Tag Archives: Pinedale

A travelogue from the couch …

I guess this is what retirees do. Hit the road. 

This must be – has to be – the first letter Ellen and Reid have ever received that deals exclusively with their old man’s travel. Maybe not the travel itself, but the looking forward to it. Now if only I was better at the planning …

June 12, 2017

Ellen/Reid: Tomorrow marks a drastic change for me in terms of fishing with Miss Emma in Charleston; I’ll finally overnight there to milk a second day out of the excursion. I booked a fleabag on the west end of Rte. 17 north of Bowens Island. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out since the down-and-back in one day routine just flat wore me out. Don’t ask why this tact has not been taken before. Beats the hell out of me. I’m cheap, I guess.


Bowens Island is my escape route. Escape to the water. Miss Emma got a full taste of the brackish salt creeks last week, and she’ll get more of same this week, too.

There’s an added factor in that my friends Jill and Troy want some of my fish as an glitzy appetizer for a big, formal sit-down meal they plan to serve to 20 – 25 guests. They are both chefs as opposed to cooks so they’ll doll up whatever is caught and really make it delicious. So for once we will be a production fishing operation. It means we can spend way more time on the water on Day One rather than scoot out of town at 2 p.m. or so to beat the horrid Charleston traffic. So it’s exciting in a way.

Wyoming is really creeping up soon. This time next month everything might be in the pack. Got to get some new tires for the Camry for the Westward trip since there are nearly 48,000 miles on the car in barely 19 months. My trail meals have already been purchased from an outfit called Packitgourmet.com. The food is all dehydrated rather than freeze dried which takes, in my opinion, too much time to rehydrate. What I’ve seen from Packitgourmet.com is some really good stuff. Almost cuisine. Lunches will be the standard peanut butter and flour tortillas along with tuna in foil packs. Tom buys dried fruit at Trader Joe’s which is really good. Breakfasts will be equally standard; oatmeal with raisins and Starbucks instant coffee. The Tyvek hustled from a construction site has been trimmed to fit the one man tent (and the two person tent, too, Reid). That saves some weight and it compresses better than the plastic sheets. We’ll stay at the super-duper Four Winds in Jackson on the eve of the hike. Reid, Pinedale was nearly full. I had to scrounge for a motel. Must be a lot of roughnecks staying overnight. No way I want to spend another night in the car under a full moon like we did 11 or so years ago. What a memory that is.

Been paging through the Camino de Santiago guide, trying to wrap my arms around the whole idea of an enormous trip. It’s interesting that the author of the guide asks readers early in the book to consider why they would make the trip at all. Really a good question. He assumes, and treats readers thusly, that most make a pilgrimage rather than treat it like a hike or sporting event (my friends Tom and Vince and Richard who’ve all made the trip think it’s more of a walk than a hike). Certainly it’s not race walking or push every day for miles, miles, miles. As I look at the map of Spain – my sense of geography is just awful – my anticipated side trips to Madrid and Barcelona won’t happen. Both are just too far off the trail. In fact, I might book my initial flight in to Barcelona rather than an airport to St. Jean Pied de Port, France, the traditional starting point for the Camino. That way I can spend a day or two traipsing around Barcelona and then hop a bus toward Pamplona which is three days walk from St. Jean. Tom sent me his exacting and incredibly detailed (go figure, huh, Reid?) gear list and that is an enormous help. I’ve been bending Vince’s ear, too.

All this has me thinking about other adventures of this sort that might be made since we shouldn’t be afraid to live. It would be so fun to launch Miss Emma offshore to paddle the length of the Carolinas. It’d take some planning but what fun that would be. There isn’t much other international travel that trips my trigger. Reid, remember that guy we saw up in the Bridger who walked the Continental Divide Trail? Now that would be an extraordinary feat. I’d do that, too, but again, I’d need Tom’s sense of planning since such minute details tend to escape me. No surprise there. Sigh.

