Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Travesty on Truman!


 Part One:

         I set forth on Truman Lake to find and collect some ducks and geese.  It was 28 degrees and I was bundled up like an Eskimo, on account of, wide open, my War Eagle boat, powered by a jet motor, runs about 35 mph and I had 4 miles to go to get to where the ducks and geese were.  Do you know what the wind chill is when you are going 20 or 25 mph in 25 degrees?  I think it is 40 below!!!!  


         I doubt I slept long.  When I woke up I was irritable, having seen for the first time ever, my beautiful War Eagle boat sitting about 25 feet from the lakeshore.  Nothing was hurt though.  That strong metal hull can handle a rock substrate of a short distance and my motor is a jet motor, which has no prop and doesn’t extend down below the hull much.           When I am recovered enough to think I remember that I have a cell phone in my camera bag.  It isn’t a smart-phone, it is just a phone to call on, or get calls on.  I am smart enough to have obtained it for 26 dollars.  It doesn’t work on a lakeshore, but I am sure if I climb to the top of this huge island I am stranded on, it will.  


         I have beached my boat, even though it really isn’t a beach.  If it had been a bluff of some kind I would have made the headlines in some of the newspapers I write for… something like “Dablemont has kilt his last duck”.  My first real smart decision is to lay down in the bottom of the boat and drift off to sleep, which is what you should do when confronted with the Ocular Migraine malady which I have survived hundreds of times since I was 13 years old.


         I write on occasion about a malady they refer to as ‘Ocular Migraine’.  I am going to explain what it is in another article a few days away. I have it. You are warned that one is coming on when you begin to see a zig-zag line in your vision with colored lights around it.  In a matter of minutes, you can’t see…. Other things come with it, as I will explain in that article to come.  I was about a half mile from the boat ramp, planed out, going along with enthusiasm I only have when I am off by myself about to catch something or shoot something, in anticipation of having something to eat for supper besides hot dogs and beans. So all of a sudden I see that zig-zag line and I figure that in an hour it will go away, as it usually does.  So as I am becoming a little befuddled, as I often do when I get entrenched in one of those, but I know I need to get back to where I was when I parked my pickup.  I make a hard turn and head back, but as my vision becomes a bright white and pink blur, I turn a bit too much, and planning to turn one way, I turn another.  At 30 mph I leave the water to go shooting up a rocky incline of about 15 or 20 degrees, knowing immediately that I need to turn off the key on account of the crunching and grating means that what is under my boat ain’t in water.  It is on rocks, from the size of an  irregular-shaped softball to the size of an irregular-shaped marble. 


         It did.  My family, knowing me as they do, has put an easy-to-find button on the phone which dials the highway patrol when you punch it.   Looking down on the lake and my boat sitting up on the bank like a fish out of water, I sit down on a rock with my phone battery at about 15 percent, and I get a lady at the highway patrol, and I am in no mood for jokes.  But I swear, she asked me, after I tell her my emergency information, what brand of boat I have!  Today I am thinking I got to find out how to get ahold of her to apologize for my answer.  It was something like this… “Lady, I have a 2000-pound boat sitting on a rock pile 20 or more feet from the water, which anyone who ever was on a lake is gonna say, “hey, there is a boat way up on the bank way across the lake and no matter what kind it is it should be in the water instead of up there on that bank,” and lady it is late in the day and twenty damned-eight degrees and getting colder and I am suffering from a malady related to bad genetics or a severe blow on the head in my childhood and you want to know what kind of boat it is???  


         Then I hung up on her!  In a minute or so, addled though I was, I figured out that I shouldn’t have done that!   Back on the phone, I told her I wasn’t thinking clearly and if I was to walk back down to get particular info, like brand, horsepower or serial number, I would have to walk back up to that high point and by that time my phone or me one, would likely be dead.  To make a long story short (as I so seldom do,) as I was preparing to spend the night on that island by arranging a little cubby hole shelter beside a rock outcropping with enough firewood to make one of those college bonfires. I heard my phone buzz and I climbed back up to that high point where I had a message saying… “This is Trooper Miller and I am getting in a boat at Long Shoal marina, heading your way.”


