Even before I hit the city limits, the frontier spirit was evident: As rain poured down and Highway 85 hard to find in front of me, I noticed hardly anybody had their headlights on.
Just me — with my Nebraska plates, apparently a wuss in a sea of dual-wheeled pickups bearing down on my hometown of Bowman, N.D.
Not only did they refuse to turn on their lights in this foggy rainstorm, they also continued to pass each other as they went up hills on this two-lane road. I’d forgotten this rural tradition of throwing caution to the wind and going for it, without knowing whether another vehicle would bridge the horizon at any moment and be the second half of a head-on collision.
So there I was driving home, wedged between semi trucks and pickups whose drivers apparently were all on a suicide mission. It was only the beginning of my re-initiation into life on the hardscrabble plains and Badlands — where just getting home in your SUV can be a gamble with life and death, when you’re traversing a flooding creek.
The buffalo literally roam in the pasture next to where my family once had a barn and some farmland north of Bowman: