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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I sense a chaotic few days coming up. But, for the moment at least, there is a calm at the centre of it all. I am staying at the Olde Main Street Inn and my hostess, Jeannie Goetzinger, has put me in the Mari Sandoz Suite, which feels like an honour and a privilege.

It’s very comfortable, spacious and has a real sense of history. I have a bedroom, a sitting room, a bathroom, and there’s even a fridge-freezer and stove up there.

 Most important, there’s a bed that gave me seven solid hours of deep, delicious unconsciousness.

This morning I plan to look at the archive at the Mari Sandoz Center, up at the college; but first I have some running around to do. Top priority is Mercy, who needs to be re-shod. I have an appointment at Hills Tires in half an hour, which allows me to slot in a breakfast and gather my thoughts.
Yesterday, the Fourth, was hot. 97 degrees when I left home and drove past the ranch house. But the little lake that filled up in the storms last week is still there, and the ducks are settling in. Let’s hope it lasts.

I didn’t drive directly to Chadron yesterday evening. I had a little job to do along the way, south of Rushville. When A. and I travelled the Old Jules Trail a couple of weeks ago we photographed just about every significant junction, turning and feature from the Walgren Lake turn-off to Mari’s gravesite, the object being to construct a website with pictures and text  that will allow people to take the Trail without fear of  getting lost. But of course we missed one. Hence my 40-mile detour via Smith Lake to get a single shot of a road-sign. Some time this week I will be sending all the material to Chainsaw Phil, who will see what he can do with them. It would be nice to have the site up and running this vacation season.

By the time I hit Chadron it was seven o’clock. The skies had blackened, the rain was falling, and temperature had dropped 30 degrees. At the Olde Main there was quite a gathering of Jeannie’s friends and quite a collection of fireworks. The rain eased off, the temperature recovered, the mosquitoes yawned and stretched and swooped on us as we set off bottle rockets, firecrackers, and sparklers. The piece de resistance was a device done up to resemble Osama Bin Laden, which fizzed and popped and spewed out fire, but was finally killed off with a couple of sharp cracks. I was tempted to say it seemed a little tasteless, but then I recalled how we Brits burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes every November 5th. All he did was plant a load of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament – something we all feel like doing from time to time.

Well, it’s almost time to go and get this tyre fixed. I worry about Mercy. I don’t want to end up throwing good money after bad. After last week’s hail there are four or five large cracks across the windshield, and I certainly don’t want to replace that. The maker’s name has dropped off too. I wouldn’t have known, except that yesterday when I walked up the hill to make a phone call I stumbled upon this, lying in the grass. I guess it happened when I followed Matt up there.

I mentioned possible chaos up ahead. I want to start some serious writing, but I see another trip out to Chadron coming up. This weekend the town celebrates its Fur Trade Days, and there will be events, exhibitions, plus of course the annual bull Chip Throwing Contest. There’s also a black powder camp outside of town, where re-enactors of muzzle-loading days will strut their stuff. I met a few of those guys on the Lewis & Clark Trail some years back, and they were fun. Also, Jeannie’s friend Gerry, the guitar-plucking brand inspector, is playing at the Olde Main. I don’t see how I can avoid being there Friday night and Saturday. Busy busy busy.

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