Sunday, December 26, 2021


Dispatch 52
Rose Cottage, Idaho

December 26, 2021

Greetings, Fellow Adventurers!

My latest mistake was thinking that with only a week or so before we left for the annual trek to Palm Desert, there was no need to get the snowblower out of storage. This is the sort of unfortunate thinking that led to Sir E. S. Shackleton, as well as his ship and crew, being locked in Antarctic ice for months in 1914. 

I was excited to see the first falling flakes, and was eager to get out and shovel the fluffy white stuff, knowing full well that it would be my only chance before I found myself in California sunbathing, surrounded by palm trees and swimming pools. Little did I know that those flakes were just the beginning of a three-day snow storm that has not stopped yet. I have shoveled snow into piles as high as the proverbial elephant’s eye, and the novelty has quickly waned.

The happier news is that Santa arrived right on time, and I received more presents under the tree than my behavior this year merited. Santa is a good guy and understands my limitations when it comes to good, or even civilized, behavior. The only requested gift missing under the tree was a genuine Amazonian blow gun, complete with a dozen poison darts. It appears that the worldwide supply chain issues have made Amazonian blow guns hard to get. Go figure. 

The reason I needed the silent shooter is that about every squirrel in Power County has moved into our backyard to feast at our bird feeders. Obviously, a war has ensued. But of course, the police, on the behest of the neighbors, have strongly suggested I put away my grandfather’s shotgun or risk a holiday incarceration. I suspect none of these law enforcement fellows are Audubon members.

On a happier note, my whiskey business is barreling along. My latest blend of “Old Trout Whiskey,” which I call “Cutthroat,” after the Idaho trout and what this drink feels like going down, has met with great success. I do computer work for the Power County Highway district and those old boys, especially the snowplow drivers, sing its praises. I wonder if that is why so few locals are out driving while the streets and highways are being plowed. That just occurred to me!

My home-built whiskey still, located in the basement, has just about reached production capacity, and I am looking for commercial property to expand. Now, should you have a few of the old denaro to invest, I could, because you are my pals, let you in on the ground floor of a business with a bright future. Well, that is, if the U. S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau don’t come snooping around. Darn neighbors, again!

When I get back to Idaho in the spring, I am seriously thinking about making a bootlegger run into Utah once a month. Many of the boys down there consider my elixir a real blessing, and they need a steady supply. Now, if you are looking for a part-time job, and know the less traveled back-roads of Idaho and Utah, and can lift wooden crates of whiskey in and out of a car trunk, please contact me. Oh, being familiar with a shotgun would be handy. I can supply the shotgun.

Well, that is about it for now. While writing this, the snow has started again. I am certain Scout is wondering when I will continue the dangerous work of shoveling the driveway. Fortunately, I have plenty of firewater to keep me warm.

Scout and I hope this note finds you perky, and that you have plenty of hooch, and someone to smooch!

Friday, August 20, 2021

 Dispatch 51

Rose Cottage, Idaho
August 20, 2021

Greetings, Fellow Adventurers!

We have returned from this summer’s Trout Camp--three adventurous weeks in the rugged Boulder Mountains, practicing my camp craft and survival skills. Fortunately, we had some nice rain showers and cloudy weather to keep the high temperatures somewhat in check. You may have heard we have been having a hot spell out here in the west. Scout has made matches off limits to me, so the forest is significantly more safe.

Speaking of matches, did I tell you that I burnt off some weeds this spring? I got finished, thought I had the fire dead out, and went in for my lunch. After I had my sandwich and chips, I looked out the window and started wondering where the smoke was coming from. I jumped up, ran outside and saw that I had set my own fence on fire. As you know, such events are not that unusual in my life, but all summer my pals have been ribbing me. Oh well, live and learn.

You are probably wondering how the fishing in Trout Camp was this season. Honestly, it was terrible. Very little water in the streams, and what was there was too warm for the trout. I did not catch enough fish to feed a hungry cat. I sure hope we get a good snow season this winter.

The garden here at the cottage is doing well. We have lots of tomatoes and other green stuff that Scout makes me eat. I tell her real men live on jerky and beer, but I am coerced into eating a salad every day. She says it is good for me. I say pastries are good for me. We agree to disagree.

