Road Trip Day 001

by Gilbert Keith

Sunrises over the horizon as seen from the beach are romantic. However, they are somewhat lacking in that the terrestrial area they initially illuminate is very uniform… and thus, the merit lies only in the act of the sun rising, and not in how the area it illuminates absorbs/reflects the sunrise.

Contention: Sunrises seen from a slightly elevated spot in the prairie are magnificent. Just go onto some of the N/S roads in Carver Cty and stand on a bridge overlooking 212.

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There was recently a report of the recent blizzard over SD causing havoc in the cattle industry:

Like in a scene from an apocalyptic parable, dark carcasses of cows and steers lie motionless in silent clusters across swaths of South Dakota.

An early blizzard caught ranchers off guard this week in the state, killing as many as 20,000 head of cattle, a state official says.

But ranchers say they are the real victims.

The storm left many of them in ruins, and now Washington is leaving them out in the cold.

 

I’m pretty sure I saw some traces of this, even though it’s been nearly 15 days since that article’s been written. There were some cattle lying really close to the highway. I only got a fleeting glimpse, so I can’t confirm that it was a decaying carcass. But it was eerily still. In all the driving I’ve done along 90/94, I’ve never seen a cow just sitting there without moving a muscle.

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There were some pumpjacks to be seen in SD/Wyoming. These abound in Oklahoma/Texas, where there’s presumably still a bunch of oil left. But it got me wondering why people continue to use such ugly looking machinery in the first place… So many of the pumpjacks that you see along the highway are really old and rusty. Even if they’re pumping oil, it doesn’t look becoming of an industry that makes a lot of money (I don’t think this is too outlandish a claim.)

Also, why do people continue to use this design? Surely it must be possible to pump oil without having to resort to bulky machinery exposed to the elements with a whole bunch of large moving parts… You’d think that tucking away the machinery underground and/or reducing the motion involved would significantly prolong the life of one of these things.

I know I passed through Meade Cty, SD today (though not sure if I saw the derricks along the hwy there.) So here’s the map. It looks like if I had deigned to go East of the highway at Sturgis, I’d have seen some active ones.

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The Missouri at I-90 seemed somewhat less compelling than I was hoping it to be. I’ve been across it before, but have little recollection of the episode. It doesn’t seem as awe-inspiring as the Mississippi near St. Louis. Maybe it was how the bridge was constructed. Or maybe it’s the fact that it cuts such a big valley through the hills in SD, that the hills one-up the magnificence. With the Mississippi, I’m kind of used to seeing more rough, jagged, vertical bluffs (like right by the University of MN.)

============================================Wyoming is super desolate. I’d passed a gas-station sign on I-90 when my tank read 3/4ths empty (which really means 4/5ths empty. I gave it about 80 more miles before the orange light would turn on, so I kept trucking along.

The next fuel stop came at mile 78. I was getting nervous.

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Check out this service if you want to get a comprehensive idea of the weather along a roadtrip:

http://www.weather.com/travel/trip-planner

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Fun pic:

Image

Yes, that is a giant golf-ball for the Paul Bunyan memorial Golf tournament.

–Gautam

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