Driving on ND Highway #2

Wrong Way Lights

          A few weeks ago, I was returning to Devils Lake on the usual route taken by most Devils Lake residents – Highway 2.   The sun had already set and the highway and surrounding countryside were completely cloaked in black. Occasionally, off in the distance, a combine or tractor and grain wagon set lit up a portion of a field as the last of the harvest was removed from another field.   Their super bright, multiple headlights were strikingly different from those of the road warriors on Highway 2.  Grain dust worked to magnify the lights and sent lines of light up and out and in all various directions.

          As I and other drivers negotiated the here and there curves in the divided four-lane path of Highway 2, the headlights of east traveling and west traveling vehicles sometimes crossed beams. Alert drivers flicked off their high beams to lessen eye stress on fellow drivers.  A few drivers did not.  For those of us with contact lenses, lower beams are nice but not required.

          Just past the railroad bridge near Michigan, I noticed an approaching driver with what seemed brighter than usual high beams.  Then the driver ahead of me tapped his/her brakes and swerved over to the right.  “Deer” was my first thought followed by “Wow, that combine is really close to the road”.  Neither was an accurate conclusion.  For in the next instant, it was my turn to meet the bright light vehicle and I realized it wasn’t a near combine or a wayward wildlife.  It was someone driving the wrong way! 

          Not too fast and not too slow, the wrong way traveler was heading east in the westbound lanes of Highway 2.   He was driving “to the right” in his version of the highway and thus was in the passing lane of our version of the highway.  Fortunately, all other drivers and I were in the driving lane and so with much braking, horn honking and rapid heartbeats, met and passed the driver safely. 

          Just up the road, at Michigan, I and another driver pulled off and whipped out the cell phones.  My call was to 911; the other driver was having a much more animated conversation with someone. The 911 dispatcher took all the relevant info, asked a question or two and said an officer would be dispatched.

 I hung up and considered reentering the highway.  It had been a lovely, ND fall night but now the shadows seemed deeper and darker.  I listened for a police car siren but heard none.  I was glad the siren of an ambulance did not break the night.  Eventually, I did what needed to be done – merged into the traffic and started home again.  That time, though, I counted each and every head light.