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Thread: Headed for the End of the Road

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Gunnison, CO
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    114

    Default Headed for the End of the Road

    I have been heading for the end of the road all my life. That’s where we find the good stuff. As a small boy growing up in north central Missouri, my parents let me walk a block to the end of the road, cross a hay field and explore the ditch I called The Crick. Both my parents grew up on poor farms, by their nature at the end of the road, and heading to the big city always felt a little spooky in our family. We were a family that fished and hunted and all that stuff that happens after the end of the road.

    When I met Mary I was a college drop-out living in Sheridan, Wyoming driving coal trains in Powder River Basin for the Burlington Northern Railroad. Mary changed everything. When we parked at a trailhead in the Big Horn Mountains, I left the road with a partner. Nothing is better.

    When we both wanted to return to school, we moved to St. Paul, where getting to the end of the road took a lot of driving. But we paddled in the Boundary Waters and explored the St. Croix River when we could. When we launched our careers and had two girls we kept our noses to the grind stone and everything else for the family, the end of the road a luxury we could rarely afford.

    After moving to Gunnison 22 years ago it was easy to get to the end of the road and we bought out first boat, a 16 ft Boston Whaler Dauntless. My parents spend summers in Sheridan at the time and I got to take my father fishing for salmon on Blue Mesa Reservoir. Mary and I started going to Lake Powell about 2010, dragging the Whaler for 7 hours each way and camping at the Bullfrog Campground in our tent. We retired in 2015 and replaced the 16 ft Whaler with a 21 ft North River, a boat we could camp on for a week at time. Now the end of the road is a 7 hour drive, a splash at the end of the boat ramp, and a 2 hour, 60 mile run to the end of the San Juan River arm, and throwing out the anchor off Piute Creek. More recently we added boat camped and kokanee fished at Navajo Reservoir and Flaming Gorge. I am the luckiest guy alive.

    Now I’m looking at the end of that other road. Four years ago the day before Thanksgiving I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and given four to five years to live. I have been getting top rate care at Univ of Colorado Health, including chemo, and the cancer has not progressed much. But the drugs that keep the cancer from growing work well until they don’t and the big gun medicine, Lupron, isn’t working as well as it did in the beginning. My doc tells me I’ll be fishing next summer and we plan to be heading for the end of boat ramps again. Life is good.

    My thinking is that I’ll write and post in the Off Topic Discussions forum about fishing and boating mostly, but also about living and dying. My primary care doc thinks it will be good for me and I’m pretty sure he is right. I appreciate that what I propose to do is a stretch at this Forum and that the Forum rules allow the moderators to cancel me if they think I’ve derailed my train. Wouldn’t be the first time. My doc thinks I might be able to help others with health problems; lots of people get cancer but not many talk about it. Getting ready to die doesn't have to be horrible. I also know this forum in hard up for new content during the winter and that KFF people need to read about fishing.

    My next post will be about our two, week long bass fishing and boat camping trips in October to Lake Powell. Later I intend to post about kokanee fishing at Blue Mesa, Navajo and Flaming Gorge. We’ll see where this road leads and if it fits on the KFF site. I know some readers will want to express sympathy, it is only natural. Maybe a good way to do that would be to go to my profile page and make me your friend. You can also leave comments for me on the profile page, especially if you think you are interested in what I plan to write or want to ask questions. There is a sign outside the Urologic Oncology Clinic at UCH that sums up my attitude, “I don’t want your pity but I may need to borrow some of your strength.”


    Roger Hudson, aka Kokanee64
    Dec 1, 2022
    Gunnison, Colorado

  2. #2

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    Thank you for sharing your story. It made me stop and think about all the things we try no to think about. Death is one of them. Being appreciative of the time we have and using it wisely.
    Looking forward to your next post.

  3. #3
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    Thanks For sharing Roger. I enjoyed your post. I, to, was diagnosed with the early stages of prostrate cancer earlier this year. I and am in a watch and see stage. My Dr. tells me i will die of something else before I die of this cancer. However, it sure makes you stop and really take a look at things. Again. thanks for sharing and i to look forward to your next post. tight lines to you and your bride!
    Team:Rocky Mountain Tackle, Radical Glow, Fresh water basics, Velocity fishing.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for sharing and reminding us there are no guarantees, so we should appreciate each day. Good luck on your journey, I look forward to more posts.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Cache Valley, Utah
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    365

    Default Wishing all the best.......

    ...to all here and facing any myriad of health problems. I am most fortunate to have come through several health scares in recent years including open heart surgery for valve repair, a major stroke, and radiation treatment for prostrate cancer. Through out all, and like all of you, my appreciation for life and health, has only grown while cherishing every time I get to be with family and watch grand kids grow. or get outdoors to camp, fish, or hunt.

  6. #6
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    Idaho
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    I just want to send my hopes of healing thoughts, prayers and love for all of you traveling on life's path to the end of the ramp.
    God Bless and know no matter how it feels you are never really alone.
    "The Fish Whisperer" 21' Alexis Classic Thunder Jet

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Gunnison, CO
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    Our daughter tells her friends that her parents are “practicing being homeless.” I argue back our boat offers all the luxuries we need. A good bed, electric cooking, food, gear and cold storage, a head and room to stretch out in under 100 square feet. She says, “… living in a van down by the river.”

    Basic needs vary. Simple works for us. An F250 pulling a 5th wheel and a fishing boat is the perfect for others. Go with what you like. We couldn’t see how we could fit in a Lund or Smoker Craft style boat. With our 21 ft North River Sea Hawk, we get a back deck that fits two air mattresses perfectly. Semi-permanent canvas covers the two 36 inch lockers, two spring mounted seats and the dash. A medium size person can crawl into the storage under the dash and the forward deck has an anchor well and room for a generator and cooler. The back deck can be covered with a custom cover. We are good down to about 40 degrees at night. Below that we sleep warm but it is hard to get out of bed to find the urinal. Sleeping on the water is always warmer than sleeping on land because the lake warms everything. With the welded aluminum hull I never give a thought to sticking the boat on a gravel bar. I was glad to see our boat had an apricot size dent in the bow when we bought it, and have never worried much about another ding.


