Newsletter Volume 4

 April 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.

On The Road Again
. After spending most of the winter in Central Texas, we've hit the road again.

While we had lots of fun in Texas this winter, we didn't keep up the pace of our adventures to the extent that we could generate a January/February newsletter. We got real busy in March and that month just flew by. So we've skipped a couple of issues. Now that we're cruising again, we're back in the story telling mode.

Texas Winter Summary. We pulled back into Austin on October 18 and didn't leave Central Texas until February 26. We did a lot in 4 months: consulting projects, garage sales, moving-out, and enjoying our Austin family.

From mid October thru the first of the year we split our time between our house in Austin and our trailer, which we parked on the banks of the Guadalupe River.

In November and December, Cyndie, who just can't keep away from Texas politics, did a consulting project for State Comptroller John Sharps' Texas Performance Review (TPR) on how the state monitors contracts.

Meanwhile, Jeff started getting the house ready to rent. He organized a massive garage sale and held it over Thanksgiving weekend. We sold LOTS of stuff. If we could only have back all of the money we've wasted on unneeded stuff in life, we'd be rich.

For Christmas, we flew up to Oklahoma and visited Jeff's parents in Bartlesville.

After the first of the year we moved the trailer back to our back yard in Austin and began to focus on moving out of the house.

On the first of February longtime friend and co-worker, Margana Nalley and her family moved into our house. We moved the trailer back down to the Guadalupe River. We're officially homeless.

In February, we split our time between fishing on the Guadalupe River and on another consulting project. This time we both worked on a report to TPR on streamlining the way the state of Texas regulates grocery stores.

February also marked several memorable events with Cyndie's family. On February 12, Cyndie's father, Emmett Shelton, Jr. celebrated his 65th birthday. On the same date, Cyndie's grandfather, Emmett Shelton, Sr. celebrated his 91st birthday and the release of his first novel. This eventful date in Shelton family history was celebrated with a large party in Westlake Hills, the community founded by the Shelton family.

Later in February, Cyndie's parents, Emmett Jr. and Jeanette, joined us at our camp on the Guadalupe River. Emmett and Jeff took the boat out for a little spinfishing. We cooked a good barbecue dinner and Emmett caught and released 2 nice rainbow trout.

By the end of February we were feeling anxious to get on the move again. So, we hit the road for another round of adventure.

Guadalupe River Trout - The Guadalupe River in Central Texas has been near and dear to our hearts for many years. We've been very active in the Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited Chapter for quite some time. We've been fortunate to be a part of what has been an incredible private effort to literally build a trophy trout fishery from scratch on this river.

The fruits of our efforts on the Guadalupe were evident this year. The fishing was better than we have ever seen it. We were fortunate enough to have enjoyed many very good days of fishing. But even better, more people than ever visited the Guadalupe and rewarded us with the smiles of their enjoyment of the river.

For the past several years we have worked with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on studies of the Guadalupe River. Our goal has been to get the fishing regulations on the river changed in a way that will further advance the development of this fishery. In April, there will be a major TP&W public hearing on this issue on New Braunfels. We plan to return to Central Texas to speak at this hearing.

Boat Loading Made Easy - From the moment we started planning this adventure, Jeff has been obsessed with the boat we use to access the waters we fish. Our custom designed cataraft, while fully portable, weighs almost 300 pounds when fully assembled and rigged to fish. That's a bit too heavy for us to carry for any distance.

The disassembled boat packs nicely in bags on the roof of the trailer for long-distance travel, but when we get to camp, we need some way to carry to boat back and forth to the river.

Since we pull a 5th wheel trailer with our truck, having a boat trailer along to assist us with handling the boat presents some difficulty. We can only tow one trailer at a time.

Some of you may remember our story last summer of Jeff's first invention to solve this problem. He developed a unique system for carrying a small boat trailer vertically on the back of our 5th wheel trailer. However, the system failed when a weld on the trailer structure broke. This system fell off onto I-35 near Round Rock the first day of our trip last summer.

So all last summer we moved the boat by doing what it took to lift it up to a rack we built on the bed of the truck. This took us 30-45 minutes to load and unload the boat each day and exposed both of us and the boat to potential injury. When we got back to Austin for the winter, it was time for Jeff to go engineering another solution to this problem.

