The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Category: General (page 1 of 2)

Rant Mode : Engage

The dining room of the old restaurant was relatively quiet during this particular lunch hour. Aside from the occasional clanking of silverware as patrons enjoyed their meals, the only real noise was the conversation being discussed by a group of nine at a table in the corner of the room. I, of course, was present at this table, but I had respectfully checked out of the conversation a few minutes prior.

“I just don’t think anyone should have them”, said a tall blonde teenager from Denmark as she sipped her Coke. “In our country, it’s much different”

“I agree”, spouted another woman, this one from Ohio. “It would make things -much- safer here”

And as if they could already tell I wanted nothing to do with the conversation, the father of the teenager turned to me and asked, “What about you Alex? What do you think about guns?”

Aw hell no…I’m not fixin to get into it with my guests. No way. Not today…

“I…will…bow outta this one”, I replied with a chuckle.

“Ahh, that’s right!”, he added. “You’re a hunter. But com’on, why not tell us?”

And without missing a beat, mid-chew of my sandwich, I fired back, “Because I like getting tipped at the end of the day”.

Everyone around the table busted out laughing and it was then that the woman from Ohio added to the group, “I just don’t know why someone -needs- an assault rifle? It makes no sense”

The whole table, including the German couple across from me (who’d been relatively quiet this whole conversation) nodded in agreement as they tore away at their lunch. But myself? I couldn’t really take it anymore. I had to say -something-

Just as the mother from the Denmark family was getting ready to say something else about guns, I lifted my finger while finishing my last bite and said “hold on…”

Suddenly, if the restaurant could have been any quieter, it would’ve had to be in deep space. It was absolutely silent as everyone looked at me, awaiting my response.

“Why do I -need- an assault rifle?”, I began as I looked around the table at my guests before finally locking eyes with the woman from Ohio. “May I answer your question with a question?”

She simply smiled and said “Of course”

“Back home in Ohio, the car that’s sitting in your driveway…Whatever kinda car it might be…How fast does its speedometer go?”, I asked.

“Umm…I’m not sure”, she began, glancing over at her husband with a shrug”. “Maybe like 120?”

“Okay”, I continued. “So tell me, why do you NEED a car that can go 120mph when the highest posted speed limit around you is only 70mph?”

She sat in silence, thinking about it for just a moment before answering, “Well….that’s different”.

“No…No it isn’t. You do not NEED a car that can go that fast. You WANT a car that can go that fast. Just as I do not NEED an assault rifle. I WANT one. The issue isn’t with the ‘weapon’, the issue boils down to the person and their intent.”

I looked around at my table as they quietly thought it over before continuing and pointing out to the 12 passenger van in the parking lot.

“Take a look at the van out there we’ve been riding in all day. I guarantee you, with evil intent, someone could cause just as much -if not more- damage in that big ol’ thing, than they could with my SKS and a 20 round magazine. If someone wants to go crazy and hurt a lot of people, they’ll find a way. Regardless of the ‘weapon’ involved”.

I could go deeper into the conversation, but I’ll save everyone from reading through that. I’d basically made my point. I did, however, later go in to explain in better detail my feelings toward gun control. And I should give the reader a full heads up; Rant mode – Engage.

There are an infuriatingly large amount of people out there that spout the same garbage about assault weapons and gun control. Most of these people know little, to nothing, about firearms aside from what the media tells them. “Guns are bad, guns are behind these massacres, guns are whatever“. So they end up believing and trying to push restrictions on something that not only does someone WANT to own, but it is their RIGHT to own. And before anyone starts spewing the usual crap about “rights” and how much firearms have changed since those rights were established, let’s not forget that when those rights -were- established, the whole musket and bayonet thing was cutting edge technology. The same thing the military was using. The same way our ‘assault’ rifles are cutting edge technology.

