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seajaycecil@yahoo.com

North to Alaska

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This is the odyssey of the travels of my wife and myself on a trip we took to Alaska. We left on the twenty third day of May and returned back to North Carolina on late August. During the trip we traveled about 16000 miles and we were gone about four months.

The travels of Seajay and Willa.

First hand account of the trials and tribulations of motor home travel.

Me and Willa left North Carolina in a thirty three foot, A class motor home on May 23rd . It was loaded to the extreme with all the necessities for motor home camping. We had plenty of food, maps, rope, tools, fishing equipment, and all the other necessities that you just don’t travel without. We had a case of duct tape (because you never know when you might run across a Duck that need taping.) We also carried our entire collection of cassette tapes in a large cardboard box.

We have a Geo Tracker that we pull behind the coach that is used for exploring and servers the purpose of a “rolling basement†and a rolling stowage area for miscellaneous items that are pretty much useless but are too good to throw away. These items are referred to as “STUFFâ€. Some of the “stuff†in the back seat of the Tracker was a follows: 100 feet of rope, one axe (very dull, handle cracked and taped) one satellite dish with 50 feet of coax. One satellite dish stand. A shovel with a broken handle. Several pieces of 2 by 12 for leveling the van. A tow rope. A large blue tarp. 3 fishin’ rods. 2 tackle boxes. 100 feet of garden hose and a lot of other “STUFFâ€.

We headed west from North Carolina thru Tennessee and Kentucky and thru two states that start with the letter “Iâ€. We rambled thru the mid western states and on to South Dakota. We stopped and looked when we found something interesting and we were really enjoying the trip. We crossed South Dakota and turned north thru Wyoming.

Laughter, fun and food were the order of the day and everyday was a new adventure. We had never been thru Customs before and we were concerned about crossing into Canada. The fear of the unknown is a terrible thing and we had heard horror stories about people being strip-searched and their van ripped apart by the customs agents.

As we crossed Wyoming we prepared for the dreaded customs inspection. We had our medical records, birth certificates, and all or registration papers for the van and the Tracker. We made a list of the liquors, tobacco, beer, and any other thing we could think of so we would be prepared for any question. We quizzed each other with questions we thought they might ask at the border. We memorized the license numbers of the two vehicles. We wanted to be ready and whiz thru customs without a hitch.

As we approached the border I could see that Willa was a little nervous. She had become very quiet and her left hand was shaking a little.

“They can strip search us, can’t they�

“Sure they can but don’t worry, I’ll do all the talking and we wont have any trouble at allâ€.

We eased up to the customs station and I stopped the van right in front of the window. I put the van in park and slid the side window open.

“Howdyâ€.

It took about 2 seconds to see that this customs agent was all business. She looked over her glasses at me and did not smile.

“Nameâ€.

I blurted out my name.

“Number of peopleâ€

“Uuuhhhhhhhhh ……….. I’m the only one in here with that name. Her name is Willa, but I’m the only one named Seajayâ€.

She looked over her glasses at me again and typed something in the computer.

“No sir, I mean how many people are in the vanâ€.

Fear enveloped me. I had blown it. I had given a bad answer and she had written something down and I knew we were in trouble. I glanced at Willa and she was wrapped with fear. Her body was contorting into a shape like Quazimoto and she was starting to drool. I could just see the both of us in a cold room with some big-fingered customs agent probing for contraband while two other agents ripped the van apart with crowbars. I tried to regain my composure but my hands were starting to shake and I wet my pants but I tried to remain calm. With a tremble in my voice I replied.

“Two of us. Just me and Willa. No one else, except us, together, her and me, alone, except for each other, together, by our selves but with each other aloneâ€. I smiled a friendly smile.

She wrote something else into the computer.

“Destinationâ€.

“Alaska. Me and Willa are going to Alaska. We are going to travel straight thru to Alaska. We ain’t gonna stop. We are just passing thru Canada to get to Alaska because that’s where we are going. Alaska.â€

I realized that this did not sound like we liked Canada and in mid thought I decided that I should at least say something nice about Canada.

“Uuuuuhhhhhh. But we will stop in Canada if it’s ok to stop in Canada. We like Canada and we will stop in Canada too. And spend money, and buy things because we like Canadians because we are sure they are nice folks with stuff to sell, because we brought money to spend in Canada tooâ€.

She looked over her glasses again and typed something in the computer.

“Look mister, I realize that this is probably your first crossing into Canada and you are a little nervous. Just stay calm and just answer the questions and this will make as simple as possibleâ€.

