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I just noticed there are still some links on various sites leading readers to this site for my blog.

I have moved my blog site to http://lmsflyfishing.blogspot.com/

My website can be found at www.write2flyfish.com

(One of these days I will be better about blogging.)

From Cottonwood to Pullman, it is only 1.5 hours apart, but it feels like so much farther.

The pros of Pullman? ….hmm. McDonalds? Yes, there isn’t one of those in Cottonwood. Also, I was able to transfer jobs when we moved here, so being able to have a job here is a good thing.

The cons of Pullman? Being a UW graduate living with a UW medical student in a town where there is no mercy for dawgs. I realized that quickly, when I was only into my first week of work, and I was pulled over for “too dark of window tint”. I realized that I was driving the only car in Pullman with a “University of Washington” sticker displayed loud and clear against the “dark tint” of my rear window, and I had never been pulled over for that same reason in the last four years that I have had the car. The other con is, there really isn’t anything appealing about this area except for the relatively cheap cost-of-living and the 45 minute distance to the Clearwater river. At least in my mind, anyway. If you ask anyone who is from here the same question, they will give you a loaded answer filled with mainly WSU/Cougar pride.

Ok ok, I shouldn’t be so hard on P-town. I have to mention a major blessing of living on the Palouse: Our dog that we adopted from a local humane society. :) If we had not lived in Pullman, we never would have met “Doc” and brought him into our home. He has changed our lives for the better and we could not imagine our lives without him. (I say “we” and “our” even though this is “my” blog”, because I know my fiance would agree with me with said statements.) :) We adopted Doc on October 31st, and we knew nothing about him other than the fact that he came into the shelter as a stray and they thought he was a lab/chow/shepard mix and approximately a year old. So, we decided that that day would from then on, be known as Doc’s “birthday”.

While I am on the sunny side of things, the other plus side of being here in the land of ranchers and farmers who cheer for the Cougs, is that with only fourty medical students in the WWAMI program who live between here and Moscow and attend classes at WSU and UofI, we have developed a close relationship with most of them and even call ourselves a “WWAMI-ly”. I know that if we had been starting off this medical school adventure in Seattle at the main campus with over 100 students, that we would not have had the same opportunity to make the same quaility friendships that we have had while being here. With nothing else to do besides study and work (and occasionally sneak off to fish), we have been presented with many options to spend time with the other WWAMIs. With the inability to spread out more than 7 miles from each other, the convenience of getting together is so much more available than it would be in the metropolis of Seattle, where we could potentially be a vast distance apart with constant I-5, 520 and I-90 traffic to keep us apart. So, for that, I am thankful. Without the awesome people we have met and the friendships made, I have no regrets about living here.

In the end, this place has been a good thing. And, for all my fellow Huskies, I will be sure to leave some paw prints on our way out. ;)

 

To start with, I know I have not posted anything on here for about a decade, so I apologize to anyone who actually follows my little blog and cares about the timeliness of my writing entries.

So, back in March (of this year), Andrew and I embarked on– what is to become– an annual fishing trip to Forks, WA to swing flies on the beautiful rivers of the Olympic Peninsula. The first time I went to Forks to fish was with Andrew in February and March of last year, so for me, this was only my second time fishing this amazing water, but I knew it definitely would not be my last… With the wonderful friends that I have gained through Andrew who also fish the “O.P.” and even share a place where everyone stays together which stands as a sort of landing pad for everyone after a full day of fishing– this place being coined as “fish camp”– makes for a truly remarkable steelhead family that I have whole-heartedly become a part of. The whole experience is basically a crazy person’s definition of a vacation. We are not on a tropical island somewhere laying under palm trees sipping pina coladas with sandals flipped off onto the hot sand next to our overly-tanned toes… Rather, we find ourselves fully clad in Gortex waterproof jackets covering layers of long underwear, with fleece or wool hats on our heads, our feet securely tucked into thick wool socks inside of our waders that are all snuggly tied into rugged wading boots with studs screwed into the soles of them. How is that for a sales pitch for joining us on this “vacation”? Yup, it really is hard to explain the beauty of all of this insanity to someone who: A) Does not fish. B) Does not fish for steelhead. And C) Does not understand spey-casting or swinging big flies on sink tips, or any thing else having to do with the specific type of fishing that we do. So, all-in-all, I have come to realize that I simply am a crazy person who loves to fish and am now engaged to someone else who is also in that category of unique mental oddity.  It has become a major part of what I look forward to every year, now that I have become fully immersed in this art of fly-fishing for steelhead, and something that Andrew and I can look forward to doing together every year as well.

