Every Wednesday I meet with a group of guys and our mentor.
It is a time to discuss life: the good, bad, ugly, mundane and of course...women.
Last night, however, was a special treat.
We went on an adventure.
We all piled into our mentor's golden minivan, complete with remnants of McDonald's Happy Meals and their treasures, still wrapped in their cocoons of plastic.
As we drove out of the outskirts of Omro the road started to get darker and darker, as the streetlights became few and far in between. An occasional speed limit sign, the only indication that anyone had been here before...
We came to an intersection where the beams of the headlights illuminated a bright green sign with arrows indicating which way one must go to reach their destination. To the right was Omro, straight ahead was..........Eureka?
Ok, seriously, put this on the map. Eureka? Who honestly says that they live in Eureka, WI?
To my dismay our van plunged ahead into the darkness. The roads resembled civilization less and less, and, in the end, I found myself wondering if the Milwaukee County DOT was placed in charge of Eureka's roads.
We reached the "town" and I say that lightly.
One corner bar and grill, a bridge, a stop sign and we were through.
Eureka makes Omro, the little town about 8 miles west of Oshkosh, look like a thriving suburban metropolis!
Shortly out of town we passed what must've been the town's weekend party. There were about 50 or so cars parked out front of darkened buildings. There was a barn a ways back from the road, from which a dim light was emitting. Nothing like a good old barn dance to make one's Wednesday night!
Then it was dark again. No street lights. Shady roads.
As I am a avid horror movie fan, I felt that this was the appropriate time to make a smart quip about how our mentor was merely taking us out of town to dispose of us...
To which we all laughed....with slight apprehension.
We finally arrived at our destination. A fishing area on the outskirts of Eureka.
From there, we broke out our gear. Headlamps and flashlights. We started hiking...
Throughout the hike Mark, (our mentor) taught us a bit about the plants we were seeing. He was an environmental studies major before he chose the route of ministry, and as he talked I was astounded at the intricate design of nature.
For instance, one of the plants he showed us, dogwood I think, has the capability of being broken off from it's origin, stuck into the ground at another place, and it grows new roots and becomes a new plant! Who knew, right?
He also showed us how to identify certain growths by whether their offshoots were alternating or not.
To some this may be basic knowledge, but I myself, who had not grown up in an outdoorsy home environment, drank it all in feeling like a newborn babe. Just absorbing it all.
After about 45 minutes of hoofing it we reached the damn. Sorry...dam. I gotta cut down on the language.
If you didn't know, right now it is mating season for Sturgeons.
I didn't know.
So as we crept toward the rivers edge our lights happened upon an incredible sight. Amidst the rushing current were about a dozen Sturgeon nonchalantly challenging the current. Letting the water rush over them, but not budging even though the current was rather swift.
They were massive!
Some were 4 to 5 feet in length. They had fins on their lower backs, which bore an eerie resemblance the baby sharks I remember from my excursions to the zoo as a young boy. Their faces had whiskers of sorts too!
Oddly enough my first thought was of my cat...
I couldn't help but wonder if, by some trick of the evolutionary process, the lazy animal that skulks around our home, is terrified of water, and eats all our food might've been some lowly pre-fish life form...
Seeing these monstrosities in the water beneath us, we did what any four college age guys and their college-at-heart mentor would do...we tried to catch them.
It was 11:00 pm at night, and we were fishing with our bare hands, for fish that resemble baby sharks, and easily weighed half our weight.
Three of the guys even waded into the water tennis shoes and all. I opted out.
Our feat was in vain, however, as fish bested man with sheer brute strength and the rest of the riverbed to escape to. We were left with faces full of water, and the smell of the river lingering on our clothing.
Walking back to the van, smelling the night air, thinking about what had come to pass this night I realized that in the sheer simplicity of acting like a dork with these guys, I felt a connection. With them, with nature and a peace that surpassed understanding took it's place in my heart.
This was far more vivid than the most enhanced TV screen, far more fulfilling than any astronomic number of Facebook friends that one could accumulate.
It was real. It was true. I love my brothers and am so greatly blessed to be a part of their story.
So I guess this is my first fishing story...