gone fishin.

this summer there was a repeated mention of a desire to go fishing
it was subtle
but there... no obvious... visible.... but not intense
not with the intensity or the frequency of the classic "I want a puppy"

but it was mentioned and it was repeated
I heard the call and I answered the call

while in New Mexico when young Grant mentioned that he would like to go fishing
we saw some fly fishing
we saw some fish in a stream
there was the request to go fishing
I said that we could try to go fishing when we got back to DC

then one night as I tried to convince Grant that it was way past his bed time and that he needed to give daddy some space and go to bed I said that we would go fishing the following day

when morning came things happened slowly...
my main focus was making sure that toilet repair I had made the day prior was not leaking
while the boys thought they were tricking the system and closed the door to the play room while they watched television or played Wii for the full duration of the morning

after some assurance that the toilet was in fact fixed I started to motivate
the boys were dressed
we needed a plan and some momentum
making mention that we were going fishing proved to be enough to initiate momentum

as I prepped bicycles the boys ran around gathering helmets and filling water bottles

a few years ago I loaned out the boys' fishing rods... so we would need to acquire some fishing rods
the previous rods were nothing special... we were not looking for something special
we would need to buy some new rods... asking for those rods back is out of the question
they are not valuable enough to try and chase down
replacement would take less effort

our course was set for Columbia Heights
at 14th and Irving Street near the Columbia Heights Metro stop there should be someplace to buy a few fishing rods
there are multiple box store options that should fulfill our fishing rod needs
I had in my mind what I wanted... one spinning reel and one push button Zebco
both in a rod and reel combo

no glass case... just something off the rack

there was not rush yet I hurried the boys
although we had no deadline I still wanted to make "good time"

in the alley the boys each got on their bikes
on the handlebars remained the race numbers from their four race series Wednesday at Wakefield
they are boys
the ski lift tickets and the race numbers may remain longer for kids than for adults
I feel these are good reminders and good conversations pieces for the boys

we meandered through the neighborhood streets
I issued the usual unheard commands
trying to guide each of them to be in the place which is most safe for them and their bicycles
Grant was moving behind me at a seven year old pace while Dean was moving at a ten year old's pace up ahead
which meant that dean was ten yards ahead and grant was ten yards behind

I had Dean slow down and Grant speed up so we could move together as a pack

we weaved a route through Mount Pleasant on into Columbia Heights
we stayed off the main roads and moved a logical route through the side streets
it frustrated me to have to deal with the sloppy driving styles of the cars around me
parked car doors opened without a glance
oncoming cars were driven by idiots and assholes who drove more to our side of the road then their side of the road
playing chicken on the bike is no for for the cyclist.... I hate the thought of someone in a car playing chicken with a seven year old on the bike
cell phones glued to the ears of nearly each and every driver


I barked at my children and I barked at the passing cars
I can be a protective mother goose

on the more busy stretches of road the boys moved to the sidewalk and I stayed along side them on the street
we tried to maintain momentum
the lights and the stop signs are good recommendations... but if it is clear... we keep rolling
in some cases we pause and keep rolling

it is most safe to keep rolling

all along the way I chatter about the variables around us
my words may be ignored
or maybe it is that my words are unheard
or maybe these words are subtle subconscious messages
I do not know... yet I try

the boys seem to hear me
the kids seem to be doing what I ask of them
but I can not command every second
they are people not puppets

we arrived at our destination with no close calls or fear of catastrophic collisions

I locked the three bikes together
the boys removed their helmets and clipped them to their bikes
we tried one sports store then another
with no fishing rod options at what were more apparel stores than anything else we moved on to Target
again I ushered the boys at maximum speed

I sent the boys running ahead searching to be the first to find the FISHING SECTION
well... we did not find a "fishing section"
only with the help of a Target Employee were we able to find the one fishing rod option
they had something... it was limited

a kids UGLY STICK rod with a spinning reel and an assortment of hooks, weights, and lures
and the price was right

with fishing rods in hand I tired to accelerate towards the register
the boys were distracted by a toy in the neighboring aisle
I fought the urge to draw them back and gave them some leash
after they scoped out the latest toys to advertise the latest movie we moved on

we grabbed some bananas... some cheese sticks... and a milky way bar
in my mind I already knew I had a lunch option that would please our troops

outside the box stores we snacked
the Milkyway bar was split three ways
each of us ate our bananas and our Milkyway bars trying to make a healthy chocolatey treat
I think a Snickers and Banana are a better mix

after the banana milkyway mix we each slugged down some very diluted Gatorade powder mixture our gear was packed on the Ibex Bob Trailer and we were on the bike and traversing town

as we moved I tried to map our trajectory
trying to avoid excessive traffic
trying to avoid unnecessary hills
we crossed the city from Columbia Heights.... through Adams Morgan... then Kalorama or is that Kalorama Heights

we crossed the Duke Elington Brigde then the bridge on Conneticutt Avenue
at the light we took to street and rode through the affluent neighborhood on Kalorama
an effort to coast downhill took us past the mosque
there were more cabs and cab drivers than I could count
a service of some sort must have just let out
or praying five times a day must keep this area busy all day long

on Massachusetts avenue we took to the sidewalk taking a turn at the circle to head towards Q Street and the bridge with the Buffalo Statues
thoughts of Jeff Nelson and his project spun through my head
as we crossed the bridge I recalled the slight hill ahead

just as I was regretting not taking the flatter P Street with its path through the park option it happened
the first sign of passive resistance
seven year old Grant was off the bike
it was early in our ride and Grant was already in complaint mode

arms crossed and face scrunched Grant stood along side his bicycle on the sidewalk 20 yards behind me while Dean continued pedaling ahead

Dean stopped at the corner and waited for us

there was some discussion
I begged... I pleaded... I demanded
my voice covered all tones it possessed
just ahead was a turn of the hill to a downhill that would take us towards M Street on 27th

I pointed to the downhill... Dean verified and pointed to the downhill...
Grant held grumpy stubborn and strong
a little more persistence and Grant's attitude let down

Grant obliged me
we pedaled the thirty yards forward and made a turn across the street and then downhill
rolling down hill Grant smiled and boasted that he was passing me without pedaling

we meandered down through historic Georgetown then found ourselves on M Street where the boys rode their bikes on the congested sidewlakes and I rode my bike on the congested street

again Grant hit me with complaints again
wanting to know how much further

the last few blocks were difficult
Moby Dick had to be in sight before Grant would stop chewing me out
I knew that sitting down for lunch would settle things but I was worried that these complaints were happening pretty early in the game
and we were still headed to go fishing... which had me knowing the way back home could be rough

we leaned our bikes together out front of Moby Dick
I did not bother to lock them
we would be purchasing carry out
foolishly I thought it was going to be a quick in and out
but instead we were in Moby Dick for a long wait... the kids wanted to eat inside
I wanted to eat at our first fishing location on the Canal

when finally we got our food we took to the bikes and pointed to the canal
less than a block from Moby Dick we spotted a cluster of Blue Gill in the C&O Canal
we stopped our bikes and took a spot in the shade
everything was pushed out of the way for walkers and bikers could pass

a few people passed with panniers
I shouted as they passed asking if they had come from Cumberland
yelling... YOU ARE DONE! as I heard a YES in the distance

everyone was hungry
we focused on eatin
I split up my gyro sandwich and the kids chicken kabob platter

we ate a feast as we rested in the shade

I tossed pieces of pita into the water and watched the fish swarm
the sight of the fish had Grant finishing his lunch early
which had me chewing fast as I opened up our freshly purchased Ugly Stick Rods and reels

the assembly was simple
there were two rods
Grant got an introduction to the rod as I assembled it
there was some tightening of the reel that needed to be done
and there was a plastic wrap on the fishing line that was tough to unwrap

I prepped the rods and Grant dropped his line in the water
Dean and I finished our food as Grant fished
I wanted to be done eating before I started handling fish
if I wanted my food to taste like fresh Blue Gill I would have ordered a Blue Gill sandwich instead of gyro

in a matter of seconds Grant had worked his line into a tangle of comical proportions
at first I was aggravated
then I laughed
really... come on.... it is the first time he has handled this device... this is possible
if nothing else... I should have been proud of him
not many people could have gotten stuff this tangled this bad
and he did this in minutes