Speaking of ‘assault’ rifles (and pointing the finger at the other side for a moment)…Fellow Gun guys, can we please stop correcting people and the term “assault” weapon. Yes, I know, the assault weapons ban was horseshit. Yes, I know they hold onto that term every time they talk about gun control, so it’s alright to be bothered by the term when it’s used by some politician. But for simple table conversation with your average Joe, you and he both know what’s meant by “assault” rifle. There’s no need to explain how that weapon has never, nor will ever, be used to “assault” someone. I swear to God if I see another one of those stupid posts online about how “I left my gun alone at home all day and it didn’t assault anyone”, I’m going to vomit. We know. Everyone knows.

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So can we all please be real with one another? For like three seconds? And realize the actual issue here?

PEOPLE! PEOPLE ARE THE ISSUE! SWEET CHRIST IS IT THAT HARD TO SEE?? Take any of these massacres that have happened. School shootings, movie theaters, whatever. Take a look at the gunman….IT’S NOT LIKE NO ONE SAW IT COMING.

I’m not sure why exactly, but for some reason our society has felt the urge to completely and totally overlook or ignore mental illness. At best we medicate, then probably over-medicate. Is it because it’s not a physical ailment? We can’t see it so…Here’s some pills…It’ll make you feel better? Or is it that we’re afraid to tell a parent “Sorry…Little Billy’s got a couple screws loose” and instead we just give him a few pills to make him “Normal”. Well what happens when he stops taking said pills? I personally don’t know what needs to be done to address mental illness and instability, but we’ve got to start doing something better than what we’ve been doing. And for those people who -know- an individual could be mentally unstable, it’s their responsibility to monitor and make sure they don’t just have firearms laying around the house for easy access.

But Alex, what about the religious crazies?

I’m so glad you asked…

We happen to live in a pretty sweet country where we’re free to worship whatever God or deity we choose. It doesn’t matter if you want to worship God, or the Sun, or Tom Cruise, or -whatever-, you’re free to do so as long as it’s not hurting anyone else. However, one of the most dangerous things in the world is a person (or people) who are willing to harm others in the name of their religion. I doesn’t matter whether or not they’re Christian, Muslim, Jewish, whatever. The moment someone becomes a religious fanatic and willing to take another life for their religion, they’re an absolute danger to society. Lock em up. I realize it’s difficult to point out, especially since religious preferences are often secretive or not publicly voiced, but there’s a good chance -someone- out there knows about it. Speak up.

All of this “harm” I’m talking about is, of course, related to firearms. Let’s all not forget there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Remove a crazy person’s ability to access firearms and they’ll still find a way to cause harm be it a bomb, or a vehicle, or whatever. It still boils down to the person and their intent.

So what about the rest of us? Those of us who aren’t, in fact, evil? There’s gun related accidents year round, right? I’m all for better education prior to purchasing a firearm. In order for most of us to hunt (depending on where you live), you have to pass a hunter education safety course. During this course students learn the basic fundamentals of firearms and their safe handling. I personally don’t think it would be unnecessary to require someone pass a similar test before purchasing a firearm. I’ve seen guys at the gun range who’ve shown little to no knowledge of how to safely handle their gun. And gun safety isn’t very hard to learn, or even teach for that matter.

There are a shocking amount of people out there who simply know nothing about guns. The only thing they do know? Whatever’s been spit at them from the media: Guns are dangerous. I’ve taken several people shooting for their first time and almost every time they pick up that pistol or rifle for their first time, the initial reaction is the same: Fear. Why is that? It’s so bothersome to me. Is it because it goes *Bang*? Is it because people have been killed by them before? Or is it just a twinge of fear because it’s something completely foreign? It bothers me to no end that this same person who’s terrified of a gun in THEIR OWN HANDS, is the same person who will step onto an airplane without thinking twice, or eat a meal cooked by a total stranger, and be totally OK with it. What should you be more afraid of? I don’t blame the person at all. I blame society and how it’s all been portrayed. It’s frustrating beyond all belief.

And speaking of frustration, let’s dive into a whole new can of rage-inducing worms. Shall we?

——-

Trophy Hunting

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Oh here we go. Unless you literally live under a rock, I’m sure you’ve heard or read some sort of news blurb about some guy killing a lion, or rhino, or elephant, or whatever. Then, inevitably, there’s a massive backlash of people ranting a raving about how horrible this individual is for killing this animal. So on, and so forth.

I won’t be naming any specific cases here. At all. Primarily because I see one of these articles pop up on Facebook, and immediately know it’s just going to piss me off. Not because of the hunter, but because of the absolute stupidity and ignorance that gets spewed from those opposed to the act. So I pretty much -never- read the articles.

So here’s the breakdown. Guy goes to Africa. Pays a ranch or preserve to go out and hunt whatever animal it is (big $$$ mind you). Downs his animal. Then posts the pictures of it online where the masses can start screaming “off with his head”. He does everything legally and by the books (remember I’m not pointing out specific events, just as a whole). So what’s the problem? Why do people get so upset?

I get it. I really do. No one -likes- to see a lion or elephant get killed. In a perfect world, I’d be totally fine if they weren’t EVER hunted by us. But we don’t live in a perfect world now do we? Sadly, harvesting these animals on occasion is necessary. But Alex, why? Why does someone -need- to kill a Lion? How would they like it if -they- were the ones being hunted? Why should any animal like that die by the hands of a hunter? Why?

Again, I’ll have to answer a question with a question: What makes the world go ’round?

Money. Money makes the world go ’round. Argue with me please if I’m wrong. But it’s a sad reality. Money gets things done. Money makes everything go tick. Unfortunately when it comes to species conservation, money is the primary driving factor. Everything costs money. When a hunter goes on a legal hunt (especially over in Africa), he’s paying big bucks. A -lot- of that money is going directly to that preserve or ranch in the form of species conservation. The ranch has to pay taxes, or requires more land for its animals, or needs things burned or mowed or -whatever-. The ranch needs money. And why do we need the ranch or preserve? For things like poachers, or urbanization. That rhino is probably not going to exist if there weren’t people out there protecting them from poachers. That lion certainly isn’t going to be doing all that well if its habitat is paved over. We need these ranches and preserves. And what keeps them going?

Money. Money from hunts. I know. It sucks. It’s a pretty terrible thing that -this- is how we have to try and protect these species, but do you have a better idea? Where’s the money going to come from?

So again, rich guy goes out and kills his trophy, posts his picture online, and Sally Two-Cents on Facebook goes absolutely ape-shit on this guy and is screaming for his head. Well, here’s where I have a MASSIVE problem with Sally Two-Cents.

Dear Sally,

I know seeing that dead Lion is upsetting. I realize it probably wasn’t what you were hoping to see while you scrolled through your Facebook news feed and waded through the incessant baby and engagement pictures. I also know that you now want to kill this hunter, and the nasty comment you left on this stranger’s picture has 1367 ‘likes’ from other drones like yourself. But I’m writing you to ask a very simple question. How much money have you put forth for species conservation this year? Since you seem to be against this type of hunting, how much money from you wallet have you donated for the preservation of Lions? Now think about how much this man who shot a lion has given to conservation. (He paid approximately $30,000 just to pull the trigger, FYI). So please forgive me for my wild assumption here, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’ve contributed a whopping 0$ to this species and its conservation. So I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Sally, but…

YOU DON’T GET A SAY! Until you fork over as much, if not more money as someone else, you have no right to be upset. The day that you, or an organization -does-, then by all means, don’t kill that lion. At that point you will have proven that you do, in fact, care about this animal and its species’ future. But until that time, please shut up. You bitching about this is no different than if I started ranting all about Obama after I didn’t actually vote in the first place. No difference whatsoever. So please keep your outrage to yourself until you decide to step up.

Sincerely,

Someone who’s sick of reading your crap

I could probably go on, but I won’t. Just know that it’s kind of a sad reality, but a reality none the less. And it’s upsetting to see just how many people know nothing about how the world works in this aspect.

Now then…What’s next…

*Casually flips through a list of topics that induces high blood pressure*

Political Correctness.

