On our Lake Powell trip in 2014 I started saying “we don’t have vacations we have adventures”. To this day it’s true, something always happens that was not planned. Sometimes it comes to down to life and death, but only sometimes… I seriously wonder if other people have these experiences, or if it is just my family.
South of Hamilton about 30 mins is a small lake called Como. Being the closest body of water you can put a motorized boat on it is also the most popular. …. Years ago, my dad had bought a trolling motor for our little 12 foot flat bottom aluminum boat. This little motor is connected to car battery and we slowly trolled around the lake. Well, that was the plan at least. For the first test of the motor my Mom, Dad and I headed out one cold spring morning to Como. As we unloaded the boat into the water my dad yelled to us “do you think I should take 2 batteries?”. My mom and me proceeded to say “yes, just in case” but my dad hesitated and responded with “we should be fine”. At that point the curse began.
We took off down the lake towards the falls(halfway point) which is about three and a half miles down the lake. We made it there with no troubles and even caught some trout along the way. After enjoying our little adventure, we decided troll the shoreline back to the dock. Not long afterwards I looked back at my dad and said “why are we slowing down?” — “ I am not slowing down!” he responded. We kept on trolling. Now knowing damn well we were slowing down and I turned around to see my dad’s beet red face. You know when you know your trouble just by the expression on your dad’s face? That was the face. If you can imagine being in a 12 foot aluminum boat with pissed off grizzly bear for 3 miles at tortoise speed, that’s what it seemed like at the time. After a couple minutes of yelling, screaming and stomping around like a small child, my dad got in the middle seat and started rowing. I was forced to the back to steer with what was left of the battery. My steering skills were not up to par, which inevitably lead to more yelling and almost being thrown overboard. I said to my dad “Papa, we told you to put the other battery in.” My dad’s face suddenly changed and my mom started to snicker. My father suddenly realized his own over-reaction and went back to rowing. After some silence my dad pointed out that he was rowing faster than the motor at top speed and we were gonna make it to the dock before dark. “Well you guys better put your lines back out” he said and as he rowed us back to the dock me and my mom both caught two trout each.
Similar situations occurred with that trolling motor and we were convinced it was that motor. The second occasion was years later, my dad and I were fishing with our friend Scott, maybe you have heard me refer to him as “Scootie”. We had told Scootie of our curse on como and it was a common joke but this time we were using a gas trolling motor and not worried about a thing, since it was obviously the motor giving us all those problems. We had caught some fish and almost made it around the whole damn lake when the gas motor started to cut out and then we came to a sudden halt. I looked back at my dad thinking he was pulling a prank which he usually is but in this case the curse was revived and we again had to row back to the dock. Luckily for me, there was two grown men, they rowed and I kept fishing.
More years passed of being stranded on como and for the record, no other bodies of water has this happened, just on Como but to keep you updated, this next story was 2 weeks ago* Some may know our new 10 month black lab, Izzy. Yes, her first time in the boat added a new obstacle. We put her in the boat and she was fascinated by the water but eventually after a couple minutes she fell asleep. This time we knew to pack not only ONE, but TWO car batteries! Our normal adventure starts with trolling the dam and dodging some rocks and logs since the lake was still filling in the early spring. Then, up the side of the lake where we usually run out battery, we make head way up the lake,catching fish along the way and the sky started to darken. Now, you don’t plan for Montana weather, you just roll with it because it is Bipolar. We didn’t make it all the way to the falls, but where one of the small creeks runs into the lake, the motor starts to bog down I turn back and look at my dad and we both started to smirk. We knew the curse continued… We turn around and switch batteries. trolling down the lake, my pole bends down at first I start screaming to my dad that I had caught the prop,which gave him a heart attack as he cuts the engine and looks for my lure. The prop was unharmed and shaking his head and smiling my dad says “ Dumbass, you caught a log”. Sure enough I did, after several minutes of retrieving my lure we start moving back to the dock this time it is really dark and over the sound of the tiny electric trolling motor the mountains started to rumble. We reel in and make a b-line for the dock.
We finally see the dock when it starts to sleet and to our surprise people are not getting off the lake but in fact some jet skis and speed boats were just getting on. My dad looks at me says “ well, we are already soaked what should we do? “ Seeing how dumb some of the other Bitterrooters are, why not join in? So we did. We threw out our lines and back up the shore we went. By now it was just raining and we were succeeding in the fishing department. About when we decide to turn around again my rod went down again in the same spot as the log incident. Now, this time I reeled in a beautiful 12 inch kokanee and snapped several pictures. During the photo op, a flash, a BOOM and BANG!!! Izzy,who had been sleeping in the bottom of the boat the entire time was now in my lap, and the kokanee had a abrupt release back into the lake. As a 10 month puppy she had never heard thunder before and she did not like it.
I look back at my dad steering the trolling motor and he said “well, the adventure continues” the backup battery was dying. Our lines in the water were moving faster than us. It’s lightening, thundering, raining, and Izzy is still shaking in my lap plus now we have to row back. My dad starts to row us as fast he can back to the dock against the storm. While I am managing two fishing poles and a frightened, soaking wet puppy in the rain.. Surprisingly we caught some fish along the way and no one went overboard. As we made the last turn to the dock probably half a mile away of course the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun was hot as ever. We made it to the dock when everyone else was heading back out. I turned around and said to my dad “ I wonder if other people have these sort of family outings” and my dad said without missing a beat “ No, they aren’t that lucky”.
* I am sure the curse will continue so please stay tuned for more stories