Day Four: Williston, ND

North Dakota is amazing.  And big, and lonely, and beautiful and sad with all of the oil industry.  I had been asking (pestering) Ken to show me the great plains and prairies since I wanted to experience this wilderness in an unforgettable way.  I told him I wanted to get out of the truck and smell the grasses!

We took a few detours (after I had a civilization moment manicure and pedicure by Jan at Attractions Salon in Grand Forks) and ended up on the way to the Little Missouri National Grasslands.  I look for the pretty colors on our map which signal natural sights or historic places.  We have driven through light brown spots on the map too which are the Indian Reservations, known better as the “Rez”.   They are sobering, both naturally preserved and unnaturally impoverished.  This is why I needed to see the national park that had at least promised a pure version of the grasslands covered by wild animals and flowers long ago.

We did make it onto the parklands, but it was hard to see where they actually started.  All around were ugly wells and oil machinery, even in the area I thought was protected.  The North Dakota wilderness was marred and I felt angry for the native Americans who had to endure the actuality of abuse and even extinction.  I thought of the nearby pipeline protests and saw more clearly the anger and despair that must have been felt by those who were part of this land.

Toward the end of the drive that encircled the lands, I was finally able to see far into the distance without noting a burning flair of natural gas coming out of the ground or hearing the chug chug of the pumps.  I was grateful for the experience and took many pictures.  I held a sprig of natural sage in my fingers and crushed it for its heavenly smell.  We straggled into the next town completely exhausted, but I had my wish of seeing and smelling the plains.

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