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Afraid of Trout? Bring me Along!

And I'll scare them all away for you.

This weekend Brenda & I drove to Avon (a few miles west of Vail, CO) to meet my Cousin and Uncle for some fly fishing on Gore Creek and the Eagle River. I stunk up the joint.

To say my Uncle is an experienced fly fisherman is a serious understatement; he's an ichthyologist by trade, has discovered an entirely new species of fish, and has been fly fishing since he was sixteen years old. He loves fish and fishing, and over the years we had thrown words at the idea of hooking up and having him teach me the finer points of the wonderfully archaic world of fly fishing. When we moved to Boulder, that put Brenda & I just under a few hours away from my Cousin in Avon, and so this summer Uncle Bob came out for a summer visit that included lots of fishing and a visit from his favorite nephew.

After a trip to the park for practice casting, I tried on the rental waders, which make you look like half a fireman. It's not a good look. Down to the stream we went, but instead of flinging flies into the water we got a full education on the main food source of the trout -- the mayfly. Picking up rocks from the creek bottom, we saw primordial creatures in the midst of metamorphosis, culminating in watching one mayfly literally crawl out of its skin, spread its wings and fly off of my Uncle's thumb. It was pretty cool. Time to fish.

Uncle Bob set us up with some nice kit, some quality rods and reels and expertly rigged line, leader, tippet and fly. And that's when everything went down the shitter.

I propose we change the term from "fly fishing" to "untangling", since I spent 45 minutes out of every hour untying complete bird's nests of leader line that got created after mere seconds of inattention while casting. Oh, and did I mention that trout have excellent eyesight, and so the trick in fly fishing is to use a super-thin leader so they can't see it? If they can't see it, you can bet your ass I can't see the goddamned line either, especially when I'm standing in a river trying to untangle the aforementioned bird's nest of this invisible thread for the umpteenth time.

Uncle Bob was more of a hunter on the water, able to spot the fish in all conditions ("there's a fish, right there; you see it Rob?"; "yeah." (no)), and his actions were more like stalking, his casts more like setting a trap. Me, I was wandering around the river like a drunk, sliding on the rocks and mindlessly casting into the river at nothing in particular and hoping for the best. I might as well have been playing the slots in Vegas, my odds of catching a fish probably longer than hitting a decent payoff on the reels.

But I learned a lot, Brenda & I had fun, and standing around in the Eagle RIver under a beautiful blue Colorado sky is not a bad way to spend a Sunday. Seeing Uncle Bob and Kate was great, and Kate prepared an awesome dinner Saturday night out of a 21.5" rainbow trout that Uncle Bob caught the day before we rolled into town. That fish was the largest he'd ever caught in all his yeas of fishing, and carries its own story which I'll not get in to now. Naturally, his luck changed as soon as I arrived.

Brenda & I also got a taste of the hell that is I-70 east on a Sunday evening. I'm told this stretch of highway -- the gateway to the Rockies from the Denver area -- is a nightmare during winter, as all the weekend warrior skiers and snowboarders head back to civilization, but I was hoping that in summer the crowds would be a little lighter. Boy, was I wrong. After sailing all the way to the Eisenhower Tunnel, shortly thereafter we hit a traffic jam that brought us to a 12MPH crawl for an entire hour. And I thought the Jersey Shore traffic was bad!

We stopped in Idaho Springs for ber and burgers at Tommyknocker Brewery and formulated a plan to get home by staying off I-70 as much as possible: we took Rte 6 through Clear Creek Canyon, which revealed -- once again -- a beautiful, unwinding vista, this time all the way up to Golden and then it was a short ride back to Boulder.

A couple of odd sensations hit us as we arrived on the outskirts of Boulder. First, as "the flatirons" appeared on the horizon on our way, we felt like we were "home". The flatirons are now "our" mountains, our identity with our place called home. Second, all our empty water bottles were compressed on arrival. This makes sense, since the atmospheric pressure in Boulder is much greater on average than it is up in Eagle. But that means that now when I think of going to Boulder, it's going down to Boulder, even though Boulder's at 5,400' above sea level. After spending 37 years living basically at sea level, it's kind of odd to consider this place, 5,400' high and nestled against the mountains, home. But it is home, and I'm just as happy as ever to call it such.