Dream Tunnels….and Larry.

Over the last couple of years, I have traveled thousands of miles fishing kayak tournaments. Along the way there have been opportunities to make new friends, learn new techniques, fish new waters…so many adventures and memories have been made! But as I reflect on this time, the trips where I was able to spend time with Dishrag stand out to me.

Joy and I are proud grandparents who love taking little man with us on camping trips and tournaments. We load up the truck and camper with cars, books, Larry the lizard (picked up at Santee Cooper), fishing gear, kayaks, smore supplies…tools so he can dig…and head off.

Once we get to the water, I load him into the Hobie, set him in my lap and hand him the paddle. He swipes at the water, shifting left and right (occasionally actually putting the paddle in the water) as I push us forward; telling him what a great job he is doing. The look on his face as we cover the distance from the boat ramp to the opposite shore and back is absolutely priceless to me.

There are a couple of memories I would like to share…

We picked up some Jiffy Pop popcorn on a Center Hill trip where we camped at Edgar Evins State Park. The old school, in the pan with foil top kinda Jiffy Pop. We fired up the grill, cooked some burgers as we put together puzzles under the trees. Then put that foil topped pan on the grill. For folks my age, this would have been a “whatever” moment; a simple thing. But he was so excited to watch it grow, then to bust it open to find popcorn.

During a trip to South Carolina to Santee Cooper State Park, I once again set him in the Hobie as Joy pedaled her kayak ahead of us. I was explaining that there were alligators, so we had to watch for them. As I passed a drain pipe I told him I had lost a lure there earlier in the day. The conversation turned quickly, faster than I expected, from me losing a lure in the drain tunnel to an alligator being stuck in the drain tunnel. Then somewhere between that second and our ride back to the ramp – it became an alligator stuck in the dream tunnel.

“Did you see it Boppa, it’s in the dream tunnel?”

The next day while I was out fishing the KBF event that week, Joy found him sitting in her kayak dressed as an “explorer” casting his fishing rod among the trees. He would cast, reel. Then pull his lasso out and pull Larry along and into the kayak. This little guy loves being outside, and it makes me happy to know that we are teaching and encouraging him to enjoy it!

We have been to the beach camping, to Kentucky Lake…just hung out in the driveway in the camper or kayaks. There was even a trip where we were driving through Alabama on Thanksgiving day. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel, ordered thanksgiving to go and sat on the camper floor eating turkey and dressing; most likely the greatest Thanksgiving dinner I will ever have the pleasure of eating.

I feel that I am rambling (because I am), so I will stop….but I want to ask a favor. Take your kids, your grandkids, great grandkids, nieces or nephews, neighbor’s kids…whoever…get a young person outside. Show them there is more than being head down looking at phones or tablets. Teach them to imagine there are adventures where alligators live in dream tunnels, where lizards are named Larry and popcorn can be a bit magical in the right setting.

I will be running from state to state again this year, chasing bass. And the first chance I get, I will have Dishrag and sis (a new granddaughter!) in tow.  I will most likely be catching a few less fish on those trips, but teaching them to set up tents and paddle kayaks….the memories I will carry with me, hopefully they share, will be enough…that I can promise you.

Side Note….

Dishrag is my grandson – not his real name nor do I call him that anywhere outside of writing, but just about everyone who knows me at all recognizes him by that name and ask about him. For the record, it was not I who chose that name. I told my daughter I didn’t really like the name he was given and she quickly told me that she could name him whatever she wanted.

“I can call him dishrag if I want!”

And so I do.

Author: Mike Cheatham

Me…Mike Cheatham email…mikecheathamfishing@gmail.com something to know……….fished my whole life; now from a kayak….

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