Tag Archives: North Mill River

We will go back but not soon enough


After six years, the idea of camping in the North Carolina mountains has at long last taken hold.  There is scenery, there are fish (some big ones) and plenty of hiking.  Why it took more than half a decade to discover western North Carolina can only be attributed to me being a ‘late adopter’.  Very late.  I will lean on my fly-fisherman-to-end-all-fly-fisherman son in law, Tim, to tie me some Caddis and Adams, along with a few streamers (those drove the larger trout nuts).  (We will call it a trade: I sent some French roast coffee ahead of Emma’s birth and later built Emma’s garden while I was up there to celebrate her grand arrival.)

Felicia and our roomy tent. Camping was more fun than I expected. Everything about it was good. Asheville is close enough that if camp food doesn’t suffice, we can always hit Salsa’s – the best Mexican food I have ever had.

We will go back to the North Mill valley, but not soon enough.  This time, the MSR stove and our mildly loaded backpacks will make the trek with us.

Here is last week’s letter in its entirety.

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May 29, 2012

Ellen/Reid: I got a big smile out of that shot of you holding your niece, Reid.  One can only imagine the off-camera coaching you received.  That was so good.  She’s just a little bundle of joy, isn’t she?

Maybe by the time this arrives you will know about your plans for London.  That sounds so adventurous, especially if you have something waiting for you when you return.  That would be great.  I’ve looked into tickets to the U.K., pricey but doable.  I forgot this is an Olympic year and everything will be jacked up price-wise.  But you only go around once, and it would be marvelous to get over there to share your experience at least for a long Thurs.-Sun. weekend.  You’ve been quite the international traveler.  By my count – and I could be wrong – you’ve been to Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Russia, Sweden, India.  What am I missing?

We had a great time in the “mountains” just southwest of Asheville.  We got one of the last camp sites in a state park, and oddly it was a secluded spot at the end of a road where we were really next to only one other couple and well away from the holiday zanies.  We only went for Sunday night.  After setting up the tent we went into Asheville and found an old time neighborhood bar for some of the best calamari I’ve ever had then went to the recovery house where Felicia’s son is staying, and that was a good, eye-opening experience.  The house is well away from Asheville and is filled with guys who are battling the same demons.  Addiction is just such an awful, insidious thing.  After their Sunday night meal, everyone, including visitors (which was really just Felicia and me), had to say what they were thankful for and that was interesting.  Everyone started with “I’m (insert name) and I’m an addict or alcoholic.”  On the way back to camp we bought a couple of bundles of oak firewood and had a great time sipping a little wine, watching the fire, telling stories and just laughing.  I went fishing twice, and caught trout both times, including a 2 pound brown trout of about 17-18 inches (Ellen, tell Tim that after the elation died down I downgraded the catch from 3 to 2 lbs.) plus a few plump rainbows, among the biggest I’ve ever caught, with one topping out in the 14” range.  It’s true that the farther up you walk from the trail head, the bigger the fish get.  Of course, I lost numerous flies due to poor casts but it was still great fun.  North Carolina is so beautiful.  If it just wasn’t for the reddest of redneck politics.

Ellen, we have our tickets for Friday, July 13.  We get in about 1:30 p.m. and will rent a car so you don’t have to fuss with traffic or bundling little Emma up for the trip.  We’ll also get a room to save you guys the hassle.  That’s fine with us.  We are excited to see the little one.  She will be more than two months old by that time.  Can’t wait to see you guys again.  We will get out of your hair early Sunday for our 9 a.m. flight.

Will change a couple of rooms around upstairs in the next week or so in order to configure my office a little bit more efficiently.  I want to be in the same room as the router and phone connections and reduce the number of wires snaking to and fro.  So the double bed and the twin beds will be swapped out.  It’s the behemoth desk that is the biggest challenge.  But all-in-all it will be a far better working arrangement.

My workouts for Wyoming have started in semi-earnest.  There’s got a long way to go and if I’d knock off the ice cream things would be that much easier on me.  But its allure is strong and I wilt way too often.  There are worse things.  At least the ice cream is carb-free.

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The 24 hour all Emma news channel


The 24 hour all-Emma news channel is still going full bore.  The channel is dependent on fresh content from our typical insider sources – Ellen and papa Tim sending iPad photos and updates – but the news feed has slowed in the last few days.

