Friday, January 30, 2015

North Dakota Tales

Old AF Sarge has a story about Minot, N.D.

that took me down a memory lane. His picture and description of Air Policeman struck a nerve.

I had been canvassing North Dakota on behalf of a remanufactured engine company and was heading back to Fargo in a rental car. It was Sunday, and my route went by the Peace Garden of the "Peace Garden State" fame. Why not a visit?

Coming up to the border passed a large dilapidated yellow metal building. The entrance to the park was before reaching a substantial building housing Canadian customs. Reaching the entrance, the entry fee schedule put me off. $20 to walk around? No thanks.

After turning around, found the yellow building housed the US Customs. Seems I had entered Canada. Even spending less than ten minutes in Canada and never leaving the car, I now had to clear US Customs. Took two hours! Slow day, full staff and everybody got into the act. The car was thoroughly searched. Rear seat removed. A dog was involved. Had to take my bags inside where they were carefully checked. My drivers license was run for wants and warrants.

The similarity to Air Policeman was attitude and attire. All the Customs personnel had dark blue uniforms with enough crap on them to stand formation in a banana republic. As Old AF Sarge would say, these were SERIOUS people. Somehow I kept my temper and a leash on my caustic tongue.

Some people in North Dakota are humor impaired. In Fargo,  there is a neat airplane museum where every plane is airworthy. Big pans under the radial engines to catch the oil leaks. Visited it with an associate. While we were there, a catering company was setting up for a wedding reception. Me being a smart ass, said,

   "Hey, our admission includes lunch"!

   "Touch anything and I'll break your arm", said the lady in charge with a vocal inflection that lead me to believe she was a SERIOUS person.  Sheesh.

Man is Fargo flat. The highest hill is an overpass on I-29.

So why wouldn't I spend $20 to visit a park but paid $15 without complaint to look at airplanes? Priorities! I can see flowers most anywhere but an airworthy Corsair?

We flew back to Denver the next day on a Bombardier CRJ. I got a window seat and a fiftyish lady had the aisle seat. Coming into Denver on a summer afternoon can be "interesting" and this trip was more interesting than most. By the time we landed, the lady had put more hands on me than probably she had on her husband. I don't blame her. Experiencing positive and negative G's and 70-degree banks are not what you want in a commercial airliner. Lots of subdued, and not so subdued, groans and screams that afternoon. While I wasn't concerned, I had better things to do than bounce around in a regional jet that flew three different approaches. Tiresome, it was.

Call me narrow-minded, but North Dakota still isn't very high on my bucket list.


Old NFO said...

It's too damn cold up there... And yes Denver approaches 'can' be a bit sporty!

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Yes on both points. A ninety degree day producing convection currents mixed with a strong flow off the mountains is not making a smooth ride.

OldAFSarge said...

I would have paid good money for that plane ride you had into Denver. Seriously.

Don't get me started on the Customs people. Not a fan.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Based on my limited aerobatic experiences, we were pulling at least 2 Gs positive. When I showered that night I noticed seat belt bruises. Those 70-degree banks were the result of turbulence.

I am glad we were on a Bombardier. I've read Airbus builds to a 1 1/2 G standard.