Saturday, June 4, 2011

From Texas to Virginia and Back Again...

This first post will be in honor of a trip I recently took to the Virginias, and to Captain Ed Nicholson of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. How many of you would drive 3000 miles to deliver a vehicle? What if a few famous trout streams and locations were involved? (Google the Rapidan, Shenandoah Park, the North Fork of the South Branch of the Patomac River...) What if the trip would hardly cost you a thing -- less than a hundred ducats? What if you got to tag along with a good fishing buddy who you'd been dying to fish and drink scotch and bullshit with? And what if there was a chance to be on a world-renowned fly-fishing show like Fly Rod Chronicles, with award-winning host Curtis Fleming? What if you would actually get the ad hoc opportunity to work as a photographer behind the scenes of the show? And what if you were going to be a judge in fly-fishing competition and win a fly-tying vice just for helping out? And to top it all off, what if the guy you were delivering the vehicle to was THE man who founded PROJECT HEALING WATERS, Capt. Ed Nicholson?

I had that very opportunity last week. Yup. Did all that, and more. But let me start off by saying that, in travels, although I may be in search of trout 99% of the time, it's people who create culture. And between Virginians and West Virginians, the people Kyle McAdams and I encountered were of the greatest caliber. Hospitable and generous as they come. Douglas Dear, Todd Harman, Curtis Fleming, Ed Nicholson, Steve Hasty, Josh, Darren, Craig, Jerod, Jason, Mike, Greg... the list goes on and on... The trout fishing was amazing, sure. But it was the exceptional people who made the trip an absolute killer getaway for Kyle and I.

It wasn't an easy trip. 22 hours of driving each way, non-stop (well, we slept for about 5 hours coming home). We happened to have rolled through Joplin, Missouri, when it was still Joplin Missouri -- just hours before the tornado gouged through and children were ripped from their cars, where many have yet to be found. We saw Memphis, Tennessee with its own devastation of the Mississippi floods -- an iconic river that once ran a mile wide now sloughs three miles across, drop by drop, moving our farmers' precious topsoil into the gulf, grain by grain. We saw Oklahoma City and surrounding towns just after more malevolent tornadoes ripped guardrails from the earth and plucked cedar trees from their footholds, leveling buildings and homes just beyond the ditches, structures I'd seen a thousand before. I guess you could say Kyle and I saw about half the country, and nearly all of it was experiencing its own hell or pain in some way, shape or form. Many tears. Many wounds. Many lost.

With having seen all that, after 3000 miles of driving and feeling the end of the world is upon us, by and by, it was still somehow a remarkable trip. And to think, a love of trout and fly fishing brought it all together. Thank you, Ed Nicholson (Founder and President of Project Healing Waters), for purchasing your vehicle from Kyle McAdams (2010 Volunteer of the Year from Amarillo, Texas). And thank you, Captain Ed, for serving our country, and for forever serving our returning soldiers, many of whom are also experiencing their own hell and pain in some way shape or form. Many tears. Many wounds. Many lost.

I am extremely honored to be a part of Project Healing Waters and a part any team of yours. 

W. Chad McPhail

                              Captain Ed Nicholson casts for wild brookies in the Rapidan River.

About Mac

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I am W. Chad McPhail. I'm an outdoor/travel writer, book author, former English teacher, and Amarillo native. 

I spend my spare time traipsing around the mountains and streams of the southwest in search of wild trout with my family, friends, various freeloaders, and other flotsam and jetsan. I used to teach English & Creative Writing. These days I am a Right of Way field agent with Coates Field Service, representing Sharyland Utilities during the construction of a 345 megawatt transmission line from Hereford to Panhandle, Texas. I love exploring the outdoors, fly fishing, backpacking, camping, hiking, kayaking, and yes, writing outdoor and travel books and pieces. I am a field writer of flyfishing, backpacking, camping, and kayaking articles for I have written many articles for magazines such as Southwest Fly Fishing, Texas Fish & Game, Rocky Mountain Game & Fish,, and more. I have co-penned three books with fishing buddy Mark D. Williams; Colorado Flyfishing: Where to Eat Sleep Fish, 49 Trout Streams of Southern Colorado, and An Introduction to Fly Fishing for Trout.