Upper Missouri NWSR Canoe Trip 2009


Days Twelve & Thirteen

We woke up at our respective hosts', dad up on the mountain at Paul's and I at the base at John & Lori's. Dad's reentry into civilization was more gradual than mine as he had to take an outdoor shower and shit in a bucket.
Once the troops were gathered at the bottom of the hill, we headed up to pick up dad & Paul and have a cup of coffee. We headed into Roundup proper for breakfast: me, dad, Paul, John, and Lori. Unfortunately the restaurant was closed so we had to go to plan B. Nevertheless a delicious repast was had by all.
We took leave of our generous hosts and new friends, promised to stay in touch, and hit the road. If their oft-repeated saying that what goes around comes around is true, they're in for a treat. We had a great time with them both on the river and enjoying the hospitality of their houses.
We kept driving all day, and in the evening had reason to deplore the truck's defective windshield washer fluid pump; North Dakota is a godforsaken wasteland cursed with more bugs per acre than the sum total of all the unfortunate humans who choose to call the state home, and the windscreen was an insect holocaust that needed to be scraped and scrubbed with regularity.
We made it to Fargo around 00:30 and checked into a motel for the night. Somehow this had never occured to us before, but dad suggested using my shooting ear plugs to dampen the epiglottal roar he emits at night, and I had a surprisingly decent night's sleep.
After a breakfast of which any continent would be ashamed we started driving again, heading towards Parker's Prairie, Minnesota - from whence our clan hails - for a little bit of historical research and picture taking. I had never been, and it had been forty years since dad was there. We drove there by way of Fergus Falls,  where the Ottertail County Historical Society is located. We found the Historical Society in a little museum and were amazed at the results.
A research assistant that was already familiar with our family history quickly helped us find a pile of documentation, and we bought two copies of a book about Parker's Prairie that had pictures of my great- great- great- grandfather Jacob W. Saunders, one of the original settlers, his son Frank, and even some old ads from my family's hardware store in town.
We left Fergus Falls, surprised at the ease of digging all this up, and continued to Parker's Prairie. We arrived there starving after our sad little breakfast and had some excellent fried stuff. Fish & chips for me, and shrimp & chips for dad. With three extra servings of tartar sauce of course.
After lunch dad quickly located his grandfather's old house in town. Amazing, considering he hadn't been there since 1962. A stop at town hall resulted in no additional information, but a redirection to the local newspaper where the recently retired owner's daughters had just taken over the business. They confirmed that dad had found the correct house and suggested we pop into the local high school to ask for class pictures. There we found photos of my granddad, his two siblings, and some cousin Dave.
After hanging around town for a bit we headed to the local cemetery, where we found lots of family graves and met two sweet old sisters who were cleaning tombstones and told us that they had lived and worked on the Saunders farm as young girls in the 1940s. Small world, incredible. They also confirmed that there were no relatives living in the area any more.
After stopping by the farm for some pictures we declared our genealogical side trip over and started towards Chicago. We arrived at my house around 3:30 that night, watched some of the new James Bond, and went to sleep. This particular adventure was over.

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Jacob Saunders