Roam United Adventure Stories: Turning 60 Twice

 
The Man Who Turned 60 Twice: Happy Father’s Day Dad
 
Written by: Jarrod Shirley


An honest mistake recorded by the son who made it

airplane to denverMay of 2016 was a large milestone in my educational life. I had successfully completed my Graduate Degree from the same University I attended as an undergrad six years prior; the University of Georgia. I had done so with only ever making two course grades below an 80% final semester’s average-- a small, but noteworthy feather in my cap; both courses being Foreign Language classes for the record. This leaves one very large and very impressive fact remaining-- I always finished my Mathematic courses with B averages or possibly better. The story I am about to share with you will prove that more than likely you should wager your money on most of those math course averages siding on the B average scale.

 

I love to fly fish. This is not something I was raised to do but it is something of ‘forced self discovery’, if you will, on an excursion during an away football game when the Georgia Bulldogs played at Boulder Colorado in my University years. I had outwardly been polite about going on the day trip while we were in Boulder for the weekend but privately I dreaded it. Up to that very day in my life I would have much rather spent the sunny daylight hours at a shopping mall or watching movies before going out on the town. I hated the idea of hikes, fishing, kayaking, camping and often mocked people who lived in that arena as ‘granola eating hippies’. The extremely kind family I traveled with to see the game had loved the great outdoors all their lives, and even though they knew I was not really into it, they loved me anyways--thankfully. Looking back on this poetic ironic event that was unfolding that weekend in Northern Colorado I have to chuckle some because the direction of my entire life was mere hours from changing; more about that experience in upcoming reads. When I returned from the trip I couldn’t wait to tell my family about I experienced. My father had been a sportsman and adventure seeker his entire life; so he could identify with parts of my excitement, but had never been fly fishing in the rockies making it only possibly for him to be happy in principle, not able to fully relate. Nevertheless he was thrilled of my sudden interest in learning about the wilderness and all the new granola flavors I would bring over for him to try.

 

As it always does, time went by and so did more trips west for me and my friends. One spring day I realized my dad’s 60th birthday was coming up in June and I made a decision that I would show him exactly what I loved so much about fly fishing out west. I saved money and researched who the best airline would be for us to take. My excitement is hard to describe as I pressed the purchase button on the plane tickets shortly before his birthday celebration. I felt light as a feather as I wrote out the confirmation number on his card for our seats.  He of course, was moved by the gift-- it was not ordinary but it was his 60th birthday so that was okay. Our night went on as expected, but I was a little surprised he didn’t read the card out loud. He is famous for always writing poems on our birthdays and I had done the same for him but this time ended it with a fly fishing trip for goodness sakes. I thought to myself, “oh well, he still loves it!” The meal was great that night and everything was perfect, but one tradition about going to a steakhouse for a birthday party that we lose is that there isn’t any candles or even if there are it is usually just one. Time drew nearer and finally came for our trip. I planned a special four day outing that consisted of flying fishing the North Platte with one of the most premium guides in Wyoming, Will Beggs, fishing the Big Thompson ourselves just outside of Boulder and Estes Park, and then sightseeing and relaxing the last couple of days in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Our trip began like any adventure should; us versus the elements. We landed in Denver at 7:00 pm on a cool autumn evening. The rental car took a little longer than it should’ve but we finally pulled out of DIA at 8:30 pm in route for Casper Wyoming. As we approached the Wyoming state line wind picked up and shortly after snow began to fall. I’m positive any native Wyoming resident would’ve laughed at the dusting of snow falling, but for two guys from Georgia things had just gotten real. We passed a sign at one point on our trip that read 80 miles until the next gas station; that didn’t calm either of our nerves! We pulled into our hotel in Casper at 2: 00 amFishing Guide Will Beggs on the North Platte River in Wyoming greeted by 28 degree temperatures and blasting winds. Most might have been discouraged at this point in time, but I wasn’t trying to take my dad fishing in a golf course pond for his 60th birthday --this, was the wild west. The next morning our guide met us us at 8:00 am for breakfast and we headed out to float the North Platte River. I want to take a moment to describe to you how amazing our guide is. This day was not a pleasant fishing day-- in fact we witnessed most people pull over and stop their trips but he pushed through and helped me realize an absolute bucket list item of mine; I got to see my dad’s eyes light up as he used a fly rod to catch his first wild Brown Trout from a western river. The rest of the trip is as impressed on my memory and in my heart as one of the greatest adventures of my life with him. The cost was high but the trip was truly priceless. As our plane taxied for takeoff from Denver to Atlanta, my dad looked over and thanked me for an amazing adventure but the guilt finally got to him, “You know I was born in 1955 son”, he said with a little chuckle. Needless to say-- this was the autumn of 2014. Cheers dad and happy Father’s Day to you-- stay crafty.brown trout on North Platte

*Post Script: For his next 60th birthday he received a photo collage from our trip, and he loved it*

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