Sunday, February 24, 2008

North Dakota Road Trippin'

Visit Ghosts of North Dakota.

Pop the top on a can of your favorite beverage, sit back, put your feet up on the dashboard, and enjoy this ride:

Around the 9:00 mark, you'll find yourself on the two-lane, going over some low hills. This is what I remember of my childhood trips to North Dakota. There were no interstate highways then. We'd be driving along and come up behind, say, a tractor pulling a wagonload of hay. Dad would pull into the other lane to pass, Mom would exclaim "RUSSELL!" and we would all hold our breath hoping we'd get back in our own lane before someone came barreling at us over a hilltop.

Well, this is as good a time as any to tell another road-trip story or two. Back when there were no interstate highways, there were no rest areas either. One used the facilities at gas stations, restaurants, or well-placed shrubbery en route. This presented a problem for parents with children in the throes of potty-training, so my parents brought along a large white enamel pot with red trim and a matching lid. This child-sized "convenience" sat on the floor of the back seat in our '53 Buick (hey, you won't find that much legroom in anything short of a limo these days). Somewhere between Michigan and North Dakota one hot summer day, we got stuck in a long traffic jam out in the country due to an accident somewhere up ahead. It was a bumper-to-bumper park-and-wait situation. Timing being what it is, one of us kids had to go... you know... Number Two. And as it turned out, there was not a pot-lid in the world that could contain the essence of that job. My mother insisted my father take the pot out into the field beside the road to dump it, which doubtless created quite an entertainment for all the cars behind us. Over the years, every time my mother told that story, I think my father blushed a little.

And, as long as he was blushing anyway, Mom would tell the next story, of the night in a mom-and-pop motel somewhere in the U.P., or maybe Wisconsin, when her monthly visitor showed up and she had no feminine hygiene products on hand to meet the demand. It was 10 p.m., everything was closed except the bars, and so of course my father would have to go out to a bar and prevail upon the barmaid to procure him a Kotex from the powder room. Unfortunately no Kotex was available, but the barmaid did not send him back to my mother empty-handed. He came back with a couple of clean bar rags to tide her over until morning.

Need a rest room break before we cruise around in town?

Now, in case you've gotten the wrong idea about North Dakota, here are some people who will set the record straight.

And one last thing: