“I have news for you,” groaned Pusser, settling into the passenger seat on Sunday morning, “That Shiverfest is a joke.”
The rest of us didn’t bother answering. We’d all caught a chill filming sunset on the lake, so why waste energy debating the obvious.
“So, then. What today?”
We hit downtown Devils Lake under heavy clouds only to find that our usual coffeeshop was closed Sundays. Its satellite location on the main drag didn’t open until noon. Actually, NOTHING in North Dakota opens till noon, on Sundays, and it was only 11:15am. So we drove around for the better part of an hour. We drove out of town on 2 East and saw no kites, then drove out of town on 2 West and saw no kites. There were, apparently, no kites on Sundays.
Suddenly, Pusser was struck with divine inspiration. “How far are we from that Turtle Mountain reservation?” he asked, in a way that made it clear no matter HOW far away we were, we’d be going there just as soon as we got coffee. “I mean, we’re not doing anything anyway, so we might as well. There’s a ton of buffalo there.”
I’m not sure how many of you are are familiar with the geography of North Dakota, but Fargo is nearly three hours southeast of Devils Lake. Belcourt is ninety miles northwest of Devils Lake. Which means that a trip to Belcourt effectively doubles our drivetime, not including all the slowing down and circling around and setting up and shooting. Certainly, I was less than thrilled.
“There’s buffalo HERE,” I countered. “And we’ve filmed them a thousand times!”
“The buffalo there are different. There’s more. And there’s a lot of murals and Indian things.”
OK, so fine, then.
En route to the Canadian border, we photographed a billboard and did a long, tracking train shot using the car as a 10-mph dolly. Some two hours after that, we found ourselves lunching at a Dairy Queen in Rolla, ND, probably the northernmost Dairy Queen in the United States.
We drove through Belcourt and the Turtle Mountain reservation and found nothing. No signs, no good Indian figures, no buffalo. The buffalo, apparently, are also off on Sundays. We surmised that the sad state of the economy was keeping the buffalo holed up.
Doubling back home, Pusser decided he’d like to hit some small towns and see what we could find. So we took the road less traveled, running through Rock Lake, ND, where the deer outnumber humans 10:1,
and then Clyde, where the only sign of life was one beat-to-shit pickup and a satellite dish.
This is me, somewhere between Clyde and Langdon, amusing myself while Kimmer shot sunset.
Then I stopped driving and lay down in the backseat, jacked into my iPhone and listened to Andrew Bird, wondering what, if anything, DIDN’T take Sundays off in North Dakota. The stars came out. I watched them through the windshield, enjoying the gentle sway of the car as it merged back onto I-29. As Buckethead piloted us back to our hotel, I linked my ankles through the headrest and nestled my head into Kimmer’s pillow and I thought: How wonderful, truly, to be here.