Journal of Dan T. Cook - Fly Fishing the Globe
Traveling 75,000 miles around the world in search of fish and friendship.
September 6, 2008 - Location: Park City, Utah
Greetings from HOME! The trip has been completed! In total the adventure covered 25 countries, 27 months and over 75,000 miles. I caught 62 different species of fish, drank 63 different brands of beer and met hundreds of new people, many of which are now very good friends. I am truly fortunate to have made this journey. Before I can wax philosophical, here is the latest news:
Kenai with Leif and Stig
I said goodbye to my wonderful fishing companions and begin the journey north. On the first day I made it from Soldotna to the Yukon Crossing on the Dalton Highway. This place brought back many memories for me. I had stayed at the Crossing on both of my previous Yukon River journeys. I remembered that each time my boat came around the gentle swing in the river and I saw the bridge begin to appear, I felt a huge sense of relief. The crossing of the Dalton Highway marks the end of the most arduous and dangerous section of the trip. It also represented an opportunity for a hot meal and a phone call to the outside world.
I cooked up a bowl of soup and watched the mighty Yukon pass by. The river was 10 feet lower now than it was back in July. With less volume, there seemed to be a peacefulness about it, almost a gentleness that was not apparent when I was fighting 30 mph headwinds and 3 foot chop. My relationship with the Yukon is a very strange one: when I am on the river rowing my dory, my primary goal is to push myself until exhaustion so that at the end of each day I am closer to the end. At the conclusion of my river trips, I have accomplished the goal and "checked the box." For weeks after the end, the memories of the pain, frustration and exhaustion are still vivid and reinforce the notion of never doing it again. 2 years later, as I looked over the source of so many oar strokes, so many back aches and wrist pain, my first instinct was to begin planning another float trip.
Arriving in Deadhorse Point was a bit anticlimactic; the town is basically made up of hundreds of Quonset huts and temporary buildings. That being said...the vehicles that have been built to combat the cold and snow are pretty amazing to witness. The only purpose for the town is to support the 5,000+ oil field workers who brave the elements year-round (the high temperature during my visit was 40 degrees). But my needs from the town were simple; purchase a ticket on a tour to see Arctic Ocean and grab a celebratory beer. So I headed over to the Arctic Caribou Hotel to arrange the tour. The receptionist said that I'd need to speak with a security officer, which happened to be standing right next to her. Okay........ The security guard said that I could only go on a tour tomorrow, since they needed to do a security check to take me through the oil fields. I told him that I'd prefer to go today as I would need to leave very early the next day. I also mentioned that I had just spent the last 27 months driving around the world and would really like to end my journey at the Arctic Ocean. Neither he nor the receptionist showed even a glimmer of interest or intent to help me accomplish my modest request. No tour for me.
Full of disappointment and a bit discouraged, I decided to focus on goal #2: beer. So I drove over to the Prudhoe Bay Hotel and asked the receptionist where I could purchase a delicious, frosty Coors..... or PBR or what-have-you. Her response: "Nowhere." Turns out Deadhorse Point is a dry town. I suppose this is because all the oil field workers would spent every non-working moment drinking themselves into a stupor, since there isn't anything else to do.
Finding myself unable to complete my tasks, I cooked up a bowl of soup and took heed of my accomplishment. I had seen a lot and done a lot over the last 2-plus years. It felt pretty good. Then I turned the ignition on the truck and began the drive back down the Dalton Highway. As Ivy Baker Priest once said, "The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning."Looking Forward
Now that my around-the-planet adventure has been concluded, my energies will be devoted to developing Rivers of Recovery (ROR) into the premier recreational rehabilitation program in the country. We have a long way to go, but even though ROR is still in its infancy, we have been joined by prominent, dedicated and supremely talented individuals. Our commitment to supporting our disabled veterans and their families is unwavering.
A few of you may ask, "So what happens to Fly Fishing the Globe?" In short; nothing. I will continue to keep this website active with photos and journal entries from my forthcoming adventures. As a matter-of-fact, I have already planned a few international trips (I have had quite a bit of time to think about this while I was driving). Additionally, I will be putting together a photo essay from my journey. I will include these images, combined with tales of my trip (there was MUCH that I could not include on the web diary entries) and details on how you can replicate parts of my fishing trip in a presentation that I will provide to interested groups. Please contact me if you would like details.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize that, in addition to learning about the world and its people, cultures and places, the goal of this adventure was to fish as much of the planet with a "do-it-yourself" philosophy. Having a guide stand over my left shoulder, tell me what fly to use and where to cast it defeats the very purpose of fly fishing for me. I'd much rather catch one fish completely on my own than 20 fish with a guide. For me, the satisfaction of fly fishing is in the 99% of what happens BEFORE hooking the fish. The trip and gear planning, the transportation and hiking to find the "right" spot, the lines and knots, the flies, the cast and the presentation. What is really comes down to is this: "It's not about the fish."
In the past, fly fishing was a sport enjoyed mostly by the financial elite. I mean.... the gentlemen fly fisher of the past used to wear a 3-piece suit for frick's sake! Understandably, there are still places where hiring a guide is a must. Mongolia, for instance...... as well as just about any fishing that requires an expensive boat. Beyond that, I believe that it is possible to be successful in fishing just about anywhere in the world. All it takes is good research and the confidence that you can handle the challenges ahead. What I have learned, and this is really the key to the "do-it-yourself" philosophy, is that nearly EVERYONE that you meet along the way will want to help you achieve your goal. It happened time and again on my trip and it will happen to you too.
So the next time you think about saving up $6,000 for a week's fishing at some famous international fly fishing destination, consider doing a bit of research, joining an internet fishing forum, getting to know the locals and doing the trip yourself. I promise that you'll be successful and, more importantly, each fish you catch will be more rewarding and you'll make many more friends along the way.
Finally, thank you for joining me on my Fly Fishing the Globe adventure. It is impossible to describe the experience, other than to say it was so much more than I ever imagined and that my world will never be the same again. Many thanks to all the people who helped me along the way—I will never forget your kindness and generosity. To my family—thank you for the love and support (and for dealing with my mail). To my friends—Thanks and I promise to stay in better contact now!
My travels have taught me this: There are infinitesimal differences in people, but essentially we are all the same.
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