The drive from Tulsa to Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees is a solid hour-and-a-half morning commute for Bassmaster Classic pros. It’s easily the greatest distance ever traveled between competition waters and the hotels most pros call home for a week.
At 4:20 this morning, I walked out of Tulsa’s Downtown Doubletree to meet Day 2 of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. I climbed up in the cold cab of my Tundra with 185,563 miles on its odometer, and a frigid 23-degrees glowed on its outdoor air temperature gauge, as I began the 90 mile solo flight up I-44 to Grand Lake.
Chesney’s “Lucky Old Sun” was the first song I heard, and fittingly it begins – “up in the morning, out on the job, work like the devil for my pay.” Sleep deprived, a cold, dark, lonely, but familiar highway set my mind wandering.
I asked questions of my soul as to why we live this less-than-normal vagabond life, and wandered what guys like Terry “Big Show” Scroggins, and dozens of other Classic competitors that he and I convoyed northeast with, were doing to pass the 90 miles in the cab of their own trucks.
When we finally made it to the Wolf Creek launch ramp in Grove, OK – as they sat prepping tackle before blast-off, I asked them. Here’s what they told me:
Matt Lee – “I tried to explain to my Dad who’s in his 50s, what a tweet was.”
Shaw Grigsby – “I rode all 90 miles in silence – just thinkin’ – and focusing.”
Marty Robinson – “I let a friend drive – and I slept the whole way.”
Bobby Lane – “I jammed to a little Metallica, and mixed in some Rodney Carrington. I hear ol’ Rodney’s from Tulsa – so if I win this thing – I’m building a house next to him. We’re gonna be neighbors.”
Greg Hackney – “Man I struggled – I scanned FM radio – and never did lock-on to a song that really hit home or got me fired-up this morning.”
Terry Scroggins – “I turned the satellite radio on in my Tundra and listened to Channel #59 – it’s called ‘The Highway’. They play all the new country music. And then I got a call from Bobby, Artie and Chris Lane’s dad. We’re old buddies, and he wanted to set up a game of billiards with me while we’re all in Tulsa.”
So time does pass on a lonely interstate. And for each pro, the miles go bye in a wide range of ways. But perhaps the simplest common thread shared among all of us, is an old song made famous by Willie Nelson – who ironically lends his voice to Kenny on “Lucky Old Sun” – “like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway.”