*Steps away from the computer for six days in a fit of rage*

Those two words. Those two words sum up what is, in my opinion, the biggest issue with our society today. Our PC culture has become so sensitive to anything and everything that it’s nearly impossible to say or do anything without -someone- getting butthurt. It’s completely and totally insane. Everyone’s suddenly offended by everything. Actually, you know what it probably is? It might not be that people are more easily offended, it’s that suddenly I’m supposed to not only acknowledge you’re upset, but also CARE. I don’t care. The world doesn’t care. The rebel flag flying in my neighbor’s yard? If you don’t like it, don’t look at it or fly one yourself. That gay couple down the street that just got hitched? If you don’t like it, don’t marry a gay guy. Just mind your own damn business. Worry about yourself for a change. Do people really have nothing better to do than to get upset or offended about what some sports commentator said on ESPN, or that kids say the pledge every morning in school? Toughen up. The world’s not about to stop spinning just because your feelings got hurt. You’ve every right in the world to call a black guy African American, or a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree. But don’t think for a second that I, or anyone else, has to as well just because certain terms offend you. Get over yourself.

———–

I passionately wanted to rage about several other things in this post, but I honestly feel myself beginning to stroke out. I’ve developed an anger fueled twitch and typing is proving to be somewhat difficult. I will, however, finish on a slightly lighter note.

Today’s country music.

Stolen from some meme source

Stolen from some meme source

Need I really say more? I don’t even really listen to country music and I know that most of the garbage that gets aired on the radio nowadays isn’t really country music. It’s poppy, or best case scenario, it’s “Bro Country”. What’s Bro Country, you may ask? The song is probably about drinking a beer with the tailgate down, a girl in jean shorts in the bed of the pickup, and a can of dip. Toss in a bonfire reference and a pair of boots and BAM! Bro Country. I don’t really care what you want to listen to. Like…At all. But we should probably change the term away from “Country”. When I think Country Music, I generally think of artists like Waylon, or Merle, or even George Strait. I don’t really think of Luke Bryan or Rascall Flats. Again, I don’t really listen to country (anyone that knows me knows I enjoy a good facemelting Pantera session), so this is from the outside looking in, but have any of you every been to one of these line dancing “country” bars. Lemme set the scene for you….

I’ve got my brand new Justin’s on with a pair of faded Wranglers that I almost ripped hopping out of my lifted truck that’s never actually been offroad. I’m probably rocking an arguably too-tight fitting Molon Labe shirt (or something along those lines) and I’ve got a spotless Yeti hat fit snugly on my melon head. I’m now your standard “country” guy.

The girls wear their cowboy boots with short jean shorts and some sort of attractive top (I’ll never deny they don’t look good). They all pretty much know every move to every song on the dance floor, and the night wears on until eventually most of the “country” guys have gathered enough courage with the help of about 5 Bud Lights to join the fray on the dance floor. And they’ll play song after song of today’s “country” music, with an occasional hip hop song thrown in for good measure.

Did I miss anything?

Again, I don’t really have a problem with it. I just always find it hilarious and mildly entertaining. When I’m in these places I can’t help but look around and wonder how many of these people actually know how to drive the tractors in these songs? Or have ever even seen a cotton field? Or skinned a deer? Or can drive a stick? Or any of it. It all sorta cracks me up. When I see most of these people, I see the country version of Malibu’s Most Wanted.

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Finally, I was going to dive into a deep rage about man-buns, and hipsters, and all that. But I just don’t have it in me. I will say this…

Man buns. Ya’ll. For real. There’s like 110% chance if you’re reading this, you aren’t a Calvin Klein underwear model. Unless your girlfriend -really- digs the doo (meaning she wants you to be somewhat similar to said models), you probably aren’t pulling it off.

Hipsters. Will ya’ll PLEASE STOP RUINING EVERYTHING? Beards, glasses, flannel, PBR, craft beer, all of it. Find your own thing to ruin. Stop taking over everything good.

