Monday, August 31, 2009

A Sunday Drive

The last few years organized tractor rides have become quite popular. Someone sponsors it, puts out the message and a bunch of old duffs on even older tractors show up and tour the area, some even stretch out into two dayers.

The local Elks lodge has been putting one on for several years, as it is held on a Sunday which was my day to take care of the folks I always missed it arriving back in town about the same time they were dispersing.

With the folks now gone there was nothing holding me back, I plunked down my thirty bucks and spent Saturday afternoon building a bracket for the back of my tractor so I could carry some essentials, tools, extra clothing, a chain, along with me.

Sunday morning came after a restless nights sleep.

When I am doing something special I think Dad would enjoy or approve of I like to wear something of his. Today seemed to be one of those day's, I put on one of his old plaid shirts,his big gold truckers ring and lastly his good brown leather jacket. I felt great.

6:30 found me airing tires, checking fluids and packing up. Half way to the Elks I ducked into a convenience store and picked up a pair of cheap brown jersey gloves.

Having forgot when it started and always in fear of missing events I arrived early, lots of banter as the other participants arrived. All interesting people. Of special note was the fellow from Kossuth county with the 504 International. Most tractor affectionadoes strive for stock, although, with the newer paints many look much shinier then the day Grandpa hauled them home.

This one stood out, on top of a super paint job this fellow had chromed everything he could get to the plater's, not cheap chrome either, deep deep chrome, big bolts, big nuts, little nuts, carb linkage, the supports for his umbrella, if he could get it off it was plated.

Next was his tandem Alum. trailer, he sanded and buffed the entire trailer until it was shinier then a proud truckers set of front buds.

Then there was the tow car, a two tone green 56 Dodge or Plymouth four door, push button trans, little three hundred something CI V8, again, over the top perfect. Chrome,what else, Cragers, couple of ever so small flames on the frt. fenders.

I wondered to myself what his shop looked like? His pickup? His other tractors? His dog? Did the man ever sleep? Did he buy his Mothers and McGuire's in 55 gallon barrels?

Moving on the other stand out tractor was a 43 MM R from Jackson Mn. with the factory cab, one slick nickel. Not only sharp but on this rather cool day I envied the man his cab.

Brunch was served followed by take off, I was in the first flight of fifteen the other two groups leaving at ten minute intervals. First off was a run thru our local state park then south to Lost Island Lake via blacktop roads. Courtesy dictates we travel no faster then the slowest tractor, which thankfully is not as bad as it could be as most pick a fast mount. Fast in this case being a relative term, one of the old boys had a little Ford equipped with a GPS, at the days end he proudly announced we posted a 11 MPH average speed.

Having gone five miles our convoy came to a stop, nobody seemed panicked, being at the rear I worked my way forward on foot to see what was broke and if I could be of assistance, turns out couple of the guys had to visit a cornfield and get rid of their coffee.

Bernie was in our group with his little B. I kid him a lot at tractor pulling time but but he takes his beating well and I have grown to like him, he has had many health problems, heart trouble ect. but always bounces back. He is quite proud of his little B as it has a aftermarket road gear allowing him to travel twenty if the need arises. We slowly make our way to Lost Island.

Following the flight leader we all pull into the lot of a resort at the lake, my good friend Dave and his wife and kids are standing there watching us dismount, I go over to visit, they have just finished their family vacation and are loading up to leave. Our visit is interrupted when fearless flight leader discovers we are in the wrong place and we all have to remount, fire up and travel another mile or so down the road.

Finally arriving we stumble from our tractors to drink pop, eat cookies and chips and make use of the restrooms. I walk around checking out the rest of the tractors spotting a nice MM UB. Oddly there are 48 tractors and not an Oliver in the bunch.

Fed and de-watered we climb up and head out, nice drive around the north end of the lake, many lake homes and everyone seems to be out on the back stoop to wave at us. Another mile and a half and we are back in the country homeward bound working our way through sloughs and government ground.

Tractor ride participants for the most part don't like gravel roads, flight leader had joked to one fellow we had one mile of them enroute. He lied, we had eleven. I don't mind them, even prefer them, certainly those traveling by car that had to work their way thru us would prefer we had used them exclusively. I had to wonder though as we wandered back how the fellow with the 504 felt about it.

County gravel roads are A,B or C. Most are A meaning they get regular maintenance and plowing, A roads are not marked as such, you are safe to assume an unmarked road receives normal plowing and work and offers no unwelcome surprises. Perhaps ten percent of the roads are marked B, these have no one living on them and receive no plowing and minium work, expect some surprises, in particular in the winter or very wet weather.

C roads are few and receive nothing, they are simply a right of way, many no doubt once held a couple of farms in their arms back when a family could scrabble a living off 80 or 160 acres. Now they are just there, barely, a couple of ruts stumbling between fields. We drove right by a peach of one, it beckoned me, take the road less traveled Roy it seemed to say. I badly wanted to wanted to turn off, to see what lay down it.

And therein lies my rub with organized tractor pulls, as pretty the country, as nice the day, your line dancing, move out of line, and, your out of line.

I finished the ride OK, 48 miles the Ford guys GPS said. Everyone is looking forward to next year, me, I am thinking of putting a double wide seat on my home built and just me and Rose taking a little cruise, I know right were that C road is waiting.

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