Packrafting

Like any new adventure that I do, I will begin with researching the complete activity before I embark on actually doing it. I've fished Lees Ferry extensively, above the put in for the Colorado River all the way up to the dam. I've camped upriver at 8.5 and 9 mile many times. The first adventure upriver was a two week stay at 8.5 mile camp. A hang gliding friend introduced me to fishing and camping here luring me with the word, "epic" of which ended up being true. 

The Colorado River is wild. It is powerful, strong and in short, it made the Grand Canyon. This river is on the scale of any river in the world with everything a fisherman could ever want in a fishing life.

Big fish and adventure.

But access to Marble Canyon is not easy. There are only a few options and all include expenses. First of all it is 4.5 hours by car from my home in Phoenix. The river is at the bottom of a huge canyon guarded by thousand foot cliffs of sandstone. The dam that holds the river back and makes it cold fluctuates the water by tens of thousands of cubic feet per second water flow. The logistics of fishing upriver are that you must have a boat and know the river channel and varying conditions, hire a guide or be able to have enough time and specialized equipment and skill to be able to climb down to the river safely. 

I have accessed the river in all fashions, my favorite is driving someone else boat upriver with the understanding that if I crash your boat, you will pay for it. I will do that in exchange for my river knowledge in showing you how to gain access upriver, how to catch the fish there, how to camp comfortably in all conditions. In addition, I'll rescue you if there is a problem.

I'm not dramatizing the upriver fishing there. It can be dangerous kill you. The water is 47 degrees year round. Although it is flat water, there are whirlpools and eddy fences that can overcome your ability to survive a cold water swim. I've survived fishing there by making nearly all the mistakes you can make in fishing Marble Canyon. I've crashed a boat high speed (many times) into a shallow bar in crystal clear water as no less than 5 guide boats where watching, breaking the silence of the canyon by the outdrive of the boat, grinding, shuttering, taking the fins off the prop. Many miles upriver. I've been knocked out of the boat into the rushing water by hitting a submerged, trailer sized rock, swept off a downstream spit of a shallow bar for a swim, but I survived and learned.

Marble Canyon is a place filled with dreams of adventure and in short, I'm headed back and this time, in a much more silent, solo method.

Packrafting

I am researching pack rafting and have settled on a Alpacka Pack Raft. For my friends that do not have a packraft and want to do it but do not want to commit to a purchase, you can rent one HERE. You can reserve one and have them ship it to you.

It is affordable and for me, pack rafting embraces the "tenkara philosophy" that I am looking for in life, simplicity. 

I have two friends that I am prepping for this next step adventure. I do not expect that they will follow my dream but I will show them that it is possible to do what I am going to do without purchasing the specialized equipment, they can rent it.

Here is the plan. 

Simply put, we drive to Lees Ferry, have the large powered tourist inflatables take us upriver, dump us off and we camp/fish and when we are ready, float back down to our car.

Really it is that simple.

The two videos below show Marble Canyon from the tourist boats. Pay attention to the epic scenery and the river conditions. This section of the river is what will be floating down. The water is flat but it is super cold. There are whirlpools to contend with and the weather. The weather conditions can whip up standing waves because of the venturi effect of the thousand foot cliffs. I've seen them first hand and have navigated these waves. 

But these are dangers that can be avoided.

The float down the canyon is simple and safe without any danger if one is prepared and we will be prepared by a slow and methodical approach towards safety.

Experience and respect will prevail and we will be successful.





Packraft Links



Hiking River Access Upstream from Lees Ferry.



The following pictures are from many years ago when I was fly fishing and camping in Marble Canyon.













Oak Creek 8/27/17









Genryu Fishing of Japan #36




Iwaimata-zawa

Iwaimata-zawa, which is flowing through the Asahi mountains, is a major tributary of the Miomote river. Its middle area is one of the most famous and the hardest genryu in Japan with gorge bands as if it continues indefinitely. This summer, I and my friends went on a genryu trip aiming for the most upper section of the stream, which can also be said to be the heaven of Tenkara fishing, by breaking through the core gorge part of this Iwaimata-zawa.

We were a group of 5 people on this trip. Members were my usual partner Tsurumi-san, Takano-san and Fukuda-san from the well-known genryu fishing club "Tanidoraku", Yagi-san from Shizuoka, and me. As we would challenge a very famous tough genryu Iwaimata-zawa, the members gathered were people with experience and strength.

