May 23, 2011: I hit the road in the am, ready to get to my final destination of Jamestown ND (home of the world’s largest buffalo and my Uncle Steve).
You gotta love Monday morning rush hour on the wide open prairie! I pretty much have the road to myself other than an occasional semi-truck or car, and, of course, lots of cows in the field! The only “spectator slowdown” down is to avoid some sort of unfortunate road kill!
I turn on the radio and find the Rosebud Sioux Tribe station. I listen to an address by the tribe president about government cuts and the reservation’s unemployment rate – 80 percent! I grew up near a Sioux tribe reservation and can say with a fair amount of accuracy that conditions on the reservation are not exactly conducive to encouraging employment, but probably best not to get into that discussion!
I have traveled by myself quite extensively for both business and pleasure, including overseas to a variety of countries such as Japan, Hong Kong and Italy. I don’t really mind traveling alone, and I usually feel fairly safe. However, that’s not to mean I don’t take extra care. After all, the single traveler usually doesn’t fare well in scary movies! Remember what happened to Janet Leigh’s solitary traveling character in the shower in the movie Psycho? Sometimes when I stop at a small town gas station, I do get a bit paranoid. I’ll look up while reading a map, and wonder about the two scruffy guys in a dirty pick up truck next to me. I’ll lower my map and yell “Honey could you buy me a People Magazine and a Diet Coke when you pay for the gas!” When you think about it, the wind-swept, sparsely populated Northern Plains would be the perfect setting for a horror movie – “The “Wee Ones of the Wheat” “Bad Dream on Main Street” or “Grasshopperphobia!”
It’s time to find a small town library and post my first blog! As I drive down the blossoming tree-lined main street of Gettysburg SD, I spy a bakery that I know I will have to visit later. I began chatting with library employees Peg and Linda and tell them about my journey. Peg is actually training Linda today, and I tell them I used to work at a library. Peg thinks she knows of job openings at some SD libraries and prints some info for me (thank you Peg!)
When I complete my blog, I say good-bye to the friendly Library Ladies and cross the street to the bakery. The Gettysburg Bakery door sign says “The Best Rolls Around” I’ll be the judge of that. But sadly and much to my disappointment, the bakery is closed on Mondays, so I reluctantly get in my car and drive away.
Shortly thereafter, I encounter a road closure and follow the orange detour signs, only to encounter another sign that says “Road closed to cars ahead. Find alternative route.” In other words – you are on your own! Hmmm, I am in unfamiliar territory and take out my trusty atlas and find a road that will work. Another sign soon informs me that the road is under construction the next 15 miles.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that parts of eastern ND are covered with water, and I soon find out that this part of northern SD is in the same boat! Soon I encounter large parts of this very narrow country road precariously close to the water on both sides! Now I don’t mind an occasional, isolated stretch of road like, this but this water hell goes on forever! I actually have a recurring nightmare about this very situation! I feel my blood pressure rise and my body tense. I soon realize I am gripping the steering wheel so hard my fingers hurt! At one point the road narrows to one lane with a sign simply stating “Take Turns” I take a deep breath and forge ahead on an extremely narrow dirt road almost immersed in the water! At several points signs say “Water on the Road” which there is indeed!
By now I have a killer headache and so want to be done with this Prairie Water World! I don’t see any sign of life for miles. At one point a large bird – a duck maybe – hits my windshield. The phrase “Oh What Fresh Hell Is This?” runs through my head. It was coined by writer Dorothy Parker in the 1920s, and it usually pops into my head when I am having a Murphy’s Law-day like today! Did Mr. Reverend Gloom and Doom get his days wrong (which I later find out he claims) and this is how I am going to meet my end Rapture by Water Submersion!
At last the never-ending trek through the swamp land ends, and I stop at a gas station to regroup. Of course I need to reward myself with some much-needed road snacks – a Nut Goodie candy bar and some Old Dutch potato chips!
I soon reach Steve and Barb’s house. Let’s hope my dreams tonight are about deserts and dry land!