    For cold storage we use two 65 qt Pelican coolers. At night they sit atop the two storage lockers. The bottom half of each cooler holds four 1.5 gal jugs frozen solid in our freezer. We can keep ice comfortably for 7 days but we don’t cool many beverages. While we typically enjoy an omelet or French toast one night, we don’t cook much anymore. The day before leaving I BBQ 3 pounds of sliced chicken tenders and also 4 thick pork chops. We also include smoked and lox salmon, several cheeses, cereal, nuts, lots of whatever fruits are in season, eggs, bagels, pretzels, gold fish, etc. Mary has cereal for breakfast, I grab a handful of chicken tenders and a glass of OJ to eat on the way to the first fishing hole. For lunch, which usually comes early, I have more chicken, or a little salmon, or cheese, whatever. Dinner is a large chef’s salad, with sliced pork, cheese, a hard-boiled egg, and anything else that might go in a salad. In other words, we aren’t frying fish. We had our share of great meals but now it is too much hassle, too much cleanup. Like Jimmy Buffet said about the old-time sailor men, we eat the same thing again and again.

    The Honda generator lives on the front deck where it is out of the way and less noisy. An extension cord plugs into the generator when running and powers three battery chargers for 5 batteries, the electric skillet/kettle, an electric fillet knife, a 15-quart freezer (also 12 volt) and small device chargers.

    Toilets are simple. Urine gets dumped over the side. I read in a John Sandford novel that many of the fishermen who drown on lakes have their flies down. Doesn’t it sound kind of trueish? In the past, lots of Lake Powell campers buried their business on the beach but this pollutes the water with human waste when the lake rises. We don’t swim or camp near a heavily used beaches – it is not uncommon to see toilet paper flags waving out of the sand. Some use port-a-potties but I’ve always feared spills and they use lots of space. We use heavy plastic bags, a five-gallon bucket with snap on toilet seat, and Poo Powder, which my wife claims is really just expensive kitty litter. The regulations call for human waste to be Poo Powdered and packed out in double bags. Our waste stores in a handy opening in the bow in 3 – 4 layers of bags. After a few days plastic proves itself to be a poor odor barrier, so we gather up driftwood and burn our human and the boat’s paper waste until only ash remains. Showers are easy with sun shower bag and we can both comfortably shower with the bag half full. It helps to have a pole to hang the bag on. Our NR has an offshore platform where the motors mount and is perfect for bathing.

    No one but us anchors off shore – everyone else seems to stick their boat on a beach and run lines from the stern each direction to the beach. I’ll include a photo of our boat tied like this while we took a hike. But for overnight we hang between a stern anchor and a bow line tied to a larger rock ashore. There is much better sleeping and far fewer bugs off shore. There are a lot of good, new anchor designs on the market and YouTube shows lots of tests and comparisons. We like our 17-pound Mantis anchor with 10 ft of ¼” stainless chain and 300 ft of ½” anchor rode. For the bow we carry 135 ft of ½ inch line and a repurposed winch strap from the boat trailer with loops on both ends.

    We look for a spot with a large rock close enough to shore to put the bow line around and water that is about 30 ft deep about 200 ft off shore. We use a range finder to measure distances and try to get a scope (the ratio of water depth to amount of anchor line deployed) of better than 1 to 5. The yachting standard scope is 1 to 7. We drop the anchor and let out anchor road until we stick the boat on the shore. One of us attaches the strap and end of the bow line to a large rock. We pull the boat off shore about 25 feet with the anchor line and float secures between the rock on shore and the anchor. It seems like a lot of bother but with good ground tackle set well we are perfectly confident we can handle any weather we will encounter on western lakes. We obviously look for sheltered areas, out of prevailing winds. We have good weather info because our children were so alarmed for us they bought us an In-Reach/Garmin, a satellite communication device that gives good weather anywhere, anytime. If we are going to use the same anchorage for several days, we can put the two crates containing anchor and bow lines on the shore. When we come back, we grab the bow line crate and bring it aboard before we pull off using the stern anchor line. The lines also provide a good spot to moor an inflatable paddle board while we are away fishing.

    We are self-sufficient for a week when we leave the end of the road. Some trips we move every day, other trips we get as far from civilization as we can and stay there. We call these fishing trips when we go to Powell but we don’t complain much if fishing is slow. We can bring home 80 small mouth bass, 20 large-mouth bass, 20 crappies, and unlimited walleye. We tend not to keep large-mouth bass or crappie (recommended by the fishery biologists) but we sometimes return with 80 smaller small mouth bass (recommend) and walleye.

    Fishing matters but what is most important for us is the solitude and being together without all our daily troubles. We don’t listen to music, we don’t hear any “news”, no one is trying to make me feel outraged, no one wants Mary to do a survey, no medical office calls to schedule another appointment. We take deep breaths, my blood pressure drops 10 points. We sleep like logs, we read, we talk, we laugh, we love. To-Do Lists are forbidden. If it is hot, we swim (lake powell is nearly 80 degrees in October, Navajo the same in July), we fish, we hike, we nap. Many activities require teamwork, including moving 100 pound coolers from the deck to the storage lockers, setting and pulling anchors, getting the air mattresses pumped up and sleeping bags out, preparing the dinner meal and cleaning up after. It feels good to work with Mary. Twelve years ago we built a house together and we know how to be good teammates.