Speaking of pastries, a favorite topic of mine, I made my first peach cobbler two days ago and boy was it good. I picked the peaches from a pal’s tree and went to work. The depth of my culinary skills continues to surprise people. Of course, my having any skills at all surprises people.

Now that the temps are trending down, I am thinking about starting up my Dutch oven cooking parties again. I will get out the old iron pots and then raid the neighbor's chicken coop late at night. We will all eat out on the sawhorse tables under the trees in the backyard. It is always lots of fun until the Old Trout Whiskey runs out and then things either taper down and people go home or a big fist fight explodes and the police drop by. Good old Idaho folks!

Say, did you hear that a big part of Oregon wants to join up with Idaho?

Apparently, Oregon politics are too liberal for them and they like the conservative politics of Idaho better. I suppose that would be OK, but with all the Californians moving to Idaho, they may be in for a surprise. Personally, it is all the same to me. Seems like the regular folks always get kicked in the pants regardless of who is in charge.

Well, it is about time for my afternoon reading time (nap) and I cannot pass that up. I hope you are all well and looking forward to your Covid booster shot. I know I am. There are lots of adventures in the future and I don’t want to miss any of them.

-Your pal, Old Trout

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

 Dispatch 50

Palm Desert, California
March 28, 2021
Greetings, Fellow Adventurers!

Sorry, it has been a while since my last dispatch, but I was afraid of using the computer.  I thought it could give me a virus, it seems to always have one. Scout eventually talked me down from that misapprehension.

Anyway, as you may know we are in the desert sands, and I am reunited with my camel Pete.  Happy are the days on Pete, trotting over the dunes in the evening, singing cowboy songs to the moon.  Unfortunately my shortcomings continue to plague me in the most unexpected ways.  For instance, the other day Scout and I went to town for grub.  I had made a few faux pas in camp over the previous days, so Scout headed straight for the drug store to replenish her supply sedatives. Suddenly, for a few ill-advised minutes I was off the leash, as us married fellers say.

I immediately made a beeline for the general store, Ralph’s, to get ice cream, pastries, and anything else that looked good before she caught up with me.  It is good to be foot loose and fancy-free with ten silver dollars gangling in your pocket.

As the store doors slid open, I realized to my chagrin that I did not have my darn viral mask thing.  Everyone wears them like talismans down here, and I was sure they would toss my sorry behind out in the sandy street if I did not have one. I knew I could not go back to Pete for mine because Scout would catch up to me and I would not get any treats. What to do?

Being a resourceful buckaroo from Idaho I realized that right there beside the shopping carts was my solution.  They had one of those little white barrels of very wet sissy towels to wipe your cart down with.  Solution found!

I ripped off a good foot of the soggy things and covered over my mouth and noise, tying them on at the back of my head with a trusty fly fisherman’s knot.  Then I headed for the ice cream freezers.  

Well, gosh, I had not gone ten feet breathing in that rattlesnake juice before I had become dizzy and had a pounding headache.  Also, my fellow patrons were looking at me like I was crazy as I wobbled toward my goal.  By the time I got the cooler door open and my selection made,  I could hardly stand up and was hallucinating.  It seemed all my fellow shoppers now appeared to be snowmen.  This seemed odd, but I have consumed a lot of Old Trout Whiskey over the years and am no stranger to “odd visions”.  

Well, off I headed for the check-out counter and freedom.  Of course, as usual, I had to wait in line. There were about six snow men in front of me.  By the time I got my turn and my dollars laid down I was in pretty tough shape.  I asked the checker snow person if she knew her nose looked like a carrot and I laughed like a jackal at my cleverness.  Of course, she pressed a buzzer and once again security forces arrived in my life.  They removed my mask jolly quick as I complimented them on their coal eyes, top hats, scarves and the quality of the zip tie holding my hands behind my back.

As it happened, just a few minutes later Scout headed toward Ralph’s and there I was zip-tied to a bench outside the door, eyes rolled back in my head, unconscious.  There was also a half gallon of ice cream in my lap, melting in the desert sun and covering me with sticky goop.  By her watch, Scout later told me, we had only been apart about fifteen minutes.  She immediately swallowed two of the nerve medicine tablets she had just purchased and got some security snowmen to lift me up on Pete.

