Tag Archive | south dakota

Land formation and drawing maps.

As I start another fun summer of roleplaying (figured out that I’m excited about that yet), I find myself drawing a map. For the longest time, Alyssa and I have used the same world, Isrlan, but now we are moving on and creating another.

Since she is much more busy than I am, I drew the map. But instead of drawing random things, I did a few specific details. In order to explain why this matters to you, I need to explain South Dakota to you first.

See the pretty river?

South Dakota is literally divided by the river, namely, the Missouri River, but since we abbreviate everything, we just call it the River. That makes East River and West River. For a traveler, that means mainly that when you cross the river you change time zones. For us in South Dakota, East River is mainly farming and baseball caps and West River is mainly cattle and cowboy hats.

But why?

In general, our weather moves from west to east. All our storms come from the west. To the farthest west point is the Black Hills (were Mtn Rushmore is). Mountains cause the clouds to rise, rain on the mountains, and give all the prettiness found there.

However, the clouds run out of water as soon as they over the mountains, so then they hit the Badlands. Personally, I find the Badlands incredible, because the dirt there is basically clay and there are many, many ridges, valleys and storm formations. I could spend a whole day there. (Or hide there with my secret organization that is taking down the government.)

Before too long, however, the clouds hit the River.  This is where it is important, because the river fuels the clouds. The clouds suck up all the water, then move along across South Dakota, raining from the river onward and giving us our lush farmland. However, since we don’t get that much rain, we typically have hot, dry summers. (Expect for last year, but last year we broke record rainfalls.)

With that in mind, I made my map, keeping a river near the mountains to fuel the clouds, so my country doesn’t become a desert. See?

On another note, and I don’t know how this really plays into things, but if you look at my map, you can see a little river about half way between the border and the Missouri River. Besides the fact that “river” floods every year, a lot of weather alerts are determined merely by whether it’ll happen west or east of the James River (Or, since we abbreviate everything, The Jim.)

Just a Thought on Developing Weather

In South Dakota, it’s normally rather dry. It might get warm, but even, but the humidity stays pretty low most of the time.

Well, this year we’ve been getting a lot of rain. And when I say a lot, I mean the near by river has been flooded since March,  and we’re breaking record rainfall amounts for both summer and yearly. We’re talking so much rain, the bugs are the happiest they’ve been in a long time.

Well, we’ve also been rather humid. Normally our humidity runs in the thirties.  Now, it’s been normally forty to sixty this year and it just doesn’t go down.

Another example: New Jersey is right by the ocean and an often problem I’ve seen with it is humidity. Right now, they are having a bad drought. It’s so bad that the grass is all brown there. Their humidity has been running constantly in the thirties.

So, I started wonder how much the amount of rainfall ties in with the amount of humidity and the weatherman in the morning basically said it does.

My point then is just something else to think about when developing a society. The more rainfall a place has, the more likely it is to be humid. You can’t have a muggy humid day in a drought area without rain. It’s just not going to happen so far as I can tell.

Just a thought, to add more realism to your story.

cultural differences

We all think about cultural differences when writing a book that takes place in a foreign country. What we fail to realize, especially if we live in one general location for much of our life, is that even in America there are huge cultural differences that you may not even realize between the midwest and the east coast.

As a result, I shall share some of them with you, and probably post more as I think about it. (I can probably post a whole post about farming, as a note, so I will probably leave most of that out of this one.)

To make this easier, I will say that I have lived in three small towns in the midwest, one in Minnesota, one in South Dakota, and one in Illinois. MN town size was about 2500 in the southwest corner, SD town size about 14,000, and IL town size about 100 in central IL. I will probably refer to these towns in my examples. (HOwever, as a note, the town in SD is in the top 10 largest towns.)  By MN, I do not mean the twin city area.

– First of all, there might not be a local walmart in town. In MN and IL, we had to drive an hour to go to Walmart. There might be a Pamida, a cheapo walmart without food, about 10 miles away, depending on the location of the town and the nearby towns, but just as well might not.

– There are no malls in small towns. None. General rule of thumb, if the town is on a radar map, it has a mall. If not, no mall. Even the town in SD,

– Also, there are no real bookstores, like Barns and Noble or Borders. If you want a book, you can either buy it used from a second hand store, such as goodwill or salvation army or even a locally owned one. Sometimes, the library sells book as well.

– In SD, (At least in Mitchell), they charge a dollar for interlibrary loans. However, in MN, you can get a book from anywhere in state, so long as the library will send it to you.

– When buying a (used) car, one can borrow the car from the place for a day, after they copy your license. With that, you can test drive it and see what everyone else things. (This was at least true in MN and I’m pretty sure SD.)

– Everyone goes to church pretty much. This is getting a little less common with younger people but everyone does pretty much go to church on Sunday. It’s not a case of whether or not your a Christian. It’s a family thing.

– In MN, they knew who we were, knew who our dog was, but we hardly knew them. (They called once to tell us to catch our dog or they’ll call the police.)

– The police in MN caught dogs and would bring them to the vet in the next town for holding.

– People in SD do not use outhouses.  We have indoor plumbing just like everyone else.

– (applies to SD and MN) Snow isn’t that bad, in all honestly. We will leave the house and do things when there is snow, even if they are saying six inches. The snow plows just go out and start working. However, the problem comes when the wind picks up, or there is ice. Blowing snow makes driving difficult and ice, although not that common as part of a storm, makes a normal snow storm bad.

– There is nothing but fields between towns. Fields and maybe a few houses but generally just fields.

– There are no streetlights on the interstate. It’s all dark. And there isn’t always cars either that you can see, so it might just be you and only you in both directions.

– People in small towns are not as friendly as it always looks. It takes about three years for them to accept that you are going to stay I’ve heard.  However, that doesn’t mean people don’t know; it just means that it’s not like people in the movies where everyone knows, and talks to, everyone.

– Towns usually have their own fireworks display somewhere near town.  (IL did not, but a larger town (about 12,000 I think) did.

– Fall doesn’t really happen up north in SD and MN. There’s about two weeks where all the trees change colors (boring colors at that) and that is all.)

– The wind can be a real killer, especially in winter but sometimes in summer. We do get 30 some mph normal winds. This can be difficult to ride a bike into, or even walk. MOreover, one time a bad wind came and we had a layer of dust on the table we normal ate at. However,  a 15 to 20 mph wind isn’t that bad. 20 to 25 is when we start to worry. (We also almost never have no wind, either in SD or in MN.)

More shall come later, as I think about them, including a special one on farming as I know it. (Oh, and just so that you realize I can say this, I’ve lived in southern CAlifornia for some time, Knoxville, TN, and visit my grandmother often in northern New Jersey.)