In the 1994 film Wagons East, a group of misfit settlers decide they cannot live in their current situation in the west, so they hire a grizzled alcoholic wagon master (John Candy) to take them on a journey back to their hometowns. Candy died on set.
As the clock winds down on my time in Oregon, I’m starting to feel (and unfortunately look) like John Candy. I am that reluctant, grizzled alcoholic wagon master. And my caravan rolls back to Ohio on Wednesday. Hopefully I don’t die on set.
I love this place.
Last week, Chris and Ethan and I floated the upper section of the McKenzie River. We caught dozens of big, wild, native trout. We used dry flies the size of ping-pong balls trailing little nymphs. I landed my first McKenzie bull trout, a giant native predatory char that’s hyper-sensitive to water quality. We bounced over the upper section of one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve ever seen, and had it all to ourselves.
This ecosystem is the only place I’ve ever cared enough about to fight for. And I hope the fight to protect this watershed carries on, through the people at Trout Unlimited, the Native Fish Society, and McKenzie River Trust. I know it will carry on through Chris at the shop. And I’ll cheer-lead from the sidelines.
Arguably, I’ve been on the sidelines for the last couple years anyway. The pressure cooker of a young family, a wife pursuing a PhD, and a new job really put the brakes on my activism, and fishing.
And when I try to rationalize this move, I tell myself “Hell, with my parents helping out with Paul, and the money I’ll save living in a post-Industrial wasteland, I’ll be fishing in Oregon about as much as I do now anyway!” And while we all know that’s probably not going to happen, I can promise to try.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ll miss all of you, and this place, dearly. I wasn’t born here, but chose this place as my home.
I’m in hock to Chris for a bunch of gear — so I’ll still be writing and taking pictures about fly fishing for this blog for a long time. So don’t get all weepy. And while I’m feeling sorry for myself about the move, I will be reunited with Captain Nate. The Stansberry brothers — together again on their home turf for the first time in over ten years. Talk about a pressure cooker…. stay tuned!
And sincerely, thank you to everyone who reads this.