Free Alaska!

It’s been two months since my Alaska trip and I’ve been holding off on publishing this post because I thought that other people were going to send me their photos. But, it’s about time that I share my experiences and really express my gratitude to Craig and Pam Goldman for the trip of a lifetime.

I don’t write in my blog as much as I should by any means.  I usually just let people know what is going on in my life through Twitter and Facebook.  Not only is it hard to type with my hand tremors, but it is hard to summarize what I want to say in a post that is short enough to make my readers interested enough to actually read the whole thing.  Everyone that knows me has been asking about my fishing trip to Alaska though.  Rather than just saying it was amazing, I figured it was time that I do write about it.

Craig & Pam Goldman

Craig and Pam are the truest, most caring and giving people that I have ever had the privilege to meet, or even hear of.  They don’t even consider what they do for veterans as charity, but feel that it is something they owe to us.  Craig was not drafted during Vietnam.  He tried to join the military anyway out of love for our country, but for a reason that I don’t remember, failed the physical.  But that didn’t stop him from taking his God chosen path which gave him the opportunity to do for those of us that were called to duty. What impressed me the most about the Goldman’s is that they don’t just contribute to a foundation, but they actually get to know the people that they share with, and actually go on the fishing trips with them.

I actually told Craig that his charity was too much!  Then jokingly I told him that my father died 20 years ago and that I’m up for adoption.  He as actually been treating me like a son, and signing dad to all of his emails. Those of you that know how evil my father was, it is so comforting to find someone like him to even jokingly take a father’s role. (I meant it as a joke, not to disrespect my mother’s husband Lester.)

      So last September, when I was on a weekend trip to Roscoe, NY with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), our Regional Coordinator Tim Daly asked me if I’d be interested in going on an all expense paid fishing trip to Alaska.  I said what anyone else would have said of course. (DUH!) He told me that a generous donor wanted to not only give money to PHWFF, but he wanted to bring two veterans with him personally on the trip.  It was so unreal to me that even after the flights were booked, I still didn’t believe it could be true.  Do you know how long it would take a disabled veteran like me to afford such a trip?  I never could.

      In April, I met Craig and Pam for the first time. Tim, my Program Leader Harry, other chosen veteran George, and two of Craig’s friends with our wife’s met at their beautiful home to talk about the trip.  We started with crackers, cheese and nuts in there library and then they took us to their clubhouse for lunch.  The only thing Craig asked me to bring was a sense of humor.  Once I got comfortable with him, I think he may of regretted saying that.  He warned me that I could be un-adopted fast. So I tried to behave myself a little better. 🙂

Well, we flew first class; which was a first for me.  As sore as I was after a day of flying though, I don’t think I’d try flying that far with less leg room.  So basically I’m stuck on the east coast, unless he liked me enough.  My anxiety was so bad for at least a week before the trip, and I was out of medication.  My doctor at the VA was on vacation, so I couldn’t get more.  Fortunately that morning I found that I did have the medication.  It was just underneath the pile of the other meds that I have.  It turned out though that I didn’t need them in Newark; because it was early morning and empty.  Then Denver and Anchorage where pleasant experiences.  The only time I ended up needing them was at the San Francisco airport on the way home.

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Rapids Camp Lodge (owned by Deneki Outdoors), in King Salmon, AK is unlike any fishing lodge that I ever heard of.  They picked up our group of six in Anchorage with their own aircraft (about an hour flight).  We were met at the airport by a van and a pickup truck to drive all of us out to the lodge.  We were shown to our rooms, fitted with waders and boots, got our fishing licenses, and socialized with all of their staff until dinner, at the open beer and wine bar.

Digger, the lodge chef is five star!  Our first night, we had the biggest, most tender king crab after filling up on sushi appetizers.  I cant remember everything that we ate, but every meal was the best of the best.  Smoked duck one night had almost like a ham/bacon flavor.  OMG it was good.  Even when we were on the water fishing and Digger and his two sous chefs, Dan and Max, packed us sandwiches, they were not plain, except Craig’s; he likes his PB&J’s.

The next morning we set out after breakfast for our first day fishing.  All of us except for Craig (he couldn’t get on float plains due to recent surgery.) were flown on their largest of four float plains to the Nushagak River to fish for king salmon.  We fished with conventional rods that day instead of fly.  It was a great way to start a seven day excursion.  I caught my two biggest kings ever.

The sakai  salmon started their run up the river a little later than expected.  But, when they started running, it was the best fly fishing that I have ever experienced.  The first day, I limited out at 5 of them, and then caught five more that I had to release.  It was a little slower the second day, so we flew out again to a place called the Narrows to fish for arctic char and graylings.  The landscape there was so heavenly.  We were standing in the crystal clear river among the greenest of grasses and shrubs.  The temperature was in the mid 70’s and we were surrounded by majestic white capped mountains.

One morning, the group flew out to sight see, but I stayed to fish for more sakai.  They went to the Katmai National Park to view the brown bears.  Afterward they flew over the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, which is within the Katmai park.

To rate this trip would be impossible.  Every employee of the lodge and all of the other guests became almost immediately like family (if you love your family).  Every night when my group was getting shut-eye, I was up with the crowd; drinking the free beer and smoking good cigars.

If you can afford an Alaskan trip, look into the Rapids Camp Lodge.  When I saw their prices at first, in nearly choked.  But after I thought about what was included, I wondered how they could provide their services at such a price.  The rooms, the food, the flights from river to river, the personal guides, the open bar, not to forget the hot tub, sauna, gym and masseuse.  Take in the beauty of Alaska and you’ll find it more than worth it.  If you can’t afford it, I understand that Deneki Outdoors also owns other lodges (including an unguided one) so that they can accommodate your budget; in Alaska as well as across the Americas.

So I told you, that I couldn’t keep this post short.  I owe Craig and Pam the recognition for how much they  mean to me and to other veterans that they have treated in the past; and will in the future.

I also want to thank:

  • PHWFF for connecting me with him and choosing me for the trip.
  • The staff at Rapids Camp Lodge for making the stay amazing.
  • And, my wife for letting me go; and along with my daughter and mother, babysitting my psychotic dog.

Living with PTSD is a terrible thing.  I can’t complain about the life I was dealt when it comes to my beautiful family; but sometimes a get away (especially one like this) is much needed therapy.

 If Craig and Pam read this post, I want you to know that I love you both and look forward to seeing you again soon.  I’m not asking for another trip.  I’d love to just spend time surf fishing with you.  You are truly wonderful people!  I pray that God continues to bless you always.

Interior Secretary Zinke Bans Outside magazine reporter from conference call after the reporter noted Zinke rigged his fly fishing reel backwards

Exciting News from the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild: Kids on The Fly Northwest NJ! — Catskill Fly Tyers Guild

The Catskill Fly Tyers Guild is proud to announce that we are sponsoring a new chapter of Kids On The Fly in Northwestern NJ! This chapter will be run by Guild Members Nicole March of The Quilted Tyer and “Uncle Bob” Hopkins! Greg Becker of Whitewater Flies has graciously offered his fly shop for their monthly meetings, and we are grateful for his generosity as we work together to pass along the knowledge, history and art of fly tying to our younger generations. Their meetings will be held the first Saturday of each month from 9AM-11:30 AM!

via Exciting News from the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild: Kids on The Fly Northwest NJ! — Catskill Fly Tyers Guild

Flies Are On The Way!

As I said, I’ll have this business running soon. I put together a list of the most successful dry flies for trout to begin with. I am going to put them in kits according to their success in U.S. regions and sell approximately 30 Flies for that region, in a box for around $23.99. I ordered over 100 dozen to get started. I think these prices will compare to others found on EBay and fly fishing sites. Plus again, 20% of proceeds will go to Project Healing Waters.