Destination, Iwaimata-zawa flows through the center of the Asahi Mountains spreading over Niigata Prefecture and Yamagata Prefecture. I joined with Tsurumi-san on the way and went to Iwaimata-zawa via Yamagata prefecture. We crossed the pass at the forest road of dart and aimed at the climbing mouth of Asahi Mountains which is car stoppage of this trip. The other three guys joined near Tokyo and came from Niigata prefecture side. This time it was a fishing trip using a three days holidays including national holiday “Marine day”, so we left our homes earlier if there might be other parties at the car parking, but there was no precedent in the parking lot. We had a toast with beer.

The weather forecast for 3 days was cloudy and sometimes rain. It was inevitable because the rainy season had not yet ended. However, in the sky at 1 AM there was a fair number of stars twinkling. After a small hour, three guys from Tokyo arrived safely. Tsurumi-san met with Fukuda-san and Yagi-san for the first time, so I briefly introduced them and drank beer again.

We drunk and talked for about an hour and took a short sleep in the cars. Two cars came over when a day got lighter, but as soon as they saw our cars, they drove away. Perhaps they were 1day fishers. We woke up and checked the packing. After taking quick breakfast we stepped onto the mountain path along the Miomote River. Takano-san had been to Iwaimata-zawa twice. He said it was about 10 years ago and did not remember the route well, but we were encouraged to have him.


In the beautiful beech forest, we walked the mountain path along the Miomote River for about an hour and arrived at the crossing point of Miomote River to Iwaimata-zawa. We had one job there. I decided to stretch 40 meter climbing rope across the river to prepare for water increase of the river due to heavy rain. The width of the river was about 15 m, and if it is not a too big rise of water, we can cross the river with this 40m climbing rope. There was the experience I had been saved by climbing rope to cross the river which had been increased water due to heavy rain. Besides Miomote River is such a big mountain stream. All members agreed with me and brought some 8mm climbing ropes.

After setting up the climbing rope, we crossed Miomote River. That strong flow had the depth of our chest. We climbed the steep slope of the opposite shore about 20 m. The footprints were almost disappeared and we got held the shrubs and managed to climb the steep slope somehow. When we climbed over the slope, a rich beech forest was spreading in a gently sloping terrace. We walked to upstream along the Iwaimata-zawa looking the old "Natame(Cut mark by hatchet)" attached to large beech trees as a route sign.


Natame" is the wisdom of old mountain people. They engraved a mark on a huge beech tree with a hatchet and used it as a signpost for such as zenmai paths in the mountains. They engraved simple marks to show the right route or sometimes person's names, recordss, simple route guides etc. Even in places where the foot path has disappeared, it can be possible to trace the right route somehow by this "natame".

We walk through the terrace for about 30 minutes and descend to Iwaimata-zawa once because there was deep valley of the tributary, but then we did not know where we could go up to the opposite terraces again. There must have been the footprints but it was completely disappeared. We lost 20 minutes to find out the route. Cross the Iwaimata-zawa under F1(Water fall No.1) and climbed very steep slope to the forest of the opposite shore. From there it was almost no foot paths. We searched for slopes that we could somehow walk and progressed looking for occasional "Natame". Originally, we planned to go to the temba(camp site) right under F3(Water fall No.3), but our physical strength have been exhausted rapidly and time has passed. After all, we went down from the forest to the stream under F2 and decided to set up a temba there in a small river beach.

Temba was not a very safe location if water increases with hard rain. The place was about 1.5 meters from the stream, but we had no chance to find out better place. Just in case, we found an escape place on the back slope. Fortunately, the weather became very fine, under the refreshing blue sky of the summer, we cooled down the hot bodies in the pleasant flow of Iwaimata-zawa.

We had lunch on the beach of the stream and set the tarp there and made the temba. I took a nap on the shore under in the shed. Other guys started fishing immediately near the temba. Fishing seemed quite good. Everyone caught good sized iwana right away. Takano-san and Yagi-san kept 3 or 4 iwana for the night. Right upstream of the tembla was the gorges that we can’t go through and the end of the gorge was Iwaimata-zawa's largest 8 m waterfall F 2.

