Jun 6, 2012
I now have the drive to (and from) the Ancestral Homeland down to a science. I know exactly how long it will take, where to stop for the best coffee, where not to eat, etc. In fact, I predicted my arrival time in MPLS within 3 minutes of the actual arrival time today. Also, the new wheels are giving me almost 31 miles per gallon and the CD changer can power through 6 Cd's which makes books-on-CD a breeze. These are all big improvements over the Mighty Tundra (RIP, old friend).
One of the advantages (and disadvantage)s of driving the same route repeatedly is the that you get really familiar with all the landmarks. The St. Croix River crossing, the big bend in the freeway at Eau Claire, Wisconsin Dells, the Blew Inn, etc. are by now well-worn prayer beads on a string that mark my journeys back and forth. The possibility of a surprise discovery is lost, but the route becomes familiar and knowable.
By far the spookiest landmark on this pilgrimage is a small road-side grave sandwiched between Highway 16 and railroad tracks between Portage, WI and Wisconsin Dells. I have driven by here many, many times. There is no sign or marker of any sort, other than the fence and two trees, so I am left to speculate on what's going on here. On this particular drive, I have a lot of time to speculate...
My imagination, informed by many, many 60 mile-per-hour visits, leads me to suppose that an old farming couple is buried there. I imagine that the patriarch died first, followed about 10 years later by his spouse. Why tuck them between the highway and the railroad? The family buried them on their original homestead site, which has long since been displaced by eminent domain and razed to make way for highways, railroads and progress. As a toe-hold against the march of time, he family planted a tree over each grave in remembrance, and fenced the site to keep brush mowers away from this sacred site.
Despite the overgrown vegetation, the fence is always freshly painted and well-maintained. This spectacle never fails to haunt me for the rest of the drive.
at 6:07 PM