Happy 2019 everyone. I hope all is well with you. Did you make any resolutions this year? Is there anything you would like to do better? Many people look hopefully into the future with a clean slate. Or not.
Some of us like things the way they are and have been. Change can be upsetting for some of us. I like to think that I am a pretty stable individual. I don’t like conflict, although I welcome discussing different opinions. Just don’t point your finger and yell at me to get your point across and I will be more than happy to lend an ear.
When I was young, I would hope for world peace. Now I hope for peace of mind, or just a good night’s sleep. Although world peace would be nice., just saying.
As we age, our ideals change into reality and common sense. Those hopes and dreams we once clung to are directed towards our children and grand-children. After all, it is their world now, isn’t it?
So, lets hope for the best. Hope things work out. Hope for a better tomorrow, Hope, hope, hope……. It’s the one thing we can all do.
Let’s start 2019 with some humor:
If 2018 was a person, I’d sue him for pain and suffering and lost wages.
My New Year’s resolution is to be more optimistic by keeping my cup half-full with either rum, vodka, or whiskey.
A New Year’s prayer: Dear God, my prayer for 2019 is a FAT bank account and a THIN body. Please don’t mix it up like you did last year.
And finally remember you can reset your resolutions on January 14th (Orthodox New Year) and February 16th (Chinese New Year). After that, even God can’t help you.
Please enjoy the next chapter in “Going with the Flow”:
We met once again at 9:00 at the breakfast buffet. It was fishing day. After our bellies were appropriately full, we headed out to the Lake Mead Marina where we had reserved a pontoon boat, fishing gear, bait and a cooler of food and drinks.
I still am not sure how we ended up agreeing on this, but I was glad we did. I was looking forward to an adventure with my buds. The only one of us who fishes was Shawn. The rest of us were big city boys, so we were going to depend on him for some tips.
We arrived at the marina around 10:30, raring to go. Our pontoon boat was loaded with all the appropriate gear, and after a brief safety talk by the owner and, of course signing a release disavowing him of any remote responsibility for damages to the boat, gear and our own mortal souls, we boarded our boat.
Lake Mead is on the Colorado River, about 24 miles southeast of Las Vegas. It is the largest reservoir in the United States in terms of water capacity. 247 sq. miles. We were told that fishing for striped and largemouth bass is good throughout Lake Mead. Crappie, bluegill, green sunfish and catfish are also prevalent. Sounds great. I couldn’t identify any of those if my life depended on it.
The shoreline of the lake looked like Mars and it felt just as hot. No trees, just stony, sandy desert. It is humongous, so we were given a map and compass, so we could find our way back. We also had a map of the best fishing spots. All I knew was that it was a gazillion degrees out, thank god for the canopy.
We elected Shawn as captain and the rest of us were first through forth mates. We called ourselves by mate or matey, and number throughout the day, just to be obnoxious. We sat back and cracked open some cold brewskies, as Shawn opened her up and headed for the first spot on the map. The breeze cooled things down nicely.
After about 20 minutes Shawn stopped the boat. Drop anchor, first mate, he commanded. I thought he was taking his captainship a bit too seriously, so I told him to drop his own anchor. Besides I thought I was third or fourth mate. Moose took over and dropped the anchor over the side.
“What now o captain my captain?” I said with a smirk.
“Now we fish, dumb shit.” Said Shawn.
We each grabbed a fishing rod and looked at it like it was the most confusing piece of apparatus ever made. Shawn opened the bait cooler, grabbed a night crawler, slid it onto his hook and casted it 30 feet into the lake. I was impressed. The owner had made a chart for us, so we would know what bait to use for the type of fish we were after. Get this.
For striped bass use anchovies, shad or lures.
For large-mouth bass use night crawlers, minnows or lures.
For Rainbow trout use cheese or marshmallows. Rats I forgot the Brie. I wonder if they like smores? My favorite was; if you want to fish for channel catfish use, wait for it, stink bait. What the hell is stink bait. Oh boy, let’s go for some of those.
I decided on lures, so I took what looked like a cute little shinny fishy and tied it to the end of my fishing pole. It had three sets of tri-hooks on it. That should do the trick. Shawn gave us a crash course in casting, so I felt I was ready to go. I was trying to catch a large-mouth bass, just because it sounded cool.
