Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maps and John P.

My great-grandfather, John P. Nelson was a very intelligent, self educated man. He had wanderlust in his soul, but because he had cows to milk every day, he did his traveling with books and maps. Dora was his anchor... in more ways than one. He kept a very formal daily journal, always referring to himself in the second person, Mr. John P. Nelson. Only once did he deviate from this formality, when Grandma died. A simple underlined entry, "Ma died today", summed it all up. After after she died and Marshall took over the farming operations, he ventured more from Shelby County, Iowa to visit relatives and see wondrous places... like Minnesota! After one such sojourn to spend time in Clarks Grove, Minnesota, where two of his children had moved and spawned a passel of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, my father had the taxi duties to ferry old John P 250 miles back to his home in Iowa. As I mentioned in an earlier post, during my childhood my father owned a series of light airplanes. As he had upgraded from a two-place J-3 Cub to a plusher four-place Aeronca Sedan, he thought it would be easier on the octogenarian to fly down. As we flew down over the villages and farmland, navigating by highway, the old cartographile called out the names of the small towns before we could read the names painted on the sides of the watertowers. He kept repeating, "My goodness! If I were a younger man, I would have one of these wonderful machines!"
...but I digress, what I meant to say is, the crushed-rock country lane runs south from Whalan and follows a little trout stream, Gribbon Creek, twisting, turning, gently climbing through the woods for about five miles. Then I can take the road east to the once village of Highland, ride north to pick up the east branch of the creek, and roll downhill back to Whalan, population 64...just big enough for a coffee shop with homemade pie and ice cream. Cool.

1 comment:

A23 said...

I'm a big map fiend, too.

Take a lot of "vacations" that way-- An atlas and a six pack can refresh me like few other things.