2010 OHIO MEET
It’s just like Christmas I tell ya! The anticipation of gifts under the tree with its sparkling lights, the big meal where family and friends come together to break bread and give thanks. The “rush” to re-acquaint yourself; laughter, hand shakes and warm conversation all play a part in this “human experience!” The desire to communicate with fellow humans is unimaginable. People find a common ground, a place where each is respected and cared about…It’s been four years…
4:30 am – It was a rude awakening when the alarm went off. A bowl of cereal, a hot cup of coffee and then it’s time for a hot shower. Refreshed, I proceed to load the cooler and my personal gear.
6:30 am – I take time to make this entry and then it’s out the door I go! Traffic is what you would expect for a Monday morning, busy! It is a short 20 minute drive to the turnpike, where I take my ticket and head west. As I settle into a comfortable driving position I acknowledge to myself that I don’t care for driving by myself as much as I used to. That being said, I found myself in an excited state as I thought about all the folks I’ll meet that I haven’t met before and all the friends that I haven’t seen for four years!
Driving the Pa turnpike this time of morning is a pleasant drive. The scenery is beautiful if you like the mountains. I find that I am always amazed at the tunnels, and as I exit the last one I look for a rest area; Time for fuel and a walk!
1:30 pm – I pulled into West Branch State Park and head for the parking lot that will become the temporary home for the “Bushwacker.”
I unhook my trailer and back into the drive where I’ll unload. But before I do I walk through the campsite shaking hands and exchanging hugs! I discover that Arv and BigDog are away shopping. Amy is helping Erabbit (Ed) set up his tent…Ed says I timed that just right, as he hammered in the last stake! Mrs. BigDog is busy with the children, but takes time to welcome me…home!
3:00 pm – Camp is set up and Ed and I busy ourselves with light conversation while we set up the kitchen. BigDog and Arv arrive and it’s handshakes and hugs once again! After the kitchen is “put together” I take some time to look over the lake and surrounding hill sides. It’s as beautiful as I can remember. The meet is only two days away and I am excited to say the least! The BS continues to flow back at the main gathering place…Lots to catch up on!
6:30 pm – Turtle soup, grilled burgers, sausage, hot dogs and kielbasa make for a great supper! Ole pie face brought potato salad…I’m not going there!
9:00 pm - After the site is cleaned up everyone is winding down. It has been a long day! We sat up until midnight chasing the raccoons that entered our site and catching up on what has been going on in our lives since last we met….Lights out for this tired Bushwacker!
6:45 am – We slept in this morning, enjoying the sounds of the chirping birds. Ed tells me that he was up in the middle of the night chasing the raccoons away from our table. Ed is out the door before me and turns on the coffee pot…This morning we picked up the empty bread wrapper, empty Cheerios box, empty popcorn bag and half the peanuts…Everything had been secured except the dry goods box!
9:30 am – Everyone has gone shopping, leaving Ed Arv and I alone at the site. After a short while we all decide to go fishing! So, with Ed’s boat in to Arv, Ed and I head for West Branch! Ed backs’ his trailer into the lake, we unhook and load up, wasting very little time! We troll out across the dam breast, actually back and forth and decide to head for Goose Island, where Ed caught the musky four years ago. We trolled all around the island with Ed making necessary depth changes to his downriggers.
We talked and talked like long lost brothers…FISH ON! Arv brings in a 14 ½” walleye on an orange back, gold sides and white belly jointed Rapala (J-11). We make one more pass on the West side of the island and decide to head in.
6:00 pm – We arrive back at camp and to our surprise Nana is here, all set up and ready to play! Hugs and handshakes around, it sure is nice seeing those that I had met four years ago! Within the hour Arv and Dog have the grill blazing, ready for chicken leg quarters.
For the next hour the smell of barbequed chicken fills the air! Soon, after everyone had been served, it became peaceful, quiet. As I did dishes I took time to reflect on this entire encampment. Children playing, the adults setting out their lawn chairs in preparation of a BS session; This would soon be the norm for this event!
9:00 pm – The dishes are done, the children are playing, the food is put away and coolers secured. We are all sitting in our chairs patiently awaiting the return of the raccoons! Ya had to be there to witness this; the raccoons were very bold, not greatly afraid of humans, but when approached would scamper off somewhat. At one point one of them pesky rascals came right up beside ole “Pie Face”, startling him…I think it put a few more grey hairs in his thinning scalp!
11:00 pm – My last conscious thoughts of the evening were of watching the glow of the lightening bugs that had settled on the roof of the tent; like so many stars in the night…
6:30 am – I usually am an early riser, but on this trip I find myself sleeping soundly, deeply. Perhaps it is my age! Out of the tent, I look for signs of raccoon mischief. It appears that we had everything well secured. As I pass our picnic table, on the way to the outhouse, I turned on the coffee pot. Ole “pie face” is right behind me and he’ll be looking for that first hot cup! Upon my return I meet Amy on her way to where I had just been. She made a comment about Dog getting the fire ready this morning. I looked to the fire ring and said, “Amy, that’s not Dog, that’s…!” I guess this is one of those things that you’ll have to get an answer to when you attend the meet!