If you’re still with me and you’ve managed to read this far, then I applaud you. This has been far different than any post I’ve ever done, but I think it’s good to vent occasionally. As difficult and infuriating as this was to write, I’ve gotta admit I feel quite a bit better. Stay tuned! I fly back to Colorado in two short weeks to guide for the Elk season again, and I can’t wait to see the stories that’ll come out of it.

 

Lost Fly Rods and Good People

You…Colossal…F$*% up.

Each step down the pothole riddled, dusty dirt road pissed me off even more than the last. I was so upset I wanted to scream. Cry. Anything. I absolutely could not believe I was so forgetful that I’d left my fly rod in that stupid truck. It could be anywhere up ahead and the only thing I had to go off of was that it was a black truck with a Hispanic man driving.

Those aren’t common in Belize or anything.

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Kids on bicycles occasionally rolled by, swerving smoothly between potholes as they peddled. Slowly but surely I was making my way out of Hopkins, and on my way down to Sittee River to the south. Since it was a dead end down there, I hoped that -maybe- I could find the truck I’d hitched a ride in. But with each step, I only found myself getting more and more upset, and quickly losing any hope of every finding the rod again.

——

That’s what you get for hitch hiking, Alex. And in a different country no less. You moron.

But I was tired…and he did -seem- nice.

Idiot

Maybe he’s just down the road and the fly rod is still there.

Probably not.

But there’s always a chance

Why did you think that was a good idea? Hmm? You’ve known yourself for 26 years. And you didn’t think something bad might happen. To YOU? Of all people. You’ve kinda got a track record.

It was an honest mistake

Stuff like this man…This is how you’re gonna wake up murdered one day. Or even worse…Lose your fly rod in Belize.

——–

I was beating myself up so bad that I didn’t even notice the brand new, blue Toyota Tundra that had pulled up next to me. Suddenly a man’s voice interrupted me mid-argument with myself. An American’s voice! I turned to my left to see your standard white  guy, mid 50’s maybe, looking at me with his windows down.

“Umm…I’m sorry?”, I responded, completely and totally shocked to be looking at what was in front of me.

“I said would you like a ride? I’m going to Sittee River…”, he said with a slightly concerned look on his face.

Aha! Not this time! We’re not falling for this one again…

But I could cover ground quicker in the back of that truck.

Woah woah…Pump the brakes. Seriously? It’s clearly a trap! Did you learn NOTHING from what just happened? It was like 45 minutes ago for Christ’s sake…

“Actually…Yes. Please”, I piped up and explained my situation to the man in the truck. He told me to hop in the back, and yell if I saw the truck I was looking for. I quickly climbed in, and took a seat on the edge of the bed as the truck sped down the road toward Sittee River.

You idiot….

The ride down to the next town was bumpy to say the least and occasionally I had to duck down to avoid taking palm fronds to the face. But eventually we arrived in Sittee River. On several occasions, I spotted out small black pickups, but upon closer inspection, was disheartened to discover they weren’t the one I was looking for. The man driving the truck was nice enough to drive me around the entire town in search of this truck (although the town was remarkably small). After close to 30 minutes of driving around, we were almost out of options. The only place in town that we hadn’t checked was the marina in the south end of town. Many potholes, several small bridges, and numerous low hanging branches later, I arrived at the marina.

There was a large, two story building at the marina and in the back, what looked like a small restaurant underneath a pavilion. Boats of various sizes filled the slips while some of the bigger, offshore boats, were docked up on the river’s edge. The parking lot was about half full and almost immediately a lone truck caught my eye. It looked just like the truck I’d been after! I leaped out of the bed of the Tundra and ran over to the truck. It -had- to be the same truck. I was sure I’d looked at every vehicle in Sittee River. So I got to the truck, looked in the bed, and…

It wasn’t the right truck. The one I was after had a tire and a ladder in the bed. This truck just had some trash and leaves. It was over. My fly rod was gone forever and I could do nothing but thank the man who drove me down to the marina for being so nice and patient with me. He wished me luck on the rest of my trip, and drove off down the dirt road back to the main part of Sitte River, leaving me there at the marina.

