Journey to Ukazoo
Slide 23: “The Dancer’s”
After I left Sheridan, Wyoming, my next stop was Steele, North Dakota. The drive, over 550 miles took 11 hours, which included a couple of rest-stops and one traffic tie-up that involved removing a dump truck that veered into a ditch to avoid hitting a deer.
Both driver and deer, were all right.
Inching towards midnight on extended dark stretches of empty highway, I stopped into a dimly lit two pump gas station just before they closed. At the register, to pay for gas and a few snacks, I asked, “I’m close to Steele, right?” With all the enthusiasm a “Doing a double shift, I’ve been here too long” clerk could muster, all I received was a half nod of confirmation.
Having called ahead for reservations at a Bed and Breakfast, and aware of my late arrival time, I found a note with directions to my room, signed “see you in the morning”.
At breakfast, I met the hosts, Leo and Denise, and their daughter, Lyn. The instant friendship that developed with this family and several other people I met as the week progressed, took on an uncanny familiarity of close friends in Baltimore.
The following day, making a scenic stop, I encountered several artists engaged in a Plein-air painting class. As with Leo and Denise, friendships easily formed and I was informed of a small art show they were hosting that evening. Being a fellow artist, I looked forward to attending.
Wonderful people, engaging art, and throughout the evening the sense of déjà vu.
The following day, while replenishing art materials at a local craft store, I met Matt and Larine, and again it was that familiarity of friends I’ve known for years. Amid laughs and exchanging stories, they insisted I come to a Halloween/Karaoke party they and several of their friends were sponsoring at a local pub. With Matt having an extra costume that only needed a few adjustments to fit me, I willingly joined them to meet a great group of friends sporting for an impressive array of costumes, marvelous singing, and still that continued sense of déjà vu swirling around.
Not catching my breath, the next evening was Leo’s birthday, at least it was a few days ago, and this was their first chance to celebrate. Becoming, now, good friends, they asked if I would care to join them and several guests at a VA hall, featuring a top notch Blues/Rock band. Of course!
At the Hall, as friends traded past birthday stories and their birthday dates, it was learned that mine was just around the corner and I was just eight days younger than Leo. With the Birthday cake candles, a now faint puff of smoke and a chorus of Happy Birthday for Leo sung, the band started up.
At first, Leo seemed content to sit and listen to the music and trade stories of youthful adventures but with the pleas from Denise he finally gave in joined Denise on the Dance floor.
As the band launched into a very funky extended set of blues tunes, I took this picture as Leo and Denise got into some serious dancing and by the end of the night the only way to now stop Leo from dancing was the band ending their night of playing.
I had a great, yet again, strangely familiar time, and even got in a fair amount of dancing myself.
Today while departing, I gave a sigh, as the past few days have reminded me of friends back home I’ve missed and how good it will be to see them again, once I get to Ukazoo.
All images and text are copyright Craig L Haupt
Postings of “Journey to Ukazoo” Slides are every Monday Evening