By MARTY RELLES, Valley Community Newspapers columnist
One day in the late spring of 1961, my dad came home from work and told me, “This weekend, you and I are going fishing with Uncle Ross.”
Sure enough, Friday evening about 5:30 p.m., Uncle Ross drove up in his station wagon with my Cousin Jim. Dad loaded two fishing poles, some tackle, two sleeping bags, a grocery bag full of food , and coats and clothing for us into the car. Then off we went on our fishing trip.
We drove out Folsom Boulevard toward Placerville. Back then, no freeways had been built so we drove out Folsom Boulevard to Folsom. Eventually that road ran into State Highway 50.
When we reached Placerville, we turned north on Highway 49 in the direction of Georgetown, an old gold rush village.
Just before we reached Georgetown, we turned east on a dirt road and drove about five miles to a place where we stopped and made camp.
The thing I remember most about that ride was the dust. It billowed up and covered Uncle Ross’ car.
What a mess.
But who cared, we were going to camp out under the stars. Wow!
After we unloaded the gear, we began to erect the tents. This dates back before the days of REI, so the tents we had came from Army Surplus. We set up one tent for Dad and Uncle Ross and one for Jim and me. Then we unrolled our sleeping bags inside the tents.
While we did this, Uncle Ross built a fire and cooked dinner: hot dogs and canned beans. I tell you this, hot dogs and beans never tasted so good. For dessert, we had Hostess Cup Cakes. As we watched the sun set, we drank coffee with lots of milk and sugar in it.
When the sun came down and dark settled in, we beheld the magic of the entire Milky Way spreading across the night sky. I remember the majesty of that to this day. However, soon we tired, closed our tent flap and fell into a deep sleep.
When morning came, Jim and I awoke to the sound of Uncle Ross cooking breakfast. He started the fire, then made coffee, then cooked bacon and eggs. The smell of the cooking bacon proved intoxicating, and soon we all dressed and joined Uncle Ross around the fire.
After breakfast, we gathered our gear and headed down to the Rubicon River in search of trout.
Since this was my first fishing trip, I took in all the sights. We trekked over huge granite outcroppings, went around large fir trees, and crossed gurgling streams filled with water so clean, you could scoop up a hand full and drink right from the stream.
Eventually we arrived at the river where Dad and Ross went upstream and Jim and I went downstream.
Try as we might, Jim and I caught no fish. We saw some big ones, but they ignored our bait. In the end, we headed back upstream to find Dad and Uncle Ross.
When we found them, they proudly held up two trout each: nice looking fish, all about twelve inches long. Jim and I were happy somebody caught something. After admiring the catch, we all headed back up toward the camp site.
As always, the walk back out always seems a lot harder the walk in. But we made it back without an injury, or a whimper. Soon we had the car loaded and headed home with our bounty.
We stopped in Placerville on the way home to eat lunch. We had burgers and fries. Keep in mind, this was long before people worried much about cholesterol and the food tasted great. After filling our bellies, off we went to Sacramento.
I remember this trip as if it were yesterday. The clean air, the pure water, the simple food cooked outdoors all added up to a wonderful time with my father, my uncle and my cousin. Even today, Jim and I often think back and recall this special Janey Way memory.