John spent the Monday smoking a turkey. What resulted was the best, juiciest turkey I've ever had. Dude is king of the grill...
The turkey, which was stuffed with sausage (on the right) and apple slices.
While John was grilling Rik and I took Jake out to work on his batting. Rik pitched and I shagged balls in the outfield. You should have seen me... I made a couple of decent running catches. Well, OK, technically, I wasn't exactly "running." It was more like a brisk mosey.
The day's big event was going to the Toledo Mudhens baseball game that night. Rik, John and I went with Jake and John's 9-year old grandson Gavyn. The only eventful thing about it was the dysfunctional family in front of us and the jabbering magpies behind us, while we sat here:
It seemed pretty obvious that the 6-year old boy in front of us had ADD or something because he was in constant motion and doing everything his grandfather told him not to do 3 seconds earlier. It didn't help that he was being picked at by his hulk of an older brother. Took 4 innings before Grandpa finally figured out that he should sit between them. I was screaming it (in my head) since the bottom of the first.
Behind us sat a lady who yapped non-stop with the people beside and behind her about her job, the people she works with, her political views, the price of milk and everything else. Because she was turned around in her seat talking to the people behind her, I was hoping for a wayward screaming foul ball to come her way.
I told my buddies that you never really appreciate your own kids until you see someone else's. Jake and Gavyn were practically perfect. (Oh man, you should have seen Gavyn eating his 15" hot dog. Kid went through that thing like a buzz saw.) But they sat there, kept still and watched the game. It was a beautiful thing.
Finally, because there were seats to be had, we moved over here:
From here, the only thing we had to worry about was the intermittent shrieking, coming from the 3-year old on the outfield wall. I assumed she was friends with the ADD kid.
Yes, I know it's a ballgame and people get loud, but this wasn't ballgame-loud, it was pointless screaming and noise and thrashing around. Maybe you think it's cute when your kid is screaming his head off, but rest assured, everyone around him is plotting revenge in horrible ways. Just sayin...
Meanwhile, the plot to seek revenge on my mom continues with:
Irritating my Mother, Part 2
Thoughtsy, this one's for you.
The week's big event was our 2-day fishing charter out on Lake Erie. On the trip were me, John, his Dad, John Sr, John's son Jay, Rik and his son Jake. We were going out from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Tuesday, and 6:00 am to 2:00 pm on Wednesday. We had a 3-bedroom place to stay in overnight. Our quarry: the walleye.
The last time I was out on the lake, the water was pretty choppy. I ended up with the dry heaves, and I consider myself lucky. If I'd eaten anything before the trip, it would have been the very wet heaves instead. With this in mind, all I had to eat before the trip this time was a pack of peanut butter crackers and some Cheez-Its.
The weather was beautiful, in a hot and beating sun kind of way, but there was a breeze, which made it bearable.
Once we got about a half-hour out on the lake, we started casting with great expectations. Like I said, we were seeking walleye, which are a nice, mild fish for eating. But when we were catching anything, it always seemed to be a sheephead. Sheephead are nasty, ugly, inedible garbage fish. They put up a good fight, but are basically a waste of worm and oxygen. When we weren't catching sheephead, it was white bass, which are OK but still not good to eat.
Pretty soon, it was we who were being preyed upon by biting flies. How flies find us out 8-9 miles on the water is beyond me. They weren't there when we left, then all of a sudden, they're everywhere, chomping on our ankles. Gah!
The fishing was tough. Every so often, someone would pull out a walleye, but most if the time, we'd cast around, get nothing, then the captain would take us somewhere else and we'd try again. When the casting didn't work, we'd try trolling. That's when you set up several rods in holders on each side of the boat and slowly trudge along. (There's a lot more to it than that, but I'll spare you the hardcore fishing talk.) We had absolutely no luck at all with that, so we went back to casting.
By the end of the day, we had 5 walleye and a small perch. My personal count was one walleye and 2 sheephead. Considering we spend about 7 hours actively fishing, it was beyond disappointing.
Say 'hello' to Mr. Wallace, our day's prey. (That's Captain John there with me.)
One of the funny things of the day was that the Captain was named John and his mate was named Jay. So on one boat, we had 3 Johns, 2 Jays, 1 Jake and then a Rik and a Bluz. The whole trip, no one knew who was talking to who.
The best thing we caught all day was the sunset.
Coming in to shore after a long and very hard day.
