Monday, December 7, 2009

A NoDak Thanksgiving - On The Road Again, Part 1

If my life were the star ship Enterprise, and my mission was to "Boldy go where no Jew has gone before," then going to Devil's Lake, North Dakota for Thanksgiving would be the logical next step. As it is, I am not Capt. Picard-berg, and a Hyundai Accent makes a poor substitute for the Enterprise (sorry, Accents, you know I love you, but I think we can all agree you are no Enterpise). However, I did, in fact, go to NoDak for Thanksgiving and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.
You see, Jesse's family is in Devil's Lake, and it being Thanksgiving and all, he wanted to go home. Only thing is.. it's a 29 hour freakin' drive! Each way! Ouch. But flights were super expensive and with there being three of us here now it was theoretically possible to drive straight through, rotating shifts of driving and sleeping, none of us having to drive for more than four hours at a time. Since I have no job and generally nothing else to do, I immediately told them to count me in and once we all committed to do it, we were excited. Vacation! Road trip! We must be fuckin' nuts! That was surely the sentiment most people had when we told them our plan.. and they were probably right. We had to admit that it did sound crazy. 29 hours straight driving to get to... where was that again? North Dakota? What the...?? Surely we wouldn't make it, we would freeze our balls off, and/or we would all hate each other by the time we got there. Obviously, we had our doubts and our doubters. Well, I am pleased to say we proved them all wrong. (And if I could have pre-visioned the above meat platter and the rest of the deeelicious Thanksgiving dinner, I would never have had any doubts at all... the food was maybe worth the whole trip!)

Frankly, at this point, the drive there is a total blur of roads, trucks, gas stations, snacking, sunsets, sunrises, and fitful sleeping. I know we were all full of adrenaline to be getting out of the city for a while and we were well stocked with road food and road music, but other than that I don't remember many specifics. I know the first gas stop we made was in Sparks, NV, which is really just Reno. It was probably the coolest truck stop/casino/gun museum you're ever likely to see. To the left you see Wyatt Earp's gun, they also had John Wayne's spurs and at least two full walls of other guns and memorabilia.. Northern Nevada baby!

There were a few wrong turns around the Idaho/Montana border but the roads were clear and the weather was great and amazingly it seemed like we were in North Dakota before I knew it. Even though we had spent over a full day in the car, somehow it felt to me like we had gone through a time warp or a wormhole (to continue with the Star Trek motif). Simultaneously, it physically felt to me exactly like we had spent 29 hours in a car, but mentally like the 29 hours went by super fast and time in the world outside the car had somehow failed to pass. I wondered if the ride home would seem so easy and quick. But I hardly wanted to think about that now and I certainly didn't have time to dwell on it, as we hit the ground running as soon as we pulled up to Jesse's parents' house. His dad greeted us with blender in hand, pouring lemonade shots and passing out beers. Yep, this was going to be a good time. We toasted each other on our driving accomplishment, downed our drinks, and hit the showers as soon as we could.. we stank.

Before heading to bed, all the kids (me, Danie, Jesse, and his sister, Lucy) went to the bar around the block (The Warehouse) where Danie and I were very exotic.. Danie more obviously so than me, but still, we were both a rare breed in this neck of the woods. The locals were friendly enough though (the night before Thanksgiving and the place was packed) and the band (Heroes & Thieves) was loud and good enough to get the crowd dancing. I did not dance, but I did get ever so close to the dance floor and enjoyed soaking up my first NoDak bar experience. From there we walked home and I promptly passed out in the first real bed I've had to sleep on in a long while... This was the start of a beautiful friendship between me and North Dakota.

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