Saturday, July 31, 2004


The Madison River in the drift boat. Success!


The float with Rick the next day was as good as any day we have ever had
fishing on the Madison. Lots of fish; some of them big. We didn't land any
giants, but we boated a seventeen inch brown and an eighteen inch rainbow.
We fished on the surface all day, so we hardly caught any of those big
whitefish that like to lurk on the bottom and suck up nymphs.

Rick is pleasant as always. A day with him is a good thing. The
conversation often revolves around fish, insects, plants, trees, birds, and
how they are all interrelated and affect the fishing. His head must be a
busy place too.

The fishing is consistent throughout the day. There are no extended flat
spots. That's unusual. The afternoon float is interrupted by a spectacular
thunderstorm. We pull over to the bank, don our raingear, and abandon the
boat. From the "shelter" of some bushes on the shore, we watch the opposite
hillside get pounded by lightning. The weather is warm and the clothes we
wear are of the quick dry variety. Not a problem.

After the storm, the fishing was on fire. We had two more hours of active
agitated fish. We got to the pullout late. Eight o'clock. An hour's drive
back to the shop to settle up, and we're on our own for dinner. Chicken
fried steak at the Café Eat was on the agenda. For a ten o'clock dinner,
though, we decided on a little lighter fare back at the Bounder.

A good day fishing. All fish released unharmed. Slightly traumatized
perhaps, but relatively unharmed.

Rags waited for us in the motorhome. He was glad to see us and told us so


The camp at Grizzly.


A quiet night; no-one else around. The next morning, I see birds in the
sagebrush I can't recognize. Two different kinds. I'd better read up on
which birds like to hang out in desert sage.

I don't know why they put so many warning lights and buzzers on the Bounder.
I hardly ever start to drive off while the hydraulic jacks are still down,
or before I have reinflated the suspension.

We leave by nine for our rendezvous in West Yellowstone. The freeway miles
are behind us. Now we're driving wide-open, two-lane highway; me at the
wheel, Rags asleep behind his cat box. I spot the first of the osprey nests
at Boulder City, Wyoming. They take good care of their osprey here; tall
posts, with platforms on the top, away from the power poles.

I see a sign advertising local attractions. The Museum of the Mountain Man
in Pinedale has Jim Bridger's rifle. When we do get to Pinedale, population
just a few, we're greeted by the sign "Welcome to Pinedale, all the
civilization you'll need". I like that sign. This town is alone in the
high desert; a wide main street, with dips at the intersections. No storm
drains for this place.

Further through, just before we leave town, we stop for fuel. It's not that
we need fuel yet, but we can take on a half tank. I meant to stop at Rock
Springs, because the prices are better there, but that didn't work out. Too
many other people had the same idea. If I fill up at West Yellowstone for
the trip home, I'll probably pay the highest price possible.

Snacked on some white peaches Judy picked up at the farmer's market in
Carbondale. White peaches are very good. We need more white peaches.

Passed the campground at Warren Bridge. That's the campground we can never
remember quite where it is. It's well north of Pinedale, four hundred
seventy-five miles from home. There. I've written it down. No way I'll
forget where that place is again. We stopped there once on a previous trip.
It's not spectacular; it's rather plain, but it's a nice place to stop. It
would be a place to fish for a couple hours, if a person remembered to stop
in Pinedale and get a Wyoming license.

On we go, through that high mountain meadow town of Bondurant, still looking
like it is just waking up from winter. Past the Black Dog Ranch, and out
the other side of this mountain park, by following the Hoback River Canyon
down to the confluence with the Snake River, downstream from Jackson. The
Hoback is a clear-running, winding, wadeable mountain stream. It looks
worth some fishing attention. The Snake River cuts a much wider swath. A
person would not wade across this one. A lot of people float on it; some
with fishing poles.

The Snake empties into Palisade Lake in Idaho. The lake level is not as low
as last year, but the whole upper end is still a flat grassy field. I am a
creature of habit. I stop for lunch where I always do. I go for a
lunchtime run up the road like I always do. I look down from the road into
inaccessible secluded coves that are supposed to have boats anchored and
people playing on the swim platforms that have been tethered there. The
swim platforms are lying on the ground, and there are four-wheeler tracks in
the dirt around them.

