Thursday, August 18, 2011

The "Potholes" Lakes

This is a picture of Blythe Lake in Eastern Washington as the sun is coming up.

I had a free day in the middle of the week, so I decided to go fishing in the “Potholes” in Eastern Washington. The eastern part of the state is high desert—very stark, uncluttered and peaceful. In the summer it’s warm and sunny.  At midnight I put the canoe on top of the car and drove 200 miles to Blythe Lake, arriving shortly before sunrise.

When I first got there it was still dark and the bull frogs all around the lake were croaking. It sounded like they were trying to get their cellos in tune-- very deep tones. But then a few started something that reminded me of the Australian Didgeridoo. And when I walked around the car I would hear splashing when the frogs and turtles jumped into the water. Different sounds than in the city.

About 15,000 years ago, towards the end of the last ice age, the Cordilleran Ice Sheet covered the northern parts of Washington, Idaho and Western Montana. The front edge of the ice sheet was about 2,000 feet high. That’s about three times the height of the Seattle Space Needle.

In what’s now Montana, there was a lot of water trapped behind ice dams, which were part of the ice sheet. That water is now referred to as Glacial Lake Missoula and may have been about half the size of Lake Michigan. Every 40 years or so during a 2000-year period, the ice dams would burst and all that water would rush across Eastern Washington at about 80 miles per hour. The water would scour the earth, pushing sediment and rocks out of the way and down into Oregon and beyond. The erosion was fierce. Enormous canyons and channels were formed in the volcanic rock almost instantly.

Dry Falls is an example of the vast erosion caused by the Missoula Floods (sometimes called the Spokane Floods). When water was flowing over Dry Falls, it was about twice as much as Niagara Falls. You can get all this information on the web.

Blythe Lake is near Moses Lake. The Moses Lake area has many lakes, commonly known as "potholes," which were initially carved out by  the floodwaters from Glacial Lake Missoula. Moses Lake feeds the Potholes Reservoir, which is part of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, a dam and irrigation project which raised the water table high enough to allow the potholes to become lakes. Blythe Lake is just south of the reservoir.  It's one of the little dots at the top left of this photo:

I don’t know if Blythe Lake is “officially” one of the potholes, but most people refer to all the lakes in the area as “The Potholes.” So, I went fishing in “The Potholes” (although there is an actual lake with that name). You know what I mean.

Anyway, I got there before sunrise and put the canoe in and paddled around the lake. I tried dragging a spinner behind as I paddled; I anchored and tried worms, both deep and shallow, and Power Bait, both deep and shallow. Never a bite or sight of a trout. This little guy got hooked on a worm, but I threw him back (along with the pliers shown in the picture).

While I didn’t catch any trout, it was six hours on the water well spent. The surroundings were beautiful. You could hear the air going through the feathers of the birds as they flew by. You could hear your own breathing. I was the only person at the lake—all day. That’s my car shown in the photo. It was great. After six hours on the lake, I drove back home.

The canoe worked well. The wind was really up coming home, and it was blowing sideways on the canoe. But, the canoe held up. That’s a picture of the back rest I made for it—you can lean against it or sit on top. I also learned that I can stretch out and fall asleep on the bottom of the canoe. That could work in a pinch.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fishing With My Grandson

Today was a good day-- I took my son and grandson fishing.  (Or, did they take me?).  This kind of day doesn't always happen.  It was time spent on the shore of the small lake which the three of us will remember forever. My grandson Logan caught one (when his line wasn't tangled in a tight mess-- a knot-tying skill we all three possess).  This was a day of appreciation.  What is it about fishing, in particular? 

31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover said it pretty well in 1947--

"Fishing is the chance to wash one's soul with pure air.  It brings meekness and inspiration, reduces our egotism, soothes our troubles and shames our wickedness.  It is discipline in the equality of men-- for all men are equal before fish."

Izaak Walton (1593-1683) was an English writer and author of The Compleat Angler (1653), which  celebrates the art and spirit of fishing.

"You will find angling to be like the virtue of humility, which has a calmness of spirit and a world of other blessings attending upon it." 

Remember the 1992 movie A River Runs Through It?  A great story-- some sadness, but also full of fishing, which seemed to forgive and make things right.  The movie was based upon the semi-autobiographic short novel A River Runs Through It (1976) written by Norman Maclean (1902-1990).  Here's one of the best quotes from the film--

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing." 

I don't pretend to be a great or regular fisherman.  I've been away from it for decades, only re-discovering it the last couple of years.  Just in time, it seems. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Reno Jim" Uprichard

Jim Uprichard, who tells me his last name is Welsh not Irish, has been a friend for 50 years.  He now lives in Reno, hence the moniker "Reno Jim."  That's him in the US Navy.  The two stripes means he was Admiral of the Second Fleet or something. He was also a boiler man on the USS Agerholm (commissioned in 1946, but sunk as a target off California in 1982).  A boiler man does what Steve McQueen does in the movie "Sand Pebbles."  That's a good movie. 

Reno Jim and I stay in touch as friends do, mostly out of curiosity to see how life turns for us. The guy in the Captain's hat is Jack Kerouac, the "beat" writer.  I didn't know Kerouac, but I think he may have tried to model his life after Reno Jim.  Uprichard makes Kerouac look like a Sunday School teacher.  The guy with the curly hair is Kurt Vonnegut, whose books I saw Reno Jim reading from time to time.  That's pretty much Jim's background, so far as I know.   

When Jim went into the Navy he had a metallic blue '56 Chev hardtop.  When he got out, he bought a purple VW bug.  Over the years, he's pretty much settled on a couple of Harley Davidson motorcycles. 

Reno Jim is an excellent rider.  When he sees a sign that suggests using caution, he'll grab a fist full of throttle and go even faster, lest some danger catch up to him from behind. The "dangerous curve" ahead sign is  biographical for Reno Jim.  

There are way too many stories and anecdotes to include here, obviously. 

This is a picture of Jim and I from the early 1970's.  I don't know who the women are standing next to Reno Jim in the pictures. 

That's Reno Jim with Ron Paul.  That makes perfect sense. 

UPDATE September 19, 2011--

Here's a picture of Reno Jim giving Senator Rand Paul a short seminar on the value of money and the dangers of the Federal Reserve this last weekend in Reno, Nevada (of course). 

UPDATE:  So Reno Jim was riding his bike around Florida in late summer 2012 to be a Ron Paul delegate at the GOP national convention, which he did.  But, he got banged up pretty good in a bike accident and ended in the hospital.  His bike got out earlier than him.  The "New World Order" trying to take him out?   His friends are trying to help him out.  For more info about this patriot, check out

Ouch-- that had to hurt, Reno Jim.