OK, it’s been (more than) a solid week since I spent lots of hours in a boat with good friends as an occupation, and I’m just now getting to my most recent post. Which this is (in case you need help with the plot points). Lots has happened since then, and here’s the synopsis.

(Two) Thursdays last, I traveled back to Michigan to hang out with some friends, and maybe catch a fish. It started early (alarms at 4:00 AM are an abomination), and I had no time with the packing and car-loading to get breakfast. My flight stopped over in Cleveland, where I grabbed some Burger King goodies. I was wearing my Sam Adams sweatshirt, and the guy at the counter commented, “I like your guys’ Cherry Wheat.” I said, “Thanks, it is pretty good.” (I don’t work at Sam Adams, but we took a brewery tour this summer, in which I met Bob the Brewer and got some swag). I flew into my old hometown and found the airport to be completely different. They’re adding a parking garage and new entrance canopy, and it’s already impressive.

My good friend Dave picked me up from the airport, and from thence we went to his Dad’s (Roger) old place in the country south of Hastings. He bought a condo recently, and his house on the lake hasn’t sold yet. It has 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 3 bathrooms, and 4 bedrooms. Plus, the lights and heat are on. So it makes a perfect place for a fishing trip. On the way, Dave and I just had to have powdered donuts, which converted my freshly washed sweatshirt into splotchy powder-dusted hobowear.

We finished putting shingles on the garage (Dave had been working on it all week, and just had a little bit to complete). Roger keeps a big pile of firewood and a fire ring by the dock, but the fire ring was home to a very large bee hive. Yellowjackets were flying in and out at a rate rivaling O’Hare traffic. We had some old boat gas to get rid of, so the fire pit made the most sense… and there was beekilling to do. After I poured a half gallon of gas on the pit and lit it, the bees were undeterred. So Dave tossed a bucket of gas on the fire. He still has most of his eyebrows.

From there, we headed to the country store for bait and a license ($34 for the privilege of fishing in my old home state). After that, Dave, Roger, and I jumped in the boat and fished the afternoon away. However, there were no fish to be had; they were taking the day off.  After Roger left, we loaded in some firewood and our gear. The agenda for that night: putting another log on the fireplace and catching up.

The next morning, we were up with the late roosters in the boat and a-fishing like mad. Dave got the first fish of the weekend, a hand-sized bluegill (the bastage). We spotted a very large snapping turtle in our active fishing hole, and before turning back to shore we investigated it. Turns out, it’s a llama. Here it is, hankering for a bite of my arm.

Our friends George and Duane (and part of Duane’s family) joined us toward mid-day, and we promptly went back out on the lake for more little fishes. Unfortunately, Duane’s boat didn’t start, but he waved us off saying he had the little trolling motor, they’d be fine. After catching a bucket of panfish, we headed back for lunch at a gas station which featured pizza, sammiches, and boat repair parts.

We pulled in, gassed up the boats, and I helped remove a split fuel line from Duane’s motor. It slipped off the fitting while I was tugging with all my might, and I punched myself in the nose – the hardest hit I’ve received since 8th grade. It’s still a bit tender.

Duane made us an exotic Mediterranean supper of curry pork and apple stew, and it was delicious. More poking fires with sticks, talking, and settling into sleeping bags on the floor. Pretty high-end camping, really.

The next morning, it was absolutely gorgeous. Steam was rising off the lake, the fall colors were in bloom, and a pale half-moon was visible just over the trees. We decided to try a different lake, since there was nothing but little fish in the ‘home’ lake. The new lake offered nothing different, but another bucket of little fish were harvested. We rounded a point featuring an expertly camouflaged duck blind and over a dozen expensive decoys, and headed into a large bay to try our luck. After a while we noticed at least 40 ducks hiding out in the brushy shadows, avoiding the duck blind. Heh.

Dave told a story of taking his young son to the zoo last year. A monkey in the monkey farm was busy, uh, maintaining himself. Vigorously. Dave’s son exclaimed, “Look, Dad! He’s eating it! What’s he doing?” While trying to say something innocent to explain, the phrase ‘monkey spunk’ came out.

That’s either what we should have used as bait, or a great name for a band.

The weekend ended too quickly, and I was ferried back to the airport. Poor Duane brought most of the gear, all of the cooking supplies, and didn’t catch a single fish. On the plus side, there’s nobody on earth I know that doesn’t like Duane. Which is something I’d like said about me.

Thanks, guys, for a great weekend.

Plus which, when I returned home I found that No Celery Please, one of my favoritest bloggers, has listed me as worthy of an Award. Here it is.

I’m proudly herewith displaying said award, and will foist it upon whomever I choose next time I get a chance to write.*

*Holding breath not recommended.

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