Nestled deep in a canyon on Hobble Creek, above Smiths Fork, is a place called Turbo Freedom. The place isn’t on a map and may now only exist in my mind, but at the time — over 30 years ago — it was the place where a giant tree had fallen over the narrow canyon and the local beavers made it into one of the best fishing holes I had ever seen.
“Turbos” were our code for Marlboros, the vice of choice, and the beaver pond quickly gained the name. For many summers, my brother Sean and I traveled there with the Dayton brothers to fish for spectacular native cutthroats, the occasional brown and the always-plentiful white dogs.
We spent time on the Smiths Fork with the Dayton family hunting, camping, cutting firewood, riding horses and motorbikes, cooking in Dutch ovens, tubing down the river and, most importantly, fishing. My love of trout and fishing came from those days on the river and hanging out at Turbo Freedom.
The brothers were masters at coaxing fish to the net with worms and later flies. I’ll never forget the time in that canyon and creek with them, the sheer solitude and enjoyment of being out in nature, and the enduring bond of the deepest of friendships.
The youngest of the brothers was Daniel. Daniel was the quintessential younger brother — always eager to tag along, always willing to share what he knew. Always proud of his older brothers and always, always sporting a smile on his face.
I watched him grow up, from a curly blond-haired kid into a fine man. He always greeted me with a big hug and a special handshake that few knew.
As a kid, he reprimanded me for running his horse “Tuck” right out of the corrals without warming him up. As a teenager, he couldn’t wait to show Sean and me his big blue International pickup truck, following in his brother’s and father’s footsteps. As a grown man he introduced us to Gail, the love of his life.
I’ll always remember the story that Dan, Sean and Greg told of a camping trip to the Smiths Fork on the 4th of July. Dan, who loved fireworks, shot a roman candle over the hill midway through breakfast. Shortly after breakfast he jumped up and said, “I see a fire!”
For the next two hours, they fought the brushfire with shovels, wearing sandals and tennis shoes — Greg shuttling water jugs in the truck from the river to the fire. The look on Dan’s face as he told the story was priceless as he shook his head back and forth but never lost eye contact.
Dan was whisked away much too soon. He touched a lot of people with his big heart and happy demeanor. I know many of his family and friends have great stories and memories of their time with him. He always had a smile on his face.