Musings, North Dakota Living

Multiple Modes of Mobility

I love mobility. I love transportation. I love travel. I just love getting from here to there, and back again.

I think I just love seeing everything I can possibly see.

I’ve loved it since the moment I got my license when I was 14. I’ve loved it since I learned to combine wheat and barley fields when I was 12. (Driving around in circles counts as mobility, right? In fact, I also ran cross country and track for ten years. People used to ask why I liked to “run around in circles so much?” I guess I’ve always had a thing for transporting myself in circles.) I’ve loved it since my brother and I used to push our plastic purple and red Hot Wheels trikes to the top of the cemetery hill and fly down to our driveway so fast our feet couldn’t stay on the pedals.

I’ve loved it since I realized there’s so much of the world to see and only one short life to see it.

And I think I love almost every kind of mode there is to accomplish all the seeing:

A walk down our gravel road on a cool summer evening…

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A bike ride in the North Dakota Badlands right at the set of an autumn sun…

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A road trip across the Middle of Nowhere, Montana, in a Buick that’s going to break down in about 150 miles…

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Which, after the Buick is properly checked out by a mechanic, who tells us to only drive it back to North Dakota at our own risk, which of course we do, turns into a hike in one of our nation’s most beautiful national parks…

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A jetski ride across a Minnesota lake…

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Or better yet, a free kayak ride from Auntie…

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Being on a farm, we get to vary our transportation modes a bit more…

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And just for the heck of it, why not drive a short bus around the state of North Dakota every once in a while?

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And why not ride around in a oil-can cow train, just to see the sights of the pumpkin patch on a bright autumn afternoon? (If it didn’t attract so much hostile attention from other adults, I would have been seated in an oil-can cow, too, right next to my niece and nephew. I resigned myself to taking a picture instead, sighing a little to myself. Kids are so lucky.)

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I don’t think I could pick a favorite mode of transportation. The joys of mobility and seeing all the sights there are to see are too… joyful. But if I had to pick one, I think I might have a new favorite: flying. My brother Danny earned his pilot’s license a couple years ago, and I’ve become spoiled with this new way to travel from town to town around the Midwest. Besides the convenience of cutting hours off of travel time, flying is one of the few transportations where you just have to look out the window. I usually have a book in hand when I travel, because one of my other great joys in life besides traveling is reading, but flying doesn’t allow such a distraction. Looking at the tiny cars and houses and oil flares below is too fascinating.

All of the phrases about “a bird’s-eye view”, and “as the crow flies,” and “on eagles’ wings,” aren’t false advertising. Flying in a small plane is a luxury that if I could, I would bestow upon all of you, so that you could see little farms and checkerboard fields like this:

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The checkerboard will be even prettier in a couple months when the wheat fields are gold and the canola fields are yellow and the flax fields are purple.

And you could see neat-o controlled burns like this:

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And you could see the lights of a hundred flares lighting up the sky at night, looking like little outlaw campfires from the seat of the plane.

But my camera died before I could take a picture of that.

Thanks, Danny, for the ride last week.

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Luckily, I don’t have to pick one favorite mode of mobility. Flying, and biking, and hiking, and driving tractors and combines and four-wheelers, and gliding across the water in a kayak, and even cruising down a two-lane highway in a Buick with a transmission valve going out, are some of my favorite things. They are the stuff that memories are made of. And I can do them all, as long as I have life in my lungs and legs and sometimes, a few dollars for gas.

And maybe, this year at the pumpkin patch, I’ll just say to heck with it and take a ride next to my niece and nephew in that oil-can cow.

2 thoughts on “Multiple Modes of Mobility”

  1. Great shots, especially the first one. Nothing but you and the wide open country dirt road straight ahead!

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