I carefully carried my rod to the end of the boat and placed it over my head while holding the little button on the reel down. Then I swung it forward releasing the button. Not bad. The lure went sailing through the air and dropped into the water about 15 feel out. I was actually fishing.
Shawn told me to let it drift for just a couple minutes then cast again. This fascinated the fish, he said. So, I reeled in my lure. Oops, there was no lure on the end of my line. I guess I also needed a class in how to tie a knot, so the lure would actually stay on the line.
We mateys were all having different levels of failures at first, but after a while we got the hang of it. I actually put a live minnow on my hook and became quite adept at casting.
Moose was getting bored, and drinking beer in the hot sun might have clouded his judgement just a bit, so he decided to go for a swim. Luckily, he had his life preserver on, because he tripped while stepping onto, the ladder, and twisted his ankle as he fell head first overboard.
Great, now we had a tipsy behemoth floundering around in the lake screaming in pain. Ted and I came to the rescue. We climbed down the ladder and helped Moose up. He couldn’t put any weight on his left ankle, so we helped him shimmy up until he could flop into the boat.
His ankle was bruised and started to swell, so we packed it in ice and propped him up in the back of the boat. There he sat, under the canopy for the rest of the cruise.
We hadn’t even had a nibble yet, so we pulled up the anchor and Shawn headed to the next spot. We pulled in slowly near the shore and Shawn cut the engine. We decided to drift for a while instead of dropping anchor. Shawn, Ted and I baited up and threw a few casts. Pat decided to sit it out with Moose under the canopy. He was a fare skinned Irishman and was starting to get red.
Finally, we started to get some action. We must have enticed a school of sunfish, as all our bobbers went under at the same time. We started pulling out fish after fish. They were just small pan fish, but I can’t remember when I had more fun.
We were all using night crawlers for bait, so I decided to try a minnow. Bang! I got a strike. This was no sunfish. My bobber went down like a rock. Then a huge largemouth breached right next to the boat. Shawn and Ted pulled their lines in.
“Don’t let him get away, Woody!” Shouted Shawn.
“What do I do?” I yelled.
“Just calm down and slowly reel him in. I’ll get the net.” Said Ted.
It was a struggle, but I managed to pull him close enough for Ted to grab him. He was a monster. Shawn grabbed him, removed the hook and tossed him in the live trap with the pan fish. Success.
We sat back and joined our other two mates under the canopy. Ted handed out some beers as I dug through the food cooler for some cold fried chicken and sandwiches. We lounged for a while and relaxed, as the boat drifted aimlessly.
I think we all must have dozed off for a while. I was awoken abruptly by someone yelling.
“Ahoy there. You on the pontoon boat. Ahoy. Watch yourself, you are too close to the rocks!”
It was a man’s voice at first, then several others joined in.
“Your going to run a ground!” They shouted.
“Shawn! Wake-up.” I shook him and everyone else.
“Start the boat. We drifted too close to shore.”
Shawn immediately started the boat and turned us away from some huge jagged rocks. The people on shore began to cheer and gave us a thumbs up. It was a good size crowd, maybe 50 or more men and women. They were waving and beckoning us to come ashore. There was a dock just beyond the rocks, so Shawn motored us in.
I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It appeared to be a wedding celebration of some kind. I saw a young woman wearing a vail and several men and women dressed in, well shoes, top hats and ribbons in their hair. But that was all. I mean, no other clothing. I think we happened upon a nudist wedding reception, or, perhaps, some crazy cult. Oh boy. What do we do?
An elderly man came out to the dock to greet us. I guess he was a clergyman, because he was wearing a starched priest’s collar and cuffs and shoes. Yikes.
“Welcome, you’re just in time for dinner. Did you have boat trouble? You missed the entire ceremony.” He said to us.
I looked him straight in the eyes. Nope, not going to look down.
“Well, er, perhaps there’s been a small misunderstanding. We’re not late, we were never invited. Oh, by the way, thanks for alerting us to the rocks. We were fishing and fell asleep.” I said.
The priest looked quite confused.
“Fishing? You mean you aren’t friends of John and Shirley? You’re just some guys in a pontoon boat fishing?” Said the priest as he started to back up.
I was still looking straight ahead.
“I’m terribly sorry. I said. We didn’t mean to be party crashers.” Still looking at the eyes. Nowhere but the eyes.
The priest burst into laughter. We also started to snicker, then laugh, as if we were old friends.