Most of the day was spent putting up the chapter banner, shopping and just generally relaxing.
The winds are high today and no one felt like dealing with it while fishing.
3:45 pm – River arrives – woo wee! Handshakes and hugs around! After all the excitement dies down, it’s nappy time for two old guys…
5:00 pm – The coffee Ed has made is hot and a welcomed friend. Conversation is light as folks have dinner on their minds! Arv and Dog get the big grill ready for supper and Ed fires-up his grill, making us ready for a hearty steak dinner. While the food is cooking, Tom and “Little Irish Girl”, Aaron and “Grandpa Jack” arrive. Many, many hugs and handshakes; everyone is glad that “Grandpa Jack” was able to attend! Little did we know that he would leave in the middle of the night with intestinal problems and would not be able to return…
7:00 pm – After clean-up Arv, Amy and Nana go fishing down at the boat ramp. Meanwhile, plenty of laughter could be heard around the campsite; you should have been there to hear all the stories and BS! The fishing party returns sometime after dark and there and there is talk of catching some sunnies.
11:00 pm – The children have been whisked off to bed and the grown-ups are tired, ready for bed. We had our nightly entertainment as the raccoons were out in force. The lanterns soon go out, and the raccoons go on the hunt! I take time to make this entry and enjoy some light conversation with Ole “pie face.”
11:30 pm – its lights out for these two old guys!
The First Day of The Meet
6:15 am – Crows, crows and more crows! Hasn’t anyone ever told them it’s not a good thing to wake humans when they’re sleeping? But thanks to Ed, I am distracted by the sound of the coffee pot! We finish off the first pot and then walk over to our boats to prep them for a morning of fishing; Ed will use a downrigger program and I will be crappie fishing with Aaron.
7:30 am – The camp has come alive, or at least something like it! Folks are walking around in kind of a daze and the children are not quite sure what day it is! A fellow walked into camp and introduced himself as CDrake. He is a life member and a Trophy member. Handshakes around! He can only be here for the day and we give him a hardy welcome…Woo wee!
7:45 am – The “Bushwacker” is in the water and Aaron directs me across the small channel, which is actually called “Jay Lake”, and proceeds to teach me about crappie fishing! We are fishing the shoreline directly across from the launch. Up and down the shoreline for about an hour and a half, nothing bit but I was marking a lot of fish in the 10’ to 15’ depth. We decide to shoot up to Goose Island and work some of the small coves on the mainline side. We worked those areas for another hour or so. Off in the distance we see “ole pie face”, trolling around Goose Island. I believe Arv and Amy are his guests; Ed keeps shouting insults, but we ignore him and continue our quest for the mighty crappie!
12:30 pm – Aaron and I decide to call it quits for the crappie and head to a cove who’s shoreline is lined with big stones, bordering the campground. When we arrive we see another boat working the area. We don’t let that bother us because we are hungry for a fresh catch…Any catch will do! We hook up our crank baits, drop the trolling motor and proceed to work the shoreline…FISH ON! I hook and land a 10” smallie! A half hour later, FISH ON! I hook another smallie, but lost it at the boat…
1:45 pm – Aaron and I arrive at camp and find ourselves being greeted by many new arrivals…Woo wee! Handshakes and hugs around! It is so wonderful to see familiar faces and meet new folks…
6:00 pm – Hot dogs, burgers, covered dishes and several pies made for a fantastic supper. After clean-up, Arv pulled the first 50 / 50. Everyone settled into small groups, telling stories, catching up with all that has happened in our lives since last we met and making plans for tomorrows bite.
The children are a happy bunch, running here and there! The raccoons make their nightly appearance and are soon chased away. Aaron and I have decided to troll for musky and walleye tomorrow…
10:30 pm – Lights out for this tired “Bushwacker!”
6:15 am – Rise and shine! The air this morning is crisp, just right for that first early cup of coffee. As Ed and I sip our coffee, several folks have positioned themselves near the fire, and prompt us to reflect on memories of past meets…Like all member meets, the memories come flooding back. The young adults with their even younger children are a pleasant experience…The older teens and their “young love”…Remember when?
7:30 am – Aaron and I are out on the water; at the mouth of “Jay Lake” where it opens up to the “West Branch”; we drop spoons on the starboard side and stick baits on the port side for straight line trolling. We head west first, weaving back and forth across the old channel. The lures are running 100’ back and I am using inline planer boards to keep them out, away from the boat. I set up a routine of changing lures every 20 minutes in an attempt to find something that will trigger a strike. When we reach the South East end of Goose Island we change lures that run 5’ to 10’ in depth. Around to the North end and spend major time doing a grid troll over the large flat, hoping to surprise a musky that is laying in wait at the drop-offs. With no success here, we turned back to the East, following the old channel, weaving in and out and catching a whole lot of floating grass. Almost every ten minutes or so we had to reel in and clean our baits! It was like this all the way to the dam, where we turned so that we could troll across the face. We marked a lot of fish at the depths we were running our lures; adding weight where necessary to get down where the fish are. Nothing was interested but the grass!
