Friday, September 19, 2014

North Dakota (US Route 46 West)

A foggy morning out of Lisbon, North Dakota. The breakfast buffet at the Super 8 Motel was nothing more than appropriate but I was able to stack up on cinnamon rolls and fill my travel coffee mug for the push west. After filling up my car at the local gas station on main street I drove out of town heading north on US-32N. The fog didn’t give any signs of letting go anytime soon and that only gave a special romantic aura to the town as I looked back on main street through my rear view mirror.

After a few miles I turned west to US-46W which would take me close enough to the town of Steele but would allow me to avoid the interstate. With the window rolled down I could feel the cold early morning breeze on my face and the sudden smell of fermented barley filling the air. Bales of hay was all I was able to see for a few miles on either side of the road and nothing more. A few vehicles slowly started to appear mainly pick-up trucks hauling farming equipment and cattle trucks of various sizes. I could see their headlights slowly appearing on the horizon even before I could make out what kind of vehicle was coming down the road. Under the thick fog those headlights were like beacons that would let me know how far the straight road would take me. A couple of drivers raised their right hands to me from inside their cabs, probably a good morning salute around those parts to other early morning risers heading to work or maybe just a courtesy wave to a stranger passing by.

A few miles in, the farms started to be more scattered around and far apart and the fields between them getting bigger and bigger. Corn, wheat, soybeans and canola extended far behind my visibility, lightly brushed by the fog, giving an element of silvery brightness to the crops. As I kept moving west the sun made feeble attempts to peek in but was immediately denied by a fog that seemed to hang in the air. I was hoping the fog wouldn’t lift at least until I got into the interstate. There’s something quite mysterious and mystical in driving under the fog and in those surroundings it all became a matter of enjoying it for as long as I could and taking the mystical aspect of it in full.

The trucks kept passing in the opposite direction in bigger numbers now as the farming report on the radio announced the corn futures were down three quarters, the same with the live cattle futures and there was also a significant drop in the livestock market trades. I wondered what that information meant to any of the drivers I kept passing and if their livelihood was dependent on those predictions.

When the fog started lifting up outside of Gackle and the sun begun to shine in all its glory bathing the fields in yellow gold, the northern plains were just beginning to roll before me. At the intersection before turning north on US-30N I stopped to yield to an oncoming pick-up truck. The driver waved me to cross and I thanked him by raising my right hand which he acknowledged with a slight smile and a tip of his baseball cap. I drove off and tuned the radio to the hourly farming report hoping to hear some good news.

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