I gotta do a better job of enforcing rules. I’ll break them all, but I like having them around. One of my rules was no wife stories. Broke that right off the bat. Another of my rules was I’m not all that interested in being edited. Well son, ya break rule 1, expect rule 2 to die a quick and painful death. My editor in chief had a LOT!!! of suggestions. All of which I incorporated into the edited version of story one. I would say it was in the interest of story accuracy, but really it’s straight up self preservation. If the boss says here is how it happened and here is how you will present it, then expect to spend some time rewriting. In my house we call that “compromise”. I told the story my way, she told me what to change and I did. Compromise. Anyway, don’t expect any wife stories for a while. Compromise causes stress.
Some time ago, my middle son and I were talking about story telling. He said something to the effect that
“life is just a way to get stories”. I paraphrased that to “life is a story delivery system.” It might be my personal theme. If you are like me and can keep a whole bunch of stories in your head, it does not take much of a reminder for them to start hammering against your cranium in an effort to get out. Some people can fight that temptation. I am 100% not one of them.
Today, I got a notification from about 10 different sources that it was my friend Chris’s birthday. What follows is the story that responded to that information by telling me it needed to get out to breathe. It’s pretty long but I think the story is definitely worth letting out of the skull for a trip into the exercise yard. There is danger, comedy, and fishing. My favorite themes.
Every year, I run some sort of fundraiser. The last couple of years they have been for cancer and ms charity bike rides. Originally, they were for a program called StreamWatch, where the Gov of Alberta, with the help of several fundraisers, funded basically intern Conservation Officers to watch remote trout streams for poaching activity. It in no longer funded at all (yay provincial gov), which is a shame. Anyway, I auctioned off a trip to my condo in Panorama for a 3 day fishing trip. 2 of my friends, we will call them Chris and Pete, which works out as those are their names, got together to bid on and win the trip (really cheaply I might add-I mean seriously guys there were two of you…). So on a Thursday night at 10 PM after I finished bowling (do NOT judge me) we loaded up the green mini van (and I will have a whole story devoted to places I’ve been in a green caravan where caravans don’t belong) and took off for the condo.
As we were travelling pretty late at night, and wanted to get to the condo in time to get a decent nights sleep, on a road we would expect minimum police activity, we decided speed was of the essence. Or I decided and the boys were too nice to say anything. The green minivan (gmv) didn’t have the best headlights and the road was a bit twisty, so I used my trusty Garmin Navi to tell me when the curves were coming which is useful intel when travelling on a road thru the mountains, at night, with bad headlights at 130K. A fella has to know when to slow down.
About 1/2 way between Banff and Radium, on a nice (rare) straight patch of road I see 6 small lights shining back at me from the middle of the road off the eyes of some pretty big animals. My SLB road training kicks in and I do a full on stab break, break left to avoid the two animals on my right then immediately break right to avoid the one on my left. No small feat in a gmv. As I pass the one on my left I get a decent look at him. We stop, and I say “were those fucking wolves??” Chris and Pete both reply “yep”. I look behind me and they are all gone. Ever seen a grey wolf in person? No. Ok. Think of the biggest dog you’ve ever seen. Now make him about 30% bigger. Wolves are big. Like really really big. Like holy shit I’m glad I’m in the car big. Do not get in a fight with a wolf is all I’m saying.
Other than that, a pretty uneventful drive. Oh I was probably scared for my life a couple more times from hitting corners too fast, but that’s pretty routine. As an aside, there is a pretty decent chance my last line in life will be, as I go over a cliff: “damn, hit that corner too fast…. aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh……..” You are obligated to go aaahaaaahahhhhhhh as you go over a cliff. Just a little life lesson for you.
After a pretty decent nights sleep (adrenaline takes a lot out of you) we get up to hit my favorite river in the world. We eat a big breakfast, make a bunch of sandwiches and hit the road. Now, I’ve driven 1000s and 1000s of miles on gravel road. The roads to this river are “high grade” which basically means well maintained and graded pretty often. To me, it’s like a highway. Not so much to other people. Again, there are mountains and cliffs and some people find those scary. After the fact I learned that both Chris and Pete are among that population (which probably encompasses around 98% of the overall population). I’m a 2%er. Anyway, they tell me after that they were both hanging on for dear life. I truly did not understand. “Why?” I ask. “What if you lose control? We could go over a cliff” “Just how in the hell am I gonna lose control, and I slow down for the cliffs.” Weenies. The gmv is a gravel destroying beast.
We hit the river and after a slowish start have one of the absolute best fishing days of our life-well maybe not Pete who had “one of those days”. After a solid 3 hours of fishing it is around 1 PM and we are hungry. So we do the quick hike back to the gmv for lunch. I open my sandwich and this smell hits me. I can’t quite place it, but it is not “sandwich smell.” Now its also not “sandwich might kill you smell” so I take a bite. Tastes a little off. Again not in a botulism way, just in a “what the hell is that taste way.” But there are fish to catch so I shrug and bite. Pete says “what’s up with the sandwiches? Something is off.” Ever sensitive to others I reply. “Shut up and eat your sandwich. He does, I’m way bigger than him.
We get back to the river and the perfect day continues. Chris has a session near some deadfall that was a true pleasure to watch. Very accurate casting at some fish on this tiny seam against a log. I took this picture from the opposite side of the river.
Anyway, lots of fish were caught, much fun was had, and there was terror on the drive home I’m sure. We get back to the condo and I start to make dinner. As I’m going thru the pantry looking for spices and stuff I pick up the sandwich bags to look behind them. And a smell hits me, one that I recognize as the “shut up and eat your sandwich smell.” I recognize it, but can’t place the actual smell. Then I see the box of bounce sheets. That the sandwich bag box is sitting on. That’s what that smell is!! I laugh out loud and tell the guys. Shut up and eat your sandwich becomes the theme of the trip. In my defence I was right, it didn’t kill us.
The best part of the bad sandwich is we didn’t have any sandwich bags for the next day and had to stop at a little joint on the way out of town. That just happens to make the best sandwiches in the world. Think NY Deli good. Have never made a sandwich since on any Pano fishing trip!
The next day we go to another favorite river of mine. Again, lots of fish were caught and much fun was had. As I generally do on these trips, I’m doing my damnest to stay in front of Chris, because he is a fish vacuum cleaner. If he’s in front of you then you don’t catch anything because he gets them all. If he’s behind you its a bit depressing because you get to see all the fish you miss, but at least you get to catch some.
So I’m working this run that is big enough for all three of us to fish different sections. I’m in the back working on this fish across the river that is steadfastly refusing everything I’m offering. As I’m making like my 5th fly change I hear a tell tale sound of line ripping off the water behind me. I turn around and see Chris in “ninja mode” kneeling down, hooked up on my fish. “What the hell?” I ask. “Sorry man, just got tired of watching you torture that fish!” Asshole. I mean seriously, who does that? Freaking ninjas, I hate them.
The Ninja Fish with Pete in the background, unconcerned. Probably still mad at me about the sandwich.
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful except for the part where I ran over a stupid rock hiding in the grass I didn’t see with the gmv. Chris said he felt it go under his feet. The gmv made weird noises after that and we were a bit chicken to take it full back country on day 3, so scouted some new water. It was raining anyway so the day was a bust. Cost me $1200 to fix the gmv, but we got home. Barely. But that’s a story for another day. To finish off, here is some fish porn:
Landing ninja fish
Pete landing a nice cutty
Pete hooked up
This is why I do this:
Happy Birthday Buddy!