Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Going Fishing at Long Last
The last time I held a fly rod in my hand, it didn’t really count. It was June, and we were filming a video trailer for my mystery novel, The McHenry Inheritance. I say it didn’t count because the photographer was trying to get some casting footage, and I was casting an empty line, with no fly attached to it. No matter how willing a fish in that stream might have been, I couldn’t have caught him.
My book’s protagonist is a man on a fly-fishing vacation who gets caught up in the local drama, which happens to include a trial over a contested will and a murder, among other things. Unlike my protagonist, I haven’t been able to get away on a fishing trip this summer. That’s about to change. Tomorrow my son, Nick, and I leave for a three-day fishing trip to the mountains east of Redding. And as the United Airlines commercial used to say, “I need a vacation.”
The Heart of Red-State California
Going trout fishing in California these days involves a trip into another world. California as a whole is one of the bluest of states, but once you get north of Sacramento and east of Interstate 5, you might as well be in Wyoming, politically speaking.
My guess is that once we take the Highway 505 cutoff at Vacaville, it will be three days before we see a political sign for Barack Obama again. It will be all Romney, and perhaps a Ron Paul or two. Sprinkled in with the election signs will be a few general advocacy signs with statements like, “Produce the birth certificate.” I first noticed this tendency in the fall of 2000 when I took my then-new car for a four-day trip up the eastern slope of California to Southern Oregon and back. By day four I’d almost forgotten there was a fellow named Al Gore running for president — there certainly was no evidence of it where I was.
But I’m not going there to talk politics and don’t expect to. Early October is a great time of year to be in the mountains, magical, really. It’s too soon for the peak of fall color, but there will be some. If it’s sunny, the days can be mild and pleasant, but as soon as the sun goes down, it gets cold in a hurry, and there typically will be frost on the ground at dawn.
The Wide-Open Spaces
Like my character, Quill Gordon, and his sidekick, my son and I will be staying in a cabin at a ranch. It’s 13 miles from the nearest town, which boasts a population of only 3,500 people. Driving 13 miles where I live in coastal California is a high-intensity expedition nearly any time of day. Where we’ll be staying, it’s a wide-open, laid-back experience. Just point the car, turn up the radio, relax, and reach your destination in 12 minutes.
There’s considerable nostalgia in America for living where there’s a lot of land and not too many people. I wouldn’t want to do it for any length of time, but I totally understand the feeling, and admit to a sense of renewal from spending a few days in a place like that. It’s a different pace and it induces a different frame of mind, and from time to time, I really enjoy the switch. There may or may not be some cooperative fish while we’re up there, but regardless of what the fish do, we’ll have a good time. The clock may seem to move more slowly, but it will be over all too soon.