Thursday, August 20, 2009

Maybe We Weren’t Supposed To Go On Vacation

Thursday night Veronica was trying to check in online with our flights and pay the baggage fees online, when she discovered that we didn’t have any tickets for our trip even though we were previously sent a complete flight itinerary.
We had booked our flights through CheapoAir and our flights were on 2 separate carriers. We had booked through CheapoAir, because like everyone else, we were trying to save a dime.
As we found out, sometimes trying to save a dime will cost you much more in money, time and aggravation.
Veronica called USAirways asking why she couldn’t check in online only to discover that with our correct itinerary, would miss a connecting flight which was on NWA. She was instructed that she needed to call CheapoAir since we had purchased our flight tickets through a 3rd party.
She called CheapoAir from our home phone and was on hold for 37 minutes while Sullivan, from CheapoAir, tried to find what the issue was.
When Sullivan never came back to the phone with Veronica, instead of hanging up Veronica used her cell phone and called CheapoAir, while keeping her original call open with Sullivan. Veronica was talking to Ashley from CheapoAir.
Now she has two folks working on trying to find the problem at the same time. ONE hour later Ashley comes back to the cell phone connection and states that she and Sullivan are still working on the issue that she should hang up the cell phone connection and remain on hold with Sullivan. Twenty minutes later Sullivan comes back and lets us know that the issue has been resolved and that new tickets have been issued for all legs on our flight.
As it turned out, CheapoAir had emailed us a complete itinerary for our trip but had not actually purchased the tickets for us from USAirways and NWA.
It took everyone about 2 hours to get everything straightened out.
We learned a valuable lesson…Do not go not get your airline tickets from CheapoAir…it might cost more but getting them from the airlines themselves will save you tons of time and heartache.
Never again will we use CheapoAir.As it turned out this was just the beginning of our problems.Friday morning at about 4:15, we head out the door in anticipation for the start of our vacation.
We figured all the bad mojo was behind us and looked forward to having a good time.We arrive at the airport and check in just fine.
We get on the plane and quickly discovered that the mojo gods weren’t quite done with us.After we taxi up the tarmac a bit, we came to an abrupt stop.
A friendly voice came over the intercom stating that we will have to return back to the gate as Philadelphia was having bad weather and was on a hold…no flight traffic in or out of the airport. We taxied back to the gate and waited for 90 minutes only to hear that friendly voice come back on the intercom and say, well folks we have a mechanical issue and we are trying to see if we can fix it.45 minutes later and after our next two connections have been missed we are taken off the plane.
We exit the aircraft and walk up the jet way only to see a sea of people lined up and one lone USAirways associate trying to handle all the missed connections and flights.We were about 15th in this line here at the head of the line was a family of 10 and they had all missed there connecting flights heading to the Bahamas.
It took this one USAirways personnel almost one hour to fix their flights. Finally after much complaining from other passengers waiting in line, another associate was sent up to help.
Now Veronica has this idea that while she is standing in line to be helped, that she would also call USAirways and see what they could do, so that we could get to International Falls by tonight. The first person Veronica made contact with ended up hanging up on her, so Veronica had to start the process all over again. Before Veronica called USAirways back, she called Northwest to see if they had any seats on missed flights, that would get us on our way. They did have empty seats but only in first class and if we got those seats, we would make it to International Falls that night but that the seats would cost us $1200.00 With this information, Veronica calls USAirways back and finally finds someone who will help her and not hang up on her. USAirways stated that they would not get us those empty seats.
USAirways finally fixed all of our missed connections out of Philly but can’t do anything to get us to Philly and we must be to the Philadelphia airport by four p.m. in order to catch all those missed fights.Finally 85 minutes later it is our turn at the gate, to be helped by an USAirways associate.
Veronica hands the guy behind the counter all her information and says …. I have got everything fixed for you….. all you need to do is to get us to Philly, at which he replies “that is the problem“. We are told that there are not any seats available for the rest of this day, out of Norfolk and flying into Philly. Finally the counter attendant says he can get us to Philly but only if we go to the Newport News Airport and catch a USAirways flight from there.
He tells us that USAirways will pay for the taxi and that we just have to hurry and get our bags and get out of Norfolk airport and get over to the Newport News airport so as not to miss that other flight.
We collect our bags and quickly head out the airport doors only to find out that we go over to another terminal to catch our cab.
We had to hurry because the flight we needed to get on was leaving in a couple of hours and if we missed that flight we would not be going anywhere, until the following day at the earliest.
We get into the cab and the driver says there is a Six mile backup at the tunnel that we need to go through.
This driver has been working this route for 15 years and knew all the back roads and shortcuts and utilized every one of them and we ended up missing about 5 ½ miles of the 6 mile backup.

