Thanksgiving morning started out the same as it had for the past few years, Bobby, his wife, and son pulled in shortly after breakfast so Bobby’s wife could help her folks get thanksgiving dinner ready for the relatives. Conrad, as it turns out, is Bobby’s father-in-law, and fly-fishing partner.
After the women folk established the house boundaries as it is with every household expecting holiday food guest, the men were sent to do whatever it is men do on thanksgiving.
For Conrad and Bobby, this meant testing new casting methods they picked up from magazines, exhibitions, or U-tube. While they would practice the casts out in the snow, with no jackets, they would discuss plans for the summers fishing trips.
“Cast that again.” Bobby said through chattering teeth, while blowing into his hands. “But pause another few seconds before you haul it down again for the forward cast.” Bobby said as Conrad let the fly line sail on behind him. Bobby really didn’t need to give Conrad any tips when it came to casting, because Conrad was a perfectionist, but if there was anything he could do to improve his performance, he was open to suggestions.
“Say,” Bobby began. “What do you think about renting a drift boat this summer, and drift down one of those western rivers? It would be like the row your boat song… life is but a dream.”
At that sentence, Conrad sent the line sailing on the forward cast, and pulled up short to make a great bullwhip cracking sound, as a method to punctuate the point he was about to make. Looking Bobby hard in the eye, causing Bobby some discomfort, Conrad said.
“You’re not ready, yet.”
“Whadaya mean, not ready?” Bobby asked suddenly irritated. It’s a boat, dude. I row them all over the lake in the summer time.” Bobby said in a tone to save face from the calling out Conrad just gave him.
“Listen Bobby, it’s different than paddling on a lake.” He paused in thought for a moment for something he could compare it to. Then found something. “It’s more like canoeing.” He said.
“I have a canoe; I use it all the time.” Bobby said in the same face-saving tone.
Conrad thought for a moment, and said.
“I’ll think about it.”
Before they could do anymore casting, relatives started to show up, and the guys had to give up casting to play hosts for the family and friends that were showing up for this years feast. One of the guests, Conrad’s brother Ron, brought some vegetables along that they had just canned. He and Conrad had a long running joke they used since they were kids. Any fruit or vegetable that they considered tasty, they referred to as fruit, because they liked most fruit. However, all the produce they didn’t like was classified as vegetable.
“Molly, made me bring some vegetables.” Ron stated. “Where should I put them?” He asked.
“In the garbage.” Conrad grunted. “Why didn’t you bring any fruit?” He asked.
“Oh, we keep all the fruit.” Ron grinned with a twinkle in his eye. “But we know your wife likes vegetables. And we want to see her happy.” Ron giggled mischievously.
“Jerk.” Conrad said smiling. Then he asked. “Did you bring your fly rod?”
“Nope, I’ll be watching the game, while you guys fish for the illusive “Snow trout”. Ron chuckled some more while hustling to the house.
After the meal was complete, folks began waddling over to the huge screen television to watch the game. As they sat Conrad rubbed his full belly and asked Bobby.
“So you want to rent a drift boat, eh?” Conrad asked.
“Yeah. Bobby started. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
“I don’t know. Conrad started. We do alright wading the river, it’s kind of fun going out to these big rivers and figuring it out for ourselves. Don’t you think?” Conrad asked.
“I guess. Bobby admitted. But don’t you think that we would be able to cover more hot spots, and be able to cover them better if we could drop anchor, stop and catch a few fish, then move on to the next hole?” Bobby added.
“It’s really expensive.” Conrad started before Bobby cut him off.
“It’s just over $150.00.”
“To start!” Conrad exclaimed. “What happens when you lose the boat?”
To this Bobby blinked with a stunned expression, but Conrad continued before he could speak. “Or when you break your rod, or dunk your camera in the drink.” Conrad stated with some bitterness in his voice. “I don’t think you would be able to take a financial hit like that, and still enjoy fishing.” Conrad said trying to reason with Bobby. Who did not seem convinced.
“Listen, Bobby. I know what I am talking about. I rented a drift boat with a fellow named Ralph when he just learned to fly fish. The rental stage happened to soon, and because of it he hasn’t gone since. I only have myself to blame. He ended with a hurt look in his eye.
“What happened?” Bobby asked skeptically.
“Well, it started off rough. We drove to a tail-water in Colorado. We got up real early to get to the place, and thought we struck gold when we pulled in that afternoon, because a drift boat was just coming in, and the fisherman had a tale to tell. When Ralph asked him how many fish he caught, the guy said about 70! We tore out of the parking lot and drove the 20 miles to put our money down for a drift boat ride starting the next morning, and picked up a hotel room while we were in town.” Conrad paused to take a breath. Then Bobby asked.
“I thought you said you had a rough start?”
“We did. Conrad agreed. Because when we came out of the hotel we found one of our tires flat. So, we changed the tire as fast as possible so we could do some shore fishing before night set in.
“After all,” Ralph and I had reasoned. What were the chances of getting another flat tire?”
Conrad looked at Bobby, who was nodding in understanding. “Just as we pulled into the fishing access site, “POP!” went the donut spare.”
By now most of the folks were in the living room with its monster television, and had pretty much tuned Conrad and Bobby out.
“That had to stink.” Bobby admitted.
“Yeah.” Conrad agreed. “It got worse because we had to immediately turn around if we were to make it back to the restaurant before the town mechanic was finished with his pie, so we could make the appointment with the drift boat at the river.”
“Did you make it?” Bobby asked, enthusiastic about what happens next in the story.
“No, it was twenty miles away, and we could only drive between five and ten miles per hour. And the van was doing the “flat-tire-wiggle that made Ralph sea-sick, and we had to pull over because he had to vomit…5 times.” Conrad finished shaking his head in shame and disgust even after all these years. Then he said. “Folks in the area were real helpful though.” He said nodding his head with his bottom lip jutting out in a fashion that truckers and farmer use when estimating distance, or math. “Yup, there was a steady stream of cars that pulled up beside us to tell us our tire was flat.”
Some of the other folks in the room started to pay attention to the story, and ask questions.
“So what did you do when you got back to the hotel?” Uncle Fred asked.
“Oh, we drank some of the fruit juice Ralph’s wife packed.” Conrad answered.
Cousin Andy looked at Conrad doubtfully. Then he asked. “What kind of fruit?”
“Corn.” Conrad answered.
***Can this disaster get anymore…disasterous? Tune in next month and watch the continued train wreck of “DRIFT BOAT DISASTER!”***