Newsletter Volume 10

October/November 1996

In 1995, Jeff and Cyndie set aside their careers to pursue personal interests: travel, flyfishing and adventure. They lived in a 5th wheel trailer that had been converted into a fishing cabin on wheels. Their Ford F350 pickup and custom designed inflatable boat took them to places where dreams are made. Rowdy, their Golden Retriever, came along for the adventure.

This newsletter was produced 6 times a year to chronicle and share the adventures. It was distributed to family, friends, business associates and folks they met along the way.

We're Back It's been an incredible summer of travel and adventure. Now we're back home in Austin.

This report on our last two months on the road is long overdue. In this issue we have another round of stories to tell you. Our first story tells how a visit to Cyndie's past yielded an unexpected surprise. Next, we'll tell you about a ten day fishing trip in which we caught nothing, and can't wait to go back and try it again. To round it out, we'll share meetings with great folks and a yummy recipe.

The Spirit of the Bear It was almost 25 years ago when Cyndie first visited Terrace, British Columbia. She traveled to Terrace with her parents, who went there on their own "mid-life adventure", in hopes of viewing and photographing the Kermodei Bear.

Terrace is home to possibly the rarest of all bears. The black bears in this region are genetically unique and are known as Kermodei bears. What makes these bears so unusual is that a small number of these bears, about 10%, are white in color.

Native Indians, who first spotted this bear over a century ago, called the Kermodei, (rhymes with Cody), "The Spirit Bear". These white bears have rounded ears and an almost friendly facial expression. They were known for showing up when the Indians were in trouble, leading them to food, water or safety. Legends even claim that the bear would take would take on a human form at times. It was the legend of these rare bears and the relative lack of documentation of their existence that fascinated Cyndie's dad, Emmett Shelton, Jr.

During their search for the bear, Emmett and his wife, Jeanette, were befriended by a local trapper named Paul Shulte. Paul was a crusty old fellow who lived most of his life along his trapline in the British Columbia bush. Paul came to Terrace in the late 1930's and was one of the first white men ever to see a Kermodei bear. When he first spotted a white bear along his trapline he was quite confused by what he had seen. He asked the local Indians about it and they confirmed that it was indeed a white colored bear. They told Paul, "We don't tell white men about them because they will come and kill them."

Paul took a liking to the Cyndie's folks and they kept in touch. In 1975, they returned to Terrace for a month. With Paul as their guide, they hiked into the bush on the trails along his trapline, visited his remote trapper cabins and photographed the rare white bears. Emmett published his photographs of the bears and the story of his experience in the Austin newspaper.

It was several years later that the Sheltons received a letter informing them that Paul Shulte had died. The letter said that Paul was found in the woods, lying on his back with his rifle across his chest, frozen solid in twenty degree below zero temperatures.

It was with this as a background that we decided to visit Terrace on our way out of Alaska. We wanted to relive an experience that has become one of the most memorable events in the Shelton family. We hoped to view and photograph a Kermodei ourselves.

When we went to Terrace we knew only two things about where one might see a Kermodei bear. One was that they used to be seen regularly around the Terrace city dump. But, we soon learned that the British Columbia wildlife management office had installed an electric fence around the dump to keep the bears out. Such actions have become necessary to protect bears from becoming dependent on feeding on garbage and from hunters, who soon learn they can kill a trophy white bear just by hanging around the dump. With the fence, it was a cinch we weren't going to find a bear at the Terrace City Dump.

The other thing we knew about finding a Kermodei bear was that Paul Shulte and the Sheltons has seen them along his trap line over 20 years ago. We figured if we could find Paul's trapline, and spent some time hiking along it, we might be able to see and photograph the bear. But first, we had to figure out just where in the British Columbia bush his traplines were located.

At this point we'll make a long story a little shorter and just tell you we never saw a Kermodei bear. However, the search for Paul Shulte's trapline proved to be an incredible journey for us. It was on this journey that we found "The Spirit of the Bear".

We started our search for traces of the old trapper by asking around town to see if anybody knew of him. Finding nobody who recognized his name, we headed off to the Terrace library looking for traces of him in local history books. After quite a few hours in the library, we found only one mention of him in any documented history of Terrace. It was in an interview with another colorful local character, Pat Beaton, who stated, "I came to Terrace in a boxcar with Paul Shulte in 1939".