    Do other people find as much pleasure in their houseboat or their trailer or their tent? I am sure they do. There are a lot of us out there having fun in our favorite ways. We call that diversity, we all like different stuff. Almost no one does what we do although plenty of people we talk to when camping in public say they think what we do is cool. Perhaps my daughter is right; what we do looks too low rent, or “ghetto” as my kids used to say. It is just about the cheapest way to explore the water past the end of the road short of kayak camping. It is way too primitive for most people but we reframe the simplicity as a luxury of time and place.

    During the heights of Covid most of our favorite fishing spots were closed but we were able to launch and then hide out at Navajo Reservoir. The early trips we stayed near the back of Florence Canyon, later we stayed some nights in a rented slip. We chat with the people walking by. Some clearly think we are nuts but some can see the appeal. At Flaming Gorge we sometimes anchor in a remote spot and other times we stay at the dock. At $20 a night slips are cheaper than campgrounds and much more pleasant. It also allows us to start fishing before first light. I’m pretty sure we will be camping next summer at three or four favorite spots. It you see us dock camping at the Lucerne or Navajo Marinas, or anchored in the back of a cove, stop and chat for a while.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Gunnison, CO
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    Thanks for all the kind wishes.

    I had good news from my recent testing at UC Health, my vascular surgeon gave me a clean bill followup from surgery and and then a stint back a couple of years. And the PSA was slightly lower, increasing the odds of good health next summer. The PSA test makes me anxious each time it comes up. I don't think about the test and don't notice the anxiety but Mary sees it all clearly. My cancer drugs work well until they don't and a rise in the PSA means they are starting not to work as well. When that happens we will start Plan C.

    In other good news Great Lakes Marine is finished replacing the water pump and installing a 10 hp Yamaha, matching the Yamaha 225. When we bought the boat used in 2015 it had Suzuki 150 and 10 hp motors. We kept the 10 hp but had the dealer put a F225 on due to our elevation and general need to make a boat go fast. We finally wore out the little Suzuki after thousands of hours. By the end of the season we were trolling too slow (1.0 - 1.5 mph) to be effective fishermen because going faster was so noisy our brains oozed out our ears.

    I am always open to questions about anything I write about. I could also use a little tech help. I am posting from a new Mac and want to upload photos. They are always rotated. Any suggestions? If not, I'll search through the archives for advice.

  9. #9

    Default Best wishes to you and your wife!

    I have always enjoyed reading your posts since they are so well written and informative. Thanks for that! I think you could have made a living as a writer if you did not do that. Your attitude about the "End of the Road" is one I hope I can adopt as I approach that junction.

    I am curious about some of the details of one of your recent posts. I will send you a PM and hopefully you can share your knowledge.
    Best regards,
    Gary

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    Gunnison, CO
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    A hard story to tell, a hard story to hear.

    When I was in business graduate school I read the book, “On Death and Dying,” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a famous psychiatrist. She interviewed people like me and identified 5 stages of grieving / dying: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Her research was considered the best of the best – she teased out these 5 phases, explained them in detail, showed her work and set a standard for field research that few graduate students could aspire to. Among graduate students it would have been embarrassing to admit your school didn’t assign it to all its students. I suspect that may still be true today – the book is a classic for academics. I read it to learn good field research techniques; I didn’t give a hoot about death and dying. I was young, tough and would live forever. When reading the book I couldn’t help but notice that getting old and dying really sucks.

    I wasn’t feeling well in the summer of 2018 and after a bunch of pokes, prods and tests, I returned a high PSA, an indicator of prostate cancer. I remembered the book vaguely and knew the first stage was denial. I wasn’t sure what that meant. The urologist, a former navy doc, put his finger up my butt and said I had prostate cancer that had spread to my bones and that I had 4 – 5 years to live and needed to start therapy immediately. Prostate cancer feeds on testosterone, so the therapy is chemical castration using Lupron shots, the same shots they give sex offenders and, in the news lately, kids who are “transitioning.” He next told me that some men chose to do it for real and he could “snip them off” if I wanted. He promised quick recovery after the snipping.


    I was dumbstruck, overloaded, unable to think or move. Three thoughts float to the top of my brain. Dead, 5 Years, Castration. When I could finally look at the doc, I said, “no snipping”. Then I looked over my shoulder, maybe hoping to see the poor devil who was supposed to hear the bad news, but all I saw was my vague shadow on the wall and I thought, Denial. As I turned back I looked at Mary. We had been holding hands and we gave each other a sad smile and a squeeze. Then I began to wonder just how much that doc really could have learned with his finger, maybe he was wrong, maybe I didn’t have cancer. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I asked how certain he was. He assured me his finger was never wrong. It wasn’t. I was done with Denial. I went on-line and saw that Anger was next stage.

    I didn’t want to be Angry. It is an ugly emotion and anger makes people ugly. The year before I retired from Western Colorado University I was the Chair of the Faculty Senate. I represented the faculty to the adminstrators and to the university board of directors. My counterpart in the administration was the newly hired VP for Academic Affairs, sort of a chief operating officer for the teaching, research and service arm of the university. I was unimpressed when she was interviewed and the reality was worse than I thought. She was arrogant, belligerent and always trying to intimidate. Maybe she considered rudeness and inflicting pain to be important leadership skills. She immediately fired several adjunct professors in teacher education, the VP’s academic roots, and threatened to fire all the adjuncts across the university. In our first meeting she told me she hoped we would be able to work well together and reminded me that Mary, my wife, was an adjunct professor. I thought, “She Devil”, and she was. After Thanksgiving the VP was off campus for several days and right before Christmas she told me in secrecy that she had cancer. I don’t understand why she confided only in me, as she was paying a public price for her threat against me. She spewed a lot of anger and insult spring semester before going into hospice care. She insisted on making a hiring decision 3 days before she died. We all wondered if cancer had affected her personality, especially after her husband wrote a letter of apology to the people of Western after she died. I promised myself then that if I got sick like her I would not hurt others. I tried to skip past anger as I’d done Denial and it sort of worked, until it didn’t.

