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By Average Joe
#699814
I retired in June of 2018.

In May of 2019, my employer asked if I could help out for a couple of months while the accountant who replaced me was out on maternity leave.

Sure.

A couple of months turned into eight, after which I entered my second retirement.

I used some of the fun money I’d made to buy a used Tacoma, and started planning some trips.

I thought that this would finally be the year that I flew to Maine, met SOBF, and fished for no fish.

Then came the virus.

For several months I rarely left the house, other than for groceries and booze.

Some praised me for being responsible.

Truth is I tend to avoid most people whenever possible, virus or no, so it wasn’t a hardship.

Yet the luau beckoned.

It’s been years since leaving on a jet plane was even remotely pleasant, and now it was worse than ever, so I planned a road trip, and was condemned by some who had praised me earlier.

So be it.

My plan was to camp, cook, and fish my way across the western US while avoiding restaurants, bars, and motels.

Seemed simple enough.

I read that many campgrounds had closed, so I bought a bucket toilet and some water jugs, along with a new tent, air mattress, and sleeping bag.

I just couldn’t swallow the cost of a Yeti, so I bought a couple of Coleman Marine Extremes instead and covered them with form-fitting insulation. Something like a cooler coozie. I knew ice would be cheap and plentiful, so I wasn’t too worried about that. I also splurged on a battery operated chainsaw. I hate buying firewood.

A week before the luau, Cornholio and I met up on a Norcal river.

This particular river is pretty isolated with no cell coverage. Knowing I’d arrive well before he did, he gave me a list of possible campsites, rated best to worst, and said he’d find me at one of them.

After an easy, uneventful drive, I pulled into his first choice and saw that it was taken, but his second choice was open, and it was just across the road.

This was a rough camp; nothing more than a flat piece of dirt surrounded by brush and trees. There wasn’t even a fire ring.

I’d brought everything I’d planned to bring to the luau, and viewed this trip as something of a practice run.

The mercury hovered near 100, and there was no shade, so I took my time setting everything up. Lay down the tent tarp, have a beer. String up a lantern, have a beer. It probably took me a couple of hours to get everything set up. Some of you know how that goes.

Once I’d finished I hacked a trail through the brush and into the trees and set up my foldy-chair in the shade.

Not long afterwards I heard the beeping of a tow truck backing down from the road, so I got up and went to investigate.

When I’d pulled into the first campsite I’d noticed a wrecked, abandoned vehicle parked off to the side. Turns out it belonged to the guy who was camped there. He said he’d gone out in search of firewood the evening before, was driving too fast, came upon a deer in the road, swerved, and drove his truck into a tree. The truck was in bad shape, but he’d been able to limp back to camp in it. He’d packed up all of his stuff and said, “My trip is over, so this site is yours if you want it.”

It was a choice spot - fire ring, shade, and easy access to the river - so I spent the next couple of hours packing everything up, transporting it to the new site, and then setting it all up again, all while telling myself this was good practice for the road trip to come.

By the time I was done I needed something a bit stronger than beer, so I cracked open a bottle of Hobo Spice and poured three fingers into a tin cup.

It was late afternoon when Cornholio showed up. We talked for a bit, and then a guy came down and parked in the second spot.

I turned to Cornholio and said, “He looks like he’s here to fish. You better get out there before he does.”

He took my advice, grabbed his rod, and headed out.

The stretch of river just below this camp has always been very productive for us, so I was surprised when Cornholio came back after a couple of hours and said, “Not even a bump.”

The next morning Cornholio pulled a pop-up canopy from the back of his truck and I helped him set it up.

“I could have used one of these yesterday.”

Then he went to his cooler and pulled out three packs of egg roll wrappers.

At last year’s luau I tried to make egg rolls with rice paper wrappers, and the results were less than desirable.

http://www.drakemag.com/phpBB3/viewtopi ... s&start=24

I wanted to try making them again, and Cornholio was kind enough to purchase and give me the wrappers he uses. At the time I didn't know that there’s a lot more to making egg rolls than having the right wrappers.

