Friday, August 8, 2014

The Badlands and Moving On

The badlands in the northwestern portion of the great plains are either abhorred or adored by visitors. While I fall into the first group (I can't live without trees), I can appreciate the incredible layers of color before me. The photo above was taken just off the interstate at an entrance the the badlands on the western edge of North Dakota. To get here, we had already driven for more than a day. One other thing about this location: I was dodging buffalo dung as I walked along the rim of the canyon. Things like that mess with your concentration.

How do I utilize settings like this in my writing? Read how Leaf, a troll who lives in a narrow marsh surrounded by a forest feels about the vast plain in Cairn: A Dragon Memoir.

Mor was beginning to push the sun back below the horizon. The eternal battle was a comfort to Leaf on this wide plain of both water and grass. In many ways, she was reminded of Elvsmyr, except the plants were strange, and no trees dotted the landscape. She missed her maple, but she was settling in with Clover’s help. Dozens of tasty roots and flowers were filling her pockets, but without trees, Leaf and Fern were subject to the whims of nature. They had been drenched more than once by a deluge blowing off the sea, but when the sun had come out, they had dried quickly, their discomfort forgotten. It was as if a giant, rather a whole tribe of giants, had plucked every stone, every boulder from the valley floor, and hauled them off for purposes unknown. Only the grass and water remained. They were surrounded by jagged mountains hemming in the plain, their grand shadows casting a rugged beauty on their surroundings, but it was not a place for troll, or deer. It was, however, perfect for goats, eating machines that they were, and a lonely puffin who was doomed to an unnatural existence."

Notice how Leaf is in a basin, surrounded by mountains. After more than two days of prairie and badland, we were hungry for the mountains.
For hours, we scanned the horizon, wishing the mountains to appear, but time and again, it was an illusion. Then finally, we see them as we drive west toward the rocky mountains along highway 2 in Montana.
About That STRAIGHT Road.
We had been looking at it for nearly two days. And notice the train tracks. The trains were an ever present companion.
It's amazing what a little thing like a curve in the road can do for your mental state. I had to stop. Never mind the power line, it was a curve.

FACT: Seattle, Washington is closer to Glacier National Park than to the eastern border of Montana.

One last tidbit for today: we = my husband, Winston, Tasha, and me.
Winston is on the left, and Tasha is the right. If they look a little confused, it's understandable. 1,300 miles, 24 hours of drive time over two and a half days, and not a tree in sight. But they were little troopers.
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