Originally, Zachary and Rory had promised to show up bright and early this morning to accompany Matthew on the trip to visit CJ on the lake. But naturally, come 9:30 am, no one had showed up, and Matthew was disgusted. He proceded to talk me into coming with him. I hadn't originally planned to go, but he sold the trip pretty well. He kept describing an amusing portrait of CJ, one hand on the wheel of the boat, the other holding a "blunt." More on that later.
I also felt a need to in some way do what I could do to slacken accumulated tensions remnant from the New York trip.
But not so fast. First we picked up Shonan at his place nearby on Jefferson Park Avenue. He was the only other person we could find to go on this adventure.
It's a long drive from Charlottesville to Lake Moomaw. There are many mountains to cross and many curves for which braking is necessary. We were also cursed by a minivan which crawled cautiously in front of us, hitting brakes at the mere suggestion of Newtonian physics.
We were drinking the Apollo Ales most of the way, saving the bottles as we finished them because they're just too beautiful to smash in the road.
Matthew proudly showed us some shorts he'd just bought for $6.50. Unfortunately, it turns out they had a hole in the pocket, and they ended up costing him an additional $20. He took that pretty well.
The ride lasted two and a half hours. That's half the time it takes to drive to Philadelphia. When we finally made it to the campground, we discovered that CJ was somewhere out on the water. Fortunately, though, he appeared soon enough. In his company were three people who were, for me, complete strangers.
We went all the way down to the dam, which looked to be a concrete-reinforced earthen structure, the kind little Bobby fears will one day be his tomb. CJ's "fishfinder" sonar device calculated waters of 120 foot depths; the canyon which contains the reservoir has remarkably steep sides in most places.
We fished with artificial lures, spoons mostly, in the deep waters around the boat. But we couldn't even coax a bite. CJ, a fishing expert of sorts, blamed this on the warm weather. As we hauled ass towards the marina to pick up gas, the turbulent water sheered my lure right off my line.
The marina appeared to be run almost on the honour system. People were expected to pay for their camping fees by placing money in an envelope and shoving it through a slot. The minnows for sale at the tiny little convenience store sat unsupervised in big bubbling tanks. As for the gasoline, I had the feeling we could have just sped away without paying.
While I paid for the gas and bought Doritos, Matthew and CJ busied themselves shoplifting minnows from the unattended minnow tank. This was to be our bait for the next round of fishing.
CJ sailed to a little cove and dropped anchor (a concrete block on a rope). Using the minnows as bait, we fished for crappies and catfish. Crappies like to eat live minnows six feet below the surface while catfish will eat anything dead off the bottom. We had a number of dead minnows for the catfish, and it wasn't too disturbing to hook a dead minnow. It was the hooking of live minnows that I found unsettling. You run the hook through the little guy's lower jaw. He doesn't like it, but he has no say so in the matter. You are the alien being exploiting him until he dies in his own watery world. Sometimes as I cast my line, the minnow would tear off the hook and go hurdling into the shore. After we'd been fishing for awhile, I came across several minows floating on the surface with various parts of their faces torn off. I don't like this sort of brutality. I have too much respect for the feelings of living things to be a fisherman.
Not only that, but Shonan and I were using inferiour equipment that behaved unreliably. We couldn't complain, it was all borrowed. But we weren't too excited by the task at hand. Matthew and CJ, meanwhile, caught a number of fish as they kept up a constant banter of that language that fishermen speak.
When we'd had enough of fishing, we roared off again. The casual attitude we had towards destination reminded me of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. On a whim, we'd go off to a distant corner of the known Universe (as defined by the surface of the lake) and engage in some water-related activity in a manner as adult as possible.
The engine on CJ's boat had problems related to its starter's connection to the flywheel. CJ had to repeadedly tweak the thing to get it to start. The condition grew worse and worse as we sat out on the water. Eventually we made it back to the marina to wait for David to load the boat up.
David, however, was so distracted by his seemingly unrequited love for Little Debbie that he forgot to bring the trailer. When he did finally bring the trailer, the process of loading proved to be a major ordeal. While we'd been watching others load their smaller late-model boats with alacrity, getting CJ's boat on the trailer required the effort of four men. Well, three and a half; I had a beer in one hand. We found ourselves pushing, shoving, prying and lifting. David was running the truck the whole time, and he sat so low in the water that his tailpipe was submerged. Eventually his engine overheated and boiled over from the difficulty of pushing out exhaust. We'd spilled gasoline earlier and now we were spilling anti-feeze. Earth-friendly we were not.
Around the marina, the Forest Service has allowed long grass and weeds to flourish in an attempt to discourage the resident Canadian Geese from walking around and shitting everywhere. The theory is that the geese are afraid of the foxes that might be hiding in the weeds. Lawn-conscious rednecks, however, apparently see the weeds and assume that the Forest Service is slacking off on its duty to create conventional American lawns in all areas frequented by people. So the FS has seen it necessary to post lots of signs informing visitors exactly why the grass is as long as it is. Long grass is terribly difficult for the average suburban American to tolerate.
After David and Debbie Heartbreaker had left, the rest of us sat around shooting the shit and drinking cheap overly sweet boxed vino (take it from me, never get "Chillable Red").
CJ ended up riding back to Waynesboro in our car. I slept most of the way, except for the especially mountainous parts, which Matthew Hart roared through at occasionally frightening speed. We stopped at Taco Bells both in Staunton and Waynesboro. Shonan had to buy our tacos and burritos in Staunton because Matthew and I were both barefoot. Matthew expressed concern at the possiblity that Shonan could be charged with "contributing to the delinquincy of a barefoot person."
After looking in several stores and gas stations, Matthew managed to buy a single Phillies Blunt cigar. He had no intention of smoking it yet.
On the ride home, Matthew had asked CJ if he had any pot with which to "get blunted" and CJ said that what he had was at home. Looking at what he had, it wasn't great (it was mostly leaf), but it was a fair amount. Matthew proceded to prepare a "blunt."
It's important to understand that Phillies Blunts are cheap cigars packed with inferior tobacco. But they have a reputation for the quality and flexibility of their outside leaves. If one throws out the internal tobacco and replaces it with marijuana, a Phillies Blunt makes for a respectable (and, most importantly, large) joint.
Matthew has a fair amount of experience preparing Phillies Blunts. AC/DC was on the stereo (Matthew's request) as the big brown and increasingly soggy thing made its rounds. It had a subtle tobbacco flavour which mellowed the harshness of the burning marijuana leaves. Before long, we were all blunted. That's a term I feel it unnecessary to define.
We bid adieu to CJ and headed back to Charlottesville. I slept for almost the entire ride.
Anita, another online journal keeper and former James Madison University student, points out that "Moomaw" is a very Shenandoah Valley name. It lends itself perfectly to pronunciation with the Shenadoah Valley accent. All you have to do is say "Mewmawahh" and let the vowels ring relentlessly in the top rear of your throat.
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