Monday, July 25, 2011


Here are the streaks that were recorded over the past 24 days:

No physical contact or even visual encounter with a computer: 12 days
No viewing of a lit pixel on a TV screen: 15 days (still going)
No consumption of a single milliliter of alcohol: 12 days
No fish touched: 13 days (ended last night)

In sum, the shutdown campaign was an interesting blur of emotions and experiences. The most intriguing was the open-endedness of it all: two days, two weeks, six months? Creepy feeling. We wandered all over the map; sometimes together, sometimes just me. Like the Indiana Jones plane flying from point to point. Some days found me drinking heavily on a beach. Other days busting my ass helping family members with various projects. And those folks – family and friends – were understanding and helpful: hosting us or me and offering appropriate slander of rookie politicians.

Regarding the fishing, I toted a 7 wt and a bare-bones selection of warmwater flies with me at all times. Just in case. Turns out over the ~23 day span there were only two fishing chapters of note:

(1) James and I hunted around my dad’s local lake for pike and bass. This was moderately successful. Poppers produced some decent LMB. Even caught a couple small pike on poppers which was cool. Key there was fishing at a creek mouth, casting into the cooler water. This lake is frustrating in that it looks so good re habitat for LMB, but every time a guy tries he only bumps a handful. Nice paddling though, and good to have an excited son along.
(2) For years and maybe even a solid decade we fished a certain lake up north with my dad: probing the thick pads with Moss Bosses. Four people in a 14 foot aluminum row boat, whizzing lures into the jungle. It would qualify as the water of our youth. We revisited this lake on July 9th, 2011. Fished from ~700-1300. Poppers managed approx four LMB of moderate size. Leech patterns took three northern pike, one of which we ate half of for dinner. Dad got the Moss Boss going again, and in dramatic fashion racked up the LMB in the last hour of fishing: maybe 4-5 fish of moderate size. Overall, the fishing wasn’t as good as it used to be and it never was (no typos in that sentence; it’s like a mobius band or an Escher painting). Really though, we didn’t catch any big LMB. Maybe in deeper water but we were too lazy to probe.

Regarding other adventure, I visited a new landscape with my brother and his sons: NW corner of North Dakota. I think a person becomes subconsciously aware of persistent surroundings – trees for example. You get used to seeing things both in your direct vision and your periphery. The land out there is not flat; it is indeed gently rolling. Relatively poor soil. Mostly wheat, hay and oil occupations. And not many trees. That gives it a sense of openness and vastness. Add to that the fact that the people live miles apart and they place just feels big and wide. Big Sky, etc. Pretty fascinating to tour really. We saw two moose. Quite a number of sharptails, pheasants, ducks. Some deer. Looked in on some of the old homesteads. Old wood and history in them. Took the Amtrak back home and that provided an appropriate viewing of the transition heading east. Very interesting and a much better education than one might acquire via air travel.

So ball that all up into an amalgamation of good people and places. Top it with an extended period of time with my brother and his kids (don’t get that opportunity very often). Cut it sour a bit with the fact that I was away from home for many weeks. And that’s the shut down. That’s a brief capsule re how it rolled out for me.

Northern MN Lake I

Northern MN Lake II

North Dakota


Blogger John Montana said...

Glad you are back home and home things are going well at work. Nice pics of your sojourn...I know that NW nd/ne MT area...much cooler country than people think.

And Amtrak flat out rocks.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Amtrak was good. Despite being 4+ hours late arriving at the station. Train travel was relaxing and easy. Affordable too.

Settling in now, back at home and work.

10:22 AM  
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Blogger amanda said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:31 PM  
Blogger amanda said...

In all open honesty, I regret that it took a state shutdown to enjoy an evening at our place, spend some quality time with Mitch & getting to know the boys.. but I appreciate it just the same.
They really enjoyed the time with you, all three of them. And even just the few days the younger kids & I were around - which I believe was maybe the first you've seen them in their own element, and the most we've seen you in years - it was good.
The situation was not all that unique to our family - Mitch working away from home, many miles, unknown return dates.. Yet it was very unique, in that it was spent with you, and also my first time joining him on the job. The two weeks that followed were good family time for us. The solitude -no screens, long days of labor, and simplicity.. here or there, it's basically our way of life. I'm glad you got an in-real-life glimpse & some understanding of how we live.
A unique summer, for sure. Thanks for your time & help. Glad you had a good welcome home (though sorry to hear about the grapes.)

Aside: I took many photos out there, kind of fell in love with the place & the history in the landscape. Hope to get some of those shared soon.

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