Good to be back in the beautiful pages of The Flyfish Journal, one of my all-time favorite publications. Especially with some cool shots from my buddy Tim Romano, and in the same issue as another buddy, the poet Cameron Scott. When you add in excellent words from Steve Duda, the pictures of and from Kate Taylor, more images from Dave McCoy, Reid Curry and Copi Vojta…this issue feels like a print reunion of friends. It’s an honor to be at the party. Check it out if you can.
Something’s fishy in West Seattle: Freelance conservation advocate and webmeister, Paul Moinester; The Flyfish Journal Editor and occasional Santa impersonator, Steve Duda; and Patagonia rep and Wild Steelhead Coalition boardie, Brian Bennett digging in and grubbin’ down. Just part of the crowd at an impromptu, pre-Writers-On-The-Fly feast at West Seattle’s famed Ma’Ono. Did I mention the fried chicken? Or the Spam musubi? Or the saimin noodles? Holy smokes.
Any visit to Emerald Water Anglers should include a meal at Ma’Ono. Hey, McCoy…how ’bout a package deal: Buy a rod, get fried chicken free? Sales through the roof. Aloha!
Good friend and fellow Patagonia ambassador, Dave McCoy, and his daughter, Nessa, came out to the Island for a visit. We had a little time to kill before the kids were due for a climbing session at the rock gym, so we went to check out the site of the old Port Blakely Mill. That’s Weston and Nessa looking over what’s left of the historic log-pond dam.
Standing in the quiet meadow watching the tide run out, it’s almost impossible to imagine the industry and life that once populated what was, in the late 1800s, the largest lumber mill of its kind in the world. Port Blakely was also one of the major shipyards on the entire coast, with ships of almost every size and shape built and sailed from here. And now, it’s a quiet little park framed by alders and marsh grass, populated by herons, diving birds and a few kids and dads taking it all in.
I get the same feeling here that I once had on a street in Paris, thinking that at some point, Hemingway, and probably Fitzgerald, and possibly even Picasso, and thousands or millions of other, anonymous people, had once stood in the exact same place. I wondered then, what were they thinking about, what were their lives like?
When Skyla was about four years old, her preschool was just down the street from Port Blakely. When the tides were right, I would leave about 15 minutes early to pick her up, stop by this spot, and fish. Sometimes it was pretty good, with a nice salmon or sea-run cutthroat grabbing my surface fly; other times, there was nothing. But it felt good, and important, for a new dad of two to be able to squeeze in a few casts, even if only for a moment.
And sometime in the long-distant future, I imagine someone else will stand here, with no idea of us, and wonder about all the lives of people who once stood in this exact same place. The earth abides.
It’s a word that’s usually used (and overused, yes, I’m guilty) to describe incredible trips to exotic locations. But in this case, it was only California. And there were no fish harmed in the process. But I’m just home from the Patagonia Ambassador Summit, and can’t think of another word to describe the days there.
It was difficult not to be blinded by the famous faces and big names in the room, as the best climbers, surfers, skiers, ultra runners and fishermen in the world (and me) all converged in one place. But, as it turned out, they are also some of the kindest, coolest, most interesting, and most committed-to-the-health-of-our-planet people in the world as well. What an honor to be a part of this crowd.
The whole time was awesome, but a few moments keep coming back into my mind: Long talks about life and art with surf/film legends Dan and Chris Malloy. Talking fish conservation with Finnish film star, Jasper Paakkonen. Learning about spear fishing and riding great white sharks from Kimi Werner. Book talk with Kelly Cordes. Comparing climbing and fishing with Kitty Calhoun… The list goes on and on. Lots of plans hatched and dreams put into motion.
So many new friends, but also some amazing time with old friends Kate Taylor and Dave McCoy, where we cooked up ideas to save our fish and waters, talked philosophy and roamed the streets of Ventura late into the night. That’s Kate and Dave at dawn, after two hours of sleep, as we walked to get our pictures taken. Perfect timing.
I don’t know that I’ve felt this much inspiration, camaraderie and fun from a large group of random people since my college days. Only now, these are people with enough horsepower to make great things happen. And I think some great things will happen. Epic.