Love, Dad



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Get ready for the Big One…

Obviously, there was no letter last week while a friend and I toiled in the Bridger Wilderness.

Next week the kids – and later on, you – will see something I’ve never attempted before in nearly 14 years of weekly letters: a shift from a single page to a multi-page journal/letter that will recount the day-by-day trip into Wyoming’s back country. It might be much longer than you care to read – so you can be excused if you want to take a pass on page after page after page. That, or perhaps it will be best read as a sleep aid before you call it a night.


July 7, 2014

Ellen/Reid: Man, what a week that was. Holy smokes, Reid in Israel and Tim retrieving a car and rescuing a friend in Colorado. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that (depending on how you define exciting). That’s what makes the world go ‘round, I guess. Thanks for the texts this morning, Reid, about your safe return home. Can’t wait to hear more about it and see all the pictures. Liz did a pretty good job of posting updates on Facebook. The paper this morning had more disheartening news on the near-constant turmoil over in that part of the world, and to be honest about it, all that had crossed my mind the whole time you were there. They’d have to be on a constant state of alert. What’s nuts is that much of the discord hinges largely on differences in religion. I don’t think the Lord intended that to be so. Ellen, tell Tim I’m going to write to Scott about him breaking up one of their finer rods to use as a temporary splint for his friend. I’ll bet he didn’t hesitate to do that. It was good to talk to him yesterday. He seems so matter-of-fact about it. I’d be manic. Or maybe maniacal. The photos of Emma are just precious, Ellen. And her vocabulary just continues to grow day by day. She is such a sweet little person.

Had a great three day weekend, if you like walking and golf. I got up early each day for my constitutional and hit the course later in the day. The weather was very good once Hurricane Arthur blew through here; lower humidity and incredible blue skies. I carried my sticks yesterday on a moderately hilly course in the afternoon heat as kind of a final tune up for this weekend’s backpacking in the Bridger. Rode the bike a couple of times in the cooler evening hours, and that felt good, too. Not ready to give that up just quite yet.

By Tom's estimate, we logged just short of 60 miles in Wyoming. This photo was from day 4, and the 30 minute break was much needed after a nerve-wracking ascent over snow and boulders up the back side of Hailey Pass at the very north side of the Bridger Wilderness.

By Tom’s estimate, we logged just short of 60 miles in Wyoming. This photo was from day 4, and the 30 minute break was much needed after a nerve-wracking ascent over snow and boulders up the back side of Hailey Pass at the very north side of the Bridger Wilderness.

The packing starts today for Wyoming. Got just about everything I’ll need in terms of clothing and food. There is a little more emphasis on weight than in years past. Tom has sort of pounded that into me and it makes a lot of sense. Plus, I’m down about 25 lbs. from the year before last so that’s another positive factor, too. If I can carry a pack in the 30 lb. range that will be very good. The new Osprey pack is much lighter and efficient than the old, old, old Gregory. Rather than use plates, we’ll boil water and mix it with the food stowed in heavy freezer weight plastic bags. Only one utensil, a spork. This is the first time ever – since 1973 to be exact – that I’ve not toted an MSR stove and a couple of heavy bottles of white gas. Instead, I’ll use an airtight stove that uses denatured alcohol, and I’m only taking 10 oz. of that. Ellen, you saw Tom cook with his stove the last time. Only one change of clothes although I might relent and take a second shirt. Reid, I’ll buy all my flies in Pinedale at that little shop next to the brewery restaurant. We stay the first night at the Baymont in Pinedale, and the final night, Ellen, at the luxurious Four Winds in Jackson. I bought a couple of ultralight trekking poles from a place called Gossamer Gear which caters to backpackers obsessed with lightweight materials. I’m not a complete convert, yet, but am slowly moving in that direction. We’re not taking bear spray this year. We really don’t see the need for it. Maybe I can poke a charging grizzly with my new poles. Reid, you ought to plan on this next year. I’ll insist on it.

I’m charging ahead, too, with fishing. On the way to the course on Saturday, I stopped at a Gander Mountain store and stocked up on Gulp baits, popping corks (you tie your bait about 18” from the cork and pull it loudly atop the water), plus a plethora of other fishing gizmos. I will not rest until I catch a redfish and a trout. The ‘experts’ keep saying how easy it is, but then how come your old man is so utterly lame on this? I’ll die trying, believe me. Hey, that wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

Love, Dad

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Get off your duff and lace up your hiking shoes – Wyoming!

Mountains in the Wind River Range, Wyoming Gre...

Yeah, baby! This is what I’m talkin’ about: the unrivaled mountains in the Wind River Range, Wyoming Green Lakes region of the Bridger Wilderness, Briger-Teton National Forest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Attention all outdoorsy types or outdoorsy wannabes: Hey, if you’re looking for a strenuous, test-yourself sort of outdoor semi-survivalist trek this summer, book the week of July 15 in the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming.

Six nights of sleeping on the hard ground (but inside a tent away from the mosquitoes), nearly 37 miles of potential blister-inducing huffing-and-puffing trails – all offset by incredible views of the Cirque of the Towers and fly fishing for fresh brookies. They say this is God’s country, and The Almighty hasn’t denied it.

We assemble in Jackson, WY Friday, July 12 (or Saturday, if you prefer just-on-time arrival) and head into the country around noon on Sunday, July 14.

Me doing my pack mule imitation in the Bridger Wilderness a few years back. Tom has helped me lighten the load considerably.

Me doing my pack mule imitation in the Bridger Wilderness a few years back. Tom has helped me lighten the load considerably.

Physically, we’ll be in the Southern Half of the Bridger Wilderness near Big Sandy, which is southeast of our favorite town, Pinedale. We’ve been doing this foolishness for years. (You might wonder, and rightly so, ‘what the hell does this have to do with his weekly letters to Ellen and Reid?’ Well, a guy has to have something to write about.)

Seven or so objects of our affection. We are mostly catch-and-release hikers, but keep some brookies for supper.

Seven or so objects of our affection. We are mostly catch-and-release hikers, but keep some brookies for supper.

We stumble back out on Friday, July 19 and lick our wounds over cold beers and burgers (bison, we hope) at the renown Wind River Brewing Company on West Pine Street in Pinedale before further licking our wounds (after soothing showers, of course) once we get back to Jackson. We wistfully fly out on Saturday. (When you make your flight arrangements, pick a window seat on the right side of the plane. On the approach into Jackson, you’ll see why giving up an aisle seat was worthwhile.)

Me and my boy Tom (The Beast Walker) Bohr

Tom (Beast Walker) Bohr has walked the Appalachian Trail, across Spain and the guy is a pro.

Tom (The Beast Walker) Bohr has solo hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail in a single pass, trekked across Spain and the guy is a pro. Ain’t no mountain he can’t climb.

will handle ground arrangements (it means we rent an SUV) and hotel stuff in Jackson and Pinedale. We need to know your Continue reading

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Some people have all the luck…

Reid is in England for his short-term work stint.  Some people have all the luck.   Poor kid has a nice apartment smack in the middle of central London (hopefully with his own ‘loo’), Wimbledon is on not far from his temporary digs, England made it to the knock out round of the European soccer championship and, of course, the run-up for the Olympics is gaining steam.  Tough gig for a single guy.  I just wish he’d stay in touch with us on this side of the pond.

The living room is crammed with camping stuff in advance of the trek in the Bridger Wilderness.  I'm trying to pack light but lite-weight backpacking technology has passed me by.

My living room is clogged with camping stuff in preparation for the trek in the Bridger Wilderness (note: we still have room for late comers, July 21-27) but there was no mention of it for the first time in a while in last week’s letter and there was scant mention of it in the letter that was mailed just this morning.  The tinder-dry conditions are some cause for concern; unlike last year, there will be no fires on which to char-broil trout.  Instead, we’ll make do with a white gas stove to heat water for pasta and beans and flash-fry brookies.  Alas, my ancient but trusty40 year old MSR model A stove was lost during the move six years ago so a newer WhisperLite will have to suffice.  I’ll no doubt get into the Bridger goings-on a little more in the note to the kids next week.

Here is what was deposited in last week’s mail (although Reid got his via email late in the week):


June 18, 2012

Ellen/Reid: Monday has gotten off to a decent enough start but all that can crumble in the space of a few ‘do this…or ‘what do you think of this?…’ emails.  But none of those have come in so all things as of this moment are BAU (business as usual in bank parlance).

No sense mailing letters to your Chicago address until you return, Reid.  You’ll have to open your email to read them.  By the time this goes into the mail to Ellen, your plane will have already jetted east to London.  You get all the fun trips.  India.  England.  No doubt you will figure out a way to take the Chunnel beneath the channel to Paris or other mainland location.  Heck, I would too, if I were you.  Sad to say there is probably no chance for your old man to get over there for even a few days.  The schedule just won’t allow it.  I put on my blog this morning that if you were over there until, say, October or November then the odds of a visit would increase noticeably.  But not right now.  Too much going on.  The one thing you need to do is send us photos and whatnot of where you are and what you’re doing.  People ask and all I can say is “I dunno.”  So keep your mom and I posted on your comings and goings.

Ellen, your running cavalcade of photos of Emma has been just darling.  It’s just like being there.  Okay, not quite but it’s a great substitute for being hundreds of miles away.  She has just changed so much.  She’s putting on a nice amount of weight and her little smile is showing some personality.  Believe me, it’s hard to remember them (i.e. you and your brother) at this age once you guys reach the Terrible Teens.  I’ve got the framed ones here and there throughout the place.

We had a great 27 hours going down and back to Tybee Island, Georgia.  A ride that’s long but not too long.  The weather was incredible.  We didn’t do a whole hell of a lot.  A few drinks and some so-so seafood at a beach bistro, accompanied by a duo performing old standards on acoustic guitars.  That was a riot.  Some of the patrons really got into it.  We had breakfast at a classic old diner then did a couple of short walks on the beach, walked a little more once we rode back through Savannah (worth the visit) and then took a two lane road 40 miles into Hilton Head, where the traffic was just bonkers.  It was miles and miles of stop-and-go for most cars.  We really noticed the backup as we came out of HH Saturday afternoon on the return ride to Charlotte.  We stopped to check out the timeshare (no news there; I have squandered the resource but am trying to figure out how to use it) and had a nice meal and cool drinks over at the Westin.  That was fun.  I could have nodded off at the table but it was time to hit the road again.  We had a leisurely ride back to North Carolina.

We are looking forward to the trip to St. Paul in mid July.  Felicia has been through the airport but never really set foot on Minnesota ground.  We’ll be there just long enough to not seem overbearing.

Picked the first honest-to-goodness tomatoes we’ve ever had.  The secret must’ve been the patio variety because the Big and Better Boys really just never got going in the big pots.  There’s a bumper crop on the vine right now, believe you me.  They don’t get real big, not quite the size of a tennis ball, but that’s a far cry from the ping pong ball size the last few years.  Toss some of these tomatoes with a little basil and garlic, and you’ve got some nice pesto.  Glad to hear you had your first ripe raspberry.  Next year you should have oodles of the red rubies.  You might go online to see if you need to cut those canes back.  I’m guessing so but don’t quote me.

Well, over and out from North Carolina.  It’s getting warmer here, and warmth gives way sooner than later to boiler room heat.  We may have to start dunking ourselves into the pool.  The water level may rise, given my gain in weight.  Hope nobody harpoons me.

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Back to the Bridger…

Buried in last week’s letter (see below) to Ellen and Reid is a hurried mention of the Bridger Wilderness.  (That’s me, above, doing my pack mule imitation.  But I love that country and will go as long as I am able.  As age advances, my window slowly closes.  I have to go now while I can.)

We will go back to Wyoming in July of this year; the full week of the 23rd through 27th to be exact.  In fact, we will really be out there by Friday, July 20 to acclimate a day or so and then head into the back country on Sunday the 22nd.  It will be more arduous than ’11 but not by a whole hell of a lot.  Four to five hours a day on the trail, max.  The ultimate goal is to be in country but the fishing is a primary draw for me.

There is worry in some quarters about another infestation of mosquitoes.  The winged vampires extracted a fair dose of blood last year but that’s when the water was high and the conditions ripe for a ‘skeeter explosion.  I’ve tried to prevail on Felicia and Bob that the blood suckers cannot possibly be as bad as last year, but apparently by their standards, any amount of mosquitoes won’t do.  To them, the only good mosquito is a dead mosquito.

Ellen and Tim will be no-shows this year, and Reid has pretty much tapped out his vacation time on his journey to India.  That doesn’t mean others (i.e. you) aren’t welcome.  The door is open.  But just be sure to shut it so the mosquitoes don’t get in.  The more trekkers, the merrier.


March 12, 2012

Ellen/Reid: The remainder of my spring planting took all of 5 minutes this morning.  Jammed a few spinach seeds into a large pot and watered the lot.  That’s the extent of getting my hands dirty.  I miss a little plot of dirt to poke around in.  Takes me back to the old days of black Iowa soil, raspberries and sugar snap peas.  Those were the days.  If there was a 6’ x 6’ chunk of good earth out back right here, right now, that would be nirvana.  But since there is no ‘out back’ other than the driveway and blacktop, that will remain a dream.  Still, it’s good to have something to water in the morning and fertilize on the weekends.  Fun to watch stuff grow.

We broke the bike out for a couple of rides this weekend.  Good to fire that mother up.  I just like to get out.  I suppose now that the weather should be – should be – consistently nice, the Harley will be a normal mode of transportation for us.  It passed its 45,000 check up with flying colors.  That, and a $500 check to the dealer, will do that for a bike.  It would be fun to ride to Illinois and Minnesota sometime.  That too, is a dream.

On the medical front, I had what is called a Calcium Scoring Test a few weeks ago.  It’s where they pass you through a CT scanner as they try to ascertain if there is any coronary plaque build-up in and around the heart.  It’s a byproduct of high cholesterol.  The test is over and done within a matter of minutes and you are on your way.  The results are in.  It’s all good.  The doc called me to say the results showed zero accumulation, which he cannot explain other than good genes.  I have relayed this on to your uncle in the event he wants to discuss it with his physician.  I guess as you age you worry more about that stuff.  But that was a good bit of news heading into the weekend.

Ellen, I think I will self-moderate a bit on the Atkins diet.  I miss a bowl of morning raisin bran topped with a banana, so I will revert to that then go carb-less the rest of the day.  I think Felicia isn’t as attuned to that approach as I am, but if I omit the bread and the spuds, that’s where most of my carb problem lies.  Hopefully the weight will continue to stay steady now that it’s kind of, sort of where it should be.  Just saying ‘no’ to ice cream has helped more than a little bit.

My trip to Scotland to play golf at St. Andrews is likely to unravel.  Steve has some new business coming in the door right about that time, and he’ll probably take a pass.  Our other candidates have deferred, too.  So now it’s on to the Bridger Wilderness July 23-27.  It will be Tom, Troy, maybe Felicia if we can assure her there are few to no mosquitoes, and maybe a couple of others from church.  I’m actually pretty excited about going back out there.  John and his crew can’t go as Ellison and Sophie go back to school right about then, plus they probably had their fill of trudging and huffing and puffing last summer.  Still, we’ll have a good time doing the loop, which is pretty much what Tim and Tom accomplished in about a half day last year.  I can’t wait to fish again.  Which reminds me, time to hit the gym if I hope to be in reasonable condition.

