I guess you could say the trip to Canada contained “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” It started out as the dream trip of a lifetime. The current smokescreen covering Connecticut brought back memories of the trip.
Fellow New England Outdoor Write Association (NEOWA) member, Tim Lajoie and I had just won a free trip to Gogama Lodge in Canada. Of course we would be expected to put into print what our trip was like but that was part of the deal.
We had won the trip at the Annual NEOWA Scholarship Banquet and made plans to make the trip to Gogama together. Tim lived in Massachusetts and was going to come to Connecticut and we would make the trip together in my pickup truck.
We had packed the truck in what we thought would be needed or our week-long trip. At that time Edna and I also had a place in New York State so we figured we would over-night there and then go through the border in New York into Canada.
Everything was going to plan as we came up on the border crossing into Canada. There was a long line of vehicles ahead of us but the line was moving pretty fast and then it was out turn.
I should tell you that being an outdoor writer the cap of my truck was plastered with outdoor stickers including some from the NRA.
The young lady manning the border crossing booth gave my truck a hard look, picked up a phone in her booth and then directed me to a specified area.
When inquired as to what the problem was she replied, “Just go over there so they can inspect your truck.”
Arriving at the spot I was told to go to, another young lady came out to my truck and informed me they were going to search my vehicle for any firearms I might have hidden in the truck. I should also point out that all of the Canada Border personnel were wearing bullet-proof vests so it looked serous, if of course we weren’t on a fishing trip!
I was sort of irate over the whole scenario and expressed my displeasure and asked to see the person in charge.
A gentleman also wearing a bullet-proof vest was pointed out to me and I went over to him and asked why did they pick me out of all of the other vehicles?
He exploded on me quite loudly, asking me, “Do you think you are going from one state to another? You are not you are going into another nation!”
I tried to explain that we were on a fishing trip and that did not stop him as he went on, “If I want, I will keep you here for a week. If I want I will take your truck apart to the last section when we are looking for firearms!”
Just then Tim came up to us and said, “We have a problem, they found a 12-gauge shotgun shell in a box on your back seat of the truck and are now going to take everything out of the truck and go through it!”
The box was used to throw loose items in and I never even gave it a thought that I might have put one shotgun shell in there.
The entire contents of the back of my truck was taken out and examined and after no guns were found we were told we could reload the truck and go on our way—no apologies (that was the ugly).
The trip itself was one that outdoor dreams are made of. We arrived at Gogama Lodge and had the fishing time of our lives (that was the good).
The lodge has a fleet of float planes that are used to fly their fishermen into different lakes. Each day was a different lake and we would be the only ones on the lake at the time we were there.
Some lakes had smallmouth bass and northern pike, some had walleyes and some even had trout.
It has been many years since the trip to Gogama Lodge but if it is anything like when we were there I would recommend a fishing trip to there anytime.
While we were flown into a different lake every day, we would also take a day pack with rain gear, and a brown bag lunch prepared by the lodge. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that bad weather could hamper your pickup and you might send a night in the bush.
But, getting back to the Canadian smoke being a reminder. On one of our trips we were going to be dropped off at a lake that was a northern pike hotspot called of all things Hanover Lake. It was a lake that was loaded with northern pike and Tim and I looked forward to going there.
The pilot dropped us off and taxied to the far end of the lake for his takeoff when Tim and I noticed the smell of smoke. We then saw a small smoldering fire on the far side off the lake and tried to flag down the pilot who was now airborne and headed back to the lodge.
Any type of communication was out because of our location so Tim and I took the boat over to the fire and decided to see if we could put it out. Luckily it was a small smoldering fire and was right up against the lake shore.
We used our cooler as a water bucket and a limb of a tree to dig up the ground around it and after about an hour of labor we had the fire out.
We finished the day with some great northern pike fishing and when the pilot returned to take us back to the lodge we told him about the small fire.
He told us that wildfires were not at all uncommon in some places and he would report it to the proper officials.
The owner of the lodge was astounded when the officials tried to blame Tim and I for starting the fire (that was the bad) and he made it VERY clear that we had nothing to do with it and they should be glad we put it out.
Now as I look up at our Canadian smoke covered sky, I want everyone to know that Tim and I had nothing to do with it!.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.