We say our goodbyes for now and wish Kyie and Ashley a relaxing weekend. We head out of Winnipeg on the Pembina Highway. We are quickly surrounded by wheat fields as far as the eye can see. Crossing the border at Emerson is a virtual thing – the wheat fields stretch out endlessly into the flat distance.
We are in the Great Plains of North America. Extending from Mexico and west Texas to Saskatchewan. From the Rocky Mountains in the west almost to the Mississippi River in the east. Agriculture that we see now was unknown to the Plains Indians as there was no water or wood . They were nomads who followed and hunted buffalo on horseback to survive.
The Spanish could not conquer them nor the terrain. The fierce Apaches and Commanches were master horsemen, able to fire a dozen arrows in a minute while clinging to the side of their speeding horse. The Spanish gave up and withdrew in the 18th century. It was not until the invention of the colt six shooter pistol in about 1870 that Americans were able to route the natives at their own game on horseback and enable settlement to proceed, in what was known then as the Great American Desert.
We journey SW across North Dakota. We stop at Oscar-Zero, one of the Ronald Regan era ballistic missile launch sites now mothballed. I go to take some pictures and realize my camera battery is back in Winnipeg still charging. A tour takes an hour so we press on for Bismarck.
Finally a few rolling hills are seen and very much welcomed! We cross the mighty Missouri River about mid-state. Tonight we find a nice motel in Mandan just past Bismarck and enjoy some great chicken and potatoes before nodding off.
On Day 5 we are up and at it and heading SW again. We start to notice a few small ponds and the odd rocky butte. The vistas our stunning with a few trees now dotting the rolling fields. We cross into South Dakota. It is desolate – we drive 100 km with nothing but wheat fields, sunflowers and canola – no services, no houses, the odd barn and grouping of silos.
We stop for lunch at a Conoco gas station – most people wear leather cowboy hats and are in a pickup or on motorcycle. It’s windy. We feel a bit out of place. In Rapid City I manage to buy a battery and charger for my camera. Yippee! We continue on to Hill City in the Black Hills area in SW South Dakota and check into a huge Best Western suite room.
Some more chicken and wine and we call it a night. It was a long but great day.
Dave and Maire