Archive for June, 2012

Ana River Redux

Fishing the Ana River at dawn

Fishing the Ana River at dawn. Click on image for best quality.

Yes, that’s a kilt.  You can get yours here:

So, I decided to give the Ana River a second chance.  This time, I started at the headwaters below the reservoir and worked my way down stream for about a mile and a half.  I arrived at the reservoir at 1 PM and fished until 6.  I caught one fish about 5 inches long.  It was pathetic.

I decided to pack it in for the day and headed down the road to my camping spot.  That is where I took this photo.

The following morning, I arose before sunrise to get some photos in the early light and decided I’d had enough of the Ana River – or maybe, she’d had enough of me.  Either way, we were through with each other.  I packed up all my gear and started heading back toward the Cascades and home.

Since I had to go past Diamond Lake on my way home, I decided to stop there and try my luck.  Some of the largest trout ever caught in Oregon have come out of Diamond Lake.  It can be very productive.

I arrived at Diamond Lake at 8:30 in the morning, rented a small boat, and was out on the water by 9.  I tried every trick I had in my tackle box: nightcrawlers, power bait, spinners, spoons, and flat fish; I trolled up and down, back and forth, and around the edges.  At one point, I dropped anchor just off the reeds at the north end, set a big, fat nightcrawler dowsed in krill oil in my hook, floated it off the bottom a few feet and took a nap in the boat.

By 4 PM, I was still empty handed.  Seven hours of solid fishing and nothing but a sunburn to show for it.  When I got back to the marina at the end of the day, I asked if anyone else had brought anything in and the word was that no one was catching anything.  Apparently, the lake wasn’t giving anything up that day.  So I didn’t feel so bad.

On the way home, I stopped and took this photo:

Stump Lake. Click on image for best quality.

At least I got some decent photos out of the trip.

Categories: Fishing, Photography Tags: ,

Death by Choice

June 8, 2012 1 comment

A few years ago my dog died.  It was a Sunday morning.  As I was preparing my morning coffee he came stumbling down the hallway.  With his tired, old head cocked oddly to one side, he managed to fumble his way into the family room before collapsing, head first, on the carpet.  He’d had a stroke.  The next morning, I took him to the vet and had him put down.  As I held him in my arms I could feel his essence slowly seep away until finally, he was free of all the pain and confusion.

I buried his body in the back yard where he used to play.  Although I miss him, I do not mourn his death.  It is something we all must do someday.

Not long after my dog passed, a human friend of mine did the same thing.  Every Sunday afternoon for the previous year I had visited him in his room at the hospice.  Initially, he’d been given six months to live.  He hung on for three years.  Finally, he started coughing up coffee grounds and it was over.  Although I miss him, I do not mourn his death – I am, in fact, happy for him – I know how he suffered.

For over a year, I watched him deteriorate and waste away.  Each night he went to bed hoping he would not see the sunrise, hoping he’d not have to spend another day in his chair staring out the window on an empty gravel parking lot, hoping he would just die.  As the days turned into weeks and the weeks dragged into months, the agony became endless.  His life was already over, but his body was still functioning.  The constant pain medication did little more than dull the edge of his hellish existence.  He so desperately wanted to die and be free, but he wasn’t allowed.

In Occidental society we avoid death.  Every other transition of our life we embrace and celebrate: birth, graduation, marriage, and retirement.  But death, we avoid.  Our religions treat death as something to fear unless you have all your squares filled and your ticket validated.  Our health care system is not equipped to deal with the reality of death.  It is not a life care system – it is a death avoidance system.

How is it that people who’ve been allowed to live their life on their own terms are not allowed to die on their own terms?

Conscious living is a fundamental human right.  So should be conscious dying.  People who are dying do not need us to save their life.  They need us to give them back their life and all the options and rights to it, including the right to end it.

We live in a culture where the virtues of self-reliance are held in sacred regard.  Failure to stand on one’s own is secular blasphemy – until we come to the end of our life and then, we’re stripped of our independence and freedom to choose.  In our most desperate hour we are left to languish at the will and whim of relatives, friends and strangers who rob us of the freedom we had throughout our life and force us to “hang in there.”

How is it that in a society where individuals – rightfully – are expected to live their own life, make their own choices and accept responsibility for their own actions are denied the most fundamental choice of all?  This is an untenable double standard.

The concept of someone voluntarily ending their own earthly existence may seem repugnant to some but to the person lying helpless in their own waste, waiting for the inevitable, the prospect takes on a whole new perspective.  To them, wasting away in agony is repugnant.

