No Yarn for Me
This was a hiking trip. Hiking. Not yarn buying. But I couldn’t help but check into whether there might be a yarn store in the vicinity of Medora, North Dakota. We couldn’t hike 24 hours a day, could we? Surely there would be a free hour to poke around a yarn shop if I just sort of happened to accidentally run across one.
Well, there is a yarn shop in Medora. Right–as the Master Engineer reported while perusing the map of town–across the street from our hotel. Right across the street: Bandannas & Bows. Okay, they also carry clothing and gifts and a bunch of other stuff, but yarn! Yarn was on the list! I made great plans to return from our trip with yarn and a new LYS to report about, along with the usual collection of cool rocks and antiques which always seem to make their way into the car anytime we venture beyond our own driveway.
Silly, silly me. What made me think that the yarn store would be open?
We arrived in Medora last Thursday evening. Not a late-night town, all the stores were closed. Even the convenience store rolled up its sidewalks at 5pm. (Note to convenience store owner: The word “convenience” typically means being open later than 5. Thank you.)
A distressing number of signs stated that the stores were not simply closed, but closed for the season. You see, the M.E. and I are devotees of travel during the off-season. We hate crowds, hate doing things at the exact same moment when everyone else is doing them. In Medora, the season starts after Memorial Day. A town of only 100 permanent residents, the population swells by 5000 during the summer months. Off-season, bunnies sit unbothered in the middle of traffic-free streets. In season, the 115-room Badlands Motel stays fully booked, and people line up to get into restaurants and the immensely popular Medora Musical. Traffic, I imagine, transforms from bunny-friendly to quite unpleasant.
Now, the M.E. and I don’t give a prairie dog’s patootie
about the Musical and all its hopping up and down in cowboy hats and ruffly skirts. We were staying in Medora because it’s the closest town to the stunningly gorgeous Teddy Roosevelt National Park.
In fact, the main entrance to the South Unit was less than two blocks from our hotel.
But it never hurts to do a bit of shopping, even when the scenery is beautiful. The sign on Bandannas & Bows didn’t say “closed for the season,” it said “closed.” I held out hope.
After our hike on Friday (hiking stories in my next post), we trundled through town, dusty and disheveled and dying for a shower. It was about 4:55pm. Could it be? Yes, lights were on in the yarn shop! It was open! But with only five minutes before closing and me so filthy that no sensible LYS owner would let me near her nice, clean yarn, I decided to wait. After all, if the shop was open Friday, it would be open Saturday…right?
Fortified with a completely excessive breakfast at the Chuckwagon buffet, we left early Saturday morning for a long, marvelous hike through the Petrified Forest. It was just after lunchtime when we made it back to town. Perfect, I thought. Plenty of time to get cleaned up and visit the yarn shop and look for souvenirs. Perfect except for this, that is:
That’s the M.E. changing a flat tire. He was so focused and cranky at that moment, I don’t think he even realized I was taking a picture of the drama. The gravel road out of the park had been so bumpy that neither of us realized something wasn’t quite right with the car until we were all the way back to town. Not happy. Not, not happy. A flat meant a 30 mile drive to Dickinson on the temporary spare–Medora’s too small to have a tire store or even a garage. Off we went. Bye bye, yarn shop.
If you should ever have a flat tire in western North Dakota, the place to go is Dickinson Tire. Even if it is closed because it is after noon on a Saturday, that is the place to go. This is what we learned after trying the door at Dickinson Tire, finding it locked and going, in sheer desperation, to the megalithic Walmart up the street. Walmart has a Tire & Lube department. They do not, however, have the right tire. Trust me on this one.
The really nice guy at Walmart, knowing that they don’t have the tire, will call his buddies at Dickinson Tire and ask if they do. The Walmart guy will then sneak you outside and will, in a low voice inaudible to boss radar, point the way to the back door of Dickinson Tire. Because even if the sign at the front of the building says “closed” on a Saturday afternoon, the back of the building is hopping. The employees are there fixing up their own cars, and they’re the kind of cool guys who are more than happy to take time out to help two total strangers by selling them a tire (above board, on the books) and doing an excellent job of putting it on the car. Ray was the guy who helped us. Ray was such a stand-up guy he actually refused a $20 tip. “Just come back and buy more tires,” he said.
I wish I had a photo of Dickinson Tire. I thought about it too late, as we were turning the corner to get back on the highway, and the stupid thing about digital cameras is that they’re slow. (A camera shouldn’t have to boot up!) What’s interesting about this place is that it’s a very rare thing–a business that’s actually doing better by virtue of having a Walmart nearby. See, as I hear it, Walmart doesn’t have the right tire most of the time and when they do, they tend to do such a crappy job of installing it that unhappy tire buyers have to go elsewhere to get things fixed properly. Guess where they go? Yup. To see Ray and his buddies–their business has increased dramatically since Walmart moved in with its Tire & Lube. Score one for the little guys!
Something tells me that Ray doesn’t read knitting blogs, so he’s unlikely to know that I’m thanking him again here. He did us a huge favor and did it expertly and fast. We were on the road again and back to Medora by 3:30, elated because we still had time for souvenir shopping and…yarn!
At that point, the M.E. was happy because he was getting me to the yarn shop on time, and I was so happy at the propect of being able to actually walk into the yarn shop that I would have bought a skein of Red Heart Wintuk, if that’s all she had, to show my gratitude. Yarn, yarn, glorious Medora yarn!
So. This is what I found when I traipsed up to the door of Bandannas & Bows, at an hour on Saturday afternoon when most merchants would have been open:
Um, don’t thank me. I wasn’t coming back on Sunday. We had to leave town no later than about 9:00am in order to have any hope of getting home at a reasonable hour. And that’s just what we did. The only yarn I brought home from this trip was the yarn I brought with me, some Lorna’s Laces which is going to be birthday socks for my mom.
And Medora’s yarn shop lady? Perhaps she thought I already had too much yarn.
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