“Are you carrying any guns, tobacco, drugs, beer, wine or liquors�

“Yes, yes, no, yes, no and yesâ€.

She laid her head down on the desk and kind of shuttered. She raised her head back and with a determined stare said. “Ok mister, which answer goes with which question.â€

I finally got the right answers to the proper questions and she typed something else in the computer.

“How long do you intend to stay in Canada�

“Ohhhhhhh, for a long time because we like Canada and we like the people too and we uuuhhhhhh…. I don’t knowâ€.

She typed something else into the computer.

“Enjoy your trip sir. You may proceed. Enjoy your journeyâ€.

I was completely taken by surprise. I was dumbfounded. We had cleared customs. I pressed on the accelerator and the engine whined but the van didn’t move. Thinking I had put the van in neutral I moved the gear lever one notch down and gunned the engine. The van lurched backwards and I smashed into the truck behind me breaking out his head light with the bumper of the Tracker.

The customs agent rose from her chair and looked out the window at the truck.

“Just go on sir. No harm done. He would have probably broken the head light anywayâ€.

I eased out of the border crossing and the entire ordeal had been too much for Willas nerves and she threw up in the box of cassette tapes.

We headed north after I changed my pants and Babe cleaned out the cassette box.

SEAJAY AND WILLA THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

SKINNUM JOES, GAS AND TIRE REPAIRS

After crossing the border we realized that we had no Canadian money and that we were getting a little low on gas.

“Let’s stop at the next place we see and get some of our money changed and maybe we can get some gas and get the back bumper of the Tracker repairedâ€.

“I seen a sign that said “Skinnum Joes†up ahead, maybe we could stop there and get some gasâ€.

There was a sign written in crayon on the front of the gas pump that said

“EXCHANGE RATE 124, 11/14 (plus tax) AMERICANâ€

I eased up to the pump.

A guy in coveralls walked up the window on the van.

“How much gas you need pal�

“Give me 15 gallons please and do you exchange American money�

“We sell gas by the literâ€

“How many liters to the gallonâ€

“Oh, about 3 and 23/42nds, give or take a littleâ€

“Sooooo, how much do I need for 15 gallons�

“I ain’t sure. We can figure that out laterâ€.

He stuck the nozzle in the gas filler and pressed the lever. Now it should be understood that some of these pumps up in Canada are the old mechanical type pump that still work on the “rotating number†system and this was one of those pumps. As he squeezed the lever the pump started running and the longer he held the lever the faster the numbers went. At somewhere between three and five gallons the numbers became a blur and the pump started to shake violently.

“Guess I need a re-balance on the numbers againâ€.

“I’ll go in and get some money changed over into Canadian dollars so I can pay for the gasâ€.

To be sure I would get some small bill in Canadian money I gave the guy behind the counter four one hundreds, five twenties, two fifties, three tens, two fives, three ones and a hand full of change. The guy behind the counter smiled at me and said that since I was getting a rather large amount changed that Skinnum Joe would split the “exchange tax†so I would save money.

“That will be fifty four dollars and seventy cents palâ€.

“Soooo, how many gallons did I get�

“Well, if you take the liters and multiply them by three and eleven twenty-fourths and then you divide that by the number of gallons you wanted and then you divide that by the exchange rate of one twenty four plus a little and deduct the exchange tax from that you will see how much this is in American money and you will find I gave you a real bargain on the gas because you are our first customer of the dayâ€.

I thanked Skinnum Joe and walked back to the van.

“Ask him if he can fix the bumper on the Trackerâ€.

“He don’t fix bumpers, he just sells gas and fixes flats. We can get it fixed laterâ€.

We headed north. The adventure continues ………..

When you have a tow vehicle behind your motor home that vehicle becomes a convent place to store “STUFFâ€. I use my Tracker as sort of a “rolling basement†and I use the back seat for storing things that I am too lazy to put back in the compartments of the van. The further we go the more “STUFF†we seem to accumulate and the deeper the “STUFF†gets in the back seat of the tracker. Here is a brief inventory of “STUFF†that we had accumulated in the back seat.

One satellite dish with stand and all assorted parts including 100 feet of coax.

One shovel (the handle is broken about half way down but it’s still handy)

One ax (the handle is loose and cracked and the blade is very dull but its nice for firewood)

100 feet of nylon rope. (It was coiled up but it is now tangled with the satellite dish and the coax and the shovel, the ax, and the other “stuffâ€)

50 feet of garden hose with a flattened hose bib. (I can fix that later)

A pizza box with two slices of anchovy pizza left over in it.