Hitch hiking’s a one way ticket, remember?

With no reason to be in Sittee River anymore, I had no choice but to make the long walk back to Hopkins and find a place to sleep for the night. I was still absurdly upset. I kept my eyes peeled for that truck, but it was just false hope. That rod was long gone, and my fly fishing days in Belize were over.

Walking back to Hopkins seemed to take longer than walked to Sittee River. Maybe it was because I was so distraught over the fly rod. Or maybe my legs were just tired from walking. Who knows? What I do know is that slowly but surely, I made my way back into town. I passed several small groceries, little “restaurants”, and run down homes on my way to the center of town. Soon I found myself standing right where I’d been dropped off hours beforehand. I heard a car coming up behind me so I stepped aside and continued walking. But the car didn’t pass. Out of curiosity, I turned around to see what the car was doing.

It was the truck! And the man who’d given me the ride!

I raced up to the truck and looked into the bed. My fly rod wasn’t there. I quickly went to the window and started blabbering at him. Honestly I have no idea what I said, but it probably wasn’t English. Not that it mattered though considering the man only spoke Spanish. Good news? He knew what I wanted, and with a big grin, handed me my fly rod.

You’re the luckiest person alive…

I look for you”, the man said with a heavy accent. And I thanked him profusely, even offering to buy him a case of beer for his troubles, but he refused and just seemed happy to have gotten the rod back to me. Not nearly as happy as I was to have said rod back, however. I was ecstatic. Not only did I have my beloved fly rod back, but this man single handedly restored my faith in humanity. It’s a relief to know that there are still good people that exist in this world.

I thanked the man a few more times, then set off on my way. It was getting dark, and I desperately needed to find a place to stay. “The Book” claimed that on the north end of town was a place called Lebeha. It was a drumming center, but also had rooms for rent. So I wandered my way around locals on bikes, stray dogs, and amongst the smell of delicious street food until I saw Lebeha. Actually, I didn’t see Lebeha first. I heard it.

People were busily beating wooden drums in the courtyard of the center and singing when I arrived. Not wishing to interrupt, I sat down on a chair and listened while they finished their song. One man in particular (who I later found out was co-owner of Lebeha) was teaching others drumming lessons. Eventually, they stopped playing and the man asked if I needed a place to stay. I explained that I did and he got me in contact with his wife Dorothy. It turned out that the room I wanted to rent was taken for the night, but she had another that was shared with a stranger for 7$.

Yeah…Why not?

So I took the room, secured my belongings, and since I was on cloud nine about having my fly rod back, I decided to treat myself. With the place I was staying being a drum center, I’d overheard that the local band was playing at a pizza place on the north end of town (about 1/4 mile away). It was getting late, I was starving, and after the hellacious day I’d just suffered through, I needed a drink. So I wandered off in search of pizza and beer.

I’d been sitting at a long wooden table in the bar for over an hour while I ate pizza and listened to the band drum away just a few feet from me. Generally a beer drinker, it was an odd sight for me to have a giant, five-gallon bucket sized Pina Colada in front of me. But sweet Christ it was delicious. The pizza wasn’t bad either. And the fact that I’d gotten my fly rod back made everything all the sweeter.

A little while later a family of four walked into the bar and, as my table was the only one with open seats at it still, they asked if they could join. I didn’t mind, of course, and they sat down at the table with me. There was something, however, that really stuck out about this family of four (two sons about my age and their parents). They were white Americans. I’d only seen a couple throughout my wanderings around town, and from their reaction to seeing me, I think the surprise was sorta mutual. Hopkins is a bit off the “tourist” path. So you really don’t find the same amount of tourists here like you do in other places around the country. Regardless, we all began talking and over several more beers and pina coladas, learned that they were from California and had all sorts of plans for their stay in Belize. It ended up being a great night and after a paying a record breaking bar tab (for a different country), I said goodbye to my new Californian friends as well as the band, and wandered back to my room.

