Sonoma Christian Home Banner
Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: July 2, 2013.

Nine years ago I abruptly left a long career in financial services without a clue about what I would do next. I simply put my head down on my desk and prayed that the Lord would give me meaningful work away from the fear and greed of financial markets. He answered my prayer. But, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would end up working with artists and designers.

Today, it is not uncommon for my designer wife Cindy to blog about my prowess at hanging heavy mirrors, painting gold drapery rings white, and tackling various design projects from constructing headboards out of old garden gates to restoring antique doors. After many years of living to work, I’ve mastered the art of working to live; and in the process, I’ve learned how to love life again.

Out of my love for art and interest in artists and creative people, I created a website called where I post the work and biographies of artists I discover and write about. James Sampsel and I became friends over the internet. He’s a young artist in Oregon and expert river guide and fly fisherman. He called me from Uruguay last spring where he was fishing and suggested I visit the Great Northwest and try my hand at catching “elusive” steelhead trout on the Rogue River. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Artist and River Guide James Sampsel and me with my first Steelhead

This is more than a mere travel piece about the exquisite beauty and serenity of Morrison’s Rogue River Lodge and fishing for steelhead on the Rogue. This is about living life large, something worth praying for.

I’m sitting on the back deck of Morrison’s Lodge gazing out upon the kind of scene that a picture cannot adequately convey: a broad manicured lawn with white Adirondack chairs, sun-splashed verdant hills, an osprey soaring against deep blue sky over the Rogue. White water falling from Morrison’s pond making that same hypnotic sound that lulls me to sleep at night. I find myself thinking I could stay here forever.

Gazing upon the majestic Rogue River from Morrison's Lodge

Ever-present Osprey soaring above the Rogue River


A view of the Rogue River from Oregon's Hellgate Canyon


My wife Cindy enjoying the cool of the evening by the Rogue River


A large black-headed blue jay lands on the rail to my right and inquires what I’m doing–this is the same blue jay that steals butter from the dinner tables and squawks, driving management crazy. Guess he’s never seen a writer at work. But there have been others. Zane Grey wrote many of his western novels in a cabin which stills stands along this historic river.

Morrison's Lodge Library, Zane Grey Novels

Artist James Sampsel could easily fit the description of a Zane Grey character. Lean, tanned and muscular, he came of age in this back country, fishing, hiking and capturing its wild beauty on canvas much the way Grey captured it with words–he sold 20 original paintings over the summer, and I see his work improving almost daily. James stands in the Rogue’s cold current in crisp morning air under spectacular blue sky, and demonstrates how to “draw a circle” with the rod, swish line from the water, then whip the line up into a “D” pattern in the air and cast out to the river’s center.

Artist James Sampsel - Our First Meeting

James Sampsel Demonstrating a Casting Technique

Cruising the Rogue River Looking for a Spot to Wade

A good fly fisherman on the Rogue will catch only about one elusive steelhead every eight hours. But when one finally takes the fly, it’s an exhilarating show: I feel the line jerk. The feisty half-pounder takes the fly and the reel spins rapidly. The rod bends well over but I keep it high and begin to reel. Line tears through the water as the steelhead fights for his freedom. Several minutes pass before I pull him close to where I’m standing on rocky riverbed, waist-deep in the swirling Rogue. Then I gently place him back in the water, turning him into the current. He’s still for a moment, as if offering thanks and farewell, then zips from my hands and disappears to fight again another day.

Returning to the Rogue River to Fight Again Another Day

A Rogue experience isn’t just about the fishing. It’s quite easy to get lost in this all-consuming majesty of creation. You do not realize you were stressed until you come here. The Rogue affects a transcendent peace on one’s mind and body. Stress melts away the moment you arrive.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

PSALM 90:12

Morrison’s Lodge and the Rogue experience is also about the chirping of crickets at night and birds at dawn, a big fish jumping in the lake, the sound of rushing water, the cry of an osprey overhead. Even the hissing of lawn sprinklers melds into nap-inducing harmony. I follow the changing shadows on the hills above the Rogue, view the in-creeping colors of fall, all set in splendor, crowned by Oregon-blue sky.

A View From Morrison's Lodge

Wind whispers through giant firs. The passing of cars on Galice Road above the lodge mimic the rhythmic crashing of Pacific waves on the beach two hours west of here.  It’s all so soothing, like the breath of God airing my soul; and a balm for work-sore eyes. Surely, Heaven must be like this.

Thank you, Lord, for showing me how to love life.


Don’t miss Jeff’s beautiful article Seek Me Early

To learn more about novelist and freelance writer Jeff S. Barganier visit Jeff Barganier


2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

At this time, we ask you refrain from purchasing on the Sonoma Christian Home store. We are in the process of performing updates and in the meantime we would ask you hold off on new orders. We will make an announcement once our store is back in action! Dismiss