sTony and Korny's Great Adventure
By Bob Kornhauser
The excitement of attending the rally had been building for weeks as both STony and I made final plans for our trip to Texas. With 7 days planned for this adventure things were going along well. Our plans were to drive to the rally with the NCBF.COM boat in tow and enjoy the world as it passed by. I showed up Tuesday night at STonys so we would be fresh in the morning. According to plans it would be 32 -34 hours of driving time so we planned on leaving Wednesday morning at 8 am and arrive Thursday afternoon for check in and visiting with other early arrivals to the rally.
sTony's inlaws (AKA Babysitter for Kids) showed up 2 hours late so we didn't get on the road until after 10:30 on Wednesday. This was not a problem though as we were excited to be on our way to Texas. I packed plenty of tackle to work with on the road as this would help pass the time. I started out by tuning buzzbaits. I prefer to let the blade rotate in the wind outside the window for about 5 minutes which breaks in the bait and makes for a better squeak when fishing the lure. 90 minutes later all my buzzbaits were tuned and onto the next project. I organized worms into new worm boxes I had purchased and re-organized my jigs so I was totally ready for pre-fish on Friday.
The trip was going along great. Four hours on the road and weíre approaching Bakersfield, Ca. sTony has made good time going down I-5. We turn onto Hwy 58 east and find a sign saying 'The road over the Tehachappi Mountains is closed'. Being smart travelers we stop at the first truck stop we come to and ask about the problem. The lady behind the counter, says there is a chemical spill over the mountains and the hi-way will be closed for 6 - 8 hours.
Since sTony has dubbed me Navigator, I get out my trusty maps from AAA and find there is a way around. We have to go over the Grapevine near Los Angeles, however the 100 mile detour beats the heck out of sitting. 2 hours later we are in Mojave, Ca and back on track. Gas, food, and another cassette and down the road we go. 30 miles into the desert and we reach Krammer Junction. Not a big deal unless the road is going from two lanes to one and the Semi truck next to you doesn't slow down when his lane is running out of room. That's right, he ran into the NCBF.COM trailer. We both pull over, I'm not sure who is more pissed off, the truck driver or sTony. Fortunately, cooler heads prevail and everything is OK. Minor damage is done to the trailer (none to the boat) and sTony and the truck driver decide to call it even so we can get down the road.
Ok, so one minor incident you say. That's what we figured. Not 15 miles later and we see a big rig loaded with wood coming at us and one of the pieces of lumber is loose and shaking in the wind. Just as we approach a 2' x 6' x 10' falls off the truck and is flying in the air. I'm sure its going to hit us but somehow we managed to avoid another incident. One thing for sure, There was a whole lot of adrenaline flowing.
Things seem to settle down once we got to Barstow, Ca and weíre and hooked up with I- 40 east. sTony is still driving and I am still Navigating. Gas and or food every 200 miles and we are clicking on all cylinders. Goodbye to California, Hello Arizona. No problems to report just great scenery (night time) and great company. Goodbye Arizona, hello New Mexico. Its early morning on Thursday now and sTony finally decides he can't drive anymore. Sixteen hours behind the wheel and even superman gets tired. I get to become the first person to log more than a boat launch behind the wheel of sTony's Dodge. I'm honored. We say goodbye Gallup, NM and are away again. Three hours later and superman is ready to drive so we stop for gas and switch. Thing are great. Here comes the Texas state border and we are rolling.
Navigator Korny tells superman that he must leave I-40 now and head south east out of Amarillo on hwy 287. Not a problem, but this is day two and no problems. That concept ends quickly though as an hour outside of Amarillo is Memphis, Tx and sTony blows a tire on the trailer. He does a masterful job of coming to a stop, and oh yea, waking me up from some good sleep. Now its time to work. sTony gives me the lug wrench and I quickly find out it doesnít fit the trailer. Now what. We unhook the boat, sTony leaves me behind in the heat and goes to Memphis for the right tool. He's only gone 20 minutes when he returns with a 3/8" socket set. This works as we put the spare tire on and back on the road.
Once in Memphis we want a new tire. As we are explaining to the owner (a really nice guy) of the OK Tire Shop, about our plight we look back and see the spare is flat.. Oh well, one new tire just became two. The guy was really fair with both his price and service as be mounted our one good tire for a spare and didn't even charge us. We thanked him for helping and back down the road with another 2 hour delay behind us.