The drive after lunch is easy and fast. We check in at Grizzly RV park by
three-thirty. Bill is already there. He wants to play racquetball, so we
check out the local hair and nail salon. That's where the racquetball court
is in West Yellowstone; in the back of the hair and nail salon. It's
Sunday. It's closed.

We take a tour of the area, checking out the camping sites at Baker's Hole
just north of town, and out on the Madison Arm, poking into Hebgen Lake. We
don't need to stay at these campgrounds; we just want to know what's
available for future use. The Baker's Hole campground looks promising; well
separated dry camping sites, some right on the edge of the Madison River.
The RV Park out on Madison Arm is in a nice location right on the lake, but
it feels kind of crowded and crummy. We probably won't stay there unless
we're desperate for lake time.

Chores and errands done, we get good barbecue for dinner at Eric's new
sit-down restaurant. Eric used to guide out of Madison River Outfitters.
He started a little stand-up barbecue stand in town and it went well. Now
he has the new big place open and the little place closed. It was packed.
The food was excellent. Good for us. Good for Eric.

Tomorrow, the float trip.


A one-day stopover in Louisville, and I'm on the road again. Not Judy, just
me. And Rags the cat. We'll meet brother Bill in West Yellowstone on
Sunday. We get to fish for a week. Then Judy drives the Jeep up to meet
me, and we get to fish for another week. The Madison in Montana; the Lamar,
Slough Creek, and Pebble Creek inside the Park. Bison, elk, grizzly bear,
and wolf country. How cool is that?

Balloons. I miss the balloons. Usually, driving north on a Saturday
morning, I get to see hot air balloons drifting on the horizon. Not this
morning. It's too cool, cloudy, and rainy. Low ceiling. And gauges on the
instrument panel. I miss those too. And turn signals and warning lights.
I used to have turn signals and warning lights. And I miss the way the
electronically controlled transmission used to shift. The battery warning
light came on, and I was afraid I'd have to stop to get it looked at. When
it went out, I was delighted, until I realized that every other light on the
instrument panel had gone out too. The plan was to stop at K&C RV to get
some windshield wiper blade replacements. Now, half way there, I'm
suffering a serious electron shortage. Maybe I'll have to stop at K&C a
little longer.

Amy at the counter was very sympathetic, but there are no mechanics there on
Saturday. They only work during the week. Bill, the parts guy was very
helpful. He diagnosed the problem as a dead alternator. He couldn't fix
it, and didn't have that alternator in stock anyway. I was going to have to
wait for Monday for them to fix it, but their mechanics were already fully
booked for Monday, so I might have to wait until Tuesday. My schedule float
down the Madison River on Monday was in serious jeopardy. I called Judy.

Judy found a mobile truck repair guy in Commerce City who would drive an
hour north to fix it, if I would pay him for all his travel time, as well as
the time it took to actually fix it. I had to choose between a weekend in
the parking lot of an RV service facility, or spending some extra money and
making the Madison River float. I chose to float. The repair process
didn't go perfectly smoothly, but it did go, so finally, at three o'clock in
the afternoon, thirty miles from home so far, I was released to the road. A
nine o'clock to three o'clock delay.

This is a guy trip. Me and Rags, driving to Montana to meet up with brother
Bill. We're going to fish and fart, eat dinner without silverware, and wipe
our hands on our pants. It's a guy trip. Just me and Rags, and Bill.

Making up time on Interstate 80. Driving fast. This freightliner, on the
open road, seventy-five feels like fifty-five. Leapfrogging semis.
Crossing the continental divide at 7,000 feet, a far cry from crossing it in
Colorado at 11,000 or 12,000. This is a straight fast truckers highway.
Often the only vehicles I can see in the distance are trucks. Across
southern Wyoming, past the windmill farm in Arlington, to a backbeat of
Lucinda Williams, Shelby Lynne, and some hard driving electric Mississippi
blues. Past the continental divide again, fifty miles later at 6,930 feet.
Past the Point of Rocks, to turn right at Rock Springs with Bob Dillon.
Left the cloudy rainy weather behind on the eastern slope and burst into the
sunshine on the western side.

