Bird’s Eye View of a Wildfowl State – Crossing the State Line

Next day, the Sunday,  was another perfectly sunny day and I headed east along the Interstate and into Minnesota.  With this I had now been in three states, for as well as Minnesota and South Dakota, I had popped over into Iowa.  Having spent most of my time in America to date either in enormous states like Florida, California and Texas, or rooted in one city; I had not hopped over many statelines.  Of course like any boundary they are totally artificial and the countryside on one side looks little different from the other.  I had found it funny in Iowa though that as just as I crossed the stateline and the road gently curved to the right up a hill, the prospect of an enormous casino loomed up in amongst the cereal fields.  The natural landscape may not change but the legal landscape varies dramatically across the USA, and more favourable gambling rules meant Sioux Falls residents would head out of town some twelve miles to cross the stateline, but wanted to stop right there and place a bet instead of going to the next town.

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From the air at Brookings you look into Minnesota

Passing a little lay by on the Interstate was the only real landmark on the border between South Dakota and Minnesota, and I turned off the almost immediately and headed north on another road which could have been anywhere from the Rockies to Chicago.  After about ten miles I hit my first bend in the road, mainly to drop down into a small valley then up the other side.  I drove through the quarry town of Jasper.  There were several of these towns around I noticed.  The road and the railroad would be the dominant features of the town, and on one side some industrial complex and the other the residential side.  The quarries were often set in the valleys and the rocks cut out of the bluffs on either side, or else there was gravel extraction from river beds and the alluvial deposits in the valley bottom.  There would be some crushing plant and piles of its end products littered around the compound.  The surrounding vegetation would be coated with grey dust and everything looked a little dingy.  You could see why the residential area would be set apart from both the polluting industry itself, and the grimy sidings where the rock was piled onto wagons for moving all over the country.

My destination for the morning was a much more substantial settlement.  It was the county town and contained all the institutions you would expect, court house, hospital, fire station.  But the town itself was still only had 5,000 inhabitants but probably accounted for more than half of the county’s population.  This was Pipestone, and this curious name was also the reason I was here.

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