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Fond du Lac Follies...Taking the scenic route to Colorado

Jim Northrup

I really like winter. The cold and the snow stay outside my little HUD house. I especially like the tree shadows on the snow, the gravity-defying clumps of snow that hang onto the pine branches, the cold wind that reminds me I should have put on one more layer.

I hear people complaining that this winter has gone on too long, they want to see spring. I just ignore them and enjoy what we have.

Very soon we shall begin our sugar bush. We have plenty of firewood, and we found a new source for the gallon milk jugs we use. My son Joe is showing his son Joe how to carve taps.

Another seasonal cycle for these Anishinaabeg will begin soon.


Along with my brother Vern and sister Korey, Fond du Lac Follies motored to Colorado. I had a meeting with my editor, Rebecca, in Golden, Colo.  According to my Google map it was 1,100 miles away. The drive was supposed to take 14 hours and it was freeway all the way.

I decided to take Black Lightning, the Ford F150 Lariat the bank and I own.  

It was zero-dark-thirty when we left, headed south using the Sawyer shortcut to get to the freeway. We popped out at the I-35 on-ramp in Barnum and the road trip began.

As we were nearing Pine City we came upon a pack of wolves eating a car-killed deer. I counted seven of the beautiful creatures. They were large and lithe and looked like they could easily hunt down a wolf hunter. I left my brothers some tobacco.

We continued south until we got to Des Moines, Iowa, where we turned and headed west on I-80. I later learned Des Moines is now becoming a war zone because the Air Guard jets are being replaced by drones. The 132nd Fighter Wing is now becoming the 132nd Attack Wing. The things one learns when traveling cross country are amazing.

We continued west and began seeing sandhill cranes gathered in the corn fields of Nebraska. I have never seen so many cranes in such large numbers. I learned Nebraska’s topography becomes very boring. It seemed like a very wide state and we spent a long time wishing to see Colorado. During one little stop we looked at a Pony Express station that was actually used in the old days. I think they used horses because those little blue and white trucks were not invented yet. This was not the actual location, the old cabin was moved to make it easier for the tourists to visit.

We got off I-80 and took the freeway to Denver. We found Golden, Colo., our destination. We set up camp in a motel and slept like we were dead. After breakfast I found Fulcrum Publishing and again met Rebecca McEwen, the editor. She was prepared and we went to work on editing “Dirty Copper,” this piece of fiction that will be out in June. We had both gone through the manuscript and had marked up our corrections before. It took us about seven hours to do the final edit.  

Once we were done, Vern, Korey and I became tourists. We went up Lookout Mountain west of town. People on bicycles and skateboards were also going up and down the mountain. The road was paved all the way to the top, it was quite narrow with one side dropping thousands of feet to the bottom. On the way up we could see signs saying Buffalo Bill’s grave was at the top. When we got to the top, Vern ordered food and Korey went shopping. Vern went up to the gravesite and I … visited the men’s room.

We came down that curvy mountain road. A skateboarder came by me on the left side going very fast; he got in front of me. I thought I had given birth to a white guy skateboarder as he disappeared around the corners.

We slept, ate, and were on our way home. Vern was driving on I-80; it was just beginning to snow. I suggested he slow down a bit. Just then we came over a rise and saw semis and cars scattered around the traffic lanes and ditches. I counted three jackknifed semis and maybe 15 cars. There were also many emergency vehicles parked adding to the confusion. We continued on and got on I-35 and turned north. Along the way we helped a young couple who slid off the road and ended up on their side. Vern helped them out while I called 911... fortunately I knew the number. We arrived home safe.