    I felt anger but tried, not always successfully, to treat people well. Next came Bargaining. Chemo therapy was an option that would buy me 18 months, 18 good months. I was coming to understand that my future had two periods. My cancer drugs work well until they don’t. Eventually the cancer will start growing and spreading again. So there is the stable period and a declining period. Chemo would give me 18 months of stability. Sign me up. Bargaining looked like it could deliver. Yet I knew this wasn’t really bargaining. Bargaining is; “If you’ll cure me I’ll …”. Bargaining about dying has to be with God, or the Universe or maybe your soul. It never seemed plausible to me. You can pray to God but can you bargain with God? In practical terms, if there is no way to enforce a deal, there is no bargain to begin with. Clear in by agreement, clear out by performance isn’t possible. Bargaining is as unproductive as Denial. Prayer helps.

    Chemo is unpleasant. My chemo included considerable pain in my feet, so my dose was cut after the first infusion. Chemo has a reputation for causing neuropathy, pins and needles in the feet that may not go away. When I came in for the final infusion, I was instead sent to the emergency department because of a reaction to the chemo drugs that gave me pneumonia like symptoms. I couldn’t complete the chemo program, so did I still get the 18 months? After a few days I was sent home on 24/7 oxygen. I hated it. The hoses, the tanks, the tether, gasping for breath. Fishing season was approaching and I felt hopeless. One day I went into my shop, took a 4 ft 2x4 and starting slamming the end into the concrete floor. I was yelling obscenities while I pounded the 2x4 into splinters until I collapsed, totally out of breath, and then started laughing at the silliness of it all. I am a guy. That is how I vent my anger, I break things. It helps. Highly recommended. Wear gloves. If you choose to break large rocks into pebbles with a sledge hammer (highly effective therapy but discouraged), be sure to wear safety glasses and shin guards for the flying shards. Not sure women will understand this. Not sure I do either

    If you read the 2019 Blue Mesa fishing reports you’ll see I put extra oxygen tanks on the boat for summer salmon fishing and we managed trips to Lake Powel after I was off oxygen in the fall – the elevation is 4,000 ft lower at Powell too. Fishing was never hot that summer but my lungs healed by fall and I was ready to reschedule a hip replacement and vascular surgery delayed by the cancer diagnosis and chemo. I had experienced more than a little depression that first year. I fought it off, sometimes effectively, sometimes I spiraled a long way down. The hip was well past worn out and waiting while I recovered from chemo was painful. After surgery, building back strength in early 2020 wasn’t going well. I had 13 big staples in my belly from vascular surgery, I was drained by chemo, the hip replacement needed lots of PT and without testosterone building muscles is harder. You’ve seen the commercials on TV with Frank Thomas. And, as we all know from movies, back in olden days the court eunuchs didn’t compete in the jousting contests. What does it mean to “recover”, to “get better” or to “heal”? This was when I learned to Go Fishing as a way to fight back against depression, and it is what I’ll write about next.

  11. #11

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    I smiled at your description of smashing the 2x4. It can be good therapy. The trick is to do damage to something without doing damage to yourself. When I was working a high stress construction job, the secretary kept asking me where all the wooden #2 pencils went. I was always telling her we needed another box, but she never saw anyone use them. One day she found out where they went. She came in the construction trailer, and I was breaking wooden pencils into small pieces, then I would start on another pencil. I went through a half a box that day. She told me she was surprised I was wasting them like that. I told her it was cheap therapy and way less expensive than throwing a chair through a window, getting in a fight or some of the antics others pulled when they were angry. Eventually I learned that regular outdoor activity was even better than breaking wooden pencils, but I always kept some pencils handy in case I could not get outdoors. We all need to find what works for us. It sounds like you have done a good job of figuring it out.
    I look forward to your next post.

  12. #12
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    Thanks Armando. I know this will sound very strange but I chuckle at something every time I write a post. I can see humor in a lot of things, even a doc talking to me about snipping. I believe now he was just trying to jolt me out of a stunning experience. When you told the story about breaking pencils I identified immediately and share a laugh with you. Some events from the past may sound like moments of horror but at I look back it is just more stuff and not that important. Life is still good on our boat and I hope on yours. Roger

  13. #13
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    Fighting Depression with Movies

    I don’t like writing this post about Depression. It is like Voldemort in Harry Potter. It feels a little reckless just writing the word – as if writing the word calls forth the thing itself. Trust me, nobody wants to call forth Depression. I admit up front I know nothing about depression except what I’ve learned as a participant observer. In fact, I don’t know anything about the death and dying literature except what I vaguely remember from 40 years ago. I am a fishman who likes to write. I am finding it helps me to write what I think because I’m not really sure what I think until I write it – and what I think changes as I try to explain it. In the end, I know what I think about a topic even if I am all wrong. I am the guy you come to to talk about fishing, not about psychology and medicine.

    Depression has a host of faces for me. Depression is dark, the world is dimly lit and colors fade into grey and black. Depression is in my head. It is me talking to myself and what I say to myself in incredibly self-destructive. It is the start of despair. It isn’t a steady condition; it spirals downward, getting worse, getting darker, concentrating, getting heavier, losing perspective and hope, misery feeding on misery. It can kill you. Get professional help -- there are plenty of people who want to help you and you owe it to yourself and loved ones to get help.

    My primary care doc, Dr. Joe, starting asking me if I was feeling depressed about 6 months in and my family was pushing me to get on anti-depressants. I told Joe I was no more depressed than any guy in my shoes was justified to be. He put me on an anti-depressant. At one point I asked him to increase the dose. It helped and since it doesn’t seem to create a host of undesired side-effects, I am still on one but a different brand.

