Two Years BC
by Roy Sorensen
For those of us with children it is sometimes very difficult to remember back to the time before they were born-back to a time before a fisherman had to ask permission, back to before you had to be sure the little rug-rats were being cared for while you were gone. Remember when freedom was easy to come by and was often taken for granted. Remember when you could simply pick up the old fly rod and sneak out the door without your wife noticing or caring. I know my wife thanked God every time I snuck out, because it meant she could grab another couple of hours sleep without me pestering her to make something of her day. This what I call "BC," or before-children time.
I remember one such occasion well. It was about two years before we had children. On that early spring day, I looked over the fine cup of coffee my wife Poopsie had made for me and said,
"Why don't you quit having so much fun, put down the vacuum cleaner and go out and clean up the trailer instead."
"But it's only the end of March." she replied, a little bit shocked.
"I know, but think of all the fun we're going to have...." I answered, sticking out my chest.
"Does this mean what I think it means?"
"Yes, Honey-Bunny. We're packing up and going camping, and it's just about time I taught you the finer points of fly fishing while we're at it."
She's such a kidder, that wife of mine. When you have known her as long as I have, you can read her like a book. I knew she was absolutely delighted that we were going camping. Why she just stomped her little feet down the stairs, with her bucket and Windex, muttering something about hell freezing over and immediately started to clean the trailer. I'm positive her mutterings were in regard to the inclement weather, and I was also confident it wasn't going to rain for the Easter long weekend.
After about three days of scrubbing, cleaning and painstakingly getting my fishing gear ready, we were all set to go. That's the beauty of not having children to get in the way. Right after work on the Friday afternoon, we hopped in the truck and were off on our magical journey of three whole days, by ourselves. Our destination was Sproat Lake, before the long weekend crowds showed up. Much to my dismay, it started to sprinkle as we passed Nanoose Bay on route. I thought, "Oh well, if this is as bad as it gets, we'll still have a good time. A little weather isn't going to get us down." However, the further up island we drove, the worse the rain pelted. By the time we reached Taylor Arm, at the far end of Sproat Lake, we could barely see the road. It was as black as my graphite rod, wet as a sinking line and as cold as cured steelhead roe in January.
"Shouldn't we turn around and go home and cuddle in front of a nice warm fire instead," exclaimed Poopsie.
"Nope, too late now. We'll be there in five minutes," I answered, trying to sound positive and determined that things would get better. She's so romantic and such a kidder, that wife of mine. It's no small wonder I keep her around.
As we turned off the highway and onto the logging road, down toward the lake, the rain was coming down so hard I thought the road might wash out. We did make it safely to the campsite without any serious trouble, just in time to see the last unit pulling out. When the motor home drove by us, I thought I heard him yell something about the damned rain and us being nuts. I tried to stop him so I could ask him about the fishing, but he kept going. He was probably trying to discourage us because this was his favorite spot or something.
I was glad to see there was not another camper in the entire site, as my headlights peered into the blackness, while we circled for the right spot. We backed into the site to the left of the boat launch, which would put us about twelve vertical feet above, and a hundred feet away, from the shoreline. It was perfect and would have a great view of the lake when it cleared up, not too windy, and the boat didn't have to be carried very far. Backing our fourteen foot trailer between the trees was a little tricky in the dark, but we did it. Being somewhat anxious to get an early start in the morning, I decided we should properly set up camp right away. Upon putting the carpenters level on the stove top, it became apparent the trailer was parked on a marginal slope. No problem, I thought. With four leveling jacks and some intelligent blocking, the trailer was leveled and set for the following morning's bacon and eggs. My wife commented on the fact that considering it was so dark and all, I did about as well as a blind man could. She's always so full of compliments, that wife of mine.
Once Poopsie and I were all set up, I cracked a Budweizer for myself and poured a glass of wine for her. She insisted it be a large one. It was great to see my wife really getting into the spirit of the outing. With that done, it was time to pull out the fly tying kit and instruct my enthusiastic student on the basics of fly tying and discuss some of the many finer elements of fly fishing. The lesson lasted for over two hours, with my little neophyte sitting quietly on the other side of the table. She listened intently, not saying more than the odd word here and there, sometimes closing her eyes for awhile in order to catch every word I said. Over the course of the evening, I could see that she was having a good time. The bottle of wine was nearly empty and I must have polished off five or six Bud's myself. Our fishing trip was off to a marvelous start.
Having tied perhaps twenty flies, it seemed prudent to think about winding down for the evening and making up the bed. Dawn comes awful early in the wilderness. While I was applying head cement to my flies, Poopsie began to move around our small trailer, putting things away and getting undressed. When I looked up to see what she was doing, my astonished eyes must have bugged out of my head and I am sure my heart even skipped a beat. There she lay on the bunk, in the back of the trailer, wearing only a fishing vest, looking better than a five pound trout. She was the perfect vision of a fisherman's other fantasy, a nymph in the woods so to speak. What a partner! The adventures a couple can have before children.
"Come on over here big fellah, and show me how to do some real casting...." Poopsie said amorously.
"Oh, Poopsie!" was all I could say, before I turned out the light.
Details at this point would not be in the best of taste. However, I will say that as we were about to land the big one, the trailer gave a sudden lurch and four quick, loud pops as the entire unit fell off the jacks and started to roll down the hill toward the lake. My wife screamed, and I realized that I should not have unhooked us from the truck. We bounced over a few rocks, a bush, some firewood and dragged the hitch and canopy down the slope with us. My mind raced ahead of us as I tried to figure out what to do once we entered the lake. I wondered if we should get dressed first or should I toss Poopsie out after impact. It is interesting what goes through one's mind when disaster is imminent.
No sooner did I have my plan intact, than we leveled out, slowed down and bumped into something solid. Thank God, we were safe. Poopsie and I took one look at each other and howled with laughter, the echoes of which we were sure could be heard the entire twenty-five mile length of Sproat Lake. As soon as we had stopped laughing, I immediately ran outside to be sure everything was all right. As it turned out, the trailer had parked itself in front of a large fir tree. It was a great relief to know that we could not possibly have fallen into the lake after all. It took us a little while to calm down, yet, we both managed to get some sleep that night.
At dawn, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we had the whole campground and lake to ourselves. I was delighted and excitedly tried to wake Poopsie to tell her the good news. She rolled over, smiled coyly and said she was too tired from the excitement of the previous night and I shouldn't stay behind on her account. She insisted I go fishing without her. What a pal she is, and so understanding.
Needless to say, I had a super time out on the lake by myself and when I arrived back at camp, I offered up two nice trout for lunch. My wife suggested I cook them because I was so much better at cooking fish than she is. She's always so modest and full of compliments, that wife of mine. The fish gods must have been smiling upon me.
Could it possibly get any better? After the fish were cleaned and ready for the fry pan, I figured it was time to thoroughly check out our trailer and the new campsite we had arrived in. It was perfect, with level ground, no obstructions, an even better view of the lake and a fire pit right where I would have put one.
Funny thing about that weekend though, Poopsie was tired the entire time and simply sat in her chair outside in the sun, reading a book. I guess the excitement was too much for her. Not only that, when the carpenters level was put back on the stove, it was dead level. We always had a great time, before children. I will forever long for those special days, at least until Poopsie quits telling me I'm so much better at changing diapers than she is....