Coming To A Pork In The Road

Today’s guest post comes from Dan in Woodbury.

While driving to my local health club in Woodbury last Saturday morning around 7:00 AM, I saw a small SUV pulled over to the right shoulder on a side street. In addition to the couple getting out of the vehicle, I noticed a blue barrel in the middle of the street, and standing next to the barrel was a Wessex Saddleback.

OK, I didn’t know it was a Wessex Saddleback at the time. But I did recognize it as a pig! About 250 pounds worth!

I thought “Now there’s something you don’t see every day!”

I was baffled by the sight of an animal so clearly out of its element, so like anyone suddenly faced with an unexpected and incomprehensible sight, I proceeded to go about my business.

(I am now reminded a scene from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is the monologue of a poor sperm whale, called into existence against all probability several miles above an alien planet, trying to come to terms with its existence as it falls. “Ahhh! Whoa! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by ‘who am I’? Okay, okay, calm down, calm down, get a grip now…” The philosophical whales last thought was “Hello Ground!”)

I pulled a U turn and returned to the scene of the porcine puzzle to find the couple snapping pictures of the dazed pig standing in the middle of the road next its transport. They told me they had called 911, and as we waited for the authorities to arrive, a neighbor from across the street joined the three of us in collectively corralling the pig to a grassy strip of land in front of a group of townhomes. After locating some rope in my truck to use as a leash, the neighbor (I’ll call him Joe) and I lassoed the pig. Which it didn’t care for at all! Having not been raised on a farm, I now know the full meaning of “squealed like a pig”. The struggling creature managed to squirm thru the noose until the rope was firmly cinched around it waist. Thankfully the pig calmed down after I slipped the rope off the hind quarters. It was at this time Joe and I noticed the couple had driven away, leaving the two of us on pig duty.

Another 10 minutes past before a Woodbury Community Service Officer (CSO) pulled up alongside us. I believe his first words were “Is this your pig?” Joe informed the CSO that he had heard a clunk and looked up to see a small red pickup with a loud exhaust driving away. He surmised the barrel had just fallen out of the back of the pickup when he noticed the pig exit the barrel. After supplying what facts we could, Joe and I paused for the CSO to make the next move. We both could tell the young man was not prepared for this job, so after sufficient time for the CSO to take the lead, Joe hatched a plan for him.

The CSO would use his catch pole to direct the pig into the barrel, door held open by Joe, while I pushed. It took a little effort on everyone’s part, but we were able to walk the pig in and then stand the barrel upright, thus preventing the ham from escaping. After using some rope to secure the door once again, we asked the CSO to go get his truck. With three of us lifting, we were able to “load ‘er up” and secure the barrel in the back of the CSO’s pickup. Joe and I then returned to our lives, as the CSO and pig headed into whatever process suburban Woodbury has for handling stray farm animals.

It wasn’t until I was in the health club locker room that my nose detected a considerable amount of “substance” smeared up and down my left leg. Yup, I smelled like a pig farm. I would have some explaining to do when I got home.

After relaying the story to a friend, he forwarded this article from the Woodbury Patch, which did a pretty good job reporting the event. I was pleased to be credited for my work as one half of the famed public service duo “two citizens”. The Pioneer Press account, however, mysteriously shifted the event four hours into the future and erased my act of good samaritanship entirely, nullifying not only the time spent and ingenuity employed, but completely missing the repulsive sacrifice of my trouser leg.

That is why I have decided to tell my story. It is exactly this kind of slight that propels a shy person to step into the light, forcing him to become a bit of a publicity hog.

What the strangest thing you’ve found on the side of the road?

74 thoughts on “Coming To A Pork In The Road”

    1. Two times before cell phones, darn it:
      1) 1996 rushing from Mankato to Decorah to pick up my daughter and drive her home to the North Shore. Cold winter day, about 3 below, halfway between Spring Valley and Preston was a four year-old-boy with bare head and hands on the side of the road smelling of barn. He was at least 1/2 mile by roads from any place I could see. He was afraid of me and did not want me to pick him up. Along came a man, a local, who said the boy could not be from any farm we could see, that he knew everyone there well. He would not let that man take him either without resistance. We were about to pick him up anyway and take him to Sheriff office. Along came a car with a grandmotherly woman, Wisconsin plates on a rather battered car with a seedy man driving. The boy ran to her. So she took him and the local man led her into Spring Valley and I went east. Wish I knew the end of that tale.