We arrive at the Newport News airport and quickly went to the USAairways counter and we checked our luggage in, then quickly went through security and went to our gate.
There are only 10 gates at this airport.
We arrived at our gate with several minutes to spare so we sat down and caught our breath.I took this opportunity to open up my last can of "Bad Mojo Be Gone" and let it permeate the air surrounding both Veronica and I.
We finally felt that we had turned a corner and things were going to start going our way. As I was to find out towards the end of our vacation, my last can of "Bad Mojo Be Gone" was way past its expiration date and totally worthless. Our flight to Philly went smoothly and upon arriving there, we then put USAirways behind us and swore never again to fly with USAirways.
So less than 24 hours into our vacation, we had sworn off ever using Cheapo Air and USAirways again.We felt more comfortable and confident now that we were on NWA.We then boarded our flight bound for Minneapolis.
That flight was uneventful…. thank God….. just the way we like it.We arrive into Minneapolis and had a two hour layover.
We our departure gate and Veronica got herself some coffee at Starbucks and we waited to hear our flight be called.The flight was called and we boarded the plane.
This plane was a very small commuter plane and it was packed with passengers. This is also the very last flight of the night going into International Falls.
We are all in our seats, the flight attendent had closed the hatch and we hear yet another friendly voice coming from the flight deck…… “well folks this is the flight deck here and we are going to stay put here for a few minutes while we get more fuel put on the plane.
He continued by telling us that there were some strong storms that were forming in the International Falls area and that we might need the extra fuel in the event we have to make a detour to another airport, that we would have enough fuel to do so.
After about 30 minutes we finally take off. The first three quarters of the flight were uneventful.
But the last one quarter of that flight was like a script taken right out of a movie. What first began as a little bit of turbulence once in a while and a few far off in the distant flashes of light quickly and violently turned into one of the most harrowing events of our lives.
I have never ever seen such a nasty lightning storm in all of my days.
There was lightning flashing everywhere around us.
You could not see any lights outside of our windows from the ground below.
We knew we were either too high to see any lights at all or we were flying over a heavily wooded area…….either way it didn’t calm our nerves.We had a bunch of very nervous individuals on the plane at that time. That old saying that there is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole…comes to mind.
Finally we could see lights below and we could feel that we were descending in altitude. We were told the airport was 15 miles away and I kept looking hard out of the window, hoping to see some sort of lights from below.
And the whole time I was looking out the window, the only thing I could see was lightning flashing all around us and the plane was bouncing up and down and sideways.
I was truly expecting that our plane would get hit by a lightning strike. This ride from hell could not end soon enough.
When we finally landed I found out that both Veronica and I had made amends with our maker.
They wouldn’t let us off the plane for some time as they had quite a lot of checked curbside luggage that they needed to get off the plane before the passengers could exit the plane. I could not wait to get off of that plane. When we finally got off the plane there was NO rain, NO thunder and the lightening was very far off in the distance.
While exiting the plane, I got a look at the pilot, who had got off the plane before us and here was what looked like a kid…maybe 28 years old or so. I could not believe it but I was very thankful that this pilot had enough experience and knowledge to safely get us all through this flight.
After getting off of the plane, we finally got our rental car and went to this Ma and Pa owned cabin rental place and finally settled in for the night.
This was at almost 1 AM….. About 21 hours after we left home this morning.Here are a few pictures of our cabin we rented for the night:

We got up early and had breakfast at the Chocolate Moose and did some quick shopping before heading over the border and onto Dryden, in Canada.
In Dryden we finished up our shopping and got into AML about 1 PM. While we were filling out our paperwork, for our fishing licenses, a cream colored lab comes running through, tail a wagging and all excited.
Kiddingly I asked Herbie, the owner of Andy Myers Lodge, if Dakota the camp dog, had fallen into a pool of bleach.
Next thing I know Herbie is telling me that Dakota is dead. She had died protecting her territory at home by chasing another dog off of their property and into the street, where she was hit by a car. I guess that this happened last November.
Both Veronica and I were quite stunned and saddened to hear this. I really enjoyed seeing Dakota each year that we came up here.
While fixing dinner tonight we both missed having Dakota here as our dinner guest, which had become a tradition, especially when I was grilling. Dakota would always spend a lot of time with us in our cabin and was always eager to help us consume our food…especially the finer meat products such as steak. Dakota had quite the sophisticated palette.The camp just doesn’t seem the same. Tessa the new cream lab puppy is a bundle of energy but just not Dakota and she hasn’t taken to us yet as Dakota did.I will miss Dakota dearly.

