Right off the bat, Jamie organized it so that I had someone to carpool with. This was comforting for 2 reasons..1) I haven’t driven this far since my illness and 2) I was having a shot in my head the day before. While I had heard the procedure had some side effects, fortunately none of them hit me. I was happy to have the comfort of her presence. So, the next day my copilot, Dawn, and I began a trip of a lifetime! We easily became friends and found we had a lot in common on the beautiful drive to Riggins, ID. Neither of us had fished the Tournament before, but both experienced anglers. I was sad that we would not be fishing on the same boat, but knew we would have plenty of fun as car/ roommates!
We had a lost and found wallet hiccup, fished on the way, and shared years of our lives. Arriving at our place, we were greeted by 2 black labs and their gracious hosts offering free beer and cookies. After unloading, we went to orientation at Summerville’s American Bar. I was flooded with my usual nostalgia of friends both here and gone, and it caught my breath. I hadn’t been to Riggins since before I got sick, and while I missed it I wasn’t sure anyone would even recognize me. It’s not the type of town that thrives on Facebook, but I saw a friendly face at the front door. Leonard, Owner of Rubicon Outfitters, was the first to wrap me in a hug. We have rafted, steelhead fished, caught Chinook salmon and laughed our way through Hell’s Canyon for years, perfect homecoming for me! The past five years have wiped out half of my dearest friends in the town, so seeing one before I took more than ten steps was a delight! Then more familiar faces one by one until I began to untangle and meet the fabulous ladies of the tournament.
Most of these women were Facebook friends or in some local fishing club. A few I had actually fished with at another event, but it was great to actually meet face to face, tell stories, share our excitement, and for us newbies look around constantly wondering if we were in the right place doing the right thing. The commencement, games, and raffle took us late into the evening and we scurried back to our bed anxious for alarms set for 6 am.