I’m worked. Check the news, if you care. Today there was a high wind advisory for the area of the country between Montana to Minnesota. Even if I had known this before heading out I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it. Driving the Element in the wind kind of sucks, its like driving a big ass sail through crosswinds, but I’ve done it before and usually its a fleeting annoyance that keeps me on my toes, but passes after a couple hundred miles. Today was different. Today was insane. For 9 hours I felt like a captain fighting through a marathon squall. Constant white knuckle grip, howling wind, using every ounce of attention and strength to keep my ship on course. It fucking sucked, but in a way I think it helped pass the time. My arms and shoulders feel like jelly and my ears are ringing from the constant squeal of air whipping me back and forth for over four hundred miles. But hey, I’ll check driving through 40-50 mile winds off my bucket list.
It all started so pleasant, I spent last night in Minneapolis with Schneck and her friend Missy. It was great to see her and I instantly fell in love with “Minnie”. Beautiful Midwestern, bohemian town with perfect weather(this time of year), and a chill, comfy vibe. Kind of reminded me of a mix of Denver, Flagstaff, and Williamsburg. With a dash of “Minnesota Nice” to top it off. It was great to see my old friend in her hometown and explore a little bit of a new city, and by 2 this afternoon I was dangerously close to staying for many, many days and blowing the rest of my drive, so I reluctantly pushed on.
When I left Minnie it was 80 degrees, with cute fluffy clouds cruising on a strong but nice breeze across a big blue sky. As I continued west into North Dakota I felt like I left a chipper “downchaknow” type of place and entered a forgotten corner the world. I’ve never been up here, but figured it would be like some of the other stretches of open Americana I driven through. Ripe with kitsch, random quirks, vast landscape. Not so. Or maybe all that, but on a level I wasn’t ready for. Put it this way. I drove through North Dakota on the 94, the main thoroughfare through the state. On a map all the “major” “cities” hug this highway. It was almost the entire state, 350+ miles, and I think I counted 4 cities…and by cities I mean places to get gas. Even in Bismarck, the capitol, it felt more like a rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike than a center of a state. Yes there were “exits” off the highway every 20 or 40 miles, but inevitably it was something like “Gales Litch- NO SERVICES”, and consisted of an off ramp leading to a desolate road that wound off into the unknown. Don’t want to sound like I’m knocking ND, I love open country, but I was honestly shocked by how incredibly EMPTY it is up here. It’s the stark opposite of claustrophobic. It feels like at any moment, you make a sudden move or go over a hump too fast, you would break gravity’s hold and simply float into the great big sky. Hard to explain.
In other worrying news, there’s been a lot of flooding up here, and it was very apparent since I entered western ND. I thought all I had to be scared of was tornados and wandering bison, but now I’m hearing things like closed roads due to the swollen Missouri River and winter storm warnings. I thought I’d be alright doing this pass in the “summer”, but its cold up here(30-40 degrees sometimes!!!), and there is all sorts of crazy weather shit happening. I’m apprehensive, but kind of stoked that this otherworldly new frontier is part of my country. Barely skimmed the surface, but this part of the US is fucking crazy, even to me.
At the moment I don’t know where I am. Bowman, ND. The only place I could find a motel that wasn’t completely booked. I assume its because of the displaced people due to the floods. I’m glad its here and has vacancies but confused about why there is even a Super 8 here. Its 59 miles off the godforsaken “main interstate”, no tourism draw that I can gather, and really nothing to lure anyone this far into nothing. I came here under nightfall and feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a state that embodies the middle of nowhere. Maybe tomorrow’s daylight will reveal what this place is all about.