August 12, 1956 was a Sunday and like most days during the summer, I was camped with my parents at Hermit Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. That particular Sunday however, we were joined by my dad’s brother, my Uncle Joe Moyer, his wife my Aunt Elinore, and my cousins Darrell, Ron, and Harvey Moyer and our Grandfather Ed “Pop” Moyer. Dad and I were off fishing when our kinfolk arrived, and soon everyone was fishing as well. Logically, we had fresh trout for dinner that night. I had totally forgotten this rather ordinary summer day but was reminded of it when my cousin Ron recently emailed to me a copy of one of my Aunt Elinore’s ‘Outdoor Vacation Journals.’ In her journal, Aunt Elinore chronicled their trip up the Sierras, across the desert to the Rocky Mountains, and on into Canada.
I had no idea that my aunt kept such an outdoor journal but probably should have suspected as much. It must run in the family, because my mom kept a similar journal she called her ‘Trailer Journal’ in which she recorded the daily details of her wanderings across the American West with my dad. I too have kept such records of my fishing expeditions and other outdoor excursions since the early 1970s. For example, 20 years after our impromptu family reunion was the summer of 1976 and I was no longer an 8-year-old boy tagging along behind my dad. I fished on 16 different trout streams and caught almost 400 trout. I fished with my dad, and his partner Don McGeein, Pete and Bob Simpson and Bob and Brett Greenwood, all of Tracy, with Skip Serrels and Rick Sauls of Stockton, and Angie Parkes, an exchange student from Australia. It was a good year.
Keeping an outdoor journal can be about far more than just fishing; you can record family events that mean a great deal in years to come. I can still picture my daughter Julie as a 5-year-old catching her first bluegill from Brovellis pond. Looking back with over 30 years’ perspective, it now seems ironically fitting that I was fishing on the day my grandfather died. That’s probably how old Pop would have wanted it. I can still recall those trout dinners with my cousins and sitting around the campfire afterwards.
An outdoor journal can refresh your recollections of trips with your friends and family in desert sage and mountain meadows and ocean beachcombing. If you have a travel trailer or motor home, keeping an outdoor journal is a simple matter, you just keep your notebook in a handy drawer and get it out just before retiring for bed each night so you can jot down the day’s events. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated, just a few lines will do. For years I kept my log in a 19 cent spiral bound notebook and it worked just fine. As the years pass, you can store your old journals in a handy drawer or even a suitcase or box. Then five or 10 years or even four or five decades later, you can open them, blow the dust off and relive trips with old departed friends and laugh about them with new ones.
If you haven’t yet tried keeping an outdoor journal, I heartily recommend it. You won’t be sorry.
Until next time, Tight Lines.
Don Moyer is a longtime Central Valley resident and avid outdoorsman. He contributes occasional columns.