Miles pass quickly out here. Agreeable terrain, broad expanses of land and sky and, on a day like this, perfect weather join to draw attention away from time and into the scene unfolding in front of us.
After a restful and longer-than-typical night’s sleep, Deb and I eased through our pre-departure routine and got on the road by 9:30am. We pressed west on I-90 to the town of Chamberlain, exiting the highway at a rest area perched on a bluff high above the Missouri River.
We stopped specifically to see a sculpture christened “Dignity,” a dazzling piece of art standing 50 feet tall. It’s a tribute to the Lakota and Dakota people of the region, but it’s something that can be appreciated by all, regardless of heritage.
Descending from the roadside rest, we crossed the Lewis and Clark Memorial Bridge over the Missouri and entered the striking landscape west of the river. Grassy rolls gave way to more farmland — mile upon mile of deep-green soybeans, the pale yellow of corn in tassel and the bright gold of sunflowers, fields stretching to the horizon.
We stopped briefly for diesel in Murdo. Shortly afterward we crossed into Mountain Time and gained an hour, ultimately arriving at our destination 30 minutes before check-in time.
Our home for the next several days is a commercial campground surrounded by more of that breathtaking prairie — quite literally in the middle of nowhere. The nearest services are 25 miles away. The closest Walmart or McDonald’s is 80 miles away.
And that suits us just fine.
The site where Ernie is parked this evening overlooks a small reservoir and wildlife preserve. The wind — which was manageable for the first part of today’s drive, thanks to our early start — is pretty relentless out here, but during the heat of the day it’s welcome.
Deb and I are loving everything about The Great Plains. The place we’re camped now brings it all together, and it’ll serve us well as a base for more exploring.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.