This is about a 30 minute read. Again, i am not a writer. Balloon Two and a half hour drive, still dark. My annual quest from the “Compound” to Dana Point is a success. (I own a nice spread out in the desert, northeast) No trailer malfunctions, it’s going to be a little, “My Time”. The SLIDER (skiff) cleared DP harbor around 6:00 am, crack of dawn. Hopes today were to venture offshore and bring back a boatload of fish, wifey loves her fish. Happy wife, happy life, I always say. Been following BD Outdoors and so far most knuckleheads haven’t done shit. Sure, there’s some guys who hook up, but they are few and far between. Who knows if those guys even have jobs? The other guys you can tell have jobs they’re not doing because they post on new threads all day long, within seconds, office guys most likely. A few other guys don’t even go fishing, post contently, then troll or pick fights with other dipshits. I’m better than them. I know where the fish are, my turn. I’ll show those guys, wait till they see MY thread. As usual, the plan was to make bait; head out of the harbor and make the annual quick right. I see them straight ahead at the bell buoy, my scouts. I really do appreciate the guys who get out there in the dark to scope it out for me. I proceed to shoot for the first bent pole. “Not that guy again!” Yep, the sportfisher from last year. I can tell, “Do Unto Others . . . “, painted on the stern. Perfect, going to set up in their chum line once again. They know me, I was the one who waved them into the hot paddy bite last year. Hopefully I don’t have to keep reminding them to keep on cracking open the cat food cans for chum this time. It was butt calm, the fleet floated in the same spot without effort. I guess that’s why the Macks were so plentiful and seemed to be on crack. (Frenzy) Loaded up with the tiny Macks, me in mere 25 minutes. The sportfisher could have done the same if they had more sticks in the water. I observed the lazy guys in the well-lit cabin, smiling and joking around. If that were my yachtchete, those freeloaders would be earning their keep. I’m out of here. Reach for the key, give it a turn, “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah”. Not! Again,“nah, nah, nah, nah, blummmm”. Thanks Betsy! I hear the sportfisher starting as well, “nar, nar, nar, blawwwww”, bubbles everywhere. I bet that cost a few duckets to start, let alone run. Piece of shit. Ready to display a quick 180 and wake them, Betsy stalls. Fire up again, then I see those guys waving at me once again. Now what? Hands held high, waving and smiling. Better go and see what’s up. Crap. How do you pull up to a yacht in a skiff? Stand tall I guess, try not to ding it. They’re all laughing while eating something. “Hey Bro, want a fresh breakfast burrito, just made em while catching some Macks?”. Stunned, yet hungry, I accept the gift. Afterall this will go great with my tried and true breakfast. I pull along side of the mighty Yacht, “clank” into the side and look up, “Hi”. They pass me the goods. Shit this thing weighs a pound or two. “What in this?” One of the bitches yell, “eggs, cheese, bacon, and lobster”. Delicious, I’m thinking. “thanks”. OK, I know how these guys roll, Do Unto Others. I reach in deep, then think, what do I have in return? My homemade leadheads and plastic! “Hang on guys”. (I had been experimenting, making my own bass jigs from scratch. Been sucking up a major amount of lead vapor and toxic plastic/rubber to create these gems at my compound). These dumbasses aren’t even going to appreciate the effort that goes into making these fish killers; store-bought everything with unlimited funds is what they’re accustom to. Anyone can make a breakfast burrito, shiiiiiiiiiiit. I take a breath, reflect, Do Unto Others. I proceed the pull out a couple of my gems and hesitantly hand them over with a shakey grip. “Here you go guys, good luck”. Uhhhhhhh, that sucked. “Oh my gosh, these look awesome, you made them?” “Well, yes I did”. “We will definitely give them a go in the afternoon, THANKS a million”. Can I go now? I’m thinking. As I scoot away, not as quickly as I would have thought, what’s missing? Oh yah, “psuh”. Corona and a Bug breakfast burrito, life is good. “Blahhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaa”, as Betsy purrs onward towards the offshore fishing grounds, sort of. Setting course to the 276, I think, (I navigate by compass since I don’t have a GPS, old school) I’m now cruising at a nice 18 knot clip, suddenly over taken by the Sportfisher. Can’t these guys come up with their