Miss M and our Quest

James Stimmel
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Monday, May 8, 2017, was the beginning of our new adventure. It began in Las Vegas, NV when we arrived at Wagon Trail RV to pick up our new Unity Leisure Travel Van. We were eager, nervous and excited to finally take possession of our long-awaited dream.

She was beautiful, and we fell into like immediately. We went through every nook and cranny, taking notes and absorbing as much information as we could. After 5 days at the Las Vegas Oasis RV park, learning and experiencing our new life, we were ready to begin our quest to catch a native fish on a fly in all 50 states, to visit as many National Parks and Monuments as possible and meet wonderful people.

Our first destination was Colorado, to see a daughter and her husband In Westminster. St. George, UT was on our route and the first stop for fuel. It went better than anticipated.

We stopped at our first excursion RV Park in Green River Utah, called “Shady Acres” which was an o.k. park, good for one night. The second RV park was in Wheat Ridge, CO, at the Applewood Village Estates area. It was an interesting experience backing the Unity for the first time. It was amusing to discover that we both had different ideas as to which way was which when giving directions for turning the wheels as the RV was backed up, yet we soon worked it out. We were there for a few days when our son-in-law let us know that they were expecting snow the next day. It is not unusual to have snow in Colorado in May. Sure enough, the next morning, the 18th of May we woke up to snow!

We decided that it was time to leave, so we said “Good-bye” and left for South Dakota where we registered our Unity. We stayed several days in Rapid City as we worked on different projects for the RV and the Porta Boat that we’d bought.

Cindy had a niece getting married in Cardston, Canada, so we headed to Lethbridge Canada where we stopped to attend the Star Wars/John Deer Tractor themed wedding. The weather was fair and the scenery great. I’m sure the Unity felt at home, being back in Canada.

At this time, we take a pause in our narrative to explain something about how our vehicles received their names. Our CRV’s first CA license looked like this:

If you notice the letters: MGU0, we thought it sounded a lot like “Magoo”, so thus we have “Mr. Magoo!” When we got the Unity Leisure Travel Van, we racked our brains for a name. Miss Magoo didn’t sound elegant enough for such a beautiful vehicle. After many weeks and a lot of thought and discussion, Cindy came up with “Miss M”. The name stuck and our RV from this point on will be called “Miss M”.

Back to our adventure. After Lethbridge, we headed to Iowa to fish with Cindy’s Aunt Nancy and Uncle Phil. We checked off our first state on our quest with a nice sized bluegill in Iowa.

We then travelled to Ohio to see Rusty’s mom while she was visiting her older sister in Columbus, Ohio. We travelled to Illinois to visit friends from our Document Preservation Mission, then back to Rapid City, South Dakota for the 4th of July and Doctor appointments. This is also the time that we put Miss M to the real test when we camped at the Dutchman National Forest Campground which had no services, our first Dry Camping experience. Here we took the opportunity to visit a wonderful national Monument-Mount Rushmore. It was amazing to see the ingenuity it took to sculpt this fantastic monument. We enjoyed it so much, we vowed to return at a later date.
Now it was off to Colorado and to Utah.

We caught a Greenback Cutthroat trout in Colorado at Zimmerman Lake and a Bonneville Cutthroat in a nice little stream in Utah. We spent several days at Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, UT. This was an amazing experience, yet we decided that it would have been better in the fall or spring. It became rather warm here.

Next, we visited eastern Idaho where we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, then on to Wyoming where we spent 2 1\2 weeks waiting for the Full Eclipse, which happened on August 21, 2017. (See our “Eclipse” Blog for more.) While waiting for the eclipse, Rusty caught the mountain whitefish for the Wyoming fish. Many fishing guides were not very happy with this fish, as it was not a sought-after species. We would remedy that later.

After this momentous occasion, we headed to Kalispell, MT for some maintenance on Miss M. Since we weren’t too far from Glacier National Park, we decided to head there to see what we could see even though there was a lot of smoke from forest fires. We saw some of the parks even though it was smoky, then ended up leaving early when the fires and smoke became too close for us. So, we headed for Eastern Idaho and Island Park before heading to Yellowstone National Park. On our second day, we had another Leisure Unity park right next to our Unity. We thought that was so fun to see! In Yellowstone, Cindy caught her first fish on a fly, a Yellowstone cutthroat. (See her article for more.) This was a bonus, tribute fish for Wyoming.

We left Yellowstone on the day of the first snowfall of the season and made our way back to South
Dakota for some doctor appointments. On the way, we stopped at Devils Tower in Wyoming and took this spectacular picture of Miss M with the Tower as a backdrop.

After we finished our appointments in South Dakota, we left for Northern Idaho, stopping at Cardwell, MT on the way. Here we camped at a “Famous” Campground due to Lewis and Clark’s camping there!

After a trip down Memory Lane in Coeur d’ Alene, ID for Cindy, we arrived in Washougal, WA just in time to surprise Cindy’s younger sister and niece for another wedding.

We spent 3 months at Cindy’s Mom while Cindy had her knee operation and recovery. While there we helped Cincy’s mom with needed home maintenance.
Rusty fished the Washougal river several times trying to catch Coho Salmon or Steelhead. The Coho run was very small, and the Steelhead run was late. Between high, unfishable water conditions and a few fish in the river he was not successful.

After the first of the year, we went to Southern California to meet Rusty’s mom who was flying to San Diego to visit her twin sister. We found out at the last minute that she had Pneumonia and could not come. We parked in Cindy’s niece in Escondido for about a week. We took Miss M to Dixon Lake Campground, which looked out over the City of Escondido. It was a spectacular sight at night. Rusty tried fishing in Dixon Lake for fun and even brought Cindy’s 3-year-old great niece fishing, but no luck. Rusty tried surf fishing and fishing Mission Bay without success. We are learning that new types of fishing have a steep learning curve. We will plan for more time to be successful.

We visited Joshua Tree National Park for a day then went to Tonopah, Arizona to visit our friends, the Ashes whom we’d met in Colorado.
Rusty also had the wrist he injured in California x-rayed and fortunately had no broken bones. We are presently staying with friends in Green Valley Arizona, hiding from the cold and planning when, where and how to get fish in Arizona and New Mexico.

Thus far, we have had a few ups and downs, mostly ups. We’ve enjoyed our adventure so far and found that Miss M has been the perfect vehicle for our many stops and starts on this pleasant and exciting journey.

James Stimmel

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