By the evening, everyone gathered firewood and made a bonfire. We had a toast with beer and started cooking with drinking. I cooked grilled meat. Then Yagi-san made a grilled wonton with the Iwana meat. This was really good. The main dish was Tsurumi-san’s udon with pork miso soup. We were totally getting full. We went under the tarp and got into the sleeping bag one after another. I fell in asleep praying for the good weather for the next day.

I slept well and woke up at 6:30 in the next morning. Yagi-san and Tsurumi-san were already awake and making a bonfire. Unfortunately, the weather was cloudy with occasional light rain. The sky looked it would rain soon.


We finished quick breakfast and left the temba before 8 o'clock. We climbed over F2 and got off to the stream immediately. We prepared for fishing and started fishing. I walked a little downstream and fished in a big pool under a low but wide waterfall of about 1m. A good sized over 30cm Iwana bit my kebari at the 3rd cast. I enjoyed nice fight. After that, I fished 25cm iwana a little downstream of the same flow. I truly admired Iwaimata-zawa that I could catch this good sized iwana from the beginning.


After that we fished one by one and waded upstream, but the reaction of the fish gradually worsened for some reason. Both valleys and waters looked wonderful, and also there were no signs of people entered there for a long time, it was really strange feeling. By around 10 o'clock we reached the flat free stone area under F 3. It was one of wonderful sections of Iwaimata-zawa. Everywhere looked best fishing point, but for some reason we can’t catch good iwana at all. Sometimes we could only catch small 24 cm iwana only. At 11 o'clock, it began to rain in earnest. We took shelter from the rain under the trees, and we had lunch and watched the situation, but there was no sign of rain stopping. Weather was getting worse and fishing was not good. We thought that something was very strange on that day because of iwana’s reaction. So, we decided to go back to the temba.

We arrived at the temba before 14:00. Firstly, we arranged the baggage to escape from the temba at any time because we thought the rain was getting harder.


We decided to withdraw temba if the water level of the stream rise to the top of one rock on the opposite riverside, and we were seeing the situation. The water level was calming for a while, but rain repeatedly got stronger and weaker, and there was no sign to stop. In about an hour, I noticed the water became very turbid. "It might be very quick when the water starts increasing." We were talking about such a thing, then, suddenly, water level rose sharply by about 1 m. "We have to withdraw temba now." I said. So that everyone rushed to collect things around us. When we carried our backpacks to the high place of the slope. Then the next wave came. That time it brought water to the temp level. The water level rose by 1.5 m in only 3 minutes.


Takano-san and tsurumi-san climbed on the slope and carried the backpacks and other staff to the higher place. Yagi-san and Fukuda-san were collecting the tarp in the water. 10 minutes later, we were watching the swollen stream from the slope. Water level was then probably more than 2 m higher than usual. We talked it was just like a flash flood. I thought that perhaps the increased water flow was compressed by Gorges under the waterfall and it was spirited out downstream of it.

It was still 3:15pm when I saw the watch. There was no reason for being on the uncomfortable slope. We turned back the way to make a temba in a safe and flat place in the forest. At 5 o'clock we found a place where five people could lie down. We set a tarp and made a temba right away. It was never a comfortable place, but we had foods, water, mosquito-coiles and beer. Above all, the place was 20 meters higher than the stream a safe place. When the forest darkened, we began preparing dinner. Although it is a narrow tempba, food was abundant and we had beer to celebrate everyone's safety. We talked about today's happenings eating the dinner.

We talked about many things. If we carried on fishing more, or if we did not mind the rain, we were supposed to have been in real danger. Or we should have withdrawn the temba as soon as we got there. However, more than anything, we talked that Iwana’s reaction of the day was real abnormal situation. Perhaps Iwana were supposed to have evacuated in the safe deep places or under the big rocks, as they predicted that great rise of water of the stream. That made us gave up fishing and went back to the temba, and we could escape from the danger. We might have been saved by Iwana. Really nature can’t be revealed, but I thought if we have the antenna of our sense against the nature carefully, we can be able to sense the sign of nature.

Contrary to our wishes, the rain did not stop even at night. If water increase continues, we can’t go home tomorrow because we can’t cross the stream. I prayed for the rain to stop by mid night and fell into a shallow sleep. The next morning, I woke up at daybreak. When Yagi-san went to see the stream, and he said that the water was considerably decreased. Rain had almost stopped, and the clouds were getting thinner. We cooked breakfast with steamed rice which we made last night. We also made side dishes and ate firmly. We left the temba at 7:30. By then we could see the bottom stones in the shallow of the stream. "I think we can go home today" I said to encourage everyone. Actually, if we can cross Iwaimata-zawa under F1, I thought we can go home. As long as the remaining climbing rope across the Miomote River is alive, we can cross Miomote River. I thought the rope was probably okay now, but it might be raining hard again. We hurried ahead.

