Who: Back row, left to right: Rich Wahl, Larry Powers of Madera, Michael Walker of Auburn, John Anagnos, Larry Nies, Dan Tillman, Pat Hale, Mike Nakagawa, Dave Costa and Jason Eells; front row: Ron Goehring, Marty Weybret, Christi Weybret, Fred Weybret, Chet Hacke of Grass Valley, Dave Vaccarezza and Larry Mettler.
Occupations: Our leader was Larry Mettler who runs a local farm and winery with his family. The Weybrets own the News-Sentinel. Others farm, teach, collect garbage, fight fires and do jobs that didn't make it into this reporter's notebook. Some are even lucky enough to be retired.
Vacation spot: St. John's Fishing Lodge. St. John's is a converted, 236-foot ferry anchored on the British Columbian coast about half way between Ketchikan, Alaska and Port Hardy, the northern tip of Victoria Island. Check them out at http://stjohnsfishinglodge.com">stjohnsfishinglodge.com.
Why did you go? To catch fish and we caught salmon, halibut and various cod and rock fish.
What was the best part? The best part was getting away. For five days, there was no TV, no cell service, no Internet. Entertainment was provided by sightings of grey whales, orcas, dolphins, otters and bald eagles. And, of course, the bar talk was right out of a Jimmy Buffet song: "Who caught what and who sat on his butt. It was the only show in town."
Worst part of the trip? Depending on your tolerance or love of flying, the trip to St. John's was either great or awful. From Sacramento we got on successfully smaller planes as we changed at Seattle, Vancouver and Bella Bella (don't ask). The last plane was an amphibious, World War II era Grumman Goose. It's rated as an eight-passenger plane - the ninth passenger sat in the co-pilot's seat. You be the judge.
Trip from heaven? In truth, there was a hiccup. As we boarded the Goose in Bella Bella, several employees stomped out on their way back to Vancouver. We learned they were upset about bounced paychecks. While we were out fishing, the owner and the help had what must have been a very interesting meeting. In the end, the crew was very professional and the owner assured us the difficulties were being addressed. Our reservations were honored, our boats worked well and the rooms were clean and the fish arrived back in Lodi fresh and cold.
Would we go again? St. Johns has claim to two beautiful spots. Next year, we will inquire carefully about the financial soundness of the new management and if that checks, we'll be back in a heartbeat.
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