This summer, our family took two driving vacations. One to Hill City, SD and one to N. Myrtle Beach, SC. Coincedentally, both were 15 hour drives but one was 15 min longer than the other. I loved both vacations because we got to see totally different areas of the country, but I have to say I fell in love with South Dakota. As we were driving across the state, I got to see what is to me, my ideal place to live.
I grew up in the Seattle area, surrounded by tall evergreen trees and mountains that had snow on them most of the year. It’s a beautiful place, but it never made my heart sing. Lots of Seattleites complain about the gray winters and while they are admittedly awful, it was the close, claustrophobic feeling that made me uncomfortable. I didn’t identify that feeling until after we moved to Missouri and then visited back home about a year later. Very ironic considering that I’d spent the majority of my life feeling that way and never knowing it. Those tall trees and mountains make me feel hemmed in.
I felt my heart sing when we got to the National Grasslands in South Dakota. Here’s a picture for you. It’s not mine, I googled it, but I assure you the grasslands in person are as beautiful as this picture.
You might think I’m nuts, but I love it that I can see for miles. There are no big surprises in the grasslands, you can see storms coming from a ways off. If I were back in the 1880’s, I could see a posse coming for miles before they got to me. And ironically, the open expanse makes me feel safe, secure and free.
As I was pondering this fact on the two trips, I was reminded of a favorite movie of mine. Australia, featuring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. It’s a favorite because it speaks to me on so many different levels. The love the heroine feels for a boy who wasn’t born to her, but nevertheless becomes a son, her pioneering spirit where she won’t take no for an answer and forges on despite overwhelming odds and lastly, the scenery. I love the scene at the beginning where the boy is up on the tower and can see her car arriving while it was still far away. I couldn’t find a movie still of that scene, so this photograph of the set will have to do.
So what did I learn about myself?
I am a prairie girl. Forget the mountains, I love the expanse of blue sky with clouds moving on the wind and the blanket of grass laid at my feet that stretches for miles in all directions.