By George Koen
I’m a’going salmon fishing with my friend up north. I left about 4:30 in the morning from San Diego. My plane landed in Los Angeles about an hour and a half later. After a short layover, we headed to Arcata – actually, it was McKinleyville Airport in Northern California.
We got up there and it was fogged in. We couldn’t land at the airport. They told us that we were going to the next airport. That was in Redding, California. So we flew there and landed. When we got off the plane, they told us that the only way we could get back to the Arcata area was to rent a car and drive. No one was happy about that. There were about 40 of us. I decided that I would rent a car if I could get some other people to help drive and pay for the gas.
The first guy next to me was a rabbi, probably around 28 years old. His name was Ishy and his partner, who was another rabbi, was named Moshy. They said they would drive, and I looked around to see if anybody else needed a ride because we had room for one more. A Catholic school teacher said he would go and pay for the gas. So, now we had a full car. I found out it was $435 to rent the car for one way and we weren’t coming back, so I had to do it.
When we got in the car, Ishy tells me that he was an ex-race car and motorcycle driver and that he likes to go fast. Well, let me tell you, that was an understatement. We took off! Ishy drove like a bat out of hell the whole time. He would run stop signs unless we were in a town, then he would behave. Bringing meaning to multi-tasking, Ishy and Mushy were texting and making phone calls the whole way while Ishy was driving at huge speeds. It was quite a thrill, just kidding. It was three hours through winding mountain roads all the way.
As we were on the road for a bit, I asked Ishy why he became a rabbi. He told me that one day he was riding on his motorcycle doing wheelies down the road. He had an accident and he went through a window of a bus killing the bus driver – not on purpose, but just being stupid. He had an epiphany and found religion, but it didn’t slow him down a bit.
During the few hours drive, I talked to all of them about religion and asked them all several questions. Nobody could answer any of my questions or they wouldn’t. I told them I talk to God everyday and I ask him to reveal himself to me, but he never has. So, I keep asking God to reveal himself on a daily basis — I tell him, even if it takes me to be in an accident and being resuscitated so I know God’s out there waiting, I’ll do it. I told my race car holy companions that today could be just that day especially with your driving, Ishy.
I tried talking to all of them the whole time. They were all kind of ignoring me except for the Catholic school teacher. He was somewhat talking to me. He told me what he did. He had a bunch of Asian students from China that he was teaching in Eureka at the Catholic school there.
This was a-fishin’ trip that I will never forget thanks to Ishy. I almost got to meet God. Ishy drove like a mental patient even after he killed someone. I thought that was strange, but he loves to race. He was racing the whole time. We were going way over the speed limit, probably 65 easily on these mountain roads, twisty mountain roads, with a river right down below it and a cliff. We passed any and all traffic. If it was in front of us, we passed it. It was about 100 feet down to the river, at least, and we would have been dead if we went over. Thank goodness, it was a nice day until we hit the coast. That was to our advantage. The roads weren’t slick. That was also good.
Not one of these religious men was praying out loud; so, I wasn’t really afraid. We were all hanging in there. No one was freaked. But we were going really fast. We did have some of the “gods” represented; and fortunately, we all got back in one piece. I just trusted Ishy and put my faith in him.
When we did make it to Arcata safely, Ishy and Moshy ditched me at a gas station. I didn’t even know Ishy and Moshy were leaving. They said, “So long. Our partners are meeting us here.” So, I said, “Okay.” Me and the Catholic teacher — I think his name was Kent – I could be wrong on that. We drove to the airport where his friends met him. We all called in advance to have our people meet us. My buddy, Jerry, met me when we pulled up. So we put the car back and took off to his house.
Afterwards, I told my friends what happened and they all laughed hysterically. If anything was going to happen, it would happen so I wasn’t afraid. I left it all in Ishy’s hands.
The next morning, Jerry and I went fishing on the Klamath River for two days in a row. It’s about 55 miles north of Arcata. We caught five salmon on the first day — one was 24 pounds — I think we have some pictures here that you can see. That was the biggest. It was a male and that was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught. Then we caught several in the 14-16 pounds and some a little bit smaller than that.
When we returned from our trip, Jerry’s wife, Melody, my sister-in-law, cooked the fish. She wrapped it in foil with salt, pepper, and butter which was served with vegetables all cooked on the barbecue. It was delicious!
Unfortunately, I didn’t bring any salmon home because I had to fly back and who knew where I would end up flying back to. But we managed to smoke some, and I guess it was good, because I don’t have any with me. We had some fresh for one night and cut it up into steaks. We probably had 40 steaks of salmon. We filleted a little bit of it and smoked ten pounds of it. Eventually, we’ll get some because my friends are coming down in about two weeks, and they said they would bring me some smoked salmon.
Well, that is the story of my trip through the mountains with Ishy, Moshy, and God; and I’m sticking to it.