Recently I’ve been reflecting on our boys and the experiences they have while on the road with their dad, experiences that undoubtedly will influence them as adults. I decided I wanted to take a look back at our year so far and the places we have visited to acknowledge the significant learning experiences of each. See photos of our year so far. This process got me thinking about the “what ifs?” … What if we had not been fortunate enough to go here or there? And what if they had not experienced this or that? Would they turn out to be the future adult citizen that they will become because of these real life experiences? I’m not sure I will ever know the answer to the last question, but it definitely gives me something to think about.
It makes sense to start with the Bassmaster Classic that was held in Birmingham, Ala. Although we did not travel far for this tournament and visit never-before-seen places, the boys experienced something that was a once in a lifetime experience. They were blessed with the opportunity to watch their dad catch the Classic-winning fish from a bridge with hundreds of people cheering him on! I don’t believe this has ever been done before in a Classic, and I believe the memory will be with them forever, among many others from that special day!
We then traveled to Georgia and Florida for the first two events at Lake Seminole and the St. Johns River. We always love visiting the southeast U.S. It was a relaxed couple of weeks, and I believe if you asked them what they remember about this trip, they would say the alligator eyes on the river at night when they shined their flashlights. Unless you are from the area, this is probably not something many people ever get to see. We also took a field trip to one of the local springs to see manatees. Again, not an everyday occurrence to see manatees! Both my boys are very adventurous in the outdoors, sometimes even a little too much for my liking. However, I love to see that adventuresome spirit and hope that they never lose it, especially when they become adults!
Our third stop for the season was at Table Rock Lake in Missouri. A couple of memories from this trip include a trip to the trout hatchery and the show we went to in Branson. They learned about the stages a trout goes through to become an adult, all the while wishing they could fish in the hatchery! And then, they were introduced to a fun Branson entertainment show. They enjoyed the show but also saw how hard these entertainers work day in and day out to make Branson, Mo., one of the top entertainment destinations in the U.S.
Our fourth stop on the Tournament Trail was Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana/Texas border. Here they learned about Louisiana hospitality and crawfish farming. The B.A.S.S. family was made to feel so welcome the entire time we were there. It was truly a breath of fresh air to feel and experience hospitality from everyone in an area just like I remember from my childhood, the way things used to be. The boys also learned from Dennis Tietje the art of crawfish farming and crawfish eating! They were in heaven eating them and getting messy; meanwhile, I was eating them very carefully so as not to eat the “yellow stuff,” which they say is the best part! Oh my, can’t get past the look of the “yellow stuff” … but I did eat my fair share!
Next, our travels took us to Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas. Laker was 2 1/2 years old when Randy won his first B.A.S.S. event there, and Laker actually remembers quite a bit of it. He is 13 now but for him to return here and remember sitting on the rocks watching his dad fish was pretty special for me to hear him talk about. You never really know what small children are remembering, but obviously his first trip on stage stands out in his mind!
From there, we traveled to the BASSfest at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee. We rented a double-decker pontoon boat with many of the boys’ traveling friends, and they had a day of fun on the water while the dads were practicing. I think a neat aspect of our traveling the Tour is the fact that we have a “family” on the road and another family at home. It is very much two lifestyles that we live. They look forward to the time spent with their traveling friends and they also look forward to their time at home and fun they have with friends there.
Our most recent tour stop was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On the way, we made a stop in the N.C. mountains for a quick mountain stream trout fishing adventure. They loved every part of it! Then, after arriving in Philadelphia, we made a trip to the Jersey shore. While we have been to many Southern beaches, we had never visited a beach this far north on the east coast. The boys were able to experience the famed Boardwalk pizza, fries, smells, and saltwater while there. We also took a field trip into New York City. What an experience that was! The boys were educated in many ways that day, far more than I could ever teach from a book. I will list in order of occurrence the day’s happenings:
- Traffic to N.J. ferry
- Ferry to the Statue of Liberty
- Statue of Liberty tour
- NY style pizza lunch
- Chapel tour next to 911 area
- 911 Memorial
- Subway ride #1
- Times Square
- Seeing a freak accident involving the bus we were in line to get on crash into a lightpole, another bus, and people in Time Square (13 injured, a miracle there were no deaths, and thankful we were not on the bus yet or on the other corner it crashed into)
- Central Park
- 2 more subway rides
- Ferry back to N.J.
- Safe and Sound in our camper at our peaceful N.J. campground
Our final field trip while in the area was in the historic section of Philadelphia. They were able to see the Liberty Bell among other historic places. And then…..they ate a Philly cheesesteak at Geno’s! If you have ever been there, you know it is quite the experience. They now know that “wiz witout” is how they like it and to talk fast, no questions allowed, but served with pride and perfection to every patron!
We have a couple more stops on tour this season, but while spending time here in New York between events at one of our favorite lakes, Oneida Lake, I was thinking… Am I ruining my boys by taking them all over the country and experiencing a carefree lifestyle that is not quite the norm for most kids? Will they be able to work a 9 to 5 job in an office after an adventuresome childhood? Or...is the travel and education they are experiencing going to mold them into a person that won’t settle but will follow their dreams to work in a job that they are truly happy in? I pray that they follow after those dreams as they get older and know without a doubt what it is they were meant to be. But more than that, I pray that they make a positive difference and never have regrets! I am thankful that my job is to raise them to be that difference! Until next time, SMILE, it could change the world around you!