Several sticks of firewood (left by another camper)

Six pieces of 2 x 8 lumber used for leveling the van when we park.

Assorted other “STUFF†too numerous to mention and too valuable to throw away.

I eased the van into the campground and we set up for the night.

“Honey, hook up the dish so I can watch Wheel of Fortune. You know how I love to watch that show and the only channel we can get on the antenna is in French and I want to see “wheelâ€.

“No problem darling, I’ll get it done in a few minutesâ€

I opened the passenger door and slid the seat forward. Somewhere under the “stuff†was the satellite antenna. I leaned over and tried to lift the “stuff “ with my right hand so I could remove the satellite with my left hand. I squatted down beside the car for better leverage and as I got the “stuff†lifted the first “skeeter†bit me between my belt and the bottom of my shirt. He was one of those famous humming bird size “skeeters†that only takes a pint of blood. I swatted at him with my free hand, lost my balance and my feet slid under the Tracker and I wound up in the seated position with my right hand trapped under about fifty pounds of “stuffâ€. In disgust I laid my head on the seat trying to compose myself when a fellow camper came by. He assumed that I was praying and he knelt beside me and bowed his head. I waited until he said Amen and left before I continued cursing under my breath. About then the “skeeters†came back in force and they used attack plan “Bâ€. That is where they all light at once and start eating. About that time Willa opened the door of the van.

“Who are you waving at dear�

“Why are you working on the car�

“You shouldn’t sit on the ground, you will get your clothes dirtyâ€.

“You better hurry up because Wheel comes on in about ten minutesâ€>

“Why are you cursing�

The answer I gave cannot be printed so I will have to leave this part of the story out. It is safe to assume that her response was to slam the van door hard enough to knock the lens off the outside light and to get me a night on the couch with cold beans for supper. My hand is healing nicely now and we are back on speaking terms but Willa missed Wheel of Fortune that night….

THE COOK OUT ……

It should be understood that some of the campgrounds along the Alaska Highway are “Primitive†Some of the campsites are not really level and there are trees in your way when you try to unroll your awning.

We stopped for the night in Swamp water Campground. The camping was only ten dollars Canadian. I backed the camper in and we were setting up for the night when Babe suggested we grill some steaks. The weather was slightly threatening so I decided to unroll the awning for protection. It should be understood that not all camp grounds have picnic tables and sometimes if you want to “grill out’ you have to improvise. This involves finding a trashcan, turning the lid upside down on top of it for a “grill standâ€. This works well as long as no one has thrown fish in the trash can recently.

I unlatched the awning and pulled on the strap to unroll it. We were parked beside a tree and the awning would only unroll a little over half way. I found a clean trashcan and made me a table and set the grill on top of it. The wind was puffing a little and the awning was flapping so I decided to stabilize the awning by tying the pull strap to the handle of the trashcan. The grill was heating nicely and I put on the steaks. Willa started fixing salad and some garlic bread in the van while I tended the steaks. They were coming along nicely so I stepped inside to get some refreshment (beer). At the moment I stepped back out the door of the van a puff of wind “ballooned†the awning up. It had just enough force to move the awning to make the awning “re roll itselfâ€. With that the awning developed a mind of its own. The ‘rewind†spring took over and the awning shot back toward the van like a loosed window shade. As the awning re rolled its self the “pull strap†was snatched up and inward. The trashcan did a double back flip and was yanked toward me and the side of the van with the grill doing a half gainer with a full twist while the steaks went flying to parts unknown while I was dodging the flying trash can being propelled at me like a freight train. I dodged the trashcan but it smashed into the side of the van. The grill was lying on its side with the charcoal scattered in the grass and the steaks were in the gravel road in front of the van.

“Honey, why are you hitting the van with the trashcanâ€

“Why did you throw the steaks in the road�

“Why are you setting the grass on fire with the charcoal�

“Why is the grill laying on the ground�

The answer I gave got me a salad with garlic bread and cold beans for supper and another night on the sofa ……..

SEAJAY AND Willa THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

Since fishing is a big part of my life and its one of the reasons I wanted to go to Canada and Alaska, I made it a point to stop at camp grounds that advertised fishing in their lakes or ponds.

“Did that campground advertise fishing�

“I think the sign said they had a private pondâ€.

“If it does, are you ready to stop for the night. I sure would like to do some fishingâ€.

