Trip Reports

Special thanks to Bob for the 2002 Report!

That Gone Fishing Tour
13-19 July 2002

Kicking (That Gone Fishing Song)
By Too Much Joy

Today I grew up, I woke up, I threw up
Girlfriend was snoring, and it was boring.
I just turned 23, what did you get for me?
I'm having a party and you can't come.

I met my brother's ghost, I made myself some toast.
I took it all in stride, and then I went outside.
I climbed a tree, I shouted, 'Look at me.'
Nobody answered, cuz I have cancer.
I feel my body burn, I have a lot to learn.
I have lost my pride, I am dissatisfied.
Everything tastes sour, I have no power.
I cannot sing, I hate everything.
Gone fishing.

At the hospital, I met this girl.
She was a nurse, her favorite song was "Worse."
She said, 'I really want to be a dancer,
It's too bad you have cancer,
Cuz we could have been best friends
There's this restaurant I recommend.'

I would just float away
But I've got a lot to do today.
Gone fishing.

* We printed these lyrics on the back of our team shirts. Tim Quirk, the leader singer of Too Much Joy, was pumped when I e-mailed him about our trip and its mission. I sent him and Jay Blumenfield, the lead guitarist, each a shirt and Tim wrote back to say they wore them into the studio the next day.

* The following bullet points are entries in my journal from this year's trip.

July 13, 2002

  • Seven pm in the wind at Elliott Key. That's the good news. Our trip started inauspiciously. We left stuff on the beach! The ride off the beach was choppy and we took on water. Chad and I, in our gray tandem, looked around - no pump. Patrick and OB claimed to have just one. We rowed back to the surprised stares of our entourage. No pump but there was two life jackets and a skirt. OB and Patrick's. We went back off the beach and took on more water. It covered the seat. We borrowed the pump and saved ourselves. We turned the bend into Government Cut and got hammered. We were in soup all day. Eleven hours; 15 mile-an-hour winds all day. In our face. We labored. The mosquitoes on Elliott Key are as rabid as always. (Turns out that Patrick and OB did indeed have both pumps on board.)
  • The sun set very late tonight. We didn't see it touchdown but we did see it shining into high clouds. Gray on top, orange-white underneath. Humpback whale clouds.
  • The inside of my thighs are burned badly. I put sun-block on this morning but forgot after lunch.
  • We fought a current at the Ragged Keys that required all our energy just to pass it. We were ragged.

July 14, 2002

  • I've got to pee so bad it hurts. It's six am. I'm trapped in my tent. I can see hundreds of mosquitoes against my tent walls. They're in a fury. I tried braving it at about three but I was ravaged within seconds. I didn't want to put on repellent because I still needed sleep.
  • OB's upper half is in his tent, his lower half is in the water; I'm sitting in my boat looking at him. He's rummaging around in it and grunting - looks like he's wearing a huge raincoat. The funny scene pays off - he found his glasses.
  • Today we made it to Pennekamp State Park. We are camping seemingly four miles from our boats.
  • "It's going to be a tad warm in the teepee tonight," said OB. Tonight is hot. Today we did about 24 nautical miles. Brings us to 45.

July 15, 2002

  • The therma-rest is well worth any price. While I certainly don't sleep like I do at home, I do sleep, which is a big improvement over all previous camping trips.
  • Chad snores like he's jerking the start cord for a small-motored power tool… over and over without ever getting it started.
  • We saw our first shark yesterday. It was a quick glimpse of a dorsal fin only but it was only about thirty yards off, so it was a clear shot.
  • 17 nautical miles today. (21, 24, 17 = 62.)
  • Great day! We went from Pennekamp to the Harbor Lights Inn. Our trip time was awesome: 9:15 to 4 pm. We took one and a half hours in break; so we averaged over three miles an hour! We saw a nurse shark today in two feet of glass water, about three feet long. I love seeing those creatures.
  • Patrick has a new nickname: Fudge.
  • Patrick and OB performed a duet rendition of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" in the hotel room. OB had a toothbrush in his mouth the whole time.

July 16, 2002

  • A completely successful prank, I gave the captain a Dutch Oven. It made his eyes water.
  • We have our easiest day today. It's funny though how relative this trip is. Today we will row about 13 miles. Short on this trip, huge on any day trip. Our longest row on a day trip is about seven.
  • Because of my exploit last night, my new Delta Tau Delta nickname is Dutch. We're sitting at the Hungry Tarpon and have just ordered brunch. Hot damn. At 10:30 am we've rowed ourselves halfway through the day.
  • We saw a ray and several tarpon. Neatest of all Chad and I saw a small bonnethead shark. It was maybe two feet long at the longest, thin, and has a definite shovel head.
  • Our key phrase of the trip has been "A night in the box" from Cool Hand Luke; as in, "Make fun of the navigator - night in the box."
  • OB pulled the great sting on me in revenge for the Dutch Oven. We all placed a bet on what the waitress' name is. Patrick guessed Jennifer, Chad guessed Christy, OB guessed Susan, and I guessed Debbie. When the check came it was signed "Suzan." I asked her, "What's your name, Suzanne?"