1:00 pm – Back at camp, Aaron and I head for some lunch. Today I am having a large chef’s salad and some smoked salmon that I brought along. When I was finished, I headed to the sign-in table and treated everyone there to the salmon. It is amazing how many instant friends you can make when you bring along smoked salmon! The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting in the shade, enjoying the conversations and watching as the children enjoy their activities…
6:45 pm – Supper time! River has the grill fired up, cooking chicken thighs, burgers and dogs yum!
Everyone has brought a covered dish and there are several pies
…I discover how much I like this restaurant! After supper Arv conducted another 50 / 50. Also, BigDog presented to Captain Jerry, on behalf of the Ohio chapter, a plaque for his continued support.
Jerry has donated a fishing charter and many other items ever since the very first meet. Thanks Jerry! While the night is young I slip out for a hot shower.
8:45 pm – Everyone is sitting around in small groups when “Duck Women” arrives with her husband and family. Now, you are probably asking yourself, who is “Duck Women”? I would give you the answer but I guess it’s one of those things you’ll have to discover when you attend the meet! The sun is just going down behind the hills, and I suppose it won’t be long before the raccoons come out, nose to the ground, looking for scraps. As I write this I am listening to the birds, the rustling of the leaves from the light breeze. Campfire conversation is hearty to say the least! The children are playing, adults laughing; this was “brown cow night” and ducks quacking…
11:30 pm – Lights out for this tired boy!
7:15 am – Wow, slept in today! Ed is up and has the coffee ready, making it easy for me to enjoy a cup and some light conversation. This is a return trip for Ed and I, and we marvel at how this meet has grown. This is a very strong, family oriented group and I hope it carries on through the generations. I look forward to seeing how the chapter looks when I am in my 70s!
Originally I had thought about going fishing with Aaron this morning, but I have decided not, electing to stay at camp, gabbing with everyone.
Mean while, Arv is spending major time looking for his coffee cup…”Where is the chapter secretary? Amy…Dogs bark, ducks walk and it seems that there is more than on “wabbit” in this camp! So, this morning was spent packing the “Bushwacker”, making her ready for the trip home…It seems like I just arrived…
Noon – I got the smoked salmon out and heated-up the rest of the turtle soup. I made sure that the adults at the sign-in table had plenty to munch on! I think Arv fell in love with the soup and salmon, but I told him I wasn’t taking him home with me!
3:30 pm – I head for a hot shower, making ready for the group pic. When I return to camp I find everyone is waiting for me! Woo wee, what a time we had!
After the pictures were taken, everyone was encouraged to sign the banner.
The grills were fired-up; hot dogs, chicken, salmon, brauts and anything that needed to be grilled was cooked and served by ffish with many covered dishes…and of course pie!
6:30 pm – Arv called the 50 / 50 and then announced the winner(s) of the “Member of The Year” award; Tom and Michelle were presented this wonderful show of appreciation, with a plaque. Arv announced that the official attendance for this meet is 54, many were children! The next chapter meeting would be held at lake Tappan…I am hoping I can make that one…
For the big event, the children’s raffle was first and then they were off to see a movie at the park theater; “Mary Poppins”!
The big drawings went on for a few hours. There were over 100 items donated for the purpose of fundraising for the chapter. This was a fun time and there was much laughter and name calling; “same ole winners!” A lot of money was raised, a lot of activities to fund.
12:30 am – We stayed up late tonight, getting in our last thoughts…So much to catch up on! Again I look around at all the activity.
This time the children are quiet, I think they are worn out! I look around at everyone, I think about how blessed I am to know these folks…please excuse the interruption of thought, but “Duck Women” just walked through…Time for bed!
5:30 am – Ed and I are up early, packing as we go, pausing long enough for a hot cup of coffee. By the time everyone gets up we have everything packed up except for the tent.
6:30 am – The encampment comes to life! Coffee and breakfast are a top priority as folks decide where to start the job of “breaking camp”…Of course the children are oblivious to these thoughts, focusing only on breakfast!
10:00 am – Everyone is busy breaking down camp. Ed and I have managed to pack our trucks and are giving a hand to everyone else. Ed says his good byes; he has a long drive ahead, about an hour more than I do. Hugs and handshakes, this “Bushwacker” will be missed by many…
11:30 am – Everyone is packed and we gather around the fire ring for prayer and reflection. Many, many kind words were spoken. We asked God to watch over all of us in our travels today, and that He would watch over those that were not able to attend.
Noonish – Handshakes and hugs as I make ready to depart. As I walk away from the crowd I look to the fire ring with the lone chair and fight back the tears…
It is always this way for me. I’ll miss everyone greatly! While I’m motoring down the road I wonder what ole Pie face is thinking about…It takes many, many miles before I start to feel up-beat again. You see, this is a reoccurring theme for me; I’ll miss them greatly! Which brings another thought to mind; hey Arv, did ya find your coffee cup yet? See ya around the fishing hole!
Sorry about some of the pics being sideways! Photobucket made the change, not me!