I turned and fired a cast at a favorite large rock in the river close to the far bank. The wind caught my line and catapulted it across dropping my flies just far enough upstream for the Swanky Midge to sink and drift along the back edge of the rock undoubtedly my best cast of the day thanks to the wind. When the Turk's Tarantula stopped and disappeared I lifted the rod thinking the midge was on the rock. Instead of dead weight I felt life, heavy life and it was moving fast downstream on 6X and a size 20 hook.

The trout in the South Platte like to jump when hooked putting on a show and this one did not disappoint. Though not as acrobatic as the browns I've taken here this one completely cleared the water  three times before diving deep into the current and holding there.With the light starting to fade I forced it as much as I dared eventually dragging all 22" of it into the net.

A couple times during the day I thought about calling it in due to the big winds. I'm sure glad I didn't because a fish like this makes it all worth it.

This is definitely one of my favorite stretches of river, anywhere. Nick and I are making plans to hit it in the fall when the browns cruise up from the lower reservoir. Hopefully we'll have some luck, plenty of Swanky Midges and just a little less wind.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Impromptu Changes and Pleasant Surprises

The thing about impromptu changes is that occasionally they don't actually work out as peachy as you hope. When we decided to slide on past Salt Lake and go a little further south to cover extra ground getting to Vegas our overnight happened to be one of those occasions.

First there was the slightly creepy little RV park which will remain unnamed to protect the innocent. We never saw anyone working there even though we doodled around the next morning. I paid by putting cash in an envelope and slipping it through a mail slot. We did survive though. We didn't really have much choice as we were running out of time when we pulled in. The storms that ran through Nephi Sunday evening were bearing down on us forcing a stop just to make sure we didn't blow off the road. It happens that way sometimes and this wasn't the first for us. Russell, KS comes to mind as we were headed toward a concert date to see Rush last year for the opening of their R-40 tour. Driving east on I-70 we could see the storm forming and the possibility driving into a tornado stranded us in a most unusual little RV park. Similar circumstances with similar results........sadly Rush isn't waiting for us in Las Vegas.

For this traveling leg I decided to take a few snaps on my phone. Although they won't really do the scenery justice at least it gives you an idea what the area looks like.

The storms did bear down on us and rocked us all night long. I am very glad we made the decision to stop. Heavy rain, hail and brutal winds would have been our companion on the road. It's always much easier to ride out a storm at a standstill.

That out of the way we headed out of Nephi, south on I-15 heading to Vegas early Monday morning. We were greeted by more rain but it was light, bearable and made for a pleasant accent to the scenery of the Wasatch Mountains that flank the interstate all the way to the Arizona border. Several times we burst through the rain and were greeted by brilliant sunshine, then more rain, a little small hail, light snow more rain and finally sunshine at the Arizona border.

We found ourselves in a canyon of barren stone walls and formations at the Arizona border. The geological formations here are nothing short of spectacular. Seeing the layers of the earth exposed, thinking about the formation of these monolithic formations I often find myself feeling rather insignificant in these places. This was definitely one of those times. If you ever have a chance to make the drive to Las Vegas from the north on I-15 do it, you won't be disappointed.

We came into Vegas in the early afternoon after picking up an hour by moving into the Pacific Time Zone.

We're set up at Arizona Charlies. It's not anything spectacular but does the trick for the right price. We're just far enough away from Freemont Street and the Strip to not be bothered by any of that traffic but close enough so it's still convenient.

I would like to write more but it's getting to be evening and there are things to do on the strip. As far as I can tell this change of itinerary like the unexpected, pleasant scenery on the drive down is working out pretty.

Viva Las Vegas Baby!!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Detour #1

I'm just going to say it.......that sure didn't take long. Staying with the "anything can happen" theme less than 2 hours into the second day after beginning our journey again Sharon and I made the decision to make a change to our itinerary. When we left Western Hill Campground in Rawlins, Wyoming  this morning our next scheduled, non-traveling day stop was Reno, Nevada and fishing at Pyramid Lake. Reno is still on the itinerary but not in a straight line anymore. That is one of the great aspects of an open-ended, mostly unscheduled journey.

