There's a lot of outside in America

A lot can happen in 32,745,600 seconds...

Plenty of time for you to be born or to be dead.

...or 545,760 minutes...

Plenty of time for the aliens to abduct you and hide things inside you in their UFO.

...or 9,096 hours...

Plenty of time to hear way too much about Brittany, Brad & Angelina, and the freakin' New England Patriots.

...or 379 days...

Which is exactly how long ago my first story about fish got published online.

February 5, 2007. Steelheads, In-laws, and the Lower Niagara River.

And now I find myself on I-81 South heading to the 2008 Bassmaster Classic as a fulltime-with-a-photo-on-the-net writer about fish and the outside.

Been a helluva year, wouldn't you say.

From Steelheads to the Bass Super Bowl in 54 weeks.

From fishing with my brothers-in-law to the Angler of the Year Skeet Reese, with K-Pink, my butt replacement doc, a billionaire, and even the Lord of the Lake thrown in-between.

Met new people, been to new places. Tiny fish, huge fish, no fish. Bait fish, plastics and flies. Up-riggers, down-riggers, Zebco. Rivers, lakes, ocean. Freshwater, Saltwater, Ice.

And now it's the Best on Bass.

Don't Bogart that Bass

For the past 33.59 miles I have been listening to a CD called, "Fish Tunes," by The Wildlife Refugees. Songs like "Eat, Sleep, Drink and Go Fishin'," "Fishin' is My Mission" and "Yours Is Crappie."

Yesterday before I left to cover the Classic I watched the DVR of Easy Rider, and Jaws.

I prepare for stories different from most.

I also sent Steve Jobs a bunch of 99 cents for songs by Mellencamp, Springsteen, Steve Martin (King Tut), Norah Jones, UB40, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, The Platters, Harry Belafonte, Robert Goulet, Elvis, Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Willie Nelson, Elton John and Bob Marley.

It's listed as my Bass Classic Playlist. It's played twice now, who knew I-81 was this long.

Some of the songs I play over and over: Pink Houses & Small TownThe Gambler (an angler song if there ever was one), Day-O (helps get through Jersey), The Impossible Dream (I'm a sap for this song and actually believe the damn thing), and New York, New York (trust me if you have a bucket list, add this: play this Sinatra song LOUD going over the George Washington Bridge at night, chills baby chills).

But there is one line in one song that I play over and over (which amazingly you can do on an iPod at 70mph). People get Ready by Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions reached out and grabbed me by the garbonzoes when they sang, "You don't need no baggage you just get on board."

Because that's just what I've done.

I just got on board.

Didn't bring nothing with me, no baggage about how bass fishing should or should not be. Never saw a Bass until K-Pink pulled one out of Lake Champlain and almost tossed it in my lap.

But no one threw me out of the boat, the best of bass just looked at me and said, "Come on board."

As have all the anglers I've dealt with over this past year. They are there to fish, I know that, they know that, but they have taken time out of their passion to teach. Me. A City Guy.

It's the people inside the outside that makes the outdoors great, and I want to thank them publicly for the gift they have given me, this year of writing about the outdoors.

When the best (them) help the least (me) you start to believe Robert Goulet when he sings The Impossible Dream:

"…to reach the unreachable…"

That's what will be playing in my head as I stand on the shore of Lake Hartwell, a former desk jockey given the gift of the great outside.

And so I thank you — all of you — who have done so much for me. See you at the Classic.