An Idaho Experience

After a few years of planning, my buddy, Shawn Pitman, and I were finally able to schedule a time to go fishing.  He had a couple friends coming into town that were looking for an “Idaho experience”. Though his buddies, Wes Howard from Iowa and Kelly Mort from Southern California, didn’t know how to fly fish, they were both up for the opportunity. Getting away from cell phone reception and hopefully catching a fish with a fly rod would be a cool experience, but what they ended up getting was a REAL Idaho experience.    

The bite from the 19 degree weather inspired us to gear up quickly, but it was going to take a little more than cold to damper our day. Shawn had spared no expense on all kinds of good food and drinks that would satisfy any palate, and after a few drinks, there was no worry of being cold.  A bald eagle soaring in the distance offered up a picturesque scene before we walked into the water. 

The feeling of water passing by their legs was enough to get them addicted to the sport, and before long, Wes was hooked into a nice rainbow trout!

The fish took his comparadun BWO pattern, and was not happy to be hooked.  Though Wes is a seasoned gear fisherman for bass, he admitted to loving the fight with a fly rod. Wes’s years of experience translated nicely to fighting the fish with a fly rod.  With some quick maneuvers we were able to land his fish and, despite the cold, he took off his gloves and held up the fish for the camera.

Once Wes let the fish go, there were more fish rising all around us.  After a failed attempt to call Shawn and Kelly over to us, we went back to fishing.

The day was flying by and the sun started fading behind the canyon walls, which created a noticeable drop in the temperature. Shawn and I had walked upstream to fish a different run.  He mentioned that Kelly had caught a white fish, leaving Shawn as the only one who hadn’t caught a fish.  I had some luck in the new run, but the fish seemed uninterested in Shawn’s fly.  I took another shot at the fish and was unsuccessful. The cold was making the fly changing process take a lot longer than normal, so together we decided it was time to go, and fished our way back to the vehicle.

Upon our arrival, we discovered that Kelly had turned on the radio to listen to some music as he and Wes took off their gear.
“This isn’t good.” I said to Shawn, as we approached. Earlier that day, we had a small scare with the battery: it had enough juice to start Shawn’s SUV, but just barely. We had left the engine running for a while to charge up the battery, and I thought it was clear that we were not to leave the doors open, let-alone run the radio, for fear the car wouldn’t start the next time we tried it. 
Please tell me you started the car so you didn’t kill the battery?” Shawn asked, as we approved the SUV that had doors wide open, with all interior light on, and a blaring radio. 
“I turned it on for ten minutes.” Kelly said.
“I told him not to turn on the radio.” Wes chimed in, but whatever damage there was, was done.  Shawn shot me a look, as if asking, please tell me this thing will start, and my look back was not encouraging. 

Shawn quickly made his way to the driver seat, and turned the key… At 19 degrees and dropping, the worst sound in the world is the click click, of an engine failing to start due to a dead battery.  

Oh S#!t, I thought, as we sat there in silence after another failed attempt. As the outdoorsmen of the group, it would do us no good if I started to worry, and after a little game of Pass the Blame, I interrupted with the plan.
“Ok, guys.  If I walk upstream about a mile or so, I can get some service and call my wife.” Though no one was happy about walking in this cold, we were out of options. 
Shawn and Wes joined me on the journey upstream, and as night fell, the dropping temperature started to bite at our faces.  When we reached a spot where I received service, I called my wife, Gracy, and after she confirmed AAA was on their way, we snapped a picture of the moment. 

If we thought it was cold before, it was nothing compared to our walk back. Our faces were covered and our heads were down to keep the artic breeze from piercing.
“Okay, guys…” Shawn said, breaking the silence. “Let’s tell Kelly that we couldn’t find service, and we had to turn back because we heard wolves.”
“I’m game!” Wes said with no hesitation. 
“Me too.” I said, not believing Kelly would go for it… and boy was I wrong! 
Upon our arrival, we all got back in the SUV before Shawn told Kelly the “bad news”.
“Dude, Kelly. We have a problem. We had to turn back before we found service, because we heard wolves.” Shawn said convincingly, even with the smile he hid behind the front of his jacket.

“Seriously?” Kelly asked, his eyes wide… “What are we going to do?”  He asked, as he started to rub his hands together.
“We may need to stay out here for the night.” Wes said.
“We can’t!” Kelly said, raising his voice, “I already can’t get warm!”  He continued to rub his hands together, this time more aggressively.
“I can’t feel them…” Kelly, said looking at his hands… then the shivering started.
It’s… soo… cold !” Kelly said behind violent shivers.  He curled himself in a ball, and was making va va va va va, sounds as he shivered.  We all started laughing at this point, but Kelly was too far gone to pick up on the sarcasm.
“Ok, seriously guys!” Shawn said, over our laughter, “What are we going to do?”
“YOU SERIOUSLY DON’T HAVE A PLAN?!” Kelly shrieked. He began gripping at his arms and rubbing his hands against his legs for warmth, murmuring “my hands, my hands.”
“Kelly, stop freaking out.” Shawn said. “Here!” Shawn added, reached back to Kelly. “put on these extra gloves.”
I was now laughing so hard I was crying.  This is so mean, I thought to myself, then brought out my camera for a picture.
“We are going to make it through this.” I said, “Now let’s get a picture of you guys so that you can remember this moment.”
“Come on, Bro!” Wes said, tapping Kelly to break him from the fetal position, “Let’s take a picture.” As soon as I saw that they were both looking my way, I snapped a shot that most certainly captured Kelly’s state.

