Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finding the center of the nation

If this collection was part of fundamentalist blog land, I could wax poetic about how God is the center of this nation...

Sorry, you can look elsewhere for that--not my belief system. Allow me to be a geographic literalist/geek for the center of the nation.Here is me trying to manage my crappy tripod in the wind (remember, South Dakota wind) and not quite getting it right. As one of my favorite avocations of geography geek, the geographic center of the United States took a shift in the 20th century after Alaska and Hawai'i were added to the Union, placing the spot firmly on some one's ranch, just off a gravel road on a central road of Northwestern South Dakota (I had to write it that way, I thought it sounded funny). Not much time is given maintaining this exact spot. It's one of those spots on a Rand McNally marked with a red square that lends a little historical and/or geographical perspective to the locality and region. Though it's not a spot filled with much information and pageantry, to get an idea of the literal center of the United States and its place on the Earth lends to me a sense of awe about the land mass of the United States, the Earth, and the realm of creation. I connected to these thoughts of my April trip after reading Psalm 19: "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork."

Where is the simple place of wonder? As the crow flies, about 25 miles northeast of Belle Fourche (pronounced Bell Foosh) on US Highway 85 (ahh, a blue highway). Look for the signs pointing you toward a gravel road. Don't be shy--it may look like a place where someone will show up with a rifle and say, "Get off my land!" But you will find a nice little drive and a stop for a meditation, ponderance, reflection, or whatever your favorite method of pause.

Though a lot more time and effort was placed on the monument for the center of the US in Belle Fourche proper, it doesn't seem to inspire the wonder of the makeshift monument and painted sign. I suppose it's something to attract tourists, which I'm not totally against. I merely have a different preference for my time apart to explore. The time alone to take these geeky little side trips has been reduced since my life of fatherhood. I doubt my children will find these interesting in the years ahead, though I will certainly try.

Today's post represents my most recent geeky escapade--with plenty of photos creating a backlog of writing from moving and nesting. Knowing my history, I won't get to them all, but one is a good start.

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