Just when we thought there was no remaining trace of this old trapper, we got our first break. Amongst the mound of materials we gathered in the library was some information on Terrace's Heritage Park. Like many pioneer towns out west, Terrace has created a park in which buildings and artifacts that are important local history are kept and preserved. One of the brochures said that in Heritage Park was an old trapper's cabin that had been placed on display to preserve the history of the early trappers who first settled this area. The description of this trapper's cabin noted that it had been moved to the park from Paul Shulte's trapline. By now, we realized we probably were not going to bring home a photograph of a Kermodei bear. But, a photo of the trapper's cabin that the Sheltons had visited twenty years earlier would give us a chance to share a common experience with them.

We made a beeline to Heritage Park only to find a sign that read "Closed for the Season". There was a phone number posted on the sign and we began making calls to see if there was any way we could get into the park to see the cabin. It took us two days to reach the right person, but we finally got someone to agree to let us into the park.

It was close to sunset on a Saturday evening when Norma Kirby, daughter of the head of the local historical society, met us at Heritage Park. She opened the gate and led us to the trapper's cabin. As she fumbled with the keys to the padlock that secured the door, Cyndie noticed some writing carved into the log above the door of the small cabin. Thinking "who would have defaced this cabin by carving their name on it", she looked closer. There were five names, all in the same handwriting. Two of those names read "Emmett Shelton". One was dated 1973 and the other 1975. It was then we realized that Paul Shulte had only taken five visitors to this remote cabin, and two of them had been her father. He had recorded these visits by carving their names into the log above the cabin door.

Cyndie was at this point overwhelmed. Tears welled in her eyes as she realized what she was seeing. The women from the Historical Society, who was now pretty impressed by our connection to this cabin, was quite interested in what we knew about Paul Shulte and the cabin.

As it turns out, Paul Shulte was pretty much a recluse and, although the Historical Society had his cabin, they knew very little about this old trapper. Since Cyndie's father has photos of the cabin while it was still in use and hours of taped conversations with Paul Shulte, he may have some of the best recorded history of this trapper who has come to represent the history of this area.

The final chapter to this story was written when we looked up the one remaining relative of Paul Shulte's. Herman Buschmann, who was Paul's cousin and still lives just outside Terrace. We called the Buschmanns and they invited us to their home to talk about Paul and his love for the Kermodei bear. Although they do still see a white bear on occasion, most are seen in areas that require crossing private property. As we had been unable to see and photograph a Kermodei, they gave us two photographs that Paul Shulte had taken of white bears with cubs. These photos have become a treasured addition to our collection of memorabilia from our midlife adventure.

The Bushmanns also related a story that, to us, characterize the spirit of the Kermodei and this community. For many years there had been a white Kermodei that was seen regularly near the Terrace City Dump. The bear was loved by the local people who treasured the opportunity to watch it. Two years ago, the bear was killed by a "hunter" who (illegally) shot the bear as it wandered harmlessly along its regular trail. The Bushmanns were devastated by the loss of the bear that had become their friend and neighbor. They erected a memorial to the bear along the road where it was often seen. On a wooden cross with a photo of the great white bear are the words:

"In loving memory of our beloved Kermodei Bear.
Rest in Peace.
We shall never forget you. From all the people who enjoyed watching you."

Although we never saw the Spirit Bear we went to Terrace searching for, we found much more on this journey. We found that the name "Emmett Shelton" will be preserved forever, carved into a log on the trappers cabin in Heritage Park. And, we found "The Spirit of the Bear".

Steelheading 101  A lot of people have asked us "How are you going to fish anywhere else after having fishing in Alaska for a whole summer?". After all, we had caught arctic grayling, dolly varden, big rainbow trout and all five species of salmon, including king salmon up to 35 pounds. As we checked off these species on our lifetime flyfishing "to do" list, we realized that there was one piece of unfinished business. We had not landed a steelhead.