“What’s our plan, Erik?” Shawn asked, regaining his composer.
“The closest town is about 20 miles from us… We could walk, and get service along the way.” I said to him.
“20 miles?  No way!  It would be better if we stayed here for the night.” Shawn said.
“I agree.” I replied.
We can’t stay here…” Kelly said, through violent shivers, “We have to try…” Kelly took a long shivering breath. “…and send a message!”  
“None of us gets any service, Kelly.” Wes said.
“Hold on, Kelly.” Shawn said, and reached up to the windshield. The perspiration was frozen on the inside of the cab, and Shawn was writing something.
“There Kelly.  You think anyone will see this?” Shawn asked, as he shined a light on the windshield.
The three of us started laughing once again as Kelly slumped back into his seat, unhappy.
“Maybe we can send a message through prayer?” I suggested, after my laughter subdued.
“That’s a good idea.” Shawn said, “It will work better if we all hold hands.” Shawn added reaching for Kelly’s hand.  
“Come on, Kelly. Help us pray.” Shawn said, as he took Kelly’s hand. Playing along, Wes and I locked hands with Kelly and Shawn, but before Shawn could say anything, the three of us started laughing again.
I don’t see what’s so funny.” Kelly said, angry. “We are going to freeze if we stay out here! Wes, give me your phone.” Kelly demanded. 
“There’s no service.” Wes said, as he handed over his phone.  Kelly snatched it from Wes’s hand, and pointed it at the rear passenger side window.  When he got nothing, he held it to his window, then the moon roof.
Come on, please.” Kelly pleaded, then held the phone up so that it touched the roof of the SUV
I GOT THREE BARS!” Kelly yelled.  We all looked in amazement as Kelly dialed his wife… the phone rang on speaker-phone.
“Hello,” the voice said. Shawn looked over at me with eyes the size of quarters, just as shocked as I was that he actually got through.
“I need you to listen to me…” Kelly said, trying not to sound panicked.
“We are stranded out here, in the middle of nowhere.” Kelly said, very clearly.
“What?” The voice replied.
“We are stranded and we need you to call Triple-A, to come and help us.” Kelly said.
“Isn’t Triple-A on the way?” The voice of Kelly’s wife asked.
“No!  You need to call them for us!” Kelly spoke every syllable slowly, as he continued to speak. “Because.. We’re running out of options, and it’s freezing.” The three of us started laughing again, but hushed up as Kelly’s wife spoke again.
“But… I just got a message from Shawn saying that Triple-A was on their way.”  The three of us began to laugh harder, and the light finally went on in Kelly’s head.
“Oh… I hate you guys, I hate all you guys!” Kelly said, with a smile. 
Before Kelly hung up, Shawn confirmed that AAA was on the way, and that they had nothing to worry about. I brought out my camera to take a picture of Kelly’s now-smiling face.

“I got punked!” Kelly said, as he joined us in laughter. “I can’t believe you guys.” He chuckled.
“I was freaking out!” He added, amongst our laughter.
“And look at you know!” I said, “You are not even shivering anymore!” That fact got us going even longer, as Kelly looked at his hands to see them not shaking.

It was about 30 more minutes before AAA showed up, and at the sight of the truck lights coming down the road we all cheered with excitement.  In a matter of five minutes, Shawn’s SUV was started with the heater on full blast!

“Hey, Kelly!” I said, “How are you feeling now?”
“REALLY GOOD!” He said, with a smile so warm, it could melt the heart of the Wicked Witch!

We did not have the patience to wait for the frozen perspiration to thaw, so we used credit cards as ice scrapers so we could get going. 
“It’s snowing.” I told Shawn, as I scraped away.
“How much more do you need to scrape?” Shawn asked.
“I just want to make sure you can see.” I replied.
“No.  You just want to make your side look better than mine!” He retorted, and held out his hand so that I could give him back his credit card. I handed it over, and as soon as Shawn had it in his hand, he said, “Sucker!” And reached up to continue scraping his side until it looked better than mine.

The bite of the cold quickly faded as we drove out of the canyon, and we continued to laugh as we relived Kelly’s meltdown.
“I was just scared for my wife and kids.” Kelly said, defensively.
“Oh, don’t give me that!” Wes said back. “But do you know what the best part about this whole experience is?” Wes asked. I looked back to hear what Wes had to say.
“It was just this morning when Kelly was telling Shawn and I how cool it would be to be on one of those Amazing Race reality shows.” 
“That’s right!” Shawn said, remembering the conversation. “He wanted to know how we thought he would do!”  
“Well, if you want my opinion.” I said, looking back to Kelly, “You wouldn’t make it past the first episode.” At this, everyone, including Kelly, started laughing.
“You are moving to Boise, right?” I asked Kelly, after we settled down. 
“Yes.” He said.
“Well…” I said, after reflecting on the torment we just put Kelly through.
“Welcome to Idaho!” I said, and we all enjoyed a nice warm comfortable drive home after a rather interesting Idaho Experience.

8 thoughts on “An Idaho Experience

  1. Jeremy Anderson says:

    Great story, despite a few technical errors in the writing I loved it, Erik. Also, nice spam comment from Md Rana (doctor frog?) – you should delete that.

  2. David says:

    This is one of the funniest stories I have heard in a while. Love the way you went into detail and matched the images. Isn't it funny how how minds react when it thinks we are in some sort of trouble.

  3. flyfishingboise says:

    Thanks. It's more important for me to get a blog in, and not worry too much about the technical errors… I'll find them and fix them later.

  4. Unknown says:

    I'm an old friend of Shawn's. It's good to know that he still harbors a mischievous spirit, akin to the time when we were kids living in Arnold Heights. Please give him a huge, bone-crushing hug from me, Mark Rodriguez.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Maybe you should a tutorial ready with some " DOs " & " DON'Ts " every time you take NEWBEs out on the boonies . I know I would listen ( Dad )


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