Category Archives: Modern rural life

The Gateway to Junkstock

Omaha graphic.jpg

I’ve been a lot of places in my life.  Even though I’ve done two tours as a resident of Sioux Falls, SD, I have NEVER made the three hour trip to Omaha, NE.  That factoid falls this evening.  Joan and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary with a 3-day weekend to the Gateway To The West.

Among our stops:  Junkstock .  Now, before you jump on me, we had decided on the trip to Omaha BEFORE I learned  that 3 Days of Peace Love and Junk is happening this weekend.  Must have been meant to be.  Joan’s free pick is the zoo, which I hear is looking good.  We’ll have lots of time for other things, and this is where you come in: I  am looking for recommendations on restaurants, used LP record/music stores, best places to find interesting old stuff, best attractions, especially those one might not find in the travel literature.

Please reply with your top picks, and forward/share to your friends who might know Omaha well.  Thanks, and we’ll report from the field.  Literally, the field.  Ta Ta!

Reprise: “Bust A Move”…

(Note:  I’ve been searching for some of my favorite blog posts fro the last year and reprising them if it makes sense.  Since many (most?) of my readers experienced some old-fashioned cold and snow this week, this post from October 4, 2016, seems appropriate.  Happy Christmas! JT)



Spending time writing about winter outdoor activities got me thinking about the real-world adventures my indestructible running buddies and I attempted/found ourselves in the middle of/were stupid enough to try back in the day. Some of these events have never been described or recounted outside our tight little group, but I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on all of them. Or at least most of them. I think.

The sport was simply named, “Drift-Busting”. Participants in town needed to be 16 and a licensed driver, although many farm kids started building their skills much younger. All you needed was a big US-built four door family sedan from the late 60’s through late 70’s. The early 70’s Chevy Impala and Ford LTD were ideal, although exotica like the “roomy” Plymouth Fury III, Buick LeSabre, Ford Country Sedan station wagon or Ford Ranchero or Chevy El Camino with extra weight over the rear axle added variety.

The ideal crew for Drift Busting included: 1) The Driver; 2) The Navigator, front seat passenger window who was the lookout for other cars and plows, snow-covered obstacles and law enforcement, and 3) An attractive and animated young lady front-seat middle to supply appropriate shrieks, support and laughter such as you might hear on a roller coaster or in a Steve McQueen movie. You went with just Driver/Navigator if circumstances dictated, but the “three wide” configuration was definitely preferred.el-caminobronco-under-tree

There were three disciplines in Sedan-class Drift Busting. The first was “Classic Drift Busting”, where during or after a big snow ( 6-7inches and up, but more snow and wind is better). you busted unplowed drifts right where God dropped ‘em. “Classic” tested your behind-the-wheel skill to keep from getting stuck or high-centered, and your ability to negotiate a mid-storm corner. The second was “Post-Plow Busting” where you could pick up speed on plowed streets before busting through man-made piles. The heart beat a little faster with this one. The third discipline was “Free-style”, with the car on an unplowed parking lot or playground that was paved and flat, had lots of snow, and fewer things to hit. Free-style tested your artistry with rear-wheel drive V-8 skids, drifting and a set of various consecutive circle-spins and overheated engines referred to collectively as “shitties”.

There were many good Drift-Busters, too many to mention, but as a Navigator my favorite pilot, hands-down, was Thomas P. Harlan. Today Tom is a high-powered lawyer in the Twin Cities, but back then he was a wild-eyed pilot of a classic Dark Olive 1970-ish Chevrolet Impala v-8 equipped four-door sedan. The car was sparsely optioned, but did have a solid AM radio allowing for a long-distance “Boogie Check” with John “Records” Landecker on 89-WLS Chicago. The secret weapon of that car is that it came pre-dented, so when Tom took it home with some fresh dimples no one was the wiser. If you measured pilots solely on driving skill, Tom was well above average but not a savant. His gifts were a total lack of fear, the willingness to thread even the smallest needle, and a happy-go-lucky cackle even in the face of certain disaster. Call it the “Luck of the Irish” if you like.

The demise of the rear-wheeled sedan, improved plowing techniques, fewer monster snow storms and a general distaste for such reckless activities make today’s Drift-Busting the winter equivalent of cock fighting, run by seedy gamblers swilling cheap peppermint schnapps and betting on strung-out adrenaline junkies piloting rusted-out Plymouth K-Cars. But I’ll remember when young princes like Tommy slung around that Detroit iron with a comely lass like Lou Ann Erickson or Susan Arnoldy in the middle, all of us singing “Sultans of Swing” at the top of our lungs, just for the fun of it all.



Astronauts, Locking Pliers and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Hello Regulars,

Sorry for the radio silence the last few days.  Conducting an active job search and learning the proper meditation techniques to keep from going postal when one day it’s 60 degrees and two days later you’re blowing snow can monopolize a fellow’s time and attention.

However, even when you’re rolling the dice on the decisions which will determine the direction of the rest of your working life, you’re never too busy to learn something new.  Here are a few of the things that came to mind in the last few days while I was off the grid:

  • Locking pliers may not be the tool of choice when fixing a sticky valve on a coronet.
  • The maximum length of most stained glass stock is four feet.
  • When you decide to save time carving your first pipestone (Catlinite) ceremonial pipe by firing up the orbital sander, prepare to have your entire existence covered in fine pink dust.
  • Growing up during the Apollo Space Program taught me that being smart, dreaming big and unselfishly working as a team are traits to be celebrated.
  •  For the first time in 10 years I listened to conservative talk radio for an entire day. I worked in the field for about 20 years, which I guess make me an expert of sorts. I found the same hosts talking about the same stuff, vilifying the same people, perpetuating the same conspiracies and predicting the same Armageddon.  It’s remarkable how little it had changed.
  • It’s March, so why am I not in Florida for Spring Training?
  • A South Dakotan’s innate ability to scrounge is an under appreciated talent. Making do with what you have around you serves us well in both bad times and good.
  • Painting and being in a hurry are not compatible.
  • Try as I might, I am not able to keep the inside of a car clean for more than a day and a half.
  • The connectivity of social media can bring out the best in us. The anonymity of social media can bring out the worst in us.
  • It’s a good day when you dig through 500 dusty, scratched and moldy Guy Lombardo and Ferrante and Teicher LP’s, then number 501 is an unopened Sister Rosetta Tharpe LP on Harlem Hit Parade Records.
  • Compassion, empathy and loyalty used to be valuable and positive traits. Today I fear they are seen as weaknesses to be exploited.

As a young person, I always assumed that as I got older I would find more and more answers to life’s big questions. The reality is just the opposite. The older I get, the less I know for certain.  However, there are three things experience has taught me which I believe are absolutely true:

1) People hate change.

2)  Its never too cold for ice cream.

3) There is always room for pie.


After that I tend to keep an open mind.  Have a great week, and I promise to check in a bit more often.  JT