Just Another Trip...

I really didn’t think the following story was all that humorous or noteworthy as it is a typical day afield for Yours Truly. However, the tear-and-snot filled face of my friends who heard the story said otherwise. We’ll let the reader judge.

The setting was our first salmon-fishing trip of the season one week ago. For those who aren’t aware, southern Lake Michigan offers world-class salmon and trout fishing in September and October and I planned to sample some of it aboard my buddy’s boat.

My friend Josh is a former full-time fishing guide who ruined his life by taking a job in outdoor marketing. Now he’s making nice cash writing, shooting pictures, constantly hunting and fishing across the U.S., gets all manner of free goodies and hangs out with interesting folks. It’s sad, really.

Anyway, I do some work for Josh and needed to return company gear he would need for an upcoming trade show. “I’ll be happy to bring up the equipment,” I told him over the phone, “but it will held hostage until after I had caught a salmon.” He grudgingly agreed to go fishing, even though he'd probably rather be sitting at his desk committing journalism, but we set a date and time.

On the appointed morning, I set out northbound on I-65 in my wife’s compact SUV. The forecast called for a nice September day after scattered morning fog had lifted.

Somewhere in Clinton County, I hit the fog bank in the pre-dawn darkness. I’m surprised the airbags didn’t deploy because the fog was so unbelievably thick, forming a solid, impenetrable physical presence.

I crept along, avoiding the suicidal speeding semi-trucks that occasionally passed me, when I suddenly noticed the low tire-pressure indicator light was blinking on my dashboard.

After another mile of further reduced speed, I cautiously pulled over onto the shoulder aware that passing traffic would have only a few yards of warning before seeing my stopped vehicle. Jumping out, I grabbed a tiny small pocket flashlight to inspect the tires.

I had to use the inadequate one-cell light to see the tires since my own larger vehicle, one that held several powerful flashlights, warning lights, flares and other survival equipment including a small air compressor, was currently undergoing $4000 of transmission work at that very moment. Fortunately, things appeared OK to the naked eye so I cautiously saddled up and headed north to the next exit.

There were no businesses visible from the highway but I did eventually creep into the well-lit embrace of a service station at the end of the ramp. There, I found all the tires were a little low on pressure due to the unusually cool morning so I assumed a quick shot of air would set things right.

Except, the “service” station didn’t have an air hose.

Aggravated, I headed next door to two more gas stations that were both inexplicably closed at 7 a.m. The first station likewise didn’t have an air fill setup but the second did.


I didn’t have the $2.00 in quarters that the machine needed but it also accepted debit cards. After removing all four tire valve caps and pre-staging the air hose, I whipped out my plastic and swiped.

“Card Declined.”

“WHAT THE $@&$$??” I thought. I knew there was money in the account. I swiped again with the same result. Now what do we do?

The only choice was to continue north on the under-inflated tires.

A short while later, while navigating construction zone rush-hour traffic and fog, I got a text message on my phone. It was from my bank stating that suspicious activity was noted on my card. Pulling over at the next exit, I responded to the message as requested. Unfortunately, I apparently typed the wrong thing because the bank instantly replied with “Your card is now locked.”

That was the moment I regretted my earlier choice to not carry extra cash. Normally, I carry enough money to purchase fuel for the entire trip but it didn’t happen this time. Now, with my secret stash of emergency travel cash sitting on a lift about 60 miles away, things were starting to look grim.

That’s when realized my GPS was malfunctioning and I wouldn’t be able to find Josh’s house.

However, I’ll cut to the chase by glossing over several more hours of enjoyment to say that I did eventually arrive home safe and sound that evening.

The fishing, you ask? Well, after running 20 miles into the middle of Lake Michigan in a pea-soup fog that raised major concerns about being crush by a giant ore freighter headed to the steel mills near Gary, we fished long and hard for six solid hours.

Let’s just say it was a nice day for a boat ride.