I am typing this in the midst of another very nasty thunder storm that just plowed over the lake and through our lodge area.

Hopefully things will be brighter in the morning, on our first day of fishing.

It is Sunday, our first full day at AML. The weather has eased up a bit but the rain and dreary skies continue but without the harshness and verosity of the night before. Veronica and I spent this first day of fishing with our friend and guide Cal.
We started the day off doing some walleye fishing, so that we would have some fresh fish for dinner. The fishing was very slow and it was beginning to look like we would have to make other plans for dinner.
The first walleye I caught was a nice 23-24 incher. Not a bad way to start off a fishing trip. Things slowed down quite a bit after that.
The air temps were cooler along with the water temperature thus making for a tough fishing day.
Eventually we did get several fish to bite and we kept them figuring that they would make a nice meal.
After fishing for walleye and catching that nights dinner, we gave our try at musky fishing. I had 2 musky follow my lure to boatside and one seemed very interested in my lure but turned off as quickly as she had turned on. Once again…almost but not quite.
The year before last was the first and only musky that I had caught to date and it was 40”. Unfortunately the only time that I get to fish for musky, northern pike and walleyes, are when we come up to Canada.
Fishing for musky is hard enough but when you are only fishing for them 5-6 days a year, it makes the job that much harder. This year the learning curve seemed shortened and it only took me 3-4 cast to get back into the swing of things.
As the rain continued and the hours drifted by, Veronica decided that she had endured enough and wanted to come back into camp.
She is a quite the trooper when it comes to musky fishing. She does not fish for them herself but assists me as another set of eyes looking for those elusive follows to the boat, that the muskiest do here on Eagle Lake.
We took Veronica back to the camp so that she could return to the cabin. Cal and I waited for the constant rain to let up a bit but unfortunately it continued to rain but even harder than before. We ended up calling it a day and I returned to our cabin to dry off and get warm, carrying a plastic bag of walleye fillets for our dinner.
Veronica and I relaxed in our cabin for the rest of the evening and had a great dinner of panko fried walleye…a recipe that I turned Veronica on to, followed by watching a movie..Mall Cop.
The next morning I awoke to a nice surprise…the rain had cleared off and the sun was finally out.
The morning air had a crisp feel to it almost as if Fall had arrived over night. Veronica had decided that since I was going musky fishing again, that she would take the day off and relax in the cabin.
I went out fishing today with Danny, Herbie the lodge owners son. We ended up moving 3 musky and once again one of them was quite interested in my lure.
She circled around it a couple of times but never actually took the bait. Once again I was left empty handed.
As the day went on, the winds picked up and the clouds rolled in. It made fishing for me to be a very difficult and not enjoyable task. I have really poor balance and absolutely no sea legs to speak of. So by the time that we pulled into camp, I was dragging my sore right knee, sore left elbow, sore back and general sore overall body, up to our cabin for some mending and healing time.
I was scheduled to go back out the next day with Mike, who is the musky fanatical guide of the lodge.
Mike lives and breathes musky fishing and if you go out with him, you had better be ready for a full day of fishing because he will definitely put you through the paces.
After returning to the cabin today, in the state of health that I was currently in, I had some serious reservations about doing it all again tomorrow, especially with Musky Mike.
I might have made a big error in judgment about doing musky fishing 3 days in a row. The type of movements that you make when musky fishing are not ones that I make on any normal day, so I usually end up giving my body and muscles quite a workout and I am usually very sore and wiped out after just one day of doing it, not to mention 3 straight days. I am currently sitting in the cabin, at the old wooden dinner table adjacent to large windows that look out over the dock and water.
The wind is howling and there are whitecaps on the water. The winds must be blowing close to gale force.
I have been watching the boats coming back to camp screaming in with the wind is in their backs and watching other boats fighting against the wind as they are heading out again, with the waves splashing over their bows and basically getting everyone in the boat soaked with cold lake water. The rain has been coming and going off and on all afternoon.
I look at those who are on these boats, mostly those musky fishermen, who are a tough and hardy lot.
Most are lucky to live in a location to fish sometimes daily and others on a weekly basis. A whole lot more often than I get the opportunity. Some eat and breathe musky fishing. And here I am visiting their world, for a brief and temporary time each year, hoping to catch a musky large enough to actually be looked upon as a “real” musky fisherman.
The wind is really beginning to howl out there and the rain has begun to fall again. It is kind of nice sitting here in a dry comfortable cabin and watching the turmoil of the weather outside. The docks and boats secured to them, are riding the wind stoked waves, bouncing here and there as the white capped waves slam against their aluminum sides.
And here I sit in my cabin, content and at peace with my surroundings. This is absolutely better than watching TV any day.
Tonight we had pan fried steak, caramelized onions, some basmati rice and tender sweat yellow corn…boy I need to stop watching the food channel so much at home. To end the day, Veronica and I will watch the movie Nights In Rodanthe.
Tomorrows musky fishing with Mike will be arriving way to soon for these old bones.Today is Tuesday and I was supposed to go out with Musky Mike but I went out with another guide. Once again it was a dreary cool rainy day, not unlike all of the other days here so far.
Trying to keep my balance with the choppy waves has been an ongoing problem for me. It makes it very difficult for me to do my “circles” in in proper form. I also noticed that my stomach was getting nauseous as we were heading to different fishing locations.
I did not pay it much attention because it went away after about ½ day of fishing. I ended up moving 3 fish with the biggest being about 49”.
This particular fish definitely wanted to get caught and she stuck around chasing my lure for a good 20 seconds.
My guide kept yelling that she took my lure, so I tried to set the hook but got nothing. I continued to move my lure in circles and this fish continued to chase after it. According to my guide, this fish took my lure 4 times.
The last time she took my lure, I still had no idea that she was on my line. It was when I lifted up my rod that I felt this strong tug on the other end.
This fish must have realized that she had been hooked and started to take off. As my guide started to get the net, the fish got off and swam away leaving me dumbfounded with just another fish story to show for it.
I returned to the camp and cabin frustrated and not feeling quite myself. That night I began to get sick…flu…cold…not really sure. I did not sleep real well that night.
I was up off and on for most of the night. Between the sore throat, chest congestion, coughing and just feeling totally run down, I knew that my chances for my big musky might be coming to an end for this year.

