To Valley City, ND
When I reached Grand Forks, North Dakota the previous day I was impressed with the number of creative, old signs they had about. I was also impressed with the price of gas. It was a new low for my trip, $2.18 per gallon. I determined I would fill up my tank while I was in town, but I was distracted the previous night by a stock car race. I was sitting in Grandma Butterwicks restaurant contemplating my pancakes when an old boy's cell phone rang. I think he was hard of hearing because he talked really loud... Then again, that's what you are supposed to wo when using a cell phone in public, eh?
"Oh hi, Joe.
Oh I'm sittin' having my coffee at the restaurant here.
Oh yah, I'm done with my eggs, yah.
Fillin' your tank are ya now? What're you payin there?
Oh, is that so?
Yah, well it's two-twelve here.
Oh yah, well it went down over night, you know. I'm lookin' right at the station across the street.
Yah, yesterday it was two-eighteen.
Oh yah? You're goin' to the lake now? Fishing, huh?
Oh yah, well, no not today. I have other things I have to do.
Yah, yah, well you go then. Hope you catch your limit.
All right then, bye now."
I looked out of the window and saw that my diner neighbor was correct, the price of gas had gone down 6 cents over night. I guess the distraction of the race was a blessing, I saved a whole ninety cents on the 15 gallons I put into my tank... that's like getting a free pancake on your stack! The day was starting out well but the day was starting out busy. Email and some business matters kept me in Grand Forks until almost 1:00.
There are Sunflower fields in North Dakota. I have seen sunflowers growing wild along the road sides in Kansas, it was earlier in the season and they were a smaller variety. I have grown a few of them when I was in Missouri, the birds loved them. I have a friend in New Orleans who grew some in his yard in the Marigny Triangle, "They grow rats!" was his assessment. "I noticed something was eating them. One morning I came out and there was this giant rat eating my sunflowers. I'll never plant them again, they grow rats!"
Sunflower fields, at the late stage I was driving by, change color as you pass. If you are approaching with their faces toward you the field is dark colored. As you pass the field, your perspective changes from the dark face to the yellow-green back of the flowers. It sounds static in print, but when you are passing it is a fascinating experience. Late in the season the flower heads are heavy with seed and are bowed down with their bounty. When you look at a field of sunflowers from the back at this stage there is a resemblance to a crowd of repentant schoolchildren, heads hung down in guilt.
North Dakota is an interesting place. It is the place ot the worlds tallest man-made structure. Yes indeed, way out there on the plains in the middle of nowhere is the KVLY-TV tower. It towers over the Eiffel Tower, It surpasses the Sear's building. It's a whopping 2,063 feet tall bean-pole who's purpose it to bring a little bit of joy into the staid lives of Midwesterners by broadcasting network television signals into their living rooms. Nowadays, with Ca ble and Satellite TV it is a bit of an anachronism. Perhaps they can convert it into a launch platform for bungie jumpers. Now wouldn't that be something, a 2,000-foot bungie jump. Who wants to go first?
I figured this was a pretty bona-fide "World's Greatest" object. I have driven by numerous places that purported to make the "World's Greatest" hamburger, shake, pies, ad nauseum... so many, in fact, that if I chose to eat only the "World's Greatest" food on my travels I would be 75 pounds over weight and still would not have eaten a good meal. But a TV tower that is 2,063 feet tall is a different matter. It hints of geek, and even though I am not a radiohead, I could not pass it up. Heck, the way I drive, it doesn't have to be "out of the way" just a different route to take.
There were two towers off to the south of me. Geepers, they stood out in the distance. One of them was the tallest man-made structure. I drove. It was fascinating to drive and drive and see the tower off in the distance not seeming to get any closer. Finally it began to grow. I had to zig and zag a bit to get to it, but finally I was by the base. It was in the middle of a corn field, sections of red and white stacking up into the sky. I found a position by some cable anchors and then waited for the clouds to open up and shed some light on the tower. I seem to spend a lot of time waiting for light to be in the right spot. There was a weather front moving in with a solid cloud cover. But the leading edge was broken so in a matter of time an opening moved over the tower and I was able to shoot it in full light. It was pretty neat.
After the shoot I continued on my way. The sky darkened, rain was certain in a little while. As I drove, I looked out to the West. There was the other tower. I might as well look at it, just for the heck of it. This tower became enormous in a way the previous tower hadn't . This was the tallest structure. The base was two or three times the size of the first tower. There was a stair way twisting up around the base. This was the tallest object. The scale was huge. It was dark grey against a slate sky I took a picture anyhow. This last tower wasn't just any big tower! It's the biggest.