Man against marlin

| April 01, 2006

They kept coming throughout the day – each one caught and released, which is the way the Thompsons like to fish. They have kept some catches for smoking, but all the big fish go back into the Pacific Ocean.

The couple heads to southern Baja one to three times a year, depending on their schedules. “I don’t get a lot of time away from behind the wheel, so I make the most of it,” Thompson says. “We’ll go for a few days or as long as three weeks if we can do it. I want to kick back and relax and at the same time spend some hours with the incredible excitement these marlin can give you. We’ve found the right place.”

So far, says Thompson, his wife has not caught any bigger marlin than he has. But Pam Thompson adds an asterisk to this record. “These fish are so big and strong that I can only fight them for so long, maybe 20 minutes or so, then I have to hand the line to him. So who caught what?” she laughs.

Pam Thompson, who is an executive assistant for the Board of Directors of the Port Authority of Portland, the body that controls the city’s airport and port, says the couple has also caught sharks, one of which gave them a particular thrill.

“They’re always biting and they’d be on the line, and Darwin was trying to get them off to get on with some real fishing. We brought one alongside and the deckhand tried to reach over, but you could tell he wasn’t really certain and the next thing the shark lunges out of the water. It bit through the line and was gone. He left us one of most memorable fishing memories. If we’d known back then they were good to eat, we might have tried to keep that one.”

Thompson is also an avid motorbike rider who recently added to his two-Harley collection by winning a custom $30,000 bike from Ambest, the Nashville-based, member-owned truckstop organization. The bike, especially created by Legends Motorsports of Edwardsburg, Mich., and custom painted a deep-sea blue, was the grand prize in the company’s annual driver loyalty program, Ambucks.

Pam Thompson thought for a moment that perhaps one of her husband’s Harleys should go to make way for the new bike. But then she had a better idea on how they could benefit
equally. “It can stay. It will go very well with the new furniture I’m going to buy.”

Off-Duty Destinations: Pickin’ and Grinnin’
Flies buzz around the light bulb near the screen door, and the old hound dog sighs and collapses at the foot of the porch steps. The air is thick and wet, and in the bushes, past the magnolia tree the cicadas protest the heat. Ice clinks in a glass of tea. And then a finger plucks a banjo, one string, and every night noise flows into the rhythm of that note.

From all four corners of the United States, country music is the heart of the people. When you hear twin fiddles and a steel guitar, something about that sound reminds you of your childhood, of notes your grandfather picked out on an old instrument or songs your mama used to sing while she washed dishes. Born out of country, bluegrass is the impromptu music of the backwoods, the music made with found instruments and feeling.

With a history that spans decades and cultures, it is only right that country music and bluegrass festivals involve people and places all over the country. From Colorado to Kentucky, festivals will expand your knowledge and love of music while providing hands-on workshops to teach you how to play like the legends.

The continuous evolution of country music has incorporated rock, jazz and even rap. Bluegrass carries an indelible sound that wraps you up and carries you to the dance floor and another time. The following is a list of country music and bluegrass festivals, as well as music workshops, for the beginner and the expert.

If you want to hear the best music you have ever heard in your life in one of the most beautiful places in the world, go to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colo. Swinging in a valley of the San Juan Mountains, the festival attracts godlike talent, from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones to Bonnie Raitt.

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