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Sentinel Butte, North Dakota

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cut-across Gumbo Ride

On Tuesday, I went to Dickinson, North Dakota to have the chiropractor put me back together again. If I hadn't known better, I would have sworn it was a Monday! One of those days when everything seems to be going wrong, you know the kind! I was running late as I left for the 60 mile drive, and it had rained the night before so the road to the interstate was muddy in places. It wasn't too bad though,that is until....as I rounded a corner, I could see a tanker truck sitting about 100 yards ahead of me. The truck was sitting just past an elderly neighbor's yard entrance. I knew what it was as soon as I saw it thru the rain. They had sprayed a substance on the gravel road to keep the dust down as gravel was being hauled from a nearby gravel pit everyday. This neighbor has health problems so the dust control is a good idea.....just not when it had rained all day the day before and was still raining! Let me just say by the time I had to drive thru the oily mess I was later than ever and not happy.
By the time I headed home several hours later, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful fall afternoon. I knew I didn't want to go acrosss the mess of oily stuff again. I decided to take the "cut-across" home. This road is a basically unmaintained road that passes thru Forest Service land for about 6 miles or so. It is always rutted and when it rains or snows can be treacherous. I figured if it was to muddy I could turn around before I got too far. I splashed thru the first muddy places and headed down the hill into the first draw, but not before I put my truck into 4wheel drive! I surveyed the mess ahead and decided I could probably make it thru.
I eased down the slick hill and then slammed the accelerator pedal down and went whooshing thru the bottom, making the curve and heading up the next hill. Woohoo!
Mud and water splashed over the truck which I had washed in town to get the oily dust control stuff off. A little mud on the tires (and truck) is nothing where we live! On to the next challenge, the hill and then a long stretch of gumbo.Gumbo is a type of clay soil, when it gets wet, it is "snotty", "greasy" or slick. It was kind of to the point where I was committed to my decision to go home this way. Not really a place to turn around anywhere now as muddy was it was.

This stretch of road has sunflowers bordering both sides. This nice smooth looking surface is deceptive, it was muddy as heck. I stopped to take the photos on the only dry place, as I crested a hill. As I had headed down that first hill, I decided that this fun drive home had to have photos for one of my blogs!
 The next place that can be a challenge on this route runs thru a creek bottom. It is always an interesting place to see wildlife not matter what time of the year. Until recently some beavers had dammed up the creek and evidence of their tree cutting is easy to see. I have gotten some wonderful photos of a pair of Canadian geese and their babies on this creek. On this trip, the closest I got to wildlife was a bunch of deer tracks on the road. This part of the road had a pretty tough place to pass thru and I did slide a little but made it thru!
Here in western North Dakota, fall is sneaking up on us. This little jaunt was on August 31 a time when most people think fall colors are a long time off. Usually by Sept. 15 each year, our trees are in full fall color. We are not at a high altitude, but the hours of daylight are definitely getting shorter here. The trees were starting to turn I noticed and the grass has the look of fall here in the badlands. Fall is my favorite time of the year and it is always beautiful here. We most likely will see our first frost in the next couple of weeks.

I had one more place that can be tricky to get thru before I was done with the cut-across. The biggest majority of this whole road was very slick gumbo so I didn't stop to take most of my photos, I just slowed down a little or stopped on a hill where the wind had blown the road a little bit dry!
After coming up from the bottom crossing here, there is another steep curve followed by another one. Then it is pretty good going. This tall fence, about 12feet tall surrounds a neighbor's hay yard as a deterrent to deer and elk.
As I approached the cattle guard that marks the beginning of the county road, I looked back to see that instead of leaving tracks in the gumbo, I was pulling up a cloud of dust!
You gotta love western North Dakota, you never know what the weather or the roads will be like from minute to minute! I had a fun ride home, sliding thru the mud on such a beautiful fall afternoon! Muddy truck and all!


fourwilkies said...

I hope your ride home didn't undo the chiropractic treatment!

DayPhoto said...

Ahhh the joys of the prairie...I so love the land and I'm so glad I found your blog.


Linda said...

I love sunflowers that edge the roads this time of year.

Shirley said...

Sounds like it was a lot more fun than going over an oily road, and you got some lovely photos to share too. That 3rd last one is a beauty.

Crystal said...

Very beautiful photos, I cant believe how similar it is down there compared to the badlands in Drumheller!