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This was one of the ways a fishing trip could begin. For openers, the airline smashed my tackle, and in less than 24 hours after starting I lay in bed at our hotel in Victoria, food-poisoned.
Frank, my companion, was speaking to the house physician. "It came on him very suddenly," he said. "He didn't even finish his drink."
I lay there, the poisoned pup of American angling, and wondered about the long flight north the next day. At that moment our itinerary seemed to lie heavy upon the land. We were going up into the Skeena drainage, and I realized that if I could stop vomiting (and rueing the prawn dinner that had precipitated this eventuality) I would see matchless country and have angling to justify all the trouble. It would be the perfect antidote to food poisoning and all the dark things that ail you.
As it was, the trip seemed a trifle askew. Coming in from Seattle, I had inadvertently been thrust among the members of an Ohio travel group; a mixed bag, coming from all parts of the country. "We're with Hiram Tours," one man said to our stewardess as we flew north from Seattle. "Is that Alaska down there? Or Oregon?"
The stewardess began a quick and voluntary rundown of the glories of Our Neighbor to The North. "There is a mountain in Banff," she explained momentously, "that they've named Mount Eisenhower." She paused to look first at the blank uncomprehending faces, then at the sullen Pacific beneath us. She exhaled audibly. "After your former President, that would be."
We flew on for some time in silence.
One of the tour group looked up suddenly, beaming from the map in his lap. "Strait of Juan de Fuca!" he cried.
That's all right; I could take it. I was ready for this kind of thing. I was going to virgin country and I still hadn't got food poisoning and my companion hadn't yet had to call the house physician to say, "He didn't even finish his drink."
They had been to San Francisco and were doing the resum� now: "Filthah hippahs!" said a lady from Little Rock. Then a young man bound for Vietnam announced, "Well, I'm off to defend my country!" in terms that seemed less than totally sincere. So the tour group, for this and other reasons, grew restive and was ready to pile off the plane by the time we arrived at Victoria.
I registered at the Empress Hotel, a stupendous Victorian edifice where the bellhops scurry like hamsters and the waiters in the dining room simper any number of hopes about your meal; exactly the place to have an R.A.F. mustache and answer, "Quite gud, rally." Frank, my fishing companion, arrived and we talked about our trip north. Then early to bed with glimpses of the curious Victoria skyline, a pastiche of the highrise and the venerable.