Saturday, 6 August 2011

A bit of a zig-zag...

So, a little over a month ago, I left you in South Carolina which was hot and really rather unpleasant because of that. I have decided that I don't really like the high temperatures and the humidity that comes with that heat - I'd much rather spend time and energy keeping warm, than vainly battle against excessive heat trying to keep cool. That said, I have nothing against some decent warmth - it's not a lot of fun trying to warm up your toes in a cold, wet tent !
So, South Carolina, for me the gateway to the deep South. Hot and humid, but at least the sun shone and the scenery was different - no longer the broad sweeps of trees from one horizon to the other; here the roads twist between fields of corn, fetid swamps and acres of bullrushes and reeds. There are loads of wee ponds and lakes, surrounded by marshland and dotted with what may be mangroves or some other type of tree which can survive with waterlogged roots. Very different to what I'm used to anyway. South of SC is Georgia which is where I celebrated my birthday, although celebrate may be over stating the issue. I found a motel just outside Savannah which 'looked' OK, and with a few beers and a pizza marked the passing of another year. Can't say it was my best birthday, and it could have been worse - but not much !
Georgia was followed by Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi, and I then turned northwards to try to find some cooler temperatures. Up through Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota before turning west to North Dakota. Up near the Canadian border, the temperatures were much more livable and the humidity was virtually non-existent. These states are very flat and to be honest, not terribly interesting. There are miles and miles of cornfields reaching to the horizon in every direction; people seem to be concentrated (in small numbers) in tiny settlements clustered round the corn and grain silos which stand proud of the landscape and which can be seen from miles away. I think this area is known as the grain basket of the United States, and it certainly lives up to it's nickname. The area is also known as the "Badlands" and was the scene of devastating dust storms which basically removed all the topsoil and blew it all the way over to New York in the 1920's or 1930's. Many farmers no longer plough their fields, fearful of watching their soil blow away again.
Heading south again, I visited Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This is where the heads of four US Presidents have been carved out of the bare rock of the mountain. Messrs Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln gaze down from their lofty rock-face, unperturbed by rain or sun. The access is really good, though part of the circular walkway was closed when I was there, and there are plenty of opportunities for good photos - I don't think I was alone in taking about 50 pics.... Will try to get some up on here.
South Dakota was followed by Nebraska and Kansas, a quick dash through Oklahoma took me into Texas and then I ended up at Fort Davis right down in the south of the state. On into New Mexico and across into Arizona. Here I met up with my old friend Martin, who had bravely suggested joining me for a few weeks holiday.
(This device seems to be playing up, so I'll post this and get back to you.)
Much love to you all,
John M xxx