Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A forever road February 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Minnesota State Highway 68 near Morgan.

Minnesota State Highway 68 near Morgan. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

WITHIN SOUTHWESTERN MINNESOTA, I occasionally travel sections of roadway that stretch visually into forever. One is the diagonal of State Highways 67 and 68 running from Evan through Morgan to Redwood Falls. It’s a distance of about 20 miles. But it seems much farther.

After years of following a section of that route back to my native Redwood County, I’ve realized that the flatness of the land along a road as straight as a ruler lengthens the distance in my mind.

Few farm places snug the highway. Trees stand only in groves sheltering farm sites. As far as I can see down the asphalt ribbon—and it’s a long ways—utility poles guard road ditches in precise vertical lines.

And because this roadway angles across the land rather than runs straight north or south, I feel geographically unbalanced. Any sense of direction is lost.

That all said, I delight in photographing forever roads like this which draw the viewer right into the scene. It’s as if I am writing poetry with my camera.

TELL ME, WHAT SECTION of roadway evokes this same reaction in you?

© 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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16 Responses to “A forever road”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I love the windy and twisty turny roads where I live now. I am getting quite good at navigating them and love the unexpectedness of what may lie ahead.

  2. You know me and my love for a great road photo – L-O-V-E 🙂 Right now I love going over the Bayside Bridge twice a day to commute to and from work. The Bay is beautiful along with the birdlife and the occasional dolphin sighting. I am probably going to miss it once I move closer to work and just have to take side streets to work. I will have to find a new stretch of road to love. Happy Day – Enjoy!

  3. Gunny Says:

    I have driven on roads up in Virginia that must have been made over old wagon trails, curving, turning back on themselves. I have driven on roads initially laid in by the Romans, straight as an arrow, My favorite road is a stretch of highway that rises and falls over the landscape like a ribbon, headed in a Southwestern direction. This road does have occasional landmarks on its 100 mile course reminding one of earlier times when pioneers passed by as nearly nothing beside the length is newer than 1900. The scenery is austere, breathtaking and the sunsets! Any hitchhiker on this road is worthy of your caution but is probably in need of your help. There are no intersecting roads. A hitchhiker, if found, would have been “dumped” there by someone else. The police, few and far between, race through this are when they are in the area to catch speeders, because (their) radios fail. For a driver, the temptation to speed through the area is very great as the open road beckons one to hurry the trip along. There are no gas stations along the way, nothing! Regardless of the month, dress for the occasion, ensure you have some water, engine coolant, motor oil and enough gasoline for the 100 mile trip. Other vehicles are few and far between. It is like having the roadway to yourself. In doing the speed limit, you will be passed. If stopped, in all probability, you will be passed. The drive is not challenging, rather pleasant. The vista is breathtaking only if one can appreciate it as one of God’s great works. True beauty is not always seen by those with heavy thoughts on their mind.

    • This sounds like quite a road. I recall driving from Minnesota to Mandan, North Dakota, 22 years ago. The girls were five and seven, the son growing within me. We traveled mile upon mile without seeing a single house, a single gas station, only sky, roadway and wheat. The girls concluded that everyone lived in hotels. We encouraged them to nap to make the time go faster. But they declined, claiming they might miss something. What? I don’t know. I was quite happy to return to Minnesota and see corn fields again. And houses. And gas stations.

      • Gunny Says:

        First time on that road, I thought it would never end! Distance in that environment is deceiving. My “home” road in my life has been Interstate 40. I have been on every mile that has been built on that road, coast to coast, East to West & vice versa – several times. This road though has come to be a “comfort zone” despite it’s sheer lack of hospitality of any sort.

      • There is a certain comfort in traveling familiar roads.

  4. Don Says:

    There is a certain sort of beauty in a road were one can see for miles. I love the prairie and its wide open spaces. Granted the mountains and valleys around where I live here are beautiful but I get that closed in feeling from them.

  5. Looks like a country song

  6. Sue Ready Says:

    I see many lines in this blog that yearn to become a poem…
    straight as a ruler lengthens the distance in my mind.
    Few farm places snug the highway
    Audrey, your lines create many visual images in my head. Thanks for sharing.


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