How can you keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve seen Karl Hungus?

As I type, we’re entering Fargo, ND, and the works of the Coen Brothers have been knocking around in my head as longs as we’ve been seeing signs for Fargo and Moorhead, MN. Aside from grain silos, the tallest structure in the greater Fargo-Moorhead area seems to be the Multiband building. We have just entered the land of the 75 mph speed limit, and Rodin is acting accordingly. Beck’s Midnite Vultures is on the stereo, and I’m blaming Glamorama for any and all pop culture references made during the course of this entry.
A bit of an update, I suppose, is in order. We left Albany on Sunday afternoon and decided to take the southerly route through New York State to avoid the Thruway tolls. A call to Phil affirmed that Allegany State Park was indeed a nice spot to perhaps spend the night, so we headed out 88 to Binghamton, where we proceeded to miss the turnoff for 17 and ended up suddenly in Pennsylvania on 81. We took the first exit across the state line and, while I was mistakenly filling the WRX up with the wrong grade of fuel, we decided to grab some food at Dobb’s Family Restaurant across the way. This we did, and it resulted in perhaps the best meal of chicken and biscuits I have ever had. I’ve been thinking of it longingly and droolingly ever since. We topped off the meal with a slice of cherry pie and some coffee before getting back on the road.
We rolled into Allegany just before sunset, made it into the campground just before the clerk closed the window, set up the tent, and boiled water for hot chocolate before hitting the hay. The showers which had followed us all day opened up into full-fledged rain overnight, and we were thankful we had chosed to pitch camp on the highest ground. It was still damp in the morning, so the tent didn’t really dry out, but we packed up and headed back to the highway.
I had wanted to swing through Ellicottville, Wally’s hometown, since we were in the Southern Tier, so we spent the morning doing a bit of exploring in the intermittent drizzle. With the help of Rodin’s laptop, we located the Holland residence, and suprised Wally Sr. in the midst of his late morning routine. He kindly forgave our intrusion, gave us the grand tour, fixed us some coffee, chatted about a little bit of everything, gave us farewell hugs, and sent us on our way with mail for Wally and a bottle of cooking wine, all without being the least bit fazed by the fact that he was wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. I think my dad would have done the exact same thing.
As we reentered the village, the sky opened up, so we parked the car and grabbed a bit to eat at DJ’s, another great diner find, where the eggs of my Western omelette came wrapped neat as an envelope around ham, cheese, and onions. After we’d satiated ourselves, we headed back to 17 and continued westward.
The hope was to get through to Chicago before the night was out, so we drove straight most of the day, making it through the most expensive and probably least interesting part of the drive: I-90 between Erie, PA and Chicago, IL. I set up the camcorder and took some brilliant footage of Rodin driving, a few funny license plates, an interesting cloud formation, our drive through the wide highways of the Windy City. We found a Koa campground in Union, IL, northwest of the city, snuck in after hours by lifting the gate, set up camp, and, honest people that we are, paid in the morning. I slept much better, and enjoyed a hot shower in the morning (the ones in Alllegany were cold, but very clean), followed by some amazing Rodin-brewed coffee and a few chapters of my book. And then we were off once again.
Day three took us up to Madison, where we found a liquor store and then took a roundabout way through town (due to our not-so-fabulous map of the city). Finally we made it to Governor Nelson State Park on the lakeshore, where we lunched on some food we’d picked up at a nearby Logli supermarket. Another roundabout detour brought us back to the highway and we headed up to the Twin Cities.
In Minneapolis, we continued our visit-the-homes-of-friends routine by stopping by Christine’s place in Roseland, where her mother gave us water and blueberry pie, her sister prepared for an early flight, and her brother tried to convince her mother why she should buy him a $1200 camera. (We stayed out of that one.)
We headed out of town to a gorgeous sunset and found a campground in Big Lake, where we chatted with the owners and then fended off mosquitos while trying our best to set up the tent. In the safety of the bug-free tent, we read a bit before going to sleep.
Which brungs us to today. We arose around 7, showered, made coffee, packed up the car, and headed out towards North Dakota. Some first impressions: North Dakota is flat. Very flat. I noticed the transformation in the landscape about 20 miles outside of Moorhead, where the rolling hills faded slowly away. And the speed limit picked up again. And now we’re cruising at a smooth 80, thinking about how goddamned windy this place must be in the winter, having a discussion about the difference between “barrier” and “gate” and Jamiroquai plays. What can I say? Phish keeps being dismissed, Mike Gordon was not a hit, and I’ve gotten a flat veto on any Dave Matthews. The Charm of the Highway Strip was too much of a downer for my traveling companion, so there goes another suggestion. Counting Crows, Tenacious D, and Beck have been a hit, though, as has Wax’s Popular Music (Lots of I-IV-V). I’ll have to wait for a long stretch when Rodin goes to sleep to listen to 6/19/04 as I’d hoped — there’s a six-disc CD changer in the car, which means that I could listen, say, to both SPAC shows right in a row. But, sadly, it is not to be. Though I have decreed that, when we get to Carhenge, we will play both Spinal Tap’s ‘Stonehenge’ and all of Gamehendge. I just have to, you know?
The plan is to spend tonight in the grasslands in the western end of the state, and then head down to Mt. Rushmore, then into Wyoming/Montana for a little while before heading to Colorado for some time with Kristin. We’ll take 80 back through Nebraska — and, I confess, I am really excited about Nebraska. And Montana. And Colorado.
In summary: a great trip so far. Many many thanks go to Rodin for hooking me up with his internet phone haxor sweetness in order to post all this drivel. Oh, yeah, and for making this trip possible. You knopw, having the car and all.
So, there will be more updates to come, perhaps some pictures… Until then, happy trails.


11 thoughts on “How can you keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve seen Karl Hungus?

  1. Big Lake, eh? I have family there!
    Fargo is boring. So boring, in fact, that
    the movie of the same name was not actually
    shot there.
    I think you’ll love Rushmore. Be sure to
    play with the blasting handle in the museum.
    It is very satisfying.

  2. Cooking wine? He usually just gives me friendly advice. Bastard.
    On the other hand: I’m sad to hear that Rodin has failed to grok the beauty of the Jam Band genre. Best to start with some 5/8/77 – the near-mythical Cornell second set, a marvelous work of ballet. Or some 11/30/97 – bust out Funky Bitch, that’ll change his shit right around…

  3. Oh, and there is really no reason to be excited about Nebraska. The highways are straight as railroad tracks and have *no* scenery (unless you count cows, corn, and the gianormous trucks that pass you, oh, yeah, and cows and of course corn).
    Granted, thunderstorms are spectacular since there is nothing to the horizon, and sunsets last hours.
    I have read “My Antonia,” but as I learned in the two separate months I spent out there in the summer in middle school, life in Nebraska is about 100 times less exciting than Cather makes it out to be. The lack of trees seems out of place, and the size of the sky can be clostrophobic–oh, and tornados suck ass. It was an experience, but not one I want to repeat.
    Then again, I am a New Englander through and through. Maybe your more “western” (being from NY and all) ways will be more amenable such things. šŸ˜‰

  4. Amanda is correct about the tag — close italics after Midnight Vultures in the last sentence of paragraph one. (And there is more clean up to do, if you chosed them just right.)
    Re “The lack of trees seems out of place, and the size of the sky can be claustrophobic–oh, and tornados…”
    O’thank you! Amanda! While I was at U of I, Iowa City, in my early 20’s, I came home to NY for Christmas vacation, and while on a drive along one of those winding valley-upon-valley roads that parallels a meandering river through the middle of Vermont on our way to my grandmother’s in MA for the holidays, I suddenly felt the pressures that had built up month upon month inside of me while in Iowa “Let go!” and told my family how “releasing” it was to have an immediate, and forested, horizon at one’s side…while in Iowa, despite undulations of the land, there is … n o t h i n g … it seems, “out there” to define one’s place in space.

  5. Nebraska? I always thought it was a great place to be from, but then Carhenge did not exist when I was there. Perhaps that makes a difference.
    Nebraska with its amber waves of grain, brings new meaning to allergies and a new found respect for the farmer.
    Happy trails.

  6. Yes, yes, well, I knew as soon as I posted it via Kung-Log that there were a couple of unclosed emphasis tags (a problem with me not being able to see the computer screen due to sunlight, and with me not being accustomed to the Kung-Log interface), but as soon as I’d noted it, we lost cell signal and couldn’t recover it, being as we were in the heartland of America. So I pulled my hair out over it for a bit, complaining that I was certain everyone would now be posting comments telling me I’d not closed a tag, blah blah blah, and I wouldn’t be able to do a thing about if for days. So you all have lived up to my expectations.
    You should just be happy I’m posting, seeing as I’m in the middle of nowhere!!!
    As for the music, I have won a bit of ground in terms of more abstract appreciation of Phish specifically, but I doubt this means he’ll actually want to listen to ’em much. The next time I’m drivin’ and he’s nappin’ though… Just you wait!

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