For our non-fishing readers, let us give you a bit of background. Steelhead are probably the ultimate coldwater sportfish. A steelhead is a rainbow trout that lives in big river systems that are connected to the oceans. They are born in the rivers, but like salmon, travel out into the oceans to feed for several years before they return to the rivers to spawn. However, unlike salmon, their spawning journey does not mark the end of their lives. Many steelhead survive the spawning run to return to the ocean for more feeding and make another spawning run. Feeding in the ocean makes these trout huge, with some getting to be well over twenty pounds. The fact that they can run hundreds of miles up these big rivers, and then live though it, means that they are incredibly powerful.

As it turns out, some of the best steelhead waters in the world are the tributaries of the Skeena River in western British Columbia, which runs right through Terrace. So, after our visit to Terrace, we planned a couple of weeks into our itinerary to fish for steelhead on the Kispiox and Morice Rivers.

We learned a lot about steelheading during the 10 days we spent chasing them on these big rivers. Amongst the things we learned was not how to land and photograph one. But we did learn why there is such a mystique surrounding these fish and why they are such a prize to catch.

Once a steelhead enters the freshwater river systems, it no longer feeds. This fact alone makes it pretty difficult to catch one. Although they don't bite out of a feeding instinct, they will hit a lure or a fly as an aggressive response to something that appears right in front of their face. What this means is that, if you are going to get a steelhead hooked up, you have to put your fly right in front of their face. Since most of these fish hold very deep in very big water, this is Challenge #1.

Challenge #2 is to figure out exactly where a steelhead might be. You must know exactly where the fish is because it will not move up, down, left or right to take your fly. Their aggression response requires that the fly be delivered right in front of their face, which means you have to know exactly where they are.

Unlike the salmon we had fished for all summer, you generally can't see the steelhead in the water. They are wary and well camouflaged. By the time you see one, it is generally darting away. So, you must know the exact spots in which steelhead like to lie if you have a hope of catching one.

By now, we are used to fishing unfamiliar water and have a system for figuring out how to locate fish. A good part of that system depends on talking with other anglers and their sharing information with you. We get great pleasure out of helping other people catch fish and find that most people are more than willing to share information with us. However, we found that steelheaders in this part of the world are a unique breed.

Many of the people who fish for steelhead in this area have been coming here for ten, twenty and even thirty years. It is this lifetime of experience on a river that helps them know where to expect a steelhead to be. However, unlike what we have experienced in any other fishing destination, most of these longtime anglers are unwilling to share even the smallest bit of information on where and how they catch fish. The secrecy surrounding good fishing locations has gotten to the point that anglers will hide when they see your boat drifting towards them, in order to avoid revealing exactly where they are fishing.

The final challenge comes when you finally figure out where a fish is and get it enticed into taking your fly. Steelhead are big and powerful fish. In the Skeena river system, these fish average twelve to fifteen pounds and fish over twenty pounds are not uncommon. When they are hooked they run, jump, flip and twist like no other fish we have ever hooked. Everything must go right to land one. Your line, knots, hooks and equipment are tested to their limits.

During October, we spent ten days on these BC rivers fishing for steelhead. Over the course of ten days, we only hooked five steelhead. None of them were landed even though we struggled with some of them for ten to fifteen minutes. Along the way, we did catch some great dolly varden, rainbow and cutthroat trout, but no steelhead. Never in our fishing lives have we experienced such difficult and frustrating fishing. While river conditions are often not optimal for catching a steelhead, that was not the case on our trip. Several of the oldtimers in camp reported landing steelhead over twenty pounds and said that fishing conditions were the best they had seen in years. Most of them attempted to console us by telling us that it took them several years of visiting the area before they landed their first steelhead.

In spite of our frustration with our inability to land and photograph even a single steelhead, our trip to the Skeena River system was an enjoyable experience. The scenery along the rivers is amongst the best we have seen anywhere. Brilliant fall colors were at their peak and early snows painted the background to make a postcard setting. In fact, we can't wait to go back. And, since we have unfinished business in this area, we're sure we will.

The People We Meet Along the Way  If you've been reading our newsletter for a while you know that one of the things we miss the most when we're traveling is sharing time with friends. We generally don't know anybody at the places we go. Many of the people in the campgrounds are twenty or thirty years older than us and we often don't have much in common with them. For that reason, the friends we make or meet on our journeys are always remembered with great enthusiasm. Here are some of the people that made our fall journey so special.

