September 11, 2005

road dust, Mitchell to Minneapolis

When we got out of the car yesterday at the Badlands, the wind was hot and strong. So strong. It almost blew away my camera lens cap. All the way through South Dakota last night, the winds so strong, buffeting the car. This morning, walking out to the parking lot, the air already sun-heated, the wind gusting. Damian said he loved it. I held my arms out and felt airborne.

This morning: the Corn Palace. The corn murals are redesigned/recreated every year. We caught it in mid-creation.




Today: much driving across prairie turning into farmland, gradually greening as we went. We stopped for lunch outside Sioux Falls. I eavesdropped on a (loud) conversation at a nearby table. They were talking religion and tolerance. One man said, "I worked at an auto mechanic shop for twenty years. We got to know each other pretty well. We used to joke around and tease each other. Didn't matter what religion you were, whether you were Baptist or Episcopalian, you got teased the same."

I was floored. Baptist and Episcopalian different religions? They're not only flavors of Christianity, they're flavors of the Protestant strain of Christianity. It's like saying you like all colors from taupe to beige. I do realize that this man wasn't being prejudiced, he probably has never met a Jew, a Buddhist or a Muslim. He was talking true tolerance, simply within the narrow confines of his experience. I think, though, that this is what's wrong with much of our culture. So many of us don't experience enough outside our boxes. Cities force you to do so, but out in the middle of the prairie, not so much.

Once we crossed into Minnesota, we passed a town called Welcome, another named Blue Earth. We found a gas station in a small town for a pee stop. While Damian was in the bathroom, I chatted with the cashier, a young woman. She said she grew up in a Minneapolis suburb and moved to this town six years ago. She likes the fact that everyone knows each other, that the fabric of the community is so strong. On the other hand, she says, she misses being in a place where everyone isn't always sticking their noses into your business. An eternal dilemma, no? Everything has its price. It's all about what you're willing to pay in return for what benefit.

We arrived in Minneapolis in time for dinner. Lovely to be in a real home after a week on the road. Lovely to see relatives, people I enjoy tremendously. Minneapolis and St. Paul seem so far like manageable cities, cities with character and charm and lovely residential areas. I look forward to exploring more tomorrow, which is incidentally Dan's birthday.

We've crossed into the Central time zone. We're more than half way to our new home. This trip is an interesting split for us: the first half was about scenery, natural beauty, history. The second half is about culture, cities and towns and people. Is that the difference between the western and eastern United States or just about our experiences on each side of the country?

Posted by Tamar at September 11, 2005 10:43 PM | TrackBack