Saturday, October 31, 2015

Swap Meet Finds

Over the past few weeks, I've come into some new fly fishing gear in the most unexpected ways. First, about a month ago, Emily and I were having a lazy Saturday, and drove down to the old Lemp Brewery to visit her cousins' booth at the Saint Louis Swap Meet. I've known Emily's cousins, Joan and Theresa, forever - way longer than I've even known Emily. They are a couple of twin hippies that were my classmates from first grade grade all the way through high school. They were right at home selling their knitted goods and custom screen prints at a swap meet outside of an old haunted brewery. We were hanging out in their booth, when I wandered off to go look for nothing in particular. I found a crotchety old man selling a table full of your standard old tools, radios, board games, and jewelry - your standard swap meet fair. However, laying on top of this pile of junk was an old 1960s Heddon Pal Mark IV fiberglass fly rod. It was an 8.5' 2-piece, and looked to be in decent condition. Don't get me wrong. I didn't recognize the make and model on the spot. I had to go home and google the markings on the rod to figure out if it was a hidden treasure or a piece of junk.

Heddon Pal #8457 Mark IV 8 1/2

Heddon Pal #8457 Mark IV 8 1/2
"Heddon Pal #8457 Mark IV 8 1/2"

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Return to Montauk - August 2015

After my first fairly successful solo trip to Montauk back in August, I had the itch to return as soon as possible. The last week of August was looking promising for a quick weekend trip, but my work schedule wasn't 100% set in concrete. I wasn't positive I'd be able to take off the Friday like I was hoping, and I also wanted to make sure the weather would cooperate, so it was going to a short notice trip.

As much as I enjoyed camping by myself on my last trip, I think for my own mental sanity, I needed to bring someone along with me this time. Luckily, my buddy Jeff is always up for an impromptu camping trip, and I knew I could count on him to join me at the last minute. So Thursday, our plans were finalized. We would both work half-days on Friday, I'd drop off my dog at my parents in Washington, MO, and meet up with Jeff on the road to Montauk in the early afternoon. There was only one snag in the plan - Montauk does not accept campsite reservations with less than 24 hours notice.

I'm sure back in the 1980s, this policy made a lot of sense. But there is no good reason today, in the age of online reservations, that I should not be able to book a damn campsite in real time. When I spoke to the very polite park worker on the phone, she did let me know that there were still campsites available, but they were on a first come, first serve basis. When I asked her the reasoning behind the 24-hour reservation rule, she had no idea. So Friday morning was spent at work nervously doing math equations in my head of what time we'd have to arrive if a campsite was booked every hour or so by people who got to take all of Friday off, instead of a half day. I met up with Jeff and we hightailed it down to Salem as quickly as we could. The drive down was an anxious one, trying to figure out a backup plan if we arrived at Montauk and found the campgrounds full.

Luckily, when we arrived, there were some empty lots available. Thank god. Honestly, I have no idea what we would have done otherwise. There were surprisingly few campsites between Salem and Montauk that would have worked. We probably would have had to hide out and camp behind a storage locker shed or something like that. We checked in and began putting our camp in order. When we went to pay the lady in the little wooden hut, we had a near death experience. While standing under an awning attached to the small check-in building, some guy who does not know how to drive a camper cut a corner to short and plowed his skyscraper-on-wheels into the side of the shack. The entire building shook and the camper driver had a lovely new brown streak down the side of his giant RV. Luckily for us, the only casualty was the check-in building's gutters. The driver popped his head out of the window and asked, "Did I hit it?" as if the loud crash and scraping noise weren't a dead giveaway.
Damaged shack
Yes. You hit it.

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