Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Vacation, Day 4: Sidney, Montana

It may take me two months to blog about all the days of vacation. It's a good thing I don't go on vacation very often. Our fourth day was a relaxing day in Sidney. I got up early and biked from town to the old farm, about 22 miles or so. I remembered Montana being really flat when I was younger. Biking the countryside quickly dispelled that myth. There were very few flat parts. My sister had warned me, as she'd driven out there the day before, but I'd have gone even knowing how hilly it was.

My biggest problem biking wasn't the hills, but the flat tire I got about 18 miles into the ride. Rather than stop and change the semi-knobby on my mountain bike in what was rapidly becoming some serious heat, I biked it in, slowly losing more and more air until it felt like I was riding on mushy sponges and the bike wobbled back and forth as the tires compressed. But I made it and found some shade and my rims were none the worse, so it was the right move.

Pooteewheet and Eryn joined me at the farm (I was only doing a one-way trip, so we could swim at the Sidney pool during the afternoon) to check out where I'd spent many of my summers when I was younger, farming, picking rock, and generally screwing around.

For instance, this hay baler. I used to stand on the lower edge, put my hands on the upper edge and rock back and forth and back and forth, gaining momentum, until like a fly wheel it would start to spin.

At which point I'd drop into the barrel and spin around like I was in a dryer. Most of the time I just came out a bit bruised, but there are a few gun holes in the side, and sometimes you'd catch a pantsleg and rip it, or an arm and rip some flesh and get a good bleed going. It's amazing what's more fun than picking rock or flying a kite (I liked to fly kite, until I ran full tilt into a tree and momentarily knocked myself out, after which I didn't like it nearly as much).

Eryn didn't ride with me, but rode her bike around the farm. Here she is with the old house in the background. My grandparents didn't live in it when I was there. They always had the trailer home. But I used to play in the house. It was musty and full of mice, but surprisingly cool because of the trees, and quiet, so it was a great place to play board games.

The grain silo. I'd go up that ladder and sit on top of the silo for hours. I think grandma decided it was dangerous, so she added the "NO". The name on the cement is from my cousin Thomas. He probably had to have someone help him spell it at that age.

The old outhouse. It had electricity! I did use it once or twice in my dim memory.

The inside of the old house. This is where I used to play. Looked nicer then. Had a floor. The ceiling was starting to fall apart even then. I still have dreams about this place.

One of the old trucks grandpa used to haul grain. I can't remember which ones worked when I was younger, but I've been in some of them. One of them only ever held a big gas tank to fuel the farm machinery. Pooteewheet took a very nice picture here.

Afterwards, we went down the road a few hundred feet to the old dirt road that goes back to the oil well. I used to look for agates and petrified wood there when I was a kid (Eryn was just looking at some of my finds last night, as my favorites are in my dice box, including one that looks like it has the red spot of Jupiter in it), so we went to canvas the road. It's easier after it rains and things are shiny, but we found quite a few agates and a lot of petrified wood, including some larger pieces. It all went in the car so it could spend the next week and half criss crossing the country. I was a little worried that one of the national parks would think we'd pilfered it from within park borders, but then it's not like they dig around in your car unless you look like a fugitive couple on the way to Canada.

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