What can I say? A crazy plan all the way! To go to New York for three days essentially to be together with a couple of fly fishing friends. How do you tell your wife, your kids, yourself and your bank that this is sane?
You don't, basically...
Well, line up your arguments anyway:
But don't reveal:
- No, anthrax is actually a highly overrated threat
- No, of course my plane will not fall down - willfully or not. The risk is minimal
- No, it is NOT expensive! Actually it never was cheaper
- Yes, I really want to see these guys! They are my partners!
- I have an obligation to judge this contest that we made...
- I have to bring these prizes there
- There is a show which I want to see
- I will meet a lot of old and new friends
- I might sell some posters to cover my expenses
With all that in place, order your ticket. They go as low as 300.- US$. Mine was 350... not including the aforementioned hilarious tax. Get up at 4:30. Get to the airport (wife willing to drive you) and survive the check in of too much luggage for a 2½ day stay.
- She has to get up at 4:30 AM to drop you off at the airport
- The extreme Danish air port tax
- The fact that you will almost travel more than your stay will last
- You will spend a lot of money on stuff you really don't need
- That security and immigration will be a hassle and a farce
- That you will be worth nothing the morning you come home and might even be jet lagged for a few days
- You will not have time to power shop for interesting items for the family - not to speak of Christmas presents
Stay on your feet through insane security in transfer in Amsterdam's Schipol airport. Squeeze yourself into an all too tight space in the transatlantic plane. Devour several flight meals and see both Planet of the Apes and Moulin Rouge simultaneously on three screens the size of Game Boys on a distance more suited for 32" monitors. Not to mention erratic sound in ill fitting, agonizingly tight earphones.
Combine all this with 8 straight hours in the air followed by US immigrations and the Forestry and Agriculture Service, who wants to turn over your bags (which at least are there) full of skins and feathers from exotic animals.
To think that it just takes the happy face of GFF partner Bob Petti waiting at the arrival to forget all this! A hand shake and a hug, and the fact that I'm tired and worn out, hours behind my normal rhythm, is gone.
Great to see him again! Plenty time to grab a beer before second partner Steve Schweitzer lights up the day even more with his happy face. Hugs and hand shakes all around, and many sad comments on the fact that third parnter, Bob 'Raske' Skehan cannot be here too.
The weather is surprisingly fair. Sunshine and 20 degrees centigrade. The ride to the hotel is smooth. The room is ready. Our booth a just by the entrance. My name is in the program, and I get a preprinted badge.
We go to the room to exchange gifts. All sorts of strange things change hands. Posters, fly boxes, tying materials, cd's - even 1½ kilos of candy.
We are here to select the winners of the FlyMeister 2001 contest, and Bob has all the flies neatly arranged in boxes. We get to see them live for the first time, and while arranging them in nice little wooden blocks provided by Steve, we assess the crop. A nice bunch of flies, indeed. Not as many as we had hoped for, but enough to make us happy, and fill the categories.
We spend the evening in the bar, where people aggregate and say their hellos. Bob is thrilled beyond his wildest hopes when AK Best comes up to our table, and says "Hello Martin, good to see you again". AK stayed with me while he and his wife were in Copenhagen this spring.
Between us we know right about every person in the room, and we delight ourselves in greeting old and new friends in the fly tying community. Mike Martinek, Kim Boas, Steve Hogue, Theo Baakelar, Harry Scholl, Ted and Bob Patlen, Rick Ross and too many other names to remember. "Great to see you again", "Meet this'n'that", "Nice to meet you".
Falling asleep is not hard. Waking up isn't either - at 3:30 in the morning, when my body seems to recall that it must be morning. Luckily I fall back asleep again, and the next morning I'm all acclimatized and ready to roll!