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Stewart kept his eye out even when I photograph him

Stewart kept his eye out even when I photograph him

Minot, ND-September 13, 2009

Up here people talk funny, but people down there talk funny too–how come only people from the west coast don’t talk funny?  I am in full Minnesota/Fargo accent country.  It is really interesting to see how many words you can or can’t catch as you hear about farming, harvesting or squirrel hunting.  Seriously, it is sometimes difficult, but I love the sound of it!

I am finding weekends to be a bit more sparse as to meeting people.  Sundays worse than Saturdays, so by Monday, I wonder what I am doing out here anyway!   It also seems that once I passed Fargo, a motel has been harder to find until I got into Minot.

My travels Saturday led me through Fargo and just in time to attend the Economic Reality Conference being held in the downtown theater.  I read a short synopsis of the talks and decided I could pass.  I did meet a nice lady who was pasing out the welcome packets and we had a nice long talk about the economics out this way–both farm and city life.  She was raised on a farm, but now the land is leased out to another who runs thousands of acres out near Devils Lake.  Probably in her 30’s, she talked about how her town had its own football team in her day, but now it takes 5 towns to get a full squad put together.

A little further up the road, I decided to stay in the town of Larimore, ND.  I saw a rest stop that look suitable and if there wasn’t a motel, that was my stop for the night.  As I entered the town, I noticed a motel, but no sign for vacancy and no lights indicating it wanted business.  The downtown had a nice old theater–with no cars parked in front!–so I took some shots and then went into the Good Friends Bar for some dinner.  I really wasn’t sure if it was a bar or a diner–was both–because there was confusing signage out front.  But I figured at 7pm, people were probably eating.  The atmosphere was not what I expected, a loud sort of a techno music going on inside.  There were two doors in, I took the one that I thought might be the food side, based on the signs outside, but found myself in the middle of the “local” crowd.  The doors brought you into side that were split by the bar that extended about 25 feet from the front by the doors.  I rounded the people gathered there and to the end where there seemed to be some tables.  I asked the bar tender, a young red headed kid, if they had food.  He looked at me like “not for you” and then looked at a gentleman, Terry, sitting at the bar.  Terry fixed me up, apparently the owner and chef–and probably dad. When I got my beer, the kid said “that’ll be $2.75”, I told him I was getting dinner and he said they keep the two operations separate.  I told him I expected to have another and could I keep a tab open, he hesitated and said yes.  I really got the impression he didn’t like the stranger.

I was now sitting next to Terry on the other side of the bar, which seemed to have a more sedate group.  Turns out, the folks over here were mostly in town to work the potato harvest.  Randy, sitting to my right, was originally from Austin, MN, had lived in Austin, TX and has a farm down on the Red River about 70 miles from here. He gave up farming because of all the flooding over the last several years.  He was there to help “dig potatoes”, which I found out meant he was going to drive one of the harvesters.  But you need dry weather to dig potatoes, and the rains and heavy dew and fog had meant he had been sitting there several days without digging one potato!  The harvest workers were the reason the motel had no need for business.  When I left, Terry wasn’t around and I asked the kid how I could settle up the tab for the food, I also noted his Notre Dame shirt and asked if he had gone there or was just a big fan.  He said he was a big fan and was pleased that I knew it was Notre Dame instead of North Dakota.  He said I was probably the only one in the place that knew what it was and he was actually smiling.  He told me he could add the two together on one bill and so he did!

The rest stop was fine, although there were 3 men hanging around seemingly doing nothing.  It made me wonder, since they were hispanic and there were no hispanics in the bar, if this was the only place away from home they could hang out where there was light.

I set up my rig for sleeping and fell asleep quickly.  The stop was pretty active for a few hours, but soon was quiet.  About 3:45am I got a tap on the window, a young guy wondering if I had a phone he could use. I had no service and told him so and he was picked up by a young lady about 15 minutes later.

Today was very quiet.  Like I said Sundays sort of suck for what I want to do out here, but then there are surprises.  One of my hopes each morning is to find a local cafe.  You always seem to get a lot of information and attention when you are from outside.  By the time I got to Lakota, I was starving as nothing seemed to be open.  I passed a local motel/cafe with its sign for Sunday buffet and then a procession of cars-coming from church from the looks of it–as they snaked into the Sunlac parking lot.  I moved on into town, but nothing there.  I asked a guy at the gas station about it and he told me, enthusiastically, that I should go to the Sunlac!  I did, but it wasn’t a great experience.  Slow, almost ignored, service in a large, warm, humid room.  Apparently, I sinned on this Sunday by not ordering the Carmelized Buns, but I got to spend a large part of my morning watching the masses eat theirs!  I am sure I will sin again somewhere along the road….

Later, when I finally got back on the road again, I came to Crary, ND.  Not much here, but I did drive through town and saw Stewart and his wife out front of their house, looking up and him holding his rifle.  I stopped and asked what was up–Squirrels was the answer.  Apparently, they get into the old houses attic to nest for the winter and wreak havoc on wiring and such.  Stewart is having to build a new house in any case, this one was pretty much neglected before he bought it, but having a fire in the middle of winter isn’t a good idea.  I ended up meeting the whole family off on the back deck.  It was a great day, cool breeze and no bugs!  Also, the best place to gather there.

Tomorrow, a better day I hope as I wend my way across North Dakota.

all rights reserved © 2009 John Acurso