I used to work for a company in a sales capacity and throughout the year we would have opportunities to win contests for trips – typically with other people from our company. Winning the Canada Fishing Trip was the toughest contest because it was limited to the top two people in each category. When I won, I was not overly excited about the trip- little did I know it would be one of the most interesting and fun trips that I’ve ever taken.
We came from all over the country and flew into Minneapolis, then all got on an airplane to International Falls where we were picked up by a big van from Tinker’s Lodge and driven up to Nestor Falls in Ontario. There was a big main lodge where all the meals were served and other cabins scattered around the property. There were only three ‘girls’ on the trip so we had our own cabin and the men were in a larger one next door. The first morning the president of our company strutted through our cabin at 4:30 AM pounding a pot with a metal spoon to wake us up. We joined everyone for a huge breakfast at the lodge, and the whole group boarded to float planes with our guides and pilots and flew out to a remote lake to fish. The guide that was assigned to the girls was a young kid named Luke. He baited our lines and helped us if we caught something – and we all caught a lot of fish; mostly walleye and trout. At lunch time the guides would make what is called a ‘shore lunch’ and batter up the fish we caught and fry it up over an open fire – oh my God was that delicious. There was a lot of drinking and partying going on at night and during the day on the aluminum fishing boats – it was just the nature of the industry I was involved with.
There was a woman who worked at the lodge and she shared her story with one of the guys in our group and I will never forget it. She and her husband, who was a pilot and guide, were flying one of the float planes out to deliver supplies to a family who lived in the outback. When they were landing the plane, it hit something in the water and the woman broke her back and her husband was severely injured. The friends that were waiting for the delivery jumped in their boat and went out to the crash. They were able to pull out the woman, but her husband died. They had a little boy and the accident had occurred years before, but the story stuck with me. Also around that time in my life, several people that I had known had died in their late thirties while their husbands and families tried to get through that kind of blinding grief.
That is how the story came about. It was something I ran through my mind all the time but actually started to write it about six years ago. That is the thing about writing – when you write all the time over long periods of your life you end up with this ‘war chest’ of stories and ideas that is the most delightful thing to pull out and ferret through on occasion. I’m still ‘old school’ and always print out a paper copy of what I am writing because I like to edit that way better, and I like having the printed copies in the event something goes terribly wrong with a computer or flash drive.