Once I was young. A very long time ago. And, I decided I wanted to go fishing. Now, I've never really gotten the whole hunting and fishing thing. I'm sure that in part, that's because meat comes from the supermarket. I don't really want to be involved in the killing of it. Never did. But, my Dad loved to hunt and fish. I can remember that he would leave before dawn and stay out most of the day. When we had a travel trailer, we kept it at the lake like a summer cabin. We could go out for the weekend and my Dad could fish until his heart was content. Now, as far as a hunter goes, I don't remember my Dad killing much. I think he was into it for the outdoors and if it had been socially acceptable, would probably have hunted with a camera instead of a gun. But, as a fisherman, he almost always came in with a big haul.
I wanted to be more like my Dad when I was a teen. But, we were so different. I'd rather be inside. I preferred the air conditioning or the heating, or better yet, a big roaring fire. I'd rather stay in with my Mom and my Aunt Seal (Lucille) and make Christmas ornaments.
But, on this particular weekday, I decided to go fishing. I must have been 16 or 17 and was a new driver. I borrowed the Suburban and the flat bottomed aluminum boat and off I went. I cannot tell you how I got that boat trailer in the water to get the boat off of it. I can't back up a trailer to save my life. But, somehow, I did get the boat in the water.
I remember paddling around the lake with my rod, casting and catching nothing. I didn't mind that I wasn't catching anything. I was paddling along the edge of the lake and enjoying the scenery. I remember watching a snake swim by. It was fascinating to watch that whipping back and forth and moving so fast through the water, head up. And, paying much less attention to me than I was to it.
I paddled around for a few hours. Occassionally tying up to a tree, but mostly just floating along. Enjoying the peace, the quiet, and the sunshine. Birds chirping. Occassionally a fish breaking the water for a bug, so I knew they were in there. They just were not interested in what I was throwing.
I "fished" for a couple of hours. And, then the wind picked up. A nice breeze that felt good. And, then a black cloud passed overhead. Even as a teen, I was smart enough to know it was time to get off the water. I paddled for shore with the wind at my back. I moved pretty quickly, but not quickly enough. First there was thunder, then lightening. The rain started just before I got to the boat ramp. I do remember how I got that boat out of the water. I drove the Suburban across the ramp, perpendicular to the boat, and dragged that boat out of the water and onto the trailer. I was in a hurry at this point. I knew that the road I had traveled through the pine woods to get to the lake was red clay. And, water and clay do not go well together as a road. By the time I got the boat on the trailer, the rain had turned into quite a shower. One of those summer storms that dumps a lot of water in a short period of time and then blows on by.
Slowly I drove out onto the road. Thankfully, there was no one else on it that day and all I had to do was stay on my side. I came to a hill and slowly edged my way up it. I can remember the back wheels slipping in that red clay as I crept up the hill. And, when I got to the top, I hit the deep mud and despite all the care I was taking to drive safely, as I started down, I slid to the left. And, I put the two left wheels of that huge Suburban in the ditch. Not a deep ditch, but made from the same red clay as the road. I tried and tried to get out of that ditch. I even unhitched the boat and trailer and dragged them to the side and tried to get out of the ditch.
I looked down the hill and I saw that at the bottom of the hill, the ditch leveled out to the same depth as the roadway. There was my answer. Just drive to the bottom of the hill, pull back onto the road and then drag the trailer down to the truck.
If only it had been that easy.
The Suburban was riding on the edge of the ditch and every foot down hill meant spinning the tires and dragging the bottom of the Suburban across the ridge. But, I got to the bottom. And, instead of finding flat land, what I ran into was a small pond that had formed that was so full of the red clay that it looked solid. But it wasn't. Just more water and mud. Defeat.
Me. Long country road. No vehicle. And, this was before the age of the cell phone. Well, they had cell phones. But, they were the size of a shaving kit and we certainly didn't have one.
At that point, I got lucky. A man drove by and stopped and asked if he could call someone for me. I gave him my home number and a dime. And I waited. Right there with the Suburban and the boat at the top of the hill while the sudden summer storm blew itself out and moved on. And waited.
Finally, a Ford Bronco with a winch on the front drove down the road and parked facing me. My Dad and a guy he worked with got out. In their work clothes. They secured the cable to the front of the truck and quick as a whistle, they had me out of the ditch. My Dad backed the truck up and hitched up the boat and drove me home with the friend following us. But, while we were alone together, I had to explain why the boat was at the top of the hill and the Suburban was at the bottom. That's when the trouble started. You see, if I'd just left the Suburban at the top of the hill, there probably wouldn't have been any trouble at all. But, I'd dragged it along that ridge for probably 50 yards and the mud in the wheels was, well, you can imagine. Packed in ever crevice and crack. My Dad set me to washing the mud off the bottom of the truck and went back to work. If I remember right, it took most of the rest of the day. But, I got it really clean. Or at least I tried to do my best.
My Dad was so upset. Running off the road for the first time was bad. Trying so hard to get myself out of it was bad. But, nothing that happened that day was as bad as my Dad being mad at me. He hardly ever got mad, so when he did, I knew I'd done the wrong thing.
As far as I can remember, having to clean up all that mud was all the punishment I got. But, I don't think I ever went fishing again. I'm pretty sure I never tried to back up a trailer again. And to this day, I get nervous anytime I have to drive on a dirt road.
That's it for this Way Back Wednesday. The story of my last fishing trip. Oh, and a bumper sticker I saw this morning that made me chuckle: "Midwives...they help people out!"
Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane