There are a lot of lines on any map, be it a DeLorme Atlas or the scribblings of a fellow mad fisher on the back of a stained envelope. There are the thin lines, the blue lines — the ones that mark water. There are dotted lines that mark bridges or access points. And there are the thicker, intersecting lines that get you between all other demarkations — interstates, highways, main streets and county roads. And these lines, inevitably, bear their own Xs, asterisks, arrows or circles. The motels, cabins, campgrounds, diners, dive bars, supper clubs, fly shops, meat and cheese shops, antique shops, and anything else that you have to know the area to know. Welcome to The Road.
01: THE CHOICE
Sundown was always somewhere near Janesville. After a full day’s work at the fly shop, closing things up and packing gear, the sky was already embers by the time Chicago was in the rearview. Another three-plus hours ahead, the first half of it spent releasing the anxiousness of traffic, crowded trains, hard ground and concrete surround sound, tight schedules, junk mail, bills, bank statements, TV, doing the dishes, then doing it all over again. The second half spent building anxiousness for trout streams, county roads, earth beneath your feet and birds calling all around, tight lines, junk food, beer, undercut banks, FM radio, making fires as the moon rolls over, and days that never end. The neons turn to wood, as the song goes, and for a while even those are few and far between. Tiny red points of lights twinkling among the stars mark the tops of windmills in a farm virtually invisible in the darkness. Welcome to Montfort. Blink and you miss it. But it’s a sign. The destination is close now. Pass the Sport & Liquor, and just a couple blocks further is one of the first spots to become a regular spot, its sign offering part invitation, part wisdom — “Stay by choice, not by chance” — and a welcoming lamplight by the front desk.