Friday, November 18, 2011

2010 Alaska Sunk - Part 11 of 15

2010 Alaska Sunk

Part 11 of 15

I'm On Lunch!
Dinosaur Bugs
N. Dakota Windmills

I'm on Lunch!

One nice thing about coming home through the United States is that many of the smaller towns along US Route 2 have a community park and recreational area in the centre of town. Most have clean washroom facilities with showers and overnight camping is permitted without charge. Camp-fires are not permitted, but that's OK.

I was late starting-out that morning and I was entering the town of Williston, N. Dakota, when I saw the Golden Arches of a McDonald's Restaurant. I thought of having an Egg McMuffin sandwich and a coffee so I pulled in. The place was crowded with long lines at each cash so I got into the shortest one and looked around while I waited in line. I couldn't help but notice that our cashier was flippant with the customers bordering on downright rude and I took an instant dislike to her. She made the soup-Nazi from Jerry Seinfeld's television comedy series look tame by comparison. Notwithstanding, I thought I'd make my order simple and quick leaving her with nothing to snap at me about. I even had the correct change ready in my hand. When I got to the cash I asked for an Egg McMuffin and a small coffee to which she snapped, “I'm on lunch!” This took me by surprise and left me a little puzzled so I asked, “How can you be on lunch when you are standing at the cash serving me?” She repeated, “I said I'm on lunch!” Feeling just a little “put out” I said, “No you're not – you're right here standing in front of me and serving me.” Visibly rattled she barked, “I'm serving the lunch menu now – the breakfast menu finished at 10:30 am.” In my usual foot-in-my-mouth style I just couldn't let it go so I looked at my watch and told her that it was only 9:45 am. The very same moment I did that, I saw the clock on the wall saying 10:45 am and I realized I'd gained an hour travelling east. “Give me a quarter-pounder and a coffee please!” She gave me a cold stare and took my money with nothing more said.

Dinosaur Bugs

Its not the first time I've ridden my motorcycle through the rolling hills of North Dakota. The first time, in 2006 (ref: Ottawa-USA Trip), I was blown away by the awesome beauty of the windswept hills but this time I saw something very different. One hillside was inhabited by Brontosauruses; Tyrannosauruses; Terridactyls and other species of prehistoric monsters some of which I didn't know the names of. They weren't real, of course, but they were life-sized replicas expertly carved out of wood and painted in realistic colours. I had to get a closer look. I parked my Harley on the side of the road. I removed my helmet and my bandanna and grabbed my camera. My two grand-kids had to see these fine creatures that once roamed freely on the earth. The half-hour I took to get some pictures was well worth it.

I didn't think much about it at first but I began to get bothered by some flying, biting-bugs as I walked back towards the Harley still a few hundred yards away. I didn't know what they were. They weren't grasshoppers or crickets; neither were they any type of bee, wasp or hornet. They didn't sting but they started to leave small red bites on me. My best guess would be a large horse-fly but I wasn't absolutely sure. The closer I got to the Harley, the more I had on me. They got into my hair; they found their way down my neck and under my shirt; they started to bite my back and my chest and more were coming. They tried to get in my ears and up my nose so I ran as fast as I possibly could to the Harley. I combed them out of my hair with my fingers and from my face. I swatted as many as I could from under my neck and out of my shirt. I knew exactly what to do now. I started the Harley, strapped on my helmet, and wound her up to 100 mph on an empty highway until they had all blown away in the wind.

Later in the day I spoke to some truck drivers at a rest stop and I asked if they knew what those bugs were. They didn't know what species they were but they did explain that they usually come out in hordes just after the farmers have finished cutting their crops for the day.

I was not the only one bothered by these bugs. Dozens upon dozens of their corpses lay all over the truckers' windshields, swept to one side or the other by their heavy-duty wipers. Even though this was my first experience with these bugs it seams that they were no strangers to the truckers.

N. Dakota Windmills

I had seen these windmills in Ontario but I saw a lot more in the hills of N. Dakota. I was impressed by their grace and sleekness. They looked like something out of the future. In one area in particular I counted as many as thirty. This was more than I'd ever seen in one place before so I pulled over to take some pictures to put in this blog. To make sure I could get the best photos I had to set my camera on the flat surface of a fence-post while I removed my helmet, jacket and gloves. When I was satisfied with my shots I continued on my way.

I decided to camp overnight in the next small town. It was around supper time and there was a handy supermarket close-by where I could buy some pre-made sandwiches and a couple of beers. I unloaded my bike and set up camp in their community park. How nice! I was ready to relax. I looked in my knapsack for my mp3 player and my heart sank when I noticed my camera was not where it should be. I knew instantly where it was. It was sitting on top of the fence-post sixty miles back where I'd taken my last photos. All of my pictures for Alaska Sunk were in that camera so I had to go back to get it. There was no other choice. It was still there waiting for me.

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