It was getting over in the evening when we pulled in a “The Shade Tree†campground. I parked the van and went into the combination office, grocery store, drug store, filling station, post office and garage.

“You got any campsites�

“ Got one left, fifteen bucks, Canadianâ€.

“The sign says you got a fish pond. Any fish in it�

“Yep, I stocked it this past spring. Just release what you catchâ€.

I handed the guy fifteen dollars and registered. We pulled around back and discovered that the one remaining campsite was between the dumpster and the outhouse. It was wider than the van, but just a little. I eased the van back and went into a hole about two feet deep.

“I’ll level the van later. I want to go fishin’ while its still light outsideâ€.

“You gonna set up the dish so I can watch Wheel of Fortune�

“Willa, I don’t have time. I want to get to the fishing lake before it gets too late. The guy said that he had stocked it with trout and I ain’t done no fishin on this whole trip and here is a good spot because it’s a stocked pondâ€.

“What about the wheels in the hole? The van is so unlevel that I cant keep the pans on the stove to cook supperâ€.

“I’ll level the van when I get back. I’m goin fishinâ€.

Willa was not real happy about this but she didn’t say anything.

I grabbed a fishing rod from the back of the van and picked up a box of tackle and started following the sign that said “FISH PONDâ€. It came as a surprise that the fish pond was in the middle of a large meadow with several cows inside a barb wire fence. I climbed over the fence and ripped the knee out of my jeans. I started walking across the meadow and the cows started following me. I guess they thought I was there to feed them. While watching the cows following me I stepped in to a nice fresh cow pie. My foot went up to the ankle and my sneaker immediately turned a dark shade of “cow pooâ€. Undaunted, I proceeded toward what I assumed was a pond. I arrived at the edge of the pond after fighting my way thru chest high weeds and cat tails.

The “pond†was about as big as a small swimming pool and it looked like it may be three feet deep in the middle. There were some trees on the far side of the pond. I got out a lure and tied it on the line while three cows watched. I got tangled in the weeds twice trying to cast the lure and on the third try I succeeded in casting all the way across the “pond†and tangling the lure in a tree. Frustration overcame me and I gave the lure a mighty heave. I succeeded in breaking the rod and the line and dislodged a big hornets nest. It’s amazing how hornets seem to know just where the person is that has demolished their home and somewhere between ten and twenty thousand hornets sought revenge upon me. In my retreat I managed to step in another “cow pie†with my “still clean†sneaker. I abandoned the broken rod and the tackle box and beat a hasty retreat back toward the camper. I had forgotten about the barb wire fence. I must have hit the fence doing about forty miles per hour. My body wrapped around the top strand and I ripped my shirt as I tumbled over the fence. The cows watched the whole procedure with great interest.

Ragged and bleeding, I made my way back to the van. I had ripped my pants, torn my shirt, scratched my belly, broke one of the best graphite rods I ever owned and had lost a whole tackle box full of lures. My sneakers were the color of cow poop and smelled like a pasture and I had missed supper.

“Well great fisherman, where are the fish�

I ignored the question.

“Have you been wading in cow poop�

I ignored the question.

“I guess you know that you have missed supper and I have missed my Wheel of Fortuneâ€.

“Quit makin stupid comments and get me a bucket of water and some more clothesâ€.

I really should not have said that. The change of clothes was tossed out the door along with a clean pair of sneakers. She simply set the bucket of water on the step and slammed the door.

I went to the outhouse and washed off. I put on the clean clothes and went back to the van to find Willa had already gone to bed and there was a can of cold beans on the table with a spoon beside it. I watched a little French television and slept on the couch.

SEAJAY AND WILLA ON THE ROAD TO ALASKA

“Oh honey, when we stop tonight lets build a big campfire and have a weenie roast. We can bake some potatoes in the hot ashes and roast some marshmallows too.â€

We pulled into the Bear Trap camp ground and as I registered I noticed bundles of firewood stacked in the office. The sign said “Firewood 3.00 per bundleâ€

“Say pal, is there any place around here that I can get my own firewood�

“Sure is mister. Just go out the road in the back of the campground and you can gather all you want for free.â€

I thanked him and after the van was set up I got the ax our from under the “stuff†in the back of the tracker. Now it should be understood that I actually found this ax. The handle is split and held together by black tape. The head on the ax is loose but I have driven a couple of nails in it and bent then over to help hold it on. The ax is pretty dull but it works well for driving things in the ground. I dropped the ax in the passengers seat and headed out toward the back of the campground. The road went from the campground over a hill and down onto the side of a mountain. I eased along looking for a tree. I spotted one up an embankment that was perfect. It was dead and very close to the edge of the top of the embankment. I retrieved my trusty ax and climbed the embankment. This will be easy I said to myself. I gave the rotten tree a kick and two of the limbs fell from the top of the tree. I took my trusty ax and gave the old tree a good whack.

At this point it should be understood that because some of the limbs on a tree are rotten, the rest of the tree might not be rotten. Sometimes the tree is simply dried out and turns to the consistency of high carbon steel.

The ax simply went into the trunk of the tree about half an inch and stuck fast. After some twisting and wiggling I got the ax unstuck. I changed my stance and with great determination, delivered a Paul Bunion swing with the ax.

Things started happening in a sort of a “slow motion†, “rapid succession†situation.

First…… my right foot slipped over the edge of the ten foot embankment.

Second as my foot slid over the embankment, I lost my balance and my point of aim with the ax.

Third upon “loosing my point of aim†with the ax and due to the velocity I had swung the ax, I was unable to “stop†the ax midswing.

Fourth the ax handle hit the tree about one inch below the ax head. The handle broke clean leaving the ax head flying thru space like a rocket.. The ax head skipped across the top of the tracker cutting a slice about four inches long in the cloth top. I completely lost my balance and tumbled down the ten foot embankment to a large puddle at the bottom. I still had the ax handle in my hand. A few more rotten limbs rained down on me as I wallowed in the puddle using the broken ax handle for a crutch. I regained my feet and realized that I had lost the keys to the tracker. I searched the embankment and the edge of the road. Using my fingers I sifted the mud and after about thirty minutes of “sifting mud†I flopped in the seat of the tracker for a rest. The keys were still in the ignition switch.

I returned to the van with a few rotten limbs and an ax handle for firewood. Willa was setting at the kitchen table watching French television and eating a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich.

“I figured you were never coming back so I fixed me something to eatâ€. “you look like you have been wrestling a pig, and you lostâ€. “I’ll get you some clean clothes and a bucket of water because the showers are closed by nowâ€. “I am going to go to bed , you can fix your own supperâ€.

I had a can of cold beans and went to sleep on the sofa again.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES….. SEAJAY AND BABE ….

CAMPFIRE NUMBER 2

We pulled into the “Happy Camper†campground and I went in and registered.

"You got any firewood?"

"Nope, but you can cut your own if you want to"

"where?"

" over on the back of the camp ground. Just help yourself"

Willa got out the marshmallows and the hotdogs and warmed the buns.

"how you gonna get wood without an axe?"

"I'll just pick up some limbs off the ground. No problem, I'll be back shortly"

I drove to the back of the campground to the edge of the woods. It seemed that there was just no limbs on the ground anywhere. I looked around and finally seen an old rotted tree about 15 feet back in the woods.

“I’ll pull that baby over and have plenty of wood†I whispered to myself.

I went back to the tracker and got out my trusty nylon tow rope and climbed up the tree about 10 feet. I tied the rope around the tree and hitched the other end around the bumper hitch.

"I'll pull that sucker over and we will have enough wood for 2 nights."

the rope went tight but the tree didn’t budge. I backed up and put the Tracker in 4 wheel drive. I ran the tach. up to 4000 r.p.m's and dropped the clutch. The tracker jumped like a rabbit and the tree leaned over and broke off just above the stump. The nylon rope acted like a big rubber band and it snatched the tree forward like an arrow. The tree hit the rear window smashing it and coming forward until it stopped against my seat pinning me against the steering wheel.

An hour passed before they found me and removed me from the car. By the time they got me out of the car and tree off the seat, Willa had eaten supper and gone to bed.

I had a can of cold beans and slept on the sofa again.

FISHIN AGAIN

The “Big Pine†campground was really pretty. The firewood was free and all the camp spots were level. That evening we roasted weenies, baked potatoes and had toasted marshmallows. We had stopped early and everything was really going good. I walked out to the office to check my e mail and the guy behind the counter asked if I was a fisherman.

“Sure am, you got a lake hereâ€

“Yeah, its got a lot of pike in it and no one fishes it muchâ€

“ Is it ok if I go wet a line in it�

“Sure is, just stay off that old rotten dock down there. The boards are really bad and its dangerous.â€

“No problem, and thanks palâ€

I rushed back to the van to get my fishing gear.

