In my previous articles I have tried to be as true as possible. These articles are not fiction. Maybe a little unbelievable, but true.
I grew up and lived in Missoula, Montana for 60 years, and did a lot of hunting and fishing. I already shared my time with my dad with you, and now we continue on our journey.
When I was starting the 4th grade I was moved to a different school. Not because I did something wrong but for logistic reasons. When you are the new kid on the block, somebody has to test you out. This someone was George. After school one day we got into a fight. I came out the winner. Ever since then George and I have been good friends. We got into a lot of mischief, just minor stuff but frowned upon by our parents. George lived with his dad and his grandmother. Don’t remember his dad’s name but he liked to hunt and fish also, so he would take us camping and grumble all the time. Things like, “You mean you haven’t eaten brains, will you quit singing that damn song all the time, and damn kids, can’t take you anywhere.”
On the way home he would stop at his favorite bar to drink beer and would give us each a quarter to play the nickel pinball machine and stay away from him so nobody knew we were with him.”Damn kids shouldn’t be in here in the first place”. Then he would sit back and laugh when we got into trouble, or spilled someone’s beer because they didn’t have the sense to not set it down where we could steal a sip. I never knew him to work the whole time George and I ran together.
I was big for my age, so I could buy beer at the store when I was 14 and didn’t graduate to bourbon until later when we knew better. This is going to be a long story so hold on and don’t let go. It gets better, but I had to explain George to you. Now with me, I need no explaining. I am just me. Just a normal, hard working, sporting kinda guy.
George moved to Las Vegas when he about 20. Fast forward about 25 years, and I was living by myself when the phone rang. It was George saying he got an out of state license and could he stay with me in Montana for awhile. Why sure! I could feel it coming on, trouble in the making. So I go to work a couple days later and he is asleep in his van in my parking lot. I should have called the police, but I didn’t. He drove from Las Vegas where he worked as a bartender and he was loaded for bear. Guns, fishing poles and what have you.
I had just bought a 1982 Chevy PU 4×4 brand new and I was pretty proud of it. So off we go to a friend’s in Eureka, Mt to stay and hunt and fish. Well George stopped at a discount liquor store in Vegas and bought 2 cases of Early Times bourbon. We left one at my house and took the other one with us cause we can’t get thirsty up in the mountains. We would get up early and hunt until 2pm or so, have lunch in town and take a nap. Then after dinner we would go night fishing. Drink a little more, catch a few fish then start over the next day. I had a hangover and had to use a bush and a log to relieve myself, and when our host asked if George ever saw bear crap in the woods he said “ Yes, and it wasn’t real pretty”.
I am kind of big with a full beard and they all called me Bear. That stuck with me for years, all over town, “Bear done this and Bear done that”.
We would be driving down a 4×4 road and George would say,” Let’s see where this road goes”. Two feet of snow uphill, just 5000 miles on my new truck, No, George it doesn’t look like it goes anywhere. George says ”Aw come on, this is a Mountain truck, it’s no flatlander truck, we can make it”. That was one of his favorite sayings. I drove up the road a ways, brush scratching the sides of my brand new truck, to a dead end, Well now what do we do? You can’t turn around so you’ll have to back down, big drop off on this side though. George jumps out and starts to walk down. “Hey! What you doing?” “Well if you go off the road someone has to get help get you out, if you are still alive.” That saying got me in a lot of trouble many times. Oh, speaking of times, maybe this is where we should have a little drink of that stuff. There is a cold creek over there and the alcohol will kill the germs, so let’s have an Early Times and water.
So started a tradition. Stop at a creek and put a little Early times in a bottle and bury it in the rocks with cold water running over it. Going down the road he would say, “Is this a bar coming up around the corner?” We would stop and have a little libation and put it back for the next time we came by. I often wonder, 40 years later, how many hunters and fishermen found one of those stashes and wondered about us…Should be aged well by now.
OK, getting on with the saying, “This is a mountain truck, not a flatlander truck,” we had our dinner early and decided to go fishing. We dressed appropriately and were fishing; not catching anything and our bottle was getting low when George spotted this forked stick on an island in the middle of the river. “Looks like a good fishing hole Rob, we should go over there”. “No we can’t George, the water is too deep.” “No it isn’t, it is shallow up the river a ways and you know the saying about mountain trucks. They can go anywhere”. I said “Shut up and fish, we are not going over there”.
After a long discussion and a couple drinks, here we go, in 4×4 low, across this river. Upstream was on Georges side and the water was almost coming in his window and he say, “Don’t stop now damnit, I’m going to get wet “, nothing about my new truck or anything like that, He is going to get wet. We aren’t halfway yet. I told you so George. Whew made it. Had a fresh drink of Early Times and caught 0 fish. By now it is starting to get dark. We have to go back. George says let me out in case you don’t make it cause Early Times clouds your memory and you forget where you came acrossed at .We made it and never tried that again although there is a small bottle of ET there in the water under the rocks.
Stay tuned to see what other trouble we get into.