After complaining (OK, grousing incessantly) for months about the lousy weather here in the Pacific Northwet, Mrs. UA booked us a flight to Arizona for the week of Schpanky’s Spring break. I fully acknowledge that we were all in need of some Vitamin D, but I’m convinced that her underlying motive was to get me to shut up. It worked, temporarily.
This was not, obviously, a fishing vacation. But every time I go anywhere, I have a tendency to ponder the area’s possibilities for wetting a line. My conclusion is that the Phoenix area is not exactly a hotspot for fly fishing. Certainly if one is willing to drive a fair distance they can find water that holds fish, and in fact many of the area golf courses have ponds with some sort of fish. There are a lot of golf courses in Arizona so if you like golf it’s probably akin to Montana for fly anglers. But I don’t golf. In fact, I loath the game.
For most of the week we simply relaxed and did a lot of nothing, which was fine by me. The cement pond in the back yard provided the closest thing to fishable water that I would see the entire time we were there. With plenty of time to sit and think, I formulated some thoughts based on observations:
The AZ desert is a cruel place inhabited by evil shrubbery that will hurt you if you let your guard down. There are cacti known as Jumping Cholla that do appear to jump on you if you get too close. This did not happen to me, but my brother-in-law was describing it and ended up with a shoe-ful of prickly spikes. They’re harder to remove than a barbed treble hook. The last photo is not someone I know, but serves as another good reason not to ever golf.
While different than the species that have been driving me crazy in the Pacific NW, the desert has wood peckers. The peckers around my home seem to like the wood on our house, and our rain gutters. In the desert nearly all the homes are built with something resembling stucco, and a rain gutter contractor would go broke for lack of business, so I am not sure what the birds bang their peckers on. I didn’t see many trees, either, but I did see a lot of saguaro cacti with holes created by birds. Likely the peckers are to blame for this.
We don’t have In-N-Out Burger joints up here in our corner of the nation, but they do have them down in Arizona. I’d never eaten there before but have been told the burgers are good. We ate there twice and while it was good both times, I wouldn’t say that it warrants a trip to Arizona for the sole purpose of eating at In-N-Out Burger.
Phoenix has a Major League Baseball team: the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team is referred to as the D-Backs, for short. Or so I thought. What I discovered is that the local sportscasters affectionately refer to them as the “D-Bags”. I kid you not. The first time I heard it on a television newscast I was sure I’d merely heard what I want, and not what was actually said. And then I heard it repeated over and over: D-Bags. Clear as day. Go figure.
Fishing for coldwater species is not big on the list of things to do while in Phoenix, nor apparently, is fly fishing. A visit to Dick’s Sporting Goods revealed a very limited selection of fly tackle: a single Pfleuger starter kit. However, there was a ready supply of other fishin’ poles.
Even though fly fishing may not be big on the list of recreational activities in the desert, this does not prevent people from driving the #1 Stupidest Fly Fishing Car from 2011. Which reminds me, it’s probably time for the 2012 list, although I’m confident the Nissan Cube would take top honors. Stupid car.
I was privileged to see my first real, live roadrunner while in Arizona. I was disappointed to learn that the birds are not purple, nor do they make a call that sounds anything like “Meep-Meep”. You can imagine that I felt like a child when they discover that Santa Claus isn’t real.
Arizona nights are clear, and good for star gazing. Mrs. UA is very proud of the app on her iPhone which tells you exactly what you’re looking at when you point the phone toward the dark heavens. I’m not a big astronomy buff, but I never tire of sophomoric humor. Ever.
It was a nice change of pace and change of scenery, but after a few days I felt trapped, like a fish out of water. The desert is too dry; too hot. Not enough of the stuff that I complain about back home.
Like the fact that it’s 50 degrees and raining today.
Before we get too far into this and people begin to declare me some sort of vehicle snob, please remember who you’re dealing with here: The Unaccomplished Angler. Man of very little pride and/or self-respect when it comes to anything fishing related. That having been said, I do have my limits. Especially when it comes to cars.
But wait – what does this apparent rant about stupid cars have to do with fly fishing? Well, last I checked, we angling types need a way to get to our fishing destinations, and barring a public transit system that will take us to our specific angling locales, most of us probably drive a car (for the purposes of this competition the term “car” is an all encompassing reference to any motorized vehicle be it a truck, SUV, van, coupe, sedan or other). The only criteria was that eligible vehicles had to be a 2010 model year or newer, therefore eliminating the Pontiac Aztec, AMC Pacer, and Isuzu VehiCross from eligibility. Performance, economy, comfort, build quality or other redeeming qualities were not considered in the selection process. This was a non-scientific, seat-of-the-pants compilation of worthy vehicles.
