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Column: Nine-eleven on the 108

An unexpected return to a younger version of self appeared Saturday afternoon as I left Perham city limits destined for a volleyball match in Pelican Rapids.

Running between New York Mills and Perham keeps me on highway 10 much of the time. It had been sometime since I had whipped through the county on Minnesota State Highway 108.

Talulah, my Camry, certainly doesn't handle like the ol' 5.0 Mustang, the CRX or even my favorite, the now deceased RX-7 of days of yore, when I had more hair that was black and not gray and a testosterone-led foot.

Taloo, however, makes up for tiptop performance with enough road-hugging ability for a 16-year-old sedan and the woofer in the trunk. I've found cruises to be much more enjoyable with a lot of bass and cranked treble.

Minnesota State Highway 108 from Perham to the land of ex-girlfriends, Pelican Rapids is a scenic and sporty drive. Wouldn't want to hit it in the winter, but as the tips of the trees turn colors and cows, horses and dead implements stand statuesquely on hills in pastures, 108 winds through small resort villages, over the Lake Lida land bridge, past Maplewood State Park and a vast expanse of watery blues and watered greens paint the horizon under small, white, puffy, fall clouds.

The drive weaves on a road of hairpin and S-turns, over hill and dale, as the wind blows by the driver's side open window and the stereo thumps the bass and tickles the treble.

I was in Dent in no time. Local men were working on the new Veteran's Memorial on my left and on the other side of town preparations were beginning for Dent's Testicle Festival, a celebration, of which, I sadly missed later in the day.

Through Dent and that's where the fun begins. The rolling hills and turns are enough to satiate the speed of youth buried in a middle-aged man.

Trouble lies afoot. Posted speed limits are good ideas, but sometimes you've got to let the lead out. Between the turns, there are plenty of decent straight-aways and enough small rises to put the fear into anyone thinking about triple-digit miles per hour. That's just dumb. It could be fun, maybe, but on this road, not too bright. Nor is it legal.

Over Lake Lida and up into more hills, past a woman walking two dogs. Bicyclists and rollerbladers were out along the lakes in some last gasps at outdoor fun before Old Man Winter comes to frost us over.

Taking a weekend drive in the fall is a free pass from the stagnancy, ritual or scheduling of the weekdays. It's escapism in the most freeing of manners. It's only a matter of time before the turning leaves fall and dance across the pavement as I speed by on my next road trip.

A cruise is also an American meditation. Saturday was the eleventh of September and our Speed Racer was not without a thought to a decade ago juxtaposed with the events of today.

There's a lot of yapping on television and around the state, county and town, about who is more patriotic and plenty of fools like to bicker about who is more religious than whom.

Mosques and churches, pitchforks and fire, American flags burning on the other side of the planet because some Floridian's God told him he should ponder burning holy books.

There's an old XTC song that, I suppose, could be a driving tune for the philosopher that states, "Where they burn books people are next."

It was September 11th and a really balmy Saturday. There, in the middle of my drive, thoughts of the actions and words of the other humans bothered me, yet again. I couldn't drive away from them fast enough.

I tapped the brakes reaching my destination. Time to do the job.

Coasting into Pelican my mind subdued the thoughts of so much yapping all over. I felt as if I'd shown my own kind of nationalistic pride the public could witness without being a burden to their psyches.

I took a drive on 108, turned up my favorite tunes, rolled down the windows and enjoyed the view of Otter Tail County and the balmy, perfect weather while it's still here.

That was my kind of nine-eleven.

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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