Our annual hunting trip begins.
It is 1:24 a.m. on October 15, 2014. I can't sleep... more on that in a moment.
Each year for the past 6 years, I find myself traveling to the Montana-North Dakota border for our annual pheasant hunting trip. The first two years were rather easy. I simply got in my car, set the cruise control on 80 and arrived in one day- about twelve hours by high speed Frankenmobile.
Then a couple of things happened which changed the course of human events. My father moved back to Idaho from North Dakota which unbeknownst to me initially and later knownst to me each year thereafter- meant that my father and I would be traveling back together to hunt each year. This is moderately tolerable given the fact that my father travels 10 MPH under the speed limit come hell or high water. At no time in his life has the thought ever occurred to my father that his son once picked up a driver's license around 1976 and then logged something north of a million miles in water trucks, forklifts, ambulances, squad cars, motorcycles, and delivery trucks. And so it is, my 76 year old father points us eastward each of the last 4 years, using both lanes frequently, and making sudden swerves only while turning his head to yell at the dog.
Remember the dog in Chevy Chase's movie, "Funny Farm?" The one that takes off and is only seen running through forests from time to time throughout the movie? My father's German Short Hair makes that dog look sedentary. This dog is so high strung that all I have ever seen her do is run away in open spaces, pace back and forth in confined spaces, and whine continually. For an encore the dog chews and shreds everything in sight including seat belts, coats, and anything else you may have left nearby. She rarely stops moving. Occasionally, my father lets out some profane epithet at about 100 decibels which has a calming effect on the dog for about 15 seconds and pisses me off for 15 minutes while I wait for the tinnitus in my left ear to fade away. Today, dad gave the dog a tranquilizer. This slowed the dog down from whirling dervish to pain in the ass.The dog's behavior would be marginally acceptable if the dog had even a remote idea of what we would like her to do. I do not think this dog could find a pheasant if one landed on her head and shit in her ear. This is my fourth year trekking back with dad and the whirling dervish. Gawd help me. How quickly I forget what this trip is like.
Somewhere near Bozeman, Mont. this year and shortly after my father let fly with one of his 100 db outbursts, I began to think that maybe I could drink again. Just this once. Bushmills or Malibu Rum. Just one large bottle couldn't hurt. Thinking it through and then dismissing that as sheer lunacy- my thoughts shift to those doggie tranquilizers that dad keeps in the truck somewhere. I wonder if humans could take them. Finally, we reach the Lazy J Motel in Big Timber, Montana.
Right now Dad is snoring and the whirling dervish is licking her paw non stop. It's 2:56 in the morning. The bed is small and hard like a sheet of drywall only not as comfortable. The sheets feel like cheap toilet paper. Every once in awhile, death I think, might provide some relief but that is selfish. I shall wait until the trip is over.
I remember looking at the clock at 6:08 and then falling asleep. I wake up at 6:27 when my father gets out of bed and announces that he can no longer sleep and it is time to leave.
To Be Continued...