All trips start with the same key ingredients. Five in my books – 1. Some people you want to spend time with; 2. Stories about the ‘last time’; 3. Wine, beer, whiskey and cigars; 4. Some good food, ideally cooked over a BBQ; and lastly, 5. Water you believe holds some fish and runs through beautiful real estate. Everything else is pretty much gravy.
This trip started with all these key ingredients. As had each and every one for the past 17 years. But, like a street hooker from the wrong side of town, this one also came with a nasty disease. Covid had already spread its tentacles through our Spring trip and cratered it. We were determined not to let it happen in the Fall. We are all Canadians – at least by birth. Most of us growing up in the same hometown of Calgary. But, some had drifted south. One even stayed. Sadly, especially for him, he would not be making this trip. That aside, we were committed.
Not that we weren’t already stuck in Groundhog Day, but we all agreed in the run up to lay low and keep our bubbles small. Sadly, not really an issue.
For those of us coming from far, we boarded planes and prepared for 2-4 hours of masks and no booze. A grim start. BTW, there’s no way Jason wear’s that goalie mask for days on end. I call bullshit on that. Anyway, two of us are flying from Toronto to Calgary and the flight is full. Seriously. Six empty seats. WTF?!?!? I mean, where are these people coming from? It’s not like it’s Stampede and they’re all heading to Cowboys.
Anyway, we land, and so does all our gear. Not always a given. I’m grateful to get out of the airport and remove my mask. Just as I do, my brother rolls up in his little Audi wagon. Thankful to see him. Though, as I crouch down and squeeze in, I grumble, as I do every year, why he can’t have a truck like every other Calgarian. Maybe the rolled up cuffs on his skinny jeans are the answer. I don’t know. Though I may have had more leg room on the flight, at least my mask is off.
We are now on our way here. But, still no booze. That is to change in about 2 hours.
We have our first routine, which is to stop in at the Frank Slide liquor store. Which is open 24/7. Sometimes you have to wait for the owner to wake up and come down. We’ve arrived as late as 2am some years and still had service. Ya just gotta love it.
Wine, beer, scotch. All is good. One of us arrived early and did some grocery shopping, so no more stops. Even better. He’s a foodie. So, we will not go hungry, and there will be no weight loss this trip.
As always, the first stop is the Fly Shop to see Al and Suzie and for advice from whatever young punk of a guide is there and doesn’t know us and that we will milk him for everything he’s got. As a fee for the advice, we buy flies and at least one of us makes some manner of major purchase. Even if we don’t need it. This year, it was several of us getting new ‘vests’. For me, I have this ongoing test of trying new carrying strategies. I am now on a bit of a Spartan kick. I dumped my old waist pack for a sleek sash style one. Is there a big difference? Well, my wife (and most of my group) would say no. But, Suzie and I quite enjoy my game. Besides, she says we all carry way to much shit.
We used to have a cup of coffee and snack when at the Shop, but between the size of our breakfasts and our age-related issues with too many coffees in waders, we now just shop.
It started off well.
We had to fish here.
And here. BTW, that’s Peter. He says he is retying. But, we all know he’s really just getting ready for a nap. Which he does.
For more of these.
And all in gin clear water. Yep, it sucked.
Eventually, we called it a day and headed back to some of this.
I’d drop in a couple of pics of the steak, wine and scotch after this. But, I can no more do that than I could take the pics once they all hit the table. I’m pretty sure you can imagine what they would look like anyway. If you can’t. Envision a puddle of steak blood, several empty wine bottles, and a seriously dented bottle of scotch. My only complaint is that I got voted down on the Lagavulin. Apparently, ‘too peaty’ for some. I managed.
[More to come]