I had quite a bit of difficulty controlling my emotions on today’s leg of the journey. The farther I get from New Jersey, from home, from what’s comfortable and familiar, the lonelier I feel. I swear at times it’s as if I’m a speck of flesh traveling in a world that isn’t aware of my existence. More than ever, I needed a hand to hold, someone to stare into my eyes and smile. I know a lot has to do with relative remoteness of where I am. That along with the anxiety of knowing I have no one to soothe me other than MYSELF.
Feelings aside, Wisconsin reminded me of Upstate New York. All of a sudden, White and Red Pine became abundant and Birches Popped out to say hello. This was a comforting sight for sure. That northern feel that I crave so much. The topography varied from pine laden bluffs to gentle farmland. At the border with Minnesota, you finally reach the Mississippi River. The upper Mississippi to be exact. It’s hard to imagine that this, the mightiest and largest river in the United States, flows south from here all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The elevation is slowly but surely increasing as well.
Southern Minnesota is a sea of agricultural lands. It all becomes a bit monotonous after hours of driving. That and the fact that I’m ready for the West, for the Rocky Mountains, for topographical relief. I reached the border with South Dakota and instantly, my mood lifted. It was twenty years ago that a seventeen year old me visited these lands for the first time. I was in the home of the Lakota people. I was now in the Great Plains, what was the land of the Buffalo. I stopped in Sioux Falls and what do you know? There are falls in this largest of South Dakota’s cities. The falls tumble over beautiful orange hued rock, sandstone I believe, stained, furious, and determined. It’s quite a lovely site, an itty bitty Niagara here in the eastern part of the state.
The weather has taken a turn. Today was mostly cloudy and the thermometer dipped down into the lower sixties. There’s a noticeable chill in the air. Fall has arrived and I left summer behind in Chicago. Corn, once again, is king in this region. What once were plains of grasslands and Bison are now mono crops of maize and cattle. What would the Yankton think about their homelands now? As the day faded I was blessed with one of those classic plains sunsets. The sky set a fire, clouds highlighted, giant wind turbines silhouetted south of me. I’ve fallen into a rhythm. These skeevy motels are becoming a home away from home. I stopped by the only corn palace in the world in Mitchell. It’s seen better days. These small towns have a charming western feel. My server during dinner today was indigenous and cute. She wasn’t much for the small talk. Maybe she had a lot on her mind, maybe I should have tried a bit harder?