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TRAVELING JACK

Posted 5/09/17 (Tue)

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

Should I ever write a memoir, my father will feature prominently. Hell, he’s his own book.
I’m not sure who’s topped who when it comes to traveling: My visits to 325 North Dakota towns or his caribou hunt out of northern Alaska above the Arctic Circle.
I think the old man has me beat there, perhaps.
He’s been a passenger on a few of my exploits around North Dakota, most notably zipping to Zap for Spring Break 2015 and wandering the nearby prairie in search of a turtle effigy.
From Fargo, we’ve made annual schleps to south of Medora for mule deer hunting (my first times in the badlands).
In one week in 2012, we fished Devils Lake, the Missouri River at Washburn and Lake Sakakawea, the state’s big three water bodies.
Traveling Jack has his traveling dad to thank for his highway lifestyle.
He taught me if you don’t see patrons inside or vehicles outside a restaurant at mealtime, it’s generally not a good sign.
Don’t leave stuff out in plain view in your campsite while away, especially $300 boots.
Bring plenty of water, plus more for the bird dog.
Pack extra socks. Your feet will get wet.
“Watch out for snakes.”
“Dad, I’m going to Medina.”
“It’s you, kid, anything’s possible.”
Another frequent warning: “Don’t get trampled by a buff.”
“I’m on full bison alert, Dad.”
“And bring more propane.”
“OK.”
Last month, on a particularly nasty length of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, the old man shooed me ahead to where the trail was nice, tipping forward on his mountain bike, ready to take the plunge.
“Get some pictures,” he said.
From a quarter-mile away, I watched the old man fly down the gnarly path, bird dog by his side.
He gathered speed and hit a bridge  over a creek bottom, zooming with momentum over the washed out, rugged incline.
“That’s how it’s done, kid.”
I admit I’m not as daringly athletic. There were too many crocuses out.
While prowling Devils Lake’s golden highway on a windy September Sunday, Dad commandeered the bow, two rods deployed, a cold beverage in hand, dog hair coating the deck.
A rod yanked down. The old man shot up.
A fish!
Nope.
Unbridled excitement became agonizing disappointment on my father’s face at the loss of a potential catch.
Then a lecture to Mom and me about not reaching for the net fast enough.
Fishing with Dad: It’s among my earliest memories.
Also memorable: Me, snaking the boat trailer down the Cross Ranch public boat ramp, whirling the steering wheel as Dad yelled instructions, inaudibly, from the boat, on the river, against the wind.
All I see are wild gestures in the rearview mirror.
That’s my dad.
Which way am I turning?