Prairie Ponderings

Prairie ponderings

For the first time in many a day – except for the wee hours of some mornings – I’ve got the luxury of a little peace and quiet. My son is taking a nap, and my wife and daughter are off with "Papa and Oma" doing a little shopping.

I’m up at the in-laws’ place in rural Jamestown, N.D. The best way to get here from Worthington, we’ve found, is to head north from Sioux Falls on I-29, but not take the Interstate – or, as Grace calls it, the "high road" – all the way to Fargo, but to hook up with Highway 12 about 30 miles north of Watertown, S.D., and travel northwest. The road used to be mostly two-lane, but in the last six or seven years has been converted into an almost entirely four-lane highway. There are a couple of small towns you have to slow down for – my favorite, Webster, has a Norman Bates-ish looking motel I keep threatening to take Becca to for a date night – but still, you can make pretty good time between the intersection of I-29 and Highway 12 (near Summit) and Aberdeen. Despite the couple of small-town slowdowns, I made the 72 miles between the aforementioned two points in just about an hour flat.

Then, in Aberdeen, one who wants to drive right into Jamestown can connect with Highway 281, a two-lane road that usually has a distinct lack of traffic. It’s roughly an hour and half from Aberdeen to Jamestown; not too bad, though as the last leg of the Worthington-to-Jamestown pilgrimage it usually seems the longest. Total travel time, including a pair of 10-minute stops, was 5 hours and 40 minutes. We rolled in about 11:05 p.m. Thursday night, and after the kids hyperactively ran roughshod over us for roughly an hour, we were all decidedly passed out.

Becca’s parents live a little less than 10 miles west of Jamestown. Getting off after a few brief minutes on I-94, you head down the exit ramp, go on a bridge over the interstate and come immediately upon a gravel road, which you drive upon for roughly a mile. Then, you make a turn on another gravel road and you’re virtually there. They have seven acres of land, practically all of which needs to be mowed regularly. There are rolling hills, and from outside the living room picture window one can witness nature in glorious abundance. On a clear day, the horizon can stretch forever, and when a storm’s coming you can see it hours before it’s upon you. It’s God’s country, and I love it.

We’ll head back to Worthington on Sunday, as I have to return to the Globe to get Monday’s paper out. (We’ve been a little short-handed lately, but that’s set to change on Friday with the hiring of a new employee.) The trip back to Worthington, almost certainly, will feel longer than the one to Jamestown. But we’ll head back north for Christmas, and there’s nothing quite like witnessing a North Dakota winter (and, not to mention, hearing a howling wind) from the cozy interior of my wife’s parents’ house. The experience may not be everyone, but for me it’s something to savor each and every time I’m here.