    "Susan," she said.

    "With a Z?"

    "I wrote it sloppy."

    Seemed weird to me that someone would slop up their own name, but then again, she's a waitress. So OB got a free meal.

    He couldn't keep a straight face though. He had gone in and told the waitress to sign the check "Susan." She did. I thought, of course, that he'd gone the bathroom. OB? More like SOB. He danced the OB shuffle around the table and claimed sweet, sweet revenge on the Dutchman.

  • We're in a room at the Fiesta Key KOA. Patrick and Chad talked magic to the owner, a man named Tom; and instead of a hot camp site next to the night light and the playground, he comped us the room. AC for free. Thanks, Tom!
  • "Suntan lotion, Vaseline, all those products are for sissies. Real men just get in the kayak and push off," said OB.

    "So, you're saying you don't use these products?" asks Patrick in reporter mode.

    "No, I use all those products."

  • "No worries." Chad's mantra.
  • Tomorrow is our kick butt day.

July 17, 2002

  • And we kicked butt. We did 32 statute miles. We had a great start… in the water by 4:10 am and out of the water by 3:40ish, eleven and a half hours. 29 nautical miles. Totals: 105 nautical, 118 statute. Tomorrow will be about 18 miles, and Friday about 22 miles.
  • We had many highlights, all sprinkled with OBisms. The morning began with us doing the limbo under the Fiesta Key Bridge so we could shoot out through a narrow channel into deeper water. For two hours we rowed in bioluminescence, glowing oars and boats. Each boat had a large V of it spreading away. Several needle fish came jumping by in their bioluminescent coats. We also saw several shooting stars among the thousands that were visible; we saw at least four levels and that galaxy haze. We saw our first dolphin of the trip, big beautiful roller after we left our break at Pretty Joe Rock. Chad and I saw huge spotted ray along the Seven Mile Bridge. We crossed the bridges and breaked at Molasses. We just humped and humped.

July 18, 2002

  • Three times I was on the can last night with the chills. Patrick had it also. We've determined that the water we brought out of Fiesta Key may have done us in. Chad and OB had regular bottled water and are fine.
  • We had a day of extremes. Patrick still feels beat up and he even dry-heaved during the late afternoon row. I took some Immodium AD this morning and felt better but I was severely fatigued all day. I've got laundry going right now.
  • On the high end of extremes we again got a free air-conditioned room from a KOA. Patrick and Chad worked their magic and we are loving life. And we had the lunch of kings at Little Palm Island. Yes, the same exclusive snooty place that booted us off their beach two years ago. Somehow, today, we were guests of honor. We had three rounds of beer and coffee. We also had appetizers: I ordered calamari salad, Chad had tomatoes and mozzarella and OB and Patrick split a Fiery Shrimp Salad. For main dishes, OB had crab cakes, Patrick had a Cobb salad, and Chad and I had pastrami sandwiches. We all had a slice of Key Lime pie. The meal itself probably ran about two hundred dollars but it was taken car of. The hostess, Karen, who greeted us in the beach with thick towels, gave us the names of her grandparents so we could read them at the ceremony. The waitress did also. We took pictures to prove we'd been there. We practically giggled the whole time feeling like we were getting away with something. Gypsies in the palace.
  • We've seen little in the way of sea-life. Many rays, one dolphin, two or three nurse sharks, one bonnet head shark, one loggerhead, one eagle. As always, this trip has gone fast. It's a time of testing; your stamina, your desire.

July 19, 2002

  • And here we are! The Castaways Against Cancer have made landfall in Key West for the third consecutive summer. We left Sugarloaf at five am this morning. The Pineapple Coast awaited. It was tough as always. We took a lovely break at Boca Chica. We saw a shark and a remarkable ray with both tips out of the water. We saw a biplane execute a hand-stick landing; it's engine went out right above us and he glided in. And here we are.

July 20, 2002

  • It's good to be sober and alive this fine morning. We went to Captain Tony's in our Too Much Joy shirts and met the man himself. We took pictures with him and I admit I was surprised that he is still alive.
  • Hemingway Days in Key West this weekend. Bunch of crazy old folks. Maybe I could enter the look-alike contest - claim I'm Hemingway the WWI ambulance driver.
  • At St. Mary's, the book store lady explained how St. Patrick was actually an Italian who ended up in Ireland. Our Patrick quipped, "That will explain why I love to eat and drink."
  • The ACS had a party for us at Conch Republic, a relatively new restaurant. A party for some silly fishing tournament had a better buffet so we crashed that. Guess raising ten grand for cancer patients gives us a strong sense of entitlement.
  • Today is always the day I pine the most for Sophia. This mission is over, the physical demands are past, the mental aspect is ticking away like shrinking metal on the car after a 500 mile drive.

Return to Trip Reports