What March in Forks for us entails in a nutshell: Fish, eat, drink, socialize with other fishing fanatics, share stories, fish some more, and then eventually flop down exhausted into a bed and sleep, only to wake up at the crack of dawn (or as our dear friend Dave would say, “before the crows pee”) to hit the rivers in sometimes freezing temperatures, wind and rain in hopes to hook a wild steelhead as it travels up the river fresh from the Pacific ocean. There is absolutely nothing like fighting a fish in said conditions… it is easily at the top of my list for adrenaline rushes and pure heaven.

So, back to the whole purpose of this blog post, this past year was a truly special trip to the coast for both of us. It turns out that Andrew is a lot better at keeping a secret and hiding a pretty big surprise than I ever would have thought.

We woke up at 5am on a brisk Friday morning to make the drive down to the coast, which amazingly was not hard, since we were both anxious to get down to the coast and start fishing our favorite rivers… Unfortunately, about 1/4 of the way there, Andrew discovered that he had some how obtained a horrible case of food poisoning. (Yeah, worst timing ever! Not that food poisoning can EVER come at a good time, but I mean, really? At the beginning of a trip that we have been looking forward to, planning for, and been super stoked and anxious about getting to for the last year??) Okay so it happened and we dealt with it the best that we could. This meant, every 20 minutes we had to pull off the highway and find a McDonalds (which Andrew now has permanently nicknamed something else that is not appropriate to write on this blog) or some other easily accessible bathroom. I felt so awful for him… Instead of going straight to the ocean, where we had planned to dig razor clams that evening with Andrew’s brother, Stephen, who was on his way to meet us there… we had to find a motel room ASAP where Andrew could let nature take its unexpected and quite inconvenient course. Stephen still came down as planned, and the two of us went to the nearby surf to try and dig our limit of razor clams, while Andrew stayed in the room and had one of the worst days and nights of his adult life (also while secretly knowing that he had some pretty major plans for the following day, praying that he would be able to execute them without throwing up or being stuck near a toilet). I felt terrible leaving him like that, but he insisted that Stephen and I go dig as planned, but it definitely wasn’t the most enthusiastic or high-spirited of digs that either of us had partaken in.

Thankfully the next day Andrew was feeling better. Still not 100%, or maybe not even 85%, but he was able to digest some crackers and drink water without difficulty and was able to get himself vertical and somewhat mobile again. We sent Stephen home with the clams, and the two of us were off to our much anticipated destination: The Queets river.

We arrived to the river, got geared up and were ready to start fishing. Andrew had brought a backpack with him that we put extra clothes in and some snacks, since we planned on being on the river for the whole day and would be doing the usual bush-whacking and hiking to various runs and exploring new water. We got down to our favorite run on the river, but after crossing waist-deep water that was not there the previous year, we discovered that our run was no longer there either. It had changed immensely, but we just decided to fish it anyway the best that we could and go from there… Immediately I was ready to go down to the bottom part of the “run” and start fishing. Despite the changed conditions, I couldn’t wait to get out there! Before taking three steps, Andrew stopped me by telling me that he had flies to give me that he had tied specially for me to use on this trip. I was actually reluctant to stop since I had a box full of flies that I brought and just wanted to get on the water. Needless to say, I was glad that I did. I opened up the beautiful Richard Wheatley fly box and immediately saw four beautifully crafted flies that Andrew had tied for me, then almost dropped the box when I noticed that there was also a very sparkly item that was attached (very, VERY securely attached I might add) between two of the flies. I just looked at it in shock as tears started welling up in my eyes as it sunk in that this was a diamond ring that was inside of this fly box. I remember just falling to my knees, spey rod tucked under my arm, clutching this beautiful box containing a stunning piece of jewelry, which I slowly came to realize, was an engagement ring. Andrew’s voice finally cut through the fog of my spinning mind saying, “Will you MARRY ME??” (Apparently that was the third time he asked me while I was in my shocked state of mind). I looked at him and said “YES!”. Andrew untied the ring from the box and made me wait while he set up our camera on a nearby rock. Once the camera was set on timer mode, he rushed back, got down on one knee and put the ring on my finger as the camera snapped– capturing the most memorable and joyous moment of our lives.