The weekend flew by, and I caught no fish.

When I got home I unloaded the truck and ordered a canopy.

Then I went through all of my gear.

Added some stuff.

Got rid of some stuff.

When the canopy arrived I set it up in the backyard and noticed that there was a cut in the fabric.
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I didn’t have enough time to send it back and get a new one, so I patched it instead.

Later that week I cooked up some road snacks.
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The day before heading out I filled the truck with gas and then loaded everything except for the coolers.
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I left the coolers in my garage, filled with sacrificial bags of ice so they’d be plenty cold the next morning.

I spent the rest of the day giving the garden a good soak while trying to convince myself I hadn’t forgotten anything.

At 5:00 I poured myself a cocktail, settled into a chair on the patio and thought, "Tomorrow at this time I should have camp set up somewhere in Nevada."
#699816
SUNDAY, JULY 19

I usually like to get an early start, but for the past couple of months the highway on-ramps here have been closed between 8:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

Before the virus hit, traffic was so bad that the state decided to add a toll lane. Now they’re destroying billions of dollars worth of sound walls, concrete, and asphalt for something people might never use.

I got up at 5:00 and took a shower. It would be several days before I took another.

After draining the coolers, I filled them with fresh ice and food from the fridge and freezer, then loaded them into the back seat of the truck.

I kissed my wife goodbye, fired up the truck, and hit the road.

Traffic was light.

I gassed up in the foothills, and then headed up and over the Sierra range and into Nevada.

Once I passed Reno the highway opened up and the speed limit jumped to 80 mph.

It was toasty outside.
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I turned on the A/C, set the cruise control, popped a CD into the dash, and rolled across the Great Basin Desert.
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When the afternoon started to melt into evening, I left the interstate and went in search of a place to camp.
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Found a nice spot next to a lake.
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Even had free showers.
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My plan was to stay here for one night and then continue east in the morning.

Dinner consisted of road snacks, eaten right out of the bag so I wouldn’t have to mess with dirty dishes.
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Finished the meal with my favorite dessert.
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Right about then a summer storm descended and wreaked havoc on everything in its path. A lightning strike set the hills across the lake ablaze, while high winds and rain attempted to take out anything they could.
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I quickly threw the rain fly on my tent and checked all of the stakes. The tent shook, rattled, and quivered, but survived the storm undamaged. My neighbor was not as fortunate.
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I managed to salvage his stuff before it ended up in the lake, and when he returned from his hike we spent the evening drinking bourbon and talking about the places we’d fished.

When there was nothing left to say, he got up to go back to his campsite but then stopped and pointed to a spot in the sky behind me and said, “The comet.”

First one I’ve ever seen, and an incredible sight.

I took a final look at the hills burning on the other side of the lake before heading inside my tent for the night.
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#699818
MONDAY, JULY 20

Got up early, broke down camp, packed up the truck, and was on the road by 5:30.

It was a four hour drive to fishskibum's place, past the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake, to a suburb just outside of Salt Lake City. The truck has navigation, so finding my way there involved typing in his address and behaving like a married man: just do whatever the lady tells you to do.

The original plan was to meet fsb and do some carp fishing, but plans change. A heat wave had moved in, making it much too unpleasant to fish, so he headed in to work instead and told me to hang out at his place and make myself at home.

I pulled into his driveway, opened the door, and was enveloped by the heat.

I unloaded some stuff from the truck, rearranged a few things, and then made myself at home in his driveway.
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Got some funny looks from some of his neighbors, but I attributed that to being in Mormon country.

Fsb and Sheldon arrived home at 3:00. I kicked back and kept him company while he loaded up his gear.
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We talked about the virus, and he mentioned that he hoped things would open up soon because it had been awhile since he’d seen his dentist. A minute later I saw something drop from his mouth and heard him say, “Fuck. I just lost a crown.”

The original plan was for the two of us to head north in the morning, meet up with sarmulminnow, and fish, but plans change.

Fsb had no idea when or if his dentist would be able to take care of his tooth, so he told me to go on ahead without him.

Dinner plans kind of got lost in the shuffle, so I pulled some road snacks from the cooler and we got by on those before heading off to bed.
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By fishskibum
#699820
Image
#limitout
#699827
TUESDAY, JULY 21

Fsb, his wife, and Sheldon were all up at 4:00. I rolled out of bed shortly afterwards.

I told fsb that I’d be happy to wait around until he got his tooth fixed, but he insisted I go ahead, so I joined the Salt Lake City morning commute and did my best to keep up. Soon caught myself doing 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. Wouldn’t have known it the way the locals kept passing me on both sides. Reminded me of home.

Eventually I escaped civilization and had the road all to myself again. There’s something otherworldly about driving on an empty highway. Nothing in front of you. Nothing behind you. Just you, your truck, and a ribbon of asphalt for as far as you can see.
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It’s fucking magical.

I rolled into sarmulminnow’s town, drove down the main drag, and turned right when the female navigation voice told me too. I ended up in a park, drove around a lawn and some benches, and then heard, “Turn right.” I looked to my right and saw nothing but trees and half a dozen large boulders, so I kept going. Then I heard, “Rerouting.” And then the female voice, the one I’d trusted so much up to this point, took me along the same path I’d just been on and said, “Turn right.”

“Right? There is no right! Are you telling me to drive into that fucking tree?”

I did another lap around the lawn and park benches.

“Rerouting... turn right.”

“Fuck you! We are not turning right!”

I went back out to the main drag and drove down another block or two until I heard, “Turn right.”

“You better not send me in circles again you fucking bitch.”

Every relationship has its difficulties.

Soon afterwards I found sarmulminnow’s place and parked the truck. Best I could figure was a road used to run through the park, but now it doesn’t.

I knocked on the door and was greeted by a lovely woman who said, “I'm sorry, but my husband isn’t home.”

Later I learned that fsb had sent sarmulminnow a text which read, “Lost a crown. Need to see a dentist. We won’t be in until late.”

Sarmulminnow assumed the “We” meant fsb and me, not fsb and Sheldon.

I would have made the same assumption.

Mrs. Sarmulminnow texted her husband to let him know he had a visitor, and I relaxed in their charming front yard while waiting for him to show.
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When he returned to the house, I followed him to a lovely piece of property he’d recently purchased on the outskirts of town.
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He offered to let us stay in the house he was working on, but it was too perfect a place not to camp, so I set up my tent and the kitchen, and then we went for a drive.
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After a fantastic tour of the surrounding area, we went back to camp and met up with fsb and Sheldon.
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For dinner that night we had…

... more road snacks.
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In the morning we would fish.
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By pxatim
#699828
Average Joe wrote: Mon Aug 10, 2020 5:06 pm
I rolled into sarmulminnow’s town, drove down the main drag, and turned right when the female navigation voice told me too. I ended up in a park, drove around a lawn and some benches, and then heard, “Turn right.” I looked to my right and saw nothing but trees and half a dozen large boulders, so I kept going. Then I heard, “Rerouting.” And then the female voice, the one I’d trusted so much up to this point, took me along the same path I’d just been on and said, “Turn right.”

“Right? There is no right! Are you telling me to drive into that fucking tree?”

I did another lap around the lawn and park benches.

“Rerouting... turn right.”

“Fuck you! We are not turning right!”

I went back out to the main drag and drove down another block or two until I heard, “Turn right.”

“You better not send me in circles again you fucking bitch.”
User avatar
By mrl0004
#699835
I can tell, this is going to be one of those that I don't want to end
Rock curry

fuck you guys that was awesome

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