Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fishing Part II: The adventure

I just got back from a week long camping/fishing excursion with BJ, Brad, and Ben. I wrote about my desire to go, and the excitement of going last month.

Unfortunately, I was silly and didn't check the batteries in my camera so the only camera I had was my cell phone - and I didn't have a charger for that, so I turned it off most of the trip. Which (bummer!) means I don't have very many pictures.

We had a special guest on our flight to Seattle. In 1969, a pilot was declared MIA. Last year his remains were found in Laos, and they were sending his remains back to his family.
There was a water cannon salute as we landed in Seattle. (Fire hoses spraying over the top of the plane. I'm glad I knew beforehand what was going to happen - otherwise the firetrucks, police cars, and water spraying at the plane would have been unnerving.)
We stayed in our seats while the Air Force officers got off the plane and then accompanied the body out to the waiting family. I can only imagine how it must have felt to get that phone call. "Your son (husband, brother, dad, friend) has been missing for 45 years, but we found him. We can tell you a little bit about what happened to him."

The fire cannon salute followed by the firemen and other officers saluting as the hearse came to pick up the soldier's remains.
We got off the plane, got on a train, and rode into downtown Seattle. We met Brad at the train station. We walked through downtown Seattle, carrying our fly rods, on May Day. (Apparently May Day is a big deal and there have been riots in Seattle there every year for a long time. We found out when we got back that the police presence seemed to quell the desire to riot enough that nothing happened this year.)

We met Ben at his office, jumped in his truck and drove to "The Ford".
It was a rather bleak looking place at first. Dry, sagebrush and rock covered ground. The campsite was a parking lot with an outhouse. Just over the hill was a huge spring fed stream with BIG rainbow trout in it.

Besides the fish, I saw a rattle snake (coiled and rattling at me - about two feet from my leg. And I stood there trying to turn my phone on in the hopes that I could get his picture. He turned and slithered away before it came on... Dangit.)
Muskrat. They're funny little critters.
Turtles. Swimming in the water. I thought they were rocks at first, but they were swimming. Then one came to the surface about five feet away from me.
Frogs, Toads, Bullfrogs. Mostly I heard these more than saw them.
Pelicans - both brown and white ones.
Many other birds, bugs, and small critters.

We fished for about four hours that night. I might have gotten a couple hits. (Fish nibbling on the fly), but I didn't see them. Everyone else kept fishing long after the sun had gone down, but I don't know how. I couldn't see a dang thing!
Sunset was spectacular. Brad's "super tent" is in the corner.
We camped for two days, and spent the time fishing, talking, eating, laughing, and just being. Both Ben and Brad are smart funny. It has been a long time since I have laughed that hard for that long.

In the two days at the Ford, BJ caught one. I caught one. Brad caught four. Ben caught two. Brad and Ben are used to the fishing having much more catching involved. Lucky for me, there are lots of things I enjoy about fishing, catching is only one of them.

We also did a guided float trip down the Yakima River. (Two people per raft, two rafts, two guides. The guides do all the work: rowing, tying flies on, keeping line straight, and telling us where to put our flies in the water.) BJ out fished everyone by a lot, but everybody caught some, and it was a great day.

The four of us on our lunch break. (For the record, Ben reminds me of David Spade. They look a little bit similar, but the way he tells stories... if he wasn't a brilliant engineer, he could totally be a comedian.)
The scenery was beautiful. The company was great. We switched around boats, so part of the time Ben and I were in a boat together, part of the time BJ and I were together, and for a very short time Brad and I were in a boat together. I loved that BJ and I weren't expected to be together the whole time. I liked being able to just go wherever and do whatever.

BJ had caught six or seven before this one, but this is the first one I saw him land.

This was a screenshot of a video I was taking. I LOVE this face... and the bend in his rod, and you can see the strike indicator hovering above the river. Unfortunately, the fish got off. (The guide couldn't find a place to pull over and accidentally put BJ into a tree...)

 After the trip, we went to "Praise the Lard" which is what Ben and Brad call their favorite restaurant. (I think it's real name is Cottage Cafe.) The hash browns are to die for. The french toast and strawberry jam were pretty darn good too.

We had planned on camping one more night, but we ended up going back to Brad's house and staying there instead. That gave us a chance to visit with Brad's wife.

After an amazing breakfast cooked by Brad, we went to the MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) in Seattle. The museum has several exhibits, and we saw only a few of them.

We spent most of our time in the Timeline: a history of people in Seattle, which is really the history of people in the US. I love history. I read a lot of books about history, and it was cool to see all of the "stuff" they had displayed: old diaries and journals, games and toys, propaganda pictures, (a copy of) the treaty of 1855 between several of the Native tribes and the US Government, etc.

There was a Revealing Queer exhibit... which left much to be desired. I know you can't put everything in to a small exhibit, but they left out a lot. (If you're going to define Queer as anyone that doesn't fit normal sexual identity, you should probably mention (at least) pansexual, asexual, etc... but the pictures were cool, and it was interesting to see the timeline of change.)

My favorite part of the exhibit was a wooden plaque where they asked people to use post-it notes to share the issues they are dealing with. They had another one that asked people to use a word to describe their identity, but that one was less powerful for me.

