Words: Cameron Scott
I am supposed to be far past Brainerd, where Babe the Blue Ox and Paul Bunyan abide. Far away from the strip of car dealerships, the Fleet Farm, the Target, the Wal-Mart. Far into North Dakota and out of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. But after spending June and July immersed in the chaos of dusty ankles and mosquito bites, I finally stop long enough to notice the unsettling blue smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe of my blue Nissan Quest minivan. My manic run of sleepless nights could have turned my cargo of boots, waders and the old fiberglass fly rod I used to catch sunfish and rock bass, into an early morning skid, but the idea of falling back into the throes of responsibility is almost enough to sink me.
There have been certain times in life, and this is one of them, I can actually feel myself circling the endless eddy of the sucker hole, where all I can do is wait until I kick back out into the current. I park in front of the Valvoline station, walk over to the 371 Diner, order a mushroom omelet and begin reading the local paper, feel mesmerized by orange juice set against the sports page, then become so deeply engrossed in baseball statistics I lose track of time.
Driving out of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes like I’m riding the crest of an inland wave, wheels to pavement, towns flying by every 40 miles or so. I stop to get gas in Bismarck, then back on the interstate. I stop to get gas during a lightning storm, the sun setting, then back on the interstate. Daylight lasts for 16 hours before I pull into a rest area outside Billings, Montana when I can’t drive any farther, and use any remaining energy to find that five-gallon portable shower in the back of the van that’s leaked the entire day. Parting my sea of flyfishing equipment and wet clothes, I spread an old blue tarp over the damp floor, put down a ground pad, and fall asleep to the sound of idling semi-trucks.
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