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Michael Gracie

“Comply with all crew member instructions” and then some

FACTS: People all over will travel all over this holiday season. They will stuff themselves with holiday joy. They will feign appreciation for useless gifts. They will complain about service, especially that purveyed by airlines.

This is but a public service message reminding everyone to comply with all crew member instructions, as well as those printed on the wing of the plane …

do not step out of this area

DO NOT STEP OUT OF THIS AREA (Photo: Yours Truly)

MG signing off (’cause that next one is a doosie)

Destination charges not included

When engaged in fly-fishing travel off the beaten path, it is important to follow a rigorously tested set of guidelines, thereby ensuring a prosperous expedition. Thankfully, yours truly is a bonafide hack certified beta tester for adventure travel policies and procedures, and since I got stiffed on my retainer didn’t request compensation for the latest excursion, I am going to outline a few of the more important points fearing no copyright, trademark or other infringement …

  1. When your mothership runs a hundred-fifty nautical miles of ten-foot seas on one screw, the outfitter may proffer a liter of tequila as compensation for the suffering [of those who didn’t discover the magic of Sea-Bands when they were six years old]. When this happens, be sure to consume the entire bottle within a few short hours, then strategically place the empty bottle in a plainly visible location. This sends a clear message: you are tougher than nails and cannot be beat want more tequila. Lots more. An alternative approach is to get yourself some Sea-Bands, sell them to another in the group that is seasick, and then you will have money to buy more tequila for yourself.
  2. tequila bottle

    Message in a bottle

  3. If you are sharing an island with roughly 1010,000 … 10,000,000 migratory fowl that squawk in unison all hours of the day and night, carry earplugs (which just so happen to be equally effective on the wood-cutting noise that emanates from sleeping anglers). Further, if you are hunkering down in a partially blown out storm shelter, be sure to note the vertical height of crumbling plaster on the interior walls a.k.a. the flood line. If said measure exceeds two feet, as it did in this test case, sleep on an air mattress; if a hurricane sweeps through you can float to safety. Lastly, do not under any circumstances leave whatever windows that remain in this habitat open – at least half of those previously mentioned birds will swoop through and subsequently crash into a wall at breakneck speed. They usually recover, but it is nevertheless not a pretty sight to watch.
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Something Thoreau wrote on November 20, 1857

“In books, that which is most generally interesting is what comes home to the most cherished private experience of the greatest number. It is not the book of him who has travelled the farthest over the surface of the globe, but of him who has lived the deepest and been the most at home. If an equal emotion is excited by a familiar homely phenomenon as by the Pyramids, there is no advantage in seeing the Pyramids. It is on the whole better, as it is simpler, to use the common language. We require that the reporter be very permanently planted before the facts which he observes, not a mere passer-by; hence the facts cannot be too homely. A man is worth most to himself and to others, whether as an observer, or poet, or neighbor, or friend, where he is most himself, most contented and at home. There his life is the most intense and he loses the fewest moments. Familiar and surrounding objects are the best symbols and illustrations of his life. If a man who has had deep experience should endeavor to describe them in a book of travels, it would be to use the language of a wandering tribe instead of a universal language. The poet has made the best roots in his native soil of any man, and is the hardest to transplant. The man who is often thinking that it is better to be somewhere else than where he is excommunicates himself. If a man is rich and strong anywhere, it must be on his native soil. Here I have been these forty years learning the language of these fields that I may the better express myself. If I should travel to the prairies, I should much less understand them, and my past life would serve me but ill to describe them. Many a weed here stands for more of life to me than the big trees of California would if I should go there. We only need travel enough to give our intellects an airing. In spite of Malthus and the rest, there will be plenty of room in this world, if every man will mind his own business. I have not heard of any planet running against another yet.”

A passport stamp is not incontrovertible proof that you were actually there.

MG signing off (in the midst of the not so mundane, and endeavoring to take it all in)

Something Thoreau wrote on November 11, 1851

“Today you may write a chapter on the advantages of travelling, and tomorrow you may write another chapter on the advantages of not travelling. The horizon has one kind of beauty and attraction to him who has never explored the hills and mountains in it, and another, I fear a less ethereal and glorious one, to him who has. That blue mountain in the horizon is certainly the most heavenly, the most elysian, which we have not climbed, on which we have not camped for a night. But only our horizon is moved thus further off, and if our whole life should prove thus a failure, the future which is to atone for all, where still there must be some success, will be more glorious still.”

While I’d personally rather cross borders before considering it a road trip, his point is easily grasped.

MG signing off (because the decision to stay or go is up to the maker)

Being There: Sirloin and Salad Substitution Edition

Meter maids are not the issue

Let’s trade some access

A lizard scrambles across the tracks, ducking under the inside edge of a rail. He is short-tailed, a chubby little guy, huffing and puffing as though out of breath but clearly more alarmed by the gargantuan shadows now being cast over him. We will leave him to his grasshopper feast – there are plenty to go around.

But not a brewery for miles

Homebrew ingredients

Having right of access, or at least tacit authorization via thoroughfare barter, is but a stepping stone before the threshold leading into wonderland. Wild hops line the path, and the willows, now peppered in pollen, are taller than we remembered during previous visits. Bush-whacking is required to reach the water. The companions turn for home even earlier than expected, but leave an ominous declaration behind: “Make sure to bring back some dinner.” We’ve promised pan-seared trout, and are prepared to take two in suffice. A few hours into this charade we have but two-inches of fish to show for it.

“There are some really nice pools further upstream.”

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