Nov 1, 2012

Rain


Hurricane Sandy got me thinking about the last time I experienced the might of Mother Nature. I was just back from Alaska and was determined to move to the Oregon Coast for the winter. I know that to some, that doesn’t sound like the best idea; after all, it’s wet and dark for the most part but for steelhead anglers, it makes good clean sense. Not only is the Oregon Coast littered with rivers through canyons and lush forests, it is also home to some of the last remaining stocks of native steelhead in our country. Furthermore, to witness the oceanic fury bestowed upon the coast in the winter is an experience to savor.

I arrived on the North Coast in November with my dog, Dell and we started to look for a job and a place to live. But it couldn’t be just any job… I had one strict rule. No, it wasn’t about building a career or something responsible like that. I was game for any job, as long as it happened at night, so that I could spend daylight hours in the river. Washing dishes, night manager, janitor, whatever- it didn’t matter. When I opened up the classifieds on day one, it started to rain.

On my way to Oregon, I had stopped to visit a guide buddy out in Forks, Washington. He had been guiding a long time and he had built a great reputation as a go-to steelhead guy on the Olympic Peninsula. He lived in a beautiful log home that he stacked and notched with his own hands and surrounding his home were trunks of towering old growth firs and cedars. It was like a different planet – this green, wet world – and the damp air in the lungs and just being surrounded by so much life was invigorating. I was surprised to hear that he and his wife were contemplating moving. Sounded like she had had enough of the wet and wanted to move up to Sequim. How bad could it be? I wondered.

Change was something I was after as well. If the Oregon Coast looked anything like this place, I was definitely on the right track. And it was similar as it turned out. The rivers were shaped a little differently, but all the green and the crashing surf on rock and log laden beaches seemed familiar. The first few drops spreading out on my windshield ignited dreams of rivers filling with steelhead and me there fishing, under Gore-Tex and mossy limbs.

The rain - the very thing that made this place such a fairy tale – it came down hard the first few days we were there, living in my red Isuzu Rodeo. After that, it came down harder and it did not relent. It was the kind of rain that soaked in seconds. The kind of rain that infiltrates with a single drop. That’s what it was, so we mostly just hung out in the damp confines of the Rodeo drawing fish shapes on the foggy glass. A few reprieves here and there at the cafĂ© or gas station quick stop to read the classifieds and pinup boards, but drying off inside did little to offset the wetness you achieved while running for the entrance. It was best just to stay in the cocoon while it fell. But it fell for weeks?

I knew that it wasn’t your average rain when the locals started talking about it. Even if they said things like, Don’t think the hard stuff’s gonna fall for some time yet. Then one day I saw a single wide trailer bobbing down the Wilson River. Then Main Street was under water. Dell and I figured we would head north for lack of any other plan but before long we got pinned between floodwaters and that was that. Besides water and mud, the only thing that was going anywhere was the time. But slowly - laying down in the back of the sweaty rig with a book and a box of Cheezits and then simply admiring the ceiling when the head started to ache from too much reading – time seemed to creep. If not for the dark of night, I might have thought it hadn’t moved at all. Nothing seemed to change telling me so. Just long moments of drops losing their character…

It had turned into a perfect example of reality not matching your visions. Hope was necessary. Hope that the heavens would find a new target. But it didn’t. What did I want - to have my cake and eat it? Had I only wanted to only enjoy the gifts of rain? When the road finally opened we blew out of there. Thinking back, it was a rash decision but it was a gut decision - made amidst the heaviest, most perpetual rain that I have ever known.

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