This is a travel blog today as well as just a musing on the fact that it is Memorial Day and I've just had a visit home. Not home, home in Glendive, but rather my ancestral home and a place I spent many happy times with my family.
My mother grew up on a ranch in north western South Dakota, west river country, Perkins County. Her parents were homesteaders from Wisconsin arriving in October of 1912. Mom was the only one of the five children to be born on the ranch. She was schooled in the country schools in the area, attended the church her parents helped to found, was confirmed there and at last married there.
She also taught rural schools for many years in the area so whenever I am out in that country I keep thinking that I am seeing what she saw every day of her young life and what vistas my grandparents had from the time they settled until they died in 1959 and 1965.
It is not barren country. It is open country and there is a big difference between those two words.
After driving from Glendive to Miles City to Broadus where I visited a friend, then along Highway 212 east to Belle Fourche was my journey yesterday. Today I left Belle and headed east toward Faith SD, turning north at a little bump in the road called Mud Butte, SD. There used to be a gas station and small store, now it is a couple of microwave towers.
At Mud Butte you turn north, hit gravel and have seventeen miles to Zeona SD which used to be a store, a gas pump, post office and a place to get some friendly conversation.
Today the church remains. Some years ago the congregation hooked their phone up to the new fiber optics that came through. After years of paying a bill for a phone they never used, they took it out, saying most folks have cell phones now anyway. They leave the church unlocked for passersby who might need shelter. It is a long way between places on the Zeona Road.
My cousin's son and wife, scion of 10 children, have a buffalo ranch further north up the road. Three of their eldest children have formed a singing group called "Zeona Road". They are building a good following in Nashville and around the South Dakota Area. The youngest daughter of the family was named Quilla Zeona, so the name lives on.
I was about an hour early for church so I enjoyed the song of the prairies -- the wind, the birds and the sighing through the grass by the side of the road.
With the wind accompanying me, I walked among the graves for a bit. Beloved and loving, faithful grandparents, two aunts who married two brothers, (the third sister and her husband, also a brother are buried in Spearfish SD), a bachelor cousin, and a bachelor uncle. All precious.
After being welcomed by the church members which included another cousin, we worshiped together, prayed, sang and heard God's word besides sharing the news of the neighborhood -- who was sick, whose funeral was upcoming, who had a new grandchild.
I drove back to Belle, stopping at a roadside cafe in Newell SD -- roast beef sandwich, cottage cheese, and brownie delight ice cream! Also ran into some rain. Much needed this Spring on the prairies.