Posted in Travel

Fishing vs. Catching

Redfish Lake
morning coffee

When I stepped outside the cabin this morning, the creekside meadow in muted colors of pre-dawn looked more like an impressionist’s watercolor than an actual scene… But minutes later the sun swooped above the ridge opposite, and the meadow suddenly popped with all the vibrant maroons and golds of September in Stanley. Or maybe that’s just when my coffee kicked in. ;)

Yesterday’s “hiccups” have been addressed–the Lodge staff kindly cleaned our chimney, I got batteries at the general store for my dead Bluetooth keyboard, and the Editor has found toothpaste. We met him at the grocery store yesterday before leaving town, and he was ribbing me about the previous day’s blog on packing: “You use a LIST?!” Oh yeah–I’d be liable to forget fingers & toes if they weren’t stuck on, let alone fripperies like toothbrush & undies. “Toothbrush!” he yelped with a stricken look, and went bounding back toward the toiletries aisle. Guess I should have mentioned toothpaste too.

But here I am, revived keyboard in my lap, ensconced in one of the cushioned adirondack chairs lining the Lodge’s main porch. The lawn slopes down to the sandy beach and the lake, shark-teeth of the mountain skyline towering behind the sun-spangled water. The Right Hand (a.k.a. Office Manager) and her husband are hiking the Fishook Trail; The Photographer (toting some of her 20 pounds of camera equipment) is prowling the shoreline; and her husband and mine have marched to the water with poles and tackle box, declaring their intention of terrorizing the fish. We’ve brought fish recipes just in case, though we’ve been warned that “the fishing is better than the catching” here at the lake. Happily, ours is a group of people as content with experience as with result.

SawtoothsThought I’d see how the “fishing experience” was coming along, so I wandered down to the water to find The Editor emerging from a swim (brave soul–it’s a pleasant temperature, but I’m in jeans & a flannel shirt) and the other gents up to their hips with lines in the water. I retrieved our (amazingly still dry) camera from my husband’s pants pocket, and retreated with it to a driftwood log just in time for the excitement of a hooked bull trout. I managed to catch photographic evidence of the flopping in the shallows (the trout, not the spouse) before it (the trout, not the spouse) escaped its hook. A flurry of reinvigorated discussion of lures followed, along with a quick census of numbed toes (the fishermen agree that waders are handy items–not so much for keeping your feet dry, but because you can pee in them and keep your feet warm). The Photographer threatened to make earrings from the “leopard spinners,” but was told she’d have to limit her tackle-box raid to items that hadn’t just caught a fish–now the boys are back in the water with the leopard spinners on their lines…

Me? I’ve got the keyboard balanced on my driftwood log–just another day at the office for an Idaho travel-writer!

Posted in Travel

Settling in at Redfish Lodge

I tend to forget the brilliant wattage of stars until I’m away from the electric lights that dim them… We’re not exactly roughing it here–magazine staffers and spouses in a picturesque but modern four-bedroom log cabin with full kitchen, two-story stone fireplace, hot water, outlet for my iPad, coffee pot (and imported coffee), view of the mountains, and a gourmet chef in the person of my husband… But when I stepped outside for a bedtime smoke, removed for a moment from the lights and the laughter and the cutthroat game of Uno going on inside, those stars over the Sawtooths beamed in like white lasers, reminding me we’re at the edge of wilderness. It’s the end of the season here at Redfish Lodge; our week is the last hoorah before they board up the cabins and the disappointed deer (which nosed right up to our patio this evening to see if we had deer-food for them) will have to forage on their own till the next tourist season.

End-of-season observation… Evidently the chimneys get cleaned AFTER the season, because ours is venting directly into the cabin. And evidently we aren’t the first to experience this issue, judging by the missing smoke detectors absent from their bases throughout the cabin. Except, of course, for that one unreachable bugger fourteen feet above our heads on the vaulted ceiling. I wonder if the Geneva Convention covers torture by smoke alarm. With all seven of us intently invested in the project of silencing the damn thing (though increasingly impaired by our own laughter as our attempts became more desperate and more creative, involving broom handles, fireplace pokers, and stacked furniture), we cheered my husband’s emergence from our room, hoisting the long wooden hanging-rod from the closet like a jousting knight in fleece armor. We proceeded to play piñata with the smoke detector until we’d literally beaten it off the ceiling (though it continued to chirp like a thing possessed for a few minutes even after we tore its battery out) and then went outside, high on our hard-won victory, to have a celebratory cigar. (Is that ironic? The smoke alarm has no comment.)

Posted in Travel

Packing Pro

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~Susan Heller

I’m supposed to be writing about Travel Destinations in Montana. Clearly I’m not. I promised myself I’d turn in my 17 Montana articles by the end of today–but hey, it’s only four in the afternoon, there’s still some of “today” left, and my mind is entirely (and agreeably) occupied with my own packing list for this week’s excursion into the Idaho mountains…

Arguably my favourite iPad app is the “Packing Pro,” with its enticing icon of a stickered suitcase and my customized packing lists for various types of trips (“day-trip on a writing assignment,” “travelling with the kids”)… My globe-trotting dad always said that anticipation and reminiscence are as important to the overall experience of a trip as the travelling itself—and the delicious sense of anticipation that accompanies the act of creating a new packing-list only confirms his observation. What does this journey call for when it calls to me? Fishing tackle. My turquoise prayer-beads. The A.A. “Big Book” (we’ll be in company of some other recovering alcoholics, and a Meeting in the Mountains is on my wish-list). Flannel shirts. Mountain maps. A picnic blanket.

My mother is the original packing pro. Before her Girl Scout trip to England when she was sixteen, her troop brought in an airline stewardess (yes, they were “stewardesses” then) to give the girls packing tips, and I’m here to vouch for the efficacy of the lesson; the woman can pack a suitcase no man can lift! For our six-month road-trip through Europe when I was ten, she managed to pack for all four of us (doll clothes, kitchen supplies, camping gear, and mix-and-match red-white-and-blue wardrobes for my sister and me) in just five suitcases. She sent ahead caches of English-language books for us, but aside from the reading material, four of us lived for six months out of those suitcases. Bravo, Mother! My own pinnacle of packing feats was for a two-month visit to the Philippines when my son was a year old—necessities for three people, baby paraphernalia, porta-crib, mosquito netting, more than 200 diapers, and a “first-aid kit” that could have rivalled a small pharmacy, all crammed into two medium-sized duffels. My mother and I are probably responsible for the weight-limits now imposed by airlines on checked luggage.

Tomorrow’s trip will be by car, though, so there’s no limit on the weight of my luggage, or on my imagination. Nor need we worry about Regina Nadelson’s observation that “Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with losing your luggage.” :)

Ha, an amusing side-note… My spell-checker is currently set to “UK English” because my travel-destination articles are at the behest of a UK car-rental agency (or as they say, “car hire” agency)… I’ve only just noticed the automated fixes of words above like “favourite”—but I think I’ll leave them. A snapshot of today’s projects…

old suitcase