State #50, North Dakota

Builders,

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Above, Rt. 12 headed in North Dakota. The landscape displaced all thoughts of life’s concerns elsewhere. In 125 miles of driving I saw only one other car, going the other way. Places like this never seem lonely to me, that is something I am much more likely to feel crowded places and cities.

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North Dakota was the only state I had never been to. Getting to every state had been a small goal of mine for a long time. I have actually driven to 49 of them, including riding to Alaska. It gives a a continuity to your appreciation for distance, climate and geography that arriving on a commercial flight doesn’t. 

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Likewise, I have been to almost all of these places either by motorcycle or old truck with the windows rolled down, methods of travel that put you “in” the setting. 

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I have stayed in people’s homes and  camped out far more than I have patronized corporate motels, eaten in dive diners more than restaurant chains,  had more beer in VFW halls than tourist spots. My grease monkey wardrobe is out of place among Oshkosh’s embroidered polo shirts, but out here in working rural America, it is a standard uniform were people’s actions matter more than their appearance of affluence.

I live in a State with a tourism economy, and it is very obvious that people who travel with the mindset and mannerisms of tourists never get much of the actual feel of my state, certainly no understanding of what makes it unique. I detest the way that Corporate consumer culture has homogenized much of our country,  but you can still find all the strong character that has resisted this as long as you are willing to slow down and listen, and trade the mannerisms and expectations of  a tourist for the eyes and empathy of  John Steinbeck or Robert Persig.

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.ww.

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East Bound in Montana 

Builders, 

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The airport in Livingston Montana is on a plateau several hundred feet above the town. Looking at any point on the compass provided a view of 10,000′ mountains. Above is the view to the south.  Yellowstone National Park lies on the same heading, 30 miles away.  Home in Florida is still 2,650 miles away.

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Above the Yellowstone river on an empty I-94.

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.ww.

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