Before we left, my friend said, "Don't forget to look around."
Thinking in pictures and captions. The UP, west of Marquette, Agate Falls, a little Dagoba, a little Deliverance. The rocks dark and craggy and ancient. So many grasshoppers it feels like the Lower Peninsula of the 1970s. The ease of who we are out of home context. The kids talk about plural marriage, negative space, and Hitler.
A certain dip in majesty once we cross out of the UP, leaving behind that coastal terrain: conifers, dune grass, ferns. A rainstorm and a big bridge in Duluth, a near miss and someone threatens to sing "Take it Easy". These people. These people. There is so much good and love in them.
Then Highway 2 bends just west of Floodwood, MN, and we are suddenly in The West, barren tree spines floodplain-bound, a foot below high water.
Warba, population 183, is remarkably developed. Start to see "No Services" signs at exits. Jumping jacks and squat thrusts at Scenic Overlooks. We laugh until we cry listening to Mitch Hedberg, hurtling past mile after mile of sunflower fields: central North Dakota. We reach consensus on our preference for the band The Bismarck over the city of Bismarck.
Somewhere beneath all of this, or within it even, stews something about infrastructure and the possible impacts of population density and diversity on empathy and how entirely unimaginable it is that this immense expanse has managed to remain one singular polity for more than two centuries.
Billings, MT, tonight. The Beartooth tomorrow.