Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 7 p.m., Turtle River Campground, North Dakota

Dave putters about with his buggy and gear while the sun sets in the grove of trees where we camp. We covered 100 miles today. Nine hours in the saddle - long enough to render an adolescent numb from the waste down - no problem, of course, for the non-secular celibate. The wind blew and blew today, in the correct direction, towards the east. This is how it is supposed to be, but hasn’t been, and we’ve struggled to not take it personal. We succeeded in this effort and today just see randomness restored and us, like in most things, just collateral beneficiaries or victims, as the case may be. It’s a powerful thing blowing by Lance Armstrong and him maybe they say on steroids, though I don’t want to believe it. We left him in our dust and all other pretenders to the throne. No doubt in us after today that we could turn and make it to Patagonia by September.

We rode through more prairie but a wet one with potholes and lakes and trees., There were breeding ducks of all types everywhere. I predict a particular good year for coots. I saw every specie - and black terns, Avocet and here once arrived, yellow warbler, American Redstart, eastern bluebird, and orchard oriole - without binoculars or effort.

The accents remain thick with a continued clear effort by most to sound like they were in that movie, Fargo. A state policeman stopped us - our first encounter with the law. His accent was so bad, and ours so foreign to him, that we had to use sign language to communicate. He was concerned for our safety and did not find the meth, the cocaine, the MJ and the opiates we’ve been selling to finance our trip and raise money to retire Slobodan Milosevic’s legal expenses. He let us go, expressing surprise that sensible people would do what we are doing but admiring it, nonetheless - not the trip but the willingness to share a traffic lane with 18 wheelers and make them blink first. We say no way they want the insurance premium from a double homicide, our position.

The road today leaving Devils Lake, a four-lane US highway, had a gate on it. Just like a cattle gate, and it was open. Imagine what such a gate would be needed for, then ask yourself why anyone would live in an area where four-lane highways get closed. Now ask which seems worse to you - living through winters that require roads to be closed or sharing a traffic lane with 18 wheelers. Each man to his own poison and you takes your chances.

Pat Sewell

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