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Gone Fishing

Life on and off the waters of the Wood River Valley

Winter 2011

Dumb as a Doorknob: Becoming a Dad*

04/28/11

Dumb as a Doorknob: Becoming a Dad*

Long before Jesus was a baby or things like epidurals or stay-at-home dads were invented, having babies was a much simpler process.When it came time to give birth the women folk would all huddle together and root on the soon-to-be mom, as she swore like a trucker and learned a new meaning for the word “discomfort.”Meanwhile, the men folk would huddle together and smoke cigars and talk about fishing. Occasionally, the soon-to-be granddad would be holding a shotgun in his cigar-free hand and pointing it towards the region of the soon-to-be dad that caused all the excitement in the first place.While many folks may argue that the French have given much to America (i.e.: the Statue of Liberty, the baguette, and the Ménage-a-Trois), it’s also easy to argue, especially...

Posted at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Comments: 6

The Amazing Story of the Devil Dog

04/12/11

The Amazing Story of the Devil Dog

I thought this would be a sad story. But luckily it’s not.On a bitter cold night late last November, our 13-year-old dog, Amelia, disappeared.Now Amelia has always been the mischievous, free-spirited type. You don’t earn monikers like “Stinky,” “Stealth Bomber Butt,” “Senorita Crapsalot” and—her best-known nickname—the “Devil Dog” without merit. So taking off for a night wasn’t out of her nature. Heck, that’s how we’ve met half our neighbors over the years. She is a true-blue mutt after all, with a gift for knocking those pesky, noisy little nametags right off her collar.But Amelia, despite her puppy-ish personality, is far from youthful. By dog years, this Winter she turned 91 and has already...

Posted at 09:16 AM | Permalink | Comments: 12

Hero Worship

03/31/11

Hero Worship

Like a lot of mountain lovers, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Famer Dave McCoy is one of my heroes. The man that made California’s Mammoth Mountain (inspired by the success of Sun Valley) is right up there with Warren Miller and Hermann Maier, Batman and Robin, Bodie Miller and whoever dated Suzy Chapstick. Sure, in their primes maybe “the Hermannator” and Bodie skied faster, and perhaps Robin and Suzy looked better in Bogner ski suits, but they didn’t have anything on Dave. Just like those heroes, McCoy is made out of nothing but dreams and a desire and determination to see them come true. But unlike those people, Dave’s dreams obviously included wanting to create something the rest of us mountain lovers could long enjoy, too. Dave McCoy is in his mid-90s,...

Posted at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments: 5

Diggin’ Death Valley

03/16/11

Diggin’ Death Valley

Family Fun Below Sea LevelOne of the best parts about being a dad is that every once and a wonderful while, you’re forced to stop, stoop down and look at the world through the wondrous eyes of a child.This is especially true when you’re lucky enough to be the father of a toddling little boy who’s not only as tall and as active as Curious George, but also occasionally seems to smell like him. It turns out that bananas, much like beer, should only be ingested in moderation.Moderation, however, isn’t a word often associated with Death Valley National Park (DVNP)—they don’t call it the “Land of Great Extremes” for nothing.After taking my own “Curious Jack” down to Death Valley for his first night of camping under the stars last...

Posted at 03:52 PM | Permalink | Comments: 4

Top 10 Kids' Movies

03/02/11

Top 10 Kids' Movies

If there’s one thing you learn when you become a parent it’s this: Hollywood must be making a diaper-load of money on kids’ movies because they sure do make a lot of them. Being the proud father of two kids in diapers—and occasionally feeling like I could use a pair myself—I’ve been forced (just like most parents) to become a connoisseur of the kids’ flicks. Eventually, evolving into a sort of Siskel and Ebert who traded in the popcorn and the sweater vest for a kid and a beer-stained sweatshirt. Like the Thumbs Up dynamic duo I, too, have criteria for judging. And here it is: The movie has to be good enough that a kid will want to watch it roughly 337 times per week. It has to have a positive message. Death can’t be the most...

Posted at 09:18 AM | Permalink | Comments: 5

Real Love

02/15/11

Real Love

A ski bum says so long to his former home slopes. On the first Friday of last August, amongst the whispering pines and echoing beer-lovers of the Golden State, fate was nice enough to drag me out of my sudsy stupor. It was the opening night of the 15th annual Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza, widely considered one of the best beerfests in the country. Contemporary blues artist Ruthie Foster, whom I’d never even heard of before, was rocking the stage at the legendary High Sierra music venue known as Sam’s Wood Site—may Sam never sell it! As has been the case for seven of the last eight years, I was working my moonlighting gig at the fest, selling beer for Mammoth Brewing Company (and trading that beer for Thai’d Up's to-die-for spring rolls). Something...

