January 31st, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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The Breakfast

By Michael Woolum

As hunters, most of us have memories of lodges and campsites that have offered a variety of meals. Most of the dinners were either elaborate or functional, designed to impress or to satisfy tired hunters returning from a day in the field or a trek up a high mountain. Breakfasts, on the other hand, are almost always a basic affair that wakes you up with the aroma of strong coffee and bacon frying. The average camp cook usually serves up large helpings of pancakes, sausage, eggs, bacon and potatoes.

Now for most people the experience of having breakfast on a hunting trip is not something that would out shine the trip or the taking of a trophy animal. Some of us are not like most people. The following episode is true and took place on a trip by myself and two friends.

This hunt started out like many others had, when a hunting partner of mine called and suggested that we make a quick week end trip for the opener of the Blacktail season in Northern California. The trip was normal in all respects until we reached the north coast area, at which time we ran into one of those winter weather fronts that the north coast is famous for. It rained and rained and rained. We drove for over an hour into the National Forest trying to locate our planned camp site. By midnight, we were tired and decided to pitch camp. This was done with all of our bedding and gear being thoroughly soaked. By morning, we were too tired to even think about trying to dry things out to fix breakfast. After a three to zero vote, we decided that the only thing to do was to try to find a town and have a quick breakfast before we started our hunt.

After a short drive down the mountain, we came across one of those little logging communities that seem to spring up out of nowhere. It didn't take long to locate the only restaurant in town. I don't remember just how large (small) this town was but suffice it to say 100 people would have been a crowd. Out of respect for those persons that just may still be there, I won't name this little out post of "California Laid Back".

The restaurant was one of those multi-use affairs that most small towns have. In the midwest it would have doubled as the Grange Hall or the local VFW chapter bingo parlor. As we entered it was obvious that a recent event had taken place, since there were remnants of crepe paper streamers still hanging from the rafters and walls. The only seating available was at the counter. Apparently the tables had been removed for the previous night's festivities.

Taking our places at the counter, our only thought was, how quick could we get a cup of coffee and breakfast. We soon realized that we were the first customers of the morning, since the coffee had not been made and there did not appear to be a waiter or waitress anywhere in sight. After several minutes, I called out and this elderly gentleman came out and asked what we wanted. We must have woken him up. We said that we would like to order breakfast and that we would like some coffee. With a grunt he turned and mumbled something about flatlanders and prepared to make the coffee. Now this would normally be a relatively simple procedure, but as I said this was turning out to be anything but normal. The old gentleman prepared everything as required and slid the filter holder into the maker and pushed the brew switch. After several minutes the coffee maker started to brew and drip coffee. OOPS! Problem number one, he forgot to place the pot under the drip filter. Coffee was running all over the floor. My friend sitting next to the end of the counter made a dash and placed the pot in the maker. We sat there several minutes during which time the old man never returned, so we served ourselves coffee and started to look for someone who just might be the real waiter or cook.

A young lady finally made her presence known and asked if we wanted a menu, after which she promptly disappeared, not to return for more than five minutes. Upon her return she told us, in a very slow drawl that would have made people in the south sound like New Yorkers, she told us that they did not have menus. We asked if we could just order some pancakes, eggs and sausage. She said that would be fine with her, so all three of us ordered the same thing. We didn't want to confuse her.

Again she disappeared into what I would have assumed to be the kitchen. Now this is where things really started to turn weird and should have been a warning to us that all was not well in this outpost of logs and sawdust. She returned and placed a plate in front of each one of us. (EMPTY). Now, even I know that unless there is a buffet, you don't normally start with an empty plate.

About this time, we were joined by one of the local men. The main distinction of this guy was that he was the spittin' image of Festus from the "Gun Smoke" TV show. He not only looked like him, he walked and talked like him. I half expected him to make some comment about Miss Kitty. At this time our waitress decided to take a break from her morning ordeal of preparing us our breakfast. She leaned over the counter and with a sigh, she said. "Sure.................Had.................A....................... Good......................Time...................Last ....................Night." His only comment was (you guessed it), "Yep". At which she turned and served him a cup of coffee and went back to the kitchen.

As I said, things were starting to really get weird, but what happened next would make seeing an alien from space seem like an everyday occurrence. Without even a thought of what she was doing, the waitress came from the kitchen with a spatula in her hand, on which rested ONE EGG, which she placed on my friend's plate. Turning she returned to the kitchen.

Now, so as not to keep you in suspense too long, I will only say that, if you have never been served a breakfast one egg, one pancake and one piece of sausage at a time then you can't possibly imagine what this was like. We didn't know whether to laugh, cuss or cry. We would have left but all three of us wanted to see if she was really going to serve our breakfast in this manner. She did. This breakfast took over one and a half hours and we had to get our own silverware from behind the counter.

After we finally finished THE BREAKFAST, as it was now known, we were sitting there finishing our coffee when another local came in and asked if we were hunters. Answering him in the affirmative, he then asked if we wanted to go and kill a bear that was feeding at the lumber camp dump. Ah! but that's another story. So the next time that you're sitting around a campfire and Cookie has prepared you a morning feast that can be eaten in one sitting, be sure to thank him and let him know that he is the best camp-cook that you have ever had the privilege to be served by. ~ Michael Woolum

*Editor's Note, well, they could have been on a fishing trip!


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