    One evening I was sitting in my hot tub listening to Scott Adams, the Dilbert comic guy. He mostly talks about the news but occasionally offers up a brain hack. Read his books. It is hard, sometimes impossible, to stop thinking depressing thoughts. They flood my brain and reinforce each other. I am no good. I am a burden on my family. I hate the condition I am in. Why can’t I get a break? Life isn’t worth living. I hate this. If you have ever wondered just how corrosive self-pity can be, take it from me it can melt steel. It made me feel helpless and I decided I wasn’t going to be depressed anymore. So I said to myself, “I’m not going to think about my self-pity any more”. And for about 3.6 seconds I didn’t have bad think, and then depressing thoughts oozed under door. Bad think just keeps returning back into my brain. What Adams suggested I do is to relax, breathe deeply and create an image in my brain. You can only think about one thing at a time. No one can multi-task. One thing at a time. Fill your brain with your most pleasant vision of the future. I am setting on the port locker seat, watching the bend of the rod on the starboard downrigger. Mary and I are talking and eating home-made banana bread. She is driving and I am watching that rod closely. She tells me, “Fish at 37”, right where the weight is set. I watch the rod.

    You get the picture. I fill up my brain with images and memories of fishing. Then I get up and do something active for a while. If bad think comes back I stop what I am doing and Go Fishing. When bad think comes back, I don’t try to stop it, I Go Fishing. If depression tries to sneak in when I am trying to get to sleep, I can create a long, detailed fishing movie – a preview of my future. No vacant brain space for bad think to sneak into. We stop in the parking lot above the boat ramp and start taking off the travel cover. Buckles are removed, the corners are pulled off, we fold up the cover, tucking each of the straps into the bundle. When the bad think is strong I try to include every detail of the fishing trip, including tying knots. Sometimes bad think sneaks in and is hard to resist. I move around a bit and then reload one of the better movies. How many steps do you think there are in setting a downrigger? Start with putting the reel on a rod, threading the line, tying on a snap swivel. When you get to the end, imagine feeling the rod explode in your hand just as you are putting the right bend in the rod tip. Last summer while actually fishing I adding new material to the Go Fishing movie vault.

    You know this hack isn’t going to immediately solve your depression, right? My images and movies got better with time. I learned to get the movie playing right away. Don’t let bad think get a foot hold. Deal with it right now. Depression can be seductive. For me, it got easier and more effective but it took a while. I came to enjoy going fishing even though fewer and fewer bad thoughts were trying to creep in. Going fishing came to include planning for Going Fishing (we have 4 pages of checkbox camping lists), prepping the trailer, draining and replacing hub oil, checking the brake fluid level. Going Fishing is planning and thinking about the future, the present and the past. An old favorite is trying to imagine how a dodger and lure will wiggle in the water depending on shapes and bends.

    I am done with depression, although I doubt she is done with me. Nothing in the Five Stages of Dying is one and done. You think splitting a cord of wood with a maul while you rail at the Gods will vent all your anger? Silly boy. Anger builds and gets vented, but it is always simmering below the surface. Fall on the ice and mess up your rotator cuff? Expect an anger eruption. Think you have Depression under control? Just you wait. Kubler-Ross made clear that each person’s process of dying is unique, the 5 stages are common as dirt but they aren’t really stages at all. They don’t come in order. You can’t cross them off the list. I’d not be surprised if Acceptance and Depression lived together in some people. You can’t force march through the stages, racing for Acceptance. You go back and forth. You are in multiple stages at the same time. It isn’t a process, it is a muddle.

    Continued in next post…

  14. #14
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    Feb 2017
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    Continuing previous post


    For me Denial holds no interest. I get it. My cancer is real. I am not going to die with it, I am doing to die from it. Bargaining isn’t real for me either. I know too much about deal making and for me there isn’t any deal making in the dying process. I wonder in what stage Kubler-Ross put prayer, or meditation, or deals that you make with yourself? It doesn’t really matter because my only three stages are Anger, Depression and Acceptance. Three is enough.

    In early fall 2019 my cancer was stable, I had recovered completely from chemo and pneumonia, my new hip was finally doing pretty well, vascular surgery was just a bad memory and an ugly scar on my belly, the follow up stint insertion had been a breeze and FINALLY all the outstanding medical issues except for cancer were all behind me. And then they weren’t.

    I didn’t recognize my first tachycardia event. I think it started going over Monarch Pass (11,300) on the way to Denver. I tried to sleep in off at our daughter’s house but still felt tired and disordered the next morning. I got the blood draw and labs out of the way and told the tech in the oncology office taking my blood pressure that I hadn’t been feeling well. I didn’t have a blood pressure. He tried again, got the error code back. Couldn’t get the pulse rate either. I drank a quart of water. Error codes. The PA got involved, a couple of others were hovering. This was way too much attention. I just came in for my 12 week Lupron shot but I was way sick now.

    I was off to the emergency department, a long ride on a litter past coffee shops and strangers. When I got to the waiting room at Emergency there were 20 or so people waiting but a tech came up and said, “Are you Sarah’s Dad?” and I was wheeled into an exam room. My daughter Sarah and her husband are emergency docs at UC Health and they were waiting for me. Emergency docs don’t treat their loved ones but they get to pick who provides the care. She picked the department head and a young intern who was gung ho. My heart was out of control and they decided to do the shock thing you see on TV, with paddles sending electricity though my heart . By the time we were set up to go there were 15 or so people in my little room and watching through the open door. I had oxygen, I had an IV, I had monitors chirping and dinging. You get really good care when you are Sarah’s Dad. The place absorbed me like I was family.

    I was heavily sedated and don’t remember much. Mary tells me the first jolt, which really did make my body jump, did nothing except stop my heart, nor did the second. The third jolt, with higher voltage, did the trick. I walked out after an hour of monitoring and well wishing. I had more episodes, none as severe, until I ended up in the Gunnison Emergency Department, where it took 4 shocks to reset my heart. This was making me angry and scared – I didn’t like it. Depression tried to sneak back into my life but I went fishing. With luck, a hot shot heart doc had just moved to Grand Junction and had an opening right away. He explained his procedure and I was back in a few days, hoping, hoping, hoping. They inserted a catheter in my leg and did electrical testing to identify the spots on my heart that appeared to trigger irregular heart beat. Then they “ablated” or froze the offending spots with liquid carbon dioxide. A few hours later and I was out the door with no more episodes. The anger passed. The depression hovered but never got out of hand. Was this Acceptance? Maybe a little bit or maybe some of the fear had eased. Whatever it was, my life felt better. I was finally leaving chemo, pneumonia, surgery rehab and heart problems behind. The New Year going into 2020 really did feel like a start over, a chance to do what I wanted, a chance to do more bucket listing. No one I spoke with thought this Covid-19 thing would amount to much.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    114

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    Covid broke everything. Is there any glue left that will mend America?

    Moving into the spring of 2020 it became obvious how much covid was disrupting every dimension of our lives. The schools closed, shops and businesses were being shut down, everyone was wearing a mask, many people were deadly afraid, we had counters on TV showing deaths like it was the national debt clock. Everyone has their own stories of Covid, none of them pretty. Some people wailed about death and safety, and some people kept driving the trucks and trains, and stocking the grocery store shelves.

    We watched water levels and park closures for Lake Powell, hoping for early May bass fishing. Didn’t happen. Directives were coming down the bureaucracy for Park Superintendents but the states, counties and tribes all had their own rules, and the rules changed frequently. The same thing was happening all over the country and at millions of venues. I felt like this was unlikely to resolve quickly. The bureaucratic incentives were all wrong. A bureaucrat blamed for deaths after an event he approved against the advice of experts is in big trouble. Obvious bad judgement. What was he thinking? A bureaucrat who closes it all down just has to say “for Public Safety.” They are just following the rules in their 10 year-old plans for events sort of like this one and they are using best science to keep people safe. Trust the experts!!!

    It was incredibly frustrating to me. My clock was running down while the “keep in open” and the “keep it closed” sides slung mud at each other. Dare I say I was Angry? Maybe a little but by then I’d found anger accomplishes nothing and life is much easier for me and my loved ones if I’m not angry. Best push it aside. Make it a passing emotion. Maybe no longer allowing too much anger it is on the road to Acceptance? I didn’t like what was happening but I could accept it without anger, especially given I had no choice. Perhaps Acceptance is really “grudging” acceptance of what cannot be changed. That doesn’t mean a nasty episode won’t spark anger. I try to make sure it doesn’t last long. It helps to reframe it and laugh instead.

    While no fishing hole was officially open, and by all reports entry to federal parks was strictly enforced, it sounded like Navajo Reservoir in northern New Mexico wasn’t enforcing its rules strictly. There is a NM state park for campers, the state boat ramp, and a very large private marina -- 100s of house boats under cover and in slips. It is a six-hour trip, over the continental divide twice each direction, mostly on snaky two-lane mountain roads. We wore masks filling with gas and for bathrooms breaks, and never went in a store. The muscle inspection was minimal and we were on the water. We camped in an out-of-the-way canyon near the dam, near the kokanee fishing hot spot. The fish are small, about 14 inches and about 1.2 pounds. There seem to be a few billion of them.

    There is little kokanee fishing on the lake. A couple of boats most days, double that on weekends. It appears half the boaters are staying in the campground and came mostly for bass fishing. You don’t see a lot of downriggers. People ask us what we are doing. We help them as best we can and we give away fish for their dinner. It is a fun, reliable trip. The average high and low temps the first week of June are 81 and 49, nice camping weather. By the end of July average temps are 88 and 61, and the water is warm enough for swimming. In later summer the kokanee sort of school/get more dense and we had great fun jigging them up. Afternoons are typically breezy but by putting extra weight on the jig we could drift-jig. When people came up on us to see what was happening, we would bring them closer, hand them a rod, and watch their amazement when they reeled in a fish. As at other kokanee reservoirs, there seems to be an orange strain and a red strain. Navajo fish go red earlier than Blue Mesa fish. Years back snaggers cast out from the shore at the dam (where fish are stocked) but not today. We spoke with an Indian shore fishing near the dam and he told us he thought the snagged reds were too slimy and the meat too mushy. We offered him a couple of our salmon but he wasn’t interested. He had a 1.5 pound small mouth on a stringer. His family liked white flakey fish he said.

    Navajo Reservoir became a go-to trip in a summer where much travel was limited. Blue Mesa was dead for us, Powell’s opening remained uncertain and water was so low it was hard to launch anyway. Eventually the trips began to take a toll on the tires – several began to wear rapidly. On our one trip to Flaming Gorge that summer we had to use the spare and rotate tires to get home with only a little of the tire’s steel belt showing on arriving home. Scary. Frustrating.

    In the summer of 2021 mechanic and I finally discovered my Easy Loader trailer had a break where the axle subframe was connected to the main side frame of the trailer. The front axle wasn’t in alignment and the broken part couldn’t be fixed or replaced. Even worse, we found that the rods in the torsion axles were at risk of discounting from the hub. I spoke with Easy Loader – “No, we can’t help you get axles, we can’t get anything delivered. No axle subframes either. We might be able to sell you a replacement trailer in late 2022”. In fact, no on-line store or brick retail store knew when they might again be able to order anything. More Disaster. More pressure to keep cool. No Anger allowed. No Depression allowed. Don’t be stalled out, explore every possibility. The Christmas before Mary had spoken with the parts guy at the North River dealer in Eugene about replacement decals. She remembered him as helpful and we had tried everyone we could think of, so we called him up. They had a new parts guy. He was helpful too. He promised to call his sales rep at Dexter, who he thought would know what was possible and what was not. Next day, no dice. The Dexter woman told my Oregon parts guy that Dexter had few parts and wasn’t making much – couldn’t get materials. Covid. Sorry.

