Decision Weather to Stay or to Go

May 19, 2017
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The clouds were moving in ways that I could never imagine; it was almost as if they were marionettes being controlled by some puppet master from far above. I looked over and saw the fear growing in my cousin's eyes as he watched the monotonous waves slowly grow bigger and bigger. It was hard to imagine that just hours before we were eating a nice hot breakfast in our cozy cabin without a care in the world except who would catch the biggest fish that day.

It was June of 2015, and my cousin and I were fresh out of school. I had just finished my freshman year of high school, while my cousin Sean had just finished 7th grade. It was about that time of year where all of the boys in the family would go on our annual fishing trip up to Canada for a week. When the departure day finally rolled around, everyone was packed and ready for a long 17 hour car ride from our home town of Park Ridge, IL. to a place called Flag Island on Lake of The Woods in Canada. After many long hours of fishing stories and bragging about who is going to catch the biggest fish this year, we finally made it to our destination. Our residence was an old wood cabin, with an old porch that had more paint peeling off with every gust of wind that came through the old fishing camp. As soon as my cousin and I had walked in the creaky old door, we got a whiff of the last group of fishermen that had stayed there. The air smelt like a mixture of dead fish and old breakfast that had never been eaten, but after our thorough search of the house for the smell, it was nowhere to be found. We assumed that the smell was ingrained in the old wood planks of the oak walls and floorboards.

I woke up the next morning feeling as stiff as one of the floorboards, but it didn't faze me because all I could think about was what I was going to catch that day. When I walked down the creaky stairs my nose was overwhelmed with the smell of eggs, bacon, and something else, but before I could decipher what it was, Sean jumped in front of me and said “I bet you a million dollars I'll catch a bigger fish than you today” to which I replied “bet”. We then proceed to argue about which spot on the lake to go to first and who would catch the bigger fish. We argued and argued all the way through the breakfast that my uncle had prepared for us, then we argued some more, and more all the way down to the dock and onto our boat. We finally decided to flip a coin to decide whose spot to go to first. Unfortunately for Sean, I won the coin toss. Thinking back on it now, the coin toss didn’t really matter because both of our locations were in the same area of the lake. Mine was just about 20 minutes farther from the cabin. After the 30 minute drive out to my fishing spot, we were met with nothing but disappointment. Not a single fish bit, and we couldn't even find one on the sonar. It was like they knew we were trying to catch them and were hiding from us, or something else. I made an executive decision to move spots and try our luck somewhere else. As we were driving back towards my cousins spot that he wanted to go to we heard weather warnings over the radio saying to get off of the lake. We made nothing of it because the weather station always said that there would be terrible storms but nothing ever happened.

We dropped our lines at the spot and started to notice the sky going from a bright blue color to a dark grey color. The clouds came out of nowhere, it was almost as if someone had just painted them into the sky. But just as we started getting weary about staying on the lake our rods went straight down and we had hit the lottery of fishing spots. It was fish after fish after fish; they seemed to never stop coming. We were both having the time of our lives constantly catching bigger fish, after bigger fish and weren't paying attention to what was forming around us. The wind picked up and it started to push us off of our goldmine of a spot, and that is when we finally noticed what had happened to the beautiful day that once was. Before long, the wind became too much to bare anymore and we had to give up on the spot and call it a day, but the lake didn't want us to leave so soon. I fired up the motor of the boat and started to pull out of the shelter from the wind that the island had given us and were immediately faced with 10 foot whitecaps. I turned the boat around and pulled up on the beach of the island to try and wait out the storm. By the time we had tied the boat down the wind had become too much for the island to handle and the rain had started coming down in buckets. We knew our situation was not good and that we had to make a decision whether to stay on the island and risk being there all night long if the weather didn't cut out, or we could try and make the trek back to the cabin through the maze of crushing waves. By now the sky was so dark you would have thought it was night and the clouds were moving in ways that I could never imagine, it was almost as if they were marionettes being controlled by some puppet master from far above. I glanced over at Sean and watched the fear growing in his eyes as he stared at murky waves crashing onto each other then forming back into a larger wave than before. Finally after a couple of minutes of thinking of possible outcomes, I decided to take the risk and try make the 10 minute drive across the now deathtrap of a lake back to our cabin. As soon as we motored away from our shelter my cousin muttered “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” I tried to reassure him and say that we were fine even though I knew we were in danger of taking on a lot of water and possibly capsizing. Before we went into the blender that was the open water that separated us from our warm cabin we had to secure everything including ourselves onto the boat, because the last thing we wanted to happen is have a tackle box come up and hit one of us and fall overboard. I then buckled myself up, secured my life jacket and started to motor into the waves. It was monotonous, up a wave, down a wave, splash. By now we were soaked even with all of the rain suits we had on to try to protect against the water. The whole time I was driving I was watching the our cabin in the distance appear then quickly disappear as we would go up and down another wave. What seemed like hours later, we finally reached the dock of our cabin that we had so longly waited to step on. But when I stepped off of the boat, I nearly collapsed because my legs were so tense the whole time driving back. My dad of course yelled at us, as we expected, for not listening to the weather reports but was glad that we were back to the cabin safely and not stuck on the cold, wet, and not well protected island as we described to him.

When I laid in my bed that night, I thought back to the decision that I had made to travel across the lake and what could have happened if we chose to stay on the island. I sat awake for an hour thinking, and I could still feel my body moving up and down from the waves even though I was far from them. I thought about if we had lost anything in the trek back across the lake, but I could think of nothing except a couple of lures and my ignorance toward storms and the potential they have.

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