PAT NEAL: The Quarantine Chronicles: Memorial Day

THAT WAS THE best Memorial Day ever.

We may be under a coronavirus lockdown, but all it really took was a little can’t-do attitude to pull it off.

Actually, it began on Friday night, when I started things off by not getting ready for the big three-day weekend camping and fishing trip I had been looking forward to all year.

In planning a big trip like this, you may want to start with the basics — food, shelter and clothing.

Food is very important on your camping trip because, chances are, it will be raining so hard, you’ll want to spend most of your time eating.

We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so you want to make sure you have a comfortable bed on any wilderness outing.

Next, you’ll want to pay particularly close attention to your clothing choices.

Think rain — lots.

Plan on taking rain coats, rain pants and rubber boots, and you can’t go far from wrong.

By the time I didn’t get everything packed, I wasn’t sure it would fit in the truck.

That brought up yet another nightmare, getting the truck ready.

The last time I got the oil changed, the mechanic said it was making some funny noises.

Some folks just need to learn to mind their own business.

A real mechanic knows how to deal with scary noises coming out from under the hood.

Turn up the radio.

Problem solved.

Next, I concentrated on not getting my fishing gear ready.

That was a challenge.

It had been so long since I’d been fishing, my tackle box had started to grow things.

Before I knew it, the big Memorial Day weekend arrived.

Saturday, I went to a cozy little breakfast place I often enjoyed before not going fishing, called “the kitchen.”

After a five-star dining experience of lumpy oatmeal and sour milk, it was time to relax and not read the fishing regulations.

Usually upon reading our fishing laws, also known as the Fish Cop Employment Security Act, I’m ready to bust a gasket.

By not reading the fishing laws, my blood pressure dropped down to pre-pandemic levels.

The weekend was going pretty smoothly by then.

For lunch, I enjoyed a sumptuous repast at an intimate little grotto called “the backyard,” where the peanut butter and jam sandwich surpassed all expectations.

After lunch there was plenty of time to enjoy my other hobbies, such as feeling sorry for myself, wallowing in self-pity and cursing my luck in general.

With nothing else to do, I started looking through old pictures.

I found some of my old man. He was in the Navy in World War II, stationed on Guam.

The Japanese invaded Guam the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, wiping out the American garrison of U.S. Marines, Navy and the Guam Militia.

Then they subjected the islanders to 31 months of forced labor, starvation, torture and concentration camps.

That was until July 21, 1944, when the U.S. Marines and Army divisions landed on Guam for a brutal three-week battle during which the Japanese put up a fanatical defense, killing 1,800 Americans.

The last Japanese soldier did not surrender until 1972. All for an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was only 32 miles long.

Suddenly, I felt pretty silly feeling sorry for myself for being stuck at home in a country where you are usually free to do pretty much whatever you want.

That’s because of my old man and millions of his fellow service men and women.

Remembering that made it the best Memorial Day ever.

_________

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via [email protected].

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