This past weekend Reid made an appearance in St. Paul, in part to see his new niece.  As the photo shows, Reid has apparently not found his comfort zone when it comes to holding babies.  He’ll need to master that if he’s ever to be a politician.  Hopefully, his career won’t come to that.

Our weekend was spent camping and trout fishing along the North Mill River near Asheville.  An unwitting and apparently food starved 2.5 lb. brown trout somehow found my poorly cast caddis.  More on that next week.

Reid experiences two firsts in St. Paul: an up-close experience with his niece, Emma, and no doubt receiving off-camera assistance with the fine points of holding a baby. Reid’s dad didn’t fare much better when he first held the little wonder.

But for now all things Emma remains the dominant news in the weekly letters.  It’s amazing, at least to me, to think how the letters have morphed from the the original purpose 11+ years ago (a moment’s worth of light reading when the kids were in college) to today’s more family oriented tinge.  Not to worry, the pendulum will swing to other issues.  But not right now.

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May 21, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The calendar shows a 3 day weekend coming up, but who’s noticing?  There seems to be a long stretch between the faux-holidays like President’s Day and now, but it will be good to have a Monday off.  The plan down here is to head to the western side of North Carolina and maybe camp or do a bit of fishing.  The last time we were up there, Felicia saw a fat, shirtless Bubba-type nutcase spying on us from the bank as we were fly fishing.  He was trying to stay low in the underbrush, but we skedaddled out of there in a hurry.  We won’t go to the same spot but there are yahoos like that traipsing through the woods.  We’ll take the car rather than the bike.

Emma is just more adorable by the day.  That iPad is going to come into some good use, Ellen.  The video was just incredible.  She does seem to be filling out her newborn outfits and it’s good to hear that you are getting around better.  It will just take some time.  We still plan to get up that way sometime in July once all the hubbub has gone away a bit.  We will be good visitors and come in Friday and leave on Sunday.  I’m excited to get back up there to see how the little wonder has grown.  I laughed out loud when Tim sent a picture early, early, early Saturday morning of wide-eyed Emma wishing us a good morning.  Momma obviously was still in the sack.  Tim’s a good dad.  I’ve heard a lot of ‘congratulations, grandpa’ from folks in Des Moines; the Fisher-Freeds, Kenyons, Willits, Allens, et all.  The news seems to have spread quickly.

As you may have heard, North Carolina, in the infinite wisdom of our elective, scared-stiff populace, voted in an amendment to our constitution that bars same-sex couples from tying the knot and denies them couple’s benefits.  It’s unfortunate that a state like this, which will defend gun owner and polluter rights to the teeth, even bothers to vote on such a minor issues because it only demonstrates our widespread, pervasive stupidity.  For all its natural beauty, this is a state that time forgot.  I mean, honestly, what does homosexuality have to do with jobs or anti-terrorism or health care or an educated populace?  If I won the lottery, which no doubt I won’t, I would announce an immediate plan to ship my winnings out of state because the state doesn’t deserve to benefit from whatever money I would spend here.  My guess is that the prejudicial vote will hinder economic growth a little, too.  What employer would want to come here only for nice weather and the proximity of the ocean or mountains?  One step forward, three-four steps back.  Maybe more.

Published the 42nd edition of my church newsletter out over the weekend.  It’s online at caldwellpresby.org.  The production schedule was hampered this issue by a severe case of writers block.  I mean really severe.  If it weren’t for photos that take up lots of space, you could put the entire written contents on one 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper.  It’s pretty much an under-the-radar effort and literally it comes together at the 11th hour.

Got my ticket for the Bridger last Thursday.  The connections will be uber-tight and since I have two stops on the way out, I may ask FedEx to ship my backpack for me to Jackson Hole.  That way I won’t have to mess with it.  If FedEx will ship golf clubs, they’ll ship a backpack, too.  The attendee totals for the trip are still in a small state of flux, but 4-5 seems pretty reasonable at this stage of the game.  That’s enough to still be fun.  Felicia won’t go for fear of the mosquitoes.

Okay, I’m outta here.  This will be a big week of work and I don’t want to wear out my welcome.  You guys have a good, restful Memorial Day weekend, and I wouldn’t mind it if you reported in to me now and again.

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