Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day One with Janet Spaeth

Nibblingphoto © 2010 Nic McPhee | more info (via: Wylio)

North Dakota - it's a beautiful state.

On the eastern side, it's flat, and the trees that aren't along the rivers are family-planted shelterbelts. There isn't much to see except land and sky and more land and more sky.

People say there's nothing here.

Nothing? Land and sky are nothing?

Start driving west across the state, and the land will begin to change around you. There will be deep hills around the appropriately named Valley City, and then, as you near the western border, the land suddenly becomes amazing.

I don't know quite how to describe it, which is odd for a writer, isn't it? It's stark and glowing and primeval and overwhelming.

It's hard to judge distance in the Badlands. Only when a herd of wild horses gallop across the backdrop do you get the perspective to know how far things are from you.

You'll feel like you can't look enough when you're there. You want to look at all of it, from a close-up of a rock arrangement to a long view of the band of striated outcroppings.

And over it all is the Dakota-blue sky, an arch that is so astonishingly clear you think, "Yeah, that's PhotoShopped," before you realize, "It can't be!"

The solitude is spectacular, too, because you are alone - well, except for the elk and the bison and the wild horses and the prairie dog towns.

Remind yourself: This is just land. Land and sky.

You'll never think of them the same way again.

And you'll understand why I set Sunshine in the Badlands.

Have you ever been to North Dakota?


  1. I've never been to North Dakota, but it sounds like there's lots of open space, as in many western states. It's amazing how the land of America changes just driving from one side of the country to the other.


  2. I have never been to North Dakota but it sounds beautiful. I know I would enjoy a visit there.