“I’m goin’ fishing. I’ll be back after a whileâ€

I walked down the path and over a small hill and there was a jewel of a lake. Maybe 10 achers and a beautiful blue color. I walked to the lake shore and tied on a lure and made a few casts. When you are fishing in a strange lake, you have to find out where the fish “hang outâ€. I walked the bank flipping the lure at stumps and weed patches and was in “fishermans heavenâ€. I saw the old dock about 100 feet down the shore from me and as I made a cast at a stump something akin to a torpedo grabbed the lure. The drag on the reel was set and the line went screaming off as he made his first run. He headed toward the middle of the lake and then south toward the dock. I chased him and played him as he still stripped line off the reel. Occasionally I would gain some line back on the reel but he was winning the battle. As we neared the dock he made another run toward the middle of the lake. My line was getting gone fast and I knew I had to do something or he would pull it all off the reel and he would be gone. Without thinking, I ran out on the dock. In a dead run I made it out on the dock about half way when the first board broke under my right foot. I was lucky because the next board was more rotten that the one I stepped on and my knee busted thru that board. My left foot followed thru the next board and I was standing in water about 4 feet deep with my feet buried in about a foot of muck. In the mayhem, the fish had finished stripping off the rest of my line and the tention on the line had jerked the entire rod and reel out of my hands. The rod, reel, line and the fish disappeared over the end of the rotten dock and I was stuck between two boards with my feet stuck in the bottom.

After about an hour of screaming I finally got Willas attention. She stood on the shore with the “knowing grin†and asked if I had decide to go swimming instead of fishing. The answer I gave was not pleasant. She went and got the tow rope out of the Tracker and with a lot of struggling, I finally got back on dry land.

“Did you catch anything�

I didn’t answer.

“Where is that hundred dollar rod�

I didn’t answer.

“Are you going to give up on fishing�

“Yes, for todayâ€

We went back to the van and watched a little French television and went to bed.

SEAJAY AND BABE …… THE ADVENTURE CONTINOUES

THE DOG SLED………

The sign said “YUKON JACK’S TRADING POSTâ€. It was a long low building made from logs. It looked like it had been there since the earth was created. It had enough “stuff†stacked out front to fill a freight train and a like amount inside.

“Oh honey, let’s stop and look aroundâ€.

“Why, we got the van full and the Tracker full and we got no place to haul anythingâ€

“LETS STOPâ€

We pulled in the circle drive avoiding the various accumulation of “stuff†and found a place to park the van. We hopped out and started looking around. In the assortment of “STUFF†there was almost everything you could think of from train wheels to a steam boat whistle. There was a grubby old man working on a steam engine.

“Howdyâ€. “If you guys need any help just hollerâ€

This was Yukon Jack.

We walked and looked at the collections of bear traps, moose antlers, rail road ties, semi tires, and an assortment of “STUFF†that would be the envy of any man.

“Oh honey, a dog sledâ€

“Where�

“Over there under the shed with the wagon wheels and those rolls of roofingâ€.

We went over and looked. Sure enough, it was a genuine birch dog sled.

“That’s the sled that was used in the Ididarod dog sled race back in fifty seven†said Yukon Jack.

“I can make you guys a real bargain in that sled if you will dig it out of the rest of the “STUFFâ€.

“How much�

“Willa, we don’t need a dog sled. We got no place to haul a dog sled. We aint gonna buy a dog sledâ€.

Jack scratched his beard and said “For you guys, fifty dollars Canadianâ€

“I’ll take itâ€.

“No you won’t. we got no place to haul the thingâ€.

“We can tie it on top of the Trackerâ€.

“NOâ€

“Just give the man fifty dollars and start moving the roofing shinglesâ€.

About an hour later we had removed the dog sled from the other “STUFFâ€. We found that it had a broken front bumper, a bent runner and another piece missing.

We hauled it out to the Tracker and Jack sold us 50 feet of plastic rope and gave us a piece of cardboard to go on top of the Tracker so the runners would not eat a hole in the canvas top. After another hour we had secured the dogsled to the roof of the Tracker. We had to run the ropes thru the doors of the Tracker to hold the sled on top. After the job was done the sled was very secure. We thanked Jack and pulled out just as it was starting to rain. We had not noticed but the rope that Jack had sold us was the “hollow†type of ski rope and it made a perfect “rain pipeâ€. The rain would run down the rope until it hit a place just over the doors and then about half of the rain would actually go inside the rope and follow it like a pipe to the inside of the Tracker. In about 3 hours of rain the Tracker accumulated about 5 gallons of water and most of it was on the seats. When it rained we would stop and put plastic over the seats of the Tracker and stop about every hour and “bail out the floorboardsâ€. I finally drilled holes in the floor so that the rain could just run on thru.

On the way home we came back thru California. We stopped in a small town for gas and some wise guy at a stoplight shouted “Hay pop, you got the dogs to go with that sled�

I ignored the question.

“You don’t need a dogsled here in Californiaâ€.

I ignored the comment.

montana fishing

we were in cody wyoming. we were heading out for yellowstone but i wanted to go trout fishing while in cody.

there are many trout tackle shops in cody so i told willa that i was going to look into some trout fishing. she said she was going to hang out at the van and enjoy some reading. I got in the tracker and headed out looking for a tackle shop.

I stopped at ‘’bobs trout shop’ and went up to the counter.

‘’I want to go trout fishing. what do i need’’

bob started setting tackle on the counter.

here is the short list of items he suggested

2 pc flyrod . split bamboo hand made signature series $229.00

1 fly reel . all ball bearing, auto rewind, chrome $199.00

100 feet of floating fly line with tapered leader $ 50.00

one set of chest waders, lined for warmpth $129.00

one plaid shirt with deep top pockets $ 40,00

the list went on including a gps unit, bear spray a map of local rivers, bug spray, a fishing hat, a fishing vest, a hand made creel to hold the fish i catch, a hand made net for lifting the fish out of the water and lots of other ‘’stuff’’ that i have forgotten now.

bottom line, the total was little less than a grand without the fishing license.

I told bob i would get back with him on this and i sneaked out of the store.

i drove down the street to the local wal mart and went to the fishing department.

i asked some kid if they had a ‘’trout fishing’’ outfit and he showed me to isle 15. there it was.. the complete ensemble for trout fishing.

it included everything you needed from the 6 piece imitation bamboo fly rod with genuine plastic reel and line, fishing vest and hat. a set of chest waders made from the reinforced 6 mill polly complete with suspenders. a large box of imitation flies that are hand made by people in china. a map of some foreign country, a compass, a giant ¾ ounce bottle of bug/bear spray. all a man could need to go trout fishing ………. $59.95 plus tax.

i asked the kid if he knew a place i could go fishing if i bought this outfit. he said he sure did . he said his friend knew a guy that was distantly related to a man that had a ranch that had a river that was just teeming with trout. he could give me the directions.

i bought the $59.95 outfit and listened carefully to the instructions. he mentioned that the owner of this land liked coors beer and those ‘’sweet sixteen donuts’’ and it might be a good idea to carry some to give to him.

i bought the kit and headed out. you have to remember that this kid was not real accurate with his instructions to this fishing spot. i followed as best i could but i am sure i made a couple of wrong turns but i finally arrived at a gate. i opened the gate and proceeded down a dirt road thru another gate and toward a hill. excitement was overwhelming and i pressed on toward the edge of the hill .. i didn’t realize that the other side of the hill was a cliff. by the time i realized that this was a very steep drop off it was too late. i bumped over the edge and did a wild slide down the other side toward the river. with all the wheels locked on the tracker and panic in my eyes i approached the river at breakneck speed. lumps and bumps and many ‘cow pies’ later i arrived at the bottom of the hill with a cotton wood tree jammed against the front of the car.. one broken head light and a bent bumper no matter, i was on the madison river . during my ride down the hill the bumps had made the Coors beer pop out of the pack. one of them had ruptured and did a fish tale all over the tracker spraying everything with beer. the sweet sixteen bag of donuts had also ruptured and donuts were kinda scattered all over the tracker.

no matter i was on the ‘Madison river’ and in trout heaven.

when i got out of the tracker several cows came walking along the river bank toward me. this distracted me and i stepped into a fresh pile of cow poop. i said shux … i went in over my shoe top and my sock and my sneaker installY turned green. i said shux. i went to the back of the tracker and got out my fishing kit. i opened it and put the six piece imitation bamboo fly rod together. one of the sections kept falling out so i took some duct tape and taped the rod together at all the joints. i said shux. i got the reel out and discovered that one of the attachment tabs was missing so i taped the reel to the rod and installed the line. i didn’t know that the line had to be treated with wax in order to float. i put the tapered leader on the regular line but i got it backwards with the heavy end forward. i said shux ….

i took out the fishing vest and discovered it was the size that would fit a person about half as big as me. i put the vest on and when i touched my hands together in front of me the vest ripped up the back. at least it fit better now. the hat was a size 6 which is way too small for me but i put the string under my chin and that sorta held the hat on my head so long as i did not look down.

