AmeriCanada 2015

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}. 

Day 6. Thursday, July 30, 2015. Bismarck, North Dakota to International Falls, MN. "The Hitch Hitch"

We are loaded up and ready to go about 7:20. I like the country flags flying at the exit. Odometer is 27184 and trip is 167.7.

Sharon was really excited last night to see that third baby bird. {We only saw it on Bob's photo He got some great closeups with that new big lens.}

So this am as we hit the road, sunflower fields are all over, but they are planted along the side of the road, not out in the fields. Pretty incredible. 

At 8:30 we see bird number 5, of the morning, perched on top of a large horizontal hay roll along side the road and just this side of the fence.. It is some kind of hawk, like a Swainson's (based on Sharon's observation of the dark bib), and they seem to love to perch on the hay.

I see, on a fence post, what looks like a bird house, like one on a bluebird fence trail, and I ask Sharon if that's a bluebird house. Sharon likes to get right to it, and she says, "No, it's a can on a post."

As we are starting to count birds on this trip, Sharon reminds me that she saw an Orange-crowned Warbler next to the trailer as we were setting up to leave.

9:40 am and we stop for breakfast. A very nice break. Also, sometime in the morning - I forget exactly when, we stop at a rest stop for a ladies rest room break. There is a fascinating display inside, which I'll show here.

The artist made a spiral, starting in the center of the buffalo hide, using symbols that are explained around the hide. Fantastically detailed and exact stories are told. You shoulda been there. I don't mean when they killed the buffalo, but when we stopped at the rest area. {The display said one person in the tribe would be the historian. He would start the stories of the year in the center and spiral out as he chronicled the events of the year. Every one of these symbols had a description, like, a meteor fall they saw, people getting stabbed or killed, an outbreak of smallpox, etc. Fascinating.}

I use the rest room, and I find these pictures in the men's.

Now how on earth can the baby dispose of the towel a) after he just bonked his head by falling off, and b) having no hands. I like the shade of brown they used though. And before that, how did the baby get the strap unfastened, still with no hands?

It's 68 degrees outside (likely 92 degrees at home in San Jose), and we have about a quarter of a tank of gas. Sharon will drive and I'll have a nap. Before I zonk off, we see a Prairie Falcon in the road - I mean FLAT on the road. Sharon points out all the bird poop on the hood of the truck.

I wake up from my dreams about 11 am Central time. Sitting in the back, I hear the ladies talking. Shirley says, "Jerry sometimes has trouble hearing my high voice talking right to him, but when I'm in the bedroom talking with someone, low, over the phone, he hears every word of that".

So do you know what the mute guy said to the marriage counselor? a) Nothing, mute people can't talk, or b) I can't talk to my wife.

We gas up at a Flying J just outside Fargo. For some reason it's really exciting to be in the city where the famous movie was made. Odometer is 27378, Trip is 359.4, it's 11:33 am Central time, it's 77 degrees.We take on 33 gallons at 2.459 for $81.11. Nice.

Here I am, "looking at" Fargo. {Tara said this looks like Bob is sneezing sunflowers.}

Somewhere in here we go from North Dakota to Minnesota and again don't get a good shot of the state entry sign. Dangit.

We stop at 1:15 for lunch, finally coming across a place to pull off the highway. It's a sale barn, with some farm equipment and trailers parked between the barn's parking area and the highway. But no one's here, so we become the squatters here. We set up for lunch (Sharon makes mine. Grateful, grateful. Thank you Sharon.), and as we're eating we see a Killdeer sit down in a depression in the gravel parking area. We think it may be sitting on eggs, and let me tell you this, even if you think you know where the nest is, if the bird gets up and flies away before you zero in on the nest, you may never find it.

After we finish, we walk over and we find no nest, but we're careful each step we take so as not to mess the bottoms of our shoes by stepping on her eggs.

Sharon sees a combine beginning to work a field, but it's a long way off. Nevertheless, she asks for some video of this, so I provide

I like to estimate when we're going to get to tonight's RV park, and it looks like about four hours to tonight's location.

