Roads: What I Learned
- How to use cruise control
- You get better gas mileage at 60 than you do at 80 mph. I didn’t get very good gas mileage.
- When my GPS indicated “Traffic Jam Ahead,” I could expect up to three cars.
- Speaking of cars. When you see a train traveling with oil tankers or coal cars, you’ll never see the caboose. They just keep coming.
- There are probably a lot more miles of red dirt/gravel roads than there are paved highways.
- You can tell the city folk from the farmers and ranchers by the color of the dust on their vehicles.
- The distances are farther and the buildings smaller than I imagined when writing my book, The Road to LaReta.
- Road signs read, “Road Work Ahead Next XX Miles.” XX miles roll beneath my wheels. No sign of any work. Sign reads, “Road Work Ends.” They’re probably just planning. Things move slower in North Dakota.
- When roads aren’t numbered or named after people, creativity runs wild! Saw “Old Peoples Road” and “Whoopup.” North Dakotans could rattle off many, many more, I’m sure.
Weather: What I Learned
- In Washington, the rain falls. In North Dakota, it slams.
- North Dakota gets most of its precipitation in May and June. So glad I picked May and June to travel.
- It’s not unusual for the wind to blow a semi over on the highway.
- Forget doing your hair in North Dakota. The wind will fix it for you.
- The phone on the wall rings. (They still have those). It’s a weather warning.
- As I was taking a tinkle at a rest stop, from the ceiling speaker came a booming voice forecasting precipitation and what direction the wind would be blowing. Fitting, don’t you think!
The People: What I Learned
- All along the way from eastern Washington, through Montana and in North Dakota, I was met with kindness and generosity.
- In North Dakota, the girls are pretty and the cowboys handsome. People talk to each other, face to face, not texting or holding any device, unless it’s a coffee cup. Laughter is a common characteristic; story telling a favorite pastime.
- The welcome I received connected me to North Dakota more than anywhere I’ve ever been. I’m not special, but I was certainly made to feel that way. It may have had something to do with staying in the old hotel my grandmother ran in the 1920’s, but more than that, people displayed a warmth of spirit. From having strangers mow a cemetery so I could view a head stone to meeting family members I haven’t seen in years or hadn’t met before, everyone was generous with their time. They modeled love and kindness. I told my cousin, Janet Peterson Esser, about the feeling of connection and she knew exactly what I meant. She and her husband had moved to Mandan and lived there for 25 years. She had experienced that feeling immediately.
- I will be going back this year around Labor Day and many more times, I hope. Part of me feels I belong.
- Thank you to everyone who made this trip so unforgettable.