I woke up this morning, wed, feeling worse that the night before.
I decided that I would give it a try for the musky fishing today. I had a real good guide who had been catching lots of muskiest lately.
So I dragged myself down to the dock, met with my guide for the day and we headed out. For a change, the weather was clear and there was little chop to the water. Unfortunately I did not get much of a change to enjoy the weather not the musky fishing. After about 2 house, I had enough and I did not have the strength to continue.
I told the guide that I was finished and we headed back to the camp. Another lost shot at my big musky. I went back up to my cabin and spent about 6 hours in bed.
I woke up feeling just a tad bit better but still no where near my usual self. They are supposed to have a fish fry up at the lodge tonight…a Wed tradition here at AML. Not sure if I can make it and I am also concerned about passing whatever bug I have onto others.
I did here that Steve, the owner of AML, his son and another fisherman had also been sick.
The guide that took me back to the camp told me that if I felt up to it, that he might be going out musky fishing that night and I could go with him.
Not sure how I will feel later on. I am supposed to go musky fishing again tomorrow but I think that I will have to change that. Walleye fishing is less demanding and I can sit a relax a bit. If I don’t go out with the guide tonight, my attempts at my big musky will be over with for this year. I can’t remember the last time that I got sick on vacation but it kind of fits in with the way this years vacation has played out.
Today is Thursday and I woke up not feeling any better but I really wanted to do some fishing with Veronica. I mean who comes all the way to Canada to lay around in bed being sick? Once again it was raining outside and I knew that if I went fishing, I would probably feel worse than I do now but I was thinking about going for it. As we were sitting at the table, Steve (owner of AML) came up to the cabin door stating that it was going to rain all day and that it was alright with him if I wanted to take a day off from fishing with a guide.
After giving it some thought I decided that I should go ahead and take the day off of fishing and just go back to bed. Tomorrow will be my last day of fishing for the year, so I am hoping that after resting today, I will be able to give it my all and catch that musky on my last day.
I know Veronica will be going with me tomorrow and she will be fishing off of the other side of the boat for walleye, or our dinner.
She has always had the luck when fishing for walleye. Guess it comes with her growing up on this lake.With only one day left here, it feels like the whole week has been a blur so far. Maybe it is because
I am not feeling well. This is the one week out of the year that I get to go fishing and it feels that I have fished very little.
More to come and also photos
Related Posts with Thumbnails