Red River of the North
Exploring the area around Red River of the North. They have frisbee golf that goes around the river too!

Hobo at Skydive Fargo

I left Phoenix on April 20th by Greyhound for a cross country journey to Fargo, North Dakota. Jay and I thought he would get back to his roots with a club drop zone, but from the first day nothing worked out at all. He picked me up in a rusty, beat up 1988 Buick, the paint, a putrid light blue, right mirror completely gone and duct taped to the car and interior straight out of the 80’s. Electrical wires came out of the dashboard, capped off and dangling all over the place. I later found out the owner of the vehicle, Terry, was an electrician, so that made sense.

Fargo, North Dakota
Outside of Greg’s house in Fargo

Jay drove down Highway 81 after picking me up from Jefferson Lines to head for Greg’s house. We did not meet Greg for a few days, but Skydive Fargo let us stay with him until we got situated. As soon as we arrived in the driveway the car broke down. We mocked the vehicle by taking pictures of Jay leaning up against the ride throwing up hand signs. He looked like a 16-year old boy with his first set of new wheels. The only chicks that saw the backseat of this vehicle were only fat chicks. Bad karma from the beginning made the rest of the stay less than delightful. However, my sole purpose of being in Fargo was to pack parachutes, make money, and head to the next town.

Fargo, North Dakota
Construction site in Fargo, North Dakota

Terry tried replacing ignition switches and coils, but nothing worked. She sat in the driveway for the rest of my stay in Fargo. They would not let us relocate to the hangar in the airport until we found a cheap place to stay so after a week my friend left and flew back to Phoenix. In the meantime I felt cooped up in Greg’s house with no place to go. Everyone worked full-time jobs so tandems did not start during the weekday until after 5 PM, which left me in a depressed slumber, just sleeping in a bed in a corner room in his basement.

Red River of the North
Exploring the area around Red River of the North. They have frisbee golf that goes around the river too!

I spent a few days roaming around the city of Fargo trying to find places to explore. Aside from the flat agricultural land and lakes I stumbled across a few active construction sites. As I walked further from the city I came across the border of North Dakota and Minnesota wandering along Red River of the North. The river starts in Lake Winnipeg, Canada and meanders down through North Dakota and Minnesota. It looked great for canoeing and fishing. I sat down on a log and noticed the skeleton and carcass of a dead deer off in the distance. The wind blew my mop hair in every direction as I sat and soaked in the sunlight and peaceful vibes of the calming river ripples.

Red River of the North
On the border of Minnesota and North Dakota. A deer carcass and skeleton!

It did not feel like home, but nonetheless, a new experience. The bars found us due to boredom along with promoting Skydive Fargo. Frank’s Lounge, and the Bulldog Tap brought in some tandems to pick up the start of skydive season. I watched Jay smoothly enter and exit conversations with such ease and replicated his style on a few customers. My sleep schedule at this point was still fucked from my trip to Asia, staying in Arizona, and all the greyhound bus rides in between, not to mention potential mono or thyroid symptoms hazing in on me. I drank at this point to fall asleep.

Tioga, North Dakota
Flying to Tioga for the Skydive Fargo event. 3 days of tandem jumping and fun!

Many cab rides, and trips to the bar meant a lot of money spent. Jay covered most of the costs without me asking, which made me feel bad, but still we did not have a place to call our own or a vehicle while still promoting the club. This left a sour taste in our mouths and eventually Jay packed up his bags and left since Skydive Fargo did not adhere to the contract in place.

Without a vehicle making rounds to the grocery store involved excessive walking. I hopped fences, ran across the highway and roamed around the Walmart until shuffling through the front entrance. I heard from many people on the bus that you can’t walk into stores with backpacks on in North Dakota so this made it even harder to shop for food and limited my options. I bought frozen pizza, wings, and a 1.5 liter of Mountain Dew, but several trips to the store became a nuisance and I got tired of relying on rides and places to stay.

Tioga
Plane Selfie outside of Tioga

I stuck around Fargo for the skydiving event in Tioga, North Dakota. The pilot swung by Greg’s at 6:00 AM sharp on Friday morning. The deadly fog outside spread through the air making visibility slim to none. When we arrived at the airport we stayed in the hangar for hours waiting for the forecast to give the go ahead to leave. I snatched a student rig and chucked all my gear in the plane. Eventually the fog dissipated and nothing but blue skies went on for miles. I got a free 2-hour private plane ride to Tioga and saw the whole state of North Dakota from 5,000 ft ASL. North Dakota looks like a map. Looking down from above I saw a checkerboard of agricultural land colored different shades of brown and yellow with the occasional river meandering for miles and some green, forested vegetation branching off from the rivers. Thousands of small lakes popped up across the land filling my eyes with dark blue, green, turquoise, and sometimes silver colors. The reflection of the sun’s rays put a silver masking over the lakes as we cruised across the land, but as the plane changed direction they all went back to their normal colors.

Despite my short presence in the state I saw much of the land from many different angles and the plane ride there made my trip that more enjoyable. As we approached Tioga the pilot leaned over and motioned me to switch seats. Holy shit! I messed around with the controls for about 20 minutes in the air. I maintained altitude and heading, made some sharp turns and when turbulence struck us, we switched seats.

The next few days, though monotonous, put me back in the positive after a long trip in Asia where I depleted much of my savings. I packed 35 tandems and 13 sport rigs making a grand total of $511 over 3 days of work. The plane ride back I slept like a baby with my back against the tandem rigs and in the fetal position. I’m waiting to get paid for my work and heading back to Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday since Jay bought me a flight out of here.

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