you're reading...

Cornelius News

Live like you never know what’s next

MODERN DAD | By Jon Show

Oct. 6. You don’t really get to have adventures as an adult. I don’t mean adult adventures like traveling to another country or eating weird food.

I mean like Tom Sawyer adventures. The kind of adventures where you never know what’s next.

When you’re an adult, there’s no grabbing your dad’s hatchet and saw and heading into the woods all day to build a poorly constructed tree fort.

There’s no loading into a car with your high school buddies for a weekend road trip and returning days later with a half dozen stories that you’ll share over and over again for a lifetime.

At some point during adulthood, the river rafting trips and camping excursions and weekend beach jaunts of your 20s evolve into rafting and camping and beach trips with your family. Which is still fun, but I wouldn’t describe them as adventurous.

A little over two years ago, I picked up fly fishing and have developed a very over-the-top obsession with it. Someone asked me why I loved it so much, and I thought about how the constant thinking and planning and tinkering and doubting and succeeding just fits the way my brain works.

But before I answered, a thought popped up into my head and percolated around, and all of a sudden, I realized what I really loved about it.

“It’s an adventure,” I said, “and when do you get to have adventures with your buddies when you’re in your forties?”

Tie-in point

In the last two years, strapped with fishing gear and the occasional backpacking equipment, my fishing buddies and I have climbed up bus-sized boulders and have been washed down bus-sized waterfalls.

We’ve bushwhacked countless times through rhododendron and laurel to find lost trails and shimmied up a 200-foot fallen tree to climb out of a gorge in the middle of nowhere in the Smokies.

We’ve spooked our share of black bears (eight on the last trip alone) and stepped on black snakes (I’d rather spook bears).

We’ve hiked to the highest elevations of the Appalachians to yank small wild trout out of tiny streams, and we’ve stood in waist-deep holes catching the big dumb trout stocked in rivers from the Piedmont to Tennessee.

We’ve talked our way out of tickets for a Class 3 misdemeanor (drinking beer in a state park) and failed to talk our way out of tickets for a Class 3/2 misdemeanor – accidentally possessing an expired fishing license.

Roll cast

There is a group of guys with whom I fly fish most often.

There’s my neighbor Confluence Dave (CD). CD received his nickname because there is no one, and I mean no one, who gets more excited about finding fish in a river where two creeks converge into one.

Then there’s Anthony, who is just Anthony, though his name is occasionally shortened to Anth by his Italian friends. They pronounce it like “Ant” with a speech impediment. I don’t understand why.

There’s Ryan Anthony Bro-In-Law, who is programmed into my phone like that because his name is Ryan and he is Anthony’s brother-in-law. I’ve been told his last name multiple times but choose not to remember it.

There’s Z, whose nickname is the first letter of his last name. I had no idea what his first name was until a trip last summer when some dude named Brownie showed up at our backwoods campsite and kept referring to John. It took me longer than it should have to figure out he wasn’t talking about me.

Clay is a bass player and fishing savant based out of Hickory. The last time we fished with him, we ended up in an Elk’s club in Boone, accepting a round of beers from a woman accompanied by a man wearing a decorative rooster shirt because things like that tend to happen when you fish with Clay.

Ryan’s buddy Elias is newish to fly fishing and is sometimes referred to by his trail name, which is also the name of his boat, No Regrets.

He was catchless over our recent four-day trip, and on the last afternoon, we joined him on the creek, offering tips and flies and anything else that would keep him from going home skunked.

We eventually retreated to camp but later decided to go looking for him when the sun tucked behind the ridgeline.

When we found him under a bridge, he looked up, smiled, and held two fingers in the air. We all cheered as he crawled up the riverbank and joined us on the bridge to toast his accomplishment, once again evading authorities and misdemeanor charges.

Whip finisher

I recently got The Murph and Future Man into fly fishing.

The Murph and I grew up together, so we have a long history of adventures, most of which I can’t write about here. He was adamant about never fishing until he finally relented this summer. All it took was four brown trout on his first day in a wild creek, and he was hooked.

Future Man and I have fly-fished a few times together, though not as many times as I’d like. He, like his old man, prefers the long hikes into scenic gorges to scout out the drop pools that are home to the small speckled trout that our waterways have held since the last ice age.

I’m not sure how much he likes fly fishing because I overheard him telling his friends that it’s boring, but I don’t know. He seems pretty excited to me when he catches a fish, flashing that same look that everyone gets when they feel a tug on the line.

Then again, he’s only 14 going on 15, and he has a lifetime of adventures ahead of him, and that’s the greatest part of having adventures.

You never know what’s next.

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 15-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 11-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.