Sunday, March 18, 2012

20 Questions: Emily Blankenship, aka, The River Damsel

Emily Blankenship, aka, the
River Damsel
Odd as it sounds, the first time I met Emily Blankenship, aka, "The River Damsel," I was sitting in  a McDonald's restaurant just outside of Boise, Idaho, waiting for her and Rebecca Garlock (aka, the Outdooress) to join me and lead me to the infamous "River X" for a day on the water.

Now, for clarity, the only reason I guard the real name of the river is because Emily seems quite insistant on keeping this well-known tailwater in southwestern Oregon (have I said too much?) a secret--she tells me Rebecca likes to keep it on the DL. So, we'll leave it at that... for now.

Anyway, Rebecca and Emily arrived fashionably late (to their credit, I did get a text letting me know), and we sat around Mickey D's for a bit before hitting the road and heading across the state line to the Land of the Uber-secret River. We get to the river, and Rebecca walks up to me and says, "So, you're gonna laugh at this, but Emily thought you were way older than you really are."

Emily on the "River X."
Huh? I guess the old avatar I was using put a little too much emphasis on my snow-white goatee, and not enough on my youthful, vibrant man-child face ... I've since changed the avatar, and just last week, I shaved the goat. I'm hardly recognizable now, ladies.

To my delight, we spent a very nice day last fall on the river, and Emily was wonderful fishing company, meticulously manicured nails and all. Most folks know her through her River Damsel blog and the tales she shares of her fishing adventures. Hopefully, you'll get to know her even better after reading just a bit further. On with the questions:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Well, of course it would be to fish my favorite rivers, the Madison or River X, and land a 28-inch brown trout to beat my 24-inch high. Will I achieve that someday? Simple answer…YES. Seriously, I have already had a pretty happy life with raising my family and going about my daily routine thus far.

What is your greatest fear? 
The River Damsel and The Outdooress, together
on Idaho's Salmon River.
Drowning. And you ask why I am in a river twice a week with a proven sense of imbalance… I did do something about this fear though. I bought some studs for my wading boots! And I have reduced my falls by 50 percent

What is your favorite journey? 
As most of my readers know, I love to travel. I love to meet new people…see new rivers. My favorite of all? They really intermingle at the top of the list. Fishing with Rebecca Garlock in Idaho for the last few years, has been an amazing experience! She has taught me the “unorthodox” way of fly fishing on River X. And anytime that I can have a road trip to Yellowstone and the Henry’s Fork is a great journey. And we can’t forget the Smokies with Owl Jones and FlyfishSC!! And the Rocky Mountain Frenzy last year with my Colorado buddies! Yes, many favorites.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
Strike 3! You're out!
 The inability of remembering where I put my car keys 10 minutes after I came into the house. Getting older really sucks!

What is your greatest regret? 
I really have no regrets! I live life to the fullest! But, I sure do wish that the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” (previously three or four other names) would have never let go of Nolan Ryan. I was and still am an avid fan of baseball. My dad had season tickets for many years while I was growing up. Sitting in the seventh row behind the first-base dugout each game, I became a wiz with the scorebook. I loved jotting down a “K” every time Nolan pitched. And my son, Ryan, is named after him.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
Grandma RD!
Well, I grew up playing the piano. And I always wanted to be able to sing better so I could be in a band. Now, I just would like to be able to have the talent of writing, since I love to share my adventures in the outdoors. My words are simple, honest and from the heart…that is all I can say. And I have some of the most wonderful readers who laugh along with my debacles in life. And lots of pictures help!

What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I have survived my adventures in fly fishing thus far! On a serious note, being a mother and now a grandmother! That in itself gives you more knowledge, strength, compassion and learning what unconditional love really means.

What is your most treasured possession? 
Material-wise, my “collectors fly box” that I have put a couple of flies from each person who has donated their time and talents with me. When it gets full…I will most definitely post it! Spiritually, my faith in God and his hand in all things. Life is an amazing journey.

Where would you like to live? 
Montana or Idaho…It’s a fly fishing toss up! (Idaho! -ed)

Who are your heroes? 
RD'S sketchy past as a concert roadie...
My grandmother was and will always be my inspiration. She gave unconditional love to all of those around her. She was truly a woman of service to her family and friends. It was Grandma that molded me for life. She taught me to work hard and to share my talents with others. I still remember making quilts, cooking up divinity at Christmas, sewing (what happened to that talent?), and cooking in the kitchen. And although she taught me how to make lemon meringue pie from fresh lemons… hers will always be the best!

What’s on your iPod? 
 Lionel Richie; Earth, Wind and Fire; Coldplay; Van Halen; Pink Floyd; Luke Bryan. A little bit of everything!

Who are your favorite writers? 
Well, I am going to go with blog writers here. My aspirations come from Erin Block, Jason Tucker and Sean Sanders. Always amazing reads…

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Being fake. I don’t understand why people must pretend that they are something else. Life is short…step up to the plate and be who you are! You might be surprised at what you can do with the traits and abilities that you have. There’s a “Sunday Tippet”!!

In three words, how would your closest friends describe  you? 
Honest. Counselor. Friend. I have a pretty good listening ear…and I enjoy helping where I can. Like George Bailey said, "No man is a failure who has friends!" Sometimes we should pause for a brief moment and examine our lives and see if we can make a difference as long as we never give up!

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? 
“Your journey is not over...Did you bring your fly rod?”

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? 
Pedicures. Nothing better than soaking your feet after a long work day! And yes, keeping up with my white tip fingernails. And if it is a guilty “treat”…well, anything chocolate without a doubt!

What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? 
Easy… Fly fishing guide. Watching people’s faces light up with that first fish caught would be awesome! Heck, that sounds a whole lot better than my accountant job. Hmmm... I'm going to have to think about that!
What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? The quicksand (silt) that I stepped errr…fell into while in Anchorage, Alaska, salmon fishing. Ship Creek will never be forgotten. After my mishap, I heard horrible stories about rescues that don’t happen. I was lucky to be pulled out, with only my hip waders left behind.


  1. Great interview Emily! It's great getting to know you just a little more..

    1. Thanks, Brian. Now...when was that Tues. you were joining up with us? : )

  2. Emily is the real deal...what you see is what you get. Nice interview.

  3. I feel like I know The River Dame without have actually yet met her. But one thing surprises me, and that is Emily's answer to the 9th question: Where do you want to live? If she lived in either Idaho or Montana, her twice a week fishing habit would take a serious hit. Twice a week? Serious? Now I'm just depressed and envious. But seriously, nice interview with an obviously nice person.

    1. Ahhh ..Kirk! You dont think I could get another Tues. Off deal? I've done it twice...heehee. It's called the gift of confidence and proving your worth. And maybe a little bit of luck! = )

  4. Great interview Emily, I've learned even more about you =) May your adventures in fly fishing give you even more wisdom and memories!

    P.S. Chris....Emily shouldn't take all the 'old impression' blame, I was expecting a (really) old guy with a cane the first time I met you too. Your previous avatar was quite misleading!! You are indeed a spry youngster, silver goatee and all ~ Rebecca

    1. Whew! Glad I am off the solo blame on the "oldster" comment! Thanks, RG...

  5. Good point, Rebecca... but you both inspired me to change out the avatar ... and now the goat is gone. I look 10 years younger, some have said... Unfortunately, I found out this weekend that shaving the beard didn't improve my ability to pound beers on St. Paddy's Day...

  6. Emily, you're a class act! Great interview...(and thanks for the mention!)

    1. Erin - Thank you. We are down to 6 mos. until I can show you that I do fish without hooking myself! Ha!

  7. I couldn't agree more on the fake people thing. I just don't get it. Good thing is it's impossible to fake why you are on a river after a few hours. Nicely done.

  8. Reading the interview is a lot like reading your blog. It added a bit, but I already felt like I knew some of these things about you just from how you write.

    "step up to the plate and be who you are!"

    You do that quite well.

  9. Always an adventure RD! Looking forward to the next frenzy, will be fun to reunite on the water, hopefully I can lead you to some fish next time :-)

    Thanks for the mention, you are way too kind!

    Great interview!

    1. Thanks, Sanders! Yes...we will hook into some fish for sure, come Sept!

  10. Great interview! I'm glad to know I'm not the only balance-challenged nut out stumbling around in the rivers. I'll have to try the studded boot thing. As embarrassing as this is to tell, I have a friend who once stepped off in some silt, went in up to his hip (just one) and all I could do was stand there and laugh at him. Keep in mind the other leg never went in, but he DID lose a shoe at the bottom of that hole.

    I sure hope I get to fish with you someday!!

    1. Pam ~ Give me a year to plan it...We will make our fly fishing adventure happen by 2013...I've never been in a kayak. That would be a story in itself!!

  11. Another good interview! Always enjoy these.