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Otis & Me

Ice Wind Snow & Sand
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Traveling across the frozen tundra of Minnesota, North Dakota, and the Mountains of Montana, Idaho, & Washington in February may seem like a fool’s errand to some but for Otis & me it is just another adventure. You see Otis is my truck, he has 430K miles and has never had the engine or transmission rebuilt. Otis just keeps on going! Me well I’m Just along for the ride.

We are doing two fly fishing shows one in Lynwood Wa. & the next one is in Pleasanton Ca. But I digress.

Back to the first leg of our little journey. Depart Mn. In major snow storm and polar vortex (passing dozens of cars & trucks in the ditch along the way), followed by a steady dose of bitter cold in N. Dakota high winds causing icy spots on the interstate...more wreckage in the ditch. Bunk up with some friends in Bismarck and hit the highway the next morning... very cold but clear weather with dry roads thru the rest of N. Dakota and eastern Montana (ahhh) until between Livingston and Bozeman where we encounter 60 Mph cross winds and some road closures due to winds, after that add a dose of freezing rain around Helena followed by thick snow and icy roads into the night (more cars in the ditch). Seems like a theme. About 100 miles from our destination for the night ( Coeur D’aline Idaho ) I-90 is closed down due to an avalanch. This sendsm us on a 4 hour detour of steep narrow ice covered mountain roads on an inky black night in order to reach Coeur D’aline Idaho at around 1 am. That’s right you guessed it more cars in the ditch. Day three guess what... more snow and wind & wrecks while navigating the Squalimine pass arriving in Lynnwood Wa. Just in time for a heavy snow and rush hour. Can you say exhausting. However when I was not in fear of departing the highway there were some beautiful desolate wind swept vistas to be enjoyed! I love the west.

Up early on Friday to set up for the show. Saturdays show was fairly successful, Sunday was disappointing, tear down, get inside Otis to leave and click, yup just click... get jump, go buy new battery, install it there in the parking lot, exhausted go to bed. Thank god the battery went dead in Lynnwood Wa. rather than in the middle of nowhere on a black inky night in Montana & Idaho. 

Up Monday morning and start the drive south to Ca. It is so nice to see green living plants and smell earth & water it’s almost shocking at first after having been emersed in the long Mn. Winter for so long. Stop for the night in southern Oregon and resume the journey the next day across a few icy mountain passes in northern Ca., mountains give way an arrid area and then groves of walnut trees in bloom, and then things get green again. Strange thing every time I stop for fuel ”tweekers” come out of nowhere to beg for money, I mean even in the middle of nowhere and very early in the morning. I make my way to the coast to see the ocean and smell salty air and to listen to the rhythm of the crashing surf then drive on to visit some friends in Inverness for a couple of days arriving fairly late that night after spending half the day on narrow winding roads passing thru lovely redwood forests. 

Thursday morning off to Pleasanton Ca. To set up for the next show. Lots of running around to purchase some items to secure my pop-up canopy and other booth items due to strong winds. Friday first day of show...funny it’s like 60 to 70 degrees and people are wearing parkas while I feel like I have arrived in a tropical paradise. The show is very slow, being out side is not helping, but even the vendors inside can not figure out why it is so slow. Saturday and Sunday pretty much the same so far as the show is concerned. Some learning...people really like the susquash shirt and I sell more hats in Ca. then in Wa. otherwise people seem to really like the designs and I get very positive feedback from other vendors that stop by to visit. I was very lucky to have some great folks next to me at both shows including: Brian O’Keefe of Eleven Angling (Premium Fly Fishing Adventures), Steve Day & Savanna Summers from Golden Trout Wilderness Pack Trips (Kern River Rainbows and Golden Trout in the High Sierras) and Cathy & Dave Vierthaler of Paxis Back Packs ("Unique backpacks that provide quick access to the items you need."). I would encourage anyone to check out their companies.

See links below:

elevenexperience.com

goldentroutpacktrains.com   

Paxispax.com

For my return trip I decided to take a more southern route on Interstate 80 and to try to beat it home before any more bad winter storms arrive. Still hit some challenging weather crossing Donner pass, very high winds while crossing Nevada & Wyoming ( Otis gets pretty much sand blasted - a sort of exfoliating treatment lets call it ). Next dial up the aftermath of a major snow storm in Nebraska, Iowa, & southern Minnesota. Spent one night in a motel in Nebraska where I could hear all of the phone conversations of the guy in the adjoining room like he was sitting right next to me. Seems he has just been released from prison in Colorado after a 10 year stretch and is heading to Minnesota. Unfortunately most of his calls are about who he is going to do bad things to, rob, make meth with and or kill. Brilliant. I slept with one eye open and a large claw hammer under my pillow.

 Maybe next year I’ll fly! Sorry Otis, but you may have to sit out the next trip.

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