Last year, along Interstate 80, I had an experience motorhome drivers don't
want to have. Cruising along at sixty-five in the gas Bounder, following a
truck about a half mile ahead, I saw him swerve to miss something. I had
plenty of time to prepare for whatever was in the road. As I approached his
spot I could see there was nothing there, so I was figuring it must have
been an animal he swerved to miss, when I hit something I couldn't see. I
was pushed clear into the left lane, then back to the right lane. Then it
was over. Clear air turbulence? If we had been in an airplane, we would
have dropped a thousand feet.

This is less likely to happen in the diesel Bounder. It cruises along empty
at twenty thousand pounds. It's a lot harder to push around.

It was a busy day. I drove and listened to music, while I fished, worked,
and played racquetball in my head. It can be a loud, busy place in my head,
even on a quiet day. I realize that fishing is a lot like racquetball; in
that fishing every day would be almost enough.

North on highway 191. Fifty miles from Rock Springs, through the tiny
town of Eden, then the tiny town of Farson. Past the still remaining ruts
of the Oregon Trail. I encountered exactly zero other cars headed my way.
Have I mentioned I Love This Road?

A four hundred mile day. Not bad, considering the six-hour delay. We'd
have made ever better time, but I was already a pot of coffee and a liter
bottle of club soda into the trip by the time I left the RV shop. I don't
have to stop at rest stops, we have a bathroom on board, but I still have to
stop, since I'm the only one driving, every time I need a "rest".

We stop for the night at Big Sandy State Recreation Area. It's a horrible
place to spend the night. No facilities, no trees, just a pullout in the
desert scrub, on the bank, overlooking a Wyoming high desert lake,
surrounded by sagebrush and pronghorns. There are tracks off the road to a
turnaround, so we can tell that other people have been here, but we've never
seen them. There is nothing to do; just watch the sun set over the desert
hills behind the lake while nighthawks swoop about. I've stopped here every
trip for about ten years.

Friday, July 30, 2004


The camp at Big Sandy.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


The campground at carbondale. We backed in so our heads would be next to
the river at night.

Friday, July 23, 2004


Annie in the mist.


We fished the Frying Pan.


We did a two-day job in Carbondale. It took three days. While we were
finishing up on the third day, Rags the cat made his escape. Before we
left, we opened up the windows and vents of the motorhome, so the pets
wouldn't get too warm in our absence. We opened the windows, but left the
screens closed. Rags opened the screen. Right after we left. Rags spent
four hours in the wilderness. Unsupervised. He was waiting by the door
when we got home. He was exhausted, and his bladder hurt. Rags normally
spends most of his time sleeping. Rags of the Jungle probably can't sleep
much when he's alone in the wilds. And he certainly can't pee. Rags could
hardly wait to get back inside to his cat box.

Since he had just spent four hours not running away, we left the door open
while we were in and out doing some chores. Rags didn't care. He put his
head under the skirt of one of the chairs up front, went to sleep, and paid
no attention at all to the open door. Later, we left the door open again,
and he joined us in the campsite. He walked over to the next door to talk
to the neighbors with us. He headed through the bushes for the stream.
Guess he was hitting all his favorite places. It was fun to let him hang
out with us, without his leash on.

Fishing results: We fished the Eagle, and caught nice big rainbows. 12 to
15 inches. The small water of the upper reaches of the Roaring Fork
produced a mixture of small rainbows and browns. The Crystal, right next to
our campground yielded one nice size brown trout. The upper Crystal gave us
several nice sized browns and a really big whitefish. The Frying Pan holds
big brown trout, and leaping rainbows. We caught a bunch there.

Fishing the Frying Pan is a magnificent experience. The water is cold and
clear and fast. The wading is mostly knee deep. Standing in the water,
casting upstream, you can pick out fish holding in the water within ten feet
of where you are standing. They will often be actively feeding. While you
fish for targets a little farther away, you can see the trout right in front
of you rising to pick bugs off the surface, then falling back to watch for
the next morsel. You can't catch these fish right next to you, but you know
that the whole river is filled with fish like this. All you have to do is
make the proper presentation to the ones that don't already know you're
here. It is my favorite place to fish.

There are sometimes difficulties involved in fishing the Frying Pan. Judy
is recovering from the beating she took on our last visit. I got her rigged
first, and off she went. I stayed at the car and got my gear ready to go.
By the time I got to where she was fishing, she had tumbled down the bank
getting to the water, had gotten herself back together, and was standing in
the river bleeding from her banged up knee. We fished and fished. She
caught the fish of the trip, a beautiful rainbow trout. She hooked it,
played it, netted it, and held it for a picture. She released it unharmed.
We fished until our legs and feet were numb from the cold. Walking back to
the bank, on numb legs and feet, she stumbled on the rocks in six inches of
water and did a face plant. This one I got to see, so I hurried over to
save her flyrod from floating away downstream, then helped her over to the
edge, and out of the water. She finished the day understandably stiff and
sore, but proud of the good job she'd done to land that beautiful fish. Now
her arms and legs and knees look like Matt's used to when he was a kid.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Diesel pushers

For those of us who want less length, we just saw something interesting: a
34 foot Bounder Pusher.

Imagine the power of a smaller motorhome with the big engine. Course, you'd
have to give up six feet of cabinets.


Upstream, the Crystal was perfectly clear for fishing.


Purple Martins in the Mist. We've never seen them before. We knew just
where to go to see them. Specific directions. Glenwood Springs, drive
another ten miles to Sunlight Ski area. Locate lift number two. Follow it
up to tower number eight. Look for purple martin nests in the aspen forest
to the left. We got there early, before the afternoon thunderstorms.
First, we found the client's office in Carbondale where we'll go to work on
Monday. How hard could that be in a little mountain town like Carbondale?
Harder than we expected. Then we drove on to Sunlight Ski Area. We found
lift number two. First, though, we found the hummingbird feeder, complete
with broad tail, black-chinned, and Rufous hummingbirds. By the time we
headed up the slope to find the purple martins, the mountain was shrouded in
mist. We walked up in a light rain. There was no trail, we just made our
way up the hill through the grass and wildflowers. The rain started. We
weren't turning back. Not while we were this close to purple martins. The
rain got heavier. We looped around the aspen grove and climbed up to the
path of the chairlift. We were too high. We tracked the chairlift back to
tower eight. There we were: standing in the pouring rain, now with thunder
and lightning. We should be surrounded by purple martins. Guess they had
sense enough not to go out in the pouring rain.

We did see one, perched on the back of a chair on a distant lift. We got to
see a purple martin, but it wasn't exactly the experience we were expecting.


We're camped at the foot of Mount Sopris.


The motorhome got a little messy dry camping for a week. We have hookups
here. We've got two out of three, anyway. We have water and electric. No
sewer. It's too close to the river. We won't have to move to dump, though.
They bring a truck by whenever you need and pump out your gray tank. We've
never run into that before. I'm interested in seeing how that works.
Anyway, we're hooked up to power, so Judy got out the vacuum. Turn the
vacuum on, and out comes the cat. You can't get past him until he gets his
belly vacuumed.

Now the fishing prospects don't look good at all. Afternoon thunderstorms
have blown the Crystal. It's running the color of hot chocolate. That will
take a few days to clear up.

Did I mention the rare bird? We're on the Audubon Societies rare bird
alert. For several days before we left Louisville, we had an unusual
visitor to our yard. We get mourning doves every day, but after ten years
of feeding birds, a white winged dove showed up. White winged doves have no
business being in Colorado. They live in the Sonoran Desert. A birder who
doesn't travel much would not get many chances to see a white winged dove.
So we have visitors to our yard hoping to catch the daily afternoon dove

Then this last week: the magpies. There are always magpies hanging around
the Physics Center. We enjoy them. They make a nice chatter. There was
one that looked different. Magpies are iridescent black and white. This
one had a gray brown head and a yellow bill. Magpies have black bills. I
took it to be a juvenile, and didn't think much of it. Juveniles often look
different from their parents; often, remarkably different. Judy and I got
to talking about it and looked it up in the book. Magpies don't go through
a change in bill color. There is one kind of magpie, that has a yellow
bill, but it only lives in the central valley of California; a long way from
the Colorado High Country; and even then, they don't have gray brown heads.

Judy put another call into the rare bird hotline. They're sending someone
up from Glenwood Springs to take a look at it. A yellow billed magpie in
Aspen doesn't make sense. A magpie with a gray head doesn't make any sense
at all.

Monday, July 19, 2004


The campus at the Physics Center.


Working at the Physics Center is a charming experience. It is a summer
symposium for physicists from all over the planet. It takes place on a
wooded campus at the west end of the town of Aspen. Many of the physicists
are what you'd imagine: think Albert Einstein. We have worked with several
of them enough over the years that we're friends, and it's good to renew old
acquaintances every year. One of them we can talk fishing with. Some we
can share stories about kids, grandkids, or pets. Some don't talk much at
all. We work with Nobel Prize winners. We work with the Dean of Yale.
When Pierre, our French friend, saw us for the first time this year, he
declared this to be "shark week". That turned into a continuing theme.

We read the board announcing the talks for the Physicists to choose from:
- The large scale distribution of mass and light in the
- Challenges for theories of star and galaxy formation from
high-redshift observations.
- Neutrino mass in SUSY GUT models.
- Split fermions and leptogenesis.
- Gravitational baryogenesis.
- Constraining galaxy populations, AGNs, star bursts, and
galactic outflows.

This international community of physicists is united by a common language.

In contrast, Jane, who runs the day-to-day operations of the Center, and is
not a physicist, has a sign over her desk: "Yeah, right. But what is the
speed of dark?"

Pierre is the guy who illustrated a point to Judy last year with a story
about dog poop. We listened to him give a talk about neutrinos. Neutrinos
are small: subatomic. They have no mass. They come from the center of the
sun. They come from other places too, but most of the ones that hit us come
from our sun. We are being constantly bombarded by neutrinos, with no
effect. They don't hit anything because, on an atomic level, solid objects
are composed primarily of empty space. Neutrinos are so small, they just
pass right through. They aren't especially reactive, anyway. They don't
really want to react with anything.

After the talk, Judy accused Pierre and his colleagues of running an
elaborate scam. They get billions of dollars for research projects on
particles so small they cannot be seen, they cannot ever be seen, and if you
were ever able to see one, you would change the nature of the particle just
by having seen it. The only way you can demonstrate the particle exists is
by documenting its effect on something else. Pierre responded with a series
of questions: Judy. (You have to read this with a French accent). Judee.
You take a walk in the park. You see dog poop on the ground. Do you see
the dog? You don't see the dog, but do you know the dog has been there?

What a great illustration! That's it! Pierre and his colleagues get
billions of dollars to study dog poop.

We talked to Pierre a little more about neutrinos this year. Update:
Neutrinos have mass.


The campground at Difficult.


The Difficult beaver pond.


From: Steve Taylor []
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2004 1:44 PM
To: Bill Taylor (E-mail); David Taylor (E-mail); Tom Taylor (E-mail)
Subject: aspen

The critters enjoying the campground.

River dance

The campground at River Dance.

River dance

The river at River Dance.

River dance

The fish at River Dance.

Friday, July 16, 2004


We know the brake buddy works. With the big Bounder, I can't feel the brake
buddy in the tow car when it kicks in, so I hooked up the monitor light.
There is a sending unit in the tow car, and a receiving unit plugged into
the dash of the motorhome. This stuff isn't required to make the brake
buddy work, it's just feedback for the driver to see if it's working, so I
don't usually plug it all in. In the gas motorhomes, I could feel when the
tow car brakes went on, so I didn't need it. In the diesel Bounder, we use
the brake buddy mostly for appearance. State law requires tow car brakes.