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    2. 2) 1988 or so on a country road making visits about five miles from any home. An old man was walking, no hat, no gloves and it was 20 below. Clearly in dementia. I managed to talk him into my car but he would not tell me his name or how he got there or where he lived. So I told him I was taking him out to dinner in town. He agreed. As we drove 15 miles into town, I realized who he was, the father of my next door neighbor. I took him to he hospital, which he thought was a restaurant. He had minor frost bite. After that his wife, with whom he live in town, put him in a nursing home, where he was contented to be. We do not know how he got there. Could not have walked.

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  1. Good morning to all. Good job with the pig and the very good story, Dan. I assume Clyde is refering to people he picked up. That’s the only thing I can think of when it comes to strange things found along the road, people that I picked up. After my last experience picking up a hitch hiker, I have more or less stopped doing that.

    The last time I picked up a hitch hiker, somehow, I didn’t realize how rough looking the guy was and after he was in the car I got worried about what he was going to do. Forunately, I found a place, fairly soon, where I could let him out of the car. I also picked up a guy late at night on a road with very little traffic because I thought he was in bad need of a ride. He was okay, but he did ask to camp in my back yard. I told him not to do that.

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  2. Dan, you are my hero! I live in Woodbury and I was curious as to was clever enough for hog herding in our fair city. When my friends still had Holsteins I participated in several round ups after gates were left open or fences failed to fence in the cows. Several times we were joined by Woodbury’s finest and you have my word that they are not very good herders.

    BTW the pig went to the Humane Society and was reunited with its owner. Had the hog farmer not arrived , they would have contacted the Hoofed Animal Rescue Society (a group that sounds like it flowed from Dale’s keyboard).

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  3. I found this story sow interesting, Dan! But underneath my fascination with the story there was that tension–that horrible tension that arises from my relatively new awareness of the “pork-pig connection.” I am one of many former fans of pork who have been dismayed to learn how bright and personable pigs can be, and now sitting down to a pork roast feels like eating steaks from a golden retriever.

    I’ll end this queer post by quoting the queen of poets who have spoken to the pork-pig connection, the LGMS’s own Ann Reed:

    It took some time but now I find
    The heartbreak of this place
    The shocked and frozen look
    Upon some FFA kid’s face
    If her pig should lose
    I s’pose that’s only pure dumb luck
    But if her pig’s a winner
    Then she’s next year’s Pronto Pup

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I don’t recall finding much at the side of the road. On the gravel roads of rural Iowa, there are always cattle that got loose. In the wilds of N. Minnesota I once hit a bear with the car. It limped off into the woods and I called the DNR. And then there is the ubiquitous Dead Skunk…….

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  5. I have been reminded about the time we picked up a woman along the road who claimed she had been abused. We took her to a hospital and they found out that was suffering from dementia and I think they found her family who picked her up.

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  6. We lost a cell phone in the ditch on the west side of I35 north of 97. If you find it you can have it. It flew out somehow when we rolled the car into the ditch during a blizzard in the ONLY place where there is no fence, tree, or sign to crash into. WE were the strange thing found by the good Samaritan who doubled back around on the freeway to see if we were ok (we were). He hopped out of his pickup in his shirtsleeves and gave us the helpful info that the ice we were on was a bit thin and we might want to get out of there. I always wanted to thank him.

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      1. The police came eventually and gave us a ride to the gas station at the exit and we got a tow. We waited there for our daughter to pick us up and met a young woman trying to wait out the worst of the storm before continuing to Duluth (from somewhere way down south–she was not prepared for winter driving-) to meet up with her new husband a soldier who’d gotten there on leave. True love and bravery there. We’d been saved from squashing by the roof rack and cartop box–the impact smashed the seats into the floor of the car and the ceiling was on our heads. One little scratch and a dog who never rode calmly in a car again were our only consequences. Well, and a totalled car! Lucky.

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    1. One winter day I was talking on the phone to my boss and looking absently out my front window at Hwy 61 and Lake Superior. Then I said to my boss, “A Jeep just tumbled down the road.” I got dressed and went out. There was no one in sight. An upside down Jeep and coins everywhere. Along came a highway patrol and asked what I had done. I had trouble convincing him that I was not the driver, that it happened less than five minutes ago, and I did not know where the driver was. We even went and looked over my lake cliff-edge. Along came a car with the driver. He lived right up the shore, he had a job emptying coins from vending machines, and his brother was right behind him and took him into town first. The patrolman was not buying the whole thing. But he let them go.
      I picked coins out of my ditch and lawn for years.

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  7. Great story and well told. I’m having trouble with the image of the barrel, however.
    Pig is herded into the barrel, the door is closed and then the barrel is stood “upright, thus preventing the ham from escaping”.
    I’m picturing the poor pig standing on its snout in the barrel with its tail in the air. I’m sure that something’s wrong with this picture.

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    1. Brings to mind the pig rustling story from last fall – animals disappearing from southern Minnesota hog farms.

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  8. I tried to post this reply to Beth-Ann’s comment above, but it is not take. I’ll try again here…
    Although there was a short stint at the Animal Humane Society, I don’t think it will be a savory ending for the wayward ham. The Woodbury Bulletin reports the pig is one of the headlines for the Chinese New Year at Low Chin Market in St. Paul!

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  9. Love your story, Dan.

    This may not qualify as terribly strange, but I can remember the first few months after my dad, an avid pheasant hunter, died, I would be driving down to Iowa to visit Mom (see yesterday) and frequently saw pheasants. Maybe I was looking for them more than usual. But along T17 right at the big curve, half a dozen pheasants (they had to see me coming) stepped out on the road. I was able to stop before hitting anyone, and just held my breath as they marched across. Hi, Dad.

    Hope to remember something more ‘strange’ throughout the day…

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  10. what a great story, Dan! thanks!
    this may not count because it was on a bike trail (in Blacksburg, VA – a nice trail between our apt. and Va Tech) both of these in the dark, lit only by our bike leg lights
    1. huge turtle – at least 2.5 feet in diameter – and NOT moving for us at all
    2. a HUGE bull – at least a ton – and NOT moving for us at all either. 🙂
    we skirted them both, very gingerly.

    happy day to All.

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  11. Great story, Dan. Sorry to hear that the Wessex Saddleback will not have a savory ending (depending on how you look at it! I’m pretty sure you’re not suggesting that Chinese cooking isn’t savory. Are suggesting that it’s a performing pig?). Funny, isn’t it, when you have a “personal” experience with an animal, you don’t like to think of it as food. It would have seemed only fair to have spared Babe’s life after he survived falling off a pickup truck.

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  12. Many years ago, on a very cold winter day, I was driving on the Lemond Road, several miles southwest of Owatonna. I came upon two horses standing in the roadside ditch, both of them with ice covering their muzzles and hanging down like beards. Not too long before that I’d been the owner of two horses very much like these: one was a Shetland-Welsh pony and the other an Arabian gelding. I missed my two horses (Chief and Ben) very much and I immediately pulled onto a nearby gravel road and walked over to these two.

    One of them was clearly dying. The other was unwilling to leave her side. He ran up onto the gravel road, looked at me and ran a few hundred yards south. He then stopped and came back. He looked at me again and shoved his icy muzzle into my front. It was like he was saying, “Follow me, you idiot!” I tried to comfort them for awhile but I needed to call for help (this was before cell phones). I went to the nearest farmhouse and asked them to call for the sheriff. They did and I returned to the horses. The dying mare was standing stock still, head lowered, her muzzle covered with ice. The younger horse was standing next to her and didn’t want to leave her.

    The sheriff came (after awhile) and told me that there had been previous reports of neglect of horses in that area and he was reasonably sure that he knew who the owner was. He was also reasonably sure that the owner did not care about these two and may even have dropped them at this corner to die. He told me to go on my way, that there was nothing more I could do.

    He was the sheriff. What could I do? I left, but I didn’t feel good about it.

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    1. I wish he had told you to take the surviving one home with you. One of those shoulds – there should be a way of doing something about that.

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    2. I had no place for a horse in those days. I could only hope he’d do the right thing for the healthier horse (he wasn’t in the best shape, either, but he wasn’t dying.) I felt really bad.

