Hog Heaven: 45 Years and Counting
Feb. 14, 2016
Joe and Dava Harrington have been married for 45 years, and their marriage remains as vibrant as their sense of humor. Case in point: When called to be interviewed about their Aikens adventures, Joe replied good-naturedly, “Let me put you on speaker phone so that if I say anything wrong my wife can correct me.”
The duo, from Monticello, Arkansas, has been to Aikens Lake three times and already has the Aikens staff excited to host the fun-loving couple for a fourth trip this coming summer. In fact, you may even hear some bizarre noises coming from the guides when the Harringtons arrive. Last year, the Harringtons’ group persuaded one of the dock hands to “call the hog.”
Calling the hog is a tradition among Arkansas Razorbacks fans that starts by calling out “Woo” at incrementally higher and higher decibels while raising your arms and wiggling your fingers, before chanting pig “Sooie”––punctuated with a fist pump.
“Joe and Dava are absolute favorites at Aikens,” said Pit. “They’re so easy to talk with, and they become everyone’s friend in an instant.”
Last year, the Harringtons were joined by Joe’s cousin, Jeff, and his wife, Nancy. The double date was a huge success.
“I call it a 5-star hotel in the wilderness,” Joe said. “I’d never been on a floatplane before, and it was interesting to fly into such a nice place as that. They all come out to greet you, even the dog. It’s like fantasy island.”
“The accommodations are really great, so my wife likes that, and it’s gourmet type meals,” Joe continued. “All the young people that work there are just 100 percent happy to help you. The guides jump around to tend to you. If you ask for something special, they’ll fly it in for you. Julie asked me, ‘Is there anything special you’d like? I’ll get it for you.’ I said I was fine, and she said, ‘Well if you want any Cuban cigars, or special wine, we’ll get it for you.’”
The Harringtons like to stay in the Sunset Chalets to take advantage of the rocking chair. Of course, during the day, they’re busy catching fish. Big ones, and lots of ’em. In fact, a couple years ago Dava got her name in the record book by catching a huge Master Angler whitefish (22.5-inches) and a 28.5-inch Master Angler walleye on the same day!
“It was funny, our guide Eric got so excited about the fish he radioed into the lodge to tell them about it,” Dava recalled. “It was fun seeing Eric get so excited, and we liked him so much he’s been our guide every year.”
“E2 (Eric) loved guiding Joe and Dava,” said Pit. “E2 is not back this summer, but Joe and Dava built up such a great reputation that the guides will be fighting each other for the privilege of guiding them.”
The Harringtons have enjoyed some truly remarkable fishing at Aikens, racking up mind-boggling numbers to the tune of 80 fish per person, per day, and multiple Master Anglers and Century Clubs. Last year, the Harringtons enjoyed going out fishing then meeting up with Jeff and Nancy for shorelunch.
“Our guides cooked up a storm,” Dava recalled. “Our first year we really didn’t know what to expect––we just found Aikens by searching the internet. Oh gosh, it’s so nice there.”
One afternoon last summer, Joe, a forester in Arkansas, skipped fishing to watch the Aikens crew do some logging.
“It was interesting to see their operation, and I probably wore them out with all my questions,” Joe said. “What impresses me the most about that place is they’re always making improvements. I’ve seen a lot of places that don’t want to spend any money, but at Aikens they’re always adding something new.”
The Harringtons have been on a variety of trips from Alaska to Saskatechwan to warm-weather cruises, and we at Aikens are genuinely flattered they choose to return here each summer.
“We love that place,” said Joe. “It’s about the neatest place we’ve ever been.”
The fun goes both way. “One night at supper I asked them to bring out some milk so Joe could take his pills, and they brought out a kid’s sippy cup,” Dava said with a laugh. “We have a lot of fun up there.”
“Dava has a really sharp wit,” Pit recalled. “Especially when Nancy is there to egg her on.”
We always enjoy hosting couples, and appreciate the feedback when people tell us the Aikens Experience appeals to a wide variety, from families to fishing buddies to corporate groups to couples. And we can only hope––on Valentine’s Day, especially––that all the couples we know enjoy life together as much as Dava and Joe.
To 45 years, and counting!