Monday, February 12, 2018

Maple Coffee

Maple Coffee

I've been behind in my last Montana post from last summer. So, since it's Feb and below zero this morning I post some warm memories:)
Here this morning day 11 in the (2017 listen for God and catch trout trip),  I sit here alone with espresso and heavy cream (in my custom Hal Empie coffee mug) at Mountain Palace along the banks of the Mighty Missouri River.  

Going back and upstream 11 days ago I arrived into Ennis MT on a Sunday Morning at 6:30. Pulling into my friends joint "Maple Coffee", I drove to the drive through to hear Lori’s always upbeat and smile filled voice. “Good Morning, welcome to Maple Coffee what can i get cha this morning?”

{Now those who know me know I love a surprise.}

{In a low cowboy voice} "Good Morrrrrrnin. Yesssss, I’d like a large Latte…. an please put it in a small french yogurt  espresso cup……”
There was crackling silence on the drive thru speaker as if a ghost had arrived.

Suddenly she shouts in a high southern accent “ CRAIG T :) is that really you?”

Now these are the moments you treasure when you travel long distances.
Surprising people you care for,  making their day, and yours a bit more special.
You see a few years ago my lifelong fly fishing partner Bruce and I drove by this place one early morning on it’s opening day. In fact it was a test run day, it opened the next day. But anyway, we’re suckers for good espresso and this was a cool new building right on the road into Ennis, MT.
Lori a retired retailer from the NY scene and her Berkshire Hathaway husband had a 2nd home up here and built this Espresso Shop to keep Lori’s energy from blowing up the Madison valley.  Here we are on pre opening day.

So a few years later I come in to Maple early one morning with a small blue clay French Yogurt cup refilled with espresso.  Lori says oh my gosh I want that!  I tell her my wife Jane flies for Delta, ,  and these are Yogurt cups from Paris, found in a corner Deli that she brings home to me:)  We have A LOT of these cups now, so I promise Lori I’ll bring her a couple next time i’m driving 1,000 miles past her place. 
I’m sure she was thinking, “sure he will”..

So the next year I pack two cups up with my supplies, and drop them off on my first morning thru Ennis. Surprise and Joy was on her face again.  So you see the little blue yogurt cups were the special connection.  And now you know the rest of the story on why she wailed “Craig T is that really you?”.

Her cool retired husband Kevin (From Wisconsin), who worked for Berkshire Hath, got a tip on N.Dak land, bought it before the digging... and the rest is Maple Coffee and Ennis McMansion history :) 

Thank God Kevins WI roots and a retail wife kept him from blowing all those profits years ago. Now making a dollar tip at a coffee shop is actually fun for him. If only now I could convince him to spend more than 2 bucks on a cigar. 

Finding ways to connect with people over things you love makes life richer. Get out and make someones day this week. You'll feel better by it.

And as always I have to have a few fish pics:)

At one in the morning along the bank of the Missouri River near Craig, Montana.
There were 4" crayfish in the shallow rocks as I walked the banks. That afternoon I picked up 2 Crayfish patterns as big as I could get them. Went out at 11PM where I had measured an area in the river I could fish safely by moonlight (you can see the moon above the fish head).  You look for a rise on the moving water or the crash of a big trout and you measure and cast to the spot. It's a bit of a waiting game, but worth the wait.   My first cast of a crayfish to a rising trout was snapped off 1 sec. after it landed. It was a  4x tippet cut clean.   So I moved to a 3x and tied on my only other crayfish. In the same area another rises 10ft from the shore and I lay another crayfish 3ft over the rise and pull it in.  Wham, again, instant mega power line snap. You get so excited at these moments and when you're alone, it's funny, but you're talking to God mostly in whispered tones for no reason other than Silence while fly fishing is the proper thing to do..  In the end this picture above was one of many caught on big double hooked marabou streamer (the only big thing left on my vest in the dark:)

For trout hacks who love to eat trout as well,  Brookies are the sweetest tasting. I took this picture in a small complicated stream 20miles from nowhere.  A large log was over the stream from a beaver. The channel choke point was to dangerous to wade into. So I climbed up the bank and over the tree and back into the stream to find another smaller log crossing just ahead (as seen in the photo). There was no room to cast standing up with these big fallen trees and a narrow stream, so I ended up gettin on my knees, leaning forward and side casting from my left side into the hole that drifted under the tree. You had to get into a position so that when your fly went under that tree (where the trout hang), you could pull it straight back out without snapping off your hook on a branch every cast.  It took about a dozen casts to get my fly into a proper drift into that hole.  When you catch a trout in a technical stalk, it's the most rewarding regardless of size, and she was a great snack before dinner.

At the end of the day in Grizzly bear country, you are always aware of survival.  This means as a "tent dweller"  you don't cook real meals where you sleep.  This place is at least a mile away from where my tent is along the river. I'm camping somewhere at the bottom of that first peak over that tree line.  Of course I have a JetBoil and weeks of backpacker country freeze dried in a bag for emergency, but if I can, every night I plan a real meal. I carry a large Yetti with Dry Ice everywhere I go filled with all fresh produce, proteins and liquids needed. Heck, if you break down my truck it's 1/2 cooking gear, 1/4 fishing gear and 1/4 clothing I never wear:)

 This is my evening prayer.
Wineglass to the heavens and my everyday cheer,
"To The King".