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  13. I feel somehow lacking in that I haven’t picked anything or anyone up from the side of the road…such a dull life I have led. I was once someone else’s strange thing by the side of the road when I was just out of college, driving a old beater Honda that leaked oil, on my way out for a weekend of performing at the Renaissance Festival (think I’ve told this story before). Car had been making an awful noise but I was willing it to at least get to the Festival site. I got it as far as the outskirts of Shakopee (the old 169, about where it split with 212 going over to Chaska) when I threw a rod. Boom – smoke – drama. I got out of the car fast and then stood there unsure what to do. A nice young man who couldn’t have been more than a couple cars behind me pulled over to help – first question was asking if I was alright (yes), what was the car doing (big noise, smoke, leaking oil). Hmm, says he, bet you blew the engine – he had just picked up his Jeep after getting repaired for about the same thing. He drove me out to the site on his way to Mankato (after a stop at his apartment so he could grab some stuff and I could make a couple of calls since this was definitely pre-cell phone). Thank you Knight in Shining Jeep. 🙂

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  14. I need to resolve to do as much biking as Clyde. I used to ride the Sakatah Trail every day, but not in the last several years. I don’t have a very good bike.

    Once I was riding east on the Sakatah Trail, just east of Sakatah Lake State Park. There’s a large pasture just east of the park and on the south side of the trail. It extends for about a mile along the trail. As I left the Park boundary heading east, I noticed a cow on the trail ahead of me. Uncertain, I slowed and proceeded cautiously. I had been chased by young steers in the pasture back when I’d owned Chief and Ben and I was a little nervous. As I got closer, I could see that an entire herd of cows had broken the fence and spilled onto the trail. If you know anything about cows, they will follow one another in a line. They were moving eastward along the right side of the trail ahead of me. They were moving very slowly.

    There was a little room on the left side of the trail for me to get around them, but could I? There were at least 25 of them. I was pretty scared. I was also determined to complete my 15 mile ride. I didn’t want to spook them and start them running, which is ultimately what happened. I would have to outrun a herd of cows on my Schwinn bike.

    I gathered all my guts and my thigh muscles and began to pump as fast as I could. I sailed past them on the left side of the trail before they could understand what I was. Some of them began to run, I could hear them behind me, so I kept pumping hard until I got to Eggers Prairie. Then I stopped and looked back. They were jogging in a messy line behind me, but far enough behind me that they weren’t a threat. When I got to the next gravel cross road, there was a farm truck pulling onto the trail from the road. “Did you see some cows?” I gestured behind me. They were on their way.

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  15. I have led a dull life as far as finding things by the side of the road (and in most other ways, too). Of course I’ve seen deer (live and dead) on the side of the road, caught a glimpse of a timber wolf once, moose (one was so big I thought I could have driven the car under him) and have smelled dead skunks. But no animals that needed rescuing – or people, either. No found treasure. The most memorable dead skunk was when I was biking – got to the top of a very long hill and had to veer around a dead skunk. P-U.

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    1. I too, have a dead skunk story. It wasn’t I, but Snoopy, our small black terrier mix that found him. We were about a three hour drive north of Cheyenne, really in the middle of nowhere, and had let Snoopy run loose as there was absolutely no traffic or sign of life anywhere. Wasband and I were exploring the interesting rock formations, buttes and flora in the area when I suddenly saw Snoopy, squirming on his back, legs up in the air in the middle of the road. As I approached I could see that he had found himself a smelly dead skunk and was in the process of rubbing as much of the stench on himself as he could. Our car, a 63 VW Beetle, precluded putting Snoopy in the trunk. Need I tell you that the three hour drive back to Cheyenne seemed endless?

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  16. Back in 1966 or 1967, when I was living in Wyoming, wasband (:-)) and I were out driving in the countryside somewhere near Cheyenne. We had stopped along the road so I could pick some wildflowers, when I became aware of a faint, squeaky mewing. When I investigated, I found a small black and white kitten with cuts from the sharp grasses and weeds all over its tiny head. Someone must have dropped him off to fend for himself in the wild. We brought the kitten back home with us and nursed it back to health. When our 80 year old landlady, Ann Garvin, discovered we had a cat, she told us we had to move, so we did. Unfortunately, Squeaky didn’t live to a ripe old age. He was run over when he escaped from our 63 VW at a gas station after having survived a three day road trip from Cheyenne to Carbondale. 😦

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  17. My father was fishing many years ago on the Missouri River near Chamberlin, SD when he and his fishing buddies came upon the bodies of a man and a woman along side the road way out in the country. Both were dead. Dad drove to the nearest phone and called the sheriff’s department. He found out later that they had been murdered.

