Of Family and Fish

It was a remarkable and much-needed break.  Since our return from across Russia and China by train, we’ve been hitting the repair work on Evolutionary Abode pretty hard.  Two weeks ago, grandkids and their parents provided just the opening.

Daughter Tena and son-in-law Chris—children in tow—met daughter Anna and me at one of our favorite campsites in Twin Harbors State Park, just down the road from Westport.  Over the years of their growing up, the kids and I spent a number of happy weeks playing here.  After the two-day journey from Denver, grandson James and sister Delilah were more than ready to leave the car for salt water, sand castles and beachcombing.

The Old Man and Mom always said that there was a certain look that might randomly pass through me when I was a boy.  They insisted it first showed up when I was about two years old, and they learned quickly to pay attention; it was, apparently, a look that said “Get me outta here!  Now!”  I can still remember how it felt when I just needed to be somewhere on the ground and in fresh air.  Mostly, however, I remember how one or the other of them would get up, walk to the door, hold it open and motion me out.

I often saw that look on my kids.  How could I miss it on five-year-old James and two-year-old Delilah?  I held the door open.

We put out crab rings and brought in dozens of mostly-too-small, but very entertaining crabs.  We made perfect campfires and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  We played and laughed and built sand castles and found perfect stones and shells.  We slept on the ground and became intimate, again, with the earth.  Each moment, I got to see and feel—anew—that treasured physical earth connection through the fresh eyes and laughter of my grandchildren.

We returned to Paradise with a couple days to kill before the 4th and the big fireworks show.

Wednesday morning, at 3:30, Chris, Tena and I, with James in tow, hooked up with magician Shane Magnusson (Upper Columbia Guide Service) near Cashmere and headed to the Columbia.  By 4:40, we were actively seeking Chinook.

This was a much–anticipated day.  Tena and Chris and I had fished for lake trout and salmon with Shane FROM time to time over the years they were in Seattle.  Since their move to Colorado, that fishing has been simply a fond conversation.  This day would be the real deal, however, and it promised to be a good one.

We were soon into fish.  Shane might grin at James, turn to the water with his patented “Here fishy, fishy…” and Tena or Chris’ rod tip would dive toward the water.  We started with a shiny eight-pounder.  Each strike brought a bigger fish and another look of awe and excitement to James’ face—maybe even a comparison to the eight-inch trout he had caught.

Scattered through those early hours, we spent moments lost in the perfection of the Columbia and the beautiful country it cut through.  The craggy edges of the valley, the intense early morning sun, the perfect light breeze and the quiet swooshing and gurgling of the river winding its way past Wenatchee to the ocean were broken only by tales Shane and I told of growing up along the river.  It was just the morning we had anticipated.

At some point in there, I brought in a beautiful 21-pounder.  Chris and Tena each caught another, making their limits and ending their fishing for the day.  After a hiatus of some sort, I tied into my second very nice fish, but it was not to be—it spit the lure after several minutes.

Over another couple hours or so, we fished and talked and laughed, and finally called it a day.

We’ve done a lot of salmon fishing together, and prayed over the salmon of several rivers and the ocean.  Chris and Tena have heard tales of limits of Chinook and Coho when I fished with the Old Man in the Northwest of decades ago, but never had they actually caught their limits.  We had five keepers, and 70 pounds of beautiful fresh Columbia River kings.  Sharing the experience with Shane made it all the richer.  It was a great morning.

(Meet Shane, and see some of our pictures, at his website www.uppercolumbiaguide.com  or check out his Facebook page.)

We pointed my rig back toward Paradise.  James was talkative and still excited as we pulled into the Aplets and Cotlets shop in Cashmere for one last tourist activity before heading home to holiday barbeques.

After Thursday night’s fireworks, that part of my family headed back to jobs and life in Denver.

We returned to work on Evolutionary Abode.  I want to say that life for us got back to normal, again, too…

But when you have seen the outdoors, and your lifelong connections to it, through the shiny new eyes of your own descendants, can you get back to “normal?”

Happy summer…


Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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