We forgot the Conestoga when we started drinking Calistoga

Roughing It I’d like to call it wisdom, but that small voice from the Eternal Child Within suggests it ain’t smarts, it’s unwelcome gentrification.

Prior to age 30 a weekend fishing trip was a buddy calling Friday night with a twenty burning a hole in his pockets, a pack of bologna, and a blanket. As long as you had the cash to match his tank of gas, the details fell into place when the creek came into view.

As daylight turned to darkness, the absence of proper planning meant, “You didn’t bring a flashlight? Guess we’re sleeping here.” Meals were spur of the moment, “I got some bread, some moist toilettes, and … SWEET, Tic Tac’s …”

Years later, my coworkers and I are headed up to Manzanita Lake for the weekend, and the water cooler conversation sounds like the antithesis of all we held sacred…

“You aren’t bringing a tent? You ain’t sleeping with me!”

Nope, as compelling as your narrow arse is in the moonlight, I thought I’d just toss in a tarp and a bag and call it good.

“There better be showers at the campground. You think they have showers there?”

You’re going to be arse deep in water all day, you think bathing will be that much of an issue, and if so – what about simply going swimming, like Jim Bridger…

OK, so it’ll be steaks Friday night, but what about Saturday night?

We could fight over the bones the bears leave us, or we could break camp and return a day and half early, just before we starve to death.

What do you guys put on your steaks?

Teeth mostly, sometimes fingers.

I’m trying my level best to steer the conversation to the important stuff; ensuring everyone is bringing a rod, someone is packing a float tube pump, which fly shop we’re stopping at so everyone has flies, how old is your tippet, knotted versus knotless, and will “NumbNuts” remember to bring his wading boots this time.

They’re having none of it, good sports, but somewhere between 20 and 50 we lost or gained something. Creature comforts asserted themselves, and invulnerability or spontaneity were lost when old bones touched cold ground, with wood smoke no longer the after shave of choice.

Well, what about Breakfast?

That’s the meal you and Martha Stewart slept through, I call it lunch, which will be the first time my feet touch dry land since dawn broke.

15 thoughts on “We forgot the Conestoga when we started drinking Calistoga”

  1. Ed is hereby invited, giving me one fellow who understands how good old booze from a battered tin cup tastes.

    I don’t consider that a “creature comfort” as when we were younger it was “cheap rotgut” splashed into a similar vessel.

  2. KB, you’re killing me…who needs a cup when you have a perfectly good bottle to pass? It’s well known that a) any germs will be killed by the alcohol, b) everyone has more fun (i.e. the booze flows quicker) when you pass the bottle instead of filling the cup and c) it is physically impossible to get hungover while camping.

    The only exception to the bottle-pass rule is if you are adding it to your coffee. Of course, in that case, the “cheap rotgut” will do just fine.

  3. DayTripper is invited, I can tell he can go a couple days without a shower – and smell better than when he left…

    Ed: The glass bottle fell out of favor with the onset of Invasive Species, now even Old Guys are concerned about backwash.

    409 and anything is a bad idea.

  4. Ha! Love it. First time I took my wife on a fishing trip – boy, did she get educated! Unfortunately, she doesn’t go on those trips with me anymore….I wonder why?

  5. It’s nice to have a mix of people on a fishing trip. On the annual trip my brother puts on, there’s always one guy we practically never see (because he’s always on the river), and another guy who never leaves camp (most trips he doesn’t even put his rod together). The “river rat” provides the rest of us with detailed info on where he’s been fishing, what areas to avoid, what’s been hatching, what’s been working, etc. The “camp wife” makes sure there’s always plenty of wood and that the coolers are always full of beer. He’s also one helluva cook, so there’s always plenty of good grub. It seems to work out well.

    As for comforts, I’d never take a shower on a fishing trip, even if one was available – wife might get suspicious if I came home clean. I’ve never owned a tent, but I did recently purchase a cot, and I’ll admit it’s nicer than sleeping on the ground.

  6. Your pals around the watercooler sound like real leatherstockings. They are wisely observing that ancient wilderness maxim, “ANY DAMN FOOL can be uncomfortable in the woods !” Would it KILL you hairy Piltdowns to have to include a small bottle of Lea & Perrins in with the rotgut?

  7. Now I know why I can’t grow a beard; I was genetically engineered to be able to head right to the river without having to shave. Not that a roughfisher would anyway.

    You wouldn’t see me the whole trip until it was time to go home; don’t need any dead weight holding me back from exploring water.

    That bear better look out; I think he’s gnawing on my dinner.

  8. In summary, we’ve got more hardcore than West Hollywood – as for Lea & Perrins .. that’s why you muscle the campsite next to you.

    A half dozen unwashed and unshaven louts charging out of the darkness, would score some Grey Poupon, some Lea & Perrins, and whatever else looked good in their icebox.

  9. I am both honored and amazed to be even considered a part of the KBarton “new set of friends”. However, I draw the line by staying out of my REI tent, no sharing of my electric toothbrush and no tasting of my perfectly cooked and aged New York steak.

  10. That’s fair enough, but when lake water dampens my feet, fly prices increase to $9.50 per dry, and $14.30 per nymph. Tippet is a buck a foot.

    Use of my spare rod because you forgot yours – priceless…

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