Mary Jo Blend gave me my second ride out of Hettinger, ND on Highway 12. I stayed at Hettinger after the Gilies dropped me off at the fairgrounds and a number of local horsewomen found out about me. Fourth of July was just around the corner and my time was fast running out. I only had two weeks to cover a lot of distance.
From Mobridge, SD on it got nothing but hotter and hotter and hotter. Drought conditions, but like Keith Gilie said they don’t know what “no water is” – yes, the crops were behind, but there were crops and even with the absence of water, it was still green, the ditcher were thick with alfalfa, clover, buffalo grasses. I let Honor eat as we moved. The ditches along Highway 12 were mowed (hayed) wide and smoother, very little glass and South Dakota is very pastoral, quiet and flatter than any other part of the country I’ve yet ridden through. We no longer saw cowboy hats, but rather caps with a John Deere emblem or a name of a town. We met many, many people along that stretch of the ride – all very friendly and curious about the ride.
I did not realize Minnesota was home to a large hog industry – huge, long, white hog sheds housing thousands of pigs all automatically fed. Unfortunately, there is the smell no matter how pretty the farms and landscaping was, it still had a strong odor through the entire western half of the Minnesota ride. But one must expect some smell. Coming from a dairy background, I’m quite familiar with farming practices. And for the most part, these new farming techniques are efficient and very clean.
I was tipped off about the Luce Line Trail that runs from Cosmos, MN into the cities (Minneapolis) and it was a lifesaver to be off the hot roads on a shaded, soft green RR track turned trail. We had cool lakes for poor Claire and even my shoes came off to walk on the grass. We were able to walk/ride two entire days, something we had not been able to do for week as the temperatures were every day in the high 90’s and 100’s. On Friday, July 14th, we were getting close to our Waconia destination; New Germany just ahead. At the T-Road Bar, I stopped for a beer and water for Honor. Of course, when one rides up on a fully packed traveling horse, heads turn, questions flow and rarely do I buy my own beer. Some one trotted off to fetch Honor grain. A bucket of water appeared from nowhere and before we left, we’d made many friends and the TV station from Minneapolis was on our tail.
Honor is now road safe – semis, trains, heavy equipment do not bother her. We left Montana still pretty iffy and now, two and a half months later, we are a tight group that has it down and will only get better as we travel the country, hill and dale, together. One horse, one dog, one woman.
We leave August 15th for New Mexico. The horizon calls to me, but first a good rest. Many, many thanks to all of those that helped make this part of the ride possible. There are so many that fed us, gave us a clean shirt or a place to camp. We met hundreds of interesting, generous people – to each my deep appreciation and sincere Thank You’s.