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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Sep 5, 2014

People will refer to a place as the “middle of nowhere” or might even use that phrase to describe where they live.

I have traveled to places where that phrase would apply.

The most recent time was just over a week ago when we were driving from Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Minocqua, Wisc, a distance of almost 100 miles.

About half of the drive was through a national forest where tall trees were on both sides of the road created a corridor for mile after mile.

Somewhere along our route we stopped at a convenience store that would qualify as the middle of nowhere and I wondered about the seemingly long commute of the people who worked there, because this was a stretch of road with only trees and blacktop.

There was a for sign stating the business was for sale. Considering the remoteness of this place I could see why, even if it was busy on a Friday in August during vacation season.

Tucked back behind the convenience store was a recently built home and I wondered if the house was included in the purchase price which would help ease the commuting problem.

We resumed our drive and I was grateful that we were getting closer to where there were more people and more services.

There are other places I have driven where describing them as the “middle of nowhere” would apply such as extreme western North Dakota and eastern Montana or where western Colorado meets eastern Utah.

Many years ago, I was driving at night south of Casper, Wyo., and there were a few miles where even the yard lights that stay on all night disappeared and it was just me, the short stretch of road lit by my headlights, and a lot of blackness.

In places like that, I never let my gas gauge go under a quarter tank and pray that I don’t have a breakdown.

Some remote places seem to border on the uninhabitable, but still offer basic services.

Driving through Shiprock, N.M. one summer, I saw small homes that were obviously air conditioned with a few belongings outside, but no lawn mowers because there was no lawn.

We were in the desert where a person could buy gasoline or eat at any of several food places in the small towns that dotted the highway.

We then drove to Cortez, Colo., through miles of desert, again grateful for a tank of gas and trouble-free traveling.

But whether it was the forests of northern Wisconsin, the wide open spaces of North Dakota and Montana, or the desert southwest, people lived there and they called it their home.

We might call it the middle of nowhere, but it is what they know and they have adapted to life there.

They might even be puzzled at using that phrase to describe where they live.

Where I call home, it is 10 miles to the closest grocery store. It is the same distance to an ATM.

We drive three miles on a gravel road to reach the highway or a mile and a half on gravel to get to the closest county blacktop.

Medical services are 15 miles one way and 20 miles the other direction.

You can go to the nearest bank in one town five miles away, but to get a meal will require a drive of at least another five miles.

I am surrounded by corn and soybean fields for at least 150 miles in every direction.

Do I live in the middle of nowhere?

I don’t think so. But somebody else might.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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