Friday, May 13, 2011


A few months ago, I was moaning and groaning about cabin fever. I had another attack again today, which was pleasantly cool most of the day with a nice cool breeze blowing this morning. We had a bit of rain yesterday, of which we are in dire need all over the Great State of Texas. We've had rain in my locale more recently than most of the rest of the state, so even though we are WAY down in terms of how much rain we've had, and that's counting other drought years, we have not been as hard hit in my part of the state as other parts of the state are.

But the cause of my cabin fever today was the fact that my friends, Dangerous Dan and Billy Ray, are rambling somewhere in northern New Mexico or southern Colorado, by now camping somewhere in some cool climate. Knowing Billy Ray, there will be some sort of water nearby, either a lake or a river or a creek. The million dollar question will be whether Billy Ray remembered to bring his fishing gear.

Now Billy Ray has been my good friend for coming up on 30 years next month. We met when we were in college, and thus began 30 years of a great and in some ways, legendary friendship. I became friends with his social group, and he with mine. We've spent a lot of time together, and as El Fisho Jr.'s Godfather, of course he accompanies us on many outdoors outings and adventures. He's not like family, at this point, he is family to our family, and has been for many years now.

My father was so fond of Billy Ray that many, many years ago, when we were in our young twenties, as I wallowed in an extremely dysfunctional romantic relationship, my father expressed sincere disbelief that ANYONE could dislike Billy Ray, when my father was told that my crazy girlfriend was jealous of Billy Ray and our friendship and expected me to end my friendship with Billy Ray in order to keep her as my woman.

My father lowered his reading glasses to look me in the eye, and said solemnly: "I hope there is not a question in your mind as to the fact that this woman is insane". My dad was quite comforted when I told him I'd already given her my choice.

I always bring at least one fishing rig for Billy Ray, as he is prone to be forgetful. Absentminded. Billy Ray might show up with his fishing vest and no rod/reel or with a rod and no reel or tackle. So I usually have one of my extra complete fly rod rigs and then some conventional tackle like a spinning or spincasting rig for him to use. I learned long ago that, unless I wanted to cut out a massive tangle or respool a reel or spend several hours untangling some of the worst backlashes in recorded fishing history, not to allow Billy Ray under any circumstances to use any of my baitcasting reels.

Although Billy Ray takes care of his possessions fairly well, he is tough on mechanical objects. Thus, the less levers and dials and adjustments that can be made to a reel, the better, because if adjustments can be made, there will come a time in the Billy Ray Fishing Experience that the reel owner (me) will have to spend a significant period of time correcting some heretofore unforseeable circumstance where the reel has been disabled through multiple conflicting adjustments.

I have found that the best policy in these cases is not to try to figure out the problem with the gear streamside, and lose valuable fishing time, but to just hand Billy Ray another rod and reel and again admonish him "not to mess with" the reel, just fish with it. Bull in a china closet is the best word description I can conjure at this time to describe Billy Ray. This is because whatever situation the reel has been "adjusted" into will most likely be something never encountered, or even contemplated, by the fishing industry or professional fishermen.

Billy Ray and Dangerous Dan both have the kind of life situations that allow them to take off more or less on a whim and take a fishing or camping or just rambling road trip to whatever locale strikes their fancy, with a very loose schedule that can again be expanded at will. Both are married and have wives that allow them to simply take off with no plan and destination unknown.

And that part of the trip appeals to me. Over the years, Billy Ray and I have taken more than one rambling road trip, usually combined at least minimally with some kind of fishing and often with fishing as the main purpose. They're a blast. I like heading out highways heading in a generally westerly direction towards perhaps an ultimate destination, but seeing new places and traveling the road less traveled to see parts of the state that few others get or care to see.

Many times we do have a set destination but being flexible in planning and even in the traveling can have great benefits. I've passed through places on my way to a fishing destination and stopped into a marina and found that fishing  in that area was hot at the moment and modified the trip right then and there and have been very pleased with the fishing results. Other times it didn't pan out, but it's nice to have traveling companions willing to wing it instead of insisting on sticking to a highly regimented and planned out journey.

So cabin fever came in the form that I was at work and El Fisho was in school and we couldn't just jump into Dan's Trooper earlier this week and head off to parts unknown for some cooler climate and trout fishing.

Dangerous Dan and Billy Ray worked together twenty years ago and have been friends and camping buddies since then. I've spent some time with Dano and he's a funny fellow. He's a hoot to be around and quite knowledgeable about many things. The last time he was over at my place he was riding his big motorcycle, and I'm glad for safety reasons that Billy Ray has not fallen under the lure of the motorcycle as so many of our middle aged friends have in the past few years. I know Dan would love to have Billy Ray get a scooter so they could do the whole "Born to be wild" thing, but Billy Ray is too settled for that.

Like me, Billy Ray has lost friends and had friends sustain very serious lifelong disabilities and injuries on motorcycles, and the motorcycle accidents I speak of were largely not the fault of the cyclist. In fact, one mutual friend, Stunt Man Joe, is damn lucky to be alive after years in physical rehab and rehab for head injuries with a large number of bones in his body broken.

Stunt Man Joe survived years in the movie industry, and you guessed it, as a stunt man, and although he received TONS of injuries, broken bones and even some pins in his bones as a movie stunt man, those were nothing compared to his near killing as he sat at a stop light and was hit from behind at about 60 m.p.h. from a car that didn't see him or the stoplight. 

So I'm glad they're not making this road trip on big road bikes, and I hope that they are knee deep in trout by now, or at least in a gorgeous mountain location where it is cool and that the sky is blue for them. I suspect that as I'm writing this, they are sitting around a campfire and making some kind of early morning plan for fishing.

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