As I write this I am 9 days into my 12 month road trip and broke down in Cave City Kentucky just down the road from Mammoth Caves National Park which is were I was headed and will continue to shortly. The van fix is a simple $15 part for the brake boost however not having power assist brakes in the mountains can be a bitch. The part was not in stock and is on the way overnight. I should be on the road early afternoon tomorrow.
I spent the first week of my year long road trip in Michigan and completed my father’s memorial. I’m sure its not just me and we all have things that take us back to our childhood or another happy time in our lives. It can be a scent, sound, place or smell. In my case one of those places is on the Little Manistee River a few lines east of Manistee, Michigan. The location I chose for the memorial which I have called Fisherman’s Rest is on a high sandy bank overlooking the river. It is a place I have camped and paused many times while traversing the river to take in the view. At this river I feel close to my father as this is where I learned to fish for steelhead with him, camped and learned about patience as in fishing patience.
My father(William (Bill) John Schwind 2/28/1940 - 2/19/1982) passed away at the young age of 41 when I was only 18, he passed unexpectedly when he drowned while fishing. An experienced fisherman I finally came away with the realization it was just his time. I had a bond with my father beyond anything I could explain he was my best friend, father, co-worker, boss, adventure partner and fishing companion. I believe the 18 years we had together far exceeded anything resembling a typical father and son relationship spanning a normal full life time. For this I am grateful and these memories of adventure with my father are what I hold dearest.
This memorial I’ve constructed is simple by design, two Adirondack chairs with a simple memorial sign. I’ve wanted to do a memorial for some time but couldn’t come up with something that made sense. Last summer I was backpacking in Banff National park in Alberta, Canada and came across something similar overlooking the river valley on the Saskatchewan River and decided that was it.
The sign reads “In loving memory of William (Bill) Schiwnd 2/28/40 - 2/19/82 Fisherman, Friend, Father. What I do next I do for us. Your loving son Thomas #wishUwerehere
They always say, whoever they are “If I have to go, I want to go while I’m doing something I love.” My father was a passionate man and above all he was most passionate about his family, work and steelhead fishing. He passed away while Steelhead fishing the North Fork of the Skykomish River upstream from Index, Washington in the month of February, 1982. The area is a beautiful place anytime of the year and I have yet to return sense the year of 1982 but I will this year and my father will accompany me on yet another adventure. I will also be constructing a simple memorial at this location where my father made his last cast, and in my mind’s eye was battling the steelhead of a lifetime on that cold snowy February day. I have not been to this exact place of his last cast but I will be soon and can picture it perfectly. I remember the area well although it's been 35 years since I've last seen it. It's a simple drive North from Index Washington to where the road crosses the river, he was fishing I imagine just below the bridge as almost every bridge on every trouty river has a hole just downstream of the bridge.
Dad always said, “Son, one day we’ll get to Alaska” and next year it will be so, this I do for U, this I do for Us.