It's now time to log some Texas road hours and we did. Town after town goes by and we get closer and closer to Sulphur Springs, home of Cooper Lake and the Rally. We finally pull in about 8 PM and the first thought is register, shortly followed by a hello to other Rally participants, and then a beer for sTony, bed, and pre-fishing on Friday.
Friday was a great day, we're fishing. Although neither one us has ever seen Cooper Lake, we know one thing, there's no tidal movement. We start fishing. I'm throwing a buzzbait and sTony follows. The third cast he hooks one. We're already thinking, what a great lake when reality sets in, it's a white bass which we find out later that there is many of in this lake. No matter we are excited. As the morning passes and we start to figure things out, a couple of things happen. First I catch a few blacks and second I have found the pattern. The largemouth are in the pond weed ( small lily pads) and they like my buzzbait. It's now about lunch and hunger has set in. We grab a quick soda and bag of peanuts. Back to fishing. Things get bad quickly though as a Texas storm comes in and dumps much rain in a short time, drenching everything, except sTony and Korny. We have sTony's old rain gear and his new Frogg Toggs. After 2 hours of rain it stops but now its time to get back to the motel and check in for the rally.
Most everyone has arrived and the meeting of new and old friends starts. Dewayne from the NCBF forum has arrived so we have another Californian with us and of course there's TopCat. Always good to see him again. I say hello to Sam and Martha Scroggins who were at last years Clear Lake rally and then just kind of tag along with sTony as he says hello to the many people he knows from attending past rallies. Its now dinner time and boy have they done it right. The folks from Cajun country have made Jambalaya. It was my first and it was fabulous. After talking to Bertis Tamplain (AKA Trapp) one of the creators of this meal I found out a lot about Cajuns and their food. There food is great but their people are even better. What a wonderful bunch.
There were a couple of local guides that gave overviews of the lake and then there was the drawing for partners for session one in the morning. My first partner was a local Texan, R.B. 'Arby' West. A 67 year old with the enthusiasm of a 49 year old (me). We met at the motel in the morning (after breakfast for me) and followed everyone out the lake. We had a great time and I even managed to boat several fish, including one over the 18" minimum for this lake. We even got to experience the ride across Lake Copper in the wind. Oh, did I forget to mention he has a 17' aluminum bass tracker. I was soaked by the time we got to weigh-in, but Arby was right, He was just trying to keep me cool in the Texas heat. I really want to thank him for looking after my health.
As weigh-in is going on we find out that sTony's luck hasn't changed much. It appears that the Flywheel on his motor has broken and although the motor seems to be OK , it is out of commission for the rest of the rally. sTony is now a non boater and the first casually of the rally.
Lunch was complimentary meal for Kentucky Fried Chicken and then came partner pairing for the afternoon session. I put my rally pin in the hat and I got lucky again. Local guide from Lake Fork and long time tournament fisherman Rick Lommis says Bob Kornhauser and away we go. He had a 21' Triton and so we had three in our boat. He also, drew Trapp. I couldn't have had it any better. Someone to fish with and someone to talk food with. Both guys are great and boy did I enjoy learning from both. Although several fish were caught during a tuff afternoon bite, only Trapp managed a keeper (over 18" fish). 4 foot waves all the way back to weigh-in and I must admit, I was impressed with the way that Triton handled the water.
It's now time for Saturday night dinner. Everyone's back at the motel and talkin' fishing. A Texas style BBQ has been brought in and were all stuffing ourselves. It was great after a long day of fishing. (6 am to 5:30 PM) and all we can think about is having a good time. We drew partners for the next day and then the fun began. The wether man has delivered a huge storm and tornado warnings. It was ugly. There were warnings and possibly a tornado at the lake not 2 hour after we left. Just another day day in texas with 4 inches of rain in 1 hour and tornados.
