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TRAVELING JACK

Posted 3/28/17 (Tue)

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

What’s better than breakfast at the Medina Cafe is listening to the old timers talk behind us.
As my road friend Sabrina and I have headed west in roaming North Dakota, we get breakfast at the delightful hole in the wall off Exit 230 on I-94.
We sit at the counter on two stools built for people a foot shorter than us (we’re both over 6 feet) and instantly the coffee crowd’s musings catch our ears.
“I don’t care if he’s gittin’ 65 per bushel o’ wheat. It ain’t gonna pencil out.”
“I trust them Hutterites. They do good work.”
“I got s**t to do today and Wilbur here ain’t gonna help me.”
They spot our cameras and ask us our names and what we’re doing. Sabrina asks if there’s anything photogenic in the area (hotspots, she calls them), and one of the codgers points out his neighbor’s “magical field south o’ town” marked with a sign that says “posted.” We all laugh.
We stop at the stone fountain down the road near Crystal Springs, since besmirched with spray paint, and continue on to Tioga with the old guys in Medina still rattling around in our heads.
A colorful group of folks, more happily remembered than a woman at a diner in Rugby apparently using a cell phone for the first time as she screamed into it, inquiring about her ailing sister as Sabrina and I ate our pancakes right behind her.
Still, another man, drunk as a skunk, howled along with Dwight Yoakam on “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” one night at the Pastime Steakhouse in Marmarth, slouched in the corner of the bar and the wall on a precarious stool.
“T-time don’t matter to meee ...”
Two ranchers quizzed each other about the tiny town of Orrin when Sabrina asked them what’s there one night at another venue in Rugby.
They both agreed there isn’t much left. Indeed, there isn’t.
Talk to anyone in Rugby about the geographical center of North America and you might get some sass about the crowd down in Robinson who claimed the trademark for themselves.
You’ll have to ask Sabrina for the full particulars. Last I checked, the Rugby mayor refused the Robinson mayor’s challenge to a charity boxing match for the title of geographical center.
For now, the continent’s center point is under the floor of Hanson’s Bar in Robinson.
Two buddies and I rented an in-town cabin in Garrison last July for a guys’ weekend and heard an earful from a pair of fishing buddies.
“We woulda won that fishing tournament.”
“Well, no s**t, Vern. We’da mopped up on your hump there.”
One of them caught a whopper walleye a day too soon, or else they would have won “fer sher.” Too bad.
On top of that, two teenagers heading for a party in Max asked us if we wanted to go, but nah. We’ll sit this one out, young’uns.
At a lounge in Dickinson, a rangy cowboy named Stan the man bellied up to the bar next to my dad, trading anecdotes I couldn’t hear over the jukebox.
Stan the man is the one of the last real cowboys, my dad said as he watched the old guy sashay out the door and home to Taylor.
On that note, Sabrina and I are due for a trip here soon.
I wonder what they’re talking about in Rugby these days.