Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A lesson in Fly-fishing

In the summertime, as I am sure I have mentioned before, Spotted Bear Ranch is a fishing in people pay lots of money to come stay in one of our "rustic" cabins and have professional, Orvis endorsed fly-fishing guides take them to some of the most beautiful, semi-remote fishing holes in Montana.

I, however, have absolutely no idea how to fish, let alone even hold a fly rod - which is almost sacrilegious when you are surrounded by people who practically live and breathe fly-fishing. In fact, the only time I have ever really even tried to fish was the summer after fourth grade when we took a road trip up to Alaska. I think we tried 2 or 3 times, and the only person to catch a fish was my brother. I never got so much as a nibble. So, in order to try to lessen the friendly banter that I receive on a daily basis (I am greatly out numbered here 1:13 on the female:male ratio) I had my fist lesson on fly fishing.

Cory took me to "the falls" (I have been told, upon pain of death and/or exile, I am not to tell exactly where we fish). He tied my flies on, showed me a little hole where the fish hang out, and gave me a mini-lesson on casting, mending, and setting. Right away I catch a fish. It's just a little guy, hardly worth even a picture (though I wanted one anyway) and was released before I even had time to protest. I try again. Another fish! Unfortunately, this one gets away because I didn't "set" hard enough. The next one gets away because I "set" too hard. I don't understand how to set.

Next hole: Cory shows me more on casting and mending. I can see where the fish are but none will bite my fly. I practice casting and mending while Cory jumps across to a rock island and fishes from there (catching fish on about every other cast while I, instead, instantly get everything tangled). By the end of the afternoon I did catch (and reel in) a few fish, but I'm pretty sure that I caught more trees and shrubs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Set an Outhouse on Fire

In attempt, with the new owner of Spotted Bear Ranch, to clean up the grounds out here we have been taking everything that is not going to be used here and has just been sitting in various cabins for the past 3, 5, 10 years and either creating giant burn piles or making trips to the dump. Included in these burn piles are the outhouses that 1) do not get used anymore and 2) are leaning so badly that if you did use it you actually do run the risk of falling in (one of my greatest fears as a child when we would go camping and have nothing to use but outhouses).

Of course, being that we are out in the woods with not much in the way of entertainment (save the fishing and hiking and all that nature crap) we had to find a clever way of creating some sort of exciting explosion in order to burn down the outhouse.

Attempt #1:

We stood the outhouse on top of one of the smaller burn piles, placed fire starter paste around the rims of the toilet seats (it was a double crapper), hung a glass jar full of gasoline from the ceiling, lit said starter paste, then (somehow) broke the gasoline filled jar. Jar exploded sending the gasoline spewing everywhere inside, the shitter up in flames in a glorious orange fireball, cheers from the eight of us who were watching the pyrotechnics show........and then, slowly, the fire petered out.


Attempt #2:

After much deliberation on how to, once again, set the outhouse on fire (send in a flaming arrow? already been done, plus no bow and arrow. Toss a gas filled bottle with a flaming rag into the air, shoot it with a shot gun and have it rain down fire onto the structure? Nope. a) can’t shoot a shot gun on the premises and b) last time some one attempted that a tree was almost set on fire) Finally it was decided that we would just douse the outhouse in gasoline (careful that it wouldn’t blow up from the first attempt), and then create a fire trail. So gas was trailed from the gas sodden building and lit on fire. The fire raced towards the outhouse, and, for the second time, up in flames it went. However, the damp, green grass deemed more flammable than the old dried out building, because, like the last time, the fire lasted only long enough to burn off the gas before going out, though the grass continued to smolder.

Now it was starting to get annoying. I mean, how hard can it be to burn down a building? People’s homes catch on fire all the time, so it shouldn’t be that hard for seven wilderness men and one girl to do it to a little old, crooked shitter, right?

Attempt #3:

In the end it was filling the outhouse with logs and newspaper that we finally able to reach our goal of burning the thing down. Nothing fancy. No explosion. No ball of fire. Just the slow lick of flames creeping up from the newspaper to the kindling to the logs to, finally, the building.
The conclusion:

Newspaper is the number one contributing factor to buildings catching on fire. Accidental fires in homes occur because people have too many old newspapers lying around, so in order to protect your home from fire you should probably stop reading the newspaper.

Also: none of us would be very proficient arsonists.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spotted Bear Ranch

".......where the adventure begins......."

This is my new home (at least for the summer). Two hours from Whitefish (about 50+ miles down a dirt, pot-hole-filled road), out in the woods, pretty much in the middle of no where. There is electricity, when the generator is on, and, in the main lodge, there is access to internet. But no cell phone service.

Cory and I live in a little cabin (though it's really not much more than a glorified tent). It's a little tippy, pretty dark inside, there are a few leaks (though, I think we may have patched those up), and no running water......but it's still home.....and I still like it.

Spotted Bear Ranch is a wilderness ranch where they do guided (fly) fishing and hunting tours (bear and elk). I'll be working as the housekeeper/server. Cory is a guide. And in our off time we'll be hiking and fishing and taking pictures.

So far (we've only been out here 2 weeks) I really enjoy living in the woods (minus the bugs -ie: mosquitoes- and limited access to showers -but I should get use to that soon). I have no concept of what day it is, and, unless I try really hard to think about it, I could completely forget about life back in the "city" and be totally content living out least for the moment.

wildlife count: 3 bears, 4 rabbits, 2 snakes, countless deer, 1 elk, and numerous moose or mountain lion......yet.