Thunder Rolls

Not Enough Juice

Once upon a time, I got on a plane to Omaha to watch a baseball game and fly back home the next day. As you might expect, that’s not where the story ended. There wasn’t a happily ever after or a return flight the next morning. No, but there were peanuts and a map and a change of plans (see North Dakota On A Napkin from November 2011). I brought my iPhone and, by luck, I brought my little iShuffle, but I did not bring the magic cable that in the first decade of the millennium connected my devices to the car stereo. Oh, I also didn’t rent a car. So I get up early, catch a shuttle to the airport, and rather than board a flight, I snag a car. And a map. Next stop: buy an auxiliary cable and snacks. Next stop: North Dakota.

Since I did not plan to drive, I did not bring a car charger for my phone. I tired to conserve every ounce of juice, but somewhere in the upper Dakotas, the tunes lost their umph. The back-up device also held its own until after sunset – another triumph given that the sun didn’t dip below the horizon until quarter after nine that night.  But a couple hours of driving and Nebraska are still ahead of me, and no pre-selected playlist accompanies the remainder of my return to the rental car lot. I find what I can on the radio, but my eyes are on the road more than my ears are on the options. My travel playlists (see The Soundtrack from December 2012) lasted as long as they could.

Raindrops On The Windshield

Maybe it’s South Dakota. Maybe it’s the length and breadth of South Dakota. That long, spontaneous Fourth of July a decade ago wasn’t the only day the pavement lasted longer than the audio selections. Somewhere between Murdo and Wall, my latest device needed a recharge, but the charger isn’t handy. Again I default to the radio, but across the middle stretch of Interstate 90, I discover a dearth of FM stations. I’m not opposed to driving in silence – obviously I’ve done it before – but the storm clouds are brewing and music helps take my mind off the bolts striking the prairie ahead of my vehicle and the gusts pressing against the side of my vehicle. I push onward.

I also push the dial on the radio and stumble upon an AM station – the only station – playing country music. This will do to relax me as I advance into the storm and mask the sound of raindrops pelting the windows. My thunderhead pup in the back seat pants. I hope the ballads and banjos and twangs will distract her from the tempest on the outside as I turn up the volume. Mother Nature and laws of coincidences collide as do the summer heat and high humidity leading into the DJ’s next selection: the precise wrong Garth Brooks melody about a strange new perfume that blows. Both inside and outside, the thunder rolls.

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