Mea Culpa to extreme southern Saskatchewan and other thingies…

WTVD out of Raleigh/Durham interviews me this morning. Apparently someone at the station saw something about my trip to Canada on my sister’s Rose of Tralee page on Facebook.  They contacted her for my number and we wound up doing a Skype interview from my hotel room in Estevan, SK. Pretty cool and I believe my 15 minutes of fame is at an end as it should be.

As the title suggests, I owe southern Saskatchewan near the US border a huge apology. I had said to someone that it looked like a wasteland (the area around the Westmoreland Coal Co lignite mine). To make an analogy, guys – ever see a woman and first glance you’re like meh? You see her sometime later and realize, “hmm, she’s actually quite fetching!” Well, when I first saw what I reported on last week, I had two things on my mind. I was still trying to figure out why I got waylayed at the border and what the heck is going on with my GPS on the dopey Microsoft phone with the T-mobile SIM. 

Coming back through that area after I left Estevan, SK this morning I realized the area where they were actively strip mining for lignite coal was pretty small. Around that area where they had already mined they did a wonderful job of reclamation. The rest of southern SK looked just like the rest of SK – pretty. My apologies. Oh, and Kevin Conquergood if you read this, my brother Tom added, “and if you stand on a can of tuna fish you can watch your dog run away for 4 miles.” So there you have it.

Speaking of Estevan, a pretty little town. The Days Inn rocked, and the food at Blackbeard’s was tasty. And the staff rocked. The one waitress gave me a to go cup with lid for my beer I couldn’t finish. She has her priorities correct huh? The breakfast at Blackbeard’s was out of this world. It’s included with the room. I had sausage ( 3 links – plump!), 2 scrambled eggs, hash browns and toast which was almost as thick as Texas Toast. I finished only the sausage as all the other stuff was too plentiful. 

I snapped his somewhere between the US border at the town of Minot. ND:

That’s a Minuteman III nuke site.

I snapped this just south of Kenmare, ND:

You’ll have to enlarge it but what is there are the last two digits of a graduating class from the local high school. There are two digit numbers signifying a graduating class all over the foothills going back to at least the 50’s. Some classes used all 4 digits for the year. The numbers are made up of rocks. Not sure if they’re painted or they get them from a quarry that color. A pretty cool tradition. 

As I approached Minot AFB I thought of the B-52 bombers housed there. Then it made me think of when I was in high school at good ol’ Lenape H of Medford, NJ and the huge planes which took off and landed at McGuire AFB. I used them to my advantage on the baseball field. As a catcher, from that position I had a clear view off into the distance in the direction of McGuire. When the C5’s took off and landed, I made sure to point that out to the opposing batter. Banter such as “Oh my, I hope he’s throttle up, looks like he’s losing altitude” (the jet wasn’t). Sometimes I had the opportunity to comment upon the sky divers at the airfield between us and McGuire but much closer to the school. Banter such as, “holy crap, holy crap I hope his chute opens” (while giving the pitcher the sign for what pitch I wanted thrown). Once in a blue moon there were C5 Galaxies landing and humans dropping from the sky. I had an umpire tell me he would sit back there and snicker to himself – as he knew what I was doing! 

Random observations em route today:

Remember the Push Me Pull You from Dr Dolittle? I saw a train consist near Lakota, ND made up of one BNSF locomotive followed by dozens of hopper cars with another BNSF locomotive at the end facing the other direction. A push me pull you!

Also near Lakota, a field of black cows. Very usual for the area. The field was flatter than flat with a tiny hill the size of a pitcher’s mound near the road.  Three adolescent cows were standing on it. It was just a funny visual.

I had lunch at the Dakota Farms Restaurant in Rugby, ND. Rugby claims to be the “Geographic Center of North America”. Who am I to argue so I stopped for lunch. I actually had a sit down and ordered a BLT which I don’t think I’ve ever ordered before anywhere. It was crowded and this woman who was by herself eating and doing a little work on her laptop motioned me over to join her as there were no seats available and she was at a booth. Her name was Catherine and she is a local (but not native…originally from NY state.) It was a  pleasant diversion to actually talk with someone other than myself.

I saw a crop duster in action for my first time. Boy are they nimble. Small, light and nimble.

I would up bedding down for the night in Bemidji, MN. Alas, I won’t get a chance to see Paul Bunyan and Babe as I got in too late and will be leaving too early tomorrow. Know who’s from Bemidji? Jane Russel!

I’ve really got to hump it tomorrow. Lots of time to make up. I’ll probably be on the road for 15 hours. To do that I’ll need to leave early. To leave early, I’ll have to…well you get the picture! It’s bedtime. Good night.

73 – Jim


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