The jake brake and wheel brakes are so good, we don't need the tow car
brakes too. Except. Except this trip, we discovered why tow car brakes are
a good idea, even on level ground, even when you don't think you need them.
It was the car on the shoulder up ahead. We're driving seventy miles an
hour on the freeway. There is a car on the shoulder. I checked the left
mirror to see if I could move over. I figure we create a pretty big whoosh
going by, so I always move over for someone on the shoulder if I can. Not
this time. There was traffic beside me. Up ahead, the left blinker came
on. I had just enough time to say out loud, "just don't pull out", before
the car pulled into our lane at about 20 mph. I got on the brakes, the jake
brake, and the air horn, in that order, at full mash. I hoped the car in
front would pull back onto the shoulder, but no luck. It just held its
position, and gradually accelerated up to speed. Ultimately that speed was
about ten miles per hour under the speed limit. I guess it wasn't really
that close, either. We never got closer than about fifteen feet to it.
Going from seventy to thirty, it seemed like quite a while, though, before
we knew it wasn't going to be a very bad experience. The next couple hours
included more adrenaline in our systems than we needed. I guess the law to
have tow car brakes is a good idea, even if you don't think you really need

Our first night out, we stayed at River Dance RV Park. We've been watching
this park take shape for the last couple years. You can see it from the
highway, just east of Glenwood Canyon. It's between the highway and the
Eagle River. We stopped there last year just to drive through and check it
out. We ended up talking to Rusty, the owner/operator. He brags that his
property has the best trout fishing on the river. What an ambitious guy.
This is not a large corporate operation. This is a guy that likes to camp
in his RV and wants to build a park just like he would like it. It's coming
together slowly, but he's doing a good job. It's one guy doing it himself.
Our site was level. We had water and 50 amp electricity. It was an easy
walk to the river. He has put free standing lawn swings overlooking the
water. He was right about the fishing. Five rainbows in an hour. All good
size fish. I fished a parachute adams for a while, but even though there
was a caddis hatch on, there wasn't any activity on the surface. I tied a
pheasant tail nymph on as a dropper and drifted them through some currents.
That worked very well. After a few fish on the nymph, one even came up and
bit the dry fly off the surface. That's my favorite; a rainbow trout
explosion on my dry fly. All fish survived the experience and the barbless

Riparian habitat. Kingbirds and orioles in the river valley brush.
Warblers along the water.


Sometimes, life is just not fair. Back in March, I prepared the vegetable
gardens the best ever. The ground thawed. I got any leftover weeds pulled.
I mixed a bale of sphagnum peat moss into each section of Colorado clay.
The seeds and onion starts were on order from Burpee. Everything was
perfect. I just needed the seeds and sets to arrive before we headed out on
our first extended audit trip so I could get everything in the ground.

Then reality struck. Judy. She pointed out that even if I got everything
planted before we left, we wouldn't be there to water and tend the gardens.
It wouldn't be much of a garden if no one were there to take care of it.
And if it did happen to grow, we were going to continue to travel so much
this summer, we wouldn't be there to eat it.

So no vegetable gardens. Not this year. No garden fresh corn. No tomatoes
right off the vine. No green beans. No onions. But that's okay. It's a
trade-off. That's not the unfair part. The unfair part happened two months
later. We came back from our trip. It rained in Denver almost every day we
were gone. That was unfair. We came home to a bumper crop. Of weeds.
Chest high weeds in the garden. Canadian thistle, milkweed, bindweed,
pigweed, crabgrass, all prepared to burst into glorious bloom and send their
seed forth. We won't harvest a single vegetable, but I still have to weed
the gardens. It's just not fair.

We left to snowdrifts in July. We weeded the garden, kissed the grandkids,
and drove up across the Continental Divide. Almost the middle of July,
Copper Mountain still has snowdrifts on the slopes. Good to see. It has
been a good wet year. We could see Dillon Lake was full as we drove past.
We haven't seen that lately.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Speaking of grandkids.....

Alex, aka "the water rat" joined us for a little fun in the bird bath this


A new baby. Conner Thomas Alexander.

Born at 6:14 am, Tuesday, July 6th.

6 pounds, 14 ounces.

19 inches long.

Mom, Dad, Baby, and family doing fine.

It's all good.