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old car story

Started by lloyd3, November 28, 2023, 11:35:43 PM

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I wrote this during a slow morning at work almost 18-years ago now. It's a car-story/fish story that I just saved and forgot. Found it the other day looking for an old resume I needed.  It'd be more appropriate posting it maybe next April but...what the heck. Let me know if it's ok here?


Almost everything was old and yet wonderful on Sunday. The car was old and low-tech (built in 1968) the driver was middle-aged and similarly low-tech, the fly rod was pre-WWII, even the line was braided-silk from the early 1950s that I had stripped and refinished last summer. It was a culmination of many things too, spectacular spring weather and a chance to drive the old Dodge, obligations met (baby-sitting and lawn-work the day before), and a stolen day (I didn't attend services with the family: went fishing instead).  All of these things combined to make for a trip rich in portent and meaning.  The fish even cooperated, with the line transmitting that vitality and urgency back to the rod on only the second cast.

I had opened the garage door by hand at 6:30 (the opener is also old and noisy and would have startled the baby, far-better to let to mom and junior get a wee-bit more sleep) and pushed the car out of the garage to start it at the bottom of the driveway (it's a bit loud as well). Traffic was light, as one would expect on an early Sunday morning. The big 440-cubic inch engine really liked the cool dense morning air and we climbed out of the sprawling Denver metroplex, up the twisting and steep US-285 like the hill wasn't even there. We gassed up in Conifer (premium for less than $3 per gallon!) grabbed another cup of Joe and kept-on rolling.

The drive down to the river was quite different than my normal transit, made necessary by the rather-exotic ride being employed. Since we were avoiding dirt roads, the route wound through sections of the Pike National Forest along the North Fork of the South Platte, through areas decimated by the first Buffalo Creek fire in '96 and then the bigger Hayman fire in '02. Both events are still very-much in evidence and are grim reminders that forests and rivers are fragile and vulnerable things, and also that any recovery is a long, slow, and often-unsure process.  My next-door neighbor Benny had joined me for the day, and this will likely be his last fishing trip for a while, as he is undergoing hip-replacement in the next six-weeks or so and is facing his own long, slow, and hopefully, not-so unsure recovery process. All thoughts of that were distant though, because we were going fly fishing and we had absolutely all day to do it. Nothing like partners in crime to make playing hooky even more delicious!

Since I am required to keep the car in line-of-sight for insurance reasons and moreover, since Benny's ambulatory skills are somewhat impaired, we passed up the new (and now paved, God-help us!) parking lot at the Gill Trail and kept rumbling down the road to lovely Deckers. We stopped at the little store for a few items and then cruised down through Trumbull, eyeing the river for opportunities to safely park and fish a section that wasn't silted-out or already full of Orvis-clad earlier risers.    We turned around and settled on a spot near the first bridge below Deckers, pulled over and began to rig-up.  The water was faster there and with almost no visible trace of fire-damage trees or silted pools. Shucking your jeans to put on your waders had never seemed less embarrassing.

As previously mentioned, the second cast produced a strike and a fish that was zipping about the slick I was fishing just below the bridge, a smallish rainbow that came off before I could land it. I looked up to see Benny onto a fish, too.  This is what you wait for all winter; that first real spring day on the water, with warm winds, green grass, birdsongs, and all the other gurgling and flowing river-sounds. The warm zephyrs seem to blow clean through your soul on days like this, removing all the dark spots and cobwebs of winter.  Everything takes on a new perspective; the air is scented with a now-exotic pine and musty river-smells, the sun is almost painfully bright, the air is gin-clear and the sky is blue to all horizons.  The old 8040 Granger bamboo felt just right, too.  The casts were exactly what you'd want; predictable and controllable, with the little 3-inch St. George making that clicking and whizzing sound as you mend and take-out line.  Now, this is a darn good place to worship on Sunday morning, and with a Hardy reel singing the hymns! Halleluiah! Halleluiah!

Perfection is sadly fleeting, however, and the term "ephemeral" comes to mind. I caught and landed another small rainbow and then promptly blew a back-cast, badly snarling my nymphs and split-shots, so I sat down to re-rig and watch a young father patiently working with his grade school-aged son, who was learning the ropes with fly-rod in hand.  My alpha-brainwave state was abruptly interrupted by a piercing screech and a metallic bang, followed by a cloud of dust that passed over my head.  Adrenalin surged and I launched upward to see just what the !!*&%? had happened. A very late-model silver Volvo sedan had struck the heavy metal guardrails of the small bridge behind and above me, just past where we had parked the old Charger. It was with more than just-some relief that I noted that they had missed my car by a good margin. The Volvo then pulled over and stopped along my side of the road, and three or four late high-school or even collage-aged kids (baggy, dark clothes and semi-long, limp hair?) got out to inspect the damage. From what I gathered from the gestures and bits of conversation overheard, the one female I could identify (who was not the driver) was pretty upset. Daddy's very nice car now had some bad dents and scrapes that would have to be explained, and that usually affected teenaged-angst had now taken a far-more realistic turn for someone. Major bummer, dude!

The Volvo finally left and we resumed fishing, even continuing to catch more trout; but the spell for me had been broken. More and more traffic on the road by the river only added to the distraction.  My old muscle car had become an attractive nuisance yet again and I just couldn't resume my happy continence.  More vehicles kept stopping, with some even disgorging fishermen that were starting to mill-about on both riverbanks. We finally left, putting the rods under the wiper arms and driving downstream towards Nighthawk to fish a bit more, but the river was still badly loaded with sediment there and the fishing was noticeably slower.  I somehow managed to foul-hook two more fish with a tiny RS-2 dropper (a decent brown and a smaller rainbow) and it was time to go. Ending as the old saying goes, not with a bang but with a whimper.  It even started to rain on the ride home.


Postscript: That "baby" is a sophomore at CSU now, and we're headed out today to hunt elk and deer for the next week.  I still have both the car and the 8040 and will he.


Nice story, You must be a writer! Cause it is very well written!  :2thumbs:

Mike DC


Nicely written and a pleasure to read.
I must share my "trout" story one day....
Gotta love a '69


Thanks Folks! Glad you enjoyed it.


A little after action report. A bad winter kill had been reported here in Colorado's northwest plateau last Spring and we verified that fact by only bringing home 1 little doe. It's funny how things work sometimes though, as I'd had a banner year in Minnesota grouse hunting (an incredible population "high" & the 1st I've ever experienced). Our freezer is still full-enough from past years that I had been soliciting fellow hunters and friends to help share the "burden" of the venison we might bring home. Not an issue now, 19-year old was the successful hunter (his first) and with a lovely .270 Winchester. Let the Holidays happen now, eh?