Monday, October 04, 2010

Prairie Day Trip

On Friday, we drove down to Pembina, North Dakota. We brought some things to mail off in the United States and we met a friend. This friend not only studies and restores antique spinning wheels but also happens to be a biologist. Obviously the Professor and I both enjoyed the visit!

Our friend showed us a handspun, handknitted flax lace scarf she'd made, and let me touch it. In person, it is a soft and fluttery piece of art. We also delighted together in the many (processed food) delights of the truck stop in Pembina. It appeared to be the only joint in town to eat lunch, so that's where we ate.

We did stop at an outstanding museum. The Pembina State Museum was small but very well done. Every exhibit was up to date and interesting. I suspect I'll be going back there the next time we go through that area. The most interesting part of the museum's architecture is the observation tower, which we did not go up. Since everything is F-L-A-T on the prairies, it is hard to have scenic views. Obviously, that has to be fixed, so people build observation towers, toboggan runs and even big city sky scrapers to be sure you can see "the view."

Since both of us are from much more hilly regions (and we've even spent time in places with genuine mountains), we find this kind of amusing. The Professor took my camera and made sure to take comparison shots so you can see the height of this tower.

The drive takes about an hour and a half to two hours each way, depending on the weather and the border crossing. Lots of Manitobans were going to the U.S. for the weekend, so we had a wait to get into the United States, and no wait at all to go home. (This puzzles us, as Winnipeg is a pretty great shopping destination when compared to, say, Grand Forks, but maybe we're just missing something about the interests of the average North Dakotan shopper?) Most of the drive looked just like this:

This allowed for a lot of good knitting time, and even a nap on the way home, since I wasn't driving. The view is open and gorgeous, with very few things that interrupt the big sky. However, it does get a bit boring to drive.

At the Pembina exit, we were amazed by the amount of traffic. I mean, who knew that silos of this size were portable? Obviously, now we know they are, but it was quite a sight to see several being towed to their new farm destination. Behind those silos, you can just about see a red dump truck. In one direction, it was full to the brim with sugar beets. After it dumped off the beets for processing, it would return for another load. The Red River Valley grows a lot of sugar beets.

We also saw several cattle trucks as well as other long haul truckers. It was a pretty happening intersection for a small town. We took only a few photos because as usual, my camera battery decided it was low right after we left home! That said, I think this might give you a taste of our trip.

Next time, I might just show you how much I've knit since Friday! (hint: a day trip on the Prairies is good solid sock knitting time...!)

So, have you seen what the prairies look like before? Was this what your neighborhood looks like, or was it new to you? I'm curious--it was all new to me when we moved here a little over a year ago... I have no idea if most of my readers are already prairie dwellers or whether this exotic and new to you!

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Blogger Strickmuse said...

Thank you for the trip report. I always like to learn about new places and I love road trips. I have not driven through the prairie yet. The Mojave Desert, yes, but that is not flat at all, but interrupted by interesting mountain and rock formations.

October 4, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger ayarnlover said...

As someone who was born and raised in the prairies, I find there's nothing quite like returning home after some time away. I love to visit the Rocky Mountains, but find I feel claustrophobic after a while. I would say we do have a view and recommend driving out west of the city to take in a beautiful prairie sunset. And I love the golden wheat reflecting the sunlight. A great way to see Western Canada in all its beauty (from prairies to the Rockies) is to take a trip on the VIA from Winnipeg to Vancouver. What's the landscape like in Virginia? (If that's where you're from, I seem to remember reading that ... ?)

October 4, 2010 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

It is very hard for someone who is used to hills and mountains get used to the flatness of the prairie or plains. And visa versa! I'm from PA, went to college in VA, and have always lived near mountains and in hilly areas. I can relate! All regions are beautiful in their own way, but "there's no place like home"! Isn't it wonderful to have a husband who is willing to do all the driving and let you knit?? We recently drove the 800+ miles one-way to Nashville, TN, and I knit all the way. How I wish we could do that once a month. That would be a wonderful amount of knitting time!

October 4, 2010 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Cloverleaf Art and Fibre said...

You'll know you've adapted to the prairie perspective on scenery when you get all excited about the colours of ditch grasses in October ... take a drive out to Bird's Hill Park this weekend and you'll see what I mean. Yes, there is a "hill" there on one of the hiking trails, and yes, it has an observation tower on the top!

October 4, 2010 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

I think maybe something in my post wasn't written quite right. I DO think the prairies have beautiful views. They are just not the same as scenic mountain views, which one gets automatically at the top of a hill/mountain. I thought the the wide open views I took photos of spoke for themselves--but perhaps not. I think the light is different here,the multicolored grasses are amazing, and the open sky and landscape is truly exotic and different for someone who hasn't grown up here. That's what I was trying to show and say.

I'm sorry if it didn't come out that way. As for where I've lived before, here's the list, in order:
Falls Church, Virginia (near DC)
Kibbutz Beit Hashita, Israel
Ithaca, New York
Durham, North Carolina
Buffalo, New York
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Winnipeg, Manitoba

I've also traveled quite a bit, but most of the places I've lived before have been wooded and hilly. This landscape is a new experience for me. I'm sorry if it sounded like I did not appropriately appreciate the prairies. I do.

October 5, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

When we were driving across Texas/New Mexico years ago on our way to California, we decided that we would drive to 'that mountain' & then stop for the night. What a hoot!! We finally got to 'that mountain' 3 days later. What wonderfully diverse terrain we have.

October 5, 2010 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Deborah Robson said...

Where we are in Colorado *used* to be big sugar-beet country. I wondered where the beets were being grown now. . . .

Isn't flax a marvel? Wish I could have seen that shawl, and the museum sounds great.

I'm from Illinois prairie. It's a bit different: more rolling.

October 6, 2010 at 6:35 AM  

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