So we’ve kind of noticed that there is a serious mistrust of the government and big corporations here, it’s obvious and to a degree understandable. There is also a general paranoia about personal safety, planning for disasters and terrorism. It’s a trait that is encouraged by giant government billboards reminding you to have a disaster plan and defensible space in your house. “Remember, winging it is not a plan” is plastered across the country from the centre of New York City to rural western towns. It all adds to the slightly paranoid and crazy image of Americans that many Brits (and probably other nations too) hold and isn’t an entirely unfounded stereotype although fairly harmless and quite amusing.
However, until a couple of days ago the thing we hadn’t experienced was full blown crazy talk. That is until we met Randall at a random store in Illinois. We had been in the store, which looked big from the outside, the day before and knew that the chance of the grumpy proprietor of the virtually empty building selling a few bags of crisps and sweets was very unlikely to be able to help us with our fishing spot enquiry. So when we spotted hefty Randall heading to his truck with a fishing fly in his cap we thought our best bet was to ask him. After establishing his fishing prowess yet lack of knowledge about local spots to try, and the fact that his father had worked for the local forestry people “would we believe” (frankly it was about the only thing I did believe), all of a sudden the conversation jumped right across crazy town to witchcraft, voodoo, the CIA, government conspiracy the hex he was under right now and the spells ‘they’ could do with a bit of rob’s blood, hair, his watch and another personal item. Did you know the FBI use witches whose spirits can turn into animals and creatures that can go through walls? Apparently Illinois is full of these witches and voodoo people… “It really does work, but I’m not going to tell you how now”.
He then gave us a card for the clerk in the next town and on the back he wrote his name and “aw heck, I’ll just give you my number too” and he set us off with instructions to go to this man, show him the card with Randall’s name and ask the question “is this man an expert in anything”… The answer was meant to be “yes, the supernatural” but I suspect had we have actually followed Randall’s instructions the poor man we had been sent to would likely tell us to run hotly out of town as fast as we could.
We set off… Baffled and dazed by what we had just experienced, and none the wise on local fishing spots. Three miles down the road and who was behind us… Randall and his third eye! He had said he was heading in that direction also but we had hoped he wouldn’t catch up, seeing as we had no intention of visiting his friend and showing the card. When there was a bit of a gap we swung the car into a marina park and shortly after saw Randall’s truck head past the turning… Phew, he was gone!
And we had found the perfect fishing spot on the massive Ohio river. The day ended with Alfie catching a large mouth bass big enough to feed us all for dinner! We took it back to our woodland camping spot and cooked it on the fire, yum!
We’re now in the Smoky Mountains for a week determined to see a black bear before we go to Washington DC to stay with friends and take part in a charity run event at the end of the month.