Calling on the expertise of a couple of former business associates, Craig McDougald and Bill, Jeff designed a very unique, and this time successful, boat loader. This system uses a small, remote controllable, electric winch which is mounted in the bed of the pickup. The winch pulls the boat up a set of ramps onto a rack on the back of the pickup. The ramps and pickup rack were custom fabricated of lightweight aluminum channel. The system goes together with clevis pins and can be assembled on the pickup bed rails in about 5 minutes.

We tried out the new boat loader on our trip to the White River and the field trials were very successful. We can now load and unload the fully rigged boat in just a few minutes. By transporting the boat on the back of the truck, rather than on a trailer, we have more flexibility about where we can take and launch the boat. Many of the backcountry sites we use for put-ins or take out's simply don't have boat ramps and the terrain is too rough for even a small trailer.

This system has taken a lot of Jeff's brain power. He relied heavily on the design and fabrication capabilities of his friends. Hope you get a chance to see it the next time you join us for a float trip.

Whitewater Investigations - We figured that nobody tells a big fish story better than President Bill Clinton so we headed over towards the Whitewater Development on the White River in North Central Arkansas to get some inspiration. We spent three weeks in early March in the area fishing and rafting.

The White River below Bull Shoals Dam has earned a reputation as a world class brown trout fishery. After hearing that brown trout over 10 pounds were common and fish up to almost 40 pounds (a world record) had been caught on this river, we headed over hoping for a species personal best.

By now, we've been to a lot of rivers and have developed the ability to learn how to fish new water within a couple of days. But, the White River presented an unfamiliar challenge.

The operational procedures of the dam on the White River make fishing a unique challenge. The dam contains 8 electrical power generators. It is what is known as a "peak power generating facility". This means it generates the extra power needed by many cities in this area of the country (like Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and others). Therefore, any of all of the generators may be releasing water at any time. When the city folks come home from work all at once and turn on the AC, the dam is changed from 0 unit to 8 units. It rises almost 10 vertical feet, sometimes in a matter of minutes. One minute this river is a small wadeable trout stream and the next minute it is a seriously big river.

Besides the safety concerns this creates, this means the White River is really 3 or 4 different types of river, depending the level of the water releases and whether the level is rising or falling. It took us a while to figure out what to do with the ever changing conditions on the White.

After about a week of real high water and real cold weather (a high of 15
on two days) we finally started to figure things out. Soon we were wading and site casting to trout below the dam when the water was low and floating our cataraft down the river when it was up. We soon learned that the White River was a very good place to catch large rainbow trout. But, it wasn't rainbows we had come after. We were looking for the big brown trout that obviously hadn't gotten to be world record class by being easy to catch.

We spent almost 2 weeks on the White River looking for the personal best brown trout. Before we left we did hook up and land a couple of dozen brown trout. The largest of these fish were in the 3 to 4 pound range, a nice fish anywhere in the world. But, not the fish we had come looking for. It is hard to be disappointed at the outcome of the trip when we did catch a lot of real nice rainbows, some in the 4 to 5 pound range.

Our floats on the White River were full of wildlife sightings, mostly birds. See Cyndie's Wildlife Sighting Report for the details.

While fishing in the White River area, a local fishing guide Fox Statler introduced us to the nearby Norfolk River (Arkansas drawl for North Fork of the White River). This river was more attractive to our interests. While still controlled by a peak power generating dam, it was a much smaller river with characteristics that reminded us of our home waters on the Guadalupe. It was about 30 minutes from our campsite on the White River and we chose to visit it on several days during the trip. Cyndie caught four varieties of trout in one day including a beautifully colored 14 inch brook trout. Overall, the fishing was consistently better and more enjoyable on the Norfolk than the White.

And now, back to the title of this article, we did see the now famed Whitewater property. We drove and floated by this property, which is nothing more than a pretty piece of river bank with only a couple of houses along it. It isn't marked as Whitewater and you wouldn't know it from any of the other miles of river bank property on the White if a local didn't tell you that was it. We didn't catch any fish along this stretch of the river. So, just like everything else Slick Willy has gotten us into, we got skunked.

My Mother the Bartian. One of the main reasons we decided to take a break at this point in our lives was to spend more time with our parents. Not only are we still young and healthy enough to be able to get out and do some of the things we enjoy, but we are both blessed by having our parents alive and well enough to share quality time with us.

Jeff's parents live in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a small community in the northeast area of the state. Bartlesville is best known as the world headquarters of Phillips Petroleum. Jeff's Dad, Pete, worked for Phillips all of his professional career and has now retired in Bartlesville with Jeff's mother, Rosemary. Even though people in Bartlesville abbreviate the name of the city as B'Ville, for some reason they don't refer to themselves as B'Villians, but rather as Bartians (rhymes with Martians).

