Many years ago, it seems, when I was living in Noosa, I spent my afternoons lying on the beach, swimming, meeting women and generally lazying about. One of the more constructive things I did do, however, was to read books. One book in particular was called “something cash cow”, or if not “cash” then “sacred”. I'm pretty sure it was a cow, or if not a cow then some other animal. You may struggle to find this book.
It's a wonderful book – an interesting, well-written, humourous, salesman's how-to-go book. Nowhere else in the world is selling done so expertly as in the US and that's because it's regarded as a ritual with tried and tested formulae. I learned how to open a bid (and why you shouldn't be the first), how to negotiate (it's never about price) and how to close the sale. This book has saved me hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
I may not very good at it, but I do at least know what is going on and why certain things happen. I had a lot fun buying the Jeep, visiting different dealers (Bruce's wife, Suz, very kindly drove me around), getting told I looked like James Bond on my driving licence, walking away from deals and getting dragged back in again, bringing up completely inconsequential issues and pretending that they were important – it was great. In the UK most salesman just want to make the sale, here in Michigan they wanted to play the game.
On Thursday night Bruce and Suz left for Montana, I had to wait for the US bank to clear my funds. Friday afternoon I too was on the road, on the start of a 1700-mile drive. This has to be the longest back-to-back drive I've made and for the first 900 of those miles it was also the slowest.
I don't know what it is about America; they have these long straight empty roads, and low speed limits. I mean okay, we have low speed limits in the UK as well, but no one actually takes them seriously. Consequently at 85 miles/hour I was the fastest car on the road. And as I overtook people in an aubergine flash I could see them shaking their heads at how reckless I was: “Look dear, that guys a boy racer, we'd better slow down some, you never know what will happen with these maniacs, he'll probably crash and kill us all. And then where will be?”
He was waiting for me in a small dip.
I could see 100 miles in front, and hundred miles behind, there were a couple of cars around but nothing to bother about and so I was fairly gunning it down (at 85). As I topped the hill and saw him: a smokey. I reacted immediately but too late, the lights flashed and he took off in hot pursuit. I pulled over.
The policeman sauntered up to the window, hand next to gun; he looked a bit like Clint Eastwood I thought. He said: “86 miles an hour, that's too fast, damn it. Have you got a death wish, boy? Show me your driver's licence”
I gave him it. He said, “What's this?” I told him. He spent a long time looking at it and I could see what he was thinking: shoot boy, that's a UK driver's licence; that's gonna make me a whole lotta paperwork and I hate paperwork, I'm a cop, like Clint Eastwood, not a pen pusher, if I wanted to be a pen pusher I'd work in a god-damn office… “86 miles an hour, that's too fast. Have a nice day!” I said, “Thanks!” and set the speed control to 84.
Shortly afterwards I got completely lost in Roosevelt National Park. I don't think the two were related, I just don't have time to work out a smooth transition – there's an evening rise I want to meet.
Anyway, I'm not sure what I was expecting, marked tracks, directions facing the right way, an obvious route perhaps. It's certainly not the first time I've been lost on a run, last year I got lost for four and a half hours in a German forest, in New Zealand I got lost for three hours when my walking trail turned into a deer trail, a pig track and finally a rabbit burrow. In Oz I got lost for over four hours when I took a wrong turn in Noosa State Forest. But I've never had to scramble around in the dark before, not on a run.
I dropped out the park in the wrong place, found a homestead and knocked on the door. I don't blame the occupants for not answering, they probably don't get visitors, too often, or ever in fact and I do look a little like an axe murderer according to some people. So I followed a river back upstream for what must have been ten miles, in the dark, armed with a big stick (for the bears), almost falling down ravines, sploshing my way through muddy pools, thinking about water, warm beer and whether they would find my body.
Big animals were crashing about the bush around me, mostly deer, maybe bison, it was exciting stuff; a real adventure or a run, none of your everyday park stroll this one. Temporarily out of the bush, dehydrated, I considered sleeping out and making an early start. I was cold and the mozzies were starting to bug me. I carried on because there wasn't much else to be done and incredibly I came across a path. Half an hour later the park ranger found me wandering the roads and gave me a lift back to the Wild EP.
With excitement like this, who needs fishing?
Today I'm fishing my final leg down to West Yellowstone. Tomorrow I'll be fishing with Frank, floating the Madison. Tuesday I'm casting with Jason Borger in a gymnasium of all places. Wednesday I give my single-handed Spey clinic. And then I'm free to cast and fish without obligation.
I've also just been invited to cast at the Ennis Fly Fishing Festival and the organisers are trying to hook me up with a gospel singer chick. More about this, Bruce and Noel's casting analyser and some great pictures will follow this week.
Have a nice day,
Oh and isn't Lars great with his frontpages? :-))