Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Great Fishing Adventure - Part 3 Are We There Yet?

We woke up the next morning with morale at an all-time low. We were disgusted and miserable. The weather had not changed and did not look like it would clear up any time soon. Thinking we had given the motel enough of our money we went to a nearby cafe for breakfast. Here again we saw more evidence that "Friendly Manitoba" is a worthy title. The service and food were exceptional. The coffee was strong and hot and my omelet was delicious. All eight of us were downright cranky but the server did not miss a beat. She took our order cheerfully and accurately.

We got back to the motel and again contacted the outfitter to discuss our options. We were still on standby and would be notified as soon as the airplane would be able to fly. We did learn that our weeks worth of food was still in the freezer at the float plane base waiting to be flown in with us. We were welcome to partake of some of that so we didn't have to continue spending money at restaurants.

So a couple of guys drove to the float plane base to acquire some food. We were still miserable but were happy we didn't have to pay for another meal in the restaurant. The guys brought back some bread and sandwich meat and some very delicious fresh baked donuts and pastries. The bakeries in Canada also know what they are doing.

We considered our options. Should we cut our losses and leave? There was a no refund policy so that wasn't very appealing. Neither was continuing to shell out money for motel stays. In the end we decided we would stay at least one more night in the hope we could fly out the next day even though our fishing days would be cut almost in half. We decided we would also double up on the rooms so there would be 4 per room rather than two. The motel also offered to give us a small discount if we needed to stay another night.

With a plan of attack, our mood got just a little better. We again congregated together in one room. The room my brother and I were in as a matter of fact. My dad made the comment that it smelled like a gym locker room. I said it smelled just fine until everyone started coming over. We were a very cranky group.

The mood got a little better when the stories started. It is amazing how much trouble teenage boys can get into in rural Minnesota. The antics me and my brother got up to were nothing compared to my dad's and uncles adventures. It amazes me they lived to tell the tales. We were in full flow of laughter and storytelling when there was a knock on the door.

We all looked at each other with "Who could that be?" expressions. Our door wasn't locked and a burly guy with a strong Canada accent said our plane would be ready to fly in 45 minutes to an hour.
We were caught totally by surprise. For awhile no one said anything or moved a muscle. It was almost as if we'd jinx it by taking action. Suddenly we came to our senses and chaos erupted. It was late afternoon and long after checkout time at the Motel. Someone ran down to see if we would get charged for another night. Thankfully the answer was no. In record time we were packed up and on the road, and the Papertown Motor Inn was an image in the rear-view mirror.

Blue Water Aviation was where we intended to depart. You could tell immediately, they were very experienced at flying people back and forth to lakes. We got checked in, bought our Canada fishing licenses and started unloading the vehicles. All our gear was carefully loaded onto carts and weighed. 8 guys with food and luggage for a week is no small amount let me tell you.

Here's the scale with some of our gear. I think we had 3 or 4 trolleys that had to be weighed. The plane still hadn't come in and I was a little nervous everything would not only fit but still allow the plane to be light enough to take off. The guy assured me we were well within our weight restrictions so I figured he was the expert. He said he estimated our body weight at 200 lbs/person. My face got a little red. All I will say is I'm glad I have some lighter relatives because I was a tad heavier than that.

After verifying our total weight was under the maximum we congregated outside to await our plane. The weather still wasn't the best but the aviation people and the outfitter really wanted to get their customers on the lake as well as get the people trying to come home off the lake so they made a decision to fly in less than ideal conditions. After awhile the glorious deep-throated sound of a plane engine cut through the windy air.

We looked up and could just make out the speck of an aircraft in the distance. I've mentioned before I am an aviation nut. I love airplanes of all shapes and sizes. Float planes are really something special. I can't describe how cool it is to watch one come in for a landing on the water. It was made more special knowing that shortly I would be on it flying to a wilderness paradise.

Here's a shot of the plane moored to shore. We had to wait for the party coming in to disembark and unload before we could load our gear and climb aboard. We got a big old assembly line going and got our stuff on the plane in no time. Getting on the plane was interesting. You had to walk first on these wobbly wooden boards and then climb a metal ladder before stepping into the cabin area.