own ideas of where to go? Nearly capsized by their wake I’m forced to change direction slightly until the turbulence subsides. The burrito slips from my hand, “kerplunk” overboard, this sucks. Since Labor Day has passed, there are going to be a lot less paddies/boats to spot on the way out. I purchased a nice pirate’s telescope at the swap meet a few weeks ago so I’m one up on everyone else out there today; technology at its finest. I’m guessing it was around four to five miles out that I’m losing view of the shoreline due to the high pressure system condensing all the moisture in the air, pressing it downward; hopefully not to the point of dense fog. I stop to pull out the telescope to get a final view of the shore line. After a few minutes of trying to steady the telescope to actually see something, I feel sick from all the jerking around. “blurb, blurp, BLAAAAP!” Well, there goes the bug burrito and a wasted Corona. Moving onward, “psuh”, fresh one, I toss the empty overboard. Probably something foul in the breakfast burrito, to think I traded my hard work for that. Something intangible (after being processed) for something tangible is never a good trade in my book. Lesson learned. So far, with 45 minutes of a straight out direction logged, I think I should be pretty close to the 276, even though I haven’t even seen a boat/paddy. On the horizon I finally observe something lying on the water that is bright white. I angle to the new target. As blaze up to the marker, I see that it’s a balloon. Biggest fricken birthday balloon I’ve ever seen. I do a quick tight circle around and I can’t believe my eyes. Through my “Bass Pro Shop Official Polarized Sunglasses”, I see a few ribbons from the balloon dangling below with a whole ecosystem of anchovies and pan-size YT. Although I really want to take home a sure thing for the wifey, I’m thinking I may get harassed if I create a thread showing these YT, cuz I’ve seen it before. On second thought, I could just create a thread with a fish count like the Sporties do and not include pictures, I’d be a hero. But if I post pictures in the thread, I might get slaughtered; seen it many times, even over a few pounds exaggerated. Wonder how many others on BD processed this challenge? Most likely the ones without pictures of a catch came to the same conclusion; everyone has a cell phone, right? My superior reasoning triggered the move, “nah, nah, nah, nah, blummmm”, “ Blahhhhaaaaaaaa”, “psuh”, “gulp”, “Ahhhh”, and the empty flies overboard, “Kerplunk”. Did I mention it was butt calm, slightly dense air with low visibility? As I’m cruising, I see an amazing sight, Elvis! He’s to my port, about one hundred yards away, so I throw it into high gear. “VEEEERRRRRRRR”, right over the top of him, He sinks. “Whops”, shouldn’t have been soooo excited. I look back and nothing but a v-trail wake. “Shit”, need to relax. Hell, there ain’t a boat in sight, pretty sure He’s mine, I kill Betsy. “Oh Elvis” I cry out several times to no avail. “Oh Elvis” I whisper, and then the fins emerge. Now what the hell do I do? Never caught a Swordie before. Boy oh Boy, I’m picturing me with a trophy, thread on BD with two hundred likes, one hundred comments, not to mention special favors from my beloved. Pumped! I pull out my tried and true Penn Squider matched with my BT196. Piece of cake. Quickly, I grab a lively Mack, pin em on and toss right over the top of Elvis. Backlash, oh shit. As I’m yanking the line onto the deck to rid myself of a potential catastrophe, I see the dormant line flying back into the water. “Oh Noooo”, Elvis gobbled the Mack. I’m ripping backlast off the spool and meanwhile line is streaming back into the water. Nearly finished stripping, I’ve been caught up to, a quick and hearty jerk . . . See Yah. “Sons of bitches”. With one less rig I will continue. What a story! Lesson learned. “Nah, nah, nah, nah, blummmm, Click, Blahhaahhhhh”. I continue to head to the 276, I think. About a mile or two had past with nothing in sight as far as boats/paddies. I pull out the pirate telescope; perhaps it was residual “Ster Breakfast Burrito” that got me sick, not the narrow view offered by my new swap meet purchase. I give it another try. Minutes later, sick as a dog. “Blawwww”. I launch the telescope as far as possible with a firm swing, “kerpluck”. “Push”, in business again and continuing on . . . With naked eyes I see an off-white colored object ahead, lying on the water and it appears to be a balloon. When I get closer it’s plain to see that this is no ordinary balloon. Looks more like a buoy