It’s the kind of place you find near home, but only after years of trial and error. It’s the kind of place you head to for a day of solitude and beauty. You might go there for the birds and wildflowers, for a hike or easy ramble, for a hunt that only you can define. You might go there to inspect a population of native trout.
You might go there to relax or to forget what’s better left forgotten. You might go there to remember that the world is larger than it was while you were working. You might go there to remind yourself that people aren’t the center of creation.
There are trout and orioles and multiflora roses. Sometimes there’s a good friend with you, one who loves the game as well as you do, one who even claims to understand what it is you’re looking for.
You might go there to roughen up your edges, to enhance the texture of your time on earth. And you know it has to do with wildness.
If you’re like me, you might go there because you’re insufferable on occasion, perhaps a pain in the ass to others who might need some time to themselves. You might go there because it’s good for society (as if you really cared), which gets you out of the store and office for a while.
You might go there to find another green world– a place to renew your hope for all mankind. If you do that, my advice would be to stay open-minded. Nature doesn’t care to work with us, or to conform its ways to fit our personal needs. Be prepared for small surprises and the need for adaptation.
You might go there for the highlight of your week, but it’s possible that the fish won’t
bite. The bugs and heat and high humidity could be an unexpected headache. And that’s just part of the fun you’ll have.
You might go there for a grand finale of some sort. On this particular trip I stopped for a beer at the Old Tannery Saloon. The place was quiet, unlike a neighboring bar where the parking lot was filled with highschool grads and bikers and summerfolk. The grimy walls were covered with everything from a hanging bear trap to a photo of 20 topless ladies smiling on a yacht.
It was my kind of bar. In fact, an older couple (probably in their 70s) got up from their stools to pay for their bill. The man asked, “How was fly-fishing today?”
“Oh… it was good,” I answered, surprised that anyone had noticed my fishing shirt and hat in the dim light of the old saloon.
“What were you using?” The gentleman pulled his tipsy wife closer to his side.
“Dry flies. The fish were rising, especially on the East Fork.”
Then the wife had a question: “And what pattern were you using?”
“Blue-winged Olive. It was that kind of weather. Dark and showery.”
The man and woman nodded vigorously, as if the pattern was the most reasonable response in the world. With a wave of the hand, they were out the door, and I finished off my Straub.
You might even go there as Jim Morrison went, who flew to Paris for the writing of poetry and song and never came back to the states alive. You might go there on the power of a song, as well.
While driving to my destination I listened, nature-struck, to the masterful guitar play of the late Gary Moore…
My God, Walt. Wherever “there” is you just took us to it. Thanks. Just what I needed! Hope all is well!
Thanks Mike! Really glad that you could come along, and that it hit the spot!
What Mike said earlier! You wrote that from the heart. Summed up so much about the need to be outdoors. The description of The Old Tannery Saloon is wonderful – I could spend an easy hour or two in there…I’m guessing no chrome, few flashing lights, good beer, and real atmosphere.
Thanks, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Would love to share a few good beers with you in a place like the Old Tannery, especially after some solid outdoor activity. Always love to hear from you, Plaid. With thanks!
Great post Walt. I’ve been told I fit the pain in the arse profile and regularly give my peeps a break by heading out to explore some new water.
Next time we get together remind me to tell you about Sherwood’s Bar in Jacksonville, FL or the Deerhead Inn in Watergap, PA. Both are fine local watering holes.
You got it, Leigh. I’d say any good angler has got to fit the profile somewhere. It’s in the genes, and in the nature of the game that most non-anglers don’t quite understand, but then again, some of them may know us better than we know ourselves. Of course, I’m just speculating off the top of my beer-sodden cranium at this point of the night. Hey, I’ll look forward to hearing your stories, especially of the Deerhead, which I missed somehow when I passed through Watergap years ago.
Karen and I found that same mushroom while hiking along the valatie kill last week. Its a ling chih varnish polypore. Very beautiful. Caught a few dace in a small pool but no brookies.
Thanks for that identification, Pete. I was meaning to look it up today but didn’t get around to it. Tomorrow I’ll read about it, hopefully, and learn more about the varnish polypore which, if nothing else, sounds well-named. So is there a hiking trail along the Valatie Kill now? If so, that’s pretty cool. When I was a kid I used to fish in Niverville below the dam, and then, later, fishing the Kill near Valatie village, I caught the first sunfishes of my life. Thanks, too, for helping me remember that!
“You might go there to roughen up your edges, to enhance the texture of your time on earth.” Wow! You nailed it with that statement.
Thanks, my friend. It’s like when you go on a good camp outing and you feel your civil smoothness start to roughen and take on the odor of the campfire. Texture. And thanks for reading, Jim.
Excellent post! It boosted my spirits to read it, and after reading the previous comments, it is apparent that it resonated with many. And, my friend, you never fail to surprise me – I would not have guessed that you are a Gary Moore fan – but I should expect to be surprised by RR. Hitting the East Branch Clarion tomorrow with a new angling acquaintance and a friend of his. I’ll let you know how it fishes.
Glad to be of some help here, Bob. And sometimes I surprise myself because I’m pretty much open to whatever comes downstream, and I report on what my limited senses tell me. Gary Moore, for example. Never listened to him much before because I hadn’t been exposed to his music, but when I heard Parisienne Walkways on this outing, I was floored.
Well, I hope you get a pleasant surprise or two when you’re out on the East Branch. After all this rain we’ve just had, a tailwater might be your best at success. Let me know!
Great looking trip – what a relaxing and energizing time.
Thank you for coming along and taking the time to comment. “Relaxing” and “energizing” aptly describe such experiences. They may seem at odds with each other initially, but I see them as complementary.
There’s an interesting theme running through the whole post: While one can make interesting and/or personal discoveries on this kind of expedition–be they natural or sociological discoveries–it rarely happens when you head out with the expectation that something will happen to fit your needs, or your mood. You and the older couple never expected to make some sort of fleeting connection, and I’m sure you never thought you’d find that turtle!
I’d say that we can guide ourselves toward a certain range of personal discoveries, but they seem to have a life of their own beyond our expectations. I suspect that had I intentionally sought a turtle laying eggs beside the brook, I never would have seen one. So when I found turtles by a brook trout stream, it was kind of surprising. Yeah you got it there, Brent, thanks for your insight and consideration.
Great post Walt.
Hey Doug, appreciate the comment. Thank you for reading the post, and best to you and the poetry!
What a fantastic post, I wish I had been there too! 🙂
Thanks for the compliment, Lily. You’d enjoy the place! Please stop by again.
Bravo! You eloquently stated what many of us seek in the outdoors. I almost felt like I was there, somewhere, far from people and enjoying the natural world as you described it. Great post!
Thank you, Mary Anne. If the reader feels swept up with the potential of a natural place, no matter where it is, I feel as though I’ve succeeded. Best wishes, and enjoy your Alaskan summer!