Lake Oahe Trip, July 2011

It has been three years since I have been to Lake Oahe, South Dakota. This is an annual fishing trip that I started going on with a few of my Nebraska buddies; the first year I made the trip to Lake Oahe was in 1995. I went year after year and then took a 3 year break after the 2007 fishing trip. The early years, it was a trio that consisted of John Dorsey, AJ Hudjins and myself. AJ and John live in Cozad, Nebraska (my hometown) and the last few times Scott Diehl has been joining us, he lives in Brady, Nebraska about 30 miles from Cozad. This year, AJ didn’t make the trip due to his moving from Cozad to Hartwell, Georgia to start a new job.

My wife Linna had the pleasure of waking up at 4:30 a.m. to give me a ride to the airport. I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis and then back to Pierre, South Dakota. The flight from Minneapolis to Pierre was on a small turbo-prop plane….which was loud and slow. John and Scott were waiting for me at the Pierre airport with a cold beer. John picked up Scott in Brady about the same time my flight took off from Seattle. John and Scott pretty much just had to drive due North, a 5 hour drive to Pierre. As usual we headed to Dakota Mart to pick-up a few items, a store that carries guns, fishing equipment, liquor, clothing and groceries. We stayed at the West Prairie Resort, a place we have been doing business with for the last 4 fishing trips. The owners Terry and Tammy Nelson are some of the nicest people you will ever meet; Terry is considered to be the best guide on Lake Oahe by his peers and customers.

Each morning consisted of breakfast at the lodge and out on the lake by 9:00 a.m. We usually had our limit by early afternoon, which was a good time to get off the lake. Fishing in mid-summer on Lake Oahe, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees, which must have reached each day for us! When we got back to our air conditioned cabin, it felt like you walked out of an oven into a refrigerator. Seattle hadn’t had a full day over 80 degrees yet and my body was acclimated for the low 70’s. After each day of fishing, Terry would clean, pack and put our fish in our cabin freezer. He treats you like a king on the boat and makes sure you are having a great time. He will even bait your hook and take your fish off….as he did for Scott all three days; of course John and I were making fun of it! This resort goes beyond the usual customer service, since my flight was in the late afternoon and my Nebraska buddies wanted to take off in the morning, Terry gave me a car to drive to the airport. So I stuck around the resort and used the wireless until I needed to catch my flight.

Nebraska Trip, April 2011

I haven’t been back to my hometown (Cozad, Nebraska) since my class reunion in September 2009.  The main purpose was to spend Easter with my sister Nova Walker, she was diagnosed with cancer 6 months ago.  Linna and I flew direct from Seattle to Denver on Alaska Airlines, just a little over 2 hours.  Cozad is located on Interstate 80 halfway between Denver and Omaha; taking a direct flight from Seattle is much easier than flying into Omaha with a connection and still driving 4 hours.  The Eastern side of Colorado is not much to look at and all it does is encourages you to drive as fast as you can through it.  Speed limit is 75 and I usually drive 85 to 95 to make sure I get to Cozad for dinner…..well this time I had Mr. State Trooper stop me to say hi. 

After we settled in with my good friend AJ Hudgins and his girlfriend of 27 years, Colleen Favinger in Cozad we headed out to Bella Italia for dinner.  There isn’t much in Cozad, but I have to admit I am totally impressed with this Italian restaurant located in my small hometown.  After dinner, AJ and I sat up until 4 a.m. gossiping about the 4,000 residents in Cozad.  The next two days AJ and I spent driving around Cozad seeing old friends and neighbors.  We stopped in to visit with Mark McKeone, Scott Diehl, Eric Seaman, Marty Munster, Verna Story, Ardi Wilcher, Heidi Bazata, John Dorsey, Scott Hergenrader, Sherry Armagost and even dropped off a dozen tulips to Ardi Wilcher.

Linna and I spent Easter Sunday with my sisters Nova and Alicia and their families.  We started the day off with church service at the Nazarene; I haven’t been to a church service for 9 years or so…..and it might be another 9 before I go back.  After church we drove over to Gothenburg, ten miles west of Cozad for brunch at Walker’s Steakhouse.  After munching down the Midwest buffet, we headed back to Nova’s house for pictures and an Easter egg hunt for the kids. 

Most all small towns in the Midwest, especially Nebraska….the towns are pretty much closed down on Sundays….which means there is no place to dine.  The nearest town for a decent dinner on a Sunday is Kearney, a college town 50 miles East of Cozad.  We first stopped at Hunan’s, a Chinese restaurant that Linna rejected after taking one look at the menu.  After another late night, we got up Monday morning and headed back to Denver.  I took a small detour to Sidney, Nebraska and stopped in at Cabelas to pick up a new shotgun case for my over/under Browning Citori 12 guage shotgun that I was flying back to Seattle with me.