The ring in the fly box

That's right Beyonce, he "put a ring on it". ;)

Incredibly happy!

March 20th, 2011 (as Andrew reminded me, was the first day of Spring), was definitely an unforgettable day that was also a complete surprise. After spending the previous day and night with the worst food poisoning of his life, it was a blessing in disguise that he was able to recover the next day and continue with his hidden plan– one that he had been keeping  a secret and planning  for nearly 3 months! As if the proposal wasn’t unique and special enough being out on one of our favorite rivers, spey rods in hand, he also secretly had reserved a room for us at the Lake Quinault Lodge and planned for us to have dinner there as a celebration. I am still in shock when I think about how sneaky he was and how (almost) perfectly the plan worked. We had a delicious dinner with a view of the sunset over the lake and were both able to enjoy our meals. :)

From now on, we will always have the Queets river and the beautiful lakeside lodge in our memories as an even more special place than it ever was before.

I also discovered that not only did Andrew have to keep the secret for months, but both of our parents, siblings and some friends did as well! He called to formally ask my dad for permission to propose back in early February (which my dear father apparently replied, “Well, yes! That would be great!” or something along those lines that I just had to smile about when Andrew reiterated his response to me, because you just have to know my dad to know that that was exactly something you would expect him to say.), and he also had talked to my mom about rings, had been in contact with our friend who is the manager of Fox’s Jewelry in downtown Seattle (a beautiful store that is owned by her family whom we know from Vashon), and even took a special trip to Seattle (while we were living in Cottonwood) to buy a ring that he had been deciding on for over 2 months. It amazes me that everyone who knew and was involved in this secret scheme was able to keep the secret safe. I just knew that I wanted to marry him, whether he asked me in a grocery store or while watching TV one evening didn’t matter to me, because I knew that I would be the happiest woman on the planet wherever it was or however “the question” came up… so this thoughtfully planned event made the day even more spectacular than I ever could have dreamed of. Cheers to Andrew for being such a clever and romantic schemer! ;)

To wrap up this novel-like blog post, I will conclude that we also caught some steelhead after the successful proposal and were able to continue the celebration of our engagement with our friends at “fish camp”.

Here are some photos to capture a few highlights of the remainder of our trip:

Cooking lunch on the camp stove

The first landed chromer of the trip

Happy fisherwoman on a gorgeous river

Andrew's beautiful cast highlighted with a breathtaking background

Bright chrome

Up bright and early as usual. :)

Last day on the river- pouring down rain, but still smiling!

Catch and Release

Capturing the beauty before setting it free

Getting out onto that misty, fog covered river early in the morning before the sun has even crested the horizon, you wait patiently for the light to hit the water just enough to be able to see your line out in front of you after making that first cast. It’s peaceful. Serene. Nothing surrounds you but nature and the soft sound of the river movements on the rocks behind you. Bundled up in layers of fleece, capilene and Gore-tex… you are waiting. Your body, mind and soul is at the mercy of what lies beneath the surface as you watch your line float calmly across it. Minutes turn to hours… hours can turn into days… no matter how long it takes, the captivating feeling of that tug on the fly makes all the time worth it. The reel spinning at what feels like a hundred miles per hour and then suddenly a magnificent creature leaps out of the water making your heart stop then beat faster than it’s ever beat before… THIS is what steelhead fishing is to me. The beauty of such a marvelous and unique species coming to your hand is something that is impossible to explain– the truly remarkable and undying feeling it brings is why I have fallen in love with fly-fishing, spey-casting and searching for steelhead with a fly. Every time I am lucky enough to land one of these fish, I talk to it. I know if someone could hear me, they would laugh with the way I croon to it and comfort it the whole time while I reach for its iridescent, spotted tail and do the same thing when I unhook its mouth from the fly that brought it to me. Holding it in the water waiting for it to take off when it’s ready… that’s a magical moment. I love feeling my hand slick off its smooth reddish-chrome sides with the last flick of the tail before it sets off back into the river. It’s home. It’s at this rare moment when I am spiritual. Catch and release of wild steelhead. There is nothing else like it in the world.

