Morning comes earlier than we’d like, as we still haven’t gotten used to the time change. Into the town of Wawa for fishing licenses, booze, beer and eggs. If it wasn’t so green, we’d expect to see tumble weeds rolling down main street. We can’t help but notice that they’ve already got their Christmas decorations up. From Wawa we head to Hawk Junction where we will unload our gear onto a box car and take a slow, scenic, train to rail stop #212, to Oba Lake. We get there early with several hours to kill before the train arrives. Lucky for us, there is a resturant/bar in what will prove to be staggering distance for most of the patrons. Word has gotten out that tommorrow will be our 29th wedding anniversary, and shots of fire water appear at our table. This place is classic, and doubles as the area “library” and “town center”. Burgers are gigantic, but I order chicken tenders. Our waiter, who appears to be older than my dad, asks me what “dipping sauce” I want (mild, blue cheese, honey or hot). Hot, I tell him. “You sure?”, he asks. Yes. “You really don’t want the hot sauce”, he tells me. Well how hot is it? I ask, knowing that what they consider “hot” sauce in the Northeast is not the same as the Southwest. “Oh, It’s really hot. You don’t want it”. Two things are going through my head, #1 – Is this a joke?…Did Sparky put you up to this?, and #2 – Okay, if you don’t want me to have the hot sauce, then why have it on the menu? Yes, I want hot, I say semi-firmly. “No you don’t want to do that”, he counters, like I’m a kid about to put a penny in the light socket. He then looks at the rest of our group and says, “she really doesn’t want the hot…it’s really hot”. I am beginning to feel like I’m in an episode of Seinfield. Suddenly I realize that his Jedi mind tricks are starting to take effect as now I am secretly beginning to reconsider, and switch to honey or mild. Realizing what’s happening, and with the chants of “hot, hot, hot” from the peanut gallery I’m traveling with, I’m now firmly commited…Hot it is. Take that Yoda! After what seems like an eternity, several drinks later, and a somewhat dangerous round of darts, our food comes. The burgers are enormous. If we were on the trail these would be considered hiker worthy. I’m glad that I didn’t order one. My chicken tenders arrive, complete with said infamous hot sauce. A few minutes later, our waiter, who doubles as the bartender, taps me on the shoulder, hands me a bottle, smirks, and says, “Just in case that hot sauce isn’t hot enough for you, little lady”.
The bottle says it all…”The Hottest Fuckin Sauce”. I try it, and it’s hot, but not “Fuck’n Hot”, more like “that’s got a kick to it, hot”. Alas, the land of the North does not understand hot sauce, but they do get burgers. Eventually the train arrives. The train station is something out of the wild west. The train saunters into the station stop, and everyone (myself included) grabs their assorted camera phones and records it’s arrival, as if this is a new fangled mode of transportation. The platform is piled with gear, and includes 30 other fisherman. The fishing camp (Woods Cabins) we are headed to is an hour and a half to two hour ride. From what we are told, camp is somewhat “primative” and requires us to bring in all our food and libations. They do however provide shelter, privies, aluminium boats with 9Hp motors and minows. I am further told that there is an opportunity to “shower” and use the “sauna” Monday and Thursday evening. This should be interesting, but frankly it’s a step up (with regard to amenities) from our previous 5 1/2 month adventure. Cargo doors open and suddenly there is a flurry of activity.
The train will only stop for so long, so if your gear isn’t loaded in time, too bad for you cuz the train has a schedule to keep. Complete strangers, who just minutes before had little to no communication with eachother, suddenly become a well coordinated and coehsive group as the gear is loaded with uncanny efficiency. Once on the train, in the passenger cars, the groups drift back to their “own”. The train ambels along at 30mph which allows one to gaze out the dusty windows and admire the scenery. When we arrive at our “whistle stop” #212, the high pitched squeal of metal on metal brakes slowly grind this iron horse to a stop. “Watch your step”, says the conductor (who sadly is not wearing conductor hat, let alone a pocket watch).
We step off the train, just this side of the trestle that stretches over a portion of what I assume to be Oba Lake and are welcomed by a tall (6’6″) smiling man standing next to a dilaptated building with a seriously sagging roof that reads ‘Welcome to Woods Cabin’. Holy SHIT Sparky, what have you gotten us into?! Paul and I look at each other, we smile, look at our parents and begin to chuckle. This should be, oh hell, forget should be, this WILL be interesting. About 17 other guys get off the train with us. Jill (my step-mom) and I are the only females, whch means no line at the porta potty for us. I hear one of the men grumble, ‘it’s not gonna be the same with women in camp this year’. Sparky hears this as well. He promptly “stands up” for us, and announces, “Don’t worry”, pointing in my direction, “just think of her as one of the guys. She can cuss, drink and fart with the best of them”. Whoa, wait a minute. I do NOT fart. A nervous laughter fills the air. Thanks, Sparky. Now I’m gonna have to out fish the whole lot of them.