         Few men my age can celebrate like I did then, dancing around a hillside of rocks and driftwood, yelling at the top of my voice, thanking God for his benevolence even though He had let me get in such a fix in the first place.  And then it hit me…  my boat, even with a full tank of gas, which it almost never has, could not get to northernmost Long Shoal Marina from the spot on the south arm of the lake where I was, in less than 2 hours.  It might be dark before he got there. I got to build a fire so he can find me! 


         So here is what I am going to do.  Tomorrow, I am going to tell you the rest of the story right here.  It is filled with excitement, intrigue and an unbelievable twist of fate that few men of my age with a weak heart could have survived.  But I don’t have a weak heart.  Weak faith maybe, but a good solid heart and enough brains to figure out how to have all kinds of survival gear in my boat except matches.!!!!


Part Two:


    So there I was, 30 feet up on the bank of a big island on Truman Lake.  For the first time ever, my boat was up there with me!  It was a good distance from the water and much too heavy to move.  But there is good news… Trooper Jeremy Miller had called and left a message on my pocket phone that he was leaving the Long Shoal Marina in his boat to help me.  The bad news is, I know where that Marina is!  It is a long, long way off, at least a two hour ride in my own 30-mph boat and in two hours it will be dark.  How will he find me?  You will remember from part one of this exciting story that I have no matches.  In my emergency bag though, I have a cigarette lighter.  However, in my addled state caused by the malady I have described, I have no idea where my emergency bag is because I have it tucked away in a boat compartment.


      I am not bothered by that.  Anyone can cut the top off a few shotgun shells, dump a good pile of gunpowder under some small twigs and leaves and fire an empty shell into it and poof… fire.  I could also disconnect the gas line at the motor and empty an ounce or so of gas into the cup from my thermos, dump it on the twigs and leaves and use a spark from the trolling motor battery and poof, a similar fire. I am a whiz at cold-weather tactics when stranded on an island. In my lifetime I have been in worse fixes in the outdoors quite often in other states and Canadian provinces.  So as I am working to make a fire my rescuer can see, I hear the distant drone of a motor.


      Around a far-away point I see Trooper Miller in a boat that is beyond description. It is at least 25 feet long with a cabin on it, two huge motors side by side on the back, computers and antennaes and enough technology on it to justify the speed of about 200 miles per hour I estimate he was traveling! It looked to have the power to pull a loaded logging truck out of a swamp.  The rest is anti-climatic.  He gives me a rope to attach to the bow of my boat, and I tell him I think it might break.  He says he don’t have ropes that break!  In reverse, mind you, he just pulls my boat off the bank and into the water like a beaver pulling a cornstalk into the creek.  I have had my problems with water patrolmen in the past, but none were like Trooper Miller.  I apologized for keeping him from doing more important things, and he told me he had nothing more important to do in his job than helping people.  He didn’t say it by I’ll bet he would have liked to added “even someone dumb enough to do what you did”.  I hope I see him someday when I am less vulnerable to such thinking.  I really liked him and suggested that maybe the two of us could hunt turkeys around the lake next spring by fixing up cots in that cabin, and a couple of cook stoves!  He said the boat was on loan to the Highway Patrol from the Coast Guard.  I wish they would loan me one like it but I would probably get it dry-docked somewhere by accident.


         Anyway in less than 30 minutes after I got that message I was out there on the lake motoring around looking for ducks again.  My War-Eagle boat didn’t have a dent in it, and my 20-year-old jet motor was running like it was new.  If I had been in a fiberglass boat with a regular hang-low prop motor I would have likely had to do all my fishing next year from the bank. But something good comes from most all of my goof-ups and this gives me the opportunity in a future article to talk about that malady I have, so that perhaps others who have it can benefit from the info. In the meantime you can read more about it by going on that goggle thing and looking up ‘ocular migrains’.  In this case it has nothing to do with headaches.  And if you ever want to go for a winter boat ride, I seldom have anyone to go with me.


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