Monday, August 15, 2011

Mystical Horizons: A 21st Century Stonehenge in North Dakota

Before my bed, the moonlight shines,
Could it be the frost, covering the ground?
I raise my head, look at the bright moon,
I set back, and think of my native land.

                             -Li Bai

We took a road trip this past weekend to see my parents. It is long five hour drive through the middle of North Dakota (we drove through the Geographical Center of North America in Rugby) and end up just miles away from the International Peace Gardens. It is a beautiful drive in the summer time, especially right before harvest, with golden fields of wheat, lots of greenery, and varieties of colorful wild flowers. I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, and after miles of driving and relaxing by the lake, it brought back a lot of memories of summer in the country.

My mother and I went to garage sales in the morning and my dad took Joey to buy a new DVD player. When we met up again for lunch at the house, Joey mentioned that he was going to take me somewhere that evening. He wouldn't give me any clues, and I didn't even know what to guess. We spent the rest of the day eating, going out with the paddle boat and pontoon, before eight in the evening rolled around and we were on the road heading somewhere mysterious.

We ended up at a place with a stone sign reading "Mystical Horizons". Since it is lake country, for all I knew, it was another lake addition. We drove up a hill and parked to find stone markers that were placed similarly to those at Stonehenge (which we toured in 2008) where the sun will stream through the stones during the solstices. The plaque that explained this mystifying place to me, told me it was built as a "21st Century Stonehenge". Unlike the real Stonehenge that is surrounded by rolling hills and sheep, this one is placed on the top of one of the Turtle Mountains that overlooks miles of North Dakota prairie and highway. It was a sunny day out, not too hot or too cold, and the sun was high enough for us to wander around to get some pictures and enjoy the last moments of daylight as cows mooed conversations in the distance. We rested on one of the big rocks to watch the sky turn colors, the sun a blazing orange as it sank into the horizon.

Other people showed up to watch the sunset and they pointed out the rising full moon behind us. It was magical seeing the exchange between the two opposites as one rose and one fell. As this happened, coyotes gave out some spine tingling howls that brought back a memory of them scaring me out of my wits while walking to the bus as a kid. This time it just added something special to the moment.

We stayed long enough for the first stars to come out before we headed back to the house to make malts on an old fashioned machine that my great aunt Veronica used at the local Dairy Queen years ago.

It wasn't until today that I realized that one of the main scenes in my book happens during the sunset and moon rise, and at the same time of year. I must remember to thank my dad again for suggesting that Joey should take me.

Just wanted to share this moment and the pictures. There are just those moments in your life where things just click or make sense, and the day that we went to the real Stonehenge and the Tor in Glastonbury was one of those days. It is odd that one of those other days ended up being at this "21st Century Stonehenge" in my home state.

Check out this blog post I found where Jack Olson's son talks about his father's vision of this wonderful site.
If you want to see all our photos, check out my Picasa photo album.
My husband Joey put together a panorama view. Warning: you will need a high end browser to view.


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