Tag Archives: road

Writing on the Road

I have to say, even for an obsessive writer like myself, I have found it difficult to keep up the habit on this trip. Trouble is that our crew has had such a good vibe so far on this trip (whiling away the miles by quoting movies, singing pop songs, making campfires and marveling at the many sights of Western ND – what every good road trip should be) that the thoughts which so often wreak havoc in my head have quieted down. It makes me realize how often I am wrapped up in observing the world, conceptualizing it, trying to describe it in words. The experience is a raw experience this time around, and I’m trying to appreciate that while I can, and just keep spare notes on things that I must elaborate on when I more bored and need to fictionalize some excitement into my normal life.

So this post is in hopes I do better keeping those notes for the rest of the trip and put something really great together for the WAND Chronicles, which I’ll be working on when I get back to NYC. The good news is that I have been able to keep up with the nodaikus, which are crucial little images for reminding myself of what it is like to be out here. Hope you haven’t been missing the Weekly Nodaiku posts too much, but if you have, here’s a recent image for the road.

hike, sun-spattered morn
collapse in a copse of trees —
rain passes over

Coming back through the heartland

Can you see the train? It's moving.

“As long as you seek for something, you will get the shadow of reality and not reality itself.”
– D. T. Suzuki

THERE’S A STEADY RUMBLE COMING from under the bus.  It sways gently to its starboard, carving through air as it weaves between the cars, balling straight ahead on I-94 as it reaches across the plains.  77 mph, roaring past farmhouses, abandoned trucks, off-ramps to dirt gravel roads to unknown places, hidden locations.  I’m on my way back to my hometown of Bismarck to see it in a new way, in a strange way, like something I’ve never known.

A harsh contrast lives along here: between the fields, light black and empty, and the short strip of vividly green grass tracing the highway.  The line is marked by tiny fence posts and nearly invisible wire stretched all the way out to the horizon that divides this land into small tracts, a patchwork punctuated by little potholes and lakes.  You are riding just low enough to the ground to see it — hovering six feet above the grey pavement — but running fast enough not to pick out the particulars.  The only trains that run through this state do so in the middle of the night, when you can’t see much of anything out there.  The road is the only way to catch things like this, sights so stark that they appear as an abstraction.

hot wheels rolling by
on the sun-dried pavement —
green grass is waving

This is all familiar territory for me.  The strange thing at the moment are the people next to me: bright blue-jeaned man reading a book with 2nd propeller chapter named “Solo”; thick sweatered and spectacled woman with overly large and frumpled Christmas pillow; the Army t-shirt giant who got on the bus late and mumbled all the way with his great white head of fuzz; the mid-length blonde white hoodie who gave him the seat next to her and scrunched up her nose,  burying it in a fragrant Cosmopolitan magazine.  And all of them, silent, next to each other.  What slice of humanity is this?  Whose America is it?  And here I am, scribbling eccentric notes of no interest to anyone but myself, and not even realizing my belt is unbuckled, fly down.  I guess I’ll defend myself by saying, I’m exposing myself to the world, one person, one place, one moment at a time.

cool heads on strangers
silenced by A/C airflow —
five roadside blossoms

We drop a couple of strangers off at a gas station in Valley City and continue to head West.  The bus driver seems to want to make time, though no one made a fuss when we left 15 minutes late and I’m dropping in and out of sleep.  Conscious or unconscious, I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.  Sometimes it seems like the hardest part of traveling is dealing with all the dead and dying time, waiting to get somewhere you want to go.  This is all different for me this time; even this trip has become a partial adventure: a strange reversal from the time-anxiety of making the plane, catching the train, getting enough rest and all that, before I would go back to the super-static life of eat, work, eat, sleep.  New York interrupts all those things, sometimes blurs them together, makes TIME a hyper-conscious state.  This trip will be quite different on that, with lots of time to kill, and little to get distracted with.  Our time will burn up as the Earth turns its northern head toward and away from the Sun.

It’s bound to be a paradox of both time and space: progressing slowly across the map each day, almost going nowhere at all, perhaps still seeing our previous night’s campsite off our hindsights.  Yet making distance all the time, all day long, and for days and days on end.  And aren’t we all always moving anyhow?  The continents shifting, the Sun circling over our heads, the Earth spinning in space and circling the Sun, within a spiraling galaxy, and in the universe infinitely expanding…wait!  Isn’t traveling just a concept, a metaphor for a metamorphosis of thought?  Even history projects us backwards and forwards in time…all the while, the moment feels like an illusion, an insignificant blip on the radar screen of forever…

riding the spring wind
has the feeling of movement —
sleeping the whole time

We’re in Jamestown already.  I’m tempted to say “we’re on the way home” but I’ve really lost that sense of myself.  Having moved all my personal possessions out of my parents’ house, what I didn’t save I gave away, and most of what’s left there now is baby pictures, man, just baby pictures…and lots books I won’t use.  At one point, I believe I made a catalog of it all, but that’s gone missing somewhere sometime ago.  And I can’t say New York is my home — a city filled with travelers and constantly in flux — and a mighty strange feeling upon leaving that this trip might change me in a way that I can’t ever really return.  I’ve only been gone a day now and I can already see that there’s far more to this world than even New York can offer, despite its claims to possess everything and everyone of importance.