We met up with Jim Vynalek, a good friend from Texas Trout Unlimited, in British Columbia. We spent a day floating the river with Jim and thoroughly enjoyed the company. Jim helped us with some basic steelheading techniques and the information he gave us was responsible for three of the steelhead we hooked during our trip. Unlike many of the steelheaders we met, Jim was a willing and helpful teacher.

While fishing for steelhead in British Columbia, we made two new friends, Fred and Joyce Yamagata. Fred has fished for steelhead for many years, visiting some of the premier destinations in the world. Fred broke the "code of silence" that was upheld by most of the steelheaders in the camp and took us fishing on two days. Fred was responsible for the biggest steelhead that Jeff hooked during our trip.

On our way out of British Columbia, we spent a weekend in Vancouver, where we met up with Jim and Carol Renshaw, who were business associates from Jeff's days at Acoustic Systems. Carol fixed us a wonderful dinner at their home which included rack of lamb, a new and wonderful culinary experience for us.

While on the Oregon coast, we visited with Jim Meyer and his girlfriend Diana. Jim is a good friend of our friend Bill Choate. We had met Jim at Bills' house several years ago when Jim lived in Austin. So, we dropped in to see him when we were in Oregon. Our next story will fill you in on some more details of our visit with Jim and Diana.

By the time we started south from Oregon, we were feeling a bit homesick for family. A stop in Albuquerque gave us a chance to visit with Cyndie's brothers, Ron, Barry and Rick Shelton and their spouses Laurel, BJ and Bobbie. Jeff's brother Dan Schmitt and his family Chapel, Sarah and Kristen joined us for dinner while we were in town. Next we headed to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where Jeff's parents Pete and Rosemary Schmitt live.

On our way to Bartlesville, we stopped in Tulsa and had dinner with Jeff's childhood fishing buddy, Bill Boydston. Bill is making plans to hook up with us for some trout fishing on the Guadalupe River this winter.

We made a stop in Dallas on our way back to Austin and had dinner with flyfishing writer Mark Williams and his wife Amy. Mark has always been an encouraging influence on our writings. It was good to see them and trade stories about each of our summer adventures.

When we finally got back to Austin, we were happy to see Cyndie's family, Emmett and Jeanette Shelton and her grandfather Emmett Shelton, Sr.

A special thanks to all of our good friends who spent time with us this summer. We hope to meet up with those of you we haven't seen for a while real soon.

How to Make Crab and Mushroom Soup  First you get some crabs. Then you get some mushrooms. Then, you go out to your garden and pick a few veggies. From there it is pretty much just a basic cooking exercise. But, it was the getting of the crabs and mushrooms that made it so interesting. Our visit with Jim Meyer on the Oregon coast that provided us with these experiences.

During our travels from British Columbia down along the Oregon coast we could not help but notice the prevalence of mushroom picking. It's big business. Some very special mushrooms grow in this area, namely Chantrelle and Pine mushrooms. These mushrooms are gathered by locals who wander out into the forest, sometimes for days at a time, to find and harvest them. They sell them to Mushroom Buyers that are located in tent cities along the road system. Buyers fly them out or the backcountry by helicopter. They are then shipped to Japan and Germany where mushroom connoisseurs pay outrageous prices for these special mushrooms.

We had become fascinated by the whole culture of mushroom picking. When Jim Meyer told us he regularly finds such mushrooms in the forests near his home on the Oregon Coast, we just had to get him to take us out mushroom picking. We spent an afternoon walking around in the Oregon rain forests picking Chantrelle mushrooms.

The next day Jim introduced us to another cultural experience. The bays around his home are full of Dungenesse crabs and Jim is an experienced crab trapper. We loaded up some crab traps in Jim's boat and set out at high tide to catch some crabs. Using frozen herring to bait the traps, we soon had enough crabs for a big dinner salad and a great soup.

After teaching us how to find mushrooms and catch crabs, Jim then taught us a thing or two about cooking. First, he went out to his garden and picked the fresh vegetables he needed to season the soup. Then he cooked up a mushroom soup that was a special culinary treat.