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  18. Once while leaving a watering hole in St Paul after having 3 Diet Cokes I saw a beaver walking up the road to Cathedral Hill. Nobody believes me. They claim that either my blood caffeine level was too high or that it was a big rat. In my defense it was spring when 2 year old beavers leave their dams to build on their own and we were not that far from the Mississippi River.

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    1. I believe you, too. Having seen fox, possum, and a variety of raptors (as well as a couple of woodpeckers) in my corner of SW Minneapolis, I can easily believe you saw a beaver on Cathedral Hill. Neighbors tell me there were deer for awhile last year, too.

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    2. People are of the opinion that wildlife disappears where humans live. But not true at all. Lots of species can learn to adapt. Species like beaver do not like to be crowded by other beavers and will then move in human areas. There’s going to be a story on PBS about how raccoons adapt to city life. There is an excellent book about this from 20 years ago or so. The population of non-human life forms is actually higher in cities, except most of that population is rodents and bugs and things we do not want around us. But the book (wish I could remember the name) was about how animals like beaver will live in cities.

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      1. The story that I think is under-reported is how many coyotes are living in urban areas these days, living on a diet of roadkill and chubby house cats. And there are usually sightings each year of cougars in one woody suburb or another in the metro area.

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      2. There are hard confirmed cougar sightings in bot the Mankato and Fairmont areas. I have seen bobcat and fisher in Mankato.

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  19. Two OT’s
    1. My “friends” on facebook are posting such antagonistic posts today. I have not had anything like this before. Posts from several points of view and perspectives. Is there something in the air, caucus hang-over?
    2. I have a pretty solid complete version of my novel, except my wife strongly dislikes the content of one chapter. I estimate it would be about 400 pages in standard paperback form. The whole process has been fun.

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    1. I’m seriously considering closing my facebook account. I removed all the information I could from my profile but I couldn’t delete the photos. If I get more annoyed, I might close the account.

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    2. I have no vision of it ever being published.
      There are a variety of routes to go to publish fiction today, all dismally unlikely to ever make a book pay even the cost. After having been an educational publisher for 15 years, I am reluctant to produce anything that is not thoroughly proofed (and Babooners know how awful is my typing)–not to mention true editing before proofing–and professional graphic design. I know people I could hire but I also know what is there fair wage for their expertise, way above what I can afford. Then it would be ready for self-publishing, which is really easy these days, but then comes the marketing step, for which I have not the time, energy, and money, and here it is more time and energy. Steve, I think, knows this world better than I do. I may think about some digital form for it to share with some people.
      My wife does not think I should ever let my ex-brother and sister read it, a thought I had before she read it. My children are both disinterested in reading it.
      No, this was a project for fun. I will diddle around with it. A publishing joke: for the Final Draft you open a window, take off the screen, place the book on the windowsill in loose-leaf form, and see where the draft takes it.

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      1. ba doom boom
        heck ill offer to read it. i will catch a mistake or two here and there but i will miss a couple too. but i would love to get a look at it.

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  20. Afternoon.

    Great story Dan.
    I’m afraid I’ve picked up more stuff from the side of the road than I can remember. Since I’m on the townboard I get lots of calls of garbage dumped on the sides of roads or in ditches. Usually it’s nothing very interesting (and you know I can never find a scrap of paper with a homeowners name on it). Last Spring it was broken fluorescent lightbulbs; dozens of them. Once it was a large load from someone clearly cleaning out an apartment. Clothing, furniture, lots of TV’s and computers, dirty diapers, boxes of brand new mens boxer shorts. The three of us from the townboard all declined to take them home. I do have a winter jacket I picked up. It’s nice. My wife hates the idea but it’s not her jacket.
    Tires. Lots and lots of tires. And brush. And dogs. One is our indoor dog Allie, a Rat Terrier. She’s one lucky (and spoiled) dog. The occasional horse or cow that’s out. Or sheep.
    There are a few spots more popular than other spots for dumping. Sometimes they’ll dump it on my road; picked up a complete bedroom set; headboard, dresser, bed frame, TV. Nothing you’d want to save of course. It’s very frustrating that people will dump stuff like that.

    The sheriff deputy that works mostly closely with our township is very good; she knows who’s horse that will probably be or . She still tells the story of an escaped pig in the township. Owners on vacation, pig went looking for them I guess. The Deputy wasn’t working that night but was on the phone – laughing- as two other deputies and a resident tried to get that pig in a pick up. “Turn on your dash camera!!”

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    1. Sounds like an interesting neighborhood, Ben. I can remember when husband first saw those trash bags along the freeway, containing trash picked up by volunteers, how disgusted he was with people who would dump their garbage like that. His attitude changed, of course, when he learned that those bags represented the concerted efforts of volunteers to clean up after the slobs that litter everywhere. We occasional joke, still, when we drive by such trash bags, how disgusting it is that people are such slobs.

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  21. Does anyone remember after 9/11 when anxiety was running high (pre-Homeland Security days) there was a news story about a woman who called 911 about a “suspicious” frozen turkey on the roadside? She was worried that it might be a wily terrorist tactic. Suicide turkeys. I know I wouldn’t have seen that coming. My husband and I both remember this vaguely but can’t google any details so we’re wondering if it’s a figment of our iimagination? .

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  22. my battery died last night and the computer wants me to sign in before i can post on the blog. i have screwed it up 4 times. going to look at the guys manes who wer ethe reporters for the ppers in dans adventure . if you leave the little box here when you come back its gone. if you try to post with the name and email address missing whne you come back its gone. did it a 4th time when i got hoem from work posted with no address again and it was gone. heck the story i have isnt even that good so i will tey once more but this is it.
    welcome back dan good to see you and the fact that your adventure got you two newspaper stories and a guest blog is a testimony to the luck of the tree gods. i think the locak paper did a much better job than the pioneer press.
    the pioneer press in addition to the addition of the 4 hours and leaving dan out of the story added that the car was impounded but not why or any details about it. what a funny thing to add unsupported. the local paper had the headline “flying pigs in woodbury” great. i saw that dans buddy got a request form another of the newspapers people asking for dans info so he could contact him what did he want dan? fun story.
    my two stories of roadside finds both involve cats. the first in a rest stop west of back raods northdakota among the sagebrush where i pulled into take a lunch break with my girlfriend and my brother and when we got out the gray tiger striped full grown cat jumped up on my gorlfriends lap and started purring which he continued to do for the next 10 years. ( longer than she and i were together) the other story is on a return home from a new years eve party on a -20 drive home provoded a good buzz reducer during the ride home before the car warmed up. i pulled ito the spot in front of the house and opened the door to brace for that cold and an unseen little blackk ball of fur was climbing up my leg before i got my foot off the gas pedal. couldnt have been more than 6 weeks old and i boy was she happy i came along. turned out i felt the same way about her. i do love cuddles for no reason at all from little critters. but watch out what you wish for, i have cat now who comes to nudge me with a purr and to let me know the sun will be coming up in just an hour or two. every morning. cuddles yes. timing …. could use a little work. thanks dan. glad to know you are out there.

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  23. I have two stuffed bears, both found in the road near my credit union, on separate occasions. I call them Lily and Lafayette. They needed a little cleaning up, and Lily required new eyes.

    I also once picked up a Northern flying squirrel on Saint Clair Avenue. They are odd-looking little critters with very large eyes. The one I found had evidently sustained some kind of injury and was going around in circles in the street. I took it to the Wildlife Rehab Center, but unfortunately its rehab was less successful than that of the stuffed bears.

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  24. I was driving back from Wyoming, MN and My kids were with me and bickering in the back. So I pulled over and got out to settle the argument. When I got out I noticed a metal rectagular shape and went to investigate to see it it was anything valuable. Turned out it was. I was a metal clipboard with some business records and what not . I called the phone number on the front and told the guy where I found it . He seemed very excited, and said he needed it right away.

    Just seemed strange that I stopped in the exact spot he lost it and he couldn’t find it.

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