The General battles the wind of the plains

The sculpture of Maj.-Gen Sir Isaac Brock pulled into North Platte, Nebraska by Thursday night, knocking off another 930 kilometres of his ride home, even as the Great Plains wind lived up to its reputation and pummelled his protective tarps.

He crossed Wyoming on the I-80 from west to east, encountering a state whose first half is a moonscape of rocky outcrops and strikingly sculpted, flat-topped buttes. The place is probably an archaeologist’s dream vacation, fossils abounding in hillsides whose faces are striped with perfectly exposed layers of the harsh crust.

You look at this desolation and think no irrigation will ever turn it into arable land. Few animals graze, the barren flats looking too baked and harshly mineralized to allow much vegetation. But eagles do soar, and antelope looked over at passing transport trucks with their own passing curiosity.

Persevering on, however, desert severity gives way to a softer prairie landscape of grasses and fields, a canvas of browns, reds and golds, earthy colours that come to life whenever the sun peeks through the clouds. By the second half of the Wyoming crossing — going past cities with near-mystical names like Laramie and Cheyenne — fences, horses and outbuildings are evidence that the American breadbasket has been reached, and viable farming makes good use of the land.

In continuing to usher The General home, the Brock entourage crossed into the Central Time Zone and another state. But after crossing the Nebraska line, the travellers lost time with couple of stops to re-tether flapping tarps that had taken the brunt of a notorious wind at highway speeds.

It was well past dark when The General called it a day, and the tarps will be further inspected in the morning.

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