Road Trip

Earlier this week I was supposed to meet three of my fellow State-employed psychologists in Bismarck and drive with them to Jamestown to attend five hours of mandatory training related  to treatment planning at the State Hospital.  Jamestown is about 100 miles east of Bismarck. I know all three of my colleagues pretty well and find them to be very pleasant folk, but I was dreading the trip. It would mean 100 miles to Bismarck, 100 miles to Jamestown, and the 200 mile return trip at the end of the day.

We were to travel in a State car,  which usually turns out to be a cramped and uncomfortable vehicle with limited radio options. Moreover, I would be a passenger, not the driver, and that violates my need for control and speed. (It is not a good idea to speed while driving a State car. One of my colleagues did, going about  90 mph, and  she zipped right past the Governor on  the interstate. The  Governor promptly recorded the license plate number,  and had her tracked down and reprimanded.)

Road trips are a fact of life out here since our towns are so far apart. The scenery between Bismark and Jamestown is notable for nice views of migratory waterfowl in “prairie potholes”,  but not much else.  I suppose that the scenery on road trips isn’t as important as the quality of the conversation in the vehicle. I like my fellow psychologists, but I would rather do a road trip with a more diverse and irreverent  group–our church bell choir, for example, or a group of Baboons. My bell choir is very irreverent, like most church musicians I know.

I drove the 100 miles  to Bismarck early in the morning so I could meet up with my colleagues and we could proceed to Jamestown by 8:00 am.  I was dismayed to learn that the training had been cancelled several days earlier, and no one thought to  tell me. I said more than a few cuss words, threw my purse in a temper fit in the parking lot, and drove 100 miles back home, angered and somewhat relieved.  The training has yet to be rescheduled.

Tell about wonderful, horrible, and/ or eventful road trips from your past (or one you are planning) .

37 thoughts on “Road Trip”

  1. On occasion I am reminded of how unusual–how bizarre, really–my work history has been. I used to take 20-30 field trips a year. Most of those trips were sensible and safe. Boring, even. A few were not. Some of my business associates in the decades I was a freelancer were men who misbehaved when they got far from home. Good taste forbids me from describing some trips, and I couldn’t even hint tastefully at what happened on some trips.

    The most memorable of my trips involved a pulp mill town, a young female entertainer, about a hundred profoundly drunk Canadian men and a brawl I will describe as “Homeric” (a word you will appreciate if you have seen John Wayne’s movie “The Quiet Man”). In the little town of Marathon, Ontario, they still blush to recall what happened the second night we spent there.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    As a child, I accompanied my family on some memorable road trips. Any road trip led by Uncle Jim was guaranteed to be exotic and unusual. We ate picnics at any open rest stop (wonder Bread, mayonnaise, bologna, and sliced tomatoes, with a bag o’ potato chips and ice water ina jug). When there was no formal toilet, we peed in ditches. We visited State parks, camp grounds, local rivers, dams, Colorado, California, an Az Navajo Reservation, Deering Kansas, Illinois, etc. He loved to calculate filling his gas tank to the last vapors of gasoline. Therefore, we spent a fair amount of time parked on the side of the road, waiting for him to arrive with a gas can.

    After afternoon rides in the countryside with 2 cars, he and my aunt frequently forgot one of their children in our car, then would come flying back to rescue the child. We must have looked like a rag tag bunch, but we had fun exploring the world.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I too love road trips. One of my favorite was a journey to a campground & park in the hills of northern Georgia, for our nephew’s wedding in 2012. We had my step-son Mario flown into Mpls, then the three of us wended our way to Georgia at end of March through beautiful Blue Ridge Mnts, etc. The setting was gorgeous, and the wedding was wonderful, if a bit chilly outdoors on April 1. On the way back we read Kevin Kling’s The Dog Says How aloud in the car.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Last road trip with wasband was quite memorable – not all in a good way. Marriage was on its death throes and we fought about everything. The funniest (now) friction point was the camera. Back before digital cameras, you didn’t just willy nilly snap photograph after photograph since the film and the processing wasn’t cheap. But we could NOT agree on what vantage point would be best for photos. I still have the slides and there are two photos of every scenic landscape – one from the spot he thought best and one from the spot I thought best. All the photos are fine and after all these years I can’t tell you which were my choices or his!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I love road trips. Maybe not so much one that involves a cancelled meeting.
    A lot of my road trips are only 20 miles to the implement dealer so it’s country roads and very little traffic. Those are the best. Especially if you’re not afraid of dust and gravel roads.
    Bigger road trips always start at the Kwik Trip for a can of Cheddar Pringles and a bottle of grape pop.
    Alone I’ll crank up the music and take the scenic route if I have time.

    Kinda hated the I90 route to Chicago; too much traffic. But I380, that’s a nice trip.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. One of my road trips to a tiny town in South Dakota featured an epic blizzard that shut down the freeways, covered the prairie with snow over a man’s knees and wiped out electric power all over town. It was fun sitting in the local cafe (lit with candles) as local folks tried to figure what food they could serve without electricity. “Hey, we can just make toast! Aww, no, dang it! Toast needs electricity! Can we make coffee without electric juice?” Etc, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Today. Columbus to Oxford (Not THAT Oxford) to work at Miami University (Not THAT Miami). Two and one half hours except for the additional one hour delay as I-70 was shut down due to an accident. No scenery that time of morning but it’s not much different than Fargo to Bismarck.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Is a road trip always in a car? If not, some of my more memorable road trips were my bicycle trip from Basel to Copenhagen and the numerous trips my roommate and I took all over Switzerland on her Vespa. Those memories are really precious.

    My first American road trip happened after I had been in the US all of five days. Wasband and I set out in his 63 VW bug loaded to the rafters with wedding presents, including a potted miniature orange tree between my feet in the front passenger seat. We left Greenport, Long Island and headed straight for I-80. Five days later we pulled up in front of our new home, a basement apartment on Talbot Court, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. My first impression of the US: endless freeways dotted with Howard Johnson’s.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “Endless freeways dotted with Howard Johnson’s” doesn’t sound appealing. Can you recall your emotional response to the US? Did it seem oppressively big? Unwelcoming? Exciting with possibility?

      Perhaps the best description I have read of the US as experienced by a European was in Nabokov’s Lolita. Humbert Humbert, as I recall, is astonished by the scale of things and by weird business names (like Komfy Kabins).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was on emotional overload, Steve. I arrived in NY a few days before Thanksgiving, which, of course, I had no idea what was. I was hoping for a warm welcome by my in-laws, figuring that if their youngest son loved me, they would too. Turns out they hated me from before they even laid eyes on me. They had hoped he’d marry his high school sweetheart, who was the daughter of a lawyer, and my mother-in-law made sure I knew it. Guess they saw me as the Scandinavian harlot who had led their son astray.

        When we left their house five days later, I was an emotional wreck. While I was looking forward to the adventure ahead, I was already beginning to realize that I had married an immature (he had just turned 23), jealous and possessive man who didn’t even try to control his bad temper. I was in for a rough ride.

        I think I was struck by the vastness of this country, the wide open expanses of the West, but even more so when we arrived in Cheyenne, by the friendliness of the people. The first five years were really tough, I wouldn’t have made it through them had it not been for the friends who opened their homes and hearts to me.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Thanks for the reply, PJ. Gee, I’m sorry your early days in the US were burdened so much with all those negative feelings. But it makes sense. I’m glad there were good-hearted people to take some of the sting out of a really difficult moment.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m about ready to give up on this site. I have to sign in every time, and today they asked for my password. Which, of course, I don’t know. From there, I made three passes at re-setting it. Finally it worked, but, just as a few days ago, the post I’d written disappeared.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CB – I don’t have nearly the issues w/ WP that some others do (except on my phone) but I always write my pieces up on another program (Word) so that if WP screws w/ me I haven’t lost it!

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Use a password manager such as Last Pass so you don’t have to remember your various passwords (just the password for the password manager). (It also has the advantage of being able to create more secure passwords than we can on our own.) Then make sure you are logged in before you write your post. I would think that would work.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Sorry this is so long, but there’s no way to tell it briefly…

    I have a vague recollection of having told about this trip before, but back in the late ’80s, we had contrived with some friends in Pasadena to meet more-or-less halfway between and vacation together. The area we chose was southwest Colorado. After some searching around and with a recommendation from the area chamber of commerce, we chose a rustic retreat at the top of a 10,000- foot mountain and on the shores of an extensive reservoir. It was called “Groundhog”.

    After a drive of two very long days and with much anticipation (imagine, if you will, us singing “Groundhog” as we drove along while Robin accompanied on her autoharp), we arrived at Groundhog in late afternoon of the second day. Now, to fully appreciate how remote Groundhog was, you have to understand that the nearest town, Dolores, which means “sorrows” in Spanish, was forty miles away on a dirt road.

    As we approached Groundhog, we first passed along one end of the reservoir. It was substantial, though undistinguished except for the extensive cluster of derelict camper trailers lining its otherwise barren shore. There was a smattering of buildings and outbuildings of uncertain integrity. Near the road and central to the encampment was a low building covered with asphalt faux brick which had been corrupted by woodpeckers, apparently. In front of this building in the fenced yard, a small group of individuals hunkered around a smoky fire. One of the hunkerers stood up as we approached. We rolled down the car window. The man approached the car and thrust out his hand, the one holding a chunk of meat. “You must be the Nelsons!” he said. “Have a bear steak”.

    It turned out that the low building behind the hunkering welcoming committee was to be our cabin, “the best cabin in the settlement.” We were shown inside. Even at first glance, the cabin on the inside was breathtaking and its wonders just kept unfolding. To their credit, our hosts had freshly painted the interior. You could tell by the smell.

    The ceiling height was about seven feet. There were two main rooms, one of which held two double beds and the other held a fold-out bed and a rollaway and a couch. The couch had three legs, the fourth corner was supported by a chunk of log. In addition, there was a kitchen and a bathroom. The kitchen held a small refrigerator, a small electric stove and a table. The bathroom, which was carpeted, held a sink, a toilet and a small pre-fab shower stall. The impression, in a word, was squalid.

    Our friends from California hadn’t yet arrived and so we decided to take a little walk down by the reservoir to talk about what we had found and what we ought to do next. On one hand, we told ourselves, we ought to stop being so bourgeoise and just make the best of it. On the other hand, we told ourselves, we ought to run. When our friends arrived, it was early evening. They were equally appalled by the accommodations. We took another little walk. Behind our cabin was abandoned bus which served as the anchor for an extensive collection of trash. The enclosure that surrounded our cabin was also, apparently, used to contain a small herd of horses, as the ground was generously littered with horse apples. From the power pole at the edge of the yard, a strand of Romex, the plastic-covered electrical wire used to connect interior circuits, drooped to the ground and looped across the grass to our cabin.

    There were other denizens of the encampment. A band of small unwashed children, wearing only t-shirts and nothing else made themselves known. As night fell we observed various individuals moving from cabin to cabin, invariably with a can of beer in one hand and a rifle in the other. The more we watched, the more we got the feeling that Groundhog was a survivalist outpost.

    It was too late by that point to consider leaving to drive the forty miles back to Dolores, so we decided to make a night of it. First item on the agenda was to make some dinner. We had brought some food and we had that hunk of bear meat. There was no coffee maker- only a coffee pot. We put some water on to boil. Half an hour later it was starting to get warm. Our electric stove, which ordinarily requires a 240-volt circuit, was supplied only with that single 120-volt circuit we saw coiling across the yard and it was sharing that power with every other electrical device in the cabin.

    Over the course of the next uncomfortable hour or two, we determined that at daybreak the two men would drive into Dolores and secure alternate lodging until we could determine what to do next. Then we prepared for bed. When we unfolded the sleeper bed, we discovered a dead mouse. The rollaway mattress had blood stains. At this point, our two girls and the daughter of our friends locked themselves in the car and didn’t come out until morning. We spent an uncomfortable night scratching ourselves in the dark on our side-by-side double beds. Sometime during the night a band of dogs cornered a skunk under the cabin.

    Early the next morning, as planned, the two men drove into Dolores, found a motel and returned. We packed up the car. Then came the moment of confrontation with our hosts. We had reserved the cabin for a week and paid a deposit. We were willing to forfeit the deposit, but it didn’t seem right to just flee. The proprietors of the camp lived in a cabin at the front of which was a small store, the shelves of which held beer, ammunition, Groundhog hats and Vienna sausages. The wife of the couple was at the counter, the husband having gone somewhere on an errand. When we announced we were leaving, she was shocked. We explained about the mouse in the sleeper, the blood stains on the rollaway, the fact that the toilet wasn’t bolted to the floor and you had to brace your feet against the wall to keep from tipping over. Also, the shower drain was clogged, so the shower overflowed on the carpeted floor and obviously had done so for quite some time. We told her the stove didn’t have enough power to actually cook anything.

    She regarded us as the bourgeoise city folk that we were and said, disdainfully, “You didn’t expect the Holiday Inn, did you?”

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I have never stayed in that place, Bill, but I’ve bunked in at least three places just like it. We once were feeling smug about renting a cabin on a lake when all other local motels were filled. The “cabin” turned out to be a decrepit trailer lit by one naked light bulb dangling from the ceiling. The “lake” was a puddle of blurping algae so thick a person could almost walk on it.

      Contrarily, one of my reasons for loving road trips was my enjoyment (AFTER getting home) of funky little places like that. You forget the nights spent in Motel 6 rooms, but you don’t forget the motel up north where the landlord had put up all kinds of signs like “Don’t throw your cigarette butts in the toilet. We don’t piss in your home’s ash trays.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Great story, Bill, well told. The back roads of America are rife with wonderful adventures. I’ve driven through southeastern Colorado so have a bit of an appreciation for the scene, which was a complete surprise to me after having explored quite thoroughly the northern part of the state.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. When I lived in Alexandria, my sister came for a visit for a few days. She had caught a ride with her husband, father-in-law, and the father-in-law’s buddy, who were embarking on a hunting trip. She recalls that the two older men would stop about every half hour or so in the nearest small town, saying they wanted to use a bathroom. Each time they’d find a bar, use the facilities, and then have a beer. The beer they drank at each stop necessitated another stop in short order. The trip, which should have been about two and a half hours or so, stretched out much longer.

    Liked by 5 people

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