i reached for the waders and found that the had a hole in the left leg. i said shux … out came the duct tape again and i put a silver ‘’x’’ over the hole. i slid my left foot (the one with the cow poo on the shoe) into the wader and it slid right in all the way to the bottom. no problem except the clear plastic now had cow poo from the knee down. …. i propped myself against the tracker and slid my right leg into the waders. the only problem was that my right sneaker was very dry and it kinda stuck in the right leg of the waders about a foot from the bottom. i pushed hard to get the shoe in wader, lost my balance, my hat fell off my head and i fell over putting my hand in a large fresh cow pie to stop my fall. i wiped as much of the cow poo off my hand on the side of the tracker…. i said shux again…. i got back up and finally got my right shoe into the waders without tearing the material. i put the suspenders over my shoulders and found they were way too short. i adjusted them all the way out and they were still too short. i pulled the waders way up till the crotch was cutting into me and got the suspenders attached. i leaned over to pick up my hat and it felt like someone had castrated me with a rope.

i took the flyrod and ‘’fished up’’ my hat and got out the flies. i popped open the package and dropped about half the flies on the ground. i took the ones that didn’t hit the ground on to the fishing hat. i put the hat back on my head and put the string under my chin. i picked one of the best looking flies on the leader. i reached into the package and pulled out the genuine plastic fish creel and my machine made dip net,

i was ready for the river. i decided it would be a good idea to have a bite to eat before going fishing so i opened the door of the tracker and found a beer and some of the cleanest donuts and flopped in the seat for a snack.

the cows had been watching this whole procedure with great interest. i think they though i was going to feed them or something.

it should be understood that when you fish for trout you should get into the river and fish down stream so you don’t frighten the fish.

it should also be understood that even thought the water looks nice it is usually moving faster than it appears and that it usually is running over slick rocks.

anyhow, i grabbed my trusty six piece rod with the taped joints and the genuine plastic fishing reel that was taped to the handle of my genuine imitation split bamboo flyrod and my genuine hand tied Chinese made fishing fly and i approached the Madison river with all the determination of a bull fighter going into combat.

i looked over the embankment and found that the ‘’river’’ was about three feet down from the to of the embankment. i grabbed the cotton wood tree that i had smashed into with the tracker. i kinda swung one leg down to the river and hung onto a limb while i got the other foot into the water.

the water was about two foot deep and running about three hundred miles per hour. i said shux …..

when i finally got my courage up i turned loose of the limb. the rock i was standing on was very slick and i lost traction with my right foot. it slid over the side of the rock … i said shux….

things kinda went into slow motion about then.

when i lost my footing i jammed the genuine imitation split bamboo fly rod down on the bottom of the river for support. this was almost worthless because the rod bent and separated at one of the taped joints. both feet went up in the air and i fell butt first into water that was just slightly above freezing. the waders instantly filled with water, i lost my hat and wallowed around breaking the fishing rod in at least four pieces. in the process i managed to stick the hook in the fly in my left thumb…… i said darn and shux and oh fudge …

i wallowed around and finally found a flat spot on the bottom of the river and when i stood up the waders were full of water and i looked like bozo the clown. the weight of the water overcame the strength of the plastic and the waders exploded in the crotch. there i stood with the suspenders still over my shoulders in a set of blown out waders. i said heck and shux. i stumbled and waded out of the current finding a low place to crawl out of the river.

my fly rod was gone. my hat was gone, my waders were busted and i had a hook in my thumb. i crawled out on the bank and sat down. it was about that time that i noticed a man on a horse about twenty feet from me.

‘’ do you know you are trespassing mister?’’

‘’ old man McKinney don’t allow no fishin in this river mister. of course no one could accuse you of actually fishing’’ ‘’you seemed to be mostly stumbling around like someone from back east’’

i asked him if he would like a donut and a beer and he said he wasnt interested. he did tell me that he would help me get the tracker off the cottonwood tree and show me the way off the ranch.

i got the hook out of my thumb and the cowboy hooked his horse to the tracker and i managed to get back on the dirt road and headed out toward the motor home.

on the road with seajay and willa ….

Note to reader if there is one. I have a ton of these ''stories'' I can post if anyone is interested. They are actually based on fact and occurrences that I have had while camping. They have been ''Texas Told'' and the truth handled carelessly on occasion but they are based on ''fact''? as I remember the ''facts''....................

contact

seajaycecil@yahoo.com

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