My younger brother was the first one on the plane, "Dibs on the co-pilot seat!" he yells. Miserable little sibling always trying get the good spots. I'm just kidding. I was so happy to be on the plane you could have strapped me to the wing outside and I would have been just fine. If you look at the photo, you'll notice the control stick is on the pilot's side. It is designed to flip from one side to the other depending on who is flying the airplane.

The pilot was a grizzly sort of person that may have flown during the Korean war era. My brother asked him what button do you have to push to move the control stick to the co-pilot side? The pilot looked at him and said, "are you familiar with the phrase, 'over my dead body?'"

Here's my brother looking pretty pleased he got to sit up front. On the right side of the picture is a sheet that detailed all the emergency procedures. Needless to say, there was no flight attendant demonstrating the steps.

Here's a shot of the cabin area where the rest of us were sitting, kind of cramped quarters. Here you see Rick, Eric, and about half of Dave. I'm the one on the left with the hands fiddling with my cell phone camera. The "Barney the dinosaur"-colored purple bag you see in the back is mine. I didn't get to pick my family's luggage color. At least it makes it really easy to find on the baggage carousel in airports.

Finally all the luggage and people were strapped in and the pilot fired up the engine. We taxied out to open water and the throttles were opened up. The wonderful sound of the engine roared through the cabin. As I said the weather wasn't exactly ideal, and I was a little worried how smooth a take-off we would have. It wasn't bad, we got airborne in no time.

We then started what was to be the longest 45 minutes I'd ever spent in an airplane. I don't believe I've ever been subjected to so much tossing and bumping. The turbulence was so bad I could feel my stomach protesting after a few minutes. All of us were very happy when we touched down on Black Lake which would be our home for the rest of the week.

As the plane taxied up to the dock we got the first glimpse of our cabin. The pilot was in a hurry to get back so we formed the assembly line again and wasted no time getting everything unloaded.

After the plane took off we took stock of our surroundings. It was wet. Five solid days of nonstop rain had taken it's toll. The boats had been pulled up on the shore but not far enough. All four of them had the back end submerged in the water. We got our gear inside the cabin and went to work bailing the water out of the boats.

I hadn't gotten very far with the boat I was working on when I got my next surprise of the trip. A huge (at least huge to me) fishing spider crawled out from under a life jacket. I was too freaked out to take a picture, so I found one on Wikipedia that is a pretty fair representation of the monster.

It was probably about 3 inches from limb to limb. I scooped it up and hurled it out into the water. You would have thought the spider did this everyday. It calmly proceeded to swim back to shore. Right at me! I have to say it is kind of interesting how they can basically walk on water propelling themselves forward with their feet. I stood there until it swam back, scooped it up again and this time I threw it on the ground and promptly squashed it with my boot. I'm sorry, I can't handle spiders and this one seemed to have it in for me.

I went back to work purging another vessel from it's watery cargo. Quite a bit more carefully now in case I would be surprised by any more of the local wildlife.

Another shot of the bail-out crew. Bailing water is not the most flattering thing to do when someone has a camera.

One last shot of Jeremy still scooping water. I had to tease him about his hat. He looked so much like Gilligan. Sorry Jeremy.

At last, the water inside the boats was back in the lake and our gear was put away. We began to have thoughts about supper. We decided on grilling some polish sausages and opening up a few cans of baked beans. Nothing had ever tasted so good. It's amazing how therapeutic a hot meal can be after you've been miserable for a few days. We didn't talk much. We were hungry and I think all of us were just happy to finally be at the lake. This trip had been booked for a year and it was nice to finally see the results of all that planning.

After the meal and dishes were done, things livened up a bit. We started getting ready for bed. You would have thought we lived in a frat house. All the men with this pent up energy. My bed was most disobligingly placed so that the light from the room across the hall beamed right into my face. Someone was having much fun turning the switch off and on. I finally had to shut our door because it was giving me a headache.

At last, things quieted down and the boys went to bed, with visions of walleye dancing round in our heads.


AZJim said...

You are still proving why I am letting you write this instead of me. It is GREAT!

Steve at Random said...

I'm amazed you can still remember this...keep writing please. the spider episode reminded me of my oldest son.

randymeiss said...

The pictures everyone sent me really help to jog the memory. As you well know, I don't need any help remembering delicious meals I've eaten. Deanna thought my spider picture was pretty puny. I told her if it crawled out in front of her it wouldn't have seemed that small.