As with most things this year for Team Jefe, our annual trip to Grand Isle Louisiana for the International Tarpon Rodeo was wrought with drama. As a refresher the GIITR is Louisiana’s oldest fishing tournament. This year marks Team Jefe’s fourth straight appearance, and our toughest one to date.

I started out for the tournament at 0500 GMT Daylight, Wednesday July 21st (that’s Zulu +1 hour or 1100PM Tuesday for those of us on Central Daylight Time) from Harpenden, The United Kingdom. The oddest thing the 21st was that it is my Birthday. I hardly had time to contemplate that I was now on the back side of 30…wow. I had just spent over a week in Leeds, Yorkshire on business and had traveled down to Harpenden on Tuesday night to visit with my cousin Dana and her family. Dana, her son Nick, and daughter Georgia were also to catch a flight the next morning from Gatwick to visit her mother in Little Rock. I decided to stay up all night in the hopes that I could sleep on the plane ride back to Houston. So, by 0500 when everyone else started getting ready, I was pretty hammered.

We made the hour long trip to Gatwick, said our goodbyes, and I headed for my plane. All this was uneventful. We loaded up and took off for Houston. This is where my plan went awry. I had an isle seat and settled in for a good sleep on the 9 hour flight. However, the Flight attendants had other ideas. They simply would not leave me alone. I guess the headphones and sleeping mask were not clear enough clues. Every 30-45 minutes they would come by with a cart and hit me. They couldn’t even walk down the isle by themselves with out hitting me, and they pestered me for food, drinks, etc. I finally asked to be left alone and the pestering did stop, but I think the bumping increased. So much for the wonderful service on Continental Airlines, and so much for me getting any sleep.

We landed in Houston at 1340 CDT Wednesday, where things just got worse. The usually short immigration line (for Americans anyway) was almost as long as the Foreign Nationals line. I had to wait about an hour to get through. Then, as usual, my bags were still not delivered to the claims area, and I waited another 20 minutes for those. You know, a more pessimistic person might thing the Good Lord did not want him to go fishing…but not me, its my Birthday, surely God wouldn’t jack with me on my Birthday…right? I was, however, giving a lot of thought to all I had to do to get Jefe’s Revenge ready to head to Grand Isle. Yes, boys and girls, I was headed over right away because we had a trip booked for Thursday Morning. Finally I got my bags, got outside, and contacted my mom who was picking me up. She was five minutes away. As I stood their in the refreshing Texas Heat, I got a call from Dan Franz. I answered expecting to discuss timetables and when I thought we would get to Grand Isle so he could get things prepared. This is when I got the best B-day present I could get. Danny, came to my rescue once again and informed me that he had secured us a ride on the Good Vibrations for the entire Rodeo…Jefe’s Revenge was not needed. All I had to do was grab my fishing clothes and boogie to Grand Isle. I could have kissed him right then. Good Vibrations is a 50 foot Viking Sport boat owned by Ray & Mary Baudoin. I almost wept with joy. No having to captain the boat, no pounding the waves, no fighting the heat of the day, no salt spray all over me, no nothing except enjoy the ride in air conditioned comfort and drag in the big fish. Now don’t get me wrong, I love running my own boat, even prefer it most of the time, but this year has been a real “Charles Foxtrot” and I was glad to be able to relax a little after the Leeds trip…….And I would be a fool to pass up a chance at fishing on such a super fine vessel.

So, I get home, collect AJ (Amanda) and head over to Grand Isle. Even without the boat we didn’t get there until 0130 CDT Thursday morning.

Whew, that was a 26 ½ hour trip….yeah, I really am sick with this fishing thing.

Stay Tuned for More of this hair raising adventure
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Tight Lines;