Pictured here is a place called “Bible World.” What is it? I don’t know, exactly, but I can tell you a couple things about it. It’s close to a major freeway, it has a few cars scattered in a large parking lot, and in the half-hour I spent awake there last night I didn’t hear a single gunshot. I reasoned that God-fearing people might not interrupt the five hours of sleep an amiable aimless angler needed between Virginia Beach and North Carolina.
See, this trip is not all offshore sunrises, rising trout and roses and you’ve seen enough photos of me grinning with fish, and flipside of the story warrants telling. At no point do I mean to suggest that these seven weeks have not been the greatest of my life, or that I wouldn’t do it again and again. However, if Fish America were a movie, it would be an indie film, not a summer blockbuster. I take solace in the fact that indie films have character, and especially in the fact that, all other things being equal, I have no choice.
So what have I learned? Well, don’t set off your car alarm in Holmdel, New Jersey when a cop wakes you up in a Best Buy parking lot. And if you do, put the key in the ignition. First, find the key, of course. When an officer in Virginia Beach asks you sarcastically if you’ve ever killed someone, remember that sarcasm is a one-way street with keepers of the peace. People rarely hassle you in hospital parking lots, and sometimes you can borrow showers from Hotel chains. Marinas usually have showers, and some don’t even make you want to take another one when you get out of the first one. When it’s 87 degrees, leave the AC on at night in the jeep, or you will wake up feeling like you’re crawling out of an egg. If you can stay up all night, you can grab a free night’s sleep on a nearby beach, just pick a spot away from games of wiffle ball and put on a lot of sunscreen. When someone offers you a couch, a shower or a meal, say yes before they can even get the offer out. Maybe they were just trying to be nice but it will be too late by the time you’ve got that halfway decent night of shut-eye. And usually they are pretty cool. Set your cell phone alarm as loud as it will go, and put it as close to your head as possible. It’s hard for a cell phone to wake you up at 4 a.m. for the fourth day in a row, so give it some help.
And if you’re really in a jam, and that police spotlight is blinding you, and your back is up against the wall, there is one last secret you can employ when all else fails: be honest. Most people, even cops, are cool, and aren’t looking to give 24-year olds on some hair-brained adventure a hard time. Provided, of course, that you haven’t killed anyone.