It’s been quiet on the Trout Underground, but it sure as hell hasn’t been quiet at TU/Man Cave World Headquarters.

I’m packing for The Underground’s Monstrously Epic Montana Road Trip, which is expressly designed to be – as one wag said in an email after reading one too many “extreme fly fishing” articles – The Most Fucking Epic Fly Fishing Trip Since The Cretaceous Period.

That’s me.

Prehistoric and epic, and proud of it (you’ll see that in my music selections below).

From The 2009 Montana Fly Fishing Road Trip

From the 2009 Montana Fly Fishing Road Trip; More Pics Planned for 2010

Meanwhile, I’m on that pre-vacation treadmill – the one where you work yourself into an exhausted, hallucinatory fugue state trying to wrap up all the loose ends, thereby ensuring you won’t remember the first half of your vacation.

I guess it’s the second half we live for.

The Road Trip

The Subaru is prepped and ready for the trip, shod with a shiny black set of Continentals.

Unfortunately, packing is not going well, and even without the use of my advanced psychic powers, I can safely predict I’ll spend Thursday night basically shoveling random gear into the Subaru (some of you are nodding).

That means I’ll arrive in Missoula (approximately 14.5 hazy hours after leaving Mt. Shasta) with almost no knowledge about what I actually brought, and little ability to find any of it.

Instead, I’ll open the trunk, and – already woozy and roadburned – see little but a heaving, tangled mass of gear, some of which may not have seen light for a decade or more.

Fortunately, [Name Redacted] owns at least two of everything (yes, everything), and because he’s even more of a geezer than I am, a lot of it’s the killer older stuff that makes my naughty bits feel all tingly.

It’s the kind of thing you can get away with when you’re fishing with a gear-collecting buddy, but if you packed that way for a trip to the South Pole, they’d never find the body.

The Great Music Quiz

Through most of my life, I’ve driven beater cars – mechanically sound but lacking unneeded luxuries like air conditioning, working stereos or paint. I have a strong a preference for cars you can drive over 17 miles of potholed road without worrying about the glossy finish, and for the most part, the concept has served me well.

I made the trip to Montana three years ago in a battered, base-model 1987 Toyota pickup, and everything went perfectly (if you ignored 100+ heat).

Last year – with Little M’s arrival imminent – we bought Older Bro’s 2002 Subaru sedan, which came equipped with bourgeois items like low-profile tires, a tuned suspension, a/c and a stereo.

A great, big, finely tuned stereo that revealed every last delicate sliver of sound, and at (if necessary) great volume.

I could hear every whisper. Or bleed out my ears.

My choice.

Which creates a new problem.

What the hell do I play?

Road Tunes!

A five CD changer hides in the back and the player up front takes loose CDs, so my choices are essentially limitless, but the last thing I want to do is juggle CDs while driving through wildlife territory at 70 mph.

That means five key CDs and let’s say three changeable discs, and all have to hold up over a 14-hour drive (which means good enough for two plays each).

And yes, I know I could carry a bazillion songs on an MP3 player, but we don’t have a jack for the thing in the car.

So we’re back to these archaic CD things. Which could look something like…

Top Five In-Changer CDS

1. Dave Matthews/Under the Table & Dreaming
Obvious, but great, surprising stuff.

2. Paul Simon/Graceland
Music by a genius, lyrics by god…

3. Steely Dan/Aja
(Intentionally left blank)

4. Ricki Lee Jones/Flying Cowboys
Surprised? The lady at her [probably clean] peak, and so beautifully produced by Walter Becker that I am tearing up in an unmanly way just thinking about it.

5.U2/All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Sure, my tastes run to quieter stuff with what I’ll grandly term “sophisticated” production values, but every once in a while I need something to keep me awake (and help me exceed the speed limit). This is that CD.

Loose CDs

Heart/Dreamboat Annie
Brain cells are bursting everywhere, but this is seriously good stuff (one or two aside). Haven’t listened since the 70s? Shame on you…

Dire Straits/Love Over Gold
Never got over this CD, and see no reason to start now.

The Who/Quadrophenia
Sure, it’s a two-CD set, but it’s my blog, dammit.

Alternates (could be subbed in at any time)

  • Counting Crows/Films About Ghosts
  • The Best of Pete Townsend
  • Bruce Springsteen/Born to Run
  • REM/Document
  • Piles of other stuff…

Special Bonus Points For…

The Ultimate Geezer Mix CD. This could get messy, but yes, I’m building one as we speak. Probably not time to build another.

In truth, narrowing the avalanche of good music down to a tiny pile is a pointless exercise – most of the Undergrounders can name a band or album that I will immediately shuffle into the Top 5, leaving me with something more like a Top 50.

Naturally, the Undergrounders are encouraged to play along, and we promise not to snicker.

See you on the road, Tom Chandler.