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.
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.
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.
The day before heading out I filled the truck with gas and then loaded everything except for the coolers.
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."