As temperatures soar in Arizona, we decide to head out and see how long we can live in our Tacoma Pick-up truck. Any high altitude and cool woods will suffice for our survival. We have to get out. I know that a lot of you know what I mean.
The woods keep proving to be the place to be. We will see how long the two of us can sleep together in the back of the truck, with occasional motel cleanup breaks in-between bouts of camping. Panguitch Lake, Utah gives us our first stop.
My Senior National Parks Access Pass gives free admission and half-price camping at all National Parks. For eight dollars a day, we book six days at a campsite with views of Panguitch Lake. Cool sleeping at nights in temps around 40℉ make for chilly night-time pees. Campfire cooking and fishing the generous Panguitch Lake for several species of trout helps to make our minds more mellow.
Our small, South Panguitch Lake overflow Campground gets mobbed over the Fourth of July. Enough to clog the only four (flushing) toilets in the campground. Too bad they do not have outhouses, as they rarely get clogged. Constant traffic on our white gravel road keeps things good and dusty.
I fish lakeside from my chair just like the others around me. Later in the day it was almost like “combat fishing” in Alaska, but from a chair. Many of the other people land beautiful, fat trout. I catch nothing, using the same bait as they. Marilynn does not have a pole or license yet, so lucky for me, she gets bored and takes walks, replaces cooler ice, fetches beers and treats, and I have never fished with accommodations like this before.
We dine on hot dogs and beans as a back-up plan to not catching. Of course, you must cook them over the fire.
I catch nothing for three consecutive days. So desperate we even try to fish in nearby streams, Good thing that we brought many cans of beans, sardines, and tuna, as well as a currently thawed-out bag of shrimp.
After six nights without a shower, and a bit sore from crawling in and out, and loading and unloading, and twisting and lifting (anyone who thinks that camping is always an easy holiday should go camp once in a while) we enjoy hiking in Red Canyon, off the entrance road to Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Everybody calls this scenery magical, and I must use the same word as it fits.
I am compelled to mention that we meet a seventy-nine-year old man who camps in his van and rides his trail bike on every trail he can find. He comes from Kentucky and took care of his wife who had full blown Alzheimer’s for ten years. Now he is camping around the country alone, quite aimlessly, much like we are trying to do. Inspire.
We take a shower for four dollars at a Chevron gas station/general store and be renewed! Off to the boonies near Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. At a sporting goods store in Evanston, WY, Don loads us up with the right light equipment for trout fishing. All of my current fishing equipment is geared for the big fish in Alaska. We are now armed with two lightweight poles, small hooks, and fishing worms. Back to basics.
The last five miles to our remote campsite on Crystal Creek bounces over a rough dirt road that is not recommended for those with RV Campers. Plus, you need to yield to cowboys.
Mother Nature took back much of this primitive campground, but we slide into site #1 (out of 4) which is private, wooded, has a picnic table and fire ring, and over-looks Crystal Creek. One outhouse sits in this small place surrounded by infinite dispersed camping areas. The outhouse does not get clogged.
My first cast with my new outfit lands a rainbow trout. Yes, first cast. True fish story. Marilynn cannot believe it.
Then she lands a nice rainbow trout too. I catch a few more whitefish, and we decide that it is supper time. Of course, you must cook them over the fire, with plenty of celebratory libations.
Here is a fish story: Marilynn threw a bag of what she thought was all paper products into the fire. “The fishing worms were in there!”
I retrieve the Styrofoam container of nightcrawlers only to have them fall out of the side which the fire melted off. Worms fall onto hot rocks of our fire ring, and land in black dusty dirt. The charcoaled crawlers remain there all night long. In the morning I pick the stiff worms up one by one and place them on a paper plate and add water. Change water a few times, and the worms start to look fleshy again. Okay, they are all we got, so we will try them on a hook. Maybe trout like grilled worms. Much to our surprise, the worms wiggle when we hook them. They come back to life. I am the “worm whisperer” of the woods.
Marilynn slayed trout this day. I got one, but she got four, and we again feast on fresh caught fish. Which of course, must be cooked over the fire.
After being off the grid for three more nights with no cell, etc., we need to restock supplies, ice, and are tired of eating fish. By the way, I turned on my truck to check outside temperatures at seven o’clock in the morning which registered a refreshing 34℉. Our six dollar per night campsite (worth if for use of a picnic table) will remain one of our favorites.
Back on the road, we have to drive through Yellowstone Park. Did it long ago on the motorcycle in 1994 after we got married in Portland and rode to the Sturgis Rally for our honeymoon before heading back home to Phoenix. It was a crowded and miserable ride through Yellowstone on the bike, stuck in long lines of RV’s, road construction and traffic. It took eight hours to get through, counting a stop at “Old Faithful” of course. This time, thirty years later in a complicated world, the ride was still long and crowded, but nothing like before. No foreign travelers I suppose.
Finally, we cross the border into Montana, where the scenery continues to remind us that the woods be the place to be. The Fan Mountain Inn located in the small town of Ennis gives us a chance to restock and clean up. Feels so good to shower, lounge, and order take-out. In the morning, we will head back out on the road and explore Montana, with no set destination, except the woods.
Thank you, Abundant Universe!