Just in case you happen to come onto some fresh crab and mushrooms, here's how to make a great soup :

  • Clean the crabs and remove the meat. Wash and break the mushrooms into pieces. Cut up a couple of onions and some leeks. Crush up some garlic.
  • Heat about a quart of milk in a large pan. Mix some cornstarch into a small amount of milk and then add that to the milk in the pan to thicken it.
  • In another pan saute the onions and leeks in butter. Add garlic when the onions just start to caramelize. Put the sauteed mixture into the thickened milk.
  • Next, saute a large mount of mushrooms in butter and add some soy sauce when they are about done. Add them into the soup mixture.
  • Cook the mixture slowly until it starts thickening. Then add the crab and cook a little more.

This makes a great soup. But, it is even better if you share it with good friends. Jim shared this soup with us and sent us away with all the makings for another batch. We made good use of these ingredients by sharing a great crab and mushroom soup with the clan in Albuquerque.

Top of the Food Chain  What is the most feared predator in British Columbia? You might think it is the grizzly bear. But then a moose can generally kick its way out of a fight with a grizzly. Then there is Man, who with guns can take out even the moose.

But it is none of these. Without a doubt, in Canada, the most feared predator is the logging truck. These huge vehicles are grossly overloaded with tons of logs. They come screaming down the narrow gravel mountain roads, ready to squash anything that doesn't get out of their way. If they don't flat run over you, they'll pepper you into submission with the road gravel they leave in their wake. Travelers beware.

Fishing Recap  You've already read most of what we have to report on the fishing scene for this issue.

We worked our tails off for ten days trying to land and photograph a steelhead but came up empty handed.

We did witness one steelhead being landed. This 15 pounder was caught by a 12 year old boy who had no idea what he was doing and had only been fishing for about five minutes when he hooked up. He didn't know how to land such a big and powerful fish. Jeff had to coach him and net the fish. We got a couple of photographs of the fish for him. When he announced that he intended to keep and eat the fish, Jeff "accidentally" dropped it in the water and it got away.

We caught quite a few dolly varden, on the Kispiox while we were fishing for steelhead. Some were up to 20" in length. But, when your going for 40" steelhead, it's hard to get too excited about them.

We also picked up a few rainbow trout and one coho salmon on the Kispiox.

By the time we got back to Austin and got settled in, it had been almost a month since we had fished. Jeff went out with Alan Bray and caught a few small largemouth bass on Lake Travis. It was good to be back out on the water.

Fishing will pick up again pretty soon. The winter trout season on our home stream, the Guadalupe River, is about to get under way. Stay tuned for reports on this season's fishing.

Cyndie's Wildlife Sighting Report  It is not until you leave Alaska that you realize how spoiled you have become. By the end of the summer, having bald eagles flying overhead and bears along the river bank had become just another daily occurrence. Sometimes we had to pinch ourselves to remind us to take it all in. Now that we're back home, it sure would be nice to have a bear saunter by.

Before we left the wilderness, British Columbia's wildlife had a show to put on for us. Here's a few of the things we saw along the way.

River otters sat on a logjam and watched us float our raft past on the Kispiox River.

While we driving along the Kispiox River, we saw three black bears cross the road in front of us.

Also on the Kispiox, a black bear cub ran out on a gravel bar in front of our boat, got a salmon and then ran back into the trees to hide.

Eagles and ravens continued to be our companions on the river as we floated on both the Kispiox and the Morice.

A red fox barked and trotted away when Rowdy and I surprised him on their morning walk.

We made a side trip to Hyder, Alaska, where we visited a bear viewing area. We got up before the sun one morning and saw, at close range, a grizzly bear bounding around in a stream catching salmon. When he sensed our presence, he headed over to the big river, jumped in and swam across. It was too dark to photograph this, but it was an incredible sighting.

I keep looking out in our backyard, hoping a bear will wander in or an eagle will fly over. Sure would make next issue's column more interesting if one would. For now, I'm being amused by some of the local friends in the outdoors. I've missed the beauty of the bluejays and the melody of the Central Texas songbirds. Have you noticed the wildlife around you lately?

Back to Alaska?  If you were reading carefully above, you may be thinking , "What, Hyder, Alaska? I thought you had left Alaska. What do you mean a side trip back into Alaska".

Yes, we were 1,500 miles from Anchorage, clear across the Yukon and halfway down British Columbia. Yet, we were still just a couple hours drive from the southern end of Alaska. Hyder, Alaska, is located on the slim piece of land that hangs way down on the southeast side of Alaska.