Reid, be sure to send me some shots from Bangalore, and point me in the right direction online to see what you have posted.  I’d love to rustle a few and plunk them on my blog page.  Speaking of which, I have a known blog expert coming to my class this week to answer student technical questions which are over my head.  I can get the folks writing, but a huge chunk of it is the technological frontier.

Perhaps the one dream that will come true is getting an iPhone.  I pledge to have something new in relatively short order so I can see pix of my new granddaughter and the pilgrimage to India.  I know I’m a late adopter – by a couple of years – but that’s just the way it goes.


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Book the Bridger: July 24-30, 2011…


Okay, you saw this aerial view of the Bridger Wilderness a couple of weeks ago. But it's the best I have. Beautiful, but moderate, terrain.


A couple of posts ago, I said the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming is my favorite place in the Lower 48.

I wasn’t kidding.  And now, you have a chance to see if I’m right.

Featuring six nights in the backcountry from Sunday, July 24 through Friday, July 29, 2011, I (and I hope to enlist Reid’s help as co-organizer) am assembling a backpacking trip in the Bridger for eight to 12 souls who are game for a wilderness experience.

We assemble in Pinedale, WY and hike the Northern half of the Bridger.  We will walk 3 – 5 miles per day (two to four hours) over moderate terrain.  I’ll pull all the food together (everyone carries their share).  Maximum altitude is probably 11,500 ft.  Any adult who is in moderate shape can handle this trip.  Incredible vistas.  Lots of good fishing, including Golden Trout in some high-country lakes.

If you’re interested, e-mail me or respond to this post.  It is an incredible place.


Here is today’s letter to my mom.

October 8, 2010

Mom: Last night I watched the Nebraska-Kansas State game and not a whole lot has changed.  When the going gets tough for NU, I turn the channel or get up and walk out of the room or just turn the TV off.  I’ve always been that way and probably will be forever.  Your other son is exactly the opposite in that you can’t pry him away from the tube.  But there wasn’t too much anxiety since Nebraska rolled all over K-State.

Been also watching the baseball playoffs and none of my teams – the Twins, Tampa or Cincinnati have done worth a darn so far.  Since Ellen lives in Minneapolis/St. Paul I sent her a message on her phone about the game, and she wasn’t even aware there was a game.  She’s just never been into those kind of sports.  Of course Reid follows the Chicago Cubs, and they will never amount to anything ever.  Cubs players are already on an extended vacation.

My tomato is at the end of its useful life.  The growing season here is rapidly drawing to a close although there are some little red tomatoes that just need a couple more days of ripening and they’ll be ready.  Down in these parts they fry green tomatoes (I’ve done it and they do taste good) so that’s how the remaining non-ripe tomatoes will end up on my plate.

One of my favorite neighbors, Mike, moved out yesterday.  He’s moving to San Antonio and he was a good guy.  He worked at the bank, too, and was a dedicated Harley rider.  In fact, he sent me a message this morning that he kept his bike out of the moving truck and is riding all the way to Texas.  Good for him.  That would be relaxing and fun.  Maybe some day I’ll haul my Hog out of the garage and ride out to Grand Island to see you guys.  That would be a lot of fun.

Things are going okay at the bank.  It’s a stressful time, what with all the foreclosures and stuff like that.  It’s tough on people to deal with, and I don’t mean those of us who are workers but the folks who are losing their homes.  It’s really hard to watch some of those things go on.  We’ll help them when we can but some are just too far gone.

I’m baking chicken in the oven tonight along with some Idaho potatoes.  I’ll dust it with a little flour laced with some spices.  I seem to have fallen into a rut where I cook chicken one night, rice the next night, tacos another night, and pasta the other night.  It all tastes okay but I need to expand the menu a little bit.  Hope your food tastes pretty good.  You sure wouldn’t want me to be cooking for you guys.

Well, that’s it from Charlotte.  Be good, stay warm now that the weather is cooling, and I’ll talk to you before much longer.  Have an ice cream cone for me.

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