"Fly fishing is my passion, hunting is my weakness, and mules are a perplexing addiction."

Sunday, June 6, 2010


       I used to believe there were just too many senseless lawsuits clogging up our court system.  People seemed to be suing for every little thing and it simply had to stop.  Folks were suing, (and winning), for the silliest of reasons and mostly because they were idiots doing something they shouldn't have been doing in the first place, or they could have simply used just a little common sense and avoided the mishap entirely.
       Well I've changed my mind and I want to sue.  The truth is; I could use the money for a new deer rifle I've had my eye on for quite some time now, and despite what my wife, Cathy, thinks, there's a dandy pair of Swarovski binoculars down a Bass Pro I really think I need as well.  Besides, I calculate that if a lady can sue over spilling a hot cup of coffee in her lap, a common thief can get awarded a substantial sum for someone running over his hand while he's attempting to steal their hubcaps, or a woman can collect damages from a department store for tripping over a toddler, (her own kid, mind you), then I should have a rock-solid, slam-dunk case for negligence concerning a dangerous float tube that could have killed me, or worse!
       It all started a couple of weeks ago when Cat and I made our annual pilgrimage to Bishop, California in the eastern Sierras to attend the Mule Days celebration.  On one of our days off, Cathy decided one day that she wanted to fish the Pleasant Valley Reservoir, and agreeing, (like I had a choice in the matter), I thought I might just bring along my float tube, tug some streamers, and putt around to see what the big reservoir had to offer.
       We arrived at the reservoir and immediately began preparations for the mile bicycle ride up the hill and back to where my wife's secret fishing spot lies.  Then, when I explained to her that conservatively I was fairly certain that somewhere in the neighborhood of six-thousand-and-twelve other hillbillys probably know of her secret fishing spot as well due to the amount of Power Bait jars,candy bar wrappers, and plastic water bottles scattered about the vicinity, she invariably resorted to name calling.  "Killjoy!"
       We unloaded our bikes; Cathy's, a fine, expensive, quality-mad German machine, and mine, the infamous Chinese "Bicycle of Death" my wife thoughtfully had repaired to near-operable condition after it had very nearly terminated my life five years prior up on Rock Creek.
       With our gear unloaded from the truck I strapped my fly rod to the top of my backpack containing my boots, waders, lunch, etc.  I then strapped the float tube, which the makers had cleverly designed to be carried around in a pack of its very own, to the tote-board on the back of my bike.  To that, I used a bungee cord to secure a gear bag containing my fins, and to that, the small box that contained the portable air-compressor.
       I traveled the entire twenty-six feet from the truck to the gate entrance that led to the reservoir without incident.  It was there that I astutely surveyed the situation and realized immediately that I had a minor problem; I couldn't get my bike with attached gear through the L-shaped walk-thru contraption that was meant to keep livestock out.
       Upon unpacking the load from the bike and repeating the entertaining procedure of re-securing it all again on the other side, I was finally off...sort of.
       As I pushed the overloaded bicycle up the steep hill I was beginning to wonder why I just didn't stay at the truck and fish the tail waters below the dam.  Ultimately I managed to catch up with my wife who by this time already had her line in the water.
       "What took ya?" she asked, as I unloaded my gear on the bluff above her.
       Three hours later, with neither of us having caught a single fish, we decided it was time to cut our losses and head back to camp.  We began the task of hauling everything back up the bluff and getting packed up once again, only this time I had an idea.  Instead of deflating the float tube and attempting the futile job of folding something entirely impossible to return to its original size without the aid of an elephant and one of those asphalt roller contraptions, I decided to hang the gear bag with the fins on one side of my handlebars, place the air compressor in the float tube bag and hang it on the other side of my bars.  Then I could put my pack on and drape the float tube over the top of me whereby I could steady it with one hand while my backpack would help hold it in place.  Brilliant, huh?
       "I really don't think this is a good idea," said Cathy, ever the pessimist.
       "No problem, my dear," I boasted as I mounted my bike and began pedaling.
       "Wait a minute," I said, pulling to a stop.  "One, small problem."
       "What," she said.  "You mean the one where this is stupid; why you don't pack the tube into its pack like before is beyond me."
       "No," I said smugly.  "That's not the problem."
       "Would it be the fact that one gust of wind and you, the bike, and the float tube are all going to sail off the embankment and end up in the water?" she said, as I thought I sensed a bit of sarcasm in her tone.
       "No, that's not it either," I answered.
       "Well then, would it be the fact you can't see out from under that contraption on your head and I'm going to end up going on another ambulance ride with you before the day is over?"
       "Yep, that would be the one.  Now, here's what I need you to do..."
       Since I had observed rocks and boulders that had tumbled down the hillside and onto the road the previous night on my trip ride in, and my vision was no more than three feet in front of me with the float tube over my head and balancing on my backpack, and it was even odds my running into one of those rocks and boulders was a certainty, I instructed Cathy to ride her bike that exact, same distance in front of me, (three feet) and let me know what was ahead of us.  That way, even though there was indeed a fifty-foot embankment on my right I could still see her rear tire and could follow her.  I also instructed her NOT to stop suddenly or she would end up a bicycle rack.
       I must say that I amaze myself on occasion at the genius the brain-maker upstairs graced me with and things were going terrific until my bride decided to pick up the pace.
       "You need to slow down, dear," I cautioned her.  "I can't see anything."
       "There's a rock up here; go to your right a little," I heard her say.
       "Where, where?  Slow down, I can't see you.  Where are you?"  And so it went until we reached the top of the hill.
       "Okay honey, there are some people on the road up ahead; you might want to get off and walk this last little stretch down to the gate." she said.
       Now in the world of married bliss that last statement of my wife's is considered a challenge; throwing down the gauntlet if you will , and I simply couldn't give up and quit now.  After all, I had come this far, and I must admit that the brakes on my Chinese "Bicycle of Death" almost worked admirably and would have, too,
had it not been for the extra added weight of the float tube and the fact that now it had turned into a sail of sorts.  And while the float tube was directly responsible for saving me from a nasty head injury and considerable damage to a three-inch iron pipe cemented in the ground in front of the L-gate where the float tube and I came to rest; well, I think you can see plain as red paint where the manufacturer of the float tube is clearly negligible and should pay handsomely for all of my pain and suffering, not to mention the humiliation and ridicule my wife feels the need to put me though.
       Now then, anybody know Denny Crane, Matlock, or Perry Mason's phone number