One of the few sailboats we saw on the water.
The sun setting over a dock-side trailer says we're home for the night.
By the time we got in, I was completely beat up. Remember, I have that hive condition, where I get red, painful, itchy hives after contact with hard surfaces. On the boat, hard surfaces were the only kind. Even with my bicycle gloves, my hands were wrecked from holding the fishing pole, my ass was hamburger from sitting on the edge of the boat, the tops of my thighs were swollen from leaning on them with my forearms, my back was tweaked from stooping all day and my heels were on fire from standing in one place, casting time after time.
John's dad had it rough as well. He's 78, with severely failing vision and increasing frailty. He said earlier that this would be his last time on a boat and he was going to enjoy every second of it. But the trip was hard on him too.
I had serious doubts as to whether I would be able to handle a 2nd day of this. I felt like about 7 bags of fuck. But I had a revelation as we were motoring in that night.
We just spent the day living on nothing but crackers and water. We had little respite from the burning sun. The walleye were scarce and the sheephead were plentiful. I might as well have been sitting on a board of nails. We were getting eaten alive by the biting flies.
Amid all this suffering, I realized that we'd just had a cleansing. We were sweating out all the poisons and toxins of everyday life and by doing so, we were strengthening and unifying the tribe. We used to suffer like this at the old Steelers/Browns games in Cleveland, but it's been quite a while since we had such a collective miserable experience.
Granted, we came back to some righteous ham and turkey sandwiches (from Monday's smoked turkey) and cold beers, so it wasn't exactly the Trials of Job. But tell it to my feet.
I made a mental note to never again sign up for 2 days of this "fun," but in the meantime, we had to give up the house on Wednesday, so I didn't have a realistic option to bail on the second day. Otherwise, I think me and John Sr. might have sat it out. But we had no real choice but to tough it out, so out we went again, at 6:00 the next morning.
It started out as dazzlingly as it ended the night before.
Sunrise on Lake Erie.
The fishing started off as badly as it was on Wednesday. We motored from place to place, and had diddly-squat for luck. I pulled out a walleye, but no one else found anything but sheephead.
So they set up the trolling system again, which was nice for us because we didn't have to deal with the worms and the hooks and casting and stuff.
Finally, about 11:30, John told the captain, "Let's go another half hour, then we'll call it a day."
The captain offered to cut us a break on the price. But no one out there was catching anything either. It was just one of those things. The captain and his mate probably had about 100 years of Lake Erie fishing between them. If they couldn't find the fish, I don't know who could.
John's son Jay didn't want anything to do with trolling... he said it was cheating. The rest of us just wanted to catch some walleye, so the captain had Jay get up on the bridge and steer the boat.
Ten minutes later, I swear, we started hitting walleye. Apparently we finally found a decent route to troll. One after another, one of those rods would dip and one of us would get on it and reel on in. There were a few white bass, but almost no sheephead. We pulled out one big, green walleye after another. It's like we happened upon the whole Wallace family.
Jake and Captain John pose with Mr. Wallace Jr.
John, with a biggun.
Rik, aka Mr. Sheephead, finally gets off the schneid.
Suddenly, fishing was fun again. It's funny how a little activity can lift everyone's spirits. I think that we finally had to hit rock bottom, by asking to bail out early, before the fishing gods deigned to smile upon us. And once we did, it was like a Chinese fire drill out there, with multiple fish hitting at one time, while we're trying to get the other rods ready to go back out.
Jay just drove the boat back and forth over the same line, while the captain and his mate put us through all the paces. Those last 2 hours made the whole trip worth while. We ended up with 26 walleye and 4 perch. My haul was 6 walleye (one of which was too small to keep) 4 white bass and 2 sheephead. It was funny how my feet didn't hurt so much, once I could spend more time moving around than standing in one place.
After I got home, was able to take stock. No seasickness, no sunburn, and the hives felt manageable. The only problem was it still felt like I was on the boat. I was up in the bathroom trying to shave before we went out for dinner, and it was like we were still rocking. I wanted to yell downstairs and tell the kids to stop shaking the house. Luckily, that subsided over the course of the night.
Tonight, we're heading to Jake's baseball game, followed by an appointment with the best pizza in the world at Myle's Pizza in Bowling Green. I fear that I might have to be checked in as cargo, on tomorrow's flight home. Then Saturday, it's on to Pittsburgh and dinner with my blogging pals. The crazy continues...