Tenkara, the first time……..

Call me lame or lazy. But, I have walked away from the conventional and the overly complex nuisances of conventional bait fishing and fly fishing for the simplicity of tenkara fishing. It really started when my wife and I were starting our Airstream experiment. I realized that I needed to par down all my fishing equipment to only the essentials that I needed to catch fish. Really, it came down to a lack of storage space.

Like any nerd with excess time on my hands I started doing my research on which rod I was going to start with. Now there are an infinite amount of choices out there from cheap Chinese rods on Amazon to expensive starter kits from what I would consider “hipster” brands found at almost any mom and pop outdoor equipment store. I realized that I didn’t want an American version of a Japanese rod and that I wanted one that was produced domestically in Japan. Call me a stickler for that kind of thing. I eventually discovered http://www.tenkarabum.com. I was sold. He was a guy that is so into this style of fishing he has imported almost every imaginable rod that I could want, all from Japan. The massive variety of the equipment carried on this website is awesome, especially there is some much information from not only Chris but people have used each of these rods. Plus, the photos with each of the rods gave me a good idea of what size of fish it is possible to catch with a particular rod.

I decided on a TenkaraBum 36 and some 3.0 level line. The TenkaraBum series rods are made by a company in Japan and my rod is legit. It casts like a dream. When it arrived I was so excited. I had everything that I needed to make a quick trip to a nearby pond at the Linkhorn Bay Apartments, it didn’t matter that every time that I have fished this pond I have had mediocre luck at best. I was determined and with an ample supply of flies, I was ready to go.

The one thing that sucks about this pond is that it is ringed with trees and brush all around the bank, except for a little fishing dock. You really have to keep it low when casting or else you will just add another decoration to the tree branches above it. It looks like a messed up Christmas tree with a massive assortment of bobbers. It was October and the water was definitely starting to cool off and like always the wind in Virginia Beach is blowing one way or the other. So I could only cast in one direction.

I was rigged up with twelve feet of 3.0 level line and six feet of 4x tippet. The terminal tackle was a size 12 bead head black wooly bugger and a stick on strike indicator. First cast dead easy and accurate, I slow count to ten as I let the bugger sink. I do this about 20 times. Suddenly, I see the strike indicator slip under the water and I feel a strong tug on the line, I lift and set the hook. I really didn’t expect to catch anything on this first outing, I hadn’t thought about the logistics of getting unto the bank. So I did what came naturally and let this guy swim from side to side while putting a little pressure on him by lifting up my rod. The whole time I was worried that he was going to break off my tippet.

As I played him I finally got him close enough to see that I had hooked into a decent little bass, something I had failed to do so many other times with other methods. I got him close to the dock and realized that I needed to walk him around so I could get clear of the four foot rail that runs around this dock. I finally got him on the bank and right then I was sold on tenkara.

I think there is a psychological reason that I got back into flinging bugs, rooted in the peer pressure that I was feeling when all of my friends and family fly fish. I could hear them thinking the question as they would look at the pictures I would send them, “Did you catch that on the fly?”. Maybe that isn’t what they were thinking at all, who knows? I guess subconsciously I would think that somehow bait chucking was somehow taking the easy road.

For the last year I was caught up in the pursuit of catching carp using the UK style, which can basically be described as “bait and wait”. Did I catch enormous fish? Yes. Was I bored to death? Yes. So as the winter rains in Tidewater gave way to spring I got back out there for another session. After an hour I got my first carp of the season. After this session, I realized that my heart wasn’t into this method of fishing anymore it was time to move on.

So as my season starts up, I am only going to fish tenkara and see where it takes me. Above all I just don’t want to be bored while I am fishing. I like the simplicity of rod, line and fly. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

The Airstream Part One…….

Before I get into the whole story about how my wife and I decided to move into a twenty two foot trailer, I need to foreshadow the events and thinking that was going on in my life. Before I met my wife, my plan was to purchase either an Econoline van or a Honda Element and convert it into a “stealthy” mobile living unit. I planned on doing nothing except travel around, fish and live off my military retirement monies. After I met MG, things changed and I dismissed my little escapist dream and carried on with the business of life.

I really need to frame that correctly. We just got busy with life in general and living out of van was one of those fantasies that I stubbornly held onto and would dredge up from time to time. Some people have a sandy beach in Belize, I imagined myself as a modern day hobo. I knew that between the both of us that there was eventually going to be some sort of left turn that would lead us to adventure. Both of are families are nomadic by nature. MG’s grandfather lived off his sailboat and travelled around the Caribbean. I knew that we would figure out something that was our own adventure and our own path we were going to create.

In May of 2018 while watching something I can’t even remember she turns to me and said, “Can’t we just say fuck it and move into a camper?” I had never heard more beautiful words spoken. It would be cliché and say that I saw golden lights drenching our couch while a host of heavenly angels sang in the background. But, that isn’t what happened. Still those were words I never expected to hear and that I was not the only one with a fantasy of dropping everything and moving into a camper.