A cropduster is working a nearby plot.

I inadvertently leave the digital audio recorder going for a long time. Now I remember. I do that a lot. Once I left a video camera running, with the lens cap on, as Sharon and I drove from Jasper to Banff, Canada, and it got a nice record of an argument we were having. I don't remember what it was about, but I hope I won. We both laughed when we found this long, long recording.

We can see the detailed workings, as well as the perhaps un-intentioned artistry of a hay rower (Now I'm just makin' stuff up, like the name in this case).

Major highway changes call for detailed signage. I love the name "Bemidji."

We arrive in International Falls, and follow the GPS purple line to... oops, that road is closed. We continue on, and it recalculates. We come to THIS turnoff and... oops, this road is closed too. Hmmm. Again it recalculates, and this time, its purple brick road takes us to Arnold's RV Park. It's a kick. We have 27634 on the odometer, it's 6:13pm and an oldtimer who is the unofficial guardian while the owners are away at their other jobs tells us that we should take site 30 (I made that up. Maybe it was side 130. Whatever), and to go to the owner's office, and fill out a checkin sheet, calculate how much we owe, and leave it so the owners can come and collect the fee. Or stick the cash through the mail slot in their door. I do the latter.

Here is us, setting up camp. Sharon is hanging the black sunflower seed feeder.

This will be the last night for the three of us, as tomorrow, Shirley's husband Jerry and his daughter Tane will arrive, having driven all night from Overland Park, Kansas, with everybody's fishing gear. We get set up, leaving the trailer hooked to the pickup. But Sharon points out reasons that we will need the pickup without the trailer tomorrow, and in fact, we should unhitch it tonight.

I check out the rest room. Rather primitive, but functional. {Don't ask Shirley's opinion of the bathroom and shower. Let's just say it was pretty unmentionable.}

I try to unhitch, but somehow the rather complicated hitch gets stuck in a complex position, and Sharon convinces me to wait til tomorrow, call our buddy Kevin in Iowa - technical support, where they make this hitch (we have talked with him twice before to rescue us from a couple of hitch situations), and hopefully he can tell us what to do. The we've-almost-got-it-loose part of my brain wants a hammer. That's all I need. And I can free that sucker. But Sharon convinces me to wait, as I may do damage to it. Listen to your wife. Her big argument, which wins me over is: "We're OK. Nobody's hurt and we haven't broken anything."

I decide to take photos of the weirdly angled hitch and send it to Kevin tomorrow, so he knows what he's got to work with. We're at a fairly steep up-slope but can't move the truck. Luckily, our heads are in the uphill end.

Time for Rummikub!

So guess what, everybody. this will be Episode Number 3 - The Hitch Problem, or the Hitch Hitch.

It's Clever Catch-up Time! Here are a couple of exchanges that happened spontaneously in the last day or two:

We had a little-used word come up in the NY Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle, and Sharon and I agreed that it meant condescending. I let some time and conversation go by so they would not get the answer so fast, then I said, "What do you call a convict who is escaping from prison by letting himself down on a rope?" To my pleasant surprise, neither of them got it, and I said "Con Descending." (Sorry, I can't remember the word. Come on, Bob, get the details.)

This other time, we were discussing what to have for dinner that night. Sharon said she wanted to have the leftover chili. Shirley said she had eaten it for lunch, and Sharon said, "I had my heart set on chili." Then Shirley said, "No, you had your heart set on Paraguay."

And with that, "Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow."

Began: Bismarck, ND
Pass Through: Fargo ND, Bemidji MN, Big Falls MN
End: International Falls, MN
Miles Today: 439
Miles for Trip: 2079
Stay at Arnold's RV Park Again? Not if I can help it. But RV parks are very few around International Falls, so as last-ditch option, we would take it.
Previous Report 5. Hardin to Bismarck, North Dakota. The Queen Kingbird
Next Report 7. International Falls to a Farm Five Miles Outside Emo, Ontario. Hitch Fix. Down on the Farm.

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