Out on the road again

The next few weeks are going to be fun for me.
After spending three long days driving over the past weekend, I finally made it down to Florida to do some fishing and prepare for the first FLW Tour bass tournament of the year at Lake Okeechobee.
After planning and preparing for this trip over the past month, it feels great to finally be down here.
Not for a minute do I take for granted how lucky I am to be able to chase my dream—fishing in these high-profile bass tournaments. There really is nothing else in the world I would rather be doing if I had a choice.
I can tell you, however, that much of the glamour of travelling to fish went out the door over the past week! The rest of this column includes some of the highlights of my last couple of days at home and my trip south.
As has been the case over the past couple of years that I’ve had the opportunity to travel south to fish, it’s always a last-minute ordeal trying to get everything put together on my boat.
My boat this year is a new Lund 2010 Predator—the same rig that I’ve been running the past four years. Most of the parts and equipment for it showed up last week, so I only had a few days to get the trolling motor, electronics, and Talons installed and functioning.
Fortunately, I had the help of a few good friends who were able to put in a couple of late nights before I left to get the job done.
We spent two nights working well past midnight last Wednesday and Thursday before I left on Friday. We got everything done, though!
I have to thank Minn Kota, Humminbird, and Optima Batteries for getting me all of the equipment that I needed just in time to hit the road!
When I left Friday morning, I couldn’t have been happier because it was minus-29 on the thermometer of my truck when I started it. We also got a pretty good dump of snow on Wednesday and Thursday last week, so I had plenty of plowing to get done before I left.
I wanted to make sure there were good snowbank outlines for August in case she had to plow while I was gone (just kidding!)
We also had about a five-foot snowdrift on the roof of our house, so I figured that I’d better shovel it off before it collapsed while I was gone. Lot’s of fun in the super cold!
The drive to Florida is a monster, especially pulling a boat and driving it solo. It is 3,425 km to be exact from my house to Kissimmee, Fla., where I’m spending some time this week.
The past couple of years, I’ve had some friends come along and help with the drive, but it didn’t work out with anybody this year.
Road conditions were terrible through Ontario, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. They were snow-packed and icy for the entire first day of driving.
I had a couple of moments where you tap the brakes and things start to slide around a little bit, but for the most part it was okay. I took my time.
I spent my first night in Effingham, Ill. and before I started driving the next day, I had to fill up the gas tank in my truck. I pulled up to pump, inserted my credit card, and started pumping.
When I finished, I went to open the door of my truck and found that it had locked—with the keys in the ignition and my cellphone inside.
I did not intentionally lock the door so I’m thinking my arm may have accidentally hit the lock button? Either way, it wasn’t a good situation.
I went inside the gas station and the lady attendant told me that I was not allowed to use their phone for a long-distance call. I didn’t tell her I was going to call Canada, just that it was long distance, but she wouldn’t let me use it (I was not impressed).
I went back outside and a nice gentleman was pumping gas, so I told him my situation and he let me borrow his phone. I woke up my wife, August, bright and early and she was able to call OnStar for me.
Moments later my doors unlocked.
I’m on a trial period with OnStar right now, but I’m thinking I might bite the bullet and get signed up because this was a huge life-saver!
The rest of the trip was uneventful; I was out of the cold weather soon after the key incident and arrived in Florida to bright sunshine and 20-degree C temperatures.
Now I’m looking forward to going fishing! Look for the report next week.