Posted at 12:46 PM | Permalink | Comments: 8

Out Fishing my Father-in-Law

02/07/11

Out Fishing my Father-in-Law

Miracles happen. I’m living proof. Sure, they’re not always as momentous as discovering a vaccine for Polio, surviving the nation’s worst ski area avalanche or turning water into wine, beer or even Mad Dog 20/20. Sometimes they’re so small that you’re the only one who notices. And if fishing, especially with flies, teaches you one thing it’s that miracles count just the same no matter what size they come in. Because no matter how big they are when you get lucky enough to hook into one (a miracle or a fish), they always seem to get bigger with time. Thus we have the miracle I was lucky enough to witness a year ago this winter on the beloved Big Wood River—I out-fished my father-in-law. It took more than a decade of getting an...

Posted at 04:53 PM | Permalink | Comments: 5

Miracle at Alpine Meadows

01/31/11

Miracle at Alpine Meadows

The Story of Anna Allen* When people first meet Anna Allen, most would never guess that she’s a walking miracle. Anna has steely blue eyes, flared auburn hair and can often be seen wearing a bright yellow Mammoth Mountain Host jacket with the prerequisite black jeans. She has a gentle sweetness about her that speaks to being a mom; she and her husband of more than 20 years, Brent Allen, a welder by trade, have two college-aged kids. Anna speaks softly and shows no outwards signs of any miraculous flare or even any physical impairment, shy of a slight hitch in her giddy up—the kind of limp you often see in ski towns. So from an outward appearance, Anna seems pretty much like the rest of us, except that instead of simply being made out of flesh and bones, she’s got a...

Posted at 03:35 PM | Permalink | Comments: 4

My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story

01/17/11

My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story

Love stories come in all shapes and sizes. Some last a lifetime, others about as long as a shooting star—but we’ll get into the average teenager’s amorous life later. This is, first and foremost, meant to be a book review, albeit a silly and hopeful one.Of course, children’s books don’t often get reviewed by anyone other than ambitious librarians or overzealous elementary school kids, but this isn’t just any ordinary children’s book."My Mommy Hung the Moon: A Love Story" (Harper Collins, ages 4-8, $16.99 hardcover) comes from the bestselling team of illustrator Laura Cornell and writer Jamie Lee Curtis. And if you happened to be a teenage boy, or just an English speaking male with a pulse during Ronald Reagan’s reign as...

Posted at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Comments: 6

The Legend of Mrs. Osborn

12/30/10

The Legend of Mrs. Osborn

For some of us, home really is where the heart is, and for those of us like the legendary Mrs. Osborn, that’s where it will always stay.The night of May 26, 1901 was a particularly chilly and damp one in the friendly confines of Hailey; a booming mining town in the wild remotes of the young state of Idaho. To warm things up, Mrs. Sara Jane Osborn had started a fire in the library of her family’s home, just north of town on a thousand acre homestead, then known as the Cloverly Ranch.Her husband, the revered Reverend Israel Tremain Osborn, had built both the home and the community’s first Episcopal church back in 1885. On this fateful night, the good Reverend was in Shoshone spreading the word and saving Gem State souls.Just after midnight struck, Merton Olson, one of...

Posted at 05:17 PM | Permalink | Comments: 4

The Bright Lights of Bellevue

12/09/10

The Bright Lights of Bellevue

One of Idaho's First Towns

Posted at 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments: 6

About This Blog

Whether he’s being out-fished by his trash talking mother-in-law, guiding one of his young sons through the perils of manhood or finding inspiration from the people of the Wood River Valley, Mike McKenna’s award-winning writing is always sure to entertain. Order a copy of Mike's highly-acclaimed book, "Angling Around Sun Valley: A year-round fly fishing guide to South Central Idaho" from Silver Creek Outfitters.

Gone Fishing's awards include: "Best Blog" 2010 & 2011 by the Idaho Press Club, "Best Web-only Article" of 2011 by the Outdoor Writers Association of California and "Best Fishing" & "Best Humor" blogs of 2012 by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

           

"Angling Around Sun Valley" was selected as the "Best Book" of 2013 by Northwest Outdoor Writers Association!

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