One of the most unique things about Hyder is the bear viewing area. Here, in an area where bears regularly come to feed on salmon in a small stream, a public viewing area has been established. This is one of several places in Alaska where bears regularly feed in numbers and where viewing platforms have been established. However, most all of them require expensive bush plane flights to reach and charge a significant fee to visit. Some even require you to win a lottery just to have the privilege to pay this much.

But, the Hyder viewing area is both free and accessible along the road system. Our visit to Hyder in early October was a bit late for prime bear viewing. Most of the salmon are gone by this time. Yet, we still managed to safely view four bears at relatively close range in just the few hours we spent there. If you're driving to Alaska in hopes of seeing bears, check out Hyder on your way in or out. It'll save you some big bucks and your most likely won't be disappointed.

You've Read the Stories. Now, You've Got to See the Pictures.  If you are still reading along by page 7, we must have captured your interest, at least a little bit. Hopefully, you have read and enjoyed some of the stories in our past issue about our summer of adventure in Alaska. Now we're back home and we've got the pictures.

Our summer adventure yielded almost 3,000 color slides. We have two slide shows assembled at this point. One covers our float trip in the Bristol Bay region. There are some great scenery and fish photos in this program. The slide show ends in Goodnews Bay, Alaska, in a native Eskimo village on the Bering Sea, a most interesting cultural experience.

Our second slide show, "Alaska-On Your Own", is an overview of our summer and features seven specific fishing destination and adventures that can be self-outfitted at a relatively low cost. We'll be presenting this show to the Texas Trout Unlimited Chapter and several other fishing groups in this area.

If you are in the Austin area we invite you to come over for a private viewing of our slides. We're looking forward to seeing all of our friends, sharing our experiences and getting caught up on what is going on in your life. Please, give us a call.

Campground Recap  When we left you in our last issue we were at the K'San Indian Village Campground near Hazelton, British Columbia. Since we left, here is where we've been. The miles we covered each day on our drive back south are shown in parenthesis.

Wild Duck Motel and RV Park, Terrace, British Columbia - A small but very nice campground on the outskirts of Terrace. We spent four nights here while we hunted for the Kermodei bear.

Aspen Provincial Campground on the Morice River near Houston, British Columbia - The Morice River, a great steelhead fishery, was literally right out our back door at this site. We'd slide our raft down the bank and float down the river about 8 miles. Jeff would the hitchhike back to the campground on one of the logging trucks, get the truck and drive down to retrieve Cyndie, Rowdy and the raft. There was no electrical or water hookups at this campground but we were quite comfortable in our rig.

Kispiox River Resort and RV Park, on the Kispiox River - Again, we were right on the banks of one of the world's greatest steelhead rivers. This campground had full hookups. We spent a week at this wonderful campground before we left for the first time. After a couple of days away, we had to go back. We highly recommend it.

Lions Campground, Stewart, British Columbia - We closed this campground down for the season. After spending one night here, they told us we had to leave. Winter comes early in these parts and the tourists leave well before it gets there. The next nearest campground was almost 200 miles away.

Kispiox River Resort - We had spent a week fishing on the Kispiox before we went north to Stewart and had not landed a steelhead. As we were driving back past the Kispiox after leaving Stewart, we realized we just had to go back and try again. So, we went back for five more nights.

Whispering Willows RV Park near Williams Lake, British Columbia (440 miles) - It was dark when we pulled into this park and still dark and raining early the next morning when we pulled out. We have nothing of interest to report about this place.

Burnaby Caribou RV Park, Vancouver, British Columbia (350 miles) - A really nice, but very expensive, RV park in a nice suburb of Vancouver. The nicely manicured shrubberies around each campsite made this the most difficult back-in site we have ever encountered.

Mount St. Helen RV Park, Washington (280 miles) - We were on the road between Vancouver and Portland and stopped here for an overnight say. I hate to admit it, but we didn't even see Mount St. Helens.

Pheasant Ridge RV Park, Wilsonville, Oregon (150 miles) - This campground was located just south of Portland and was very nice. Our main reason for staying here was it was close to The Incredible Universe, where we wanted to go to replace our TV, which got trashed from driving on the Alaska Highway.

Pacific Shores RV Park, Newport, Oregon (120 miles) - You may recall that we thought that the Kenai Princess RV Park was the nicest campground we had ever stayed out. While we were in the hot tub at the Princess one evening, another guest told us about this park. Our campsite sat on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a view of a lighthouse. There were more amenities and activities at this park than we have found at any other campground. We highly recommend this place.

Cape Kiwanda RV Park, near Pacific City, Oregon (60 miles back north) - This campground was our home base for our visit with Jim Meyer. The most memorable thing about this campground was that there were lots of domestic rabbits running loose all over the place.

KOA Campground, Mountain Home, Idaho (570 miles) - We headed out of Oregon with a winter storm on our tail. By the time we pulled into this campground, it was well past dark. We pulled out early the next morning to keep ahead of the storm. So, there is not much to report on this place.

Canyonland RV Park, Moab, Utah (530 miles)
- After another 500+ mile day, we found ourselves in Moab again. This campground served as a base camp for the time we spent in Moab earlier this year. So, we pulled in to a familiar place for the night.

KOA Central, Albuquerque, New Mexico (375 miles) - Our favorite base camp for visiting family in Albuquerque. Expensive but convenient to all of the brothers. We spent 5 nights here.

Sundowner Campground, just west of Amarillo, Texas (325 miles) - Appropriately named because you don't want to get there before sundown. It's best to leave before sunup the next day if you want to avoid seeing where you just spent the night. The most memorable thing about this campground was that everything was flooded from a big rainstorm.

Cherry Hill RV Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma (375 miles) - We stopped over in Tulsa to visit with Jeff's childhood friend, Bill Boydston. We've been here a couple of times before and like this quiet little park on the edge of town.

Osage Hills State Park, Bartlesville, Oklahoma (60 miles back north) - This is our home base whenever we visit Jeff's parents in Bartlesville. It's one of those places he always used to visit as a kid but really never came to appreciate until we went back as adults. It was particularly beautiful with the fall colors on the trees.

Traders Village RV Park, Dallas, Texas (340 miles) - We stopped here on our way from Bartlesville to Austin. This provided us a convenient place to meet with Mark and Amy Williams for dinner. This park was very highly rated and, although it was very nice, not worthy of the rating.

Crestview RV Park, south of Austin (200 miles) - It's usually easier for us to land at an RV park for the first night when we get back home. This is the park we've come to prefer. Not that nice but the price is right.

Our own backyard, Austin, Texas - We have a pretty good setup in our backyard. Our house is rented to a good friend, Margana Nalley. Our arrangement with her allows us to live in our trailer in the backyard. It's kind of like living in a duplex with a common yard.

What's Next? One hundred days in Alaska, followed by a month in British Columbia and a trek across the western US to get back home to Austin. How do we ever top that?

By the time we left British Columbia, we were suffering from what we came to call "Adventure Overload". That's the feeling you get when snow-covered mountains in the background, an eagle flying overhead, bears along the river bank and wild fish jumping all over the place becomes just another day in the life. We had to go home and miss them for a while in order to fully appreciate what has happened to us.

We're back in Austin now and plan to settle back into a bit more "traditional" lifestyle for a while. Cyndie will be working with the Texas Legislature for five months during the upcoming session. Jeff will be doing some consulting work and hopes to find a market for some of his writing and photographs.

But, plans are already underway to embark on another adventure starting next June. It will be tempting to go back to Alaska and build on what we learned this summer. We also feel the call of travel to new territory. A trip up the east coast and into Newfoundland is also under consideration. We've got some time to sort out these options.

In the meantime, we can assure you it will not be all work and no play. We'll be on the Guadalupe River quite a bit this winter and will be sneaking in a few get-aways any time we have the chance. Stay tuned for the further adventures of "Just Takin' A Break". It ain't over yet.

And, A Merry Christmas to All Our Friends
Can it really be that time of the year again? It seems like just yesterday that we were at the North Pole (in Alaska), where it is Christmas every day. Now it's just a month until the real thing.

Our year has been blessed with fun, friends and adventure. We hope the year has brought you happiness. We wish all off our friends the Merriest Christmas and hope to visit with you in the New Year!


Steelheading in BC

People We Meet

Crab & Mushroom Soup

Top of the Food Chain

Fishing Report

Wildlife Sightings

Campground Recap


















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