As we returned the route a lot yesterday, we could arrive at the crossing point of Iwaimata-zawa under F1 in about an hour. The shallow part of the stream was about our chest to the waist. Moreover, it was not such a strong flow. "I can go." so I held the climbing rope to secure me and went to the other side of the stream safely. And everybody crossed the stream one by one safely. After that, we walked in the calm forest for about an hour and finally arrived at the crossing point of the mainstream Miomote River. "Wow, there are lots of water. I can’t cross." Someone said. The other two guys had uneasy faces, but when I saw the river, it was much deeper than 2 days ago but it was not such a torrent. Moreover, the landing point of the opposite side of the river was the depth of the upper knee. The remaining climbing rope set on the river was firmly alive. "Okay, this is not problem at all. We can make it." I said so, and I lectured how to cross the river with “Furiko Watashi method”.


"Furiko Watashi method” is to jump into the river grabbing a rope with the fulcrum of the opposite shore as its peak, you are flowed as it is and arrives at the downstream of the fulcrum of the opposite riverside. 40m rope is long enough if you keep the end part of the rope, you can pull over the rope stretch it again and cross the river one by one in the same way. "Just look at what I do" I said and then jumped into the river for the first time. It was nice feeling to be flown by the river and I was shouting "Yahoo". Five seconds later I safely landed on the riverside of the opposite side. It seemed that everyone was relieved looking at that. Fukuda-san, Yagi-san, Takano-san and Tsurumi-san all crossed the three main-stream without any problem. In the end, we all did high touch with full of smiles.

Well really, it was quite a difficult two days, but on the other hand it was the best fishing trip with great colleagues. None of the members made any complaints or negative remarks to the anxiety that we might not be able to return on the scheduled day, evacuation from the flash flood or even to the emergency camping in the forest. Everyone was coping with any difficult situation with a smile and humor. Although I could not go to the core part of Iwaimata-zawa, I would like to try next year again. By the time we went down the climbing path along the Miomote River, mid-summer sunlight began to fall on the valley of Miomote river.

Tenkara USA Summit 2017 Packing List

It's about time I detail what I'm brining to the Tenkara USA Summit 2017. I do this every time I take a big trip somewhere. This one is easy. It's a short flight and only 4 total days and three nights. I travelled to Japan with a back up bag, the Transporter 40 from Osprey. It's like a duffle bag with shoulder straps. Compact, it will stuff easily overhead or under the front seat in an airplane. Traveling with a single carry on bag is quite liberating. It's truly the way to travel.

Osprey Transporter 40

I don't use a dedicated camera so I use my iPhone 7. I take notes with it and it's just a great little computer.

Iphone 7

For a little more computing power, I use my MacBook. I'll push my presentation out of it. It's so small and compact, it take up very little space.

MacBook

I'll be staying in a home in Estes Park but I'll still carry on a quilt and pillow, it's just so small and compact, and more importantly, warm.

Aeros Pillow
Revelation Quilt

My fishing gear is already quite compact so that's no big deal. I use the same thing everywhere, that list changes very little.

Ito - Sato - Rhodo
Micro Pack - Strap Pack
Pocket Net
Mont Bell wading boots
Simms Neoprene Socks
REI Liner Socks
Caravan Spats
Mont Bell UL wading/hiking pole
Ultra-Sil Travel Back Pack

Clothes are simple. No cotton, all performance cloths that perform if wet and well, they wear well for more than just a day. I tend to use clothes that do double duty. All of the list do that.

Prana Stretch Zion Pant
Adidas track pants
Columbia Shirt
MontBell shirt
Patagonia Capelene shirt
Socks x 3
Houdini Jacket
Torrentshell Jacket
Nano Puff Vest

Just a quick list. People seem to like this sort of thing so here is mine. All of this will fit inside of the Transporter 40. My rods will be in a hardshell zip case. My two other traveling companions who are taking the same day flights may stuff their rods in my case to keep things easy. Now that I've written this, I'll probably stuff a Pocket Mini V3 inside the Transporter carry on, just in case I am separated from my rods. They are so small, there is no excuse to not have one, just in case...




