Wednesday and Thursday June 6th and 7th
A hot wind blows in Kansas. 30, 40, 50 mph sustained winds? I’ve got to hold the wheel constantly to the left to make up for the wind. Killed the fuel efficiency. Roughly 375 miles per tank. Normally I get over 430. I guess the good thing about Kansas is that’s it’s hard to hide as a policeman. Except Chris got a ticket. 84 in a 70. He also ran over a shredded truck tire. It made a very loud noise. Chris and I tensed. Eyes wide. Ears perked. Leaning forward. Not speaking. Listening. For something. Hissing of tire? Can you hear that in the car flying over the wind scoured Kansas prairie? No flat tire. We keep driving. No problem until we pull into the gas station and Chris makes a sharp left turn. There was a clunk. A cruuaaanch. A bundle of wires hanging dangly from the wheel well. The sheathing worn through by the rubbing of the tire. Bare wires. Holy shit. This is not good.
The interior of the gas station was generously adorned with deer heads. And an elk head. White tail. Mule deer. We bought some electric tape and slowly wrapped each bare wire then bundled them up and with two pieces of Daniel’s red rope I secured the bundle to the holes in the wheel well where the original plastic clips held it for a dusty decade. Seems to be holding so far. I guess we’ll see. I think the real test will be wet weather.
Six hours of flat. But Kansas does has wireless internet access at rest stops. Which is cool.
Arrived at Ian and Kate’s in downtown Denver. They have a very nice apartment with an incredible view.
Some beers I drank:
Odell’s 5 Barrel: too prickly, long, spindly hop darts, kind of musty. Target? Challenger even? Not my favorite but widely loved by Chris, Ian and Kate.
Odell’s 90 Schilling: nice, toasty, almost burnt, but restrained. Beautiful. Drinkable. I love you.
Stopped in Lyon’s on the way to Estes Park and our cabin on the Big Thompson. Oscar Blues is there. Nice brewery. Wish I would have tried the Imperial Stout, Tenfidy (10.5% abv), and the cream ale, but I didn’t.
Oskar Blues Leroy: good, hearty brown ale. Tuned-down Old Chubb. Very drinkable.
Oskar Blues Dales: big for a pale ale. Not as good as the New York Times says it is. But canned craft beer rules.
Oskar Blues Old Chub: love it. Sweetish, but not too much. Very malty.
Oskar Blues Gordon: big, dare I say standard, American double IPA. It’s ok. Heartburn bringer.
Deep in the Big Thompson Canyon, Ian assaults me on the couch. He’s drunk. I’m a little drunk. Chris is kind of drunk. He’s got a cold. I’m learning to play hearts, a strange game. I don’t really have any intuition for the thing.
Caught a beautiful wild rainbow trout in the river tonight just behind our cabin. The Big Thompson River is very nice for the fishing. Wild browns and wild rainbows. Catch and release. We will catch many fish only seconds from our rustic cabin along the highway.
Got three hours of sleep last night sleeping with Chris in the king size bed in the guest room in Ian’s building. Denver is a manageable city. Clean. Pretty. Tame. That’s not why I didn’t sleep well. I think it was the discovery that there’s more bureaucracy to wade through than I expected. Reservations. Fees. Phone calls. Golden Trout Wilderness trailheads are rationed. Rocky Mountain National Park is really cold and snowy. Though that’s not a bureaucratic detail. Luckily, the Gila Wilderness, my 2nd destination, is a good old fashioned wilderness: 3.3 million acres open to exploration. No permits. No fees. “Camping is permitted anywhere in the wilderness. Please dispose of human waste responsibly. No littering. Camping in the wilderness can be dangerous. Please plan accordingly. Have a nice time.”
Friday June 8th
Bonobos are lovers. The thumber is one of their favorite moves.
Big Sky Moose Drool: Sean O’Connell brought this back from his trips to the Yellowstone wilds one time. I like this beer a lot. Very solid brown ale. Excellent session beer. Maybe on the strong side but I’ve had three or so in the last 2 hours and I’m enjoying myself very much thank you. Better than Leroy. A bit lighter and more drinkable but still flavorful and just terribly enjoyable.
Ian’s gas is dense like liquid foam. Brown, liquid foam. Chris and Ian are very much outdoing me in the gaseous expulsion category this weekend. Matt Dunn, a person of small wind on this trip. Tis a strange time.
My Indiana plates in the parking spot. Chris in Missouri from PA. Ian in Denver, in Nashville!, from Westport Connecticut. We are not from the Midwest. After my trip through Kansas I can at least say: Indiana, hey, at least it’s not Kansas.
Ian wants to start a science themed brewpub with me. He talks a lot of nonsense when he gets going.
Saturday June 9th
Caught a 12-14” greenback today in Dream Lake. The elevation makes hiking hard. We have a very nice table in the cabin. Laminated. But still, nice and worn and scratched up with the veneer worn off on one end, perhaps from fly tying, I thought as I clamped my vice to the table.
Ian caught a fish today. He has good nymphing mechanics (that I taught him). I caught a nice fat 14” rainbow and pretty 10” brown. Chris hooked up with a couple fish but lost them. As per the norm. He then sat on the bank for 30 minutes trying to tie a blood knot. He had the direction of wrap all wrong.
Finally got around to the O’Dell’s Double Pilsner. A very excellent “double beer”. My experience with double pilsners has not been great. Rogue? No good. But this beer actually tastes like a pilsner. Maybe a little tight in the finish. Glassy, but tight. Nice, grassy, herbal (appley?) hops up front. Strongly bitter, but only enough to balance the rather sweet finish that is the downfall of many double pilsners. Pils are light, crisp, refreshing beers. Not sweet, glassy, goupy 8% behemoth. But O’Dell’s comes closest to maintaining the façade of a pils.
Had more Moose Drool. Four more tonight. I love that beer.
I wiss mhiskey. You say that like you actually do miss whiskey.
You say that like you actually do miss whiskey.
Back in Denver now. Heading back to Rocky Mountain National Park tomorrow for four nights of solo backcountry camping and fishing. Hopefully I won't get the terrors.
Supplies in the cabin.
Big Thompson rainbow. Click for bigger.
Chris and Ian in the Fall River in the park fishing for Greenbacks. Chris caught one! It was very windy. Click for bigger.
Big T brown trout that was rising but wouldn't take my dry flies. So I tossed him a wooly bugger and the rest is history. Click or bigger.
Ian and some of the cabin's incredible art work.
Ian and his first fish on a fly rod.
Big Big T rainbow. Click for bigger.
Greenback I caught on Dream Lake. The camera took a movie instead of a picture so this is a snapshot from that. Hence the quality issue.
Dream Lake. Click for bigger.
Chris fishing on Dream Lake.
Ian didn't bring his rod because he said he wasn't going to fish. But then he wanted to. Kate said "tie some leader on a stick".
Me and my camo. You don't see us, but we see you.
That is all.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Wednesday and Thursday June 6th and 7th