———-

Just breathe through your mouth dude. You’ll be alright.

He stinks so bad though…It’s like…It’s like I can smell it in my eyeballs. How does no one else seem to notice this??

I took a glance around the school bus as we flew down the road just west of Hopkins. We’d all, of course, been crammed into the bus like sardines and the man who’s personal bubble I was forced to share standing space with smelled like he’d died about two weeks ago. Somehow the other passengers seemed unphased by this assault on the senses. Either that or they two had learned to breath through their mouths.

The stop is just about 3 miles ahead. Suffer through it.

The bus dropped me off at the intersection of the highway and the cut off road for Hopkins just west of town. The plan was to make a short hike to a national park and do a little jungle hiking. That was at least the “plan”.

I began walking down a dirt road in search of this national park. But after a couple of miles, I soon found myself standing in the middle of a citrus orchard with zero sign of a preserve entrance in sight. Convinced I’d screwed up, I walked all the way back out to the highway to see if I could get my bearings. When I arrived back at the intersection, there were a couple of men waiting for a ride from the bus. I asked them directions to the national park and they said “Just about a mile -that- way” and pointed north down the highway. So I thanked them, and started walking.

And walking.

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Then I walked some more.

This man’s version of “about a mile” quickly turned into close to 7 miles. And even though this was December, it was pretty hot. Hot enough that by the time I FINALLY reached the turn off for the preserve, I was almost completely out of water. The good news? Don’t kid yourself. There was no good news. The sign read that the actual entrance to the national park was 4 miles down this NEW road. With no other option, and after having walked this far, I made the choice to just continue on.

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The dirt road wasn’t particularly well maintained, but it was decent enough to walk on. Thankfully there were several shaded patches which was a blessing after reaching the dregs of my water bottle. A few cars passed by as I continued on and each one left a cloud of dust behind them, forcing me to stop and wait rather than breathing it in and getting sent into a coughing fit. I’d made it maybe a mile down the dirt road when I heard a car coming from behind. In my usual fashion, I stepped off to the side of the road and continued walking. But the car slowed, and pulled up next to me.

“Hey! We know you!”, yelled a voice from the car.

I turned to look and see my Californian friends from the bar!

No. Freakin. Way.

They surely saw me drenched in sweat and breathing hard, so without hesitation they asked, “Need a ride? We’re going to the preserve”

By this point you’d think that maybe I’d learned my lesson about hitching rides. And you’d be wrong. I gratefully hopped into the back of their SUV and we motored along to the preserve. These were some of the nicest people I encountered during my stay in Belize. They gave me a cold Gatorade and some water (which was a life saver) and were all around just great people. And rather than make me walk the 13+ miles back to Hopkins later that day, they even offered me a ride back. Which I gladly accepted.

The national park was absolutely gorgeous. I learned that there was a trail that led straight up the mountainside and eventually ended at a waterfall, so I chose that one for my hike. As I walked along, I noticed my first cat track in the mud. I still don’t know what sort of wild cat this was, but I still found it pretty cool.

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But not another three or four hundred yards down the path, I heard something that sent shivers down my spine. No. Not the roar of a big cat. Something far more deadly.

It’d been 28 years. 28 years since Dutch and his team of Commandos fought the Predator deep within the Central American jungle. And here it was. I’d stumbled across it again. Armed with nothing more than an empty water bottle and a half eaten sandwich.

Turns out those are Howler Monkeys, and I realized this after just a few seconds. But it did scare the life out of me at first. Besides, I know better that I’d never hear Predator if it was hunting me. I could only hope to spot out his tell-tale shimmer.

The hike up the mountain was steep to say the least, and the combination of Howler Monkeys in the distance and crashing water from a nearby creek made everything surreal.

