I’m not much of a texter. I’d rather have a conversation with someone. I often enjoy conversations with people I don’t know.

Fellow cowboy poet Jarle Kvale and I recently were performers at the Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine, Texas.

We flew out of Bismarck at 6 a.m. We flew in what I call a flying cigar, those miserably small airplanes where I cannot stand upright in the aisle and the seats require you to assume the fetal position. My seat partner was not one to visit. I am not sure he even spoke North Dakotan. At any rate it was a quiet ride to Denver where we changed planes.

As we waited to board the next plane in Denver I sat across the aisle from a well-dressed affluent-looking couple. They didn’t look like they had much in common with a hay shaker from North Dakota. Years ago I would not have said a peep to such people, but I felt compelled to visit with them.

I said to this fellow, “You look like a much more important person than I am. Are you a politician or a big-time CEO?”

He just grinned and said, “Please don’t accuse me of being a politician.” He finally admitted he was a retired airline pilot. I had a nice visit with him and his wife, who said her family had lived in or near Enderlin, N.D. We agreed we probably were related. Our visit was short but fun.

Jarle and I drove to Alpine from El Paso. Of course, it is fun to attend such an event and get re-acquainted with old friends and meet new people. The gathering at Alpine was a first for Jarle and me. We had a good time and the gathering went well for both of us.

Three days later we were back in the El Paso airport waiting for our flight to Denver. I was 1300 miles from home and didn’t really expect to see someone I knew, but the big fellow walking toward me in the airport sure looked familiar. When he got close I asked him if he used to be Les Olhauser. He agreed he was and remembered me also. I remembered Les from more than 40 years ago when we both rode saddle broncs in North Dakota. We had a nice visit and even sat close enough on the plane to visit some. Les is now a prominent auctioneer and rodeo announcer.

When we got to Denver I asked Jarle if he had a visit with anyone on the plane. He said he sat by a man who claimed he was a federal agent who was travelling to Alaska to catch a murderer before he went to Hawaii to catch another murderer.

Of course, I believed none of it. I didn’t think any federal agent would divulge any such details.

We had a couple hours to kill before our flight back to Bismarck and soon found a seat on a bench across from two ordinary looking men. I almost immediately asked them if they were federal agents.

My question brought quick denials and big smiles. Bryan and his dad Jerry had been to visit an old friend and were on their way back to St. George, Utah, Bryan’s home. We had the best kind of visit and almost missed our flight back to Bismarck.

I have no doubt I will see one or both of those guys sometime in the future. It was fun.