by the way it’s floating. Only the top of the balloon is showing as if weighted down at the bottom. I (this time) cruise up nice and slow without running over the works. The balloon slides up the length of the skiff on the starboard side. (same side as when picking up Bug hoops) I have this down. As I scoop up the artifact, I see a mess of tags on the bottom of the ribbons below. Once aboard, I then drift, proceeding to inspect this odd looking balloon. Granted, I not a balloon expert like Willdoggy, however this balloon looks different than any I’ve seen before, therefore might bring me notoriety. I usually leave them be, but this one I’m taking aboard, “for further review”, lol. I grab the beast of a balloon. Instantly pop it with my needle nose in order to view the bottom portion of the monstrosity; the cluster below. I see tags attached to the ribbons at the base. Words are written on cardboard tags in marking pen, black and red mostly. I read, “Thank you for always believing in what I can do”, “Thank you for forming me into . . .” Must be more on the backside. “Thank you for helping me reach Eagle Scouts”. “Love and Miss You Ziggy”. And so on. Someone croaked. Ziggy croaked. That blows. Here I’m trying to have a nice day on the water and I find this crap. Not that I am reverent about anything, but this must be disposed of properly. But how? I toss the memorial under the console for now. Motor still running, I move on. (bet you thought there’d be a sound effect?) Well there is, “push”. Very, very close to my destination, the 276, I think, I proceed to let out the trollers; a pair of tuna feathers, one dark purple and the other black/blue, it is over cast. After no more than five minutes the purple feather is hooked up, “ZZZZ” clicker sounds. (I saw a You Tube recently where you can double back to the troller with a quick 180, just reel frantically, practically no fight will be left in the fish). I’m in. Now, how did that go? I turn hard to the port, ah shit I was suppose to grab the pole first. “ZZZZ”, second troller with the black/blue feather is now hooked up. Hmmm, now what? I throttle up. Figure it’s my best move since I’m headed back towards the catch. This way I can get back to the school and get another on live bait. Unfortunately, I overshot 180. More like a 270, not quite like the You Tube video. Time to check the prop. After five minutes of cutting fishing line, back in business. Wonder what kind of fish those were? Been offshore for about two hours, at this point and haven’t seen a single paddy/boat. Several calamities but nothing a good fisherman can’t handle, at least I had opportunities; Elvis sighting, and a double hook up of “Whatchamacallit’s”, balloons too. After rearranging items aboard I look up. I see a solid wall of fog coming my way. Looks like a mad dash inshore is in order. I sit down and reach under the console for the maps. “Fricken balloon”, I toss it up to the dash by the electronics. With map in hand I lock down a course for DP Harbor area using my NP Power Squadron Certificate knowledge from years gone by. Calculating a course back in of 60 degrees I punch it. “VRRRRR”. Fogs begins to envelope me from all directions. “RRRRRR!!!” Faster, Betsie’s topped out. Not sure what got into me, but I sure like it. Adrenaline pumping through my body, I’m alive. Blasting the push button air horn (for safety) every once and a while, I carve through the abyss, aimlessly in a trance. Many close calls (near misses) with some other boaters while angling in, or should I say cross-hatching in. Most of them had radar and are still clueless. What a waste of money, I’m thinking. Funny how you can’t find a single boat when looking for fish, but everyone and his brother makes his presence know in the fog, go figure. I finally get a hold of myself about four miles later. Fog well behind me. Getting a glimpse of shore I head to the first tall land mark I see, on course, 60 degrees, should be the Point. Ah crap, is that the . . . “nuts” I see to my right? Sure as shit, San Onofre. San Mateo it is then, the other point, 8 miles off the target, yet a Point. Finally seeing the shoreline, I can make out some watercraft; a couple of yachts and some nice CC’s. “Blahhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaa”, Betsy purrrs. “WHAT?” Ahhh nahhh”. Those knuckleheads? There they are, waving their big mitts through the air. Dumbasses. Better get it over with. I cruise up to the million dollar yacht. “Dude, your lead head jigs sleighed them!” “Sure, always”. What, they caught fish? “We were soaking some Macks for hopes of YT and saw Bonito boil right outside. Two of us had poles rigged with your lime green plastics on ¼ ounce leadheads. We did a slow troll through the melee, instant hook up, leadheads!, lol”. What the hell? “It was soooo wide open we kept with it, each of us having a turn on 8 lb. so we have you to thank you, your the man!”