IMG_1970

I eventually reached the waterfall at the top of the trail, and took a swim in its crystal clear waters to cool down. It was one of those rare instances where pictures just don’t do it justice. So rather than breaking out the camera and ruining the moment, I opted to sit on a rock, eat my lunch, and listen to incessant yet soothing sounds of crashing water. After a little while, other people made their way to the top of the trail, and I’d been there long enough. I certainly didn’t want to miss my ride with the Californians. So back down the mountain I went, eventually meeting up with the Californians and hopping back into their car.

On the drive back, I couldn’t help but stare out across the jungle and be absurdly thankful. SO many things could have gone horribly wrong during the past couple of days, but thanks to a few truly good people and a healthy spattering of luck, things turned out perfect. I’ve got quite a lot of good deeds to do to make up for everything that happened, but I look forward to it. The world could always use a few more good people.

 

 

 

False Starts

How many times has it happened to any outdoorsman?

You plan ahead, check the weather, moon phase, tides, you pack up, load the gear, make sure everything is in proper order and all around prepare for a fishing/hunting trip. The actual day finally comes for you to go on your adventure so you wake up at some ungodly time of the morning (which coincidentally is my bed time while away at college) and head out…

Work truck stuck in a pond

Only to find you should have stayed in bed.

Something, somewhere, amidst your all planning and scheming has gone awry.
-You looked at the wrong tide table.
-The engine on the boat won’t start.
-Someone stole your tree stand.
-12ft seas are a bit much for your 18ft boat.
-Kayaks need paddles?
-That wasn’t a two piece rod when you left home.
-You forgot to put the plug in.
-The truck doesn’t start.
-You left your bow release in the truck.
-Dinner the night before was chili, but for some reason there’s frozen chili in the cooler and the chum is missing.
-Hell, fire, and damnation is raining down from above and getting struck by lightning again doesn’t sound appealing.
-Your stomach feels like you’ve eaten a bomb and you blame the weird tasting chili from the night before. -When on ‘vibrate’ mode, your cell phone alarm tries and fails to wake you up with its quiet buzzing.
-The 30-06 shockingly won’t accept 3 inch shotgun slugs.
-The weather man said ‘calm’ conditions so the category four hurricane isn’t a big surprise. And the list goes on….

Funnel cloud on a ‘calm’ day

Every outdoorsman (or woman) has their fair share of false starts. It’s something that just happens. It’s part of the hobby. This year, I’ve only had four notable false starts. The first one was my trip to the Everglades in February. Even though we did catch fish and I did have a great time, the weather tried its best to be terrible. For MONTHS prior to us taking the trip, the weather in south Florida was warm and humid and the fish were assuredly almost jumping in the boat. The -day- we decided to leave, a cold front came through and began setting record low temperatures for that time of the year and proceeded to turn the fish bite completely off. One week sooner or later and it would have been gold. The next came when a buddy and I got the truck stuck in some sand for about 4 hours (that’ll be its own write up).

The other two false starts have been over the summer. Obviously, the day a few weeks ago when I flipped the yak. I also had another one this morning. After a hot, tiring day of working outside yesterday, I helped load everything into the truck, tie up leaders, and get ready to kayak fish in the gulf this morning. I didn’t get to sleep until 12:15 and then got up four hours later to go fish. On the drive out, the sky was a constant flash from a storm located right offshore from where we wanted to launch. By the time we arrived, however, the storm had moved off so the threat of rain/lightning was gone. Unfortunately, the wind had kicked up -very- strong out of the west and even though the water was relatively flat, small rollers were coming to shore sideways. Launching would have been a nightmare and I -really- didn’t want to flip again. Rather than risk it, we headed home without unloading anything with plans to try it again tomorrow. Essentially, I got to do all of the fun exciting things that go along with fishing without -actually- getting to fish. The only way to have made it better is if someone bloodied up my kayak and threw a bunch of fish in my cooler to clean.

Bottomless cooler of fish (not to complain really)

Sometimes that’s just how it goes. Anyways, I hope to limit the amount of false starts I have the rest of the year and get some quality fishing/hunting in. It’s always important to remember that without terrible hunting/fishing trips, you’d never know when you had a good one.

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