When I left my home in Montana I couldn’t see the mountains five miles away, the sun was red until midday and set in a haze of smoke that made for spectacularly red sunsets. The ever present smoke made being outside for any length of time an assault on the lungs. Being inside was not much better, the smoke permeated living spaces mixing with the heat to create a damned if you do and a damned if you don’t situation. Most homes in my area of Montana are without whole house air conditioning that would filter out some of the smoke. Our summers are usually mild with the temperatures in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s for several days in August rarely topping the 100 mark for more than a day with the evening and night’s plummeting to the high 40’s and 50’s. This year the whole of western Montana and it’s neighbors to the north in Canada and west Idaho was burning. Northern California and Washington and Oregon was on fire. We have been in drought condition for a long while and temperatures getting warmer, making for a dangerous mix for fire.
I was on a pilgrimage to deliver this car and escape the foul air that was forcing evacuations all over the region due to air quality concerns and fire danger. Yet in the southern part of the United States Hurricane Harvey had dumped enormous amounts of water in a very short period of time threatening to breach dams and cause more damage to an already insulted population. [If only we could redistribute the excess.] In western South Dakota there was a smoke haze, I felt somewhat guilty that we were sharing our bad air with our neighbors but so relieved to not smell the fires.
North Dakota, a land of beauty and surreal landscapes. I wanted to drop down to see Devil’s Tower. But first, I had a clanking under the car which upon inspection was a broken torsion bar on the back axle. Joy, I am several hundred miles from a town of any size and my 25 year old car is falling apart one piece at a time. Duct Tape to the rescue!!!! I crawled under the car and wrapped [not really, no room to wrap properly] the bar to the axle.
What a site, I can only imagine. This little old chunky graying woman crawling under the back end of an ageing vehicle with duct tape muttering expletives at the unfairness of rocks and old bones.
That repaired, I was off again with out the clunk of metal on metal.
On the way to Devils tower are small towns sprinkled along the rail road track and in each town an icon of the past was standing in proud glory . The grain elevator a symbol of prosperity were placed in farming communities to gather the crops and send on to the plants to process into a final products. These are slowly disappearing from the landscape making way for larger structures or being removed completely, I find them a beautiful reminder of a time when the family was on the land working for a common cause against a common enemy.
Devils tower is a large lava appendage sticking strait up out of the ground with no apparent purpose. It is unique in it’s environment. The first night in South Dakota was spent in the campground at the foot of this monolith.