Anyway, we got up to Bartlesville a couple of times in March. On our way back from the White River we were joined in Bartlesville by Jeff's brother Dan and his wife Chapel. They brought with them our new niece, Kristin Nichole, and her 4 year old sister, Sarah. Both nieces are near perfect little people, with their only minor faults being explained by their genetic link to Uncle Jeff. Aunt Cyndie is attempting to undue this damage by coercing Sarah into growing up just like her.

Campground Recap. When we left off in our November newsletter we were at River Valley Campground on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. Here's where we've stayed since then:

Our Own Backyard - We moved "home" in January to get the house ready for Margana to move into. We lived in the backyard "duplex-style" for a week or so after the Nalley's moved in.

River Valley Campground, Sattler, TX - We moved back down on the Guadalupe River to get in a little more Central Texas winter trout fishing before we moved on. We also used these 3 weeks to get ourselves back in shape running along the river and working out at the Sunroom Fitness Center in Sattler.

Crestview RV, South of Austin - We spent a couple of nights here just before we hit the road while we took care of a little last minute business in Austin.

Roadrunner Campground, Oklahoma City, OK
- Just a stopover on the way from Austin to Bartlesville. We were going to stop in Dallas but it started to snow, so we pushed on before it started to stick.

Osage Hills State Park, Bartlesville, OK - We have a favorite spot in this campground about 20 minutes from Jeff's parents house. Secluded, oak covered hills in Indian country. This time of year we had the place to ourselves, and a few park rangers. It makes going to visit the folks like a wilderness experience.

White River Campground, Cotter, AR - We stayed here one night the first night we got to the White River. Just a stopover but it was across from our down river take out for many floats.

Bull Shoals State Park, Lakeview, AR - We stayed here for 17 days. Once again, lucked into the prime site in the whole campground. The White River was right out the back window.

Cherry Hill Mobile Home/RV Park, Tulsa, OK - Jeff got a chance to visit his boyhood fishing buddy, Bill Boydston, so we stopped over in this real nice park on the Arkansas River, just SW of downtown Tulsa.

Osage Hills State Park, Bartlesville, OK - Back to our favorite site in B'ville again for our visit with Jeff's brother Dan and his family.

Beavers Bend State Park, Broken Bow, OK - Another nice site on the water and close to good fishing on the Mountain Fork River.

Hometown Press - To our friends in Austin, we hope you caught the full page, full color, feature on Cyndie and Jeff fishing on the Guadalupe River in the February 25, Austin American Statesman.

To those of you who missed it, what started out to be an article on Trout Unlimited efforts on the Guadalupe River expanded to include a feature on our mid-life flyfishing break. Outdoor sports writer Mike Leggett wrote a fantastic piece on us and included a couple of nice color photos he took. We spent a good day fishing with Mike and really appreciate his sharing our experience with our friends and neighbors in Austin.
And, Don't Change that Dial We also expanded the TV coverage of our flyfishing adventures. Texas Parks and Wildlife video producer Kevin Benz taped us flyfishing for a video he produced about the Guadalupe River. This 2 minute news feature will be distributed nationwide.

Getting it on the Dish. Since we first took off for fulltime living in our trailer, we have been pretty much disconnected from the world in quite a few ways. Most of last summer, while in high mountain campsites, we had little or no TV reception. There were actually quite a few benefits to not knowing what was going on in the world on a daily basis.

Leave it to technology to come along and screw that up. Next thing you know we've gone out and bought one of these new digital satellite dish systems. And, you know, it works pretty slick on an RV.

Take for instance right now. We're in the mountains of North Central Arkansas and our regular TV antenna can get us one channel of Bart Simpson in a snowstorm, if the weather is clear and we point it just right. Instead, here we sit with 100+ channels of TV programming. There still isn't anything good on, but we're up to date on all of the wonderful things that have happened in this crazy, cruel world. We have access to as many sitcoms, soap operas and old movies as one could possibly want. At least with over a hundred channels, there is almost always a fishing show on somewhere.

Our mobile satellite system works really slick. The dish was designed to be portable and Jeff added 100' of cable on it. We just tote the dish anywhere around the campground we need to go to see the satellite (it won't see through the trees). The electronics are built into the cabinetry of the RV. A system of remote controls allows us to use the TV in the living room and the bedroom.

One of the best parts of the whole deal is the music programming that comes along for free with the TV programming. We have 20 stations of commercial free music in a variety of formats. Several jazz and soft rock stations have become favorites. We have the audio output of the satellite system tied into the RV stereo system. So, with this disk, we're jammin'.

If you're going to watch TV anyway, this new satellite TV system is just the ticket. The music programming alone was worth the cost to us.

Cyndie's Wildlife Sightings. One of the keys to having a great time on a fishing trip, whether you are catching fish or not, is learning to appreciate the total experience of being on the river. If you're near the water in any area, it is a cinch you are going to see a lot of birds and wildlife. It is amazing how, after a whole day of catching little or no fish, one great wildlife sighting can make the day.

The White River in Central Arkansas was particularly rich in water bird life. Most of the bird sighting report here came from there.

A Bald Eagle cruised the sky above us and then came and landed in a tree right next to us on the Norfolk.

Canadian Geese, headed north for the summer, were staging along the river.

Snow Geese, very big, noisy, and pushy visitors on the White River.

Red Headed Woodpeckers were tapping in the trees all around our campground at Bull Shoals.

Several Blue Heron rookeries (group of active nests) were seen along the banks of the White. Breeding season resulted in the most brilliant coloration of the herons that we had ever seen.

A Ground Hog (Marmot, Whistle Pig or other small furry animal) took great pleasure in teasing Rowdy in our campground at Bull Shoals.

A Red Fox was sighted along the road.

Bluebirds were in the trees at several of our campsites.

Never Mess Around with a Man's Fishin' Hole. A lesson most definitely learned this winter.

We've been very active in Trout Unlimited now for several years. This year, we got even more involved since we had lots of time to dedicate to our goal of turning the Guadalupe River into a quality trout stream. Yes, this was supposed to be about fishing and fishing is supposed to be fun. But, not everything turned out that way.

First there was Jeff's idea to embrace the commercial interests in the Guadalupe River trout fishery, like the trout fishing guides, and try to get them more involved in the TU programs. That led to turmoil within the chapter membership.

Then, there was the battle to get Texas Parks and Wildlife to change the fishing regulations on the Guadalupe River. While TP&W proposed the regulations based on sound science and the promise of a trophy trout fishery within years, the proposal lead to a landowner revolt. Many TU members and landowners along the river met in a tense public hearing in New Braunfels. Landowners charged that TU members were elitist, flyfishing, SOBS that wanted to take total control of the Guadalupe River. Negative stories ran in the local newspaper. Essentially, landowners were not willing to give up their "right" to fish for catfish with bait off their dock, no matter how good the trout fishing could be.

Both of these run-ins (over the guides issue and over the regulation) were driven by peoples' instinct to protect their own personal interests, at all costs. In this case, if it was going to impact their fishin' hole, it couldn't possibly be a good idea, regardless of the benefits to everybody else.

So, we took off for two years to go fishing and have some fun. Instead, the tension is creeping back in. How did we get into this anyway? Is this stress I feel creeping back in?

Previews of Coming Attractions
. In April we're off on the beginning of our trek to Alaska. It's a bit early to get all of the way into the north country right off, so we'll be making a few stops along the way. Check your schedule and see if you'd like to join us somewhere.

In mid-April we'll be in Moab, Utah for a 3 day River Skills course and some sightseeing.

At the end of April we're headed over to the Green River in the Flaming Gorge of Utah for some fishing. This was one of our favorite stops from last summer.

Early May takes us back south a bit to Lee's Ferry in Arizona on the Colorado River below Lake Powell. We'll be checking out what happened after the great man-made flood you may have seen on TV.

The end of May we'll head up through Montana. We plan to visit the Missouri River and Glacier Nat'l Park along the way.

Early June will take us into Canada, where we plan to fish the Bow River outside Calgary and stop off in Jasper.

By mid-June we expect to be in Alaska. We already have one guest confirmed to meet us in Anchorage. Who'll be next?

Stay tuned for reports on a 7 day fly-in, float-out trip into Alaska's backcountry, a trip to the Kenai Peninsula and a drive up the Denali Highway.

The adventure continues!


Guadalupe Trout

New Boat Loader

A Visit to Whitewater

Family Visits

Campground Recap

Press Coverage

Satellite TV

Wildlife Report

Fishing Stress

Coming Attractions




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