Dreams Come True
by Jack Teece
Enter Jack, an American and the newest
local high school teacher in the English Department. He was introduced to her by another American teacher that had met Wan
at her family restaurant in Trang. Although she told Jack from the beginning that she already had a boyfriend in Denmark,
Jack was interested. Six months later they were married and the Danish boyfriend was history.
Wan and Jack were a natural pair as she had an adventurous
nature, but growing up and helping her family didn't give her any time for recreation. Jack on the other hand lived by the
saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. He was an adventurer and an avid outdoors man. Thailand had
adventures, but not much in the way of hunting, fishing or camping as he had been used to while living in the Pacific Northwest.
It didn't take long before Wan decided that she would like to reopen the house Jack owned in Enterprise, Oregon and experience
a different culture complete with recreation opportunities.
Wallowa County, where their home in Enterprise, Oregon is located, is truly a scenic
wonderland. The county is comprised of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Oregon State Forest, Eagle Cap Wilderness and
the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Nicknamed “Little Switzerland”, the area against the 10,000 ft. peaks
of the Eagle Cap Wilderness is rich in wheat fields and pasture lands of Joseph and Enterprise. Remarkably, the county population
has only totaled around 6000 local residents for the past 20 years and this is due to lack of jobs outside of the farming
and ranching profession. Used to be that there were three sawmills, but that all changed with the environmental movement and
the desire to leave the pristine area off limits from further large scale logging operations. A vibrant art community and
the natural beauty makes tourism an important part of the communities now and life goes on.
Her first day in Enterprise welcomed her into a strange new world. After seeing the
nearby mountains with white peaks surrounded by a
deep blue sky, she ran outside and to her amazement she saw her breath in the morning cold. This was quite a surprise for
a person who grew up near the equator and had never been in temperatures colder than 70 degrees Fahrenheit! Wearing a coat
and hat was another thing she needed to adjust to and as the days turned into months she adjusted well.
Soon she looked for work and realized that driving a car was necessary, so she
studied and passed the Driver's License test. Next she found a job that was perfect for her; working as a cook. Although she
had been a cook and baker in Thailand, this was a different challenge having to cook American food, which she had no prior
knowledge of. She would read the recipes and ask questions before tackling meals with the same expert performance she mastered
in her own country. Her positive attitude, good cooking and friendly smile soon made her a well liked employee. Adjusting
to her new home and job left only the question of what to do with her time off.
With 30 years of outdoor experience in the Wallowa County back country, Jack was only too happy to show Wan what
there was to do when she wasn't working. Winter time involves hunting ducks and geese, sturgeon fishing plus snowmobiling.
Spring brings steelhead and chinook salmon fishing along with ground squirrel shooting in later April. As soon as the temperatures
stays above freezing, pulling the travel trailer out and spending a few days hunting mushrooms in the forests adds to the
fun. Later in the Spring and throughout the Summer is the best time to take the boat to the lake or down into the Hell's Canyon
area and the Snake River.
Contrasts both in climate and elevations make Wallowa County a joy to recreate
in. One day in winter you could go snowmobiling above 6000 ft. and the next day steelhead fish down on the Imnaha River at
700 ft. elevation! Again in the summer you could go to nearby Wallowa Lake, which is 4000 ft. elevation to fish for salmon
and trout and the next day take your boat to the waters behind the dams in the Snake River to fish for bass, catfish or crappies,
where the heat makes you look for shade after 10 AM.
experience grew quickly and soon she was learning new skills and adapting well. Of all the activities she enjoyed, it was
fishing that made her the happiest. Trolling, to put it precisely, is the fishing method she enjoys the most. Although sport
fishing isn't a typical Thai hobby, she thinks it's the best thing to do because she almost always brings home fish and that
helps pay her back for her license fee.
Apart from trolling
for kokanee on Wallowa Lake she did find still fishing for sturgeon on the Columbia River the next most exciting thing to
do. This past January was her first taste of hooking onto really big fish. At first she didn't quite have the knack for setting
the hook once the sturgeon started “mouthing” the bait. It took more than a few misses before one hooked itself while her rod was still in the holder. She had to
ask for help to get it out of the holder because her pole was bent over. She had never had that type of force on her pole
before. Once she got used to the power of fish over 40 inches it wasn't long before she was mentioning that she'd like to
hook a really big one. On a trip with a friend a couple weeks earlier, Jack had seen his friend land one that measured five
feet, but bigger ones were possible. His friend warned that if you hooked one bigger than his temperatures around freezing
when they stopped to pick up their bait and head to the
boat launch. Larry and his son Brad Snook, who own the sporting goods store, gave Jack words ofhat you'd need to be
able to unhook the boat from the anchor so that the fish would have to pull the boat instead of all of the force being on
your arms and back. With that in mind, Jack made sure that he had a float attached to his anchor rope, just in case, when
he took Wan along.Wan's
wish finally came true during her second day of sturgeon fishing when at 3:30 PM she set the hook in what she said was a “big
one”. Jack had heard that before and her fish had only measured between 40 – 45 inches so he kept fishing until
he heard the drag on her reel whining. He turned to see her pole locked in her arm and almost bent in half. Suddenly Wan says
that the line on her reel is almost at the end and so Jack instructed her to let him hold her rod while she unhooks and throws
the anchor buoy over the side. Upon closer inspection of the reel Jack discovers that the reel is almost out of a light colored
line, but another 160 yards of a darker line is still left. Wan takes back the reel, but stopping the big fish's run isn't
possible so Jack unhooks from the anchor and they go on a wild ride with the fish. Once the fish realizes the full weight
of their 16 ft. boat it starts going in a big circle before pulling them across the large river and then down stream.