Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Had a 3 day delay while “Luv” was being repaired.    During that time, we headed south to Whapeton, ND to attend a graduation of “cousin” of mine.   I have so many cousins in this area I think they grow on trees.   Well, I guess they do – Family Trees.

We took Tucker with us, and he behaved like a gentleman the whole time.  Marge’s sisters were crazy about him.    Even Marge, who is not overly fond of dogs, commented on what a good traveler he is.

 On Sunday morning, Tucker and I started out again.   It was rainy for the first hour or so.  The landscape was amazing – green, flat farm land – the vista broken only by windbreaks of tall old trees.

Slowly the topography changed to a slight rise in elevation and low rolling hills.   About noon, I turned on the a/c.   ……… Nothing.    Nada.   No thing!!!    I was about 200 miles from the dealership by then.   Oh, crud.   Now, what.

 We managed the heat with frequent stops, and ice in Tucker’s water dish and maps shading his seat.  

 Finally, we made it to Dickenson, ND, and called Don for directions to his house.  (I am about to meet a cousin on my Dad’s side that I’d never met before)    Remember me complaining about Brooke’s house being 15 miles from the nearest traffic light?   I’ll never complain again.

The cousins lived in a tiny town of 300 – which was 65 miles southwest of Dickenson.   There was a closer stop light, in a town of 1500 about 20 miles away.   Driving there through the lonely landscape – farms, rolling hills,  with mountains and buttes in the distance was wonderful.

Upon arriving I was greeted with great enthusiasm, and given a wonderful meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, hot rolls,  (my favorite meal) with homemade ice cream and strawberries.

We talked non stop until bedtime, and in the morning, Don and I dug into our family histories.  We exchanged photos and other information.  

 Our conversation made it more clear to me that my Mother’s side of the family needed to be recorded.  A lot of information is already on Ancestery.com,  but that is not readily available to everyone.

 We took a ride in the country to see a dam and man made lake – lots of fishing and camping there.

 I also called the dealership to discuss the a/c problem.   And learned that the dealership in Grand Forks ND has a dealership in Great Falls, MT - What are the chances of that ever happening to anyone?   I am convinced God is my co-pilot.

I left there about 9 a.m., headed for Montana.   I was warned there might be construction along the way -  the whole of western North Dakota is jammed with oil workers on the new strike.

(A word to the wise – if you are travelling across North Dakota anytime soon – plan on stopping in either eastern ND  or eastern MT – there are generally speaking no accommodations available in western ND – I heard that one town in northern ND will not let you in unless you have confirmed reservations for a place to stay)

 After driving awhile, I left the lush farmland and headed into a taste of badlands.  I kept my eyes out for signs of the oil rush.  It wasn’t until I was nearly at the Montana border that I finally saw some pumper-jacks.  And most of those were on the Montana side.

 We stopped at a rest area to check the map – I don’t know how it happened, but I didn’t have a map of Montana.  While I was standing there – I heard the trill of the Meadowlark.   Yes, I was home!   There were 2-3 of the birds, singing up a storm.  I was thrilled.

We drove on, through rough prairie and sagebrush.   We saw a couple cowboys herding cattle to a loading ramp, the truck standing by to receive them.  

We reached the top of a grade – 3500’ elevation, and swiftly rolled down the otherside to about 2000’

We hit Miles City about noon – with a temperature out of 97.  More ice in Tucker’s water, wet blanket and shade from maps.  

 We headed north and west across Montana.  Our saving grace from the heat was a light cover of clouds.  Once we headed north, Tucker’s side of the car was much cooler than my side.

 Montana has a daytime speed limit of 70 unless otherwise noted – 75 on the interstates.  We rolled through rolling grassland for miles without seeing any other vehicles.   Hard scrabble grazing land to irrigated valleys, over hills, and on and on – it seemed like forever.   At some point, the cloud cover disappeared, but by that time, the sun was losing it’s punch, and the temp was dropping.  

About the time we left Lewistown – I saw a gathering storm coming out of the west.  I had to stop and roll up Tucker’s window, cause with all that lightening, there was bound to be rain.   At a small town, I had to take a 22 mile detour – a bridge was out.   This detour looped to the west.   Right into Mother Nature’s fury!    Black as night out -   lightening, pouring rain, hail.  Wait, did I say hail?   Yep, damn – hope it didn’t get bad enough to tear the topper.  At the end of the detour, I headed north again -  still in rain – but looking west it was dark as ever – blotting out the mountains I knew were on the horizon.   Look to the east – and it was the afternoon sun – this was about 5:30 in the afternoon.

I finally arrived at my cousin, Diane’s at 6:30 and it was as dark as it would normally be at 10p.m.   It was a cold welcome!   Diane told me that in addition to tornado warnings (very unusual for Montana) there was a winter storm warning for areas above 6000’ – not so very far away as she lives at about 3500’

 It was a cold noisy night – the storm continued until about 1:30 a.m., and round 2 started at about 3 a.m.   But, we awoke to a landscape washed clean, with brilliant blue skies and fluffy white clouds – for those in the south and east – it was like the day after a hurricane.

 Tucker and I attended church services with Diane on Wednesday.  Yes, I said Tucker attended with us, and as usual, he was perfectly behaved.

 We stopped at my niece, Nicki’s antique shop to let her know I had arrived, then headed home for much anticipated naps!!!!

When we arrived, Diane’s computer fella was there, and I asked him about my laptop.  Before I leave here, I’ll have  500gig of hard drive, plus he’ll make my current hard-drive an external one, and he’ll replace the fan.  It will be like having a brand new computer.   And when I pick it up, I hope I can start up-loading photos for my blog again.   

 Until next time
Bear Hugs
Luv ‘Boots & Tucker
And Don’t forget Wee Beastie

She believed she could do it and so she did!

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