Fishing the Florida Keys for Tarpon in March 2011. This day the Tarpon were not running. My inner child was more than happy hooking a four and a half foot Black Tail Shark and spending the day with my woman guide friend Sheila. Although hooking a tarpon would have been more of a “bucket list” item, it may have been too much fish for me to handle as I was running a 100 degree temperature due to a major sinus infection. Perhaps the 100 degree fever helped acclimate me to the 90 degree heat and humidity. Or perhaps it was the sheer excitement of being out on the water flats fishing that kept me from passing out and falling overboard that day.
As a Christmas present, a good friend of mine who works for American Airlines put me on his D-3 list. “Cool” I thought! I can fly down to Florida to visit my woman guide friend Sheila. Key West…home of Flats Fishing and Cuban food!
I started out my Florida vacation flying one-way from Spokane on Horizon to catch a stand-by flight to Portland on American Airlines. The stand-by seats were taken, so to kill time, I caught another one-way Horizon flight to Seattle for a meeting with a spice company, and then another one-way flight back to Portland by way of Spokane to try again for a stand-by to Miami by way of Dallas. Three one-way tickets in less than a weeks time, flagged me for a search before boarding the first leg of a solo, standby flight from Portland to Dallas International. Since I was flying stand-by, I had two carry-on bags jam-packed full. They fit the maximum dimensions for the overhead compartment, yet weighed fifty pounds each. I had my fishing gear, quick-dry guide pants, shirts, and jeans rolled duffle bag style and neatly packed together. By the time the search was completed, I had a pile of abandoned un-rolled clothing stacked four feet high at the end of the X-ray screening table.
Just two days prior to soaking up some sun, before returning to the forty degree temperatures of Washington state, I was waiting in the nose bleed section of “Southernmost Services” emergency room in Key West. (It seems I just can’t go on vacation without visiting the local emergency room). On a scale of one to ten, the five hours I spent in the waiting room, and behind a tropical fish curtained off emergency treatment room, had to be just about a “perfect 10” in E.R. entertainment.
The Key West Hospital had two trauma sections. One for “major trauma” and one for “major, major” trauma. When I arrived at four in the afternoon, the major trauma section was full up, so I was put in the “nose bleed” section of “major, major trauma emergency treatment, where I had the best seat in the hospital. After about an hour, I noticed that every person coming in was there because of excessive alcohol consumption.