Although I got about 5 hours sleep this night, I think for most the average was about 3 and for some it was 1 with a small touch of something to help enhance the fun of Saturday night as they would soon start to feel. I met my partner Sherry Ruslink( another well respected guide and our third for the boat and off to the lake we would go for the Sunday morning session. When we arrive we find Ken Cook by himself, (partner was sick) so I changed boats. Now it was two per boat which would be very comfortable for all. He was on a frog bite, (fished Saturday with Dewayne and did well), so I was excited. Fishing was getting very tuff though with a lot of pressure and the storm that came in during last nights festivities, we only managed a couple short 17 inch fish and an alligator gar. Teeth like a shark and it hit Ken's frog with a vengeance and boy was I glad I didnít have to unhook it. Long pliers and a prayer.
This didn't dampen my spirits though, I was having a great time with an incredible bunch of folks. Lunch was another complementary meal, this time form Subway Sandwiches. We filled up on water for the afternoon heat, Drew partners and off we went. This time I drew the tournament leader Kip Wright from Suphur Springs, A local. Again there was three in the boat as Kips 21 foot Extreme fished very well for myself and Mark Lucero of Kansas City, Mo. Both had weighed fish in the morning and did everything they could to help me during the afternoon. We just couldn't get any 18" keepers. But still I had a great time. I'm not sure but I think I had the best draws of the entire event as I never fished with a better group of people than the six guys at this rally. I can only say, I hope they had as much fun as I did and thanks for the friendship and hospitality from all. I will see everyone at next years Texas Rally
After the awarding of trophies and supporting sponsor items, (IE rods, reels and tackle bags) we all took about a hour to say goodbye and then headed home. Normally you would think this story would be over, but like most mysteries, its not quite over.
sTony and I left Sulphur Springs about 8 PM. After the first tank of gas we started our ritual of, you drive, I sleep as two tired puppies were on the way home and swapping driving duties to make it safely. My first stint behind the wheel seemed uneventful but was only a continuation of the trip out. I'm not even out of the small town we gassed up in and I run over a cat. My apologies to the Texan whose pet did not come home that night. It truly was unavoidable.
Night time turned to daylight and things were going along fairly well. We finished Texas and crossed New Mexico with no incidents. Into Arizona we go and I found the place I remember from previous vacation to buy goods. We stopped and Korny picked up a gift for the wife. Now I know this was a good trip.
A couple hours more down the road and heading for Holbrook, Az. I have just fallen asleep when STony yells, "What the heck is that?" We are in the middle of I-40 and traffic is at a DEAD STOP. After a couple of minute I get out of the car and walk over to a trucker. Climb up onto his big rig and ask him what he is hearing on the radio. OH NO, another chemical spill about 3 miles west of us. Traffic is backed up that far and growing fast. I thanked him for the info and back to the car I went. sTony couldn't believe his ears when I told him the news. Now it was time for Navigator Korny to go to work. I found us an alternate route around and off we went. Another 120 unscheduled miles ahead of us. Our attitude was, better to be moving than be parked in the 100 degree heat.
Two hours later we find ourselves in Holbrook. After food and gas, we are down the road. We make up some time as we pass Flagstaff, AZ, over the mountains, and onto California. Informing the border patrol in California were finally back, they let us go through without an inspection and we figure we're home free. WRONG. We are in Needles, CA and the getting gas. The temperature is 118 degrees and we are both wondering why anyone would live here much less work outdoors pumping gas. I guess you get used to it, but not for me. Its getting dark now and we just left the end of I-40 in Barstow, Ca. Headed out across the desert toward Kramer Junction. About 5 mile from the JCT traffic stops. This time it's just all of us folks coming home from the long weekend. The stop light at the JCT took its toll. 1 hour to go 5 miles and another hour added to the trip home. After the JCT. it's back to 65 MPH and home we go. The rest of the trip was more or less a blur as not much happened and sTony and I were both pretty tired. 3 AM and we're home. At least sTony is. We transfer all of my goods to my car and off to Grass Valley I go. One stop for a 20 minute power nap at Sacramento, and I arrive home at 7 am. Boy was it good to see my wife.
I would just like to thank everyone at the rally for a great time. It's rare in this fast paced world of computers, and the internet that brings us together, that folks from all around the country can get together for some good old, fun and fishing. I would also like to thank my travelin' partner for inviting me. It was truly a great time. When you spend 7 days with one person like we did, you find out many things. I found out that I know a great person and have found a friend for life. Thanks sTony.
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