Up at 7:30 - Lee wakes me up. I slowly rise among the sleeping and make my way to the bathroom. I wash up and shower. I put my contacts in and make a cup of "California Flash Tea" - the only tea I could find in the kitchen. It actually tasted like coffee - it was herb tea made with chicory - thats why it tasted like coffee. I smoke a cigarette and write. Pack my gear and wait as others rise one by one and get cleaned up. Play with the cats.
Dan left at 7 - took Jenny to work and went looking for a fuse for the van heater fan. He returns about 9:30. We pack up and "move out". I never did finish that cup of bad tea. We drive down the highway - it was bitter cold with the wind chill and swaying van. Snow flurries start - very light. We stop and eat at a "Country Kitchen" and try to call Canada. All Dan has been getting is the promoter's answering machine. He [Dan] drives some more and I sleep.
Glad he found that fuse - we'll need it...
About 3 or so we stop at a rest stop. The snow that was on the ground was blowing all over the road. The exit into the rest area was icy. We were about half way between the twin cities and Fargo ND - basically heading West. We wouldn't be heading North until Fargo but already it's getting bad. I decide to drive - I guess I figure I'll drive before it gets too bad.
We continue - the road isn't really slippery, but the blowing snow is making vision hard. Several times I couldn't see 5 feet in front of the van. My nerves were getting really worked up now. We're down to an 8th of a tank of gas. If we should run out we would die. If the van conked out we could die if help didn't arrive in time. We take The first exit with "Lodging" we could find after a particularly bad "white out". It happens to be Rothsay Minnesota.
After some difficulty, Dan and I locate the the exit ramp and get off of Interstate 94 West. We go up the ramp and turn left. I can't even see the gas station and motel across the overpass up on the left. We pull into the gas station and I pump gas while Dan and the others go inside station and make calls and buy cards and magazines. Lee pumps the second tank and we get ourselves together. We drive around the icy parking lot. Lots of hunters here. When I came out of the store, a pickup pulled up that had 3 freshly killed and gutted deer tossed in the truck bed.
The hunters were wearing bright orange jump suits.
We can't cut across the lot to the motel - back out onto the slippery highway and pull in and park in front of what we have been calling the "Hunter's Motel". Dan and I go in and check in - an old guy about 65 is the owner. He and his two dogs are in the rustic traditional style office. Nice guy - we are lucky - 2 rooms - each with a single and double bed.
I'm sure he was surprised to see us in the middle of a blizzard.
It's about 4PM now. We load in and warm up. Watch TV. Joe Dave B. and I in room 6, and Dan, Lee and Rod in room 3. We write. I'm so bored I clean my wallet out. Watch TV show about Polar Bears [!]. I've seen it before but it's good. We watch news - a blizzard is taking place. I recall our 2 week blizzard tour last December. Hope next week isn't like that (although we only had to cancel one show out of 14 on that tour).
Now that is being bored! Quite funny to find a show about polar bears. I half expected one to wander by outside our window.
We are 40 miles outside Fargo North Dakota. They are advising no travel outside of the city. We are stuck here at least until tomorrow. I had hoped to at least get to Fargo - we'll see if we can make it tomorrow, then we'll decide what to do. It seems pointless to drive to Canada now. If we tried to make the Monday show [this is Saturday], we would still have a 16 hour drive to Rapid City South Dakota for a show Tuesday evening. With the weather like it is, we'd be traveling much slower. I think our options realistically are; 1 - stay in Fargo if the roads are still shitty, or 2 - drive to Fargo so we can head South on an Interstate and then cut West to Rapid City. The weather maps showed the Rapid City are to be cold but free of blizzard warnings. They also said the storm moves off tomorrow, but that it will be in the single digits temperature wise. That means the roads are still going to be icy. By the way, the winds were around 50 miles and hour. The wind chill about 25-45 below ZERO! It's Bloody Cold!
I think it still holds as the most extreme weather I've been in.
We sit in the comfort of our rooms writing, watching TV and cursing the elements. I call home. Mom didn't even know about the blizzard. [She tells me] that it's unusually warm back home - 70°. I wish I was there right now. We get dressed to walk across the frozen tundra parking lots to dinner at the small cafe. I wear alpine socks from Switzerland my parents gave me, my boots, my air force jump pants, a T-Shirt and thermal shirt, a sweater, and my leather jacket. I also cover my mouth with a kerchief that someone threw at me at the "State College" show. I wear a "wigwarmer" and my "BonJovi" glasses. The intense wind might mess up my contact lenses.
My "wigwarmer" was a knit band that went around my head and over my ears. The "BonJovi" glasses were large mirrored sunglasses. Sadly, I can't find the pictures mentioned below.
We all don our "Blizzard Gear" and venture outside (pictures are taken of our bundled up bodies - like alien beings dumped on a foreign planet). We walk and try not to stumble on the slick asphalt. The wind and weather is the most intense I have ever felt. This is a power not to fucked with! We make it into the cafe and pile into booths. Eat food - OK but not great. Lots of it. I couldn't finish. We buy candy and drinks for later in our warm rooms. Bundle up and trek across the ice again. A little better now that the wind is at our backs. Now one must be careful not to be blown off balance by the wind and ice.
Back to the safety of our rooms, we watch TV, write and talk. Drink OJ and eat candy. I clean out my Swiss rucksack and straighten out "my shit". We collect so much junk on tour that you have to get rid of stuff. I finally put my sea shells in a bag to prevent them from getting into everything. It seems funny to sort shells in the middle of a blizzard. Joe and Dave take showers. I'll get mine in the morning. It's been a long and intense day. Hope tomorrow is safe and productive. I'm thinking of warm San Francisco on the 19th all day. This is not just a job - it's an adventure.Posted by Dean at November 8, 1986 10:12 PM