    I did something that still embarrasses me. I told my Oregon parts guy my story, and how we boat camped 50 – 60 days per year, how our bucket list was kokanee fishing and that we were stuck on the driveway. It seemed like begging, something I’d never done and didn’t like. I was ashamed. I still am. I had never begged for anything. He called the next day and told me the axles would be on my driveway in 2 days. It was a good day for fighting Anger and Depression. A huge win. It left a bitter taste in my mouth. If I have to do it again to stay on the road, I will. Don’t let ego kill your dreams.

    We put the boat in a slip at Blue Mesa and spent a week replacing the axles and remounting hubs, bearings, seals, brakes and such. We ended up bolting the axle subframe to the trailer frame. On each side, we clamped a long, straight 2x4 to the two tires, aligning the two axles on each side. If the distance between the 2x4s in front and in back is the same, the axles are aligned with each other. If the 2x4s are equal distance from the center line of the trailer, the axles are also aligned with the trailer. Straps pulled things square and aligned. Then lots of drilling and bolting in place. Seemed to mostly work but one tire still wears a little unevenly. I’ll rotate tires more frequently.

    A lot of people helped us stay on the road. I came to hold a deep appreciation for all the people who kept us on the road that summer. It ended with a fall trip to Powell. After our one trip to Flaming Gorge that summer we decided we wanted to go to Flaming Gorge in summer 2022. Fishing wasn’t hot for us at the Gorge in 2021 but we enjoyed camping on the dock at Lucerne Marina – the place just felt right and we wanted more.

    I also learned another mind hack, courtesy of Scott Adams again. Memories of unpleasant events pop into my brain. Think begging for axles. I flash on embarrassing moments. Times I felt humiliated. Times when I made stupid mistakes. That sort of thing. They drag me down. I could leave them no room in my brain by going fishing but Scott Adams persuaded me I could make them stop. The thinking goes like this. Those half-dozen or so bad memories that keep coming back are just bad wiring in your brain. The long-ago events clearly are no longer important. Many of the other people are dead. No harm was meant and little harm was done. It wasn’t very important then and it has no relevance today. No one but you thinks about this at all. It is just a bad electrical connection. Every time it sparks or is jarred loose for a moment, some irrelevant memory pops up. So reach in there and take the loose wires and twist them tightly together to stop the sparking. If the memory returns you can reach in there again and put an extra twist to the wires. Nowadays I carry a wire nut in my pocket. I am still a Boy Scout and I plan to Be Prepared with a wire nut for those tough wiring jobs. Haven’t needed it yet. Be Prepared.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    114

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    Easy Loader trailer repair

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    The photo above shows where my trailer breaks. You can see a couple of the bolts that attach the trailer frame to the axle subframes.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In the second photo you can see the broken flange just to the right of the two U bolts that were the original connectors for the back of the front subframe and the front of the rear subframe. Three of my 8 subframe flanges were broken. It lets one side of an axle move on rough terrain. Last summer we spent about 45 days fishing Flaming Gorge and I looked at a lot of Easy Loader trailers in parking lots. About a third had at least one broken flange. I pointed this out to several guys and I saw plenty of anger. A couple seemed to think I must have had something to do with it.

    If you have an Easy Loader trailer or know someone with one, check the subframe flanges. Look closely — I missed seeing these even when working on my trailer. Be safe.
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Gunnison, CO
    Posts
    114

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    Getting up to date.

    Last year, 2022, was the best since my diagnosis. My testosterone level remained near zero, meaning my cancer is not growing, and there were only a couple of health concerns. Fall, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, seems to bring troubles and right before Thanksgiving 14 months ago my left knee swelled up like a cow loose in the corn crib. My docs thought it was an infection even though all tests showed negative. Because both knees were replaced 8 years ago infection can be a serious issue. “Just to be safe” said my orthopedic surgeon at UCHealth, who specializes in oncology patients, and he decided to operate. If he found infection he planned to remove the two implants in the knee, put in a spacer block (no bending, no weight) for 10 weeks, and then put in a new prosthetic knee. I admit I was really scared. No infection was discovered but he replaced a couple of plastic pieces and cleaned up the steel parts. He put me on IV antibiotics for 6 weeks, “just to be safe.” All went well at first but I was slow to recover and after 3 weeks I was noticeably sick, with a 103 F temperature every day, reducing to 101 overnight. I was well out of my head due to the fever and in week 5 I ended up in the emergency room, where everyone scratched their heads. A couple of days later I had a regularly scheduled televisit with my Infectious Disease specialist at UCHealth and my hospital doc sat in. We told him about my problems and he said, “maybe you have drug fever.” My hospital doc looked at me and said, “drug fever?” Turns out in rare cases people can become allergic to IV antibiotics, so we did an experiment. At noon, the time Mary had been administering the antibiotics for 5 weeks, my antibiotics were administered and we watched my temperature. It rapidly rose to 103 F before we declared the experiment a success and brought it down with Tylenol. I stopped taking antibiotics and two later I came out of my drug fever haze and became human again. What a relief.

    Our first fishing trip was to Lake Powell in late May. We usually drive to Bullfrog, Utah midway on the lake but the ramps were closed due to low water so we drove to Page, Arizona to launch. We wanted to run to the headwaters of the San Juan River and with our 70 gallon tank filled and 20 gallons in jugs we headed out. It was a marvelous trip. After winter in Gunnison, traditionally one of the coldest towns in the lower 48, the sun warmed me like a fat cat purring in the porch. Fishing was quite slow but we had a great time. We were 60 miles from Bullfrog and 80 miles from Page, with not another boat to be seen. We saw wild burros, foxes and coyotes, river otters surrounded our boat trying to drive us away, and we saw a large rock slide across the bay. The stars from Lake Powell are the best we have every seen.

