Shelby MT to Grand Falls ND – Sept 21-28

28 Sep

Here we are in Grand Falls, a week and some 900 miles from Shelby.  We’re almost across the Great Plains.  I’ve loved it, and Joanna has been, shall I say, eager to move on.  Making entries in Parnessx2, particularly with photographs, is a time consuming process.  I’ve decided to post only when we stay in motel, maybe once or twice a week.  And I’m going to post unedited travel snapshots – editing takes too much time.

We stopped by a local Mexican eatery and sat, alone, at the counter.  A few moments later a local lawyer, Brad, sat with us.  We had a spirited conversation during lunch, including politics (he brought it up) and life.  He’s interested in visiting SF, and considering he has a progressive mindset, we encouraged him.

On the road, the countryside was beautiful with flat flowing wheat fields and beautiful skies.  Just outside of Shelby we came across an active Minuteman Missile site, very eery in being able to walk up to it, so innocent looking yet containing a lethal missile ready to rain death and destruction on our enemy, or defend our country, depending on your point of view.In Havre (named after the French port of La Havre, but pronounced “have-er”), we were directed to PJ’s for the best breakfast (i.e. only) in town.  Like many restaurants in these parts, PJ’s is also a casino – just various kinds of slot machines, and a dark windowless feeling of a casino.  Nobody to seat us, no wait people, only several tables with locals, all men.  None of them had any food and none of them were talking, at least after we walked in.  It felt like we walked onto the set of a Fellini movie or, more likely, into an asylum for the mentally challenged.  We sat down and, after a few more minutes, conversation resumed and a waitress appeared.  Our campgrounds have been very welcoming – beautiful sites, few campers, quiet (except for the omnipresent railroad trains), clean bathrooms.  With one exception, Williston ND.  A major new oil field discovery has lured unemployed workers from neighboring states.  Many are unable to find work, and are living in camps.  And we camped among them for one night.  To our right was a large man living in a small tent and in his truck.  To our left was a man with only a pick-up truck, and he spent the morning with a hammer and screwdriver trying to repair part of the driveshaft.  This reminds me of Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”  Being among these unfortunate people provides a more intimate view of events reported in the media.

More beautiful countryside, many grain elevators and processing plants along the railroad tracks, highway fatality crosses along Montana roadways (curious at first, then sobering).  We continue to meet locals and enjoy learning about their lives and their communities.  A camera works like an invitation for people to ask what I’m doing, and where I’m from.  In Anamouse ND, another of many small towns, I was photographing an old bank building when two young women cruised by asking if I’d take their picture.  They parked and Cindy immediately came up to me.  While I was photographing her, a man exited a bar and yelled at me to immediately (omitting his very colorful language and even more colorful hostile emotion) take my camera, my photographs and leave town.  He also suggested that, even more immediately, I get away from his sister, quickly.  Despite Shelly’s urging me to ignore her brother, Randy, I thought it better to walk across the street.  After conferring with his sister, Randy came over to me and apologized.  We spent the next 20 minutes talking, and then Randy didn’t want Joanna and I to leave.Here are some additional photos, including some from a decommissioned Minuteman Missile Command Center: