An Exercise in Travel Noir

Weather: Slightly unsettled, spotty rain.

Those of you who were with me for “The Baron in Winter” might remember the time I ventured into the old crime pulp fiction mode of writing for a piece called “Commuter Noir”.

Well, I’ve been reading more Raymond Chandler, “Philip Marlowe” stuff lately, and with another quality audit road-trip coming up on Monday, maybe it’s time to venture into the darkness again.

Granted, the noir style of writing and the giddy exhilaration of a road trip don’t seem very compatible. Last time I wrote that way, there was dark and fog and danger in the air. This time? Nothing but open roads and clear blue sky, if the Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild are to be believed.

The thing is, the work load on this trip is so much heavier than on the last one that it will take all next week to complete. This left little time for me to plan extracurricular activities, so this time, for the most part, I’m just going to wing it.

I definitely plan to stop at Ted’s Country Corner, where I met those three distinguished gentlemen in a previous entry. But that won’t happen until Thursday afternoon.

Thursday evening I plan to spend at the South Dakota State Fair, watching my friend Steve’s bluegrass band perform and sampling some of the local delicacies. Don’t worry, I’m bringing the camera.

Friday night I plan to spend in Watertown, SD, and have dinner at an old favorite of mine.

Dempsey’s has some of the best food and drink I’ve tasted anywhere, and the motel I’ve booked is just across the parking lot. How conveeeeenient, no?

Saturday will be a long ramble across Southern Minnesota, I know not where yet. This is getting dangerously close to wandering, I think, but I should have a solid Ramble Plan by the time I get there. New Ulm certainly deserves another visit. And if I have to wander a bit, well, interesting things tend to happen when I do that.

So I guess I’m signing off now, for the weekend. I have to plan and pack, and take care of some last-minute maintenance on Frogwing. It’s going to be so nice to be back on the open roads again. I don’t know if I will be able to download photos from the road, I couldn’t last time. But I will update here from Fergus Falls and Aberdeen, maybe from Huron as well. Watch for the photos after I return.

7 Responses to “An Exercise in Travel Noir”

  1. Steve Williams Says:

    Another adventure you lucky…..

    To really completely execute that noir experience means you are going to either have to get yourself into dark trouble, or rescue someone else from dark trouble. That might be a bit much on top of the work you have to do.

    Maybe you winging it plan is the best one, see what the road shows you.

    Good luck and have fun! Can’t wait to read about whatever happens.


  2. Arizona Lucky Says:

    “Nothing but open roads and clear blue sky” translates to “Abandoned highways and harsh, glaring sun,” if you want to be all dark about it.

    Have fun!

  3. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Steve: “It was a tall order stacked up on a pile of impossible work. And it all had to be done by sundown. That’s why they tapped me to do it.”

    How am I doing so far?

    AZ Lucky: I like that. You seem to have the knack for this sort of thing. It would be very cool to see a Pizza Noir review over on your blog. Think you’re up to it?

    Ride well,

  4. Buster Brown Says:

    What is the sound of money folding?

  5. Buster Brown Says:

    What am I saying? Raymond Chandler is sooo L.A. For South Dakota noir, you need to be reading Harold Adams. I may have a few lying around I can loan you the next time you’re in the ‘hood.

  6. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Buster: Harold Adams? I’ll see if I can’t find something by him at a used bookstore on the road somewhere. Maybe there’s one in Fergus Falls…?

    Do you have any recommended titles?

    Ride well,

  7. Buster Brown Says:

    Here’s a list of his Carl Wilcox series. There are a few on here that I have not read, but anything you can find will be fine.

    1. Murder (1981)
    2. Paint the Town Red (1982)
    3. The Missing Moon (1983)
    4. The Naked Liar (1985)
    5. The Fourth Widow (1986)
    6. The Barbed Wire Noose (1987)
    7. The Man Who Met the Train (1988)
    8. The Man Who Missed the Party (1989)
    9. The Man Who Was Taller Than God (1992)
    10. A Perfectly Proper Murder (1993)
    11. A Way with Widows (1994)
    12. The Ditched Blonde (1995)
    13. Hatchet Job (1996)
    14. The Ice Pick Artist (1997)
    15. No Badge, No Gun (1998)
    16. Lead, So I Can Follow (1999)

    Most of these are set in eastern South Dakota in the ’30s, so plenty of prairie atmospherics. One of them transpires in St. Croix Falls or Osceola. The protagonist is on a canoe trip, and solves a murder while camping on an island in the river.

    The chains may stock one or two titles at most. I sometimes run across them in used bookstores, but your best bet is probably Uncle Edgar’s.