YAKIMA, Wash. — I was awakened early Sunday morning by the tippy-tappy of doggie feet on the tile floor of the laundry room, where my two Labrador retrievers sleep at night. My oldest Lab, Tessie, has a habit of waking up with the chickens and when she believes it is time to go out, she lets us know by doing her little dance and banging against the kiddie gate we use to block the door.
Now, I can count on a couple hands how many times I woke up when our sons were fussing in the middle of the night. I really didn’t have a chance. Terri was up in a shot when either of the babies needed attention.
But now, some 35 years later, the roles have changed. I’m up virtually every morning between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. due to the Tessa dance alarm. Terri rarely ever hears it. Or at least she says she never hears it.
So, I get up, walk the dogs, bring them back in, and then crash on the couch for another hour or two of shut eye.
Because I’m getting old, I go to bed early. So even with the early morning dog walk, I still get a good seven or eight hours of sleep.
When I do crash on the couch, I normally will turn on Sports Center, or one of the hunting channels, and I will look at my phone for a few minutes, checking emails, and scanning Facebook.
Roughly 90 percent of my Facebook friends are other anglers or hunters. I like to check up on them and what kind of success they are having. The other 10 percent are family members — siblings and cousins. Facebook is a great way to keep up with them.
On Sunday, during my early morning Facebook perusal, I was pushing through the different posts, looking at fish photos, when all of a sudden a familiar sight popped up. In a person’s hand was a keychain that included a yellow floating fob emblazoned with “North River Boats” on it. Next to it was a green whistle, and a funky round tag.
Like a dummy I looked at the photo of the key chain and thought to myself, “Wow, those kinda look like my boat keys.”
I looked to see who posted the photo and it was none other than Jacob Munden, a guide friend from the Tri-Cities.
Then I looked back at the photo and thought, “Hey! those ARE my keys.”
My sons Kyle and Kevin and I, along with friend Omar Santoy had fished at Drano Lake for salmon on Saturday, and we had pulled out of the lake right ahead of Jacob. I distinctly remember putting my boat keys in the front pocket of my sweatshirt as Kyle pulled me, in the boat, up the boat ramp and into the parking lot.
Because it had warmed up a bunch, as it always does, the second we were on land, I pulled my sweatshirt off and threw it in the backseat of the truck. It must have been somewhere in there that the keys fell out.
Luckily Jacob found them, took a photo, and posted it on Facebook. Otherwise the next time I went fishing I would have been keyless. And clueless.
Of course, he had no idea whose keys they were, but figured he might put it out there to his many friends and followers, and someone might know something about the knucklehead who lost them.
He was right. That knucklehead was me.
I remember when both my boys started driving their own cars. I told them to always make sure to have a spare key somewhere that someone could grab them, for not if, but when they lost one. This is a case of do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do.
When I bought my boat it came with two sets of keys, but somewhere along the line I lost the spare. For the last six or seven years I have been boating with only one, walking the tightrope with no safety harness.
I’ve thought about getting a spare key at some point but have never taken the time. It about got me. As soon as I get my hands on the keys I will be off to somewhere to get a second boat key cut. I’m not even sure who does that. But I’ll figure it out.
If you would have asked me on Sunday morning, as I took our early morning dog walk, before I looked at Facebook, I would have told you my boat keys were securely stowed in the center console of my truck, where I always keep them, and where they always are.
That’s why, when the photo of my keys flashed up on Facebook, I just figured some other dummy lost a set that looked remarkably like mine.
I even had to go out to my truck and look to see that mine weren’t there. They weren’t, which confirmed what I already knew. The ones on Jacob’s Facebook posting were mine.
Social media definitely has its flaws, but it also can work for good. Especially for folks like me. I guarantee you I will be up early again tomorrow morning. Tessie will see to it. And after our walk, I will check Facebook again to see who caught what, or if there is anything else I have misplaced.
• Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org