Driving west on I-80 we were both looking forward to getting a look at Evanston, Wyoming. Back when I worked in the Jonah field on a drilling rig one of the chemical engineers told me that he thought is was the most beautiful undiscovered town in Wyoming. I haven't seen all of Wyoming and we didn't get to explore but I have to say I agree. Cruising along in the high desert Evanston strikes you as an oasis then suddenly you're back in the high desert. Had we not been looking forward to it Evanston would have been a most pleasant visual surprise. As it was it was just a pleasant change of scenery while it lasted.

What we weren't expecting was the scenery from the Wyoming/Utah border all the way to Salt Lake City. The mountainous terrain is nothing short of gorgeous along that whole stretch of I-80. The mountains are covered with a unique mix of aspens, conifers and sage. Some of the geological formations are fascinating enough to warrant considering a trip back through the area for some better sight-seeing. That's the problem with having a destination to get to, there is never enough time to stop, take photographs and just soak it all in let alone take a hike. We were fortunate enough to see it all under a heavily clouded sky. I think everything looks better in low light studded by clouds. The colors are richer and more visually satisfying.

I think the most beautiful stretch we were on today is the run through Park City, Utah. From the highway all the ski runs are visible because of the snow-pack. You can also see the ski jump that was used in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. The tops of all the heavily snow packed peaks were covered by thick clouds.

You may notice a glaring lack of photographs of all this beauty. When it comes to road scenery I'm not a big fan of trying to photograph while driving and stopping every time a beautiful scene comes in to view seriously impedes progress on the journey. And let's face my photography skills probably wouldn't do it justice anyway.

Coming into Salt Lake City seemed a bit of a let down after the drive coming in. Let's just say I am much more of an enthusiast for natural scenery than cityscapes. As cities go though Salt Lake seems like a really nice place. One thing it does have going for it is the scenery to the east. The views of the Wasatch Mountains are spectacular. It made me wonder how all the commuters get to work each day with all that wild terrain calling.

I almost forgot the change of itinerary.

Driving along I-80 about an hour after we left this morning I said to Sharon "I think we should swing through Las Vegas". I could tell by the look on her face all she needed was an idea of the route. Within minutes of the idea coming up she had the atlas in her lap mapping the route.

Back in 1995 I made the drive from Fort Worth, Texas to Reno for work. For some reason that drive has been lodged in my mind ever since. I've talked about it many times wishing that Sharon and I could do it together. A short detour through Las Vegas before Reno sets that up perfectly. We may never have another convenient chance to make this drive

We are still heading to Reno and Pyramid Lake but we have a short stop to make first. I'm not sure how much blogging will happen while we are actually in Vegas because you know what they say. What happens in Vegas............ Viva Las Vegas Baby!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Round 2

Looking out the window I can see snow covered peaks in the distance. I'm not sure which peaks or what range it is off in the distance. I can't even tell for sure how far off the mountains are in the distance. It's hard to judge the first time you see a mountain range in the distance. Sometimes you'er on them before you know it and others it takes forever to get there. We will see in the morning if we are even headed toward them when we push on to the west. It's a strange and invigorating feeling not knowing what is beyond the next rise.

We're set up in Rawlins, WY at the Western Hills Campground for the night. It is a well kept, well run RV Park from what I can tell but I may just be enamored with the change of scenery. After sitting in Colorado Springs for almost a month it sure feels good to be on the road again. The Springs being our home base has been our most frequent stop over our journey and quite frankly I'm rather bored with it every time we go back. We swing through and take care of vehicle registrations, doctor visits and the like then head out in a new direction each time.

It's been just over a year since Sharon and I originally hit the road in the R-Pod 179 formerly known as Hippie-pod-R-mus. During that time we have covered a lot of ground making our way through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California covering some of them multiple times with one day trip into British Columbia via ferry from Port Angeles, WA.

Neither of us knew  exactly what to expect when we started out though we did have some pretty serious expectations. What we have found is that no matter what you plan or expect, once you step out the door anything can happen.

I do know what's happening next though. We're headed to Reno for some time on Pyramid Lake before the end of the season. Look out Lahonton trout here we come.