As I put more together, I’ll start actually creating the web page. It’s going to take time. I will be making custom fly rods and selling those.  But, as for commercially manufactured rods and reals,I can’t afford to get into that type of business at the moment.

If you want a one of a kind rod custom designed for you, email me for an estimate at It doesn’t have to be a fly rod either. I can make any rod from ultra light to tuna sticks; even little ice fishing rods. Depending on how custom, I can still build them less expensive than even mid range commercial rods. Send me your ideas and I’ll draw up some art work and an estimate.

Thank you all so much for making this possible for me! You don’t know how much it means to be a disabled veteran and still be able to live to the fullest until you have been affiliated with a group like Healing Waters. Now, thanks to your support, I’m able to work from home, doing something I love, and make money for Healing Waters and a little extra to help my family. I am so excited right now!

Please, continue to help me as much as you can.  If you don’t want or need to make a purchase right now, retweet or share on Facebook.

It’s Been A While

I know that I haven’t written since early spring but I am still here. So much has happened since my last post that I could write a book. But, I will sum it up to keep it short. Give me a chance to work on it. I have lots of pictures to share. Next weekend I am going to be fly fishing for steelhead on the Salmon River in Pulaski NY; curtesy of Project Healing Waters @phwff and NYS DEC @NYSDEC. My wife says it’s my last trip of the year but I’m considering ice fishing this year too. 😂.

I have to talk about my trip to Hancock to fish in the Friends of the Upper Delaware annual “One Bug Tournament “ sent again by PHWFF. 

I was in Roscoe on two trips this year with PHWFF as a group. One of our trips was donated by Adopt a Soldier Platoon in NJ. It was an exceptional trip!  Me. Virginia from AASP @AASP_Kim

My biggest event of the year was the birth of my first grandchild “Quinn Kristiana Bombard”. She surely is no catch and release!  She was born 6/26. 

In August I spent a week on Outer Banks of NC in Rodanthe with my whole extended family thanks to my parents renting a house for the week. 

As I said, it has been a busy several months.   It has been filled with too much joy to let my PTSD to get the best of me. 

I want to thank all of these people publicly. I already have given them my personal gratitude, but I need to get out of my house.  Though these trips seem excessive and they are, the rest of the time I am home. Until my granddaughter was born, I was home alone.  She alone has been a blessing enough to save my life. The fishing has just been a wonderful plus!  

I’ll try to add the pictures and even videos. I just wanted to let people know where I disappeared to. 

Thank You to Lindsay Agness Fly Fishing

As you know, I am in Hancock this weekend for the One Bug Tournament sponsored by Project Healing Waters. Lindsay and her girlfriend are competing in the tournament as team Ms.Behaving. She and her husband are supporters of Healing Waters and gave me and possibly my whole New City chapter an invite to Pulaski, NY to fish for Salmon. The salmon, steelhead hatchery is actually opening for a certain amount of vets to get experience catching. 

As you know, when someone is suppo Project Healing Waters, I appreciate them so much because they are supporting me and my disabled veteran brothers and sisters. 

Please check out Lindsay’s web site and patronize her services.

Arrived With a Warm Welcome 

After being told that I was on the list from my Project Healing Waters group it seemed like forever for this day to come. Starting with dinner tonight, Thanks to Healing Waters and of course donors that make it happen, I am taking part in the annual “Friends of the Upper Delaware One Bug Tournament”.  I’ve been working on my house nonstop and now I’m  finally getting a break. 

In case you wonder why it’s called one bug (as I did), it’s because the tournament is on a points system; and if you get through a day only using one fly, you get an extra 100 points. If you know me, I just want to catch my first fish with a fly rod. I’m not worrying about point. 

I will continue to post on my blog throughout the weekend, but I did want people to know that I received a warm welcome here at the Hancock House Hotel. It is a beautiful building. My room is very clean and comfortable. The staff that I met so far have been extremely nice and helpful as to where the events are taking place. There is a great looking restaurant downstairs, but there is a dinner for the event that I’m going to later. I really think I am going to enjoy this weekend. 

I’ll keep you posted. For now I am going to explore town before the dinner later. 

April 25th “Anzac Day”

Many of you probably have no idea what Anzac Day is. To be honest I didn’t either until hearing about it through a VFW post on Twitter this morning. 

Just 14 years after Australia became an independent nation, Great Britain called on them in cohort with New Zealand to attack the Turks of Constantinople. This campaign ended in a stalemate but the new country lost around 8,000 troops. Australia has been a great Ally ever since. I reverberate serving with several of their troops in Desert Storm. 

If you want to know more, I added this link. What is Anzac? It is a good read. Keep Australia and New Zealanders on your mind and in your prayers today. 

Mr. T

When my friend Rhonda that I met through Facebook while looking for people to send img_0558-2me feathers for my fly tying asked me to make a fly for her soon to be 75 years old Vietnam   veteran friend I was honored. I gave it some thought and that is when I created the Vietnam fly designed after the military service ribbon. This was my first fly that I made of the sort which now as you know if you have been reading my blog posts that I am selling to earn money for Project Healing Waters. Though the fly can’t be zoomed in on clearly, Rhonda’s friend she calls MR. T loves it. I hope that I cannot only get more vets wearing these flies representing their service to our country, but that I can make and sell enough to donate as much as possible to Healing Waters for being such a worthy cause. 


PTSD Ribbon

As soon as I get these flies made for the farmer’s market, I will be back to writing regular blog posts. It is not like I have Fly patterns to go by though. I am trying to create them in the likeness of the service ribbons they represent. 

There is no service ribbon for active duty or veterans that develop PTSD while in combat. For those that receive a Purple Heart, their injury is immediately recognized; but mental injury may take years to surface. 

My PTSD was noticeable in my last year of active duty but nothing was done about it except discharging me with honorable but with “unable to perform ” noted so that I couldn’t re-enlist. 

I was denied service related disability for 20 years while things worsened. Finally when I was approved for 40% I had developed other Dissociative disorders related to the PTSD. I was never able to keep a job for more than 6 months to a year but I always found one. I may not have been the family man mentally, but I was not lazy. I found work and I supported them. 

Two years ago I was hospitalized for 45 days. (Residentially, not inpatient) I was free to leave at any time but I needed the help or I would have definitely committed suicide. After that stay, I was declared fully disabled; both through the VA and now through SSDI. 

There are so many forms of therapy that work for people with disabilities. The experience I have found with PHWFF is what is proving to be what works the best for me. That is why I want to raise money and awareness for them with my writing, fly tying and whatever else I can do. 

Sure, I am done working at age 46 and using fly fishing as therapy; how can that not work?

It would be nice if it were that easy. I am stuck on the couch 90% of the time wishing I could be fishing. That’s why I write, tie flies, build rods, etc.  My Dissociative Amnesia has made driving any sort of distance safely, nearly impossible. I jokingly asked my wife if I she’d trust me to get a motorcycle. She replied that she doesn’t trust that I’m safe on a recliner! 😳 I used to ride, but my mind gets worse daily it seems. The thought of getting on a bike terrifies me. 

So to all you American people who support troops and veterans, as I know you do (before I write a book) all I ask is to maybe purchase a fly from me. Or at least share my posts so that someone who is interested in flies can do so. My profit on a fly after supplies and shipping is about $3.00 and that whole amount goes to  Project Healing Waters. In the future I want to support other charities as well, but I am starting here. I am one guy working from home. 

As far as there not being a service ribbon for PTSD, there is an awareness ribbon for it. I created the fly below this morning to represent.

Thank you for reading. 

PTSD Awareness Fly