Sea of Grass

The biggest lawn I’ve ever seen. Yes, there is a rancher’s home on the horizon at the center of the frame. Wonder how they’d feel about having a long-term houseguest…

Buffalo Gap National Grassland, South Dakota

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Nature, Preserving Itself

Well, five years have gone by and a few more inches of aluminum have been ingested by this old oak tree, living its life in super-slow motion (or, maybe we’re living too fast).

Being in a nature preserve, I imagine this tree will live and die right where it stands. But should this oak ever make its way to a lumber mill, the saw operator is in for a big surprise.

I’ll visit again in 2023. Stay tuned.

Old Steel

Tired steel. I’m older than the hunk of steel on the left, and I’m tired as well. This trip’s tally of 5,797 miles has been exceeded on three prior occasions, but it seems that this year’s journey took a heavier toll on the Pontiac, and on me; too many long days of driving from Hotel A to Hotel B. I need to formulate a different approach for 2019…spend more days in a central location and branch out on shorter excursions from there. We’ll see what happens.

Dust. Dust, dust and more dust, in record quantities…on me, on the car and on everything in the car. Yesterday, I spent several hours decommissioning the Pontiac for winter storage…removing everything, dusting it off, washing the inside and outside of the vehicle, lubricating the locks and latches. There are plenty of repairs and maintenance tasks ahead to fill the winter months.

Grass. I enjoyed traveling through a whopping nine (out of twenty) National Grasslands last month: Buffalo Gap, Cimarron, Comanche, Grand River, Kiowa, Little Missouri, Oglala, Rita Blanca and Thunder Basin. (Would’ve hit Pawnee once again had a snow storm not forced a detour.) All of that dust came from those many miles of gravel roads in the grasslands. I didn’t keep score, but I’m certain that the Pontiac set a record this year for miles driven on gravel…my best estimate is in the range of 500 to 600 miles.

Statistic: The Pontiac odometer now stands at 331,245.3 miles.

Grand Beauty

Yes, still on the road. So many miles, so many grasslands, so many amazing vistas and so many hills to climb. Y’all are gonna be sick and tired of butte-climbing stories, photos and videos within the next few weeks. As for me, I’d like to build a house near here.

Little Missouri National Grassland, North Dakota

Salvaged

Other than two very hot days last week, this year’s trip is already ahead of previous adventures in miles driven with the top up, due to plenty of cold, wet and foggy weather in the Great Plains. As this morning’s first 100 miles revealed more of the same, I decided to rewind a good portion of the miles I gained yesterday by turning back to the southwest. Just past Haswell, Colorado, the fog and the rain finally lifted and I caught a welcome glimpse of sun and blue sky. Time to drop the top.

I continued south into Colorado’s Comanche National Grassland (the third grassland of the trip thus far; at least three more grasslands to come in the weeks ahead).

This is a truly beautiful and peaceful area. And today, I had it all to myself…except for about two dozen pronghorns, which ran across the road as I approached, and this tarantula, which was intent on crawling under my car. I waited until she emerged from the other side before driving off.

A spectacular view of the best part of my Sunday. The only sounds I heard while in the grassland came from insects, birds and the wind.

You can watch a short video recorded from this vantage point by following this link to Vimeo.