The Grand Slam Breakfast
Growing up ninety miles north of Green Bay it’s no surprise to anyone I’m a Packer fan. It might surprise some that I've missed less than a handful of games the past 20 years. Games, a season, a coaching change, all have marked time for much of my life. Even on the rare occasion I miss a game I know exactly why I missed it. The last moments I spent with my father alive were in Lambeau Field for a Sunday night game against Tampa Bay. It was Brett Favre's birthday and he threw a TD to Antonio Freeman as time expired to win the game. The night before my father died, I had a long conversation with him about a disappointing loss to Seattle on Monday Night Football. It was Mike Holmgren’s first return as Seattle's coach. People often ask my wife if I am really that much of a fan and she rolls her eyes and admits reluctantly that we were married on the bye week.
So If I happen to be traveling on game day I find a bar to watch the game. It was no different while on a fishing trip in Montana this month. I was staying in a small cabin in a small unnamed town on an unnamed lake in the middle of nowhere so that was my first obstacle. Second, there was only one bar in the town and it was also the only restaurant, gas station and grocery store so I didn’t think they would be showing a Packer game. The last problem was my cousin Tony who was my guide and my ride that was not going to waste 3 hours of prime fishing time watching a football game. So I conceded, after all it had been ten years since my last visit to Montana and I was there to fish.
The first time we walked into the multi purpose establishment, I was surprised to discover several TV’s and the NFL Sunday ticket banner above the bar. At breakfast on Sunday I almost fell out of my chair when our waitress Barb walked up to the table wearing a Packer sweat shirt and explained that the Packer game is on there every Sunday. I immediately began another plea with Tony but it was clear he could not understand and I was unable to convince him. Again I gave in to the fishing logic. October in Montana and the warmest hours of the day are powerful negotiators. Still, I kept saying to myself, I'm going to miss the game, what would my Dad say?
Then while enjoying a mean ham and egg breakfast it struck me. Over the past couple days I had caught several brown, rainbow and brook trout so I asked Tony if he knew where I could catch a Cutthroat. He did so the quest was born......The Rocky Mountain Grand Slam! That was worthy of missing a Packer game.
Less than a half hour after breakfast just down the hill from the bar I landed a chunky 16 inch brook trout. We jumped in the truck and began a switch back drive to a high mountain creek where I got my cutthroat. A dinker but in this story size doesn’t matter. We then drove to the Big Hole River, pumped up the raft and started a beautiful float along the picturesque canyons. I landed a couple of Rainbows on dries from the boat so the Brown trout was all that remained. We pulled the raft to shore upstream of some spawning beds and starting ripping streamers through the dark water behind the reds. I not only got my Brown, this was some of the greatest fishing of my life. Imagine what kind of a day you’re having when you land a 20+ inch trout and you don’t need a picture because you already have a picture of several and there are more to catch.
We continued the float and we continued to catch fish but I could only reflect on the fact that while I was in one of the most beautiful places on Earth having one of my best days in the sport I love most, the Packers found a way in and marked the time again. So on this 14th day of October 2007 the Pack pulled off a narrow victory over the Redskins and I fulfilled a dream.....The Rocky Mountain Grand Slam.