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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The drive from here to Rapid never sounds as though it’s much, but every time I do it it exhausts me. In fact, I wonder whether it isn’t getting longer. At about three and a half hours’ driving time it’s just long enough that you really need a proper break en route. I left here about five-forty Monday afternoon, stopped for a dinner at Chadron, got lost in Rapid looking for our hotel and didn’t make it there till about ten thirty, which just left me  time to check in and zoom off to the airport. A’s  plane was on time and, despite a nightmare trip - seven hours in Minneapolis with no US cash, and a Language barrier between her bank card and the ariport’s  - she was awake enough to agree that a beer was a good idea.

It was simply delightful being re-united after two months apart. I don’t think I’d allowed myself to realise how much I missed her, and have already caught myself imagining how desolate I’ll feel when she goes home.

Tuesday we had a late breakfast in Perkins, right next door to the hotel. I generally avoid chain restaurants and will happily cruise around looking for an FRD, or family-run diner, but there are times, and this was one of them, when you need to eat substantial amounts of grub right now. And the good thing about this outfit is that they do a very reasonable imitation of porridge.

So, we were well fortified as we ventured into Safeway to stock up for three weeks – and my goodness we needed to be. When we emerged an hour or two later we’d racked up close to $300 in purchases. But, light-headed as I was, trundling one of our two laden carts across the parking-lot, I still had the presence of mind to snap a few pictures of this beauty.

It’s a Chevy Bel Air, and a truly a thing of wonder. There’s a breath-taking self-assurance, a devil-may-care flamboyance, about the American cars of that era. We are the richest nation on Earth and by golly you’re going to know it. Giddy heights indeed – and history tells us that when you get to the top there’s only one way you can go, as  we Brits can know only too well.

Next stop was Cabelas, the outdoor specialists from Sidney, Nebraska, who have recently opened up in Rapid. The mission? Protective wear. The damage? $120. But I am now the proud possessor of a pair of full-length snake-proof boots. There can be no question now: I am a fellow to be reckoned with. A. went for gaiters, reinforced with that stuff they put in bullet-proof vests. Kevlar, is it?

We finally got away, after coffee and cakes, at around three, made Chadron about five, and called in on our friend Jeannie at the Olde Main Street Inn. As ever we had a warm welcome, and sat down to enjoy a cool beer. And, because it was such a nice afternoon, Jeannie suggested we take our drinks around the back and sit in her  garden, with its flowers, shade trees and fountain.

I never realised that there was a law in the U.S.A. that prohibits the possession of an open container of alcohol in a public place, but there is. And when you have a cantankerous chief of police right next door you’d better be aware of it. Thus it was that we had to decant our drinks into china mugs before crossing some fifty feet of public space.

Relations between the good citizens of Chadron and their elected officials have reached the point where the recall option has been invoked. I only have  a foggy idea of what the entails, but I gather it requires a sizeable number of signatures from among the electorate – and in Chadron they have had no trouble reaching their target. Sounds to me like someone’s going to be run out of town on a rail before long.

We finally made it back here just as darkness fell, and stuffed all the groceries into fridges, freezers and cupboards. If war breaks out, we’re good for a few weeks at least.

There is no plan for today. Who needs one of those? A. is still catching up on her sleep and I need to tidy up my books and papers so that we have room to sit down. Later I guess we’ll air our new snake-proof gear, and see what these snakes are really made of.

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