    Once we got home, Flaming Gorge was our next destination a week later. Early June is a little cold at FG for camping (average high of 70, low of 40) so we had reservations of the Vacation Inn in Manila, Utah, near the Lucerne Marina. Fishing was slow the first 4 days (2 – 6 fish per day) and even slower during the next 4 days, of course, when friends from Texas joined us. We spent about 45 days fishing FG during the summer and fishing was never hot until the last 3 days, in late August. We spoke with 2 fishing guides, both of whom said fishing was the slowest they had seen in 19 and 27 years. Crews of guys with North River boats and EZ Loader trailers pulled into the Vacation Inn from California and Oregon telling us they always caught 40 to 50 fish a day, sneering a little when we told them our catch rate. We smiled and showed them where their trailers were broken. A few days later they were crying in their beer and happy to take a few fish from us for dinner. So many large cooler, so few fish.

    We enjoyed FG every other week or so all summer. All the long-term kokanee fishermen said it was the worst fishing on record. The mackinaw fishermen thought it might be the best ever. I mentioned earlier in a post about “Do you share fishing info?” that at the very end of the summer an angel named Brad visited us and helped us get a handle on catching more and bigger fish. He suggested bigger dodgers (5 or 6 inches), smaller bits at the lure end, faster boat speed (1.7 instead of 1.3 mph), and gave us a secret sauce recipe. It was a world of difference but that advice was only part of the solution. He suggested fishing way north, just south of Buckboard. We had fished that 6 or 8 times during the summer without catching fish and without seeing the other few fishing boats catching. When we fished this area in late August there was a fleet of boats and several people, including us, were catching fish. I’m inclined to think it was a combination of the right lures, the right scent, the right speed, the right location and the right time of year Easy-peasy.

    Brad is really a mack fisherman most of the time and he showed dozens of photos with 30 plus pound macks. Mack fishing had been outstanding all summer he told us (as had many other people that summer) and when I asked him what accounted for this he showed me series of photos from 2 weeks earlier. First there was the smiling fisherman hold a 30 poundish mack. Then there was a photo of the fish (now obviously dead although he said he returned almost all macks) with a jig head and plastic bait. He said when he removed his jig he could see something down the fish’s gullet. He pulled out a second jig, then a third, then a fourth. He found either 11 or 13 in total. What is that about I asked? He thinks the macks are starving because they have eaten most of the kokanee.

    This a sad story that tends to repeat. I’ve been told the same happened at Granby Lake in northern Colorado 20 years ago, at some of the big northern Idaho lakes a few years later, and at Blue Mesa, our lake, 4 or 5 years ago. There are enough other variables that it is impossible to point with certainty at any explanation. Blue Mesa’s water level has always fluctuated a lot but in recent years this is offered up as an explanation for the kokanee collapse. The lake became infested with gill lice, which has to be a significant cause once you see gills covered with little white balls. At Flaming Gorge burbot were blamed, not without good cause I thought. I was less convinced that the water level at FG was to blame last summer, but what do I know? Very few people want to blame macks it seems and I don’t know enough to say yea or nae on any of the theories. I do know from reading academic research papers on Blue Mesa that the mack’s favorite food by far is salmon.

    Here is my explanation based on poor data, little knowledge about fisheries, and an irrational hatred for macks. We all know that kokes have a 4 year life span (depending on when one starts counting life). Stocking keeps koke populations fairly stable in the absence of other factors. As long as enough enough fish can be milked for eggs and milt for restocking, the population should stay relatively stable. I’ve read that macks live a long time, 30 or even 40 years. With a sufficient food supply (salmon) the mack population will keep growing year after year. Eventually the mack population overwhelms the salmon population, and the downward spiral begins. Macks can live a long time with insufficient food (it takes a long time to starve them out). The koke population is relatively stable given the koke’s life cycle while the mack population keeps growing and growing. Ugly dynamics. Everyone is welcome to comment on this, and just as for me, data and knowledge are not required.

    2022 ended as every fall has for the last five years, with me in medical trouble. I fell on the ice in Denver a week before Christmas, turning a previously damaged shoulder rotator cuff into an inoperable, unfixable rotator cuff. Last year I learned to cast for bass with a side-arm flick of my right wrist and it worked pretty well. Now I’m starting to learn how to cast left handed. Lake Powell owes me another 5 pound bass and I’ll be after them even if I have to swim after them with a knife in my teeth.

    This is the last post about my medical situations and I want to thank all readers and the moderators for indulging my need to write my story about the end of the road. When my doc recommended writing about my problems and how I dealt with them he pretended that it might help some other poor sod going through a similar experience. But I think we both knew I would be the primary beneficiary. I can be a lazy thinker, so I’m not sure what I feel until I have written about it, edited the story to get it right, and even had a little fun with it because life is fun. In fact, I think I am more positive and more at peace than I was before the diagnosis. We learn a lot facing adversity and I’m a better person today then I was before, strange as it sounds. While I benefit the most I hope that a few others going through hell can find a little comfort in my story and know that just like me you can pull through it all with a smile, especially with the help of a perfect partner and two close friends who were always willing to listen.

    Mary and I will be fishing Lake Powell and the beginning and end of summer, Flaming Gorge regularly and Navajo Reservoir occasionally. We’ll be camping on the docks and up the San Juan next summer and if you see a couple of 70 year olds laughing and having a good time, that will be us and I hope you’ll stop to say hello. Life is good on our boat and we hope on yours.

    Roger Hudson
    Gunnison, CO
    January 23, 2023

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