|Gavins Point Dam on a day that looks eerily |
similar to the one described in this post.
Photo: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
We both thought it would be best if Jim drove the little fishing boat, although, neither of us was the most experienced. Okay, I had no experience since I was a young boy sitting on my grandpa’s lap on a lake in Minnesota. That probably doesn’t count.
The boat puttered painfully slow – no more than five miles per hour. As we went across the choppy waves at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota, the boat we rented would rock back and forth. Jim, one my best buddies from high school, was in total control though. A cigarette hung from his mouth as he steered the boat with one hand while straddling the back seat so he could see where we were going.
We traveled several miles up the shoreline, found what appeared to be an ideal place to fish and dropped our lines in.
Neither of us are great fishermen, but that didn’t matter. We were there for a weekend of fun and fishing. No tents for us either. We stayed in a hotel. And we certainly were not dependent on what we caught for dinner. Thankfully.
As is typically the case for me when I go fishing with friends, we had our share of bites as the morning wore on, but no success in landing the big one.
|Me (left) and Jim (right) on the night before he|
shipped off to Iraq for a year-long tour of duty in 2007.
A few minutes later, the waves began to get more violent. Our choices didn’t thrill me. We could do nothing and try to wait out the storm. We could pull to the shore, out in the middle of the boonies, and try to wait out the storm, but there was nowhere to take cover. Or we could try to putter our way back to the dock, driving straight through the storm.
Keep in mind that The Perfect Storm had not yet been released. If it had been, we may have chosen one of the other two options.
No matter which option we took, we were going to get soaked. So, we pulled in our lines and headed for the dock in the slowest boat in the history of the world. I wasn’t even sure if the motor could navigate the increasingly choppy waves.
Rain began to fall shortly after we headed for the dock – which we couldn’t even see yet. Then the heavens opened up and I was expecting to see Noah’s Ark come floating by. Thunder rumbled overhead. This could get interesting.
The rain stung our faces as the boat fought against the waves. A third of the way into our trek, a much larger boat with official lettering on it sped by us in the opposite direction, and one of the men on board pointed us back toward the dock.
Yeah, we figured that one out already buddy. You want to give us a hand?
They must have had more confidence than we did in the boat because they kept going.
As the dock came into view, Jim and I laughed – partially out of relief and partially out of the silliness of the situation. Our clothes were stuck to our bodies. All of our possessions were drenched. And we both knew that if you added up our experience with boating on such a big body of water, especially in conditions like this, it would still equal nothing.
We made it back safely, pretending like it was no big deal, but happier than ever to see wet land. We drove back into town and had a nice meal, talking about the storm the entire time and knowing this would be a story for the ages.
And even though this happened a good twenty years ago, it really was one for the ages. But the funny thing is, I still love a good thunderstorm.