A Moveable Thanksgiving Feast

There's a better way to spend Thanksgiving than watching football with your in-laws. Heads up: it's a little rugged.

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    Photo: Michael Hanson

Since the mid-1990s, my family and I have spent Thanksgiving at a set of three rustic fishing cabins on Oregon's Deschutes River. There's no Internet or even cell reception in this section of the canyon. To send a text, you have to climb a small mountain, edge your way onto a rocky ridge, and hold your phone high in the air. No one can reach us in this gorgeous place, and that's just fine.

We pack in what we'll need, because the nearest store is 90 minutes away. If something gets forgotten or dropped in the river on the boat ride across, tough luck. This isn't a candied-yam kind of place, anyway. After a deep sleep and a leisurely breakfast, some of us try our luck nymphing for the season's last steelhead, while others cast dry flies in the riffles, eddies, and holes where stealthy rainbow trout can sometimes be out-smarted. Then the chukar hunters hike into the sage-and-juniper-covered hills past herds of bighorn sheep, elk, and wild horses.

Thanksgiving Day brings more of the same. The hours are spent reading by the fire, watching the river, or staring at clouds. Those who want to cook, cook. Dinner finds its way to the table, with or without the wild rice, stuffing, or whatever staple we neglected to bring. Over the years, Thanksgiving has come to mean the opposite of frenetic travel, overeating, and familial anxiety. We almost never want to take the boat back.

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