Been there, done that

Rest Area near Larimore Dam, North Dakota
We Dervish through Wisconsin and Minnesota in a single day, steady, ready to feel the West again, ready to leave behind the Canada-like gouging of Upper Peninsula fuel prices. Wisconsin is lovely, rural, wet, feels very much like the UP (one of Skip's sisters claims that the UP wants to secede from Michigan, while Wisconsin really thinks IT should have the UP). Marshes everywhere, everything green and soggy, streams and ponds and lakes. We blow heavy kisses to the last of the Great Lakes. The Lake has kept us cool, cooler, anyway, than the 95+ degrees we've felt since we left Asheville, NC.

Minnesota is half Wisconsin-ish and half North Dakota-ish. We see signs for Prairie Bank, Prairie Restaurant, Prairie School...damn, we are in the Prairie! Gentle humps of land, a smooth up and down, lazy and not really sensual, the land rises and falls under our wheels, our small highway tucked in between monster farms. Monster farms. Gargantuan spreads of land, thousands of acres and more, stretching north and south to the horizon and beyond. Pools of water start to look stagnant, filthy with algae, the awesome crowd of vegetation that shows up when extra nitrates run off the torn land and into formerly clean ponds and streams.

We cross into North Dakota, exhausted, ready to sleep. We stop the van on a small farm road to watch a lightning storm in the darkending thunderheads to the north. Crack and flash, we long for ozone to sniff, but the storm is far, far away. The lightning crosses miles of cloud to ground in silvery pink flashes of power. We drop our jaws and oooooh and ah and hold hands and grin that we are here, in the middle of nowhere, perfectly able to appreciate this particular storm.

I take the dogs outside for a quick walk and pee and end up fleeing from flying formations of striped mosquitoes. Awful, painful, itchy, disgusting...Ubiquitous. We fled mosquitoes the second night we camped in the Upper Peninsula,thought it was because we were so near water. North Dakota will also be full of these nasty arthropods.

We stop at a State Park, but the fee for camping is $19, it's too late (and too buggy) to do any trails or swim or anything...we don't use electric or sewage or even need water, so we move on. We find a spot by a dam that wants $14. What the hell? We end up in a quiet, rural rest area with less than awful clouds of mosquitoes, air conditioning in the bathrooms, and no No Overnight Parking signs.


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