Sunday, July 18, 2010
Our Little House on the Prairie
We've been traveling through the prairie of southern Manitoba, Canada and North Dakota for about 5 days now. I am in awe at the size of the prairie that comprises the heart of this continent. I have traveled through Missouri and Kansas and the more southerly reaches of this great breadbasket, and it is awesome to think that this fertile land extends northward to the Canadian Shield. I now truly understand that this land could feed the entire world. It is unfathomably vast!
Sometimes this land is flat for as far as the eye can see, and sometimes there are rolling hills and bluffs by a river. But nearly everywhere there's no standing water, there are crops. The most plentiful crops have been wheat and canola (rapeseed) which can fill the entire horizon with bright yellow.
There have also been many fields of corn, hay, and beautiful blue fields of flax - the first flax fields I've ever seen.
A few days ago we got ourselves lost on some North Dakota gravel back roads (although since they all go north/south or east/west it was easy enough to go the right direction). We came upon several cowboys and cowgirls herding cattle across the road to a new pasture. Then we saw a crop duster in his bi-wing plane circling round and round a field. Except for the chemicals, that would be a really fun job!
Now we are following part of the Lewis and Clark trail along the Missouri River. Adalaya has been a long-time fan of Sacagawea, and just finished a historical novel of the voyage west to the Pacific Ocean from her perspective. George had previously read Undaunted Courage, and we all watched the Ken Burns film Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery. Yesterday we had breakfast, a hike, and a shower in the Lewis and Clark State Park, located on Lake Sakakawea.
Last night we camped (or had an "overnight picnic" as George put it) on the banks of the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. At this point in Lewis & Clark's adventure, they did not know which river to take in order to reach the "Great Falls" that the Mandan Indians had told them about. One river headed south and was muddy (the Yellowstone) and one headed northwest and was clear (the Missouri). As the story goes, the rest of the crew wanted to take the southerly route, but Lewis and Clark chose the clear river and did in fact find the "Great Falls" which assured them they were on the right route.
Here is the Yellowstone and Missouri Confluence (and pelican) at dawn.
Having been missing our berries from home, we stopped by a U-pick raspberry farm and picked our breakfast. Yum! Happiness abounds!