And now, the list of the Unaccomplished Angler’s Top Six Stupidest Fly Fishing Cars: vehicles in which I would not want to be seen passing through Idaho and Montana, or any other state:
6. Nissan Quest. This one takes me beyond my general contempt for mini vans. I will admit that mini vans are in many ways versatile, practical cars. I even rode to and from Yellowstone in one, and cannot deny that it was a very comfortable way to travel. They may be fine for you. Just not for me. Years ago when we started our family, I breathed a sigh of relief when Mrs. UA declared that she did not want a mini van. I’ve never loved her more than at that very moment, nor have I ever met a mini van that I considered good looking. But thanks to Nissan you can now drive the stupidest looking one ever. It’s as if Nissan’s designers sat down and said, “Let’s really try to make this look cool and stylish.” Well, it’s a mini van. They’re not supposed to look stylish or cool, because they’re not. If you’re looking for something stupid looking, look no further than the Quest. It’ll carry an army of anglers and all their gear, and look bad doing it.
5. Hummer H2. Now some of you may be thinking, “Wait just a minute! This doesn’t deserve to be on your stupid list–this thing is a rugged, manly beast!” True, it’s a beast. But if you’re going to make a bold statement, at least have the cajones to get a real, military-inspired H1 Hummer and not some watered-down, Chevy Tahoe on botox. These things clearly scream “I’m over-compensating!” and I’d be wrought with shame if I were seen in one. Yes, it may get you deep into the woods over washed-out roads where some other more civilized SUVs dare not go, but chances are if you’re driving a Hummer H2 it will have chrome wheels and low profile tires, making it better suited for trips to the hair salon, or the gym. In this day and age of heightened environmental sensitivity, the H2 is far from anything remotely green.
4. Dodge Magnum. I’m not sure what the folks at Chrysler were thinking when they designed this thing. I’m not sure that they were thinking. It’s a station wagon, and an ugly one at that. Putting a Hemi under the hood does not make it any less of a station wagon. Chopping the roof does nothing to increase its sporty factor. It’s still a station wagon: a station wagon that also looks like a hearse, and I wouldn’t be caught dead going on a fishing trip in the Dodge Magnum. They’ve been redesigned for 2011 and while they may be a bit better than their predecessors, they’re still stupid.
3. Nissan Juke. Stupid name for an odd looking car. What is it supposed to be anyway, an SUV or maybe a sports car—perhaps an awkward cross dressing crossover? I don’t know. It fails to successfully be anything other than stupid. In fact, it leaves me feeling juked and it would make a stupid fly fishing car. And don’t drive on the beach. That’s just not cool. If you’re gonna fish the beach, park on the shoulder of the road and walk down. Walk quickly and try not to let anyone see you get our of your car, if your car is the Nissan Juke.
2. Smart Car. I know what you’re thinking: this should be the #1 Stupidest Fly Fishing Car. While that may have been an obvious choice, it would have also been too easy. If ever there were a vehicle inappropriately named, it’s the Smart Car. I understand that if you live in Manhattan and need a car to scoot around the city, where parking is nonexistent, this might be something that would appeal to you. But why not just get a scooter instead? Aside from resembling something a toddler would play with, I doubt there’s room for a pair of waders and a fly box in one of these. Aesthetics aside, they sure look like a death-trap to me and I wouldn’t be caught alive in one. Just for giggles I would like to see a rod carrier mounted on this thing with a couple of 14 foot Spey rods attached: you’d have to affix red flags to the rod tips as they would extend 8 feet past the rear of the car. Make sure if you do this your rods have good warranties. Thank you, Daimler, for the smart car: it’s stupid. Almost stupid enough to be #1.
1. Nissan Cube. The top honor goes to Nissan. Mrs. UA and myself were recently driving down the freeway, minding our own business when one of these caught our attention violated our tranquility. We’d never seen one before and it caused us to simultaneously blurt out, “That’s stupid!” In fact the Nissan Cube was the sole inspiration behind this list. It really bothered me. These things are just plain wrong on so many levels that I won’t even listen to anyone who tries to tell me that the Nissan Cube has any redeeming qualities. What’s with the stupid, asymetrical, wraparound, one corner rear glass, anyway? It’s out of balance and would look horrible slathered with fly fishing stickers. I’m sorry, but if you own one of these you’ll eventually come to your senses and realize the stupidity of your ways. Congratulations to the designers at Nissan: you’ve produced three of the Top Six Stupidest Fly Fishing Cars.
So, what do YOU drive? I hope it’s not one of the stupid fly fishing cars from this list. If it is, I’ll send you a sticker: