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F That

After letting the world sideline me for way too many months, Alphabet Travel is back with a vengeance!

First, meet the players.

Ok, me. That was a given, right?

Next is Jesse, a skinny 21-year-old from Gatlinburg who you’ll learn more about later.

Then there’s the amazing Alex Kohout from Columbus, Ohio!

Alex and I met because we both own T@bs (though his is MUCH newer and MUCH nicer than mine). But first, a little bit of a story.

Remember when I went to Canada and everything on my trailer died one by one? Well, trailers like mine have this thing called a tongue jack that basically props up the front end when the trailer is not hitched to your car. So yeah, important.

I had a mechanic change the tire on my tongue jack recently. The next morning I went to unhitch my trailer from my car so I could drive to work. Guess what was missing? That new and improved tongue jack had completely fallen off my trailer. I swear parts of my trailer just choose suicide over life with me.

I couldn’t unhitch the trailer because there was nothing to hold it up.

The result? The first annual Take Your Trailer To Work Day. I had a board meeting that day, so Babel also went to the Town Hall, then to another meeting, and to a bar. Big day for Babs.

I know what you’re thinking: Kim, who cares? This has nothing to do with F.

Oh, but it does. I whined to my online T@b friends about my jack taking a header into Route 49. Alex read my post, left his apartment at 8:30 pm, drove to a store in Columbus, and bought me a new one. He then put it on my trailer that weekend while a bunch of us were camping together in Ohio.

Super Alex

So, yeah, he’s that guy who sees a need and immediately jumps in to help. He takes care of all of the T@b-owning ladies, even the old ones like me. If Alex is any indication, the next generation is so much better than my own.

Alex’s vacation this year was to the Smokies and he graciously allowed me to tag along. And that’s where I tackled the letter F, with mixed results.

Fly fishing: An exposé

I don’t fish. I don’t even eat fish, at least not much.

But when Alex told me that he planned to fly fish in the Smokies, I knew Alphabet Travel was back on track!

What I didn’t know was that “fly fishing” is just a euphemism for “hiking and rock climbing in leaky boots.”

You know those great scenes from A River Runs Through It where Brad Pitt is standing in a pristine river, gracefully snapping his fly rod back and forth to get the perfect, arching cast?

Yeah, it’s nothing like that at all.

Our guide was Jesse, a super nice man of very few words who lives and breathes for fly fishing. He might be the most single-minded person I’ve ever met. He was also infinitely patient with the biggest rookies ever.

First, you’re probably thinking that we wore those cool waders, right? Nope. We showed up in t-shirts and shorts and that’s exactly what we wore in the river. They gave us heavy, awkward boots with neoprene sock things to keep our feet wet but warm.

Second, I bet you never thought about how Brad got in that river, did you? No, neither did I. Did you know that you have to hike a few hundred yards past fresh bear scat, then climb down embankments made of moss-covered boulders, then wade into a rushing river?

Nope, neither did I.

A word to the wise: Don’t take this on if you’re 56 years old and ridiculously out of shape. If you’re still stupid enough to do that, don’t go with two very fit men who are at least 30 years younger than you and part mountain goat.

The result will be this:

Jesse zips down the boulders and into the river like a damn gazelle.

Next Alex zips down right behind him, just as gazelle-like.

I then flump-flump-flump down the rocks with the grace of a drunk hippo. At one point I just sat down and slid on my butt down to the water. Pride was gone. (But I’m not the one who fell in the water four times!)

Finally, when you think about fly fishing, I bet you envision pulling a giant trout out of the water, fighting it until you scoop it into your handy net.

Yeah, me too.

As it turns out, the rainbow trout in the Little Pigeon River average 4″ to 7″ in length. They’re midget trout.

Jesse and Alex wrestling one of those monsters

The fish won

The final tally:

  • Fish caught: Alex got 5, I got 0
  • Adult beverages consumed: Way too many the first night (sorry, Alex’s mom) but we reigned that in after a difficult day battling hangovers
  • F-themed bourbon drinks consumed: Zero, but we really tried. As a side note, Gatlinburg has absolutely no bars with craft cocktails but has a bunch of moonshine places, including one with a dead guy on a stretcher. No lie.
  • Best line of the day: “Sometimes you just need a little green weenie.” ~ Jesse, explaining fishing lures. You’d think we were in middle school the way Alex and I snickered.

Final thoughts

I had a ball. Fly fishing wasn’t what either of us expected but when you get to spend a beautiful day on a river with good people, it’s always a great thing. And getting to spend so much time with Alex was a huge bonus; he’s a wonderful guy and I’m grateful for him and his friendship.

And this happened!

I have no clue why I’m so squinty.

Oh, and remember the Scooby Snacks I loved on my Banff trip? They carry them at Food City in Gatlinburg, making them Gatlinburg’s only redeeming quality.

Next up is G and if all comes together well, it’ll happen before the end of September.