New York springs with life
Dakota, a little less —
no feeling of home

It might be true in one way, but what they absolutely cannot claim to have is nothing.  I mean Nothing.  The streets the people the sounds the stuff the lights the thoughts the sights; it’s been filled, to the brim, with everything; no space left; no room for nothing.

That is what I’m seeking on this journey coming back through the heartland.  You’ll ask, can you ever find ‘nothing’?  Is it really ‘there’ or anywhere to be found?  I once read that, “The right art is purposeless, aimless!  The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede.” (Suzuki)  What might it be like to aim at Nothing?  Perhaps it sounds a little confusing, like I wouldn’t even know what it meant to succeed.  Or just a little boring, like who cares?  And perhaps, that means, well, I’m screwed from the outset.  So prepare yourself for failure.  Here we go.  I’m going to walk in the wilderness, where I’m going to find nothing.

Around mile 230 (near Medina, ND), 2011.25.5, 16:30

What might the WAND look like…ND in photos

As we’ve been gearing up for the WAND — in June, 2 months and counting! – we’ve been reminiscing over old photos from our salad days in NoDak.  Also, we’ve decided to create a calendar from photos taken on the WAND and include it as part of our rewards for raising funds to support the trip.  Here’s a few of our favorites, in order of the potential sights to be seen…

by Tyler Bold

Lands so beautiful they tried to hide them by calling ’em bad. This seems pretty likely to be the most dynamic and exciting part of our adventure, hiking through the Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt State Park.  Probably a lot of other great photo-ops out here…

by Tyler Bold

The open road. It’ll go on for miles and miles.  There are lots more stunning road photos of North Dakota out there – just do a Google Image search for them, they’re easy to find.  Of course, there probably won’t be snow on the ground for us this time around, so that will be nice.

by Jeremy Bold

Really “big sky” country. It takes forever for the sun to set in North Dakota, and it gives you some of the most amazing sunsets you will ever see.  Definitely looking forward to this.

by Jeremy Bold

Where the sidewalk begins. Even though I know 2+ weeks is a long time, I expect that it’ll go past much faster than we even expect.  We’ll be arriving back in Bismarck sooner than we imagine.

Wow.  SO psyched to get out there and take some more photos this summer.  And be sure to look out for our announcement of the opening of our Kickstarter page this week!  We’ll also be posting the trailer for the WAND very soon now…be on the lookout!

Nodaiku: “red roads run like veins”


Photo by Jessie Veeder Scofield

red roads run like veins
through a few hills, over snow —
Dream crossing the plains


The Nodaiku Project is a weekly series featuring one of Jeremy Bold’s haiku compositions based on Jessie Veeder Scofield’s photographs from her ranch way out in western North Dakota (Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Daily Photos).  Find more of The Blank Rectangle’s nodaiku poems by following us on Twitter (@blankrectangle) or here at The Blank Rectangle: Nodaiku and be sure to click the “Sign me up!” button in the sidebar to get notified each time there’s a new nodaiku or other post from The Blank Rectangle!

Nodaiku: “from pale frozen skies”

Photo by Jessie Veeder Scofield

from pale frozen skies,
cold rays light the last hills-
the road goes to die.


The Nodaiku Project is a weekly series featuring one of Jeremy Bold’s haiku compositions based on Jessie Veeder Scofield’s photographs from her ranch way out in western North Dakota (Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Daily Photos).  Find more of The Blank Rectangle’s nodaiku poems by following us on Twitter (@blankrectangle) or here at The Blank Rectangle: Nodaiku and be sure to clickthe “Sign me up!” button in the sidebar to get notified each time there’s a newnodaiku or other post from The Blank Rectangle!

Nodaiku: “salt spackles window”

Salt spackles window
dry winds whip cross roadway but
Plains look mighty smooth

Nodaiku: “Bone-colored road thru…”

Bone-colored road thru
snow-covered field hiding soil.
Dry veins, quiet heart.

Photo by Jeremy Bold

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