. Should I just have these guys tow me around behind their boat? I see them a good portion of the day anyways and when we spit up they catch and I don’t. On My Shit to boot! “Bro . . . we have to give you some of the Bonito we caught, couldn’t have done it without you”. “How’d you do? Saw you ripping in from the outside. We checked and knew there’d be fog offshore, so played it safe”. “Missed it! Clear as a bell out there”. “What’d ya catch?” “ELVIS!”.” No Way Bro?” “Yes Way!”. Had to step into story fabrication mode, quickly. Boy did I “spin a yarn”. (Definition: To tell a lie or only part of the truth in order to convince someone of something or to avoid the consequences of telling the truth). Their mouths were agape in awe. If only it were the truth. “Oh hell yah bitches”, I laughed. (Should I even get into the double hook up of the . . . “Whatchamacallit’s”?) Nah, I want to end on a high note; although I could have said anything to these dambasses and they’d believe it. OK, time to get my portion of the Bonito I deserve. I hate pulling up to this monstrosity. “push” “glulp, gulp, gulp”. Swing, over the left shoulder goes the empty. Let’s do this. I slowly pull along side of my dream boat, minus the freeloaders of course. Again “clank” into the side of the glass boat. Oh, this time since it’s day light I can see the scrape. They can’t. “You wanted to give me something?” “ Oh Yah bro, Josh you have some packaged?” “Yah Dan, in the galley fridge”. Dan hurries across the deck into the galley and back again in seconds, a little out of breath. “ Here yah go, Slider was it?” “ HUH!?” “ I was just looking at your boat name” ”the SLIDER will do, thanks”. Obviously they don’t know who I am, gravy training off a true legend. Everyone knows who Marc Bolan is, right? RIP Marc - music break Damned, this bag of Bones is heavy. I look inside the freezer paper to see a couple of large ziplock bags with filets, skin on for ID. Primo condition, first time ever I’d say I couldn’t have prepped the catch any better. But then again, look at all that luxury that yacht offers. While I was gawking at the filets, so are they, (guys on the yacht) looking down into the skiff. “What’s that on your dash?” “Huh?” Oh, they were looking at the balloon I had tossed up there. “Balloon, had a bunch of tags on it” “Tags?” “ Well there’s writing on each one, someone croaked” “Odd, any names on the tags?” “No, they’re not signed”. “Nothing?” “Oh yah, there’s one that says “miss you Ziggy””. ZIGGY?” “That’s what I said” Clean the cotton out of your ears Dan, geeeze. “ We knew Ziggy!”. Well how about that. (yawn). “ Died recently, kinda tragic, only three months after his wife passed”. Now I’m even less interested. Have the feeling I’m in for an ear full. “you wanna know about Sigmund Freed? “Sigmund?” “Yep, had to get a nick name at a young age, too close to Sigmund Freud, hence Ziggy Freed” “Sure, I guess?”. “Maybe Josh should tell you, knew him best”. Inside, I wanted to know about this guy, mainly because of all of the comments written on the tags, such nice things they wrote. The other side of me wanted to take my fresh Bones and GTF out. Gotta be polite, Grrrrr. Joshua walks out of the cabin with a big smile, “Need something to drink, may take a while”. “Nah, I’m set”. I reach into the playmate cooler, pull out a fresh Corona, pop the top, “Psuh”, chuck the cap, “gulp, ahhh”. “Go ahead, ready to hear about Ziggy, heard he played guitar, lol” I remembed that old Bowie song. “Joshua’s countenance changed momentarily, then steadied, back to smiling. “Shoot”. “Well Ziggy meet Priscilla when they where 14 and 15 years old, east coast. They were an exceptionally good looking couple, even when they were older. Priscilla’s parents where moving west, California. They were in love and could not be separated. Besides the only place you can be married was Mexico at that age. If Ziggy was coming, there had to be commitment. When they arrived in California they were immediately hitched in Tijuana (back then people didn’t much sleep together without being married). Years rolled by, they had two loving, responsible kids. The empty nesters needed to reconnect after the adjustment of the kids leaving home in their late teens, early twenties. Ziggy was a hard working guy that everyone loved. The strong, gentle type, yet with a great personality that displayed to all that he actually cared about people. I fished with that guy a lot over the years. He loved to fish and everyone he fished with just loved to have Ziggy around. Ziggy was active in helping kids fish with church groups, think he was involved with three. He also was a member of FIBers http://www.fibersfishingclub.org/. The thing about Ziggy that was odd is that he never looked completely at peace; seemed like there was always something gnawing at him; worried perhaps. Priscilla and Ziggy had a comfortable life after retirement, although they were very conservative with the assets, they chose the simple things in life to keep them happy. They bought a trailer and did a lot of camping locally and were joined with their family and friends. Thirteen years ago the family went to Hawaii to see Ziggy and Priscilla renewed their marriage vows on the 50th anniversary. They were greatly in love”. “This is where the story gets sad, I think ‘tragic’ was too strong of a statement by Dan earlier. Ziggy was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. It was one of those later stages. He had surgery to remove what ailed him and was doing pretty good. The thing is, Ziggy didn’t want any follow up treatments. He was willing to ride it out and not know. He had seen others of older age get treatments, diminish slowly and have a crap last few months. Priscilla was distraught over Ziggy’s decision. The kids honored it, no matter how hard it was. Things declined quickly. Not for Ziggy, but Priscilla. It was obvious that she would/could not be the last man standing, it would be too much to bear. Four months later she was in the hospital, lasted ten days and gone. Ziggy was a mess. He had the cancer to deal with still and now the loss of his wife. Efforts turned to making sure their estate was in order for the kids. The kids were there to help Ziggy with the necessary adjustments for finances and to support. There were roadblocks after roadblocks for very simple tasks, nothing went smoothly. Ziggy stroked out, three months after Priscilla ‘transitioned’”. “Transitioned?” “Well, I don’t call it dying when they aren’t actually dead. Yep their body is, that’s for sure, but not the spirit”. “What spirit?” What is this guy talking about, dead is dead. Croaked. “No ‘the Slider’, people that have faith in Jesus, don’t die. It is a long story, but the best story ever, cause it’s true and fantastic! One day, if you’re interested, I can tell you about it.” What a bombshell, throw that nonsense out when the story was almost concluded. “No, no necesito hombre”. Feeling very uneasy by the talk of death, I ask nervously, “What’s with the balloon anyways?” I accidently released the rope I was holding on to. The rope was attached to their cleat, I drifted away, so did the sound of Joshua’s voice. Playmate cooler, “swing, clunk, psuh, glulp, Ahhh”, I again pulled up along side and grabbed the rope,“go on, Joshua”. “Ah, the balloon. As I said, Ziggy and Priscilla were very conservative, they planned everything. Their final wishes were that the family take a trip to Catalina Island after they transitioned, both of them. Money was set aside for that trip to honor their memory. I heard the family talking over sending up a balloon at Cat with written sediments attached. A matter of fact, one of those tags are probably mine. I figured the celebration was going to be intimate so I didn’t ask to go. I did sign a cardboard tag though and gave it to their daughter, Cindy. OK, now you know what you have, what are you going to do with it?” Was thinking trash can at Embarcadero Landing. Now what? So I have to bring this balloon to a Priest or something? What a mess. Now I have to process this slew of information. Again, I loose touch of the rope and am drifting away from the million dollar nightmare. “Hey dudes, I gotta go! Thanks for the really depressing story”. “Oh yah and the Bones”. “ Joshua, Dan and the freeloaders are all smiling and giving me a wave good bye. Strange, creepy dudes I’m thinking; in a good way. San Mateo to DP Harbor is about 9-10 miles. It’s smooth so I can cruise about 15 -17 knots, should be about 45 minutes. “Blahhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaa” Jelling on Magellan, basically spent, I enjoy the dumb felling of being behind the wheel watching the waves dance as the bow splits the ocean in a trance. Every once in a while I pull out of the trance to remind myself that there may be obstacles in my path. Out loud, “Now that's a story”. Arrived at DP Harbor at 3:00 pm sharp. Pulled into the launching ramp and into pole position, (closest to the pavement) fastened the dock lines, then straight to Turk’s. Time for a premium, Stella. Grabbed the first barstool I saw and “STELLAAAA” Bar keep hands me the golden fluid nectar. “gulp, gulp, gulp, Ahhh”. “BURP”. Time to go. Thankfully there was no annoying small talk with the locals. God forbit, I’d bring up Ziggy and hear another earful about what a great guy he was. I back the trailer up to the SLIDER, hook her up and off to the mainland, northeast. 