On hiatus, abroad


It was in the fifteenth block of following the same car with its left blinker on that I realized something, I was in a rut. I had become so accustomed to a routine of plowing snow, feeding cattle and work that I had become Jack-you know Jack, the dull boy. I was treating the world as a warehouse and myself as a crate awaiting shipment; I needed change-I needed a trip.

One of our corn stoves required a part which was most easily and cheaply purchased in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. The rare opportunity of a juxtaposition of need, means and time had come together to offer me a brief respite from myself. I was off to the hometown of what once was the largest continuously poured concrete basement in the world (the Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center-now closed.)

First off, I typically pine away for things of the past, however one item of any road trip has improved greatly over time-coffee. A quarter decade ago, you were subject to coffee which bore the personality of its maker. I remember the small cups, containing old coffee through which you could see the bottom of the vessel in which it was contained. Gas stations sometimes offered no coffee but instead had candy bars and cans of pop (which I rarely drink by itself) or an extensive selection (plain and barbecued) of chips from which to choose.

Today’s coffee selection shines from beautiful machines that carefully meter mixture and temperature to create the perfect cup of coffee. Even in the event the coffee isn’t perfect, it is at least consistently drinkable. The average convenience store has more creamer selection (for women and children) than most restaurant’s offered even a few years ago. My coffee stops and bathroom breaks effect each other proportionately and occur about every hour so even a short trip has several stops.

I ate in Detroit Lakes which allowed my the chance the great indulgence of a trip through Fleet Farm. We purchase almost everything locally however my trips always include a stop at any “man store.” Each store contains pretty much the same thing, however each store is arranged differently which makes it seem fresh, kind of like when your wife tries a different hair style.

Fergus Falls was nice but, aside from the corn stove part, was little more than the southern marker of my trip around northwest Minnesota. I headed back making the same stops for coffee and a bathroom. It’s funny when you stop twice at a convenience store twice in the same day how there is the uneasy feeling between you and the store clerk about whether to act familiar or not. I typically pretend to stare at the “scratch-off” tickets (which I never buy) and wait for my change. At home I usually dump the silver I receive back into the Humane Society honor box however on the road I hoard the change until I have enough for another cup; like a bar patron who doesn’t want very good service.

I’m home now and sound from my six hour travels abroad. I am less the dull boy I was prior to my trip and have an awakened lust for travel. That seals it, my next trip will must contain even greater adventure, stronger coffee and more frequent bathroom breaks. Next stop, Carrington.

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