You plan. Sometimes six months to a year out. The week before you leave you write lists and then start assembling gear. The fly boxes are full but you still add another two dozen more flies (which require yet another fly box) to get you through the last few days. It's not the need for flies as much as it is therapy to calm your bouncing knee.
Your house is in order, the family is as prepared for your absence as much as they ever will be...which is to say that Mom is the one who gets everything done anyway so you will hardly be missed, at least on a functional level.
Hugs, kisses for the family and a two hour drive to Chicago to catch a flight the next morning to what you hope is still bonefish nirvana. You roll in to the hotel, drop your bags and head to the front desk on the way to the bar/restaurant to arrange a cab for 3:30 AM. The flight is at 6 but you want to shower, brush your teeth and arrive at the airport close to the 2 hour "recommended" window for international flights.
Off to the restaurant and bar for the pork sliders and a couple of tumblers of vodka on the rocks.
The trip is underway and things are going fine.
When the phone on your hotel bedstand indicates a text at 2:18 AM there is a fundamental sleep mechanism that allows you to override it. Unless your fundamental curiosity mechanism overrides it.
It takes about 3 to 4 minutes for your mind to do the math. The text just said that you were about to miss one of your six days of bonefishing.
Your bonefishing buddy suggest that you head to the airport to try and figure this all out. Perhaps with a bit too much confidence you suggest that there is an "app for that" and start hammering the phone for a solution. It turns out there is no "app for that." Calls to the Delta Airlines customer service counter indicate that they don't have an "app for that" either..."Your hold time is approximately 3 hours."
With one of you showering while the other tries to pack and monitor the speaker phone hold music, and then the same charade in reverse order, you catch a cab at 3:30 for the airport. Somewhere in there you get the sinking feeling that the stars are not aligned, that all of your planning and scheduling and kisses and hugs were in vain and that you will be returning home to wait out a new flight the next day.
Which subtracts one day of bonefishing from your total allotted lifetime days.
You pay the cabbie, and enter O'Hare, looking for answers but only finding a swelling line at the customer service counter of Delta Airlines.
You were not the only one to get the text.
Grabbing a spot in line you start looking for answers. According to your phone, American Airlines has some flights (to what you hope is still bonefish nirvana) for $300 more than the already disturbing price you paid 6 months earlier with Delta. But, a bird in hand, as they say...
Then, you find two good people. Or, perhaps, they find you. One is a Delta rep who jumps out from behind the safety of his counter into the angry, tired, frustration crazed throngs of your fellow travelers and offers info....asks questions and tries to listen to the answers.
He is talking with travelers 40 people behind in queue when you jump out of line, approach and ask for a refunded ticket. He says, "No problem, but do you have another flight arranged?" So, you hit send on two new tickets with American Airlines and say, "yes."
At the American counter 1 terminal over, the nice lady we'll call Candace, processes your tickets and gives you and your buddy exit row seating at which point you step onto the baggage scale and hug her.
1 vodka screwdriver and 2 naps later with a short stop in Charlotte and you land in what you hope is still Bonefishing Nirvana.
It could have gone a lot different than this but it didn't.
The guide is there to toss your gear into his trunk as soon as you clear customs.
Within 30 minutes you are standing on the deck of the Carolina Skiff 198 heading to your island home for the week. The sun twinkling off the golden flats promising that you have reached what you hope is still Bonefish Nirvana, but regardless, is certainly better than an airport terminal in Chicago.