So the day had come. So we finally pulled the trigger. So everything happens for a reason. We tried to get financing from the bank for 60K for our dream rig. An Airstream Bambi. Well needless to say with our credit such as it was we were denied by the bank. Got it understood. It wasn’t too heartbreaking.

I kind of expected to be denied by the bank. But, before you pass judgement on me and call me a dead beat with no interest in paying his bills….I will elaborate. This back story ties the whole story together.   I am going to reach back all the way to January 2009, I was going through a divorce and I was stationed overseas at the time. I really didn’t have any family in Colorado at the time. My sister was busy with her life and my parents were still living in Germany. I went by word of mouth to hire my lawyer and let’s just say that he wasn’t too gifted in the art of negotiation. Which you would think is a prerequisite for the job.

When the divorce decree was finally issued by the judge in Colorado, it basically stated that the house that my ex-wife and I owned would remain in my name for four years until she could either sell it or refinance under her name. I know you are probably saying…..hmmmm….You are probably thinking well it sounds reasonable and any reasonable person would be happy to have four years to get it together. Reasonable people pay for where they live right? Can you see it? Feel it?? The storm of financial disaster was brewing just over the horizon.

The first four years went by rather uneventfully. Then when it came time for her to take over the house, she just stopped paying the mortgage. Oh yeah. The judge also ordered me to quit claim deed the house to her, so I had no legal standing with the “ownership” of the house. Unfortunately, being a sailor I was protected by the Service member’s Relief Act. This meant that the bank wouldn’t evict her from the house for another four years. Those years went by rent and payment free for her. I was not going to come up with the money to save the house….I am not crazy. I called the bank so many times to beg them to foreclose on the house and they just couldn’t do it.

Eventually they did foreclose in guess? 2018. Crazy right? So what does this have to do with the adventures in this story? Well this left me wondering will we ever be able to make the move to get out of our current place.  Will we ever be able to have our own place? Am I going to be haunted by this bullshit the rest of my life? I just felt horrible as if I had failed at some part of my life. I have made my own mistakes in life and I will take credit for that long list, I hate being financial reminded of mistakes that I really didn’t have a hand in.

So the question was “what next”? We were asking ourselves how is it all these broke assholes somehow have money for houses they can’t pay for and a slew ridiculous toys. All we wanted to do was to buy an Airstream and that was the end of the story. You know actually be fiscally responsible. Shit that people don’t do anymore. Both of us were pissed because we really didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives in the same condo giving our money away and every month that we lived there we felt as if we were just burning our money.

At first the prospects looked grim. We began by looking at 25 foot travel trailers at the local RV store. But, the prospects of getting an ugly behemoth of a trailer were not exactly what we were looking for. We looked but our efforts were halfhearted at best. We were turned off after talking to the salesman and were told that in order to pull a trailer of that size we were going to need to purchase some kind of supersized rig that you need a CDL just to drive.

Part of the reason that we wanted an Airstream, is that both my wife and I love mid-century modern. We loved the clean almost perfect airplane look of the Airstream. We wanted an Airstream and not some camper that looked like a cheap box on wheels. Not a snow bird sarcophagus.

We were really only interested in two brands of campers; Airstream and Casita. We had convinced ourselves that a Casita was probably going to be in our price range. After the sharp sting of credit rejection had worn off, we decided that we were going to save for whatever camper we were going to get and pay cash. We are both super stubborn. The only catch with these two types of trailers is that even the older models cost a pretty penny, because they are so iconic.

We had been saving for a few months and we were getting to the stage where we had enough money to start looking at campers that would probably need some TLC with the amount that we had. After about two weeks of scanning Craigslist and RV Trader looking for a Casita that could fit our budget, Mary Glen happened to find one in Knoxville. She made the call to see if the camper was still available. However, the owner said that she wasn’t going to show it for about another week and that there were two people before us that were going to look at it.

So we decided to take a quick bike ride to the beach and when we got home MG had stumbled across a 1972 Airstream Argosy for sale in Alabama. Right way we were both in ADHD mode. Feverishly sending texts, nervous and the recent pain of the last Airstream rejection as if this was a mirage and it was too good to be true. We learned that this camper was a one owner and garage kept. Like that mythic Ford Escort that grandma has been keeping in her garage since 1993 and it has 12K original miles…. Yeah to us it was like that. The owner had restored it which basically means he freshened her up.

I think we made contact with this guy on a Wednesday and he told us that he had put the ad about a week prior and that there were supposed to be people travelling next Tuesday to look at it. When you have the fever and know that this is the one…you have to act and we acted quickly. MG got off the phone and we quickly put together our strategy which wasn’t much. We were going to offer to wire this guy the money to hold it and not show it so we could get down there first. You have to understand these campers are extremely popular and if you are slow you aren’t going to get it.

We got him the money and that would be the start of our adventure…….