Oak Creek 8/13/17



It usually starts with a phone call or a text, we don't decide too much, just who is going and what time. This trip started like any other except maybe not exactly true, we were stoked up on fishing Oak Creek 2 weeks ago, we killed it, pegged the fun meter, we wanted to do it again.

Jim and I work hard, we have jobs where we take care of people but in different ways. We care and at the same time, we are very sarcastic towards each other, cursing, lying, it's all done to see who is going to do the best at coming up with the most ridiculous thing to say.

It's just another way we have fun.

Sarcasm, lying and making fun of each other.

We are compatible this way.

So I set the alarm as I always do, wake up, go to the bathroom and do all that, pull on my pants, grab my stuff, this time, I didn't pack the night before, that's ok, I can get ready quick. Grab a bag, a rod, this time I chose the Sato and that was a mistake (Oak Creek is Ito water) but it still worked out. Pick up my boots, neoprene and liner socks and my new net. Done, throw it in the back of my Nissan Cube.

I'm excited, I want to use my new net and get some pictures.

I also brought along my fly tying kit, I didn't have the new bead head kebari I designed, figured I would tye it up on the drive.

Press the button to start the car, back out, plug in the phone and select some music, this time, Benjamin Clementine, such a beautiful voice, check him out.

And I drive the 2 minutes to meet Jim at his house.

"Hey, good morning."

"Yeah, good morning."

I open the back of the Cube and get ready to grab my stuff. Jim already has his bag in hand and is walking to my car looking like he is going to put it in the back. 

"You want me to drive?"

I'm thinking to myself, if he wanted to drive... Nevermind, he will be reading this.


"Put your crap in the car, I'll drive"


"Ok"

And the next thing, we are driving North in the gentle rain of the monsoon.

"This is going to be a good trip you know, starting off raining."

"Yeah, it's going to clear up when we get there. That's what Accu Weather says, it was only 10 minutes off last time."

"I know"

We get to be kids again when we are together. Two old men, new friends, we spend lots of hours together behind the wheel and now on the stream. We have families, our kids play together, our wives are friends, it's all good and the two of us together?

We like to drink a little.

Why not? We are professionals, steady jobs, we grind it out, taking care of all the things we do.

But some of you don't drink so we won't go there, never mind that stuff, you wouldn't understand it.

Each of us is like a needle, a pin and we are looking to pop the balloon that is our ego. I like to take the pin and poke at his, he does the same. Girls will not understand it, it's what men do, sarcastic old men, they make movies about this stuff, again, never mind.

The drive goes quickly, through the crystal town of Sedona, no chocolate milk stream this time. The creek is high but nothing to worry about.

Each of us is cripple in some way, Jim's back, my ankle, we hobble and sway down the wire rock boxes that control the erosion and drop into the school yard. 

And we are kids again.

It's a formula for me, except this time, I've added in a friend or two. For so many years I've fished alone. I've tried to invite others, too different, schedules different, not enough in common to do the hours behind the glass.

I have two old and new friends that I've shown tenkara and they now know my madness. It's like a virus, can't get rid of it. Only hanging out with each other will help alleviate the symptoms.

So we did it again this morning and it was good.

Less than twelve hours ago.

We were dreaming.

Now it is a memory.

...and we will do it again.


























Oak Creek 7/30/17


It can be tough fishing this time of year. It's summer and the monsoon season is upon us. The storms and summer rain in the mountains of Arizona create lots of muddy run off and lighting, tough fishing conditions at times. Lots of moisture from the interior of Mexico blows up into the desert southwest and this moisture turns into summer storms that can be violent.

Cloud tops build to 30,000' and beyond, massive walls of dust blow out from the mega scale downdrafts while rain follows behind. In the mountains, the storms unleash their downpours and fill the streams, flash flooding, dirty water, humid, sticky and sometimes dangerous. Recently, we had a family of 10 people die in a popular fishing and swimming hole from violent monsoon flash floods. I do not take this time of year lightly but we know the conditions, what each watershed can handle and we are careful.

Earlier in the week, I spoke with my friend Jim, asking him if he wanted me to introduce him to Oak Creek. He is a long time fly fisherman but relatively new to tenkara. I helped him get quivered up with rods from Tenkara USA (Iwana, Ito, Sato and Rhodo) and have brought him fishing a few times starting at the #untenkara fishing last winter in the ponds in town and on to the local streams around the Mogollon Rim, a hundred miles or so in the mountains near Payson.  Jim has heard about Oak Creek from John and I, our adventures up there and before we knew it, we decided to leave at 4a this Sunday to give it a shot.

