Friday, September 7, 2018


The phone conversation with Lou was short on details. He said he would be leaving Coos Bay to do some fly fishing on the Owyhee River.

I said, “You’re heading to far eastern Oregon and I’m heading to western Idaho. Let’s meet up.”

“I’ll be downstream of the dam, ” he said. “Just drive until you see me.”

Since he wouldn’t be leaving Coos Bay for a day or two, and since it’s a couple of days driving for him, and since he’d be fishing for at least a few days, I figured I had time to call back for details. But I failed to figure there would be no cell service where he’d be camped. Oops.

I had never been to the Owyhee River and didn’t know how to access it. I saw the town of Owyhee on the map and trusted Google to get me there.

I started having my doubts when Google sent me wandering down farm roads. Go west two miles, turn north for one mile, turn west for seven miles, turn south for five miles, turn west for two miles, turn north for a half mile, turn west for a half mile, turn south for eight miles… At least it didn’t send me east.

Then I happened to see a sign with an arrow pointing left. Lake Owyhee State Park, 25 miles, campground vacancy. I didn’t know if that road would take me to Lou, but I decided to risk it. At least there was a campground in case I didn’t find him.

But I did. It was the right road to the right place. Good guess.

Unfortunately, a few minutes before I arrived, Lou had lost his footing in the river and bashed a shin on a submerged boulder. He was limping and swearing, but still had a bit of humor left.

“It seems like whenever you’re within 200 miles I hurt myself somehow.”

He kept his shin iced and the general swelling was down to just an ugly knot by morning. But Lou felt too gimpy to be wading in the river, so he decided to move on.

“You know, Lou, I’m trying to remember the last time we boondocked together rather than being at someone else’s place while working on projects, like in Redmond, Salem, Ridgway...”

“Probably outside Yuma a couple of winters ago.”

“That sounds right.”

Now the answer to that question would be, “There was that one night on the Owyhee River in September of 2018.”


  1. I remember both of you playing guitar while boondocking at Fortuna Pond a few years ago.

  2. Were you able to visit the hot springs?..If so, what did they look like?..I've seen pictures but never a 1st person description..

    1. Since Lou had been my only source of information on the area, and since his number one interest there was fishing, I didn't know there was a hot spring.

  3. My experience wading into Rocky waters is put on my octopus shoes or my mountain goats hooves. It's a control thing.