There I was in the wilderness of Alaska fishing with a coworker Richard Tish along a small stream. We were working for H & R Drilling in Beluga and spending our free time before work fishing. After spending most of the past four years working on the platforms of Cook Inlet this job was a real treat for me. Our crew got off work at midnight and by the time we drove back to the Veco camp, ate, and showered it was usually about 1:30 am before we got to bed. I would get up at 6:30 am each morning and go fishing some place.
I arrived at the fishing hole this particular morning at 7 am, and Richard joined me shortly afterwards. The fish always seem to bite better right away in the morning. Maybe partly because you were the first one there and the fishing hole had been undisturbed all night long. You were almost always guaranteed to catch fish on your first few casts. After you caught a few and the water got stirred up they bite a lot slower.
A group of four people showed up on the road above the creek about 8 am on four wheelers. They drove on down the trail past the fishing hole followed by a dog and a pet goose. A short time later I was cleaning a silver salmon on the cleaning table near the creek. I heard a voice say "Sir." I looked up to see a very pretty girl standing there with beautiful long blonde hair. The girl then asked if I would be upset if her friends and her came up and fished by us. I replied " I would be honored if you and your friends came and fished by us." I said there was plenty of fish and plenty of room for everyone. She went on to explain that one of her friends had MS and had to stay on the four- wheeler to fish because he couldn't walk. This is the only spot we can get him close enough to fish safely, and he really wants to catch a silver salmon badly. Richard and I both insisted that they drive the four wheeler right there by us on the level spot next to the creek.
The girl introduced herself as Holly Caraway and the others in her group were her sister Kaydee Caraway, Tony Willis (Kaydees boyfriend), and her special friend 13 year old Cody Hefter. They drove their four-wheeler with Cody on it to the edge of the creek. Cody was doing his best to catch one of the many silvers that were in the creek but unfortunately was about an hour late for the best fishing. A short time later Richard hooked a silver and handed me his pole and asked that I give the pole to Cody and let him fight the fish. I took the pole and asked Cody if he wanted to land the fish? He looked up at me with bright sparkling eyes and said, yes I do. I handed him the pole and watched as Cody landed the big fish.
A short time later I hooked a fish and again handed Cody my pole and let him experience the joy of fighting the silver salmon. I took only one fish back to camp that day as I told Cody he could keep one of the fish. I will never forget the happiness that reflected on this young man's face and the sheer determination that he displayed that day. He wasn't about to let his crippling disability stop him from enjoying the fishing trip Holly took him on. I also realized what a special person Holly was and what an inspiration she was to all of us for taking the time from a very busy schedule to take this special young man fishing. I asked Cody if he wanted to take the bright silver salmon home that was flopping on the ground near the four-wheeler that he was sitting on. He looked up at me and asked, "You will let me?" I replied "You caught it didn't you?"
I inquired about other places to fish in the area and Holly told me about a small lake that had Northern Pike in it. Holly and Kaydee said they would be at our camp at 6 am the next morning and take us in there. I have not caught Pike in six years and was really looking forward to this trip.
I was up at 5:30 am waiting for my new friends to arrive. I decided at 6:15 am that they were not going to show up and somewhat disappointed I went back to bed. Shortly later I heard voices in the hall and there they were, wide awake, and ready to go fishing! They also brought along their Uncle Art Peck and his son Riley.
The weather was rainy and cold but we fished anyway and I was able to catch several pike. One fishing trip I will never forget and amongst some of the nicest people I ever met. Art and I ended up fishing by ourselves as the rain chased the others off the lake early. Art commented how growing up in Beluga and the wilderness life style made the Caraway girls as tough as you will find. He told how Kaydee shot her first moose at the age of seven. Holly spent a lot of time hunting spruce hens at the age of seven with a Chipmunk 22 rifle. She shot her first moose at the age of 11 and her first bear at the age of 12. Art also commented on what a special and caring person Holly is and how she is always doing something nice for someone.
Holly is on the Service High School air rifle team and is currently their top shooter. She has also broke all of the school records held by her older sister Kaydee. She is in the top 1% of the shooters in the country for her kids her age and hopefully someday that lands her on the Olympic team. Besides her shooting form she is also carrying a 3.8% grade point average.
Besides all of these activities this special 17 year-old also takes the time to take her friend Cody on numerous outdoor adventures. It was through her treatment of others and her polite personality that made me realize that the true beauty of this girl runs a whole lot deeper then the good looks she is blessed with. For anyone to spend time with anyone less fortunate then we are, they are to be commended. For Holly Caraway you have earned my vote as ``MISS WILDERNESS ALASKA" and I hope my readers are as inspired reading about you as I was in meeting you!
See You Next Week!
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