“Well, this is quite awkward.” Said the priest. “
You are still welcome to join us, if you don’t mind being amongst nudists. We don’t bite, and, are actually quite friendly. So, what do you say? Don’t worry you can keep your clothes on.”
I glanced down at my watch and pointed to it.
“Wow, I can’t believe it’s 4:00 already. Thanks for your generous offer, but we have this thing and really need to get back to Vegas. I said half smiling. What do you say guys, we better start heading back, right?”
“Guys, guys.” I had a hard time getting their attention at first. The morons were too busy ogling the bare breasted women on shore.
“Ah, sure, I guess we better get going.” said Moose.
“Right, because we got that thing back in Vegas.” Said Shawn.
With that, Shawn fired up the motor, we waved goodbye and were off.
The trip back to the marina was one of uproarious laughter. Pat kept saying that we should have stayed. He thought one of the younger women was giving him the eye, and Ted just kept pounding down beer after beer saying nobody will believe any of this, nobody.
By the time we got back we were fried. This was our last day together. We were all heading back home tomorrow. Even though we had a fantastic time, we really weren’t ready for it to end just yet.
We talked during the car ride back. I took the wheel. Ted was in no shape to drive. The plan was to take a few hours for naps and to clean up. I suggested getting together at around 9:00 and find a steakhouse. Pat googled for one on his smart phone and came up with the Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio hotel. We all agreed on it. Pat made reservations for 10:00.
We met in the lobby and decided to uber, none of us were up for designated driver. We looked sharp. The dress code was from business casual, to dressing to the nines. We did open collared dress shirts and sport coats. Danny Ocean and the boys were going out on the town.
The restaurant was almost overwhelming. It was located lakeside. We were seated on the rail with a breathtaking view of the famous Bellagio dancing fountain. It couldn’t have been better.
That is, until we saw the menu. I must say, I was glad we were all successful retires. The fare prices were well, let’s say in line with the breathtaking view. None of us even flinched. We ordered at will.
Tangueray martinis, Woodruff bourbon Manhattans and single malt scotch were all in play. The menu was, of course, ala carte. We started with sharing oysters on the half shell, bacon wrapped shrimp and peekytoe crab cakes. Then came the entrees.
16 oz. Dry-aged bone-in ribeye medium rare and charred for Ted, Pat and I. Shawn ordered glazed short ribs and Moose had to out do everyone with a Kobe beef filet. He said he was celebrating his not so swollen ankle. Packing it in ice all day did the trick. He was only limping slightly.
The sides were also amazing. There was a full page of them. Everything from creamed spinach, glazed market mushrooms to truffle mashed potatoes. This was truly a dinner fit for kings, and we were enjoying the hell out of it.
When the dessert tray came out, we were too full to consider it. We sat back for a while and gazed at the fountain as we let our repast settle. Corny as it may sound, I think we were basking in the deep pool of our friendship that had cemented over a lifetime.
I motioned to our server and ordered five neat Jameson whiskeys. They came in small goblets.
“Here’s to us boys. I said. Brothers forever.”
We downed the warm spirits and headed back.
My flight wasn’t until 2:00 so I slept in and got down to breakfast at about 10:30. Ted and Shawn were already on the road back to California and Moose and Pat took the early morning flight into Chicago’s O’Hare field.
I exited the elevator. You guessed it. I needed one last go at old stingy. Ten bucks and that was it. Bang, I hit the button, nothing. Again, noda. Seven more tries, and I was down to my last dollar. Bang, three bars times three. Jackpot. I left Las Vegas $3.20 ahead. Woot!
I flew into Chicago’s Midway airport. It was a long satisfying flight. I tried to read, and then write, but I couldn’t concentrate. My head was reeling from all that had happened over the past month or so. I picked up my car at my son’s place, and drove 80 miles north to Milwaukee.
It was great to be home, but it felt empty. Dar and Jessica had been texting me during their cruise. They were having the time of their lives. They had just left Panama and were on their way to Cartagena, Columbia. Then nine more days at sea with stops in The Grand Caymans, Ft. Lauderdale, Charleston and New York City.
It felt good to sleep in my own bed, but I felt an aloneness. As I laid there, I pictured my two most important women disembarking in New York City at the end of their voyage. They were going to spend a couple days in the “Big Apple” and catch a play. Then finally, home.
“Wait a minute.” I thought. This was my retirement trip. Why should I be alone? This trip ain’t over until I say it’s over.