I Am Rooster Hear Me Crow

This year we brought something a little different along on our All Girls Fishing Trip: husbands. Our recurring Chick Trip has become the not-to-be-missed event on my calendar, I love this group so much. You may recall our inaugural journey out to Montana in 2009…replete with plenty of fishing and plenty of cooking and plenty of fun. There was a sophomore trip the following year (I actually did miss this one due to the TX Water Safari.) And then in 2011 we ventured to Mouth of Wilson, Virginia. In the spirit of keeping things fresh, this year we returned to Montana over Labor Day but spiced things up by inviting our respective roosters along.

There were two couples from Fairhope Alabama, two couples from Mobile Alabama, and the Professor and I as the tiebreaker representing Austin-Mobile. I guess you could say Hurricane Isaac hit the Gulf, but the Gulf took the 406 by storm.

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It was quite natural having the guys in the mix. I believe Margaret Mead would have observed only one mere difference and that is the male’s innate desire to turn everything into a competition. We were barely into the appetizers on the first night when the guys had drawn teams and come up with the idea of having a decathlon throughout the trip. Anything and everything was susceptible to becoming a sporting event. Casting a flyrod, shooting pool, morning relay runs on the ranch road three times before the cock crows. Even the blessing before dinner was analyzed and lauded, seemingly earning decathlon points for one team over the other. Although the next night’s prayer inspired cheers and the wave (the first time I’d ever seen a crowd do the wave for a prayer) so I think it pretty well evened things out.

As you can see we pulled together a fun crew with personality to spare. And a topnotch agenda for the weekend…

Spring Into Action

We launched the trip fishing McCoy Spring Creeks, right on the ranch where we were staying. It is such a divine luxury to be able to fish this spectacular water, particularly just a crowhop, skip and a jump from the back deck where we would be convening for cocktail hour. Our friend Ace was new to flyfishing so I spent a little time with him, offering my peace meal version of a casting lesson. Then the Professor, who didn’t come by that moniker on accident, took over and really armed him with some knowledge. Talk about an A+ student! In the blink of an eye ole Ace was on his own catching this beauty on a dry fly.

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And the FF Chick whom we will henceforth refer to with the nickname “Bird” also caught her first fish on the creeks that afternoon! It was a great day all around. I had some special time fishing with our hostess (who is a very accomplished flyfisher) and streamkeeper/all-around-guru Steve. We hooked, jumped, caught a few big trout that delighted us to no end. My favorite was a particularly piggish rainbow caught on a teeny size 22 parachute adams.

I told you we were having fun. But it was just the beginning.

Even Lewis and Clark Had To Go Their Separate Ways At Times

Saturday was our day to do a float trip but we ran into a few logistical barriers with five boats, low water on the Big Hole, and weekend restrictions on the Beaverhead. We only had so many rafts for low water. But we could only launch so many commercial and non-resident boats on the Beav. The brain trust conferred (plus I inserted my own nosy opinion here and there) until we came up with a plan. Two rafts went over to the Big Hole, and three boats went to the Beaverhead. We would reconvene at the ranch at the end of the day in time to watch the Alabama-Michigan game and share fishing stories.

The Big Hole crew reported excellent fishing and fine weather, despite some headwinds that frustrated anglers and rowers alike. It happens.

The Professor and I were on the Beaverhead detail. From a dry fly perspective it was a bit slow but the two other boats had more success on nymphs.

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I am temporarily out of sync below with my hat simply because my Tarheels were playing that morning when we started the float. We won 62-0 so clearly the hat has powers. For the record, it’s fishy too. I caught my first fish on a trico in this UNC hat eons ago. But I digress…back to our day of fishing.

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My highlight was catching a 12-13 inch brown on a crane fly, my first eat on the famed Beaverhead crane fly hatch. I was too lazy to get the camera out at the time, so I snapped this later for the memory banks when fishing got sloooow.

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The weather turned foul on the Beaverhead after lunch with thunder and a spot of hail so we rowed off a bit faster than expected. Even still, it was an unforgettable day on the water with great friends.

Orange You Glad I’m Not Dick Cheney

No joke, when the opportunity to go bird hunting knock-knocked, these roosters strutted out the door faster than you can say ‘Hunter Gatherer’. I have to say they looked very handsome festooned in their hunting attire and safety orange as they fanned out across the fields, flushing up birds.

