Last week I wrote about our trip to see you which happened on a Monday. I couldn’t get enough of North Dakota in one sitting so I came back alone on Friday. I have been seeking out a skid steer loader for a awhile and Friday’s trip was in that pursuit. The end of my story found me in Bismarck, North Dakota with a relic of the seventies strapped to a trailer behind my pick-up; a John Deere skid loader. This letter will serve as that story’s prequel.
I left at three-thirty Friday morning bound for the wilderness. I love North Dakota, however the intelligence of me rolling through the darkness in my old, rusty pick-up on roads last traveled by Conestoga wagon could be questioned. North Dakota has the sort of distance between outposts that makes for good neighbors. I would guess no one cares how loud the neighbor’s car or music is as the geography and population density of North Dakota makes for an asset even greater than the Bakken oil formation; privacy.
One of my stops along the way was Cooperstown, North Dakota. Mark Allen is a local radio announcer who grew up near Cooperstown which makes him Cooperstown’s favorite son and greatest celebrity. I took a quick tour of the town to find that there is; a Mark Allen Boulevard, a Mark Allen elementary school, a St Mark’s hospital and that, although all the churches have regular names, they are all of the Mark Allen synod. There is also a large billboard with Mark Allen’s face on it which is nice except the eyes follow you wherever you go which is kind of creepy. The truth is, Dave, none of what I wrote about Mark is the truth-except I am sure Cooperstown is proud of him. Mark and I went to Broadcasting school together here in Thief RIver Falls, Mn. I like to tease him about the irony of how he started from humble beginnings but now has risen to become a high-level politician in Middle River and beloved announcer at KTRF radio.
Our breakfast together was real nice, I especially liked that you paid for it. I like to keep my overhead low and had packed cold hamburgers on buns for the trip but a huge breakfast made most of the burgers irrelevant. It’s always nice to get a little one on one time with you, Dave. I like to visit you at the shop but typically I have to get in line with the three mechanics and four farmers outside the door to your office, which is understandable.
After I left Carrington, I arrived is Bismarck 2 ½ hours and 3 wayside rests later. Give my compliments to the Governor as North Dakota really makes up for the lack of convenience store bathrooms with some of the nicest interstate rest stops I‘ve ever seen. I bought the skid steer, loaded it then received a tour of the little ranchette where the loader had spent the last fifteen years of its life from its former owner.
It took longer to get home loaded than my trip that morning but I stopped by your work on the way home. I know it was your greatest shame to not only have a piece of John Deere equipment on the Case/IH lot but to have that equipment introduced by a family member. I noticed you didn’t leave your office to look at it for fear someone would see “Mr Case/IH” standing next to something green. We did use the Case/IH can coozies you gave me to keep the beer cold the following Saturday night so I hope that makes things right.
Your little bro’