There is no argument eloquent enough to convince someone who may disagree with my position to suddenly “switch sides.”  Further, I’m not so naïve as to think that anyone reading this would be compelled to change their mind.  But the real issue is, no one has to agree or change their mind.  All that is necessary is for us, as a culture, to recognize and respect the beliefs and wishes of our dying and allow them to choose for themselves according to their own conscience.  We’ve allowed them their freedom throughout the whole of their life.  All we have to do is allow them their freedom throughout the end of their life.  This isn’t really all that difficult.

After all, whose life is it, anyway?

The Zombie Apocalypse is here

This story:

is making the rounds on the internet. In fact, it’s being republished and re-blogged almost verbatim. The timing of all these bizarre things is a bit disconcerting. But before you start stock piling your ammo and freeze dried food, consider this: there are about 7 billion people on the planet. Statistically, a very small percentage of them are going to do something truly weird and creepy. Add to that another 5 billion cell phones, countless surveillance cameras and a global communications network that allows everyone on the planet to get instant news feeds – and – the always voracious and sensationalist media aching for blood and scandal and sooner or later you’re going to see a cluster of this sort of behavior.

So don’t worry. The Zombie Apocalypse isn’t happening just yet.

But keep your fingers crossed, summer is just getting started so there’s still hope.

The Fish Whisperer

You would think this river had fish in it. You would be wrong.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I’ve been dreaming of a big one.  A fish, that is.  So this past weekend I took a trip down south to catch that elusive big one.  It just so happens that during the day I work in the sporting goods department in one of the stores of a regional retail chain.  Technically, I’m the department manager.  But don’t let the red vest fool you.  I have no authority.

This puts me in a position to hear every big fish story that comes down the river.  I take what I hear with a grain of salt.  Every fisherman has their story and they’re usually bullshit.  But this time, I thought I’d take a chance on a guy’s claim and take a trip down south to the Ana River.

He swears by it.  But just to be sure, I did a little more research.

We sell a lot of books in our department and few of them are worth the money you pay.  There is one exception: Fishing in Oregon, 10th Ed., by Madelynne Diness Sheehan.  It’s been around a long time and covers every body of water in the state.  It spoke well of the Ana River, pointing out that it wasn’t fished often.  I’m big on that.  I like the solitude.

I left Friday morning and drove for more than 3 hours, over the mountains and out in to the Oregon outback.  Central Oregon is high desert: sagebrush, lava rock, and cedar trees.  It’s an extension of the same chaparral country that runs west to the Cascade range of Western Oregon from the Snake River valley and the Continental Divide of Eastern Idaho where I grew up.  You can get lost out here.  Every hill looks the same as the last one you just crossed.  Dust devils whirl and grind their way across the low-growing brush.  Rattlesnakes hide among the rocks.

Out in this country, you can drive down a gravel road for hours and never get anywhere.  And that’s exactly what I did.  The maps I had sucked.

After scouring the desert for a river that didn’t seem to exist, I finally found it slowly meandering its way across open the open country.  I’m not unaccustomed to this type of terrain.  The rivers and streams of central Idaho make their way through similar topography, cutting down through the basalt rock leaving a winding trail of trees and greenery along their banks as they flow.  You can look across the prairie and see where the river is by the line of trees and brush.

But not this time.  This was odd country.

I finally found the river, such as it was, and set up camp.  The wind was blowing down from the buttes creating a respite from the desert heat.  I found a patch of grass along the riverbank to pitch my tent and then set about my quest to land a big lunker.

I covered several miles of river by nightfall and pulled up nothing but moss.  I was beginning to see why there were no other fishermen on the river.

By nightfall, the wind had picked up to the point where I had to park my car as close to my tent as possible in order to create a windbreak.  The wind blew stronger as the night wore on until about two or three in the morning.  And then the coyotes started their racket.

At sunrise, after about two hours of sleep, I came out of my tent and stepped in to an army of mosquitoes.  With no wind, they were out in force.  I was getting eaten alive while I hurriedly broke camp and packed the car.  I wasn’t going to stay around any longer.  The only decision left was which way to go: further south to Klamath Falls or north toward Bend.

I chose north.

I decided to loop around the north end of Crater Lake and make a stop at Diamond Lake.  You can easily rent a boat at Diamond Lake and the fishing along the north end near the edge of the reeds is world class.

Driving back up in to the mountains on my way to Diamond Lake, the rainstorm rolled in.  I didn’t have any rain gear and didn’t want to spend the day in a rowboat getting rained on after trying to sleep through a windstorm.

So, in the end, I just drove home.

My cooler was empty.  My arms were sunburned.  My gas tank was empty – to the tune of about $75.  But hey, I got a few pictures and this very engaging story to tell.

And oh yea, when I see that guy again (you know, the guy who told me about how wonderful the fishing was on the Ana River?) I’m going to get him a nice fruit basket.

Full of moss.

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