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We welcomed our men back to the hearth with open arms…and leftover lasagna that we zapped in the microwave. It was a sunny day lunching on the back deck with good conversation floating in the air and a mountain range propped just over your shoulder. Pretty dreamy, really. The perfect repose before it was time to get changed and head over to Dillon. The rodeo was calling our name.

The Tenderfoot Stampede

All the oysters in the Gulf couldn’t produce as many pearls as we collectively had snapped on our western shirts when we rolled into the Dillon rodeo last Sunday. I had a little lid envy since I forgot my cowboy hat, but hopefuly I didn’t bring down the group too badly with a cap. I think if the judges were doling out points based on cowboy threads, southern charm, and a responsible layer of SPF, we would have been “in the money” as they say on the rodeo circuit.

Now I’m sure you thought I used up all my fancy rodeo lingo in my recent post on the Ennis Rodeo but not so my friend. I have some new terms to hit you with. Like a Re-Ride. That’s when a cowboy draws a lackluster bronc or bull that doesn’t really jump or twist so the rider is allowed another shot. I think we can all agree the term re-ride, probably more than any other rodeo phrase, has relatable real life applications.

Another one that I love is Union Bull. That’s a bull that bucks and jumps and twists for exactly eight seconds and then quits right when the buzzer goes off. Again, some real life metaphors come to mind…middle schoolers doing chores…just spitballing here.

We only saw two re-rides and no union bulls. It was a pretty exciting rodeo with many of the riders ranked top ten in the country.

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Frankly, This Was Even Better than Rydell High

Life is full of disappointment. Never has that lesson been so poignant as when I showed up to my elementary school carnival in 1982 only to discover it was nothing like the Rydell High carnival in the movie ‘Grease’. What consolation could be offered? Grease is the word but a close second would have to be the county fair after the Dillon Rodeo. We had a ball. I won’t name names but one member of our party was scanning the faces of local Dillon residents half-expecting they would morph into Pink Ladies and T-Birds and break into song. While we waited for that to happen, a consensus decision led us to ride the ferris wheel where the highlight was seeing an osprey fly into its nest with a massive fish in its talons.

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Needless to say the carnival was a ripe location to resurrect the decathlon theme. It seemed the Professor and the Irish Cowboy were the most committed to keeping the spirit of competition alive. They battled it out at the ring toss, the darts, some pingpong-in-a-jar game and shooting hoops.

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In the end, everyone was a winner. Especially the carnies who made a lot of ticket sales off these two.

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Carnival booty in tow, it was time for a drink at the Hotel Metlen bar…

It’s Not That I’m Old, Your Music Really Does Suck

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Until Little Chick is off at college and we go visit for a football game and a parents weekend and it is utterly unavoidable, I would like to exercise my crotchety, middle-aged right not to have to be around young people who are excessively drunk. The bar at the Hotel Metlen was a bit of a scene just after the rodeo. We had one drink and some good laughs but I think I will have to try it again when it’s not Dillon’s equivalent of Mardi Gras. Still, it’s a cool spot.

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All We Are Is Dust In The Wind

Still covered in rodeo and fairground dust – not to mention some unmentionable film from the bar at the Hotel Met – we raced the waning daylight back to the ranch in order to have our last dinner al fresca down at Kansas Lake. Like a pit crew, or a friendly swarm of constructive locusts, we buzzed around and pulled together a feast of steak, sweet potato fries, spinach salad and fresh bread…just before the sun set fantastically and the moon rose with equal drama. It was a pretty magical night, I must say. I will have to remember next time I am around a campfire with this lot to tape my midsection like the rodeo cowboys do because I nearly broke a few ribs laughing as hard as I did.

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And in the blink of an eye we had to march back up the Yellowbrick road, and we weren’t at Kansas Lake anymore, Toto. The trip came to an end and we had to leave Oz behind for reality. I think I speak for all the chicks when I say our social experiment of including the roosters was a redhot smashing success. Both down the aisle and when invited on this trip we’re lucky these guys said Cockadoodle I Do to each of us. It was a good group of guys, a good group of girls and we have memories to last a lifetime. Until next time Montana…

Special thanks to FF Chick The Ultimate Hostess and her charming FF Rooster, lovingly nicknamed Undercover Boss. Yall’s hospitality has set the bar. Also need to shout out to FF Chick ‘Anchor Lady’ for sharing so many of her great photos that I have shamelessly mixed in with my own. There are more Montana scenes to enjoy in this slideshow which you can watch by clicking here, or by clicking the thumbnail below. (It only works on a proper computer.) Cheers all~

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