US road trip: slow drive to Sitting Bull country in North and South Dakota

On a road trip on Highway 83, from Canada down to the Mexican border, David Reynolds finds that driving slowly quickens his sense of place – and history

On smooth, grey tarmac, I drive slowly, pass a pair of deer to my left, and realise that I’ve never driven like this before: unhurried, giving myself as much time as I want to look and think. In the hour after leaving Benito, I stop three or four times to take photographs – a derelict shack, a lake surrounded by graceful aspens, a line of rusting pick-ups in a field, the road ahead. A few cars and trucks pass me, but I don’t care. I’m enjoying travelling slowly and I’m wondering whether I can drive like this all the way.

Benito is in northern Manitoba in the Canadian prairies, close to the Saskatchewan border and a few miles south-west of Swan River, a small town serving a valley filled with farms. I had left Swan River that morning to drive to Brownsville, the southernmost city in Texas, on the US-Mexico border close to where the Rio Grande flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Swan River and Brownsville are connected by a single road, 2,271 miles long, called Highway 83.

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