I had to take the reel apart to get this straight
before I was done fixing up Grant's rod and reel ten year old Dean had some tangle issues

somehow Dean's tangle was worse than Grant's
we own more than a dozen pocket knives
none of which were on hand
the tangle was so bad that I had to use a sharp rock to cut the line

once we warmed up things got pretty good

initially I thought the fish were smarter than to eat off the hook

the fish were wild for the food tossed to the surface
then the fish were apprehensions about the same food on the hook that dropped bellow the surface and then stopped
we were all able to watch as the fish picked at our bait... our fresh pita bread bait
the left over pita from our humus and pita from Moby Dick

it was fun
it was exactly what I had set out to do
actually... it was better
it was simple and it was easy

the boys were catching some fish
the boys were baiting their own hooks
ten year old Dean was learning how to pull the hook from the fish's mouth

of course it became a competition
Grant started earlier.... Dean thought that was not fair
Dean was claiming the biggest fish
Grant was claiming to have caught the most fish

the next fish wins before we left happened so fast it was comical

as good as it was
enough is enough
it was time for us to move on
I will admit... part of me wanted them to have a little bike ride
part of me wanted them to experience fishing that was not so easy

so... with the new fishing rods in hand we rolled on the crushed orange rocks on the towpath along side of the C&O Canal
the boys lead the way
we had to cross one bridge and then it was just around the corner

only to a seven year old it is not just around the corner
Grant was not feeling it
I got some of the same protest that I got earlier
Grant stopped his bike while Dean rode ahead

I tried to get Grant to move forward
none of my simple motivators worked
there was no getting this stubborn mule to move forward
before Dean got too far ahead I stuck my fingers in my mouth and whistled for him
Dean looked back and I motioned for him to come back

I continued with Grant
when Dean got to me I instructed him to ride forward
I told Dean to ride to the point where the bridge crosses over the towpath and then turn around
we went over it several times then I sent him along

more than likely Grant had enough time to get rested got him going before I was able to convince him to get back on the bike

we pedaled along side of each other
I tried to roll at his pace
sure... I had to be me... telling him to step it up... telling him that my bike was going to fall over if we went any slower
this of course is partially true... the Bob Trailer or any trailer moves better at speed than slow

we stopped for one turtle
we both rode in amazement as we had a WINGED MIGRATION moment where we spooked a Great Blue Heron
got to ride along side of it for a few pedal strokes
before it accelerated and hit the brakes in mid air up above a fallen tree
the large bird landed on an occupied branch that was vacant before its feet? talons? claws? landed
two birds took to the water

Grant and I were on the gravel at Fletcher's just a few seconds before young Dean
I sent the boys ahead to check out the Potomac as I went to the Fletcher's rental store-office
at the store-office I waited as a couple rented some sit on top kayaks and then a family bought some snacks
their purchase inspired mine
I got a soda for me and a Bomb Pop for each of the boys

I made small talk with the man at the register as I made my purchase
I asked where we could catch a fish
nothing sounded promising
I made mention of our success earlier

the same Ugly Stick rod set was for sale along with a few other rod options
there was some mark up.... but that is to be expected

I whistled and waved calling the boys up from messing around on the docks below
when the got to me I asked if they knew where we should throw our lines
then passed off the Bomb Pops
they ate... I sipped... and intermittent rain fell

it was a fine summer rain
we did not seek shelter
rain was not an issue
it had rained on and off through out the day
nothing long enough to really bother us

once the bomb pops were done we migrated to the far end of the parking lot and moved towards the Potomac
some fisherman were headed to the car
I asked the requisite question "catch anything?"
I would not expect our luck to be any better
yet we took their spot

the boys had caught some fish and were ready to work on some casting
Dean had some instruction at the canal spot and was ready to get going
Grant needed a little more one on one before his line hit the water

there was a little more detangling to be done
then I need to put more weight on their lines

previously we had just been dropping the line in the water
but to cast they would need more weight
well... not only did I forget the pocket knife
but I also forgot the pliers
needlenose pliers are great for pinching weights and removing hooks

when there was not enough weight to substantiate things I swapped out lures for hooks
spinners made more sense for casting and reeling in than bobbers and pita bread any way

it was getting late and the rain was about to return
we started to pack things in

without collapsing the rods I set things up in the Bob Trailer
we discussed a route home and settle on whatever was most fast

this was uncertain....
but the route with less lights was selected
we took the Bike Path route
which had its own Stops and Starts even without Red and Green Lights

again young Grant complained about fatigue and needed a mental push

eventually we were home
all in all it was good
I think the number of fish caught out weighed Dad's pushing the pace

when mom got home there was talk about getting on the bikes and picking up Thai Food
I offered to pick things up
knowing that there was no getting Grant back on the bike

it was a good day
the boys loved it
we have our fishing spot
we will return

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