I have troubles describing the music that ails me. That music! That music! Won't someone make that music stop! You all know that music I mean. That music at night, that's what I'm talking about. The only problem is I don't know what what what - what what - what what I'm talking about. It's that music at night that could be trance or rap but is probably just top 40 played all distorted like from a nasty sound-system distorted by the wind as it whips over the tallgrass prairie. Everyone has had this experience.
So you're biking along in southern Manitoba and you see some kid drive by on an ATV. He is not the one dragging a sound system, but some other kid musta been -- this is what you figure later. There's not much to do except set up your tent in the prairie. This place is called the "Tolstoi Tallgrass Prairie Preserve" and must be named after Leo Tolstoy because there are some decrepit pre-Soviet buildings in the area. So you're happily pretending your little edition of Hemingway stories is Tolstoy and you're sleeping and you're walking out under the distant stars when the distant booming starts.
It's nasty, pudding on the floor music. Nobody knows what genre it is so we call it ugly boom-boom mu'sic.
When this happens, you have to put on some pants. That means you have to find your pants. And that usually involves several minutes of frantic searching for fresh batteries for your flashlight. And that usually results in discovering that you're already wearing pants. Then you put your flashlight in your mouth and crawl through the itchy grasses. Remember, there's ugly boom-boom mu'sic in the distance and you're itching all over because you didn't put on a shirt and you're crawling through grass, which wasn't very wise, so you're really frustrated and trying to imagine what you would do when you find the kids playing the music. These are the options usually considered:
#1: Jump up in the middle of their frenzied dance circle, surprising them so that they cry out and the kid who had a joint hanging from his lip loses it in the grass which catches fire. Everyone starts running from the towering inferno which only amplifies the ugly boom-boom mu'sic in the folds of its flames as it angrily casts evergreens at your naked torso. Whenever you have struggles in the future you will remember how you nearly overcame them on this day.
#2: You will just stand there off to the side, slowly shaking your head back in forth in disgust. One by one the kids will see you and shame-facedly walk to their ATVs and drive away silently -- not crying yet, but some day soon they will examine their lives, stop listening to ugly boom-boom mu'sic and apply themselves at school. They will do well enough to go to university; they will study and become lawyers. When you meet one of them, years later, you will wonder if this trade-off was worth it, but for now, you slowly fade down the music in the middle of the prairie and pack out their garbage, still slowly shaking your head.
#3: Not ever be able to find them, and realize you are cold, itchy, and don't actually want to be wearing pants anyway. You'll walk back to your tent and pray for rain. In only a few minutes the first drop will flick your rain fly, then another until the music fades into the static of the night. You won't even be able to hear the ATVs drive away, nor pity their drivers. The rain will put you to sleep, and in your dreams, there is no ugly boom-boom mu'sic.
Every situation calls for its own judgment; in this case, I went for #3. The rain did its job efficiently; there was just enough to drive away the party but by the morning it had all dried out.
Day 111 ended: Tolstoi Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.
[Note: my GPS froze and lost its recorded data sometime later on the Mississippi River. Since it had been some time since I had copied the data into my notebook, there are no precise GPS waypoints available after day 110. I may later go back and determine approximate locations, but this would have to wait for a book version of this blog.]