Of course in hindsight, everything turned out just fine, and we can all have a good laugh around the campfire (not Scout so much) and everything turned out just fine.  In the end Pete licked up the melted ice cream. Turns out French Vanilla is his favorite as well.

PS. We are having such a rewarding season here in the arroyo that we are staying two extra weeks and will arrive back at the cottage about April 16. See you all then.

Friday, September 25, 2020

 Dispatch 49
Rose Cottage, American Falls, Idaho
October 25, 2020

Greetings, Fellow Adventurers!

Call it callous, but that badger got what he deserved.

I realize that is a harsh introductory sentence but by golly there are times in a fisherman's life when you have to draw a line in the sand and stand your ground. Let me explain.

A few mornings ago I was happily riding my mountain bike on a dirt path next to a irrigation canal minding my own business. All was right in the world, as we say here in Idaho.  I was out getting a bit of exercise, at Scout’s insistence, and having some fun with my sixshooter.  As you know, out west it pays to be a good pistolaro as one often one finds oneself in tight spots far from the cozy protection of our fine local lawmen.  

It was at this moment I spotted, a fair piece up the trail, what I took to be a small coyote.  I stopped my bike in order to observe the creature and thereby increase my extensive understanding of the critter world when, uncharacteristically,  critter stopped, turned my way, paused but a moment, and then started advancing upon my position in a most aggressive manner!

By this point I had reassessed my critter identification and realized I was facing the two beady eyes and sharp teeth of a full-grown badger! Not only that, it was making a beeline for me at what I believe was full badger speed.  Yes, I was in a tight spot!

Now, those of you who have been reading my dispatches over the years know that I am a consummate outdoorsman and a cool hand when dealing with all things woodsy.    Obviously, I panicked and ran.  Unfortunately, in my panic I had forgotten I was still straddling my bike!  I found myself laying on the ground my legs still pumping, entangled in the bike that was on top of me.  The badger was closing in fast!  That is when I reached for my gun.

You probably think you know how this story ends.  You would be wrong.  You see, I was returning from the firing range and was out of ammunition.  I knew the pistol was empty, but, ha, the badger did not!  If figured the badger would have to assume the gun was loaded and act accordingly. Any rational badger would high tail it out of there.  Yes, friends, I was pulling the famous Idaho Badger Bluff, well known to many an Idaho cowpoke on the open range.  

You can imagine my surprise when the badger called my bluff and kept coming. At full speed!  Gosh, what a stupid badger!

Well, I was in a fix.  The badger was almost upon me and I could just feel those teeth sinking into me.  What did I do?  I starting whimpering and crying like a little girl, that's what, and you would too.  

I’m thinking my fishing days are over as I watch that evil badger bear down on me. Then, at the last moment, it jumps to the right and dives into a badger hole that I had overlooked in all the excitement. He disappeared as though he had never existed!

Praise be, I was saved!  I would live to see another western sunset!

Well, I disentangled myself from the bike and stood up with a new lease on life. I stopped sniffling, walked over to the badger hole, and did what any western he-man would do. I kicked a bunch of dirt and rocks down that hole! Then I covered over the hole with a heavy chunk of sagebrush!  That will fix him, I figured.  That badger got just what he deserved!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Dispatch 48

Dispatch 48
Rose Cottage, American Falls, Idaho
Sunday, July 12, 2020

Greetings, Fellow Adventurers!

As you may have heard, there is a bug going around and we are hunkered down, and not fishing or camping. I will not complain about it, but gosh it is hard on a devout outdoors man such as myself.

However, that is not the worst of it. Because I have found myself with some time on my hands, Scout has decided that “home improvement” projects are on the menu. Initially I thought this meant ordering a bigger TV and new surround sound system, maybe even a high capacity popcorn maker, but no, my erroneous assumptions were quickly and brutally dispelled.

I will not dwell on the litany of improvement projects, but let’s just say it is expansive and involves many power tools--equipment I know little about and seem to be possessed by evil spirits determined to kill me. The Skill saw haunts my dreams.

It is said that a good carpenter measures twice and cuts once. The fellows down at the hardware store have often said that I measure twice, cut many times, and then come back for more lumber. Obviously, I do not count them among my inner circle of friends, they always seem happy when I come by.

Apparently, my last building project required so much additional lumber that the owner of the lumberyard was able to buy a new outboard motor for his fishing boat. One wag at the counter suggested I was responsible for the clear cutting of a mountain side of old growth timber up North. I wish I could take my business elsewhere but there is only the one lumberyard here in town.

Fortunately, power tools and carpentry are the strong points in my handyman skill set. The low point is painting. Painting is boring and slow. It demands a steady hand, attention to detail, and someone who gives a hoot. I possess none of these attributes.

My motto is: Slather it on fast and thick! Get it done quickly and let’s go enjoy a beer on the patio. For instance, if I am painting a door I see no point in removing the hardware or masking off the surrounding walls. My current record for painting a door is just under three minutes and that includes both sides and a lot of carpet near the door. After three days that door’s hinges still won’t work. Did I mention the door is on the bathroom? Thank heavens it dried in the open position. If you drop by, just say hi to whoever is on the throne when you walk by. We’ve become pretty informal around here.

I have seriously considered buying a power washer and simply filling it with paint. I wonder what the fellows at the lumberyard would think? Really, I could paint the house and our cars in an afternoon. Maybe less.

I’m thinking tomorrow I will start a plumbing job. I am feeling confident and I have plenty of time for corrections. Does it matter that I don’t know where the main water valve to our house is located? Well, I will cross that bridge when I come to it. And I may need a bridge if I flood the basement.

Next week I may try my hand at electrical work. What does 220 V mean anyway? I guess I will just plug the toaster in and see if the outlet is working. It can’t hurt to try. Scout is encouraging me to move this project up the list. I wonder why? Maybe she would like some toast.

I hope this dispatch finds you healthy and using your tool belt in a safe manner. Scout and I miss you all as much as we miss the trout streams.

Your Pal,
Old Trout

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Old Trout in the Garden

Scene: A perky female neighbor walks by Old Trout's front yard.

Neighbor:  "Hi Old Trout, what are you doing on your knees in the grass?"
OT: "I am working on the sprinkling system, again."
N: "Is that something you enjoy?"
OT: "No."
N: "Do you always become saturated with water and encased in mud?"
OT: "Yes and Yes."
N: "Are you good at it?"
OT: "No."
N: "Why do you do it?"
OT: "I believe it is penance for my sins in a previous life."
N: "That would not surprise me."

Trowel flies through air, missing perky female neighbor by a whisker, embedding itself in a tree that, of course, needs water.

Screen fads out.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dispatch 47

Dispatch 47
Field Camp, Palm Desert California
March 31, 2020

Greetings Fellow Adventurers!

After completing another successful season of research here at the desert oasis we are setting our compass to North and heading for the cottage.  We will leave in the morning and will layover one night at the Wells Fargo stage stop in Cedar City, Utah. With luck, we will arrive home on April 2.  The manager at the stage stop assures us that there are no worries about Chinese viruses in our rental cabin as the American bedbugs have eaten them all.  Gosh, I reckon there really is a silver lining in every pandemic!  I learn something new every day.

​Of course, we will be traveling with our accumulated trove of TP.  The Subaru wagon is almost full of the stuff.  I understand that the native tribes in Utah are raiding wagon trains just like ours to add to the temple supplies.  Therefore, we will be traveling with our .303 British Infield rifles loaded and at the ready.  Our trusty service revolvers will be strapped to our hips.  I am not about to be wiped out for my wipes.  No sir!​

We will, of course, be self-quarantining for a fortnight once we get to the old Idaho cottage.  I look forward to this respite because it will keep the bill collectors at bay!  Scout is not looking forward to living with me in such close quarters for such an extended period of time.  I will be hiding all the sharp objects, poisons, and ammunition immediately upon our return.  The poor kid gets a little edgy when I am around all the time.  Can’t think why.  Currently there have been no deaths resulting from the Chinese virus in Power County and I don’t want to be the first one.

Well, that is about it for now.  I look forward to hearing how you are weathering the storm and entertaining yourselves.  I am expecting a massive jump in births nine months from now.  I will be calling them Gen C.  I can hardly wait for a new batch of younguns.  I understand a new baby boy was born in Boise, Idaho, yesterday and the happy hillbilly parents named him Covid.  Kinda cute.

Over and out.