“Hey, kids!”  I yelled out to Mason and Cruz, who were playing with their favorite monster trucks on the floor, “Want to go to the river today”?

“Yeaaaaaaaaaaaa!” They both screamed, throwing their trucks aside like a couple of dud lottery tickets. I knew I would get this reaction, and that’s why I already had the van packed with a few favorite outside toys, extra clothing, and snacks for the day. I always find it amazing how well these kids can behave when they both want to go somewhere fun and exciting. The typical clawing of “who gets in the van first” was replaced with Mason opening the door and allowing Cruz to scramble in as he waited ever so patiently. Once in and buckled up, Mason even went as far as to ask Cruz if he was comfortable…Cruz replied with a gleeful yes.  This sporadic etiquette makes me laugh, and it’s always fun to see how long it will last. 

A quick stop at the tank on the way was a must. The kids found it very exciting, despite this picture where Cruz appears a bit miserable. In actuality, the kids were more excited to get to the river because Uncle Bryan was already there in his van. For Bryan, living in a van is normal, but for us, when he is out there, it’s luxury. Bryan can play a movie for the kids and cook us up a fancy meal in a snap. When we arrived at the river the only thing that kept the kids out of Bryan’s van was a small patch of sand and the right toys for the occasion.

Cruz was doing his best to fill the dump truck with water while Mason excavated the nearby sand. 

“A LIZARD!” Mason yelled, jumping over his toy and stopping fast near a large rock. His eyes inches from the small lizard that froze in place. 

“There it is, it’s right there.” Mason whispered, extending his finger to touch the lizard that sprinted before Mason could get too close. 

“Oh, there it goes.” I said, as we watched the little thing hop into the shadows in-between the large boulders. 

While the kids played, Bryan had rigged up a fly rod to catch a fish for the boys. 

“Here we go! Mason! Cruz!” Bryan yelled, and both kids watched as Bryan brought in the fish. Once in the net, Mason was ready to let it go. 

“Okay, Mase You think you can get it?” I asked, as he was having some trouble getting his little hands around the slippery fish. Little grunts of frustration came from Mason as the white fish flipped and flopped, making it hard to grab. 

“Get it back in the water.” I said, and Bryan took the net and dipped the fish under to get a breath.  

“Okay, ready?” I asked Mason, who was right there, waiting to picked up the fish. Bryan brought the fish over to him, and Mason wasted no time getting after it. Cruz was right there too, touching the fish as Mason managed to get ahold of it. 

“Okay man, throw it back.” I said, as Mason had it lifted as awkwardly as his little hands could manage. 

“Quickly, Mason.” I said, as Mason continued to hold the fish. All it would take is one flop of that white fish for it to slip out of Mason’s hands and onto the rocks, which I did not want to happen. 

“Mason!” I raised my voice; he did not want to let it go. 

“Time to throw it back…MASON!” I went to grab the fish. 

“No, I’ll do it!” Mason protested. He drew back the fish, then in a sudden burst, threw the fish into the water.  The fish did about three flips before it splashed and bolted. 

“Mason….” I said, distastefully. Bryan laughed, “Well you said THROW it back”.

With every lizard near by scared for its life, we decided to push on to a new spot to play. 

Being there in the middle of the week made it easy to find a spot to play, and with little to no people around the kids had the luxury of throwing rocks in the water. 

Lunch took place in Uncle Bryan’s van, and the kids ate everything we handed them without question. 

Time was flying, and it was near the end of our day. The kids and I parted ways with Bryan as we headed out. 

“Cruz! You have to wake up!” I said, but knew it was no use. He was about to fall asleep, and if that happened he would be up until 11pm, and that was NOT going to happen. 

“Let’s stop here again. You guys want to play in the sand again?” 

A unanimous “Yeaaaaaa!” came from the back, so I pulled over and we got out. 

That is all it will take for Cruz to get over his tired spell: a little more play time. 

As the kids played I couldn’t help but notice the hatch that was now coming off the water. A pink Cahill dapped the water, and trout were on them. 

Blop! Blop!  A trout was rising very consistently right in front of us. 

“Hey guys… Want to catch a fish?” 

“Yeaaaaaaaaa!!! We do!” 

“Okay” I said, and we headed back to the van to set up the fly rod.  

Mason held the end of the rod as I threaded the line through the guides, and I held out the fly box to Cruz. 

“Think we should use this fly?” I asked Cruz, pointing directly at the one I hoped would be the fly of the day. 


“Okay!” I said, and tied it on and we all got back down to the river. 

Mason stuck right next to me while Cruz perched himself on a nearby rock to get a better glimpse.

There it was again, the rising fish right next to us. Other than a fly rod, I had no other wading gear with me.  I really didn’t think I was going to fish today, but coming to the river without a rod on hand would have been just plum crazy. 

“See the fly?” I asked, after a small flick of the rod.  

“I see it.” Mason said excitedly. 


“There’s the fish!” I said, setting the hook. 

“A fish, you got a fish, Daddy!” Mason yelled.

“You got a fish!” Cruz repeated. 

The fish did not disappoint, as it put on quite the show. Every jump was met with screaming children excited to watch the acrobatics of the fighting fish. 

“Okay, you stand there, Mase, and hold the net in the water.” I said, manipulating the fish towards the net. 

“Here it comes, Cruz!” Mason said, his feet scampering with excitement as I brought the fish into the net. 

“We got it!” I yelled, and raced over to take control of the net. 

“It’s a rainbow trout, Cruz!” Mason screamed with delight.

“It is!” Cruz yelled out. 

I removed the hook from the fish’s mouth and set my rod aside. The fish was still in great shape, so I gave Mason a chance to release it. 

His hands could not grasp this fish, no matter which way he tried to bend them. I then grabbed the fish, and held it up for him to grasp. This fish was a nice sized fish to begin with, but in Mason’s hand it looked like a monster. 

“Nice and easy now, Mase.” I reminded him, as he went to release the fish.  He, ever so gently, held the fish out towards the water, when WHIP! The fish kicked out of Mason’s hands and splashed into the water.

I picked up Cruz and the three of us watched as the trout swam away. 

Gear, toys, and wet clothing were put away before heading out of the canyon. The kid were still behaving themselves like perfect gentleman as we drove back home, but before that we had one last stop.

“Do you guys want french fries?”

“Yeaaaaaaaa!” They both screamed. 

So we stopped in at the Mountain Home McDonalds for a fun little treat. 

The kids started the day off with great etiquette and ended the day just the same. For extra fun I connected the iPad to the van so the kids could watch to Frozen 2 in full surround while they munched on their fries. Normally that would have made the drive to Boise a little longer, but this was a great day, and why not end the day a little extra special for the kids?

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