Up Front Notes

Up Front Notes

  • By: Greg Thomas
Greg Editor Fmt

I shouldn’t have to explain those days, weeks, even months, when we’re mired in work or family and there seems to be no way out. If it’s raining outside, or the dog just slid its itchy butt across the living room carpet, so much more piercing the ordeal.

The quickest way to escape that funk is to pack a bag and head out for anywhere. I escaped with a recent trip to San Francisco, where I met representatives from Canada, all of them eager to share their fishing opportunities. That freed my mind and allowed the brain to envision appealing options, from northern pike in Saskatchewan, the Yukon and even the Arctic, to dryfly-scarfing rainbows and steelhead in British Columbia, and Atlantic salmon in Qu├ębec and New Brunswick.

But most noticeable was my own willingness to wander alone in the city, from Union Square to Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf, and all the way back to the Fairmont Hotel, reaching out along the way to people I’d never met. There was the blonde from Brazil who thought white Russians were a pansy drink and switched to Cuervo; there was a first-grade teacher from Texas who, after seeing pictures of my daughters, asked if she could adopt them; there was the beautiful Chinese woman who served me spicy pork and peanut dumplings, along with the old Chinese man who, when passing on a narrow sidewalk, just smacked me in the shin with his cane instead of asking me to move; there were three dedicated fly fishers at Fisherman’s Wharf, sitting on the deck of a bar avoiding the spring-break fray, who told me about striped bass in the Delta, and then invited me to join them on the water; and there were the gorgeous, youthful travel writers from various locales, all happy and energetic, and eager to see more of the world.

What was it, I asked a friend who’d joined me for dinner at the Tonga Room, about travel and new surroundings that brings out a bigger interest in the world? Why would I be so outgoing and willing to joke and laugh with strangers here and not the residents of my hometown in Montana? Why did life seem so inviting with a new backdrop than it does when viewing a familiar scene? And where did all that new energy and desire to see and do come from—enough to hike 11 miles in a few hours, up and down the hills in San Francisco?

We couldn’t offer the answer, except to say that travel does that. So don’t wait. Leave today. Or set something up for tomorrow, next week or next month. Give yourself a place to be. An angling adventure, I hope. Get in the truck or board a plane and go.

—Greg Thomas