For the last week, the monsoon storms have been moving around, doing their dance all over our state bringing flash floods, blowing dust and generally making a mess of things. The storms cool our temps down from the 110's to the 90's but the humidity goes up making it a different type of heat.

Wait wait, let me get back to the fishing...

The alarm goes off at 3:30a and I grab my pre-packed milk crate box of things tenkara. My Montbell boots, liner socks, neoprene socks, Sato and Ito and my Tenkara USA strap pack, easy, minimal and done, all I need. Sticking this in the back of my Cube, I'm off to pick up Jim less than 5 minutes away. I've taught him well, he only has a Patagonia Atom pack, a cheap net (need to get Jim into a tamo from Tenkara USA) and his Sato and Ito, we make a pit stop at McDonalds for coffee and a sausage McMuffin (with cheese) and we are off for the 90 min drive to Sedona and up Oak Creek Canyon to the spot where I take all my friends that I am orienting to this stream.

The whole way up we are running through misting rain, the forecast said it wasn't supposed to rain hard if it did and if it did, it was going to stop at 7a. Driving in Sedona, Oak Creek had a chocolate milk color which essentially means death to a chance at good catching but we continued on. We arrived up the canyon to my spot in light rain, damn it. I got out of the car, looked at the water and it was not brown but slightly off color, our first bit of good news, yes, let's go ahead and see what happens. Sitting there, we both did not grab our rain jackets and we decided to wait it out.

We decided to drive up the canyon and if the rain let up or stopped, we would stop and fish on the way back. The rain stopped, we turned around and drove back to our spot.


It's a simple beat starting with a corner pool, moving upstreams there is a typical run, rock and boulder border, pool, riffle, pool, same thing over and over. Like the two old men we are, we hobbled and grabbed the wire of the gabbions that form the side of the road that leans into the stream. At the bottom, I told Jim I wanted to take him to the pool first where he could stretch out his line.

We quickly rigged and in a couple of casts, I could feel a fish take my fly and wham, fish on.



I released this one, coached Jim a little and caught another and another and then Jim was into fish. I grabbed my phone, took the picture and I knew we where going to have a good day.


I had been thinking about using this one single pattern of fly that I had developed a few weeks before as I sat on the back porch of the beach cottage that we had rented. It was a nice Japanese bait hook that required the addition of a loop for an eye. I tied the kebari with a tungsten bead in at a certain point so that the hook point would ride up. I have been practicing my deep water fishing with bead head flys and had been hanging up with conventionally placed beads and wanted to try my own "wrong kebari" with a tungsten bead positioned to provide a "weedless" fly capable of deep water presentation.


I can cast this fly and feel it on the bottom as it rides up and over rocks, not catching up. I can also "swim" it through the different levels with pulsing or smooth pulling, movement or just about any way that I want, it is a versatile fly based on a proven "one fly" pattern that I have been working on. the tungsten bead position in just the right place to provide a point up ride.


In short, it worked and worked so much better than I thought.

When rigging, I used 5x instead of my usual 6x and I'm glad that I did because as I worked the stream, I was catching larger fish that I usually do and more of them. I also caught a few brown trout which are naturally reproducing vs. the stocked rainbow trout.


At one point we had a double, Jim releasing a nice fish while I was doing the same. The water being slightly off color allowed us to get closer to the fish without them seeing us. We worked our way upstream catching fish the whole way. Oak Creek does not give up this sort of day very often but we were there to meet it.


We fished upstream a couple of hundred yards and finally stopped, this was just a few hours fishing day and we had caught enough fish to know we had fell into quite a good day. We checked the clock and we had only been fishing for an hour and a half. Looking at the temperature, it was 65 degrees, at home it was a hundred.


Driving back down the canyon, both of us exchanging photo's of each other. Down to Nick's bar to have breakfast and coffee, drive the 90 minutes home and waiting for my wife to get home, I scratch out these few paragraphs and done.

John, when you read this, know that you were there with us. You needed to be with Kenta and Jim needed some one on one orientation to Oak Creek which he got and now he is on his own there. We missed you my friend, you were there with us in spirit.