After the museum, Brad dropped us off at the airport, and we flew home.

Walking through the airport with fly rods is a different experience. People stop and talk to you about fishing - even people who don't fish asked us about where we were going, what we were fishing for, and that somehow went into conversations about work or family or horses.

Sitting in the Seattle Airport - the end of another grand adventure.

It feels good to be home and to be back to work, AND I can't wait for our next adventure: Camping in Moab with BJ's sister and her husband. And then we are going to Yellowstone to see my brother in plays (and to fish and explore of course). And we're going fishing, camping, hiking, riding, all over the place this summer. AND BJ's daughter is expecting a baby boy, so BJ will have another grandson (his third). And... probably a whole bunch of other things I have forgotten.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fishing with the guys. Part I. To feel included

I just got back from a week long camping/fishing excursion with BJ, Brad, and Ben. I wrote about my desire to go, and the excitement of going last month.

I was going to tell you all about the fishing and the grand adventure, but I'm going to start with the therapeutic part of the trip.

Our first night, we set up camp and then went fishing. We were on the river until 9, then Brad made dinner, and we (eventually) went to bed. We'd arranged the cots so that BJ was next to me and between me and Ben and Brad. I was in the corner, because that's where I felt safest.

Everyone else went to sleep. I did not. I heard them breathing deeply, snoring slightly. I heard them all get up to pee. I listened to the frogs. I listened to the other critters scampering around the campsite. About the time the frogs stopped and the birds started, I fell asleep. About an hour after that, the sun came up. I stayed and tried to sleep a bit longer, but it didn't work out as well as I would have liked...

We spent all day fishing, and the next night tried sleeping again with no luck.
(I wasn't sleeping, because every time one of them moved or breathed, my entire body would tense up. Every time I started to fall asleep, my brain would say, "WE'RE NOT SAFE! WAKE UP!" and I would be wide awake again.)

We got up and spent the morning fishing, but the sun was intense, and I was tired. I tried to rest, but the hyper-vigilance that kept me up at night wouldn't let me rest during the day either.

Something else started going screwy with my brain too. I was sure they didn't want me there. I was taking all the good fishing spots, and I was in the way. I'm aware that lack of sleep makes me emotionally vulnerable, but it is REALLY hard to enjoy fishing when you believe you don't deserve to be on the water, taking up space, and nobody wants you. I was doing everything I could to fight the crazy thoughts, but I was losing.

In the tentative plans for the trip, we had talked about going to a play in town that evening, and maybe staying in a hotel that night. None of us were super excited about going to the play. (There were fish down there, and no one had caught enough yet!) BJ suggested we still break camp and go into town to get a hotel room.  His reason being that he wanted me to get sleep before the next day of adventures.

I was uncomfortable. I had made grand plans to take care of myself, but when it came right down to it... I didn't want to inconvenience anyone. I didn't want to talk about me. I didn't want them to do things for me or to help me.

We sat and talked for forty-five minutes. There was only one room available at the only hotel in town. While I think being in a bed would have helped - being in a bed in a room with two men seemed to be causing as much anxiety as being in the tent.  Ben and Brad were trying to be helpful to me, but I wasn't expressing myself well... I told them that I wasn't comfortable with all of the sounds, and although I knew I was safe, I was having a hard time feeling safe around them because they were men, but I didn't want them to feel bad...

Finally, BJ just said, "Jen was violently raped in her sleep. She has a hard time feeling safe when she's starting to fall asleep because it takes her right back to what happened back then."

Instantly... they said, "You guys will go into town and sleep in the hotel. We'll stay here and camp. We'll come pick you up in the morning. No big deal."

I cried. Brad gave me a hug and apologized for not being more sensitive. I tried to explain to him that wasn't what I was feeling. They were all great, but I didn't want to even be worrying about it. I felt like a failure that I wasn't sticking it out. I wasn't strong enough, and I couldn't handle camping. I also felt sad, because I was enjoying being there... and it sucks that something that happened fifteen years ago is still fucking with my life.

We got back to fishing. I finally caught one fish. Brad thanked me for taking care of myself. Ben said he was sorry that I had ever been through such fucky shit. (And I got to use my favorite joke, "Or just really shitty fucking.") He laughed, and then said he felt bad for laughing. We ate dinner after dark, and cleaned up what we could before we left Brad to do the dishes and Ben drove us into town.

I took a shower, and I slept.

They came and picked us up and we went fishing. Nobody treated me with kid gloves. They didn't treat me any different at all. I still felt like I belonged, and I was part of the group. I REALLY appreciated that Ben was already planning next year's adventure, and maybe the year after that. 

As we said goodbye, Ben gave me a hug and told me he was really glad I had come... and that he was looking forward to our next grand adventure. Brad said he was really glad I was there, and we'd get together again soon.

I cried again. I had honestly thought they wouldn't want me to come back, because it was such a burden to have to deal with me and all my problems.
The four of us on the Yakima River.

It was really nice to spend time with guys that were just nice, normal guys. And to feel included, even though I'm a girl. Even though I have issues. Even though I was once raped, and I still have to deal with side effects of that. Words just can't quite describe how loved I feel, and how much safer the world feels today.