2.5 hours to go. Again, enjoying the dumb felling of being behind the wheel watching the cars dance as the my rig splits the lanes in a trance, effortlessly gliding home to my loved one, whifey. I have Bones, and she likes her Poke. For me, it will be smoked. Finally home, 6:00 pm. I back up to the upper garage where I keep my classic cars and off-road vehicles. Too late to clean the skiff, just need to unload some stuff into the garage. I lift the last item, the ice chest. I see whifey coming up the road to the garage about a football field away, running. “Catch anything?” I hear her calling. I start to lift the ice chest out of the skiff. Right then she makes it to the skiff. “Whatcha got, let me see?”. I drop the chest to the ground. “Bones!”” She reaches into the ice chest, “Filet fish! I thought you were going to ask me to cut em up as usual. What are they?” “Bonito!” “Awesome, we’re having pokey”. See, told you. “Go on in the house, I’ll be there soon”. So glad to be home, I’m thinking. I do have a wonderful wife. Very much like Ziggy. She is so enthusiastic about everything, especially when I comes to me. I have so many flaws, yet she loves me blindly and is so devoted. I realize by today’s events that we are not promised tomorrow. That way of thinking has never entered my wheelhouse before. Now that I’m 50, I realize by Ziggy’s tale I may only be allotted another 15-25 years, could be less. I enter Our abode, warm and cozy, fire place going. I see my beloved warming herself by the fire, she is much older than I recall, but as beautiful as ever. The wrinkles add character and distinction; earned from a lifetime of caring for her children and myself with very little praise. I Love her very much. “Hey baby, take a shower and we’ll have some play time, that is if you’re up for it”. “ I do need a shower” Why am I not feeling horny? Normally I’d be racing to get cleaned up for an offer like that. This is not good! Hopefully I come around. What I’m really feeling is, just wanting to hold her in my arms as close as I can as long as I can. Who am I, geeeze.“Hey babe, you do Facebook, right?” “ Well not a lot, I do have an account”. “Do me a favor, look up Ziggy Freed” “Why?”“Could be . . . hmmm . . . Sigmund Freed, that’s it”. “Whatever you say Baby, Why?” “ Don’t you worry bout it, just look it up, going to take a shower”. Lot’s of thinking in the shower. Some stuff I’d rather not, so I don’t. I turn the water off. Immediately the door pulls open and whifey is there with a warm towel. She wraps the towel around me, dries me, somewhat, then clings onto me so tight that I can barely breath. I look down and she’s crying. “I love you so much”. After being released, I dry myself and put on some sweats. I proceed into the family room to see her by the fireplace reading her tablet; you know computer thingy. “Babe, I found Ziggy, Sigmund Freed on Facebook. Amazing love story about a couple who married at 15 and 16 years old, had two kids, a girl and a boy, and celebrated their 63rd anniversary last year. Both passed away within three months of each other. What a beautiful true-life story”. “Yes, I know”. “The only thing that’s troubling is that Ziggy was a worrier, seems he worried about everything and trusted no one. I know this because of some of the encouraging comments on his pages. He was so loved and appreciated by everyone, but most people felt there was nervousness to his demeanor. “How do you come to this conclusion?” “Well, look right here someone posted this: Mathew 6:34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today”. “That sounds like ‘be here now’”. “Yep, we’ve always live that way babe, what about tomorrow?” “Says not to worry about it” “ Well, how many tomorrows will there be?””Quite a few, I imagine”. “After that . . . ?” When I first created the tread about the 3 B's, John S suggested disposing in this manner. Thanks John. Happy Thanksgiving Friends . . .