Andrew releases his catch

BIG steelie

Just over a week ago, the Clearwater proved to me that there are indeed big “B-run” fish looming in that water…

34" wild buck and a happy fishergirl

With this only being the beginning of my second year of steelhead fishing, and being fairly new at spey-casting, EVERY steelhead I catch is a wild ride and equally exciting with every take, bump, strike and hit. When that reel starts screaming and my line is flying straight out away from me faster than my mind is able to catch up to what is actually happening, my adrenaline starts pumping and I am ECSTATIC. The feeling of the initial hook-up to a steelhead and the fight that follows is undeniably the most exhilarating and mind-blowing experience. Every time I head out to a river with spey rod in hand, I anticipate the possibility (almost always a slim one) that I will get a pull on my line. I focus intently on getting a smooth, graceful cast while trying not to forget all the tips and instruction I have been given on how to form that D-loop, get a proper anchor and send that line out so that the fly can turn over as smoothly and effectively as possible into the river. Every time I cast, swing, step and pray for a fish, I learn something new. That’s the beauty of fly-fishing for steelhead– and it’s become a life-long passion.

 

Big Move to a Small Town

I regretfully have been neglecting my blog lately, as I have been super busy with some big changes in my life. Positive changes, but alas, my blog has suffered due to a summer filled with my last and final “Intensive Spanish” course to wrap up my undergraduate days at UW, and working at an awesome restaurant in West Seattle, called Fresh Bistro. Beyond a few small fishing trips here and there, and short cabin vacations, I really feel like summer flew by– almost as if it never really existed for me. It’s not a bad thing. It just means that the days of summer camp and sleepovers with friends and days spent on a beach are well over… at least any type of childhood activity that allowed me to ever feel like it was “summer”.

Right now, I am sitting in a mother/daughter owned cafe in Cottonwood, Idaho sipping on a delicious iced latte (yes, they have those out here) and am immersed in true country atmosphere. This cafe is actually the newest addition to the town, and the owner wanted to bring in some modern innovation, so really this cafe (with it’s newly painted walls with artistic and colorful murals and dangling vibrant-looking decorations) really stands out against the country atmosphere– almost more so than I do. Yup, I still have yet to see another Asian-American human being or any person of any kind of ethnic background at all… but surprisingly, it is hard to feel uncomfortable in this town. Unlike most rural towns with less than 1,000 occupants, Cottonwood is well known for its hospital, St. Marys. If Andrew didn’t find valuable work there, then we probably would not have ever found ourselves here in the first place. The hospital provides the most jobs for the residence of this town along with several other surrounding small towns. It is here that Andrew is able to further his medical experience in a unique and special way that most pre-med students could only dream about. Oh- and there are four of the best steelhead rivers in the country within miles of here. That definitely a major incentive to living here. :)

On September 15th at 5am, the two of us set off on our 6+ hour drive from West Seattle in our caravan of Andrew’s truck with a utility trailer packed full to capacity and me following in my stuffed Passat. Our city life would come to a temporary end, and we felt relieved of traffic and a fast-pace lifestyle and soon would be faced with a laid-back, open back road, small town environment. It is an extreme change for both of us, but so far, I am enjoying every bit of it. Surrounded by horses, country-side and rivers full of Steelhead… life is GOOD.

Well, I did it. I graduated from UW last week. PHEW! :)

My wonderful parents. (Thank you mom and dad for everything!)

Proudly walking in front of the English Department professors and faculty

Andrew, Stephen and Gwen at my post-graduation dinner celebration

It has been a long, rough, windy and detoured road, but well worth it. I have to thank my loving and supportive family and boyfriend for being there for me and supporting me all the way. I am looking forward to a summer of work, fishing and then off on my next adventure to Cottonwood, Idaho with Andrew this fall. I cannot wait to be immersed in country land and fishing waters. :)

Speaking of fishing… I got a nice surprise while fishing the Skagit with Andrew the weekend before my graduation. (I like to call it an early graduation gift from Mother Nature and some Steelhead Gods).

I came into the run, cast out a short double-spey cast, let the line swing almost all the way around and suddenly there was a hard pull and the reel was screaming. I was in shock. Andrew was in disbelief. Then, the beautiful